Friday, February 24, 2017

Decoding the Doublespeak of Chairman Pai


Donald Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission chairman is taking direct aim at fair and affordable internet access.

Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller aren’t the only Donald Trump surrogates who’ve had a very bad couple of weeks.

Ajit Pai, the president’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, was pilloried by the New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards last week after his agency released a rapid-fire series of rulings in a move that resembled Trump’s rush of executive orders. Chairman Pai’s directives, which he issued with zero public input, undermine the open internet and undercut the agency’s Lifeline program, which is designed to make the internet more affordable for families with low incomes.

Pai’s attack on Lifeline drew a swift response. A series of letters from dozens of Democrats on Capitol Hill asserted that Pai’s move to prevent nine internet service providers (ISPs) from serving Lifeline participants was “unfairly punishing” families in need.

Pai managed to draw criticism on the same Sunday from two of the nation’s most prominent and influential newspapers, even as members of Congress piled on. But the condemnation is justified: Pai has long served the interests of massive phone and cable companies, while shafting those ordinary Americans of whom Trump claims to be so fond.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Are Police Biased Against Independent Journalists?

On Inauguration Day, police arrested six journalists who were covering protests in Washington, D.C. The reporters were hauled before Superior Court judges and each charged with felony counts of “inciting to riot” and cause bodily harm, a crime punishable up to a maximum of 10 years in jail and fines of up to $25,000.

Those arrested were Aaron Cantu, a freelance journalist who’s written for Al Jazeera; Evan Engel, a senior producer at the news website Vocativ; Matthew Hopard, an independent journalist and livestreamer; Shay Horse, an independent photojournalist; Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series Story of America; and Alex Rubinstein, a reporter with RT America.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Five Years Later, SOPA and PIPA Serve as a Warning to the Trump Administration

Photo: Andrew Dallos (via Flickr)
As Washington readies for a leadership transition, its resident politicians are more bitterly divided than ever.

Nearly 60 Democratic lawmakers have announced their plans to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration in the wake of his attacks on civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are ignoring the ethics rulebook to rush approval of Trump’s cabinet picks. The sooner his team is seated, the sooner they can start trying to dismantle President Obama’s legacy.

Some still talk about bipartisanship — or finding common cause with political foes — as the mark of good statesmanship. But that spirit is practically extinct in Washington. The incoming administration is behaving as though it can attend to the people’s business without actually consulting with people, or considering any opposing view.

There’s a lesson in the recent past that serves as a reminder for the ways in which people can transcend these politics of division.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fighting for Techdirt and All Independent Media

Anyone who’s followed Techdirt’s reporting and analysis over the years knows how vital this news outlet has been when it comes to clearing the fog that often clouds policy debates about Net Neutrality, broadband access, spectrum allocation, copyright reform and media ownership.

Founder Mike Masnick’s incisive reporting and piercing commentary during the fight against the SOPA and PIPA legislation — which would have allowed the film and recording industries to black out huge tracts of internet content without due process — undercut Hollywood’s bogus claims in support of these bad bills.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Chance to Reinvent Local Media and Combat Fake News

Most voting-age Americans list local news as a primary source for political information — an important statistic in a year when more than 125 million of us voted in a presidential race where honesty was in short supply while fake news ran rampant on social media.

Often our ability to separate fact from fiction about competing candidates rests on what we learn about them from credible news sources. If you’re like many voters, you found answers in your local news — be it the paper that arrives on your front step each day, the radio station you listen to during morning commutes or the 11 p.m. newscast before you tuck in for the night.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Filling the Swamp: Trump's Plan to Turn Over the FCC to Telecom Industry Insiders

One of Donald Trump's top tech policy advisers has a plan: Do away with the main agency that protects the rights of internet users and media consumers in America.

You heard that right. Mark Jamison, who Trump chose to help oversee the tech-policy transition team, thinks that getting rid of the Federal Communications Commission would be a good thing for this country.

"Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away," Jamison wrote last month, claiming that a heavily consolidated media marketplace would discipline itself to benefit ordinary people.

He's dead wrong.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's Rise, The Media's Fall and the Way Forward

If we've learned anything from this, it's that traditional media failed at their job to inform people about what was really at stake in this election. Instead we were treated to a horserace-cum-reality-TV-show where pollsters judged winners and losers in hourly increments as know-nothing pundits shouted over one another for a moment in the spotlight.

All the while, old media executives like Jeff Zucker and Les Moonves reveled in all things Trump, serving up unblinking wall-to-wall coverage of this profoundly despicable con artist to juice ratings and drive revenues. So much for "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." The show must go on.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How the AT&T/Time Warner Deal Could Hurt Low-Income Families

Originally published by TIME.com

AT&T executives think their plan to take over Time Warner is too big to fail. But the proposed merger’s astronomical cost may prove them wrong.

The $85 billion deal, combining the nation’s largest phone, Internet and pay-TV provider with an entertainment and news colossus whose holdings include CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT and Warner Bros. Studios, would be one of the largest media mergers ever…

Friday, September 23, 2016

Donald Trump Doubles Down on Internet Ignorance

Hello, internet?
Donald Trump wants to make the internet great again. Problem is, the GOP nominee doesn’t know enough about the internet to understand what, if anything, that means.

On Wednesday, Trump's campaign came out against an Obama administration plan to relinquish U.S. control of one important aspect of the internet: the supervision of domain names. The plan is to remove the U.S. government control of that function and transfer it more fully to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a global body.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Europe's Net Neutrality Triumph

On Tuesday, the global fight for Net Neutrality leapt forward, again.

On Tuesday, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published guidelines ensuring that the region’s internet users receive strong protections for open and nondiscriminatory access to the internet.

The victory is a monumental part of the global push to advance everyone’s online rights. Over the last 18 months, internet users have fought and won Net Neutrality protections in India, South America and the United States.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Black Lives and the Facebook Censor

Originally published at The Root


Earlier this month, Baltimore County police tried to serve a black mother with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court for a traffic violation. But the picture many saw told only one side of the story.

Police killed the woman, Korryn Gaines, while her 5-year-old son was wounded in the altercation. She had attempted to share her encounter with police using Instagram. The police urged Facebook, which owns Instagram, to deactivate her accounts. In response, Facebook cut Gaines’ live stream from its feed.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In July, Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to record the immediate aftermath of the horrific police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. Once footage hit 1 million views, Facebook temporarily removed the video. A Facebook spokesperson claimed this was due to a “technical glitch,” but many media reports suggest otherwise

Read the rest at The Root >>

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Democrats, Republicans and the Internet

Reading between the lines of the party platforms

Party platforms are the wallflowers of the four-day infomercials we’ve come to know as national conventions. During the run-up to these events, partisan functionaries and delegates pore over drafts and tweak language only to see the candidates too often ignore the resulting policy statements in their march to Election Day.

Consider Donald Trump’s convention-closing attempt at a peace offering to the LGBT community in light of the Republican Party platform’s call to abolish gay marriage and nationalize state laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.

To read too much into a platform would be a mistake, especially when trying to predict the policies of the next administration. Still, platforms establish a benchmark against which we can measure the success of any president. They also reveal important shifts in party culture, offering us a glimpse at the evolving priorities of the body politic. This year, for the first time, internet policy is prominent in both major-party platforms.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Is Winning Net Neutrality Enough to Save the Internet?

Originally published in the Seattle Times

Net neutrality advocates can add last week’s court decision to a recent string of victories on behalf of everyday internet users.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the latest broadband-industry bid to kill the open internet — a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 “net neutrality” decision. The FCC rules protect your right to connect with everyone else online without your cable or phone provider blocking websites or carving the internet into fast and slow lanes.

The ruling last year was itself a major victory — the product of 10 years of activism involving millions of Americans who lobbied their elected representatives and urged the agency to adopt online safeguards.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Still Waiting for America's First Tech President

Originally published at The Guardian

As Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have shown, any candidate hoping to connect with voters in the 2016 election can’t do so without a strong online presence.

But embracing the internet as an organizing tool isn’t enough. To become the nation’s first genuine tech president, a candidate must also champion internet policies that safeguard users and ensure the network’s survival and continued growth.

Shortly after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the White House in late 2007, he took to the stage at Google headquarters to unveil a set of policies on key tech issues, including net neutrality. Later in his campaign, he promised to “strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and … harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy”...

Read the rest at The Guardian