Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump's FCC and FTC Chairs Rush in to Defend Big Telco's Assault on Internet Privacy

It’s hard to defend legislation that undermines internet users’ essential privacy rights. But that hasn’t stopped the broadband industry and its many friends in Washington from trying.

Even amid widespread bipartisan outrage against the congressional resolution Trump signed this week — which rolled back online privacy protections the Obama FCC created in 2016 — Beltway Republicans want you to believe it’s a good idea to let AT&T, Comcast and Verizon follow your every move online.

Chief among industry apologists is Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who alongside Federal Trade Commission Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen penned a mistake-riddled Op-Ed for the Washington Post on Wednesday. They claimed the resolution that struck down strong FCC protections somehow didn’t do just that.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The President's Attack on Public Broadcasting Puts Him at Odds with the American People

Donald Trump’s latest attack on the media will unfold in an unusual place: congressional hearings over the national budget.

On Thursday, the president proposed eliminating all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a main revenue source for hundreds of local NPR and PBS stations across the country.

The cuts, part of Trump’s first federal budget proposal to Congress, would zero out the $445 million annual allocation the CPB receives to underwrite popular programming like Democracy Now!, Fresh Air, Frontline and the PBS Kids lineup, and help keep local public television and radio stations on the air.

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.