Ep 77: Are Ajit Pai and His Net Neutrality ‘Weed Whacker’ Good for the Digital Divide? with Harold Feld
Harold Feld (@haroldfeld) is Public Knowledge’s Senior Vice President. Before becoming Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold worked as Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, advocating for the public interest in media, telecommunications, and technology policy for almost 10 years. Prior to joining MAP, Harold was an associate at Covington & Burling, worked on Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and accountability issues at the Department of Energy, and clerked for the D.C. Court of Appeals. He received his B.A. from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Boston University Law School. Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory, a progressive blog on media and telecom policy. In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised him and his blog for “[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground.”
In this episode, we discussed:
- early trends from the Ajit Pai FCC.
- what to expect on FCC reform from the 115th Congress.
- where consumer advocates and the Trump administration can find common ground.
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
The Federal Trade Commission found last week that Vizio–the TV manufacturer–has been spying on its 11 million customers. The company had apparently been collecting and selling customers’ locations, demographics and viewing habits. Vizio will now have to pay a $2.2 million settlement to the FTC and New Jersey Attorney General’s office. Hayley Tsukayama covers this in the Washington Post.
The Department of Homeland Security is considering requiring refugees and other immigrants from the 7 Muslim Ban countries to turn over their social media usernames and passwords before entering the United States. DHS Secretary John Kelly made the announcement last week before the House Committee on Homeland Security. But of course a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling last week which blocked the President’s ban on refugees entering the country. Next steps include possible appeals to the full 9th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court. David Kravets has the story in Ars Technica.
The White House mysteriously let go its Chief Information Security Officer, Cory Louie, last week. Louie, who is Asian, had been appointed to the position by former President Obama and was one of the few minorities on Trump’s staff. Check out Zack Whittaker’s coverage in ZD Net.
A federal grand jury has indicted the National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing highly sensitive materials from the United States government, which he then collected at his Maryland home. Harold Thomas Martin faces up to 200 years in prison if convicted of all 20 criminal counts he has been charged with. Dustin Volz covers this for Reuters.
The House passed last week the Email Privacy Act, which would update existing law to require law enforcement to get a search warrant before asking technology companies for their users’ emails. The bill is expected to get some resistance in the Senate. Dustin Volz has this story as well, in Reuters.
Benjamin Herold reports for Ed Week that the Ajit Pai FCC has rescinded a report the previous administration put out illustrating the success of the E-rate program. The E-rate program is a multi-billion dollar initiative designed to help schools and libraries access high speed internet service. Democratic leaders as well as consumer and tech advocates took Pai to task accusing Pai of paying lip service to the digital divide, while pursuing contradictory policies.
Finally, Amazon expressed serious concerns Friday about President Trump’s “America First” agenda. The company said this more protectionist attitude has the potential to harm its business. Jeffrey Dastin has the story in Reuters.