Ep 82: Decoding the New FCC Under Chairman Ajit Pai with Gigi Sohn

Ep 82: Decoding the New FCC Under Chairman Ajit Pai with Gigi Sohn

Gigi B. Sohn (@gigibsohn) served as counselor to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, advising on a range of telecommunications and media policy issues.

Previously, Sohn served from 2001 to 2013 as president and CEO of Public Knowledge, a D.C.-based public interest group working on intellectual property and other issues in the digital marketplace. She served as a project specialist in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture unit and as executive director of the Media Access Project. She was co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group, and has held academic positions at Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, and Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, among others.

She has won a number of awards and citations, including a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Gigi holds a BS in Broadcasting and Film, Summa Cum Laude, from the Boston University College of Communication, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the prospects of net neutrality under the Pai FCC.
  • the public benefit of Lifeline and how it will fare in the current administration.
  • issues not widely reported on but which policymakers ought to be aware of.


Open Society Foundations

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin


The man who viciously attacked long-time New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald back in December has finally been arrested, according to Cecilia Kang at The New York Times. The FBI picked up twenty-nine year old John Rivello of Salisbury, Md. on Friday for sending Eichenwald, who suffers from seizures, an electronic file containing strobe lights and bearing the words “you deserve a seizure for your posts”. Eichenwald did in fact suffer a seizure. Rivello now faces a possible 10 year sentence if he is convicted of criminal cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm.

President Trump is sticking to his guns, but no one in Congress has been able to find any evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. The Republican Senator Richard Burr who Chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and Democratic Vice Chair Mark Warner issued the following statement last week: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”  House Intelligence Chair David Nunes issued a similar statement, saying that President Trump’s tweet shouldn’t be taken literally.On Monday, FBI Director James Comey testified before a House panel that the FBI has found no evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump tower.

A county judge in Minnesota has issued a warrant requiring Google to reveal who searched the name of a victim of financial fraud. The victim’s image was used to obtain a fake passport to trick a credit union to transfer $28,500 out of an account. Minneapolis police say the victim’s image was clicked on in the search. David Kravets has the story in Ars.

Greg Besinger at the Wall Street Journal reports that Uber is trying to prevent their drivers from unionizing in Seattle. The effort to unionize is supported by the Teamsters and the Seattle City Council. Uber has allegedly been trying to get drivers not to unionize via company podcasts, text messages and phone surveys. It’s a complex case that the Communications Workers of America is also involved in. Uber has threatened to leave Seattle if the unionization effort succeeds. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also trying to prevent the drivers from organizing, and the chamber has sued the Seattle City Council for an ordinance it passed in 2015 that gave drivers the right to vote on whether to form a union.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is urging Congress and the White House to include broadband buildout within the infrastructure bill. He says infrastructure spending should prioritize rural areas and be paid for via the Universal Service Fund. Maggie Reardon has the story in CNET.

The City of New York is suing Verizon because it says the company failed to deliver on a 2008 agreement to provide broadband to every single home in the city. But the company, though its GC Craig Silliman, said the company has already spent $3.7 billion to place fiber throughout the city and that the fiber passes every home in the city. Patrick McGeehan has the story int he New York Times.

CA Technologies, the technology firm and government contractor, will pay a $45 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by a former whistleblower employee alleging that the company failed to inform the the General Services Administration that certain discounts were available. The former employee, who filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act, will receive $10.92 million of the settlement. Evan Fallor has the story in FedScoop.

Ride-hailing company Lyft, Inc.  is now on the hook to pay $27 million to drivers who filed a class-action lawsuit on federal court to change their classification from independent contractors to employees. The settlement will be paid to the  drivers, however they will remain classified as independent contractors.

The European Commission–which is the executive arm of the European Union–has given the greenlight to the $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger. The merger is still working its way through the regulatory approval process in the U.S.

Finally, President Trump has released  draft budget which includes $61 million to fight cybercrime and encryption plus $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. Joseph Marks has the story in Nextgov. Stay with us.