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  • Geebo 10:02 am on February 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC,   

    House Dems put the FCC on notice 

    House Dems put the FCC on notice

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    To say that the Ajit Pai-led FCC has been anti-consumer would be an understatement. From the repeal of net neutrality to the attempt to cut subsidies that provide phones to low-income families, it’s become pretty obvious that the former Verizon attorney has acted more in the interests of the corporations rather than the American people. Now, with the House of Representatives being controlled by the Democrats, lawmakers are looking to reassert their oversight of the FCC.

    Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle have accused the FCC of being too secretive and acting too much in the interest of corporations instead of consumers. The pair of Democratic Representatives published an open letter to Chairman Pai and pulled no punches in the process…

    Not only have you have failed on numerous occasions to provide Democratic members of this committee with responses to their inquiries, you have also repeatedly denied or delayed responding to legitimate information requests from the public about agency operations. These actions have denied the public of a full and fair understanding of how the FCC under your leadership has arrived at public policy decisions that impact Americans every day in communities across the country.

    Later today, the Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the impact Pai’s repeal of net neutrality has had on consumers and free speech. Pai has been instructed to have a written response to the Representatives concerns by March 4th. While this won’t be an overnight restoration of net neutrality protections, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

     
  • Geebo 10:20 am on January 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC, ,   

    Nothing the FCC promised has happened after repealing net neutrality 

    Nothing the FCC promised has happened after repealing net neutrality

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the worst advertisement for Resse’s.

    When the FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama Administration, Pai said that the repeal would lead to greater internet innovation, deliver broadband to more rural areas and would increase competition among internet service providers. By the same token, he might as well have promised everyone a pony, world peace, and a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl victory. He also claimed that prior to the regulations, no ISP had ever violated the tenets of net neutrality which of course was not true.

    Now, over a year after the repeal, Motherboard investigated whether or not if any of Pai’s claims came true. To the surprise of no one, except those who have blind faith in the current administration, not only have none of these claims come even remotely close to true, things have gotten even worse. There has been no marketable increase in competition as still most areas in the country only have a ‘choice’ between one or two providers, internet rates have steadily increased, innovation is all but dead, and the majority of rural areas still find themselves being underserved by the broadband providers.

    Meanwhile, many broadband providers or their parent companies have been laying off employees while raking in record profits. Speaking of profits, none of that money is being invested back into the infrastructure needed to maintain a serviceable internet in our country even after the ISPs were given tax cuts and subsidies by the Trump Administration. Again, it’s at this point we must point out that Chairman Pai is a former attorney for broadband provider Verizon who is just one of the companies who has benefitted from the repeal.

    Sadly, the repeal of net neutrality is just a symptom of a bigger disease where the current administration has little regard for consumers or its constituents and continues on a campaign of grandiose falsities no matter how much common sense dictates otherwise.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC, phone location data,   

    FCC blames shutdown on failure to investigate private data being sold by telecoms 

    FCC blames shutdown on failure to investigate user location data being sold by telecoms

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    Last week, tech news site Motherboard published an investigation that exposed how user location data, accurate up to a few hundred meters, is being sold by the major cell phone carriers to third parties. In their investigation, MOtherboard discovered these services being used by car salesmen, property managers bail bondsmen, and bounty hunters just to name a few. All were found to be obtaining this information without any kind of warrant that police would need to obtain to be able to access this kind of user information. Motherboard’s investigation has resulted in House Democrats calling for the FCC to appear before them in response to the crisis.

    Not surprisingly, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has responded by saying that not only is the sale of location data not a threat to public safety but that any further investigation into the matter has been suspended due to the government shutdown. How convenient for Mr. Pai. This is where we usually mention that before joining the FCC, Mr. Pai was a prominent attorney for Verizon, one of the carriers accused of selling user location data. Ever since the FCC rolled back the net neutrality regulations enacted by the Obama Administration, just about everything Mr. Pai has done in office has benefitted the telecoms and internet providers while claiming that it’s what’s best for consumers.

    Because of his record even if the government was in full operation logic dictates that it would be highly unusual that Chairman Pai would do anything about the sale of user location data. The wholesale failure to protect consumer privacy under the watch of Chairman Pai continues unabated with little to no recourse for consumers. Maybe the special investigations that are looking into President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia also need to investigate whether or not Chairman Pai is colluding with his former telecom masters.

     
  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC,   

    Ajit Pai celebrates bipartisan defeat of net neutrality, except that’s not what happened 

    Ajit Pai celebrates bipartisan defeat of net neutrality, except that's not what happened

    If you’re old enough to remember the second Gulf War you may remember that Saddam Hussein had a spokesperson who would frequently appear in the media making outrageous claims about how the then dictator of Iraq was going to defeat the US Armed Forces while tanks were rolling into Baghdad. His statements were so outlandish that the American Media nicknamed him Comical Ali. Now it seems that FCC Chairman has taken a page out of his playbook.

    After Congress failed to reinstate net neutrality protections during their latest session, Pai released the following statement to the media

    “I’m pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed Internet regulation,” Pai said in a statement. “They did the right thing — especially considering the positive results for American consumers since the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”

    Except, that’s not even remotely close to what happened. While Pai makes it sound like there was unilateral support for his ironically named Restoring Internet Freedom Order that’s not what happened. As Ars Technica points out

    The Pai-led Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules, but the repeal could have been reversed by Congress if it acted before the end of its session. Democrats won a vote to reverse the repeal in the Senate but weren’t able to get enough votes in the House of Representatives before time ran out.

    So, it wasn’t bipartisan support as much as it was the Democrats not being able to get enough votes in the Senate. That’s not bipartisan support, that’s just Congress voting along party lines.

    Sadly, this is just a symptom of a larger problem within this administration as the current regime seems to have an edict that if you tell the same lies long enough they’ll become perceived as truth. It’s hard to think of another administration that represents the dystopian future of George Orwell’s 1984 any more than the current one.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, ,   

    Is the FCC cracking down on text spam or are they opening the door to censorship? 

    Is the FCC cracking down on text spam or are they opening the door to censorship?

    Text messaging may just be one of the greatest inventions of mankind. It allows us to send quick messages to our friends and family without having to involve ourselves in lengthy and often times inconvenient phone calls. That’s not even taking into account how many services we can use just through text messaging alone. By some estimates, SMS and MMS messaging is used by roughly 4 billion people worldwide. In today’s world of splintered technical ecosystems, it’s rare for a communication technology to be almost universally used. However, that universal acceptance may start to waver depending on how the FCC’s latest ruling is taken.

    Last Friday, the FCC ruled that cellular carriers can block unwanted texts. The FCC and the telecoms say that this is necessary in order to fight spam texts. Opponents of the ruling say that, much like the repeal of net neutrality, gives too much power to the telecoms. Tech blog Gizmodo has even gone as far as to say that we should stop using SMS and MMS texts as the telecoms may start reading and censoring text messages. The problem with using an encrypted messaging system as Gizmodo recommends is that there is no universal app that everyone will switch to since there are competing encrypted messaging services out there.

    Gizmodo seems to be missing a major point in their argument. If you look at the FCC’s rulings since the current administration took over, their moves seem to have been motivated by one factor, money. The blog post’s author seems to have taken a fringe case of allegedly blocked messages by Verizon and turned it into a national conspiracy. If anything, we’re more likely to see a return to limited text messaging. It wasn’t even a decade ago when many cell phone plans were limited to a certain amount of text messaging. If you went over your allotment of texts for the month you’d be charged for each text that exceeded your plan’s monthly amount.

    While we’ve been very critical of the FCC in the past we don’t believe that the FCC is allowing the telecoms to block text to subvert free speech but to further line their already massive pockets.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , FCC,   

    FBI investigating possible net neutrality fraud 

    FBI investigating possible net neutrality fraud

    The last we heard about the net neutrality debate, the FCC had admitted that half a million comments submitted to the FCC website were made by phony Russian accounts. In the run-up to net neutrality’s repeal by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the public could submit either their support or opposition to net neutrality, the regulations that protected a free and open internet. Pai, a former Verizon attorney, repealed net neutrality claiming that it stifled innovation. During the past week, the FBI decided to get involved with the investigation into the fake accounts.

    The FBI has launched an investigation into whether or not “people’s identities were posted to the FCC’s website without their permission, falsely attributing to them opinions about net neutrality rules.” According to the New York Attorney General’s office, close to ten million comments submitted to the FCC’s website were submitted with stolen identities. The total amount of comments received numbered around 24 million. When factoring in what were believed to be legitimate comments close to 99% were in favor of keeping net neutrality protections in place.

    The FBI has subpoenaed several telecom lobbyists and trade groups. Previously the state of New York had requested information from the FCC regarding the status of these allegedly fake accounts but by most reports, the FCC refused to cooperate citing the state of New York had no authority to investigate these claims. Now, only time will tell if anything actually comes out of this new investigation by the FBI or will Ajit Pai’s higher-ups will try to hamper the investigation? After all, the administration has to do something to keep that telecom campaign money pouring in.

     
  • Geebo 10:12 am on December 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC,   

    FCC admits Russian interference in net neutrality debate 

    FCC admits Russian interference in net neutrality debate

    This week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, released a memo where he admitted that at least half a million comments submitted to the FCC came from Russian email addresses. If you’ll recall, the FCC opened up their website to comments in order to discuss the then pending repeal of net neutrality legislation. The site was flooded with comments that the FCC first claimed was a denial of service or DDoS attack. Later on, the FCC backed down on that claim.

    The 500,000 comments made by Russian accounts were all said to be in favor of net neutrality and Pai has put this forward as evidence of foreign interference into our democratic process. The question that needs to be asked is, were these fake accounts in favor of net neutrality so the Trump Administration’s FCC could claim that the commenting period was invalid in their way to repealing the net neutrality protections put in place by the Obama Administration?

    When you have an administration with alleged questionable ties to Russia, why would Russia act as an opponent to the administration’s policies unless their only goal was to make net neutrality supporters look bad? With Ajit Pai constantly changing the narrative on net neutrality if he says the sky is blue you may want to look outside to make sure he’s right. It’s looking more and more like the FCC sold out consumer internet protections wholesale to the major telecoms with a little help from overseas friends.

     
  • Geebo 9:10 am on October 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , American Broadband and Telecommunications, FCC,   

    FCC cracks down on corrupt telco, but is it a case of the tail wagging the dog? 

    FCC cracks down on corrupt telco, but is it a case of the tail wagging the dog?

    In the past, I’ve not had kind things to say about the FCC led by former Verizon mouthpiece Ajit Pai. I’ve long criticized Pai for his obvious disregard for the American people when it came to his total disregard for the consumer when he repealed the net neutrality protections. However, recently, the FCC has cracked down on an allegedly corrupt telecommunications company who was said to be taking advantage of the less fortunate among us. Here’s Chairman Pai himself to tell you all about it.

    A company called American Broadband and Telecommunications based in Toledo, Ohio, is accused of taking government money for the Lifeline program which is supposed to provide low-income households with more affordable phone and internet service. The founder of the company is said to have used the money for country club memberships, a Ferrari, a Florida condo and a private aircraft. The FCC is looking to fine American Broadband and Telecommunications a record-breaking $63 million. So you might think the FCC should be commended for putting a stop to such corruption, right? Well, not so fast.

    First off, American Broadband and Telecommunications has claimed that they have mostly paid back the money that was inappropriately used. Secondly, this is the same Lifeline program that not only Ajit Pai drastically reduced but also wanted to take away from tribal lands before being blocked by the US Court of Appeals.

    While it may be the cynic in me, this so-called crackdown seems nothing more like a PR stunt in order to garner some positive press for the FCC who is in desperate need of some. Ajit Pai is no friend of the consumer. Time and time again, his edicts have only benefitted the giant communication companies like the one that used to pay his salary. Yet he has the nerve to get in front of the American public and act like has their best interest at heart while blatantly removing the protections that American consumers need.

     
  • Geebo 9:21 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, ,   

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines 

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines

    Ever since the FCC repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration, a number of states have either enacted their own net neutrality legislation or have sued the FCC to restore the previous federal legislation. If you’ll recall, when the FCC, backed by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the protections the FCC claimed that the states could make no laws in regard to net neutrality which many see as the FCC overstepping their legal authority. With states enacting their own legislation in defiance of the FCC this has led to a coalition of internet providers to file their own lawsuits against some states such as California and more recently Vermont.

    22 State Attorneys General and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the FCC arguing that the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was arbitrary and capricious and that the FCC can not preempt state laws. Now, the Attorneys General of three other states, Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska respectively, have filed a brief in support of the FCC’s decision claiming that the states “have an interest in protecting both consumers and purveyors of Internet services.” Somehow, I doubt the esteemed Attorneys General from these three states have the consumers best interest at heart.

    So what’s the difference between the 23 Attorneys General who are suing the FCC and the three that support them? Well, the 23 who are suing are all Democrats while the three in support of the repeal are Republican. While I would never tout one political party over the other if you care about a free an open internet I think it’s obvious where your votes should go next month if this is an issue that matters to you. Even if you’re a Republican party loyalist you have to take notice of the fact that only three red states have weighed in on this matter as the rest have decided to remain on the sidelines.

     
  • Geebo 9:14 am on October 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC, Hurricane Michael, phone service   

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted 

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    After Hurricane Michael recently struck Florida, many in the devastated areas were left without any kind of phone service. This was reminiscent to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when many New York residents were left without similar capabilities. In both cases, the phone companies were slow to restore service. In 2012, Verizon was hesitant to restore landlines after the storm destroyed the lines. The Obama-era FCC instituted regulation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that required service restoration by the telcos after natural disasters.

    Now, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai criticized the phone companies for not restoring phone service in Florida quickly enough after Hurricane Michael. But as Ars Technica points out, Chairman Pai is basically criticizing a problem that he created. Pai repealed the Obama-era requirement to restore service in 2017 claiming that the regulation prevented the telcos from upgrading their copper lines to fiber. This didn’t prevent Chairman Pai from criticizing Verizon, his former employer, from not responding fast enough to restore service in Florida.

    In my opinion, this is more evidence of how Ajit Pai acts like someone from the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s novel 1984. He says things to the public that are so blatantly untrue you have to wonder if he knows he’s lying or if he actually believes what he’s saying. For example when Pai claimed that the majority of Americans were opposed to net neutrality while the public was clamoring for the FCC to keep the protections in place. While I’m not prone to name calling, Ajit Pai is a joke and only has his position as a way to protect the interest of the telecommunications companies rather than the American people.

     
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