Online Safety Act Paused as Ofcom Reports on Net Neutrality

UK watchdog Ofcom has proposed a loosening of the nation’s net neutrality rules so as to not unduly restrict innovation and development. While it is up to government and Parliament to change the law, recommendations from Ofcom — which was created to monitor compliance with net neutrality laws — are influential. “Since the current rules were put in place in 2016, there have been significant developments in the online world, including a surge in demand for capacity,” as well as the rollout of 5G, and the emergence of large players like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Continue reading Online Safety Act Paused as Ofcom Reports on Net Neutrality

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

After a big victory passing CHIPS-plus, Congress recessed on Saturday with several technology goals pending. Among the outstanding items is a bipartisan antitrust bill that seeks to rein in the industry’s heavyweight players, a consumer privacy bill and confirmation of Gigi Sohn, a Biden administration nominee to the FCC, where net neutrality hangs in the balance. Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has promised to fast track those votes immediately upon return September 6, the clock is winding down as November’s midterm elections may push Democrats out of power in one or both houses. Continue reading Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

With efforts to fill the vacant FCC seat and tilt the commission back to a Democratic majority, the Senate is poised to try an alternate path to realizing the party’s longtime goal of restoring net neutrality rules. Championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act proposes to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open up companies including AT&T and Verizon to stricter FCC oversight. Internet service providers would be prevented from blocking or throttling content, while pricing and privacy would also receive scrutiny. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

Twitter Rallies Midsize Tech Around the Open Internet Alliance

Twitter has used its Spaces platform to opine on rapidly developing EU digital regulations, an effort that after two years has become formalized as a policy advocacy group known as the Open Internet Alliance. Vimeo, Automattic, Czech search engine firm Seznam and German social network Jodel have joined Twitter as founding members. The company’s mission statement is twofold: protecting competition to “avoid entrenching the dominance of the biggest players,” and focusing more on “how content is discovered and amplified.” The group aims “to strengthen the advocacy voice of medium-sized companies that promote the Open Internet.” Continue reading Twitter Rallies Midsize Tech Around the Open Internet Alliance

Biden Reveals FCC Chair and New Commissioner Nominees

President Joe Biden has paved the way for a potential Democratic majority at the Federal Communications Commission, nominating Gigi Sohn to fill the fifth commissioner slot, vacant since Ajit Pai resigned in January. Jessica Rosenworcel, who stepped up as acting chairwoman when Pai left, has been nominated as permanent chair. Sohn, a public interest lawyer with 30 years of experience in communications and technology policy, spent three years as counselor to Obama administration FCC chair Tom Wheeler. In that capacity, she championed net neutrality and Title II common carrier rules that were adopted in 2015, only to be jettisoned in 2017 under Pai. Continue reading Biden Reveals FCC Chair and New Commissioner Nominees

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make net neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Columbia University law professor Lina Khan, a leader of the Big Tech antitrust movement, for an open seat on the Federal Trade Commission, where she would have power to enforce existing regulations. Biden appointed another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC) as a special assistant for technology and competition policy. Big Tech antitrust wasn’t a signature focus of Biden’s presidential campaign, but the appointments seem to signal his intentions. Continue reading Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai announced he will step down from his position on January 20, 2021. The FCC senior Democratic member, Jessica Rosenworcel, is predicted to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Pai, although former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn has also been mentioned. With Pai’s departure, president-elect Joe Biden will be able to work with Democrats shortly after Inauguration Day on such anticipated priorities as restoring net neutrality and expanding universal broadband access.

Continue reading Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

European carriers such as Vodafone are experiencing a spike in data traffic due to increased usage by home-bound consumers. The European Commission, which has net neutrality regulations in place, warned the telcos to avoid blocking, slowing down or prioritizing traffic as they attempt to avoid gridlock. At the same time, the Commission is concerned that crucial services including healthcare and online learning might be impeded. Netflix, Disney+, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Amazon Prime are among the companies cooperating with the European Union to curtail bandwidth usage for the time being. Continue reading Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Rancho Mirage, California, Thompson Coburn partner Jim Burger presented his annual update on activities in Washington D.C. relevant to the media and entertainment business. Among the numerous copyright issues that Burger examined was the long-running case of Oracle America v. Google, which is centered on whether or not Oracle’s Java APIs are copyrightable. Google used early versions of the APIs to create its Android operating system. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality