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Digital Liberty blog

FCC claims to protect consumers' privacy, but aims for market control By Katie McAuliffe | October 26, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on new privacy guidelines for broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on October 27th. 

The FCC claims, that Internet Service Providers have access to customer’s geo-data, browser-history and much more data, that they use without providing any notification. The FCC’s intention may sound very honorable, but privacy is a hot button issue cloaking other aims. 

This is not their first intrusion into the Internet, and the Commission has been the champion of regulatory overreach over the past years, hindering American businesses and consumers with absurd rules and regulation. This has placed an immense burden on the American economy.

Consumers Get New Ally in the Fight for Free Data By Daniel Savickas | October 21, 2016

Federal Communications Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn recently came forward to tout the virtues of free data programs and vowed never to ban them in any context.

Commissioner Clyburn, a Democrat on the Commission, said she would not seek to ban these programs, which have largely come under fire by advocates of the FCC’s Open Internet Order, who believe such programs violate the spirit of the Net Neutrality rules.

Few New Regulations for Self-Driving Vehicles Required By Andreas Hellmann | October 17, 2016

On Sept. 20, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidelines for self-driving vehicles. The initial reaction to the guidelines was generally agreeable, but further reflection revealed a more complicated picture and more voices expressed concerns.

Usually the quickest way to stop innovation is for bureaucrats to just outlaw it. The good news is that the NHTSA appears to see the harm government can do by delaying or adding cost to the deployment of automated vehicles: keeping less-safe vehicles on the road longer could otherwise be translates to increased traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths.

Regulations Hinder Virtual and Augmented Reality By Andreas Hellmann | October 10, 2016

There are many new virtual and augmented reality applications and programs that burst into the markets last year and fascinate its users. But what is the difference between virtual- and augmented reality? Virtual reality are computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other impressions that replicate a real environment or create an imaginary setting. Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented or often supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics and often supported by GPS data.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on FTC Oversight By Daniel Savickas | September 27, 2016

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology held a hearing today with all three Commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC).

This hearing has inspired hopes that meaningful reform will come to the Commission. According to Berin Szoka, the president of TechFreedom, “Congress has not made any fundamental course corrections to the FTC since 1980. This oversight is long overdue.”

Chairman of the Committee, Senator John Thune (R-SD) started the hearing by expressing that the best solutions are often not government solutions, and that in order for the American business community needs regulatory certainty in order to stay in compliance with the law.

The subject of the hearing ranged over a variety of topics.

A prominent topic of discussion was the FTC’s guidelines on data security. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Haw.) said the Commission needs to do more to explain what is reasonable and what isn’t, and what they are doing now, “simply isn’t working.” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added, “Data security doesn’t need to be a Wild West.”

Attacking Copyright Laws Destroys Business & Innovation By Anthony McAuliffe | September 12, 2016

A recently released report has issued a scathing attack on the U.S. Copyright Office, claiming it protects the interests of big business over the interests of the public. The office is further attacked with the claim that it attempts to further its own interests and make itself relevant in areas beyond its jurisdiction. Finally, industries (and even individual copyright holders) that have an interest in copyright law are portrayed as greedy and self-interested, concerned only with extracting profits from consumers. These attacks against the office (and industries) are dangerous for several reasons.

Victory for States Rights in Municipal Broadband Court Ruling By Daniel Savickas | September 09, 2016

The recent ruling by the 6th Circuit Court that rebuked the FCC’s municipal broadband order is a victory for federalism and the Tenth Amendment.

In an editorial for the Daily Caller, Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe elaborated on the heart of the FCC’s history of abuse, and the heart of the municipal broadband issue:

“Under the guise of broadband competition, the FCC actually tried to tell states how to run their finances.  Agencies cannot regulate where Congress did not give them the authority to do so. They knew it was a step too far, but with all of its excesses somehow slipping past the courts, why not go for broke?

But the courts finally nailed the FCC to the wall. The court was so definitive that the FCC isn’t even challenging this one. “A challenge is not a good use of agency resources,” a spokesperson said.

FCC Revamps Failed Set Top Box Efforts By Daniel Savickas | September 06, 2016

The FCC is continuing its crusade to bring the revolution started in the TV industry by streaming services to a grinding halt.

After numerous failed proposals to open the set-top-box market (or, as the Commission calls it, “unlock the box”), the FCC is taking a radical step towards achieving that objective. The new plan would replace separate agreements with device manufacturers, and to consolidate that into a single contract, with the FCC as the sole TV programmer.

The previous efforts were railed against by professionals in numerous spheres for threatening the copyrights, and intellectual property of content providers. In comments submitted to the FCC, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, highlighted the issue:

FCC Oversteps, Shot Down in 6th Circuit By Daniel Savickas | August 11, 2016

Courts have finally intervened on an instance of Federal Communications Commission executive overreach.

The 6th Circuit Federal Court issued a repudiation of the FCC’s order that rolled back laws in both Tennessee and North Carolina that restricted the development of municipal broadband networks in two of the states’ cities.

The following can be attributed to the Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe:

“The FCC’s municipal broadband order is just the latest in a series of regulations that makes it the poster child for executive overreach. The Court’s decision is important in stopping this continued overreach and gives the private sector, and state governments a chance to breathe, so they can improve broadband access as they see fit.”

The FCC based its intrusion into state law on their mandate to promote competitive broadband. However, the court rightly ruled that the FCC's involvement only applies to private broadband competition and does not give it the authority to intervene in state laws governing municipal governments.