End Discriminatory Wireless Taxes!

Taxes on cell phone and wireless services have skyrocketed to fund state budgets and federal subsidy programs. Today, the average consumer pays a whopping 17 percent in taxes on their wireless bill. Write your member of Congress and call for a tax time-out.

The Future of Internet Governance

On May 13th, the Subcommittee on Electronics and Technology of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss the future of internet governance.  IANA’s current contract gives stewardship to the United States via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Come September, the US government may concede control of IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), over to ICANN (an acronym standing for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a California-based nonprofit).  

Susan Crawford on Net Neutrality Circa 2005

Who is Susan Crawford?  One of the main proponents of Net Neutrality as it morphed into Public Utility regulation.

Susan Crawford 2005:

We seem to be limited in our imagination.  So I’ll start with the unimaginative answer:  The FCC’s current course "under Title I" has been disastrous, unprincipled, ad hoc, and puts enormous weight on some very slender reeds – an administrative housekeeping “necessary and proper” rules statement in Title I (never designed to support legislative rulemaking), and dicta in Brand X.  The world has changed since Southwestern Cable, and, in light of Mead, in the absence of a delegation from Congress the FCC just doesn’t have the power to regulate the Internet – particularly in light of Section 230.  It’s just too important a step to be taken based on silence (and conflicting statements) from Congress.

Susan Crawford 2015:

That same shorthand [Dead on Arrival, DOA] applies to a new “Internet openness” draft bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the new leaders of the Senate and House committees charged with oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. Although calculated to address concerns about online fairness, its real thrust is to remove or constrain the FCC’s authority in a host of areas. The bill will draw a swift presidential veto.

Thanks to our good friend Brent Skorup of the Mercatus Centerfor digging this up. If you haven’t read his work on the myths of net neutrality, I recommend it. 

Fact Checking Obama’s Internet Takeover

Obama’s Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler, would have you believe that the government is not taking over the Internet.  Net Neutrality and Open sound simple.

When Wheeler says “Open Internet” or “Net Neutrality” that’s code for Public Utility regulation established in the 1930s.  These micromanagement practices, with many regulations yet to be determined, equate to heavy-handed and onerous regulation of one of the most dynamic and innovative inventions in history.  Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Obama claim to be executing a light-touch regulatory framework.  Nothing about the so-called Title II regulations is ‘light-touch’. 

Congress Fighting to Stop Government Regulation of the Internet

The fight to ensure net freedom has begun on Capitol Hill.  Several lawmakers have introduced legislation that would overturn and defund the reclassification of the Internet at as a public utility. 

Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced the Internet Freedom Act, H.R. 1212.  This legislation “would block the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules by stating that they shall have no force or effect and prohibits the FCC from reissuing new Net Neutrality rules.”

Digital Liberty Supports the LEADs Act

Digital Liberty, along with 8 organizations signed onto a letter in support of The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act.  This legislation would protect the privacy of American citizens abroad by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and by strengthening the process — called MLATs (mutual legal assistance treaties) — through which governments of one country allow the government of another to obtain evidence in criminal proceedings.

Prince George County Wireless Bills are Going Up

Residents of Prince George’s County could be facing a 50% increase in their Telecommunications Tax.  County Executive Rushern Baker’s proposed budget would inflate residents’ wireless taxes from 8% to 12%.  Prince George’s County residents already pay 6% state sales tax, 5.82% federal USF charge, $0.25 monthly state 911 tax and $0.75 monthly County 911 tax.

The Free State Foundation explains that if this bill were to pass, “PG County residents would pay a total wireless tax and fee burden of 26 percent.”  The Independent Woman's Forum reasons that this translates into a $360 annual bill for Maryland families.  In the modern world, families and small businesses depend on wireless service.  Increasing taxes would limit wireless availability, especially to those who depend on it most.   Increasing Telecommunications Taxes would stunt the growth of small businesses as well as restrict availability of modern technology to low income families. 

Legislators in Prince George’s County should instead focus on lowering taxes to increase wireless availability and allowing small businesses to flourish.   

Copyright Office Stuck in the Past

In the United States, the copyright industry grew 3.9 percent from 2009 to 2013, which is 70 percent faster than the overall economy.   You would think a country whose copyright industries made up $1 trillion of GDP, 6.7 percent of the economy, and employed 5.4 million people in 2013, would have an innovative registration process for copyrights as well.

Truth is, the manual examination and data entry is pretty similar to how it was in the 1870s when the recordation system of the Copyright Office was launched.


Dish Network a Small Business? Will the FCC "Fix" These Rules?

Federal Communications Commissioner, Ajit Pai's out spoken criticism of Dish's clever manipulations brought the FCC's obsure Designated Entity Program into the national spotlight. After the uproar over Dish Network's gaming of the FCC's Designated Entity rules, which are intended to help small businesses compete in spectrum auctions, Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated that changes are warranted for the program, and he has been reported to be circulating draft rules.
Click here to Tell the FCC to Reform the DEP!