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.

Pulling the REINS on FCC Overreach

Currently, there is only a good faith agreement keeping federal agency officials in line with Congressional intent. The REINS Act would restore Congress’ oversight in agency decisions, and rein in the unrelenting extension of executive power.

The REINS Act is focused primarily on the IRS; however, it would rein in other agencies as well.

In the tech world many of us focus on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The FTC and the NTIA have recently taken steps to work more cooperatively with Congress and setting parameters for their own purview or taking Congressional concerns seriously. 

Meanwhile, the FCC has shown little deference to Congress and has expanded its own power in the face of protests from Congressmen and Senators alike.  The FTC and NTIA are two agencies that have taken admirable steps in orchestrating a more friendly relationship with Congress, proactively avoiding heavy handed, one-size fits all, legislation.

NTIA “Slows Its Roll” in Giving Up The Internet

Washington, D.C. — After significant controversy over the United States maintaining its role of overseeing Internet root zones, it is a relief that on August 17th 2015, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a one-year extension of the IANA contract with ICANN. This contract, which maintains NTIA’s stewardship role in the IANA functions, was set to expire on September 30th of this year.

The extension ensures that artificial deadlines do not unnecessarily expedite the IANA transition process. The NTIA has the option to extend the contract an additional three years if needed.  The multi-stakeholder community has expressed confidence that the IANA transition will be completed by July 2016, and the House passage of the DOTCOM Act, which is still waiting on Senate consideration, would give Congress time to review whatever proposal the Administration puts forward.

Be sure to stay tuned by following @DigitalLiberty on Twitter and Facebook, where we will bring you the latest updates from this monumental Internet paradigm shift.

A Refreshing Breath of Bipartisanship: Unanimous FCC Order Thwarts AW-3 Auction Swindlers

Washington, D.C.—On August 17th the FCC unanimously approved an Order reclaiming $3.3 billion in revenue swindled from the AW-3 auction. The Commission has been investigating two companies, SNR Wireless and NorthStar Wireless, who claimed independent small business discounts during the auction. The companies received these discounts through the Designated Entity Program, which is targeted at helping small wireless carriers compete for valuable spectrum.  After the auction, the FCC discovered that the two companies had complex arrangements and intimate financial connections with DISH Network, which may have disqualified them from designated entity status.

“Small businesses require an on-ramp into the mobile marketplace to provide more choices for consumers,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement released announcing the decision. “Our competitive bidding rules were designed to do just that – give bona fide small businesses an opportunity to acquire valuable spectrum. Today, our review of two winning bidders in the recent AWS-3 auction has concluded that they in fact are not eligible for bidding credits. I’m proud that our thorough, fact-based analysis ensures that bidding credits only go to the small businesses our rules aim to serve.”

The decision is a huge win for both fair competition in the wireless industry, as well as taxpayers who would have funded the unsavory discount. It also shines a ray of hope on the incentive auction set to take place this coming March. 

Canada`s Cautionary Tale: The Green Arrow Pierces Canada`s Regulatory Regime

Stephen Amell, the actor who plays Oliver Queen on the popular CW TV show Arrow, is experienced in the art of ferreting ne’er-do-wellers out from the underbelly of society. Recently, the Green Arrow shifted his focus from mob bosses and crime syndicates to the regulatory dregs plaguing the Canadian mobile wireless industry.

In a video posted on Facebook, Amell, apologized to his fans for an abrupt and untimely end to his live internet chat session. The world renowned actor, known as much for his philanthropic generosity as his on-screen success, blamed the over-regulated Canadian telecommunications industry for the difficulty.

Dissent Colors FCC`s Appoval of Incentive Auction Bidding Procedures

Washington, D.C.- On August 6th, the FCC held its monthly open meeting. The meeting produced substantial strides on the road to the incentive auction, but there is little agreement or excitement surrounding the steps taken. DigitalLiberty followed along and live tweeted some of the crucial developments that took place.

The Commission approved both the bidding procedures for the auction, as well as a technical order concerning the use of unlicensed devises in the 600 MHz band. The incentive auction start date has officially been set for March 29th, 2016, and there is no turning back.

Discouragingly, the incentive auction bidding procedures passed by a party-line vote of 3-2. It would have been preferable to see the approval of procedures that will have such a monumental effect on the future of our nation, passed unanimously by a Commission that felt they did all they could to ensure the success of the auction.

With the Commission's vote behind us, the bidding procedures are approved, the start date is set, and for better or worse the clock is officially ticking on the incentive auction. In only 60 days the application period for participants will begin. It is sure to be a captivating journey into March, so be sure to stay tuned with DigitalLiberty.

Congress Call in Roto-Rooter, Open the Spectrum Pipeline

America is starving for spectrum. In the period from 2009 to 2014 mobile wireless data usage increased 35 fold. The average smart phone user went from using 450 megabits of data per month in 2012 to 1.8 gigabits in 2014. In the same year over 500 petabytes (500 million gigabytes) of mobile traffic flew across the United States, and this number is projected to increase 6 fold by 2019. All of this data travels on the commercial spectrum highway. As we speed into the future of mobile technology, it is clear our data-usage is headed nowhere but up. 


The Economic Imperative for Strong IP Protections

Today, the World Intellectual Property Organization holds its’ meeting on patent law. Recently, Digital Liberty joined a coalition of 85 free market think tanks, advocacy groups, and organizations, spanning 51 nations around the world, in submitting guidelines on intellectual property rights, to Dr. Francis Gurry the Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

One key factor highlighted by the guidelines is the indisputable relationship between strong IP laws and economic competitiveness.

Property rights are the cornerstone of free market enterprise. Clear rules of ownership are essential to the ability of individuals to engage in just and unadulterated trade. Intellectual property rights are chief among these fundamental building blocks of our Capitalist system. The property of the artists, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs who drive our economy forward, must be secure, in order for the market to judge the relative values of the goods they produce. When IP rights are not secure, the relationship between buyers and sellers is obscured, and the economy suffers. This is not just sound logic, it is a demonstrable fact.

Digital Liberty Joins Global Coalition in Submitting Intellectual Property Rights Guidelines

Ahead of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s July 27th meeting on patent law, Digital Liberty joined a coalition of 85 free market think tanks, advocacy groups, and organizations, spanning 51 nations around the world, in submitting guidelines on intellectual property rights, to Dr. Francis Gurry the Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These guidelines express the tenants our organizations believe must be preserved in any international intellectual property rights agreement.

The right to property and a government’s responsibility to protect this right, is one of the fundamental doctrines of our society. The combination of an expanding global economy and the Internet, a medium that is inherently shared and open, presents a unique and troublesome environment for the maintenance of this founding principal. Although both the global economy and Internet can threaten intellectual property rights, all economies rely upon IP for the success of a growing digital economy. 

Today’s new technologies, revolutionary methods for collaboration, and exploding fields of innovation, will be wasted if the work of the individuals who use them is not properly protected. The mark of a great society, and often its success, is determined by how well it preserves the rights of the artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs who drive the world forward. The coalition’s guidelines articulate the key principals necessary for this protection.  

To read the International Intellectual Property Rights Guidelines click here.