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Digital Liberty blog

The Federal Trade Commission is up to the Task for Consumer Privacy By Jonathan Cannon | April 16, 2018

The world is becoming increasingly connected. As a result more of our information is being collected online. Facebook, Google, and other websites gather petabytes of data about everyone online, whether or not you use their service. With this enormous trove of data being collected there is an increasing concern about individuals privacy.

As our digital personas grow it is imperative that consumer privacy is protected. Fortunately a federal agency exists with a strong body of precedent and experience to manage consumer privacy cases. The FTC issued a statement in March about their commitment to protect the privacy of consumers. They emphasized their enforcement tools to protect consumers against companies that do not honor their privacy promises, or engage in acts that cause substantial injury to consumers.

Coalition Sounds off to Congress: Get in Tune on the Music Modernization Act By Katie McAuliffe | April 10, 2018

Today Americans for Tax Reform, along with a number of center-right organizations, sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives in support of the Music Modernization Act, which will update copyright law benefiting America’s creative community. 

The Music Modernization act ensures that music creators get paid for their work, and makes it easier for streaming services to find and compensate artists. The Act will also create protections for sound recordings that were made before 1972 that currently do not have federal copyright protection. This helps the creators of these works receive long overdue royalties. 

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced the Music Modernization Act in December. The Bill is pending in the House Committee on the Judiciary

This legislation is noteworthy as it ensures creators are properly compensated and encourages future artists to create music for us to all enjoy in the digital age. The Senate has also proposed similar legislation that has been referred to committee. 

FCC Enacts New 5G Ready Rule. By Katie McAuliffe | March 22, 2018

Today the FCC voted 3-2 to enact a rule that walks back archaic barriers to next generation networks. To get America 5G ready, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced a plan to remove a major hurdle to 5G deployment. This plan will change FCC rules to exclude small wireless facilities from the environmental and historic review procedures designed for large macrocell deployments. 

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty had the following statement:

Digital Liberty wants to thank Commissioner Brendan Carr for his leadership in making America 5G ready. He has worked diligently to walk back unnecessary regulations that add significant costs that slowed down our infrastructure growth, adding significant costs, and reducing deployment of this critical technology.

Brendan Carr Connects the Dots for the #5GReady plan By Jonathan Cannon | March 13, 2018

There is a currently a lot of buzz revolving around 5G networks. Providers are teasing the idea of having wireless broadband available almost anywhere, with better speeds, and greater access than any fixed network currently in place. From the internet of things, self-driving cars, and more; 5G has the potential to be the biggest technological advancement of the 21st century.

To get America 5G ready, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced a plan to remove a major hurdle to 5G deployment. This plan seeks to change FCC rules to exclude small wireless facilities from the environmental and historic review procedures designed for large macrocell deployments. Commissioner Carr pioneered this plan to streamline approval of small cells by reclassifying their installation so they are no longer considered an “undertaking” under National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) or a “major federal actions” under National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). 

Senate Needs to Get Into Gear on the AV START Act By Jonathan Cannon | March 09, 2018

Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Gary Peters (D-Mich) have introduced a bipartisan bill to pave the road towards highly automated vehicles (HAVs). The American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act “proposes common sense changes in law to keep pace with advances in self-driving technology.”

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee unanimously approved the AV START Act last October. This legislation should be immediately considered as it has the opportunity to save thousands of lives.

In 2016, car accidents killed 37,000 people, 94% of these fatalities were caused by human error.  Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce or eliminate these accidents that claim far too many American lives. The advanced vehicle technologies being developed have the potential to reduce the number of crashes, while expanding mobility for people with disabilities, seniors, and those looking for more affordable transportation.

9th Circuit Hands A Big Win to The FTC, Putting Another Nail in Title II’s Coffin By Jonathan Cannon | February 28, 2018

The left said the FTC couldn’t protect consumers from so-called net neutrality violations. The 9th Circuit has now said otherwise.

On February 27th, the 9th Circuit en banc released a ruling in Federal Trade Commission v. AT&T Mobility LLC.  In this case, the court was asked to determine whether the FTC could challenge a service provider’s conduct under the FTC Actand the agency’s consumer harm and deceptive practice framework.  The FTC Act protects consumers against deceptive acts or practices but has an exemption for “common carrier” services.

In 2007, AT&T offered customers an unlimited data plan for a flat fee. In 2010, AT&T stopped offering these plans and instead offered “tiered” data plans. AT&T allowed those with unlimited data to keep their plansbut slowed down customers’ speeds if they exceeded a certain data cap. The FTC challenged AT&T’s failure to properly disclose this practice.

Restoring Internet Freedom Order Entered Into Federal Register By Katie McAuliffe | February 22, 2018

Today the Restoring Internet Freedom order was entered into the Federal Register, closing the book on the failed Title II experiment.  The FCC has finally taken steps to correct a mistake it made by passing utility style restrictions over the Internet, by returning to the open and transparent internet ecosystem.

The Restoring Internet Freedom Order does little new; it returns jurisdiction to the FTC, and mandates transparency disclosures to empower the FTC to challenge actions by both service and edge providers under it exists consumer welfare standards.

 

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

 

Digital Liberty is relieved that the RIF Order is finally a part of the Federal Register. It is critical that the FCC work with to ensure that consumers are protected. Chairman Pai’s hard work and commitment to restoring a free and open internet in the face of threats and harm is truly commendable. We thank the chairman for his dedication and commitment to restoring internet freedom. 

Don’t Tread on My Internet: Why the best place for the government in the 5G race is on the sidelines. By Jonathan Cannon | January 30, 2018

A recent news article suggested a nationalized 5G deployment in order to keep up in the race to bring about 5G networks. This idea was predicated on national security and defense. The premise of the argument was that to remain competitive and safe, The United States must be the first to implement this new technology. Fortunately, this is nothing more than a bad idea and was criticized by all members of the Federal Communications Commission.

As chairman Pai has said, “the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.” His mantra for a competitive market driven approach is the best course forward to ensure the fastest and most effective roll out of 5G. 4G exploded as a result of the major carriers working tirelessly to provide the first, fastest, and largest service area for their 4G LTE services. Competition pushed the companies to provide the service at a competitive price to consumers. If 5G is going to be the dominant technology we expect it to be, competition, not government take over is the answer

The Congressional Review Act is not the Answer to Title II Repeal By Jonathan Cannon | January 22, 2018

The founding fathers drafted the Constitution to create a more perfect republic. The cornerstone of this ideal is the separation of powers, which gives each branch distinct and unique powers. A legislative branch to create law, and an executive to enforce. As the federal government has grown, these lines have blurred as executive agencies have asserted legislative power.

Coalition Letter Supporting the Restoring Internet Freedom Order

Internet Freedom Survives Cyber Bullies By | December 14, 2017

For years—including throughout much of the Clinton Administration—taxpayers and consumers enjoyed an FCC that for the most part accepted its mission within the confines of the law. Since the Telecommunications Act was passed in 1996, the technology sector flourished and was allowed to innovate as a result of a light-touch regulatory policy.

 

The previous FCC ignored input from its own economists, stumbling toward a world of Soviet-style government-run regulatory maze with an FCC-mandated toll booth around every corner.

 

But today, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC voted to Restore Internet Freedom, and removed the Title II framework that would hamstring future innovation.