Broadband Roundup: FTC Against Public Utility Broadband Regulation, Holder Slaps Tech Industry, and FCC Video News

FCC, Media, Media ownership, Wireless October 2nd, 2014

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2014 ­- Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen warned that reclassifying broadband under public utility regulation including in Title II of the Communications Act would put ISPs beyond the legal reach of the FTC, the Washington Post reported. The item was previously reported in Broadband Breakfast. Currently, the FTC is not able to bring actions against common carriers. Title II reclassification would put many more companies under such a regime.

Ohlhausen stated that she is less worried about the loss of FTC power, and more about consumers’ loss of FTC protection. While Ohlhausen and the FTC have not explicitly stated how best protect the open internet, her comments are a testament to the Commission’s conviction in the power of antitrust law to oversee internet service providers.

Holder Slaps Tech Sector on Mobile Device Encryption

Departing Attorney General Eric Holder said that new forms of device encryption, including those expected to be included in Apple’s iOS 8 and Google’s Android L, could put children at increased risk, the Washington Post reported. Holder warned that the inability to decrypt mobile device data could jeopardize investigations into time-sensitive crimes like kidnapping.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Many privacy advocates claim that companies like Google and Apple are just adding the same type encryption that has historically been found in personal computers. Many individuals now use their personal mobile devices as their “computer.”

FCC Overturns Sports Blackout Rule, Wants Comcast Programming Contracts

In a unanimous decision, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced that it would repeal the sports blackout rule, which commissioners called “outdated.” The rule prohibited satellite and cable operators from airing particular sports events on local broadcast stations. This often prevented local consumers from watching their teams’ games.

Separately, the FCC is asking media companies for their programming agreements with Comcast in order to aid in its review of the cable company’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. The information in the agreements, along with additional documents and data pertaining to the deal negotiations, would allow the Commission to assess the leverage the combined cable company would have over its media partners, the agency said.

However, the agency has received pushback from media companies like CBS, 21st Century Fox, Disney, and Viacom. They say their programming contracts contain “extremely sensitive business data and information, and highly proprietary and scrupulously protected terms and conditions,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

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