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Republican Communications Commissioners Decline to Support Additional Broadband Funding, Also Blast Big Tech

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Photo of Federal Communications Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel by New America used with permission

June 24, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission needs increased funding of an unknown amount for its broadband subsidy projects, said Comissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Wednesday.

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked O’Rielly and Carr whether they thought the Lifeline program, which provides broadband subsidies for low-income Americans, was necessary, the commissioners said yes.

However, when Blumenthal asked if they would support his call for the Senate to allocate one billion dollars to the FCC, O’Rielly said that he was not confident in the proposed number.

“I’m not against more money,” he said. “I just don’t know how much more we’re talking about… I can’t tell you that what the number is.”

Blumenthal appeared surprised at the reluctance to endorse his request. “Are you telling this committee you have no idea how much more money is necessary?” he asked.

“I’m saying I don’t know if a billion dollars is the right number or the wrong number,” Carr responded. “Could be more, could be less.”

The commissioners also faced questions from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who asked the panel about alleged anti-conservative discrimination by major social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the right of social media companies to choose their approach to content moderation, Cruz expressed concern about tech overreach.

“Do you agree that it is a problem that a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have unfettered power to silence speech with which they disagree with no transparency and no accountability whatsoever for those decisions?” he asked.

Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly agreed that it was.

“I believe the transparency has been horrible,” said O’Rielly. “How they’ve treated different groups, specifically conservatives, has been horrible.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was hesitant to say that the platforms’ behavior was unconstitutional. However, she said that she was open to reconsidering the section.

“I would understand and support the efforts of this committee and Congress to try to revisit this law,” she said, “but as you said, it is complicated.”

Elijah Labby was a Reporter with Broadband Breakfast. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and now resides in Orlando, Florida. He studies political science at Seminole State College, and enjoys reading and writing fiction (but not for Broadband Breakfast).

Social Media

Biden Revokes Trump-Era Executive Order Designed To Crack Down On Big Tech

Biden orders FCC and FTC to stand down on Trump-era order targeting social media companies.

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June 24, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission needs increased funding of an unknown amount for its broadband subsidy projects, said Comissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Wednesday.

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked O’Rielly and Carr whether they thought the Lifeline program, which provides broadband subsidies for low-income Americans, was necessary, the commissioners said yes.

However, when Blumenthal asked if they would support his call for the Senate to allocate one billion dollars to the FCC, O’Rielly said that he was not confident in the proposed number.

“I’m not against more money,” he said. “I just don’t know how much more we’re talking about… I can’t tell you that what the number is.”

Blumenthal appeared surprised at the reluctance to endorse his request. “Are you telling this committee you have no idea how much more money is necessary?” he asked.

“I’m saying I don’t know if a billion dollars is the right number or the wrong number,” Carr responded. “Could be more, could be less.”

The commissioners also faced questions from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who asked the panel about alleged anti-conservative discrimination by major social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the right of social media companies to choose their approach to content moderation, Cruz expressed concern about tech overreach.

“Do you agree that it is a problem that a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have unfettered power to silence speech with which they disagree with no transparency and no accountability whatsoever for those decisions?” he asked.

Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly agreed that it was.

“I believe the transparency has been horrible,” said O’Rielly. “How they’ve treated different groups, specifically conservatives, has been horrible.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was hesitant to say that the platforms’ behavior was unconstitutional. However, she said that she was open to reconsidering the section.

“I would understand and support the efforts of this committee and Congress to try to revisit this law,” she said, “but as you said, it is complicated.”

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Big Tech

Aron Solomon: Epic vs. Apple, The Legal Battle Royale

In the lawsuit over the massively popular game Fortnite, it’s easy for people to take sides based on our attachment to it.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Aron Solomon, head of digital strategy for NextLevel.com.

June 24, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission needs increased funding of an unknown amount for its broadband subsidy projects, said Comissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Wednesday.

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked O’Rielly and Carr whether they thought the Lifeline program, which provides broadband subsidies for low-income Americans, was necessary, the commissioners said yes.

However, when Blumenthal asked if they would support his call for the Senate to allocate one billion dollars to the FCC, O’Rielly said that he was not confident in the proposed number.

“I’m not against more money,” he said. “I just don’t know how much more we’re talking about… I can’t tell you that what the number is.”

Blumenthal appeared surprised at the reluctance to endorse his request. “Are you telling this committee you have no idea how much more money is necessary?” he asked.

“I’m saying I don’t know if a billion dollars is the right number or the wrong number,” Carr responded. “Could be more, could be less.”

The commissioners also faced questions from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who asked the panel about alleged anti-conservative discrimination by major social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the right of social media companies to choose their approach to content moderation, Cruz expressed concern about tech overreach.

“Do you agree that it is a problem that a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have unfettered power to silence speech with which they disagree with no transparency and no accountability whatsoever for those decisions?” he asked.

Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly agreed that it was.

“I believe the transparency has been horrible,” said O’Rielly. “How they’ve treated different groups, specifically conservatives, has been horrible.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was hesitant to say that the platforms’ behavior was unconstitutional. However, she said that she was open to reconsidering the section.

“I would understand and support the efforts of this committee and Congress to try to revisit this law,” she said, “but as you said, it is complicated.”

Continue Reading

Antitrust

Section 230 Has Coddled Big Tech For Too Long, Says Co-Author of Book on Amazon

Co-author of “The Amazon Jungle” says Section 230 has allowed Big Tech to get away with far too much.

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"The Amazon Jungle" co-author Jason Boyce

June 24, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission needs increased funding of an unknown amount for its broadband subsidy projects, said Comissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Wednesday.

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked O’Rielly and Carr whether they thought the Lifeline program, which provides broadband subsidies for low-income Americans, was necessary, the commissioners said yes.

However, when Blumenthal asked if they would support his call for the Senate to allocate one billion dollars to the FCC, O’Rielly said that he was not confident in the proposed number.

“I’m not against more money,” he said. “I just don’t know how much more we’re talking about… I can’t tell you that what the number is.”

Blumenthal appeared surprised at the reluctance to endorse his request. “Are you telling this committee you have no idea how much more money is necessary?” he asked.

“I’m saying I don’t know if a billion dollars is the right number or the wrong number,” Carr responded. “Could be more, could be less.”

The commissioners also faced questions from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who asked the panel about alleged anti-conservative discrimination by major social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the right of social media companies to choose their approach to content moderation, Cruz expressed concern about tech overreach.

“Do you agree that it is a problem that a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have unfettered power to silence speech with which they disagree with no transparency and no accountability whatsoever for those decisions?” he asked.

Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly agreed that it was.

“I believe the transparency has been horrible,” said O’Rielly. “How they’ve treated different groups, specifically conservatives, has been horrible.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was hesitant to say that the platforms’ behavior was unconstitutional. However, she said that she was open to reconsidering the section.

“I would understand and support the efforts of this committee and Congress to try to revisit this law,” she said, “but as you said, it is complicated.”

Continue Reading

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