May 13, 2021—The Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance Lina Khan’s nomination despite pushback from a handful of Republican committee members.
President Joe Biden tapped the associate professor of law at Columbia Law School to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission back in March. Khan is a well-known critic of Big Tech and is a prominent figure in antitrust circles.
While Democrats unanimously approved Khan, four of the 12 Republicans voted against her nomination. This is a departure from the partisan divide that resulted from the Senate Banking Committee’s vote in March, which was divided completely along party lines — with 12 Republicans voting against and 12 Democrats voting in favor.
Even though her criticism of Big Tech appears to have gained her some heavyweight conservative supporters such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the age of 32, some Republicans have noted that she lacks the experience necessary to lead the FTC.
Both Cruz and ranking minority leader Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, indicated that they would look forward to working with Khan.
Biden makes cybersecurity executive order on day Colonial Pipeline comes online
On Wednesday, Joe Biden signed an executive order on improving the U.S.’s cybersecurity capabilities, following the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds breach in December 2020.
The order will establish a cybersecurity review board that will be made up of both private and public sector employees, and they will be tasked not only with analyzing cyberattacks, but also creating a playbook for how to address such attacks.
Additionally, the order will lower existing barriers to information sharing and is designed to better leverage private/public relationships with information and operational technology firms.
On the same day, Colonial Pipeline began to come back online, after being besieged for six days. The attack represented one of the largest cyberattacks on infrastructure in U.S. history.
Despite claiming that their goals were purely financial, the hacker group responsible, DarkSide, wreaked havoc with the attack.
The average price of gas jumped to three dollars for the first time in seven years, according to ABC News, and gas stations all across the south eastern U.S. were running out of gas thanks to the shortage and panic buying. As of the morning of May 13, 71 percent of gas stations in North Carolina were still out of fuel.
Biden administration announces that it plans to join the anti-extremism pledge
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced last week that the U.S. would join the “Christchurch call,” a pledge designed to demonstrate a commitment to combating online extremist content.
The pledge is named after the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, when in 2019 a white supremacist killed 51 people in an attack that targeted two mosques.
While the Trump administration declined to commit to the pledge, the Biden administration stated that it would, and without curtailing free speech. The Biden administration has taken the position that more speech is the best antidote to extremism.
“Put simply, we remain of the view that the preferred way to defeat terrorist and violent extremist speech is more speech: to counter it with credible, alternative narratives that promote rather than restrict free expression,” Ned Price, the Department of State’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
New Multitenant Proposal Praised, Dutch Fine Apple, Cameron Comms Expands in Louisiana
Associations including INCOMPAS and WISPA applaud new multitenant proposal.
January 24, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel‘s proposal Friday to impose new rules that would ban some, but stopped short of other, exclusivity agreements between internet service providers and multitenant units is being lauded by some.
The proposal would ban exclusive revenue sharing agreements, in which the landlord gets a share of service provider contracts; require providers disclose to tenants “in plain language” the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements; and clarifies rules to allow for multiple service providers to use building wires to deliver service. The proposal will now go to a vote by the commission.
“For far too long monopolies have locked out broadband competition and blocked faster speeds, lower prices, and better service to a hundred million Americans who live in apartments and condo buildings. We are encouraged to hear that Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has taken action to move forward on an Order in the proceeding,” Chip Pickering, CEO of Internet and Competitive Networks Association (INCOMPAS), said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the entire FCC to forge a bipartisan decision that will enable every customer to choose their broadband provider and will lead to more competition bringing faster speeds, better customer service, and lower prices.”
In its own statement Monday, the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association applauded the proposal. “WISPA members have long-sought to open up the underserved Multi-Dwelling/Multi-Tenant marketplace to more providers,” the statement said. “We believe that the Chairwoman’s work represents great forward progress on the matter, which, when completed, should help consumers experience better and more affordable offerings for their broadband services.”
In submissions to the FCC late last year, housing and public interest groups urged the agency to ban all forms of exclusivity agreements, including marketing and revenue sharing arrangements, that they said lessened service provider competition for tenants.
Dutch antitrust authorities fine Apple
Dutch antitrust authorities have fined Apple €5 million after the company failed to adhere to an order to support third-party, alternative payment systems.
The Authority for Consumer Markets issued the fine on Monday a little more than a week after Apple said it would comply with the body’s order on Jan. 15; the ACM maintains Apple failed to comply. Apple was originally ordered to make changes back in December.
Though Apple is appealing the fine, according to Reuters, ACM said that the company would face weekly fines beginning at €5 million, going up to €50 million.
Cameron Communications expands in Louisiana
American Broadband Holding Company subsidiary Cameron Communications announced Monday its expansion into Westlake, Louisiana where it will deploy fiber-to-the-premises services and gigabit speeds for both residents and businesses.
The expansion into Westlake is a part of a broader initiative to further serve rural communities in the region, the company said in a statement.
“We believe everyone should have access to quality and reliable internet service and are excited to provide the Westlake community with an offering that brings the future of communications and entertainment into their homes and businesses,” Cameron Communications General Manager Bruce Petry said in the statement. “We understand the needs of Westlake customers because we have decades of expertise serving this region of the state and navigating the challenges that come with it.”
Cameron Communications is based out of southern Louisiana but maintains networks throughout the state and in several localities in Texas.
Biden’s Involvement in 5G, Residential 5 Gbps in Northwest, New Technology Advisory Council
The president urged wireless carriers to comply with the aviation industry’s requests for further delays on new network launches.
January 21, 2022 – President Joe Biden says he pushed wireless carriers to accommodate aviation companies’ concerns about the networks’ launch of 5G that occurred Wednesday.
Biden encouraged carriers to give airlines even more time to examine their aviation equipment for possible interference with 5G before the new network updates were launched.
Verizon and AT&T announced Tuesday that they would limit 5G service around some airports, giving in to some of the aviation industry’s concerns.
Both companies had initially planned to launch their network changes on January 5 but further delayed launch at the request of airlines. January 5 was already a delayed launch date, with the companies having earlier planned rollout for 2021.
“What I’ve done is pushed as hard as I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines until they could more modernize over the years, so 5G would not interfere with the potential of a landing” said Biden following the events of Wednesday’s launch.
He says he spoke with Verizon and AT&T on the same day the launch took place.
The president did not mention any government fixes to the conflict, saying it was an argument between “two private enterprises,” despite speculation that following the messy fight the administration may develop a national spectrum strategy or the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration may release updated memoranda on the issues.
Ziply Fiber offers 5 Gigabit per second residential service
Internet service provider Ziply Fiber announced it has begun offering ultra-high-speed 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 2 Gbps residential fiber internet service to customers in several cities across the Northwest.
The expansion in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho makes Ziply Fiber the first company to introduce a 5 Gbps speed for residential services, the company said.
In its announcement Thursday, the company says the expansion will bring service to nearly 170,000 residential customer addresses across 60 cities and towns.
Ziply Fiber began building out fiber in Northwest markets in 2020 and has announced construction of 57 fiber projects since then.
The company plans to introduce its 5 Gbps and 2 Gbps service in Montana later in Q1 of 2022.
FCC sets stage for new TAC membership
The FCC has appointed a new group of members to serve on its Technology Advisory Council and set a February 28 date for its first meeting with the new class.
“The advisory council provides technical expertise to the Commission to identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies,” according to the FCC.
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the new membership Wednesday with the commission’s press release calling them “a diverse group of leading technology experts.”
Dean Brenner, a former Qualcomm executive, will serve as chairman of the council, Michael Ha, chief of the policy and rules division in the Office of Engineering and Technology, will continue to serve as the designated federal officer and Martin Doczkat, chief of the electromagnetic compatibility division in the OET, is the alternate designated federal officer.
Rosenworcel highlighted that the council will work on advancing 6G research as well as numerous other issues such as examining both supply chain vulnerabilities and global standards development.
USDA Hires Lumen, Ligado Marketing Services, IRS Facial ID, New Public Knowledge Hire
The Department of Agriculture awarded Lumen a $1.2-billion, 11-year contract for data services.
January 20, 2022 – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.2-billion network services contract with telecom Lumen Technologies.
The 11-year contract will provide the department with data transport service with remote access and cloud connectivity, leveraging Lumen’s fiber network to connect 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad to better manage agriculture in the country, the press release said.
“Lumen is bringing modern technology solutions that will make it easier for the USDA to accomplish its mission of promoting the production of nutritious food that nourishes our people, providing economic opportunity to rural Americans, and preserving our nation’s natural resources through smart forest and watershed conservation,” said Zain Ahmed, Lumen’s public sector senior vice president.
The contract was granted under the General Services Administration’s $50-billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program.
Ligado Networks and Select Spectrum to strengthen critical networks
Mobile communications company Ligado Networks and spectrum brokerage and advisory firm Select Spectrum announced an agreement on Tuesday that will market and sell Ligado’s mid-band spectrum services for critical infrastructure.
“We know the critical infrastructure sector has an urgent need for dedicated access to licensed spectrum, and our mid-band spectrum, with both satellite and terrestrial connectivity, is uniquely positioned to meet this need and empower companies to operate private networks on a long-term basis,” said Ligado Networks’ CEO Doug Smith in a press release.
According to the agreement, Select Spectrum will search for those seeking to use Ligado’s licensed spectrum in the 1.6 GHz band in order to provide 5G capabilities to projects like power grid modernization and advanced transportation initiatives.
IRS to require facial recognition for taxes access
According to a Wednesday Gizmodo article, starting this summer online tax filers will have to submit a selfie to a third-party verification company called ID.me in order to make payments or file taxes online. Along with facial identification, users will also have to submit government identification documents and copies of bills to confirm their identity.
ID.me will use the selfie and compare it to the government identification document to verify the user. If the system fails to match the two documents, the user can join a recorded video to provide verification to the user.
Gizmodo’s article claimed that both the IRS and ID.me could not provide a method to access user accounts without providing a face scan. This could be problematic for tax filers that don’t have access to certain technologies.
Public Knowledge hires new senior policy analyst
Non-profit public interest group Public Knowledge announced Tuesday that it has brought on Lisa Macpherson as senior policy analyst.
According to a press release, Macpherson’s “experience driving digital marketing transformation on behalf of brands led to concerns over the broader impacts of digital technology on individual well-being, civil society, journalism, and democracy.”
- Federal Communications Commission Implements Rules for Affordable Connectivity Program
- FTC Mum on Microsoft-Activision Deal, Proposes Review of Merger Guidelines
- Attorneys General Suing Google Over Location Data Collection
- Debra Berlyn: What’s New in 2022 for Aging and Tech?
- New Multitenant Proposal Praised, Dutch Fine Apple, Cameron Comms Expands in Louisiana
- Infrastructure Bill Brings New Focus on Decision Making at Community Level
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