Category Archives: FCC

‘Death Sentence for Local Media’: Warnings as FCC Pushes Change to Benefit Right-Wing Media Giant

Free press advocates say rule changes are “massive handout” to broadcaster Sinclair that would have far-reaching and negative impacts in communities nationwide

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-26-2017

Federal Communications Chairmain Ajit Pai continues to push through rollbacks that critics warn will enable major media companies to have an outsize influence on public opinion and fail to serve local communities. (Photo: USDA/Flickr/cc)

In a series of moves this week that have alarmed free speech advocates and critics of media consolidation, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) voted to abolish a rule requiring radio and television broadcasters to maintain studios near the communities they serve, and FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced further plans to end certain media ownership rules.

The policy shifts are expected to significantly benefit the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group—whose reported close ties to Pai have raised concerns as the federal government reviews Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, which would expand the broadcaster’s reach to 72 percent of the country. Continue reading

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‘Classic Propaganda’: Sinclair Broadcasting Pushes Aside Fox News to Become ‘Trump TV’

“It’s unheard of to have one company pushing one specific agenda reaching so many people and doing it in a way designed to evade local input”

By Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2017

The Sinclair Broadcasting cut a biased deal with Jared Kushner and the Trump campaign. Now the Trump FCC is paying back the favor. (screenshot)

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, the Sinclair Broadcasting group cut a deal with Jared Kushner for “good” coverage of the Trump Administration, which seems to have paid off.

Politico reported last December:

  Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without    commentary,  Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio,  reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 viewers[sic]— than networks like  CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000. Continue reading

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‘You Can’t Make This Up’: Comcast Threatens Legal Action Against Net Neutrality Proponents

If FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plan “is enacted, there would be nothing preventing Comcast from simply blocking sites like Comcastroturf.com that are critical of their corporate policies”

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2017

“This is exactly why we need Title II net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and censorship,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. (Photo: Alyson Hurt/cc/flickr)

Open Internet proponents who have been fighting the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutrality protections, which has been enacted at the bidding of the telecom industry, said Tuesday that Comcast is now threatening legal action saying the website Comcastroturf.com is infringing on its trademark.

As the organization Fight for the Future quipped on Twitter, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The website in question is currently providing a tool for the public to see if their names are among those stolen and used by anti-net neutrality bots to post comments in support of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to undo Title II protections that classify the internet as a public utility. Continue reading

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The future of US net neutrality under Trump

Administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. But now, net neutrality in its purest form is in peril.

By Michael J. Oghia. Published 3-17-2017 by openDemocracy

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Commissioner Ajit Pai, May 2014.Wikicommons/Federal Communications Commission.Public domain.

As this openDemocracy series has poignantly highlighted, digital rights should never be taken for granted. For all those keeping a close eye on US politics, this reality could not resonate more ominously. With the new Republican administration of Donald J. Trump, there is plenty of kindle to fuel a fire of discussion and, often enough, outrage.

Yet, behind all of the grandstanding, tweeting, and obscene showmanship, there lies a political machine forged in the corridors of Capitol Hill, skyscraping towers of corporate America, and musty legal libraries ready to take up the bureaucratic responsibility of running the United States. You see, outside of the more widely covered political issues such as immigration and healthcare, administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. Continue reading

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Dumb’: Trump Signs Executive Order Torching Regulations

“It will fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2017

A demonstrator in Washington, D.C. holds a sign on Jan. 27, 2017. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that aims to slash regulations—an action, advocacy groups say, that puts lives at risk.

The order—the latest of a flurry since he took office—states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination,” fulfilling a campaign promise he made.

“For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero,” it adds. Continue reading

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FCC Passes Sweeping Internet Privacy Rules in ‘Big Win for Civil Rights’

New rules require internet service providers to get customers’ explicit consent before sharing data with third parties

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-27-2016

The rules require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to get customers' explicit consent before using or sharing behavioral data like browsing history, location, and other sensitive information. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)

The rules require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to get customers’ explicit consent before using or sharing behavioral data like browsing history, location, and other sensitive information. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday passed sweeping new privacy rules designed to keep broadband providers from giving customers’ private data to third parties.

The rules, approved by a vote of 3-2, require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to get customers’ explicit consent before using or sharing behavioral data like browsing history, location, and other sensitive information with marketing firms or other companies, the Washington Post reports.

“It’s the consumers’ information,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said. “How it is used should be the consumers’ choice. Not the choice of some corporate algorithm.” Continue reading

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FCC Finally Drags Political Ad Transparency Into 21st Century

While there’s more to do, unanimous vote will help expose “vital information about who’s seeking to influence our elections.”

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-28-2016

The 2016 election will see an expected $4.4 billion in political ad spending on TV this year. (Image: @SunFoundation/Twitter)

The 2016 election will see an expected $4.4 billion in political ad spending on TV this year. (Image: @SunFoundation/Twitter)

Amid what is predicted to be the most expensive campaign cycle ever, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday voted to make more information about purchases of political advertising available online.

Campaign finance reform advocates applauded the development, but said there was much further to go.

“These political files contain valuable information about the ads, such as how much they cost and when they ran,” the Sunlight Foundation said following the vote. “Having the political ad files online is important: In some cases they provide the only public information available on groups that are thinly disguised as nonprofit ‘social welfare’ organizations but are, in fact, major campaign players.” Continue reading

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15 News Stories from 2015 You Should Have Heard About But Probably Didn’t

Written by Carey Wedler. Published 12-30-2015 by Anti Media.

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, January 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman)

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, January 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman)

In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism (I repeat myself) to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be.

However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world. Continue reading

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Pro-Democracy Group Warns of Secret Right-Wing Push to Rewrite Constitution

‘This is a national train wreck that must be stopped,’ says Common Cause

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-2-2015

"This is total constitutional terra incognita," one reporter said of an Article V convention. (Photo: Kim Davies/flickr/cc)

“This is total constitutional terra incognita,” one reporter said of an Article V convention. (Photo: Kim Davies/flickr/cc)

Under the radar of corporate media and general public, a “dangerous proposal” is bubbling up in state legislatures throughout the country—one that could trigger “political chaos that would make past upheavals like the Watergate scandal and the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton seem tame by comparison.”

So warned the grassroots, pro-democracy group Common Cause on Wednesday, in a new report entitled, The Dangerous Path: Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution (pdf).

The threat comes in the form of a constitutional convention, assembled under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, one of several mechanisms that enables future amendments. Article V requires Congress to call such a gathering once 34 state legislatures submit petitions to do so; new constitutional amendments agreed to at the confab would then be sent back to the states for ratification. Continue reading

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‘Codifying’ Government Surveillance, Senate Passes CISA

“If President Obama does not veto this bill, he’ll be showing that his administration never truly cared about the open Internet,” rights group says

Written by Nadia Prupis. Published 10-27-2015 by Common Dreams.

The U.S. Senate approved CISA on Tuesday. (Screenshot)

The U.S. Senate approved CISA on Tuesday. (Screenshot)

Update:
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) without any of the proposed amendments that would have strengthened user protections. The bill passed 74-21 (see the roll call here).

Rights groups immediately called for President Barack Obama to veto the bill and vowed to keep pressure up.

“Every senator supporting #CISA today voted against a world with freedom, democracy, and basic human rights,” tweeted digital rights organization Fight for the Future. “If President Obama does not veto this bill, he’ll be showing that his administration never truly cared about the open Internet.”

“This vote will go down as the moment Congress codified the US government’s unconstitutional spying. A sad day for the Internet,” the group added.

In their response to CISA’s passage in the Senate, the Electronic Frontier Foundation marked its disappointment and said: “The bill is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities.”

With the bill now moving to conference committee, but EFF expressed no confidence that the bill would be improved.

“The passage of CISA reflects the misunderstanding many lawmakers have about technology and security,” EFF continued. “Computer security engineers were against it.  Academics were against it. Technology companies, including some of Silicon Valley’s biggest like Twitter and Salesforce, were against it. Civil society organizations were against it. And constituents sent over 1 million faxes opposing CISA to Senators.”

EFF vowed that the fight against the bill would continue through the conference committee process, where it will urge lawmakers to add pro-privacy provisions. “We will never stop fighting for lawmakers to either understand technology or understand when they need to listen to the people who do,” the group said.

The official Senate roll call to the vote follows:

Alphabetical by Senator Name

Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Ayotte (R-NH), Yea
Baldwin (D-WI), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Yea
Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea
Blunt (R-MO), Yea
Booker (D-NJ), Nay
Boozman (R-AR), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Capito (R-WV), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Cassidy (R-LA), Yea
Coats (R-IN), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Coons (D-DE), Nay
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Cotton (R-AR), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Cruz (R-TX), Not Voting
Daines (R-MT), Nay
Donnelly (D-IN), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Ernst (R-IA), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Fischer (R-NE), Yea
Flake (R-AZ), Yea
Franken (D-MN), Nay
Gardner (R-CO), Yea
Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Not Voting
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Heinrich (D-NM), Yea
Heitkamp (D-ND), Yea
Heller (R-NV), Nay
Hirono (D-HI), Yea
Hoeven (R-ND), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (R-WI), Yea
Kaine (D-VA), Yea
King (I-ME), Yea
Kirk (R-IL), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Lankford (R-OK), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Lee (R-UT), Nay
Manchin (D-WV), Yea
Markey (D-MA), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Merkley (D-OR), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Moran (R-KS), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murphy (D-CT), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Paul (R-KY), Not Voting
Perdue (R-GA), Yea
Peters (D-MI), Yea
Portman (R-OH), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rounds (R-SD), Yea
Rubio (R-FL), Not Voting
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Sasse (R-NE), Yea
Schatz (D-HI), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Scott (R-SC), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shaheen (D-NH), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Sullivan (R-AK), Nay
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Tillis (R-NC), Yea
Toomey (R-PA), Yea
Udall (D-NM), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Not Voting
Warner (D-VA), Yea
Warren (D-MA), Nay
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Nay

Earlier:

As the U.S. Senate gears up for a vote on the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Tuesday, privacy advocates are galvanizing an 11th-hour push against the bill they say does nothing more than expand government spying powers.

A slew of digital rights groups including Fight for the Future and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with whistleblower Edward Snowden and outspoken CISA opponent Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), joined forces Monday night for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit, which has also come out against the bill. The session was the latest action by civil society groups, activists, and tech companies calling on Congress to reject CISA for its anti-privacy provisions.

“CISA isn’t a cybersecurity bill,” Snowden wrote during the Q&A. “It’s not going to stop any attacks. It’s not going to make us any safer. It’s a surveillance bill.”

Supporters of CISA—including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.)—say the bill would make it easier for tech companies to share data in cases of security breaches and other digital attacks. But critics say there aren’t enough safeguards in place to protect user privacy and the bill only works to serve intelligence agencies in domestic surveillance operations.

“What it allows is for the companies you interact with every day—visibly, like Facebook, or invisibly, like AT&T—to indiscriminately share private records about your interactions and activities with the government,” Snowden wrote on Monday. “CISA allows private companies to immediately share a perfect record of your private activities the instant you click a link, log in, make a purchase, and so on—and the government with reward for doing it by granting them a special form of legal immunity for their cooperation.”

Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer said the Senate’s vote on Tuesday “will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in.”

The campaigns, which are being waged under the hashtag #StopCISA, urge senators to oppose the bill and protect civil liberties.

Greer added, “Every Senator who votes for CISA will be voting for a world without freedom of expression, a world without true democracy, a world without basic human rights. And they will be voting for their own removal from office, because the Internet will not forget which side of history they stood on.”

Follow the #StopCISA hashtag Twitter feed for more.

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