Archive for the ‘ajit pai’ Category

FCC has to pay journalist $43,000 after hiding net neutrality records

March 22nd, 2019
Shredded documents with a magnifying glass and the words,

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Nicholas Rigg)

The Federal Communications Commission has settled a case over its refusal to comply with a public records request, agreeing to pay $43,000 to a journalist who sued the commission.

Freelance writer Jason Prechtel filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FCC in mid-2017, asking for data that would identify who made bulk comment uploads in the proceeding that led to the repeal of net neutrality rules. Prechtel was trying to research comments that were falsely attributed to people without their knowledge.

The FCC didn't comply with the request and allegedly didn't even approve or deny the FOIA request within the legally allotted timeframe, so Prechtel sued the commission in September 2017. One year later, a US District Court judge presiding over the case ordered the FCC to stop withholding certain records sought by Prechtel, although the ruling didn't give Prechtel everything he asked for.

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Ajit Pai’s plan for phone location data never mentions the word “privacy”

March 14th, 2019
A person's hand holding a smartphone that is displaying a map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | skaman306)

Smartphone 911 location data is getting more precise, but the Federal Communications Commission isn't updating its privacy rules despite carriers' history of selling their customers' location data.

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint were recently found to be selling detailed location data to third parties, despite rules banning such sales, and requiring that data to be used only for 911 purposes. The data ended up in the hands of bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, bail agents, and others, Motherboard reported in one of a series of articles detailing such privacy violations.

On Friday this week, the FCC is scheduled to vote on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) requiring collection of more precise location data. The data, referred to as "Z-axis" data, would identify a person's floor in a multi-story building when someone calls 911. Carriers could gather this data by using the barometric pressure sensors in a customer's phone to determine a person's distance above the ground to within three meters.

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John Oliver fights robocalls… by robocalling Ajit Pai and the FCC

March 11th, 2019
Screenshot from John Oliver's show on robocalls, with Oliver gesturing toward a picture of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / John Oliver talking about FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. (credit: HBO)

Comedian John Oliver is taking aim at the Federal Communications Commission again, this time demanding action on robocalls while unleashing his own wave of robocalls against FCC commissioners.

In a 17-minute segment yesterday on HBO's Last Week Tonight, Oliver described the scourge of robocalls and blamed Pai for not doing more to stop them. Oliver ended the segment by announcing that he and his staff are sending robocalls every 90 minutes to all five FCC commissioners.

"Hi FCC, this is John from customer service," Oliver's recorded voice says on the call. "Congratulations, you've just won a chance to lower robocalls in America today... robocalls are incredibly annoying, and the person who can stop them is you! Talk to you again in 90 minutes—here's some bagpipe music."

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Ajit Pai’s rosy broadband deployment claim may be based on gigantic error

March 7th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai drinking from a giant coffee mug in front of an FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Ajit Pai's latest claim that his deregulatory policies have increased broadband deployment may be based in part on a gigantic error.

Pai's claim was questionable from the beginning, as we detailed last month. The Federal Communications Commission data cited by Chairman Pai merely showed that deployment continued at about the same rate seen during the Obama administration. Despite that, Pai claimed that new broadband deployed in 2017 was made possible by the FCC "removing barriers to infrastructure investment."

But even the modest gains cited by Pai rely partly on the implausible claims of one ISP that apparently submitted false broadband coverage data to the FCC, advocacy group Free Press told the FCC in a filing this week.

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Ajit Pai says broadband access is soaring—and that he’s the one to thank

February 20th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai seen from the side as he listens during a Senate committee hearing.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai listens during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Ajit Pai says the Federal Communications Commission's annual broadband assessment will show that his deregulatory policies have substantially improved access in the United States. The annual report will also conclude that broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely basis.

The FCC hasn't released the full Broadband Deployment Report yet and won't do so until the commission votes on whether to approve the draft version sometime in the next few weeks. For now, the FCC has only issued a one-page press release with a few data points and some quotes from Chairman Pai in which he claims that his policy changes caused the improvements.

But Pai offered no proof of any connection between his policy decisions and the increased deployment. Moreover, broadband deployment improved at similar rates during the Obama administration, despite Pai's claims that the FCC's net neutrality rules harmed deployment during that period.

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Ajit Pai orders phone companies to adopt new anti-robocall tech in 2019

February 14th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking and gesturing with his hands.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on May 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla)

The Federal Communications Commission will consider "regulatory intervention" if major phone companies fail to adopt a new anti-robocall technology this year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been pressuring phone companies to implement the "SHAKEN" and "STIR" robocall-blocking protocols, which perform Caller ID authentication. Most major providers have committed to doing so, but Pai issued a warning to laggards yesterday.

"I applaud those companies that have committed to deploy the SHAKEN/STIR framework in 2019," Pai said in his statement yesterday. "This goal should be achievable for every major wireless provider, interconnected VoIP operator, and telephone company—and I expect those lagging behind to make every effort to catch up. If it appears major carriers won't meet the deadline to get this done this year, the FCC will have to consider regulatory intervention."

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Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, Policy, robocalls, Sprint, TDS Telecom | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai loses in court—judges overturn gutting of Tribal broadband program

February 4th, 2019
A US map with lines representing broadband networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | jangeltun)

A federal appeals court has overturned Ajit Pai's attempt to take broadband subsidies away from Tribal residents.

The Pai-led Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in November 2017 to make it much harder for Tribal residents to obtain a $25-per-month Lifeline subsidy that reduces the cost of Internet or phone service.

The change didn't take effect because in August 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed the FCC decision pending appeal. The same court followed that up on Friday last week with a ruling that reversed the FCC decision and remanded the matter back to the commission for a new rule-making proceeding.

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Ajit Pai thanks Congress for helping him kill net neutrality rules

January 2nd, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai smiling and shaking someone's hand at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Enlarge / Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai arrives for his confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce Committee on July 19, 2017, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

Ajit Pai today celebrated a victory in his ongoing quest to prevent the US government from enforcing net neutrality rules.

The Pai-led Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules, but the repeal could have been reversed by Congress if it acted before the end of its session. Democrats won a vote to reverse the repeal in the Senate but weren't able to get enough votes in the House of Representatives before time ran out.

"I'm pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the US House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed Internet regulation," Pai said in a statement marking the deadline passage today. Pai claimed that broadband speed improvements and new fiber deployments in 2018 occurred because of his net neutrality repeal—although speeds and fiber deployment also went in the right direction while net neutrality rules were in place.

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Ajit Pai isn’t saying whether ISPs deliver the broadband speeds you pay for

November 19th, 2018
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai drinking from a giant coffee mug in front of an FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Nearly two years have passed since the Federal Communications Commission reported on whether broadband customers are getting the Internet speeds they pay for.

In 2011, the Obama-era FCC began measuring broadband speeds in nearly 7,000 consumer homes as part of the then-new Measuring Broadband America program. Each year from 2011 to 2016, the FCC released an annual report comparing the actual speeds customers received to the advertised speeds customers were promised by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, and other large ISPs.

But the FCC hasn't released any new Measuring Broadband America reports since Republican Ajit Pai became the commission chairman in January 2017. Pai's first year as chair was the first time the FCC failed to issue a new Measuring Broadband America report since the program started—though the FCC could release a new report before his second year as chair is complete.

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Ajit Pai killed rules that could have helped Florida recover from hurricane

October 18th, 2018
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

The Federal Communications Commission chairman slammed wireless carriers on Tuesday for failing to quickly restore phone service in Florida after Hurricane Michael, calling the delay "completely unacceptable."

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's statement ignored his agency's deregulatory blitz that left consumers without protections designed to ensure restoration of service after disasters, according to longtime telecom attorney and consumer advocate Harold Feld.

The Obama-era FCC wrote new regulations to protect consumers after Verizon tried to avoid rebuilding wireline phone infrastructure in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in October 2012. But Pai repealed those rules, claiming that they prevented carriers from upgrading old copper networks to fiber. Pai's repeal order makes zero mentions of Fire Island and makes reference to Verizon's response to Hurricane Sandy only once, in a footnote.

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