Archive for the ‘ajit pai’ Category

Man who threatened to kill Ajit Pai’s children gets 20 months in prison

May 17th, 2019
Closeup shot of handcuffs hanging from a metal bar in a prison.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Putra Kurniawan | EyeEm)

A man who threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was today sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Markara Man, a 33-year-old from California, pleaded guilty on August 31, 2018 after making threats to Pai because he disagreed with the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules. In one email to Pai, Man wrote, "I will find your children and kill them."

"Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a Justice Department announcement of the sentencing today. The case was heard at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

May 15th, 2019
Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

Enlarge (credit: ullstein bild | Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is calling on carriers to block robocalls by default without waiting for consumers to opt in to call-blocking services. But he hasn't proposed making this a requirement and is leaving it up to carriers to decide whether to charge for such services.

To encourage carriers, Pai is proposing rule changes making it clear that carriers are allowed to block calls by default. Call blocking by default isn't explicitly outlawed by the FCC, but Pai's announcement today said that "many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call-blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC's rules."

In a call with reporters this morning, Pai said the uncertainty stems from a 2015 FCC order in which "the FCC suggested that its rules and regulations would not prohibit call-blocking services to the extent that consumers opted into them. Many members of the industry perceived that interpretation to make illegal, potentially, the blocking of calls by default."

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Ajit Pai refuses to investigate Frontier’s horrible telecom service

May 8th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai talking while standing in front of an FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 14, 2017, in Washington DC, the day of the FCC's vote to repeal net neutrality rules. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has rejected a request to have the FCC investigate Frontier Communications' business practices in Minnesota, despite evidence that the company has failed to properly maintain its telecom network.

An investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department already found that Frontier's network has "frequent and lengthy" phone and Internet outages, that Frontier has failed to provide refunds or bill credits to customers even when outages lasted for months, that Frontier is guilty of frequent billing errors that caused customers to pay for services they didn't order, and that it has failed to promptly provide telephone service to all customers who request it. When we wrote about the investigation in January, Frontier said it "strongly disagrees" with the findings but did not dispute any of the specific allegations.

The Minnesota Attorney General's office is investigating whether Frontier violated state consumer-protection laws, and the state's two US senators asked Pai to have the FCC investigate as well. When Pai wrote back to the senators, he said that he has asked his staff to "monitor" the state investigation but made no commitment to have the FCC investigate, too. Pai's response and the senators' letter were posted on the FCC's website this week.

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Ajit Pai says he’s fixed giant FCC error that exaggerated broadband growth

May 1st, 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)

The Federal Communications Commission has fixed the gigantic error that skewed its broadband deployment data, Chairman Ajit Pai announced today—while claiming that the corrected data still shows his policies are boosting broadband access.

Pai initially released a summary of the data in February, claiming it showed that his deregulatory policies have sped up broadband deployment in the United States. Even this initial, exaggerated data only showed modest growth similar to the gains seen during the Obama administration, as we reported at the time.

Pai didn't release the full Broadband Deployment Report, instead providing just a few details in a one-page press release. Despite the limited information available, advocacy group Free Press was able to discover a huge error that showed broadband progress under Pai's leadership was less impressive than he claimed. Specifically, a new ISP called BarrierFree falsely told the FCC that it went from serving zero customers to 20 percent of the country in just six months, and the FCC didn't notice the mistake on its own.

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Ajit Pai-proposed upgrade to 25Mbps starts paying off for rural ISPs

April 30th, 2019
A US map with lines representing broadband networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | jangeltun)

More than 106,000 rural homes and small businesses in 43 US states will get access to 25Mbps broadband at some point in the next decade thanks to a Federal Communications Commission policy change.

The FCC's Connect America Fund (CAF), which distributes money to ISPs in exchange for new broadband deployments in underserved areas, had been requiring speeds of just 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream over the past few years. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led a vote in December 2018 to raise the standard for new CAF projects to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.

While Pai often claims—with no evidence or with incorrect data—that his net neutrality repeal and other deregulatory policies are increasing broadband access, this decision actually will have a modest impact on broadband speeds in some rural areas.

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FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

April 12th, 2019
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 )

A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

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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.

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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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