Former FCC Chief Suggests Big Tech, Legislators Collaborate, And Shape Regulations

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big tech

Former Federal Communications Commission boss Tom Wheeler suggests that lawmakers and big tech companies work together in crafting net neutrality regulations.

The current FCC chairman Ajit Pai could not suggest anything good other than “Let’s go ahead and kill net neutrality.” Well, that’s what he did and his agency when they repealed the regulations in December last year that took effect in June this year. He said that it’s a heavy burden for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) whose operators cannot expand and capitalize on improving their service and better serving more people.

Wheeler even challenged Pai to support a House vote on the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The former Verizon lawyer Trump-appointee wants to eliminate the 2015 Open Internet Order or Title II service of the Obama era with his Restoring Internet Freedom rule.  His agency wants to close the digital divide which according to him is a hindrance why more people in the US, especially in the rural areas could not have a better internet connection or none at all.

Silicon Valley is where most big tech companies congregate and make business operational. They are one of the most affected by the repeal of net neutrality. They need the internet most especially for advertising their products and services. Granted that they have deep pockets and can afford to pay for a faster connection but that is not the case in the first place before the net neutrality regulations have been abolished.

If a company or a business is not an affiliate of the cable and broadband provider, its internet traffic has the possibility of getting blocked, throttled, or discriminated. That is what net neutrality rules want to prevent. It wants the ISPs to treat all contents equally without any favoritism. With the current FCC’s ruling in place, these protections can no longer be expected or relied upon.

Wheeler points out that it is both the obligation and opportunity of Big Tech companies to collude with legislators in forging a set or sets of regulations. It matters according to him because he used to lobby for the cable and wireless sector for several years and come to terms with the federal rules. He entices Silicon Valley to do the same instead of dealing with more disheveled policy administration put up by regulators and states overseas.

Today, (August 16) Wheeler is set to launch the newly established Platform Accountability Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government which is the same day that Pai is going to be grilled about the alleged DDoS attack. He noted that it’s about time that the tech industry to settle on regulations, particularly on competition, privacy, and operational transparency.

“Responsible corporate action must now extend beyond the voluntary commitments that have governed the first decades of the digital era. Since the earliest days of the internet, policymakers have been afraid to touch it, subscribing to the mythology that somehow they could break the magic. But the effects of digital dominance on privacy, competition, and openness are now clear for all the see,” Wheeler writes, taking Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica controversy as a top example of how self-regulation slipped.

He also claims that regulation must be administered to the digital services and networks that would distribute them. Legislators, on the other hand, recognize the concept as mirrored in the latest policy memorandum created by Democrat Sen. Mark Warner (VA). The said memo outline 20 means of how to address the issues that afflict online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

Meanwhile, the FCC lost a battle in court in regards with the agency’s request to remove the $25 subsidy allocated for tribal areas. The court turned down the federal agency’s decision since it has no sufficient evidence to support its claims. Pai wants to kick resellers out from the Lifeline program and lower down the subsidy to only $9.25 in tribal areas and rest of the US.

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