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posted by janrinok on Sunday October 23 2016, @05:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the watch-what-you-want,-where-you-want,-when-you-want dept.

After a rare setback, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is still pushing for votes on plans to reform the cable TV set-top box market and impose new privacy rules on broadband providers.

The FCC was scheduled to vote on the cable TV plan at its last meeting on September 29 but removed it from the agenda when the commission's Democratic majority couldn't agree on all the details. Last-minute negotiations aren't uncommon before FCC meetings, but this was a rare case of Wheeler not having enough votes to move forward with a controversial agenda item.

The cable TV proposal—which would require TV providers to make video applications for third-party set-top boxes—is not on the agenda for next week's FCC meeting. But it could theoretically be passed at any time, as commissioners can vote on it between meetings. It's not clear whether a vote is imminent, but Wheeler touted the plan again in an op-ed on CNET yesterday.

"There is currently a proposal before the FCC that would end the set-top box stranglehold," Wheeler wrote. "If adopted, consumers would no longer have to pay monthly fees to rent a box. Instead, they would be able to access their pay-TV content via free apps on a variety of devices, including smart TVs, streaming boxes, tablets and smartphones. Consumers would also enjoy a better viewing experience thanks to integrated search and new innovation that will flow from enhanced competitive choice."

The TV plan has faced persistent opposition from the cable industry, even though the FCC changed it to assuage some of the industry's concerns. Industry opposition hasn't stopped the FCC from approving other controversial rules, such as the reclassification of broadband and imposition of net neutrality regulations. But in this case, the vote was delayed because Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel seems to be concerned about how cable company applications would be licensed to third-party device makers.


Original Submission

Related Stories

FCC Approves Proposed Broadband Privacy Rules 13 comments

Techraptor is reporting on the adoption of these rules:

The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) has adopted new rules which broadband providers must adhere to regarding the privacy of customer data. The FCC has published a press release as well as a fact sheet which explain some of the details of the new rules. The FCC claims authority in this area based on the Communications Act, which requires telecommunications companies to protect the privacy of their customers. The FCC has already implemented rules governing privacy for telephone companies and is now applying the same standard to broadband providers.

The FCC has implemented rules requiring notifications of how ISPs handle customer data. ISPs must tell customers what types of data are collected, the purpose of any data sharing that takes place, and what types of entities the data is shared with. Customers must be informed of the data sharing policy when they sign up for the service, and receive notifications any time the policy is updated. Additionally, the rules require that the policy is “persistently” available either on a website or a mobile app.

The rules distinguish between sensitive data and non-sensitive data. Some of the examples given for sensitive data include precise geolocation data, financial information, social security numbers, browsing history, and the content of communications. Such information can only be shared with third-parties on an opt-in basis and customers must explicitly consent to the sharing. Data like email addresses are considered non-sensitive and can be shared by default, with the opportunity for customers to opt-out. The FCC allows exemptions to the consent requirements for some purposes. For example if sharing data is necessary to provide the broadband service, to bill the customer, or to protect an ISP from fraudulent use of its network.

More information can be gleaned from TFA, and unsurprisingly, the vote and approval of these rules has been widely reported, with coverage from USA Today, Consumer Reports and The Washington Post, among others.

Do these privacy rules go too far, not far enough or are they just about right?
Is this a boon for the privacy minded or just another blatant example of government overreach? Is it both at the same time?

Related coverage:
After Setback, FCC Chairman Keeps Pushing Set-Top Box and Privacy Rules
FCC Waters Down Internet Privacy Proposal
Comcast Wants to Charge for Privacy


Original Submission

Politics: FCC Guards Eject Reporter 37 comments

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."

Politico

According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

Congresspeople Ask FCC to Ditch Set-top Box Plan 33 comments

Ars Technica reports that nineteen Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written a letter (PDF) to the new chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking him to "close the docket" (end) a proposal regarding set-top boxes.

Tom Wheeler, the previous chair, had made the proposal, which he had touted by saying:

If adopted, consumers would no longer have to pay monthly fees to rent a box. Instead, they would be able to access their pay-TV content via free apps on a variety of devices, including smart TVs, streaming boxes, tablets and smartphones. Consumers would also enjoy a better viewing experience thanks to integrated search and new innovation that will flow from enhanced competitive choice.

The proposal (PDF) advocates that

Consumers should be able to choose how they access the Multichannel Video Programming Distributor's (MVPD's) – cable, satellite or telco companies [sic] – video services to which they subscribe. For example, consumers should be able to have the choice of accessing programming through the MVPD-provided interface on a pay-TV set-top box or app, or through devices such as a tablet or smart TV using a competitive app or software. MVPDs and competitors should be able to differentiate themselves and compete based on the experience they offer users, including the quality of the user interface and additional features like suggested content, integration with home entertainment systems, caller ID and future innovations.

[Continues...]

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by edIII on Sunday October 23 2016, @05:51AM

    by edIII (791) on Sunday October 23 2016, @05:51AM (#417765)

    My guess is that they refuse to sell the device to you, because renting it leaves it in their possession. Having it in their possession means they control all of the hardware, code, keys, algorithms, etc. As well as greater legal rights in pursuing remedies against subscribers that attempt to modify their units, reverse engineer them, etc.

    Otherwise, if you exchange the box ever couple of years for an upgrade, it's not a bad type of lease. That being said, fuck cable TV anyways. Cut the cable 10 years ago :) I have the Internet, the massive fucking upgrade to cable TV ;P

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @07:33AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @07:33AM (#417784)

      You cable subscribers all love to brag about how you cut your cord. Me, I never had a cord to cut. Never had cable. Ever. Truly I am better than you, and I always will be.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:13PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:13PM (#417842)

        You've got some personal issues to work through.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:48AM (#417798)

      Box renting fees add up to an income of several tens of billions of dollars, every year.

      Selling the boxes would probably somewhat cut that revenue stream down, although they'd still keep the monopoly. Removing the monopoly (aka allowing you to buy and use a third-party box) would definitely remove most of that revenue.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Joe Desertrat on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:13PM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:13PM (#417843)

        Selling the boxes would probably somewhat cut that revenue stream down, although they'd still keep the monopoly. Removing the monopoly (aka allowing you to buy and use a third-party box) would definitely remove most of that revenue.

        Maybe, but I suspect it will be much like PC's or mobile devices. Most people will simply use what is offered with their cable or satellite installation. Unless cable boxes become inexpensive, easy to install, configure and use and are readily available everywhere the greater majority will not bother.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Sunday October 23 2016, @08:55AM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Sunday October 23 2016, @08:55AM (#417790) Journal

    The only fix will be to break away content from the means of transmission. Comcast NBC, and now ATTDish Time Warner, are only bundled because it allows them to dominate negotiations with other transmission companies.

    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:39PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:39PM (#417833)

      There's an 85B$ merger in progress that says that's not going to happen.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:17PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:17PM (#417845)

        It is $85B, not 85B$.

        Or, it could be 850T¢.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:12AM (#417792)

    the fcc cannot regulate wireless, this is a decision that the monopolies have been looking for..

    because they get to keep all the money they where given to bring fiber to the home no strings and no lawsuits

    also they get to charge for transfer in an unlimited manner because load(which is an argument that has never worked since isdn) but it does now so no more rules, that is what this means unlimited charges and very limited service, it's a money printng press but done with a computer so peoples brains are out the window..

    it's the end of the internet, creativity and anything but remakes of remakes

    cause I got the guns so fuck you