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posted by janrinok on Saturday March 18 2023, @05:27AM   Printer-friendly

A bruising, failed 16-month FCC nomination has left President Joe Biden with little time to staff up the agency before 2024:

Shortly after coming into office, President Joe Biden moved to restore net neutrality. He signed a sweeping executive order to promote competition, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring back the Obama-era internet rules rolled back by the Trump administration.

But close to two years later, the FCC remains deadlocked with only four of its five commissioner slots filled — and Biden may be running out of time.

Biden's pick for a new FCC commissioner was Gigi Sohn, a former FCC official and public interest advocate. Sohn would have secured a long-awaited Democratic majority at the agency. After she was nominated in October 2021, however, a well-funded opposition organized a brutal opposition campaign against her. The culture-war campaign called Sohn an "extremist" and a "censor" because of past tweets criticizing Fox News and former President Donald Trump, largely ignoring her decades-long professional record. After more than 16 months and three separate confirmation hearings, Sohn withdrew her nomination earlier this month, citing the "unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks" by broadband and cable lobbyists and their friends.

It's unlikely Biden will pick someone as critical of cable companies again — but Republicans could try to thwart even a centrist candidate

Now, the White House has been forced to start over, prolonging a vacancy that continues to obstruct the administration's broadband agenda. The White House hasn't announced a new nominee or when they're hoping to confirm someone, but it's unlikely that Biden would pick someone as critical of cable companies as Sohn. Republicans and "dark money" groups have already proved that they're willing to spend millions to block progressive nominees. With so little time left in Biden's first term, stakeholders may even try to thwart a more moderate nominee, especially if there's an opportunity to continue the stalemate past the 2024 election.

Even if the White House selects a new nominee in the next few weeks, it could take months for them to be vetted and confirmed by the Senate. If the White House drags its feet in finding a replacement, Biden could be without a fifth commissioner when the 2024 election season begins. "The FCC deadlock, now over two years long, will remain so for a long time," Sohn said in a statement announcing her withdrawal last week. "It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators."

Net neutrality, which bans internet service providers from favoring or degrading the quality of specific services, was one of Biden's big-ticket promises. But as it's an issue that mostly splits down party lines, the FCC's stalemate has left his hands tied — putting states in charge of issuing their own patchwork rules.

Other parts of Biden's agenda have suffered the same problem, including ones that are facing looming deadlines.

His 2021 infrastructure package required the agency to craft rules that would ensure all Americans, despite income status, have equal access to the internet. The agency has until November to draft these new digital discrimination rules, but civil rights groups fear it may be impossible to roll out meaningful protections without a third commissioner.

"If advanced, the rule could hold broadband providers liable if their practices result in less internet access for people of color and low income communities, even if companies don't intentionally discriminate," the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a February statement on the rulemaking. "Without a fully functioning FCC, that rule is likely to be much weaker."

"Lack of FCC oversight has enabled collection and sale of cell phone location data that puts vulnerable communities at risk"

Original Submission

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The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled an April 25 vote to restore net neutrality rules similar to the ones introduced during the Obama era and repealed under former President Trump.

"After the prior administration abdicated authority over broadband services, the FCC has been handcuffed from acting to fully secure broadband networks, protect consumer data, and ensure the Internet remains fast, open, and fair," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said today. "A return to the FCC's overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open Internet."
In a filing with the FCC, Turner wrote that "ISPs have been incredibly bullish about the future of their businesses precisely because of the network investments they are making" and that the companies rarely, if ever, mention the impact of FCC regulation during calls with investors.

"We believe that the ISPs' own words to their shareholders, and to industry analysts through channels governed by the SEC, should be afforded significantly more weight than evidence-free tropes, vague threats, dubious aggregate capital expenditure tallies, or nonsensical math jargon foisted on the Commission this docket or elsewhere," Turner wrote.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @05:59AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @05:59AM (#1296822)

    We never had it, or anything close. And we won't get it by reelecting these people

    Anything less than a dumb-pipe is not neutral

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @06:06AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @06:06AM (#1296823)

      And another thing!

      Congress is supposed to write laws mandating your "net neutrality", not the FCC. Like Howard said, "Fuck the FCC"

  • (Score: 2, Troll) by Runaway1956 on Saturday March 18 2023, @09:51AM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 18 2023, @09:51AM (#1296838) Journal

    Biden has a handful of issues that he cares about. He is anti-gun, pro child groomers, pro immigration, anti border security, he hates Russia, and he fellates Zelensky at every opportunity. The senile bastard doesn't have room for anything else in his life. In regards to net neutrality, he is only better than Trump, in that he hasn't appointed a telco mouthpiece to the FCC. I mean, seriously, having no one filling the office is better than Ajit Pai.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Tork on Sunday March 19 2023, @12:02AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2023, @12:02AM (#1296978)
      "This post was brought to you by MyPillow!" Oh, wait, you were trying to shake that notion with token gripes about the other guy. Sorry!
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 1, Troll) by RedGreen on Saturday March 18 2023, @10:56AM (2 children)

    by RedGreen (888) on Saturday March 18 2023, @10:56AM (#1296845)

    Chicken shit Democrats are totally useless morons. Never seen a group of idiots more able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in my life. They seem bent on handing the fascists what they want at every turn, so they can do their own we are so hard done by routine from being under the jack boot. Pathetic, the Repugnant Party never missed or misses an opportunity to spread their garbage lies any time any where, they will not even call the traitors in that party what they are traitors by telling the truth which can be proven by their actions. Or call them out for the murders they have committed for christ sake during the pandemic with all the needless deaths due to flat out lies that lead to all them by opposing sensible public health measures. Good luck with it dumb fuck Americans unfortunately your contagion has spread world wide like the pandemic with branches in every country on the planet now doing the exact same things with the mainly moron governments doing exactly nothing to stop it, with more than few encouraging it. How many more millions have to die before the fucking idiots will grow a pair and do something.

    "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @01:51PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @01:51PM (#1296875)

      The real traitor refuses to secure the southern border, allowing the free flow of drugs, weapons, illegal aliens, terrorists, and every sort of undesirable across the border. Wake up and smell the coffee.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday March 19 2023, @12:06AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2023, @12:06AM (#1296979)
        Heh. Every time you read about the massive flow of weapons and drugs is when a massive haul of weapons and drugs are confiscated by border enforcement.
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DadaDoofy on Saturday March 18 2023, @02:12PM (5 children)

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Saturday March 18 2023, @02:12PM (#1296878)

    We don't need extremists from either side running the FCC. But in particular, one from the far left who would likely ignore the first amendment.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Opportunist on Saturday March 18 2023, @02:44PM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Saturday March 18 2023, @02:44PM (#1296885)

      Prefer one from the far right that ignores the first amendment? Sorry to break it to you, but the only choice left is the extremes, the middle ground has left the building a long time ago. You can only choose between being squelched because you offend the sensibilities of people or because you offend the sensibilities of some imaginary being.

      And if I only can side either with people or a faery tale, I prefer reality.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Saturday March 18 2023, @06:05PM (3 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Saturday March 18 2023, @06:05PM (#1296912)

      Out of curiosity, what exactly do you think "net neutrality" actually does? Because based on what you wrote I'm pretty sure your idea of "net neutrality" has more to do with the Fairness Doctrine that ended around 40 years ago than with what net neutrality is.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @08:28PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @08:28PM (#1296944)

        More importantly, why are Republicans so hell-bent against it? Are there any arguments from that corner any more is it all just swampy ass meat?

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Saturday March 18 2023, @10:42PM (1 child)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 18 2023, @10:42PM (#1296969) Journal

          There is profit in being the gatekeeper. You want to listen to music? Pay us to not throttle it. You're a gamer? Pay us, and we'll take care of your lag. Streaming movies? Pay us, and we'll be sure to keep your customers happy. That is what the argument is all about. Why should the sheeple be able to access whatever they want, if we can shake them down for a dollar here, and a dollar there?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @11:03PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2023, @11:03PM (#1296973)

            Isn't there also a deep packet inspection component to it - similar to examining vaginas at the State line? If you have nothing to hide, then there's nothing to fear.