Ajit Pai Keeps Using Bogus Data

To Claim the FCC’s Policies Are Closing The ‘Digital Divide’ . . .

Adapted from an article by Karl Bode, Sept 24, 2020 | Original Techdirt article here.

We’ve noted repeatedly that despite a lot of breathless pearl clutching from U.S. leaders and regulators about the "digital divide," the United States doesn’t actually know where broadband is (or isn’t) available. Historically the FCC has simply trusted major ISPs to tell the truth, despite their a vested interest in downplaying coverage and competition gaps to maintain their domination.

That hasn’t worked out particularly well. From AT&T to Barrierfree, ISPs routinely like to overstate broadband availability by millions of households. Despite repeated warnings this data is flawed, the FCC continues to use it anyway to claim the agency’s industry-cozy policies (like gutting the lion’s share of consumer protections) are paying huge dividends. They aren’t. Like so many Trump agencies, the FCC is simply massaging data to justify predetermined industry-dictated policy positions. It’s theater dressed up as serious adult policy.

The FCC’s methodology has also long been flawed, considering entire census blocks to be connected if just one home in a block can potentially get service. The results are ugly: the FCC’s $350 million broadband availability map all but hallucinates broadband availability and speed (try it yourself). It also excludes prices, in large part because ISPs don’t want the cost of monopolization clearly outlined to American consumers, press, and lawmakers.

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T-Mobile Responds to Specious Spectrum-Hoarding Accusations

Carrier battle heats up as FCC prepares to auction more spectrum.

By Jon Brodkin, Sept 23, 2020 | Original Ars Technica article here.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert speaks during a keynote at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Enlarge / T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert speaks during a keynote at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert yesterday fired back at AT&T and Verizon, saying the carriers’ complaints about T-Mobile obtaining more spectrum licenses show that they are afraid of competition.

Sievert wrote in a blog post.

"The duopolists are scrambling to block this new competition any way they can… Suddenly in the unfamiliar position of not having a dominant stranglehold on the wireless market, and preferring not to meet the competitive challenge in the marketplace, AT&T and Verizon are urging the FCC to slow T-Mobile down and choke off our ability to compete fairly for added radio spectrum,"

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DOJ Continues Its Quest To Kill Net Neutrality In California

Sacrificing Consumer Protection, in the process

Adapted from an article by Karl Bode, Sept 22, 2020 6:22am | Original Techdirt article here.

After the FCC effectively neutered itself at telecom lobbyist behest, numerous states jumped in to fill the consumer protection void. As a result, California, in 2018, passed some net neutrality rules that largely mirrored the FCC’s discarded consumer protections. Laughing at the concept of state rights, Bill Barr’s DOJ immediately got to work protecting U.S. Telecom monopolies and filed suit in a bid to vacate the rules.

The DOJ’s central argument was that California’s attempt to protect consumers was somehow "anti-consumer." And the lawsuit largely centered on language the FCC had included in its net neutrality repeal (again, at Telecom lobbyist behest) attempting to ban states from filling the void created by the federal government no longer giving a damn. The courts so far haven’t looked too kindly upon that logic, arguing that the FCC can’t abdicate its authority over telecom, Then try to lean on that non-existent authority to try to tell states what to do.

Last week California filed its first brief (pdf) in its legal battle with the DOJ. ISPs are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent California from enforcing the rules during the lawsuit. Again though, their primary argument continues to be that states can’t enforce net neutrality because the FCC said so.

Stanford Professor Barbara van Schewick continues to point out, is still nonsense no matter how many times industry and the captured U.S. government repeat the claim:

"According to case law, an agency’s decision to deregulate can only block the states from stepping in when the agency has the power to regulate and decides not to use it.

But when the FCC eliminated net neutrality in 2018, it also removed its own authority over broadband providers. In essence, the agency decided that broadband providers are not telecommunications companies that simply shuttle data back and forth (like a telephone company), but information service providers which interact with and alter data, like a website.

This removed any authority that would have allowed the FCC to adopt net neutrality protections. Thus, the elimination of net neutrality did not establish a calibrated federal deregulatory regime, as the U.S. and the ISPs argue; it simply reflected the FCC’s lack of authority. Simply put, the FCC’s 2018 Order created a regulatory vacuum, and you can’t conflict with a vacuum."

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Federal Judge Rules Against City of Berkeley’s Cellphone Radiation Warning Law

By Nathan Solis, Sept 17, 2020 | Original Courthouse News article here.


(CN) — A federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of a wireless communication trade group five years after they claimed the city of Berkeley’s law that required retailers to warn customers about cellphone radiation violated their First Amendment rights. The judge concluded that the city’s ordinance is preempted by the Federal Communications Commission’s regulatory actions on radio frequency emissions.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen wrote in an 18-page order “the FCC could properly conclude that the Berkeley ordinance — as worded — overwarns and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of balancing federal objectives by the FCC.”

The city’s 2015 ordinance required retailers to give customers guidance on avoiding radio-frequency exposure from cellphones. CTIA filed their lawsuit in the Northern District of California and the court ruled in their favor, finding the ordinance language problematic.

But a modified ordinance deleted the troublesome language and the court’s preliminary injunction was lifted. CTIA sought an appeal, which in 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed the district court’s ruling and the ordinance survived a challenge from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court vacated a prior ruling upholding the challenged law and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit, mandating reconsideration in light of the high court’s decision to strike down California’s required disclosures on abortions services in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra in June 2018.

The Ninth Circuit Court again upheld the law July 2019 and it returned to the district court this July.

CTIA motioned for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the FCC in December 2019 issued an “opinion and order on radiofrequency emissions that upends the landscape of this case in several important ways, fatally undermining the city’s arguments in defense of the ordinance and the very basis on which the Ninth Circuit affirmed this court’s decision.”

The ordinance requires retailers to give notice that if customers

carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

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President Trump Orders Extensive Declassification

By Jeff Carlson, CFA, Sept 17, 2018 | Original post here.

President Trump issued an order on Sept. 17 for the immediate declassification of three series of documents related to the Russia investigation and the spying on his presidential campaign.

  • The first set of documents relates to the FISA spy warrant application on campaign adviser Carter Page, specifically pages 10–12 and 17–34 of the June 2017 Page FISA renewal.

  • The second set of documents relates to the series of FBI interviews with former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr.

  • The third set of documents encompasses all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with the Page FISA applications.

In addition to the declassification of the documents, Trump has also directed the Department of Justice and the FBI to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation of former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the lead FBI agent on the Russia investigation Peter Strzok, FBI lawyers Lisa Page, and Ohr. The released texts are to be fully unredacted.

This declassification order is broader than had been anticipated. A declassification of the sequence of redacted pages from the Page FISA documents, along with the interviews of Ohr, had been assumed. This order goes much further.

  • Pages 10–12 of the June 2017 Page FISA application relate to the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

  • Pages 17–34 relate to Page’s coordination with Russian government officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election influence activities. A number of these pages are fully redacted.

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Uh Oh . . . Trump Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD)
  • Sept 16, 2020 Press Release
  • Contact: HHS Press Office 202-690-6343 | media@hhs.gov

Sept 16, 2020 — Press Release

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) today released two documents outlining the Trump Administration’s detailed strategy to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses to the American people as quickly and reliably as possible.

The documents, developed by HHS in coordination with DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said:

“As part of Operation Warp Speed, we have been laying the groundwork for months to distribute and administer a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it meets FDA’s gold standard. “This in-depth, round-the-clock planning work with our state and local partners and trusted community organizations, especially through CDC, will ensure that Americans can receive a safe and effective vaccine in record time.”

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Trump Nominates New FCC Commissioner

Trump nominates NTIA official who helped write White House’s social media order. He hopes to to push through Twitter/Facebook crackdown

Adapted from an article by Jon Brodkin, Sept 16, 2020 | Original Ars Technica article here.

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a conference while FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and Chairman Ajit Pai look on.

Enlarge | Federal Communication Commission Republican members (L-R) Brendan Carr, Michael O’Rielly, and Chairman Ajit Pai participate in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland.

President Donald Trump today nominated one of his administration officials to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to push through his proposed crackdown on social media websites.

Trump announced the nomination of Nathan Simington, who is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Simington "played a significant role in the agency’s social media regulation agenda," as The Verge reported last week when news broke that Trump was considering Simington for the FCC position.

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DHS to Propose Expansion of Biometrics Collection

Sept 10, 2020 | Sept 13, 2020, Vol. X, Num. 257 here.

On September 11, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will release a new regulation for notice-and-comment that proposes to expand the collection of biometric data and give DHS increased flexibility to deal with emerging needs. Here are a few highlights from the draft 328-page rule.

  • Unless waived by DHS, any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing or associated with an immigration benefit or request, including U.S. citizens, must appear for biometrics collection — regardless of age.
  • There will be new biometrics modalities including iris scans, palm prints and voice prints.

  • DHS may require DNA results to prove the existence of a claimed genetic relationship.

  • Foreign nationals who are granted immigration benefits will be subject to continued and subsequent vetting and biometric evaluation until granted U.S. citizenship.

  • New forms will be produced including the new biometrics requirements.

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COVID-911: From Homeland Security to Biosecurity

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9/11, as we were told repeatedly in the days, weeks, and months after the attack, was the day that changed everything.

NARRATOR: In the span of one devastating morning, America changed forever.

SOURCE: Remembering 9/11: Never Quit

KATIE COURIC: Good morning. America may never be the same and this is why.

SOURCE: Today Show – September 12, 2001

LOU WATERS: American life will change forever as a result of this attack.

SOURCE: CNN on September 12, 2001

REPORTER: Nothing will ever be the same again.

SOURCE: Inside Edition – A Look Back at 9/11

JAMES ROBBINS: Nothing will ever be quite the same again.

SOURCE: 9/11 the day after – BBC1 Nightly News

TOM BROKAW: Life will never be quite the same.

SOURCE: Dateline NBC – Sept. 18, 2001

These were no empty words. They were plain statements of fact. The world did change on that day.

9/11 was the carte blanche for a Great Reset, the institution of a new normal in international relations and domestic affairs. From the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the militarization of the police to the multi-trillion dollar wars of aggression to reshape the Middle East, our lives today are drastically different than they were before that fateful Tuesday in September 2001.

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