What are you looking for?
Showing 9 of 105 Results in Net Neutrality
TOTM President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—scheduled for a second hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee Feb. 9—has been . . .
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—scheduled for a second hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee Feb. 9—has been met with speculation that it presages renewed efforts at the FCC to enforce net neutrality. A veteran of tech policy battles, Sohn served as counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at the time of the commission’s 2015 net-neutrality order.
Read the full piece here.
ICLE Issue Brief The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the resilience of U.S. broadband infrastructure, the extent to which we rely on that infrastructure, and the geographies and communities . . .
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the resilience of U.S. broadband infrastructure, the extent to which we rely on that infrastructure, and the geographies and communities where broadband build-out lags behind. As the extent and impact of the digital divide has been made clearer, there is renewed interest in the best ways to expand broadband access to better serve all Americans.
At ICLE, we would caution policymakers to eschew calls to address the digital divide simply by throwing vast sums of money at the problem. They should, instead, pursue a principled approach designed to encourage entry in new regions, while avoiding poorly managed subsidies and harmful price controls that would discourage investment and innovation by incumbent internet service providers (ISPs). Here is how to do that.
Read the full brief here.
Amicus Brief ICLE supports the appeal filed by ACA Connects et al. seeking review of the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. As detailed herein, the district court failed to consider economic and empirical realities that militate in favor of finding irreparable harm to the Appellants’ members. Moreover, the same economic and empirical realities tip the balance of equities in favor of the Appellants, and establish that the public interest is in granting a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018.
In 2018, the FCC issued its Restoring Internet Freedom Order, 33 FCC Rcd. 311 (2018) [“2018 Order”], which returned broadband Internet access service (“broadband”) to a classification as a Title I information service. The FCC determined that a “light touch” regulatory regime was necessary to promote investment in broadband. Id. ¶¶ 1-2. While removing the “no-blocking” and “no-throttling” rules previously imposed under the 2015 Open Internet Order, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, Report and Order on Remand, Declaratory Ruling, and Order, 30 FCC Rcd. 5601 (2015) [“2015 Order”], the FCC also removed the “general conduct” standard—an open-ended regulatory catch-all that would permit the FCC to examine any conduct of broadband providers that it deemed potentially threatening to Internet openness. Cf. 2018 Order ¶¶ 239-245. Yet, notably, the FCC elected to keep a version of the 2015 Order’s transparency rule in place, which requires broadband providers to disclose any blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, or similar conduct. Id.
In retaining the transparency rule, the FCC noted that the FTC and state attorneys general are in a position to prevent anticompetitive consumer harm through the enforcement of consumer protection and antitrust laws. See 2018 Order ¶ 142. Thus, the overarching goal of the 2018 Order was to ensure business conduct which could be beneficial to consumers was not foreclosed by regulatory fiat, as would have been the case under the 2015 Order, while empowering the FCC, FTC, and state attorneys general to identify and address discrete consumer harms.
The Mozilla court noted that the FCC could invoke conflict preemption principles in order to prevent inconsistent state laws from interfering with the 2018 Order. Mozilla Corp. v. FCC, 940 F.3d 1, 85 (D.C. Cir. 2019) (per curiam). Without such preemption, a patchwork of inconsistent state laws would confuse compliance efforts and drive up broadband deployment costs. Cf. Id. Relying as it does on a common carriage approach to regulating the Internet, and fragmenting the regulation of broadband providers between the federal and state levels, SB-822 is at odds with the purpose of the 2018 Order.
The district court found the balance of the equities and the public interest both weighed in favor of California in enforcing SB-822, stating the law “provides crucial protections for California’s economy, democracy, and society as a whole,” Transcript of Proceedings, American Cable Ass’n v. Becerra, No. 2:18 cv-02684 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 23, 2021) (ER-7–78) [“Tr.”], and that a preliminary injunction would “negatively impact the State of California more than [it would benefit] the ISP companies.” Id. at 69. In denying the motion for a preliminary injunction, the court also found the Appellants failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits. Id. at 67.
The district court wrongly concluded the balance of equities tips in favor of Defendant-Appellee, the state of California, and incorrectly assumed that the Appellants’ members would not suffer irreparable harm. The economics underlying broadband deployment, combined with competition and consumer protection law, provide adequate protection to consumers and firms in the marketplace without enforcement of SB-822. And, because of the sovereign immunity provided to California under the Eleventh Amendment, the potential damages suffered by the Appellants’ members are unable to be remedied. On the other hand, the enforcement of this law will significantly harm the Appellants’ members as well as the public by allowing states to create a patchwork of inconsistent laws and bans on consumer welfare-enhancing conduct like zero-rating.
The district court made crucial errors in its analysis when balancing the equities.
First, when evaluating the likelihood of ISPs acting in ways that would reduce Internet openness, it failed to consider the economic incentives that militate against this outcome.
ISPs operate as multi-sided markets—their ability to draw consumers and edge providers on both sides of their platforms depends on behavior that comports with consumer expectations. Both broadband consumers and edge providers demand openness, and there is no reason to expect ISPs to systematically subvert those desires and risk losing revenue and suffering reputational harm. Contrary to the district court’s characterization, the good behavior of ISPs is not attributable to scrutiny during the pendency of the current litigation: rather, it is a rational response to consumer demand and part of a course of conduct that has existed for decades.
Second, the district court discounted the legal backdrop that both would hold ISPs to their promises, as well as prevent them from committing competitive harms.
All of the major ISPs have made public promises to refrain from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization. See infra Part I (A) at 17. Further, the FCC’s 2018 Order creates a transparency regime that would prevent ISPs from covertly engaging in the practices SB-822 seeks to prevent. The FTC’s Section 5 authority to prevent “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” empowers that agency to pursue ISPs that make such promises and break them while state attorneys general can also bring enforcement actions under state consumer protection laws. 2018 Order ¶¶ 140-41.
In addition to the consumer protection enforcement noted above, antitrust law provides a well-developed set of legal rules that would prevent ISP’s from engaging in anticompetitive conduct. This would include preventing ISPs from entering into anticompetitive agreements with each other, or with edge providers, that harm competition, as well as prevent anticompetitive unilateral conduct.
In summary, the district court failed to properly balance the equities and, in so doing, sanctioned net harm to the public interest. Both the underlying economic incentives and existing laws ensure ISPs will continue to provide broadband service that meets consumer expectations. By contrast, SB-822, in going further than even the 2015 Order, actually permits a great deal of harm against the public interest by presumptively banning practices, like zero-rating, that increase consumer welfare without harming competition.
TOTM The next chair has an awfully big pair of shoes (or one oversized coffee mug) to fill. Chairman Pai established an important legacy of transparency and process improvement, as well as commitment to careful, economic analysis in the business of the agency.
One of the themes that has run throughout this symposium has been that, throughout his tenure as both a commissioner and as chairman, Ajit Pai has brought consistency and careful analysis to the Federal Communications Commission (McDowell, Wright). The reflections offered by the various authors in this symposium make one thing clear: the next administration would do well to learn from the considered, bipartisan, and transparent approach to policy that characterized Chairman Pai’s tenure at the FCC.
TOTM Pai’s tenure at the FCC was marked by an abiding appreciation for the importance of competition, both as a guiding principle for new regulations and as a touchstone to determine when to challenge existing ones. Perhaps his greatest contribution to bringing competition to the forefront of the FCC’s mandate came in his work on media modernization.
I’m delighted to add my comments to the chorus of voices honoring Ajit Pai’s remarkable tenure at the Federal Communications Commission. I’ve known Ajit longer than most. We were classmates in law school … let’s just say “many” years ago. Among the other symposium contributors I know of only one—fellow classmate, Tom Nachbar—who can make a similar claim. I wish I could say this gives me special insight into his motivations, his actions, and the significance of his accomplishments, but really it means only that I have endured his dad jokes and interminable pop-culture references longer than most.
TOTM Ajit Pai has been, in my view, the most successful, impactful minority commissioner in the history of the modern regulatory state. And it is that success that has led him to become the most successful and impactful chairman, too.
Much of this symposium celebrates Ajit’s contributions as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and his accomplishments and leadership in that role. And rightly so. But Commissioner Pai, not just Chairman Pai, should also be recognized.
TOTM Ajit Pai will step down from his position as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effective Jan. 20. Beginning Jan. 15, Truth on the Market will host a symposium exploring Pai’s tenure, with contributions from a range of scholars and practitioners.
Ajit Pai will step down from his position as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effective Jan. 20. Beginning Jan. 15, Truth on the Market will host a symposium exploring Pai’s tenure, with contributions from a range of scholars and practitioners.
TL;DR It comes as no surprise to anyone that illegal conduct occurs online. Unfortunately, the individuals and businesses engaging in illegal activity may avoid detection by using tools that hide their identity. This makes enforcement difficult or even impossible.
It comes as no surprise to anyone that illegal conduct occurs online. Unfortunately, the individuals and businesses engaging in illegal activity may avoid detection by using tools that hide their identity. This makes enforcement difficult or even impossible.
In some cases, there may be targeted solutions available whereby intermediaries are required to record and verify the identity of business customers. In principle, this approach could be used to directly pursue parties actually liable for illicit content with minimal burden on either the platforms, or non-business customers.
Read the full explainer here.
Regulatory Comments In order to maximize the benefits of broadband to society, including through the provision of public safety communications and services, public policy must promote the . . .
In order to maximize the benefits of broadband to society, including through the provision of public safety communications and services, public policy must promote the proper incentives for broadband buildout. Both the 2015 Title II Open Internet Order (the “OIO”) and the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (the “RIFO”) were premised on this. But each adopted a different approach to accomplishing this objective.
The OIO premised its rules on the theory that ISPs are “gatekeepers,” poised to kill the golden goose of demand for broadband by adopting business practices that could reduce edge innovation.
The key insight of the virtuous cycle is that broadband providers have both the incentive and the ability to act as gatekeepers standing between edge providers and consumers. As gatekeepers, they can block access altogether; they can target competitors, including competitors to their own video services; and they can extract unfair tolls. Such conductwould, as the Commission concluded in 2010, “reduce the rate of innovation at the edge and, in turn, the likely rate of improvements to network infrastructure.” In other words, when a broadband provider acts as a gatekeeper, it actually chokes consumer demand for the very broadband product it can supply.
The RIFO, on the other hand, properly conceives of ISPs as intermediaries in a two-sided market that aim to maximize the value of the market by adopting practices, like pricing structures and infrastructure investment, that increase the value for both sides of the market.
We find it essential to take a holistic view of the market(s) supplied by ISPs. ISPs, as well as edge providers, are important drivers of the virtuous cycle, and regulation must be evaluated accounting for its impact on ISPs’ capacity to drive that cycle, as well as that of edge providers. The underlying economic model of the virtuous cycle is that of a two- sided market. In a two-sided market, intermediaries—ISPs in our case—act as platforms facilitating interactions between two different customer groups, or sides of the market— edge providers and end users. . . . The key characteristic of a two-sided market, however, is that participants on each side of the market value a platform service more as the number and/or quality of participants on the platform’s other side increases. (The benefits subscribers on one side of the market bring to the subscribers on the other, and vice versa, are called positive externalities.) Thus, rather than a single side driving the market, both sides generate network externalities, and the platform provider profits by inducing both sides of the market to use its platform. In maximizing profit, a platform provider sets prices and invests in network extension and innovation, subject to costs and competitive conditions, to maximize the gain both sides of the market obtain from interacting across the platform. The more competitive the market, the larger the net gains to subscribers and edge providers. Any analysis of such a market must account for each side of the market and the platform provider.
In other words, the fundamental difference of approach between the two Orders turns on whether it is edge innovation, pushing against ISP incentives to expropriate value from edge providers, that primarily drives network demand and thus encourages investment, or whether optimization decisions by both ISPs and the edge are drivers of network value. The RIFO rightly understands that ISPs have sharp incentives both to innovate as platforms (and thus continue to attract and retain end users), as well as to continue to make their services useful to edge providers (and, by extension, the consumers of those edge providers’ services).
The D.C. Circuit upheld RIFO’s fundamental rationale as a supportable basis for the FCC’s rules in Mozilla v. FCC. But it also accepted that three specific concerns were insufficiently examined in the RIFO, and remanded the case to the FCC to address them. Among these was the question of the RIFO’s implications for public safety. In its Public Notice seeking to refresh the record on the remanded issues, the Wireline Competition Bureau asks (among other things):
These are the questions to which this comment is primarily addressed.
In Part I, we discuss how the RIFO fosters investment in broadband buildout, in particular by enabling prioritization and by reducing the effects of policy uncertainty. In Part II, we describe how that network investment benefits public safety both in both direct and indirect ways. In Part III, we highlight the benefits to public safety from prioritization, in particular, which is facilitated by the RIFO.
Read the full comments here.