Acting FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel could save net neutrality

News Highlights: Acting FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel could save net neutrality

President Joe Biden has appointed Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, making her the agency’s temporary chief and a frontrunner as a full-time replacement. Here’s what you need to know about the new FCC header.

On Thursday, President Biden named Rosenworcel as his choice for an acting FCC chairman. Taking over the role of former Chairman Ajit Pai now means a Democratic-leaning Commissioner in charge, after four years of Republican leadership.

Rosenworcel’s appointment is only temporary for now, but she has a decent chance of becoming the permanent president for Biden’s entire tenure, given the democratic control of the Senate.

For the foreseeable future, there is a 2-2 share between the Democratic and Republican commissioners making decisions for the FCC, rather than the usual 3-2 split in favor of the president’s political party. This will most likely be quickly remedied to avoid deadlock in decision-making, with the confirmation of a fifth Commissioner.

In a statement In her appointment, Rosenworcel said, “It is a privilege to serve and work on their behalf the American people to expand the reach of communication opportunities in the digital age.”

Rosenworcel’s career to date

Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, Rosenworcel is a graduate of Wedleyan University and New York University School of Law. Before joining the FCC, she practiced communication law in Washington DC

After joining the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau in 1999, she began working for FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in 2003. In 2007 Rosenworcel was Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

President Barack Obama nominated her for the role of Commissioner in 2011, and she was sworn in the following year. She was appointed by Obama in 2015 when her first term ended, but remained in her seat until January 2017 without reconfirmation by the Senate.

President Donald Trump nominated Rosenworcel for a new term in June 2017, and she received confirmation from the Senate in August.

In addition to serving as FCC Commissioner, Rosenworcel chairs the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services, which aims to encourage parties at the local, state and federal levels to discuss the deployment of new communications technologies.

Time as a commissioner

In her role as Commissioner, Rosenworcel has dealt with a number of major events chaired by the FCC. A statement from the FCC outlines its policy as working to “promote greater opportunities, accessibility and affordability” in communications.

These include efforts to fight to protect net neutrality and to help students stuck in the “homework gap” gain internet access. She has also worked on spectrum policy, covering Wi-Fi and other wireless services, and the Internet of Things.

Net neutrality

A staunch supporter of net neutrality, Rosenworcel was on hand to vote for the concept in a 2015 FCC decision. Under the movement, the FCC voted to regulate Internet service providers as “regular providers” under the communications law, preventing ISPs from allowing so-called “high-speed Internet lanes”. and it will be easier for municipal broadband networks to grow.

The reclassification of Title II was celebrated at the time, but was relatively short-lived. In 2017, Pai led the vote on the Restoring Internet Freedom initiative, which was intended to end net neutrality protections put in place just two years earlier, despite massive public outcry.

As either of the two votes against, Rosenworcel did not mince words in her statement against the decision, declaring the road to the vote a “corrupt process” and claiming that the FCC was “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side ”. side of the law and the wrong side of the American public. ”

Citing the revolutionary nature of the open Internet, how the existing net neutrality policy had already been passed by the court, and the alleged mess with public comments on the case, Rosenworcel also offered hope that the decision could change in the future.

So let’s hold on. Let’s fight. Let’s not stop here or now. It’s too important. The future depends on it, ”concluded Rosenworcel’s statement.

In February 2020, when the FCC was required by law to solicit comments from the public about the withdrawal, Rosenworcel took the opportunity to issue a press release to promote the call, as the FCC does not widely advertise it. made for.

“The FCC was wrong when it retired net neutrality,” Rosenworcel wrote. “My advice? The American public should raise its voice and let Washington know the importance of the open Internet for every aspect of our civil and commercial lives.”

It is likely that questions about net neutrality will surface quickly under Rosenworcel’s watch.

With a bipartisan law introduced in December to remove Section 230 legal protections of the Communications Decency Act from online platforms for content posted on services, the FCC could be called upon to make a decision on related matters sooner rather than later.

Apple opposed the withdrawal of net neutrality in 2017, arguing that the way the internet is used should be determined by customers, not platforms. “What consumers do with those tools is up to them – not Apple, and not broadband providers,” Apple said at the time.

Denouncing the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

In 2019, the FCC gave the green light to the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, a deal worth approximately $ 26.5 billion. The Pai-led FCC voted 3-2 in favor, while Rosenworcel voted against.

Commenting on the vote, Rosenworcel offered that the deal “will only hurt consumers” through price increases and job cuts. Rosenworcel argued that mergers in a concentrated market usually led to price increases, such as baggage and smaller airline seats, or rising drug prices.

“There is no reason to believe that the mobile phone industry will be any different,” she added. “In deciding to overlook this damage, the FCC and the Department of Justice have been provoked by a few unenforceable concessions and hollow promises from the two companies involved.”

Rosenworcel suggested the merger would “end a golden age in the wireless world” that fostered innovation and lower prices, as well as unlimited data plans and international roaming.

In short, our existing wireless market will turn into a cozy oligopoly dominated by only three carriers, the Commissioner predicted. “They won’t do anything to make it easier for Americans to stay connected.”

Location services and privacy

In January 2019, carriers pledged to do better at controlling access to location data, following an earlier report that a bounty hunter was able to track down a smartphone for as little as $ 300. Rosenworcel quickly stated that the FCC had to get the notifications immediately. to research.

After months of the FCC being “totally silent” on related press releases, a Rosenworcel statement in May 2019 raised the lack of transparency on the matter. While the investigation was ongoing at the time, it was pointed out that the major carriers had confirmed to the FCC that they had, for the most part, stopped selling customer geolocation data to third party aggregators.

Apple’s estimated location controls in iOS 14 can give an app a general idea of ​​where a user is currently located, without necessarily providing perfect accuracy.

By January 2020, a year later, Pai stated that the investigation had been completed and found that companies “apparently” have broken the law and that “one or more” airlines could be fined.

“For more than a year, the FCC was silent after news reports warned us that shady middlemen could sell your location within a few hundred yards based on the data from your wireless phone,” Rosenworcel said. “It is terrifying to imagine what a black market could do with this data. It jeopardizes the security and privacy of any American with a cordless phone. ”

Rosenworcel’s comments on the matter indicate that she would be mistaken to enable privacy, which puts her in line with Apple’s views on location tracking and privacy in general.

Via: appleinsider.com

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