FCC loses bid to cut tribal broadband subsidies

FCC loses bid to cut tribal broadband subsidies


Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Things definitely aren’t going the FCC’s way this week. A federal appeals court has reversed the FCC’s attempt to cut broadband subsidies in tribal lands, citing both a lack of supporting evidence as well as a lack of considerations when making the decision. The regulator didn’t show how pulling the $25 Lifeline discount would lead to carriers filling the void like it claimed, according to the ruling. It also didn’t acknowledge that resellers were leaving the program, and didn’t factor in the potential loss of access to internet service or the wireless rollout data related to the services they use.

The FCC also didn’t follow basic procedures, the court added. Officials didn’t provide an “adequate opportunity for comment,” giving people roughly a two-week notice through a draft order. The notice didn’t include important information that would influence the decision, such as a note that the change wouldn’t affect towns with fewer than 10,000 people.

There is a possibility the FCC can appeal this ruling, although it hasn’t said how it will respond (we’ve asked for comment). If it doesn’t challenge the decision or runs out of appeals, though, it will have to create rules that pass muster — which may be difficult given the evidence requirements. As Ars Technica noted, this also makes it harder for the FCC to push a proposal that would force resellers out of the Lifeline program as a whole.

It could also be the start of more headaches for the FCC. The newly empowered House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai requesting documents that outline its work, including its responses to consumer complaints and freedom-of-information requests. The Committee is “reassuming” its oversight role, Representatives Frank Pallone and Mike Doyle said, and they intend to hold Pai to task for allegedly denying or delaying requests that would help understand its decisions. They aren’t going to let the FCC’s decisions go unchallenged, whether they involve tribal subsidies or other issues like net neutrality.

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Facebook plans ‘independent’ committee for content moderation appeals

Facebook plans ‘independent’ committee for content moderation appeals

In response to the recent New York Times report, Facebook just announced that it was going to take important steps in curtailing misinformation. During a call with reporters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will create a new independent body that people can appeal to on whether certain content can stay up or down. According to Zuckerberg, users will be able to appeal the decisions about the content or when their content is reported. The new external oversight committee will be put into action in 2019.

Prior to this, Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have largely stayed out of content policy decisions, preferring instead to look to other resources like third-party fact-checkers in order to weed out fake news. With this oversight committee however, the company is hoping to ramp up its efforts even further, not just to reduce fake news, but also violent and hate speech, harassment and other problems that Facebook has to deal with on a constant basis.

On the call, Zuckerberg appears to acknowledge that the sheer power Facebook has in the area of information dissemination and expression should have external oversight. That’s why Facebook wants the committee to be an independent one.

It’s a feature that many users and advocates have asked for quite some time now. Facebook has faced a litany of issues over the past year, ranging from the misinformation leading to genocide in Myanmar, fake news and conspiracies in US politics, Russian meddling in elections and more.

Developing…

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Google appeals its $5 billion EU antitrust fine

Google appeals its $5 billion EU antitrust fine

In July, the European Commission fined Google a record-setting €4.3 billion ($5 billion) for antitrust violations regarding its Android OS. Now, Google’s pushing back on that fine. “We have now filed our appeal of the EC’s Android decision at th…

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Court rules Uber can force drivers into arbitration over pay, benefits

Court rules Uber can force drivers into arbitration over pay, benefits

Uber drivers hoping to be treated as employees may have to go it alone. A federal appeals court in San Francisco has overturned a ruling that would have allowed drivers to pursue their case as a class action lawsuit instead of going through individu…

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Court blocks FCC from cutting broadband subsidies in tribal lands

Court blocks FCC from cutting broadband subsidies in tribal lands,

The FCC has hit a snag in its plan to curb broadband subsidies for low-income homes. A DC appeals court has issued a stay order temporary blocking the regulator from limiting the $25 monthly Lifeline subsidy in tribal lands, arguing that native grou…

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Justice Department appeals approval of Time Warner-AT&T merger

Justice Department appeals approval of Time Warner-AT&T merger

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Just when we thought the AT&T–Time Warner merger was finally a done deal when a judge ruled in its favor last month, it seems not everyone will accept it. The Justice Department is reportedly set to appeal the approval, according to a court docu…

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Apple’s MacBook Pro refresh appeals to power users

Apple’s MacBook Pro refresh appeals to power users

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Good news, Mac fans: If you were waiting for Apple to refresh the MacBook Pro, today is your lucky day. Both the 13- and 15-inch models have received some under-the-hood upgrades, along with a quieter keyboard. (Be warned: It’s maybe not the overhaul…

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