Category Archives: CONGRESS WATCH

A goal realized: Network lobbyists’ sweeping capture of their regulator

By Tom Wheeler – “Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.

The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.

With this vote, the FCC walked away from over a decade of bipartisan efforts to oversee the fairness and openness of companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon. These four companies control over 75 percent of the residential internet access in America, usually through a local monopoly. Henceforth, they will be able to make their own rules, subject only to very limited after-the-fact review.

The assertion that the FTC will be able to provide that protection adequately is an empty promise. The people at the FTC are good people, but they have neither network expertise, nor the authority to make rules. more>

The Fraying of the Trump Brand

Experts say President Trump is damaging his party and its candidates’ election prospects
By Susan Milligan – Trump is regarded as a master brander in the commercial arena, building real estate and entertainment businesses heavily attached to his name. More like a Martha Stewart than, say, a Kraft Foods, Trump personifies the product he is selling. And when Trump – now suffering from historically low approval ratings in the low-to-mid 30s – struggles, so does the GOP brand he effectively took over when he became the party’s presidential nominee and then commander-in-chief, political and branding specialists say.

“When you’ve got a brand that is tied to a personality, it can be incredibly strong and incredibly vulnerable. It is tied to a human being, and that human being’s actions and people’s feelings about it, as opposed to the performance of a standardized product or service,” says Jason Karpf, a marketing and public relations consultant based in Minnesota. What Trump is attempting now, Karpf says, is what I known in the marketing world as a “brand extension,” this one, into the political world. But the effort has been sloppy at best and offensive at worst, experts say, threatening to do serious damage to the GOP brand as a whole.

And perhaps most troubling for the GOP, there have been ominous signs that suburban voters are moving away from Trump’s party.

Those are ominous signs for Republicans, whose party is being branded by an outsider president who prefers provocative remarks about sexual harassment complainants, protesting NFL players and white supremacist demonstrators to the blue-chip GOP agenda of smaller government and lower taxes. more>

Network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles


By George Mattathil – In a nutshell, the current situation with cyber security [2] is the direct result of the developments during the the “internet bubble,” in the 1990s. Collapse of the Bell Labs permitted the unchecked growth of the “internet bubble” and related hype.

The divestiture and the collapse of the Bells Labs left a vacuum for network technology leadership, that was substituted by hype that surrounded the “internet mania.” As a result, current network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles.

This added to the deficiencies in economic decision systems for (network) technology adoption, with the results we are seeing today: cyber security [2] challenges, internet malware [2] attacks and political controversies [2].

One of the consequences of the flawed network foundations is that the Broadband [2] adoption (which includes IoT) is progressing much slower than it could.

Another side effect is that ongoing network deployments are architecturally incoherent, resulting in enhanced complexity and cost. more>

The Costly Zero Sum Game That’s Fueling The Skills Gap

By Jake Schwartz – Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates suggest, for example, that there will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants to fill them by 2020.

Of course, the skills gap is about more than just supply and demand. It stems from what economists call “friction,” exacerbated by megatrends like the shrinking shelf life of skills and persistent equity gaps in K-12 and higher education systems struggling to keep up with the pace of change. But it also reflects decades of self-inflicted wounds within corporate America.

I’ve observed three troubling drivers of the economic friction fueling the skills gap:

  1. a surprising lack of visibility and long-term planning around concrete skill and talent needs within the enterprise;
  2. incredible inertia around and adherence to old-school hiring practices that perpetuate growing equity gaps through a search for new skills in conventional places; and
  3. a tendency to misplace hope that our higher education and workforce development systems can somehow “solve” the problem with minimal corporate involvement or responsibility.

Imagine the possibilities if just a fraction of that spending was allocated to investments in re-skilling existing workers.

And yet, corporate training fads, from an obsession with online training (it’s cheaper), to a belief that all employees should spend their off-hours being “self-guided learners,” only exacerbate the delta between average investments in talent acquisition ($20,000 to $40,000 per head) and corporate training ($1,000 per person per year). more>

The Missing Role Models

Public officials used to be worthy of being looked up to – not anymore.
By Kenneth T. Walsh – Where have all the role models gone?

They certainly are vanishing from politics and government, at least based on the seemingly endless series of accusations and admissions involving famous politicians and public officials who have been engulfed in the swamp of alleged sexual misbehavior.

Now the media are investigating public figures more thoroughly than ever, and are more willing than ever to expose the flaws they find. And people with grievances against public figures are increasingly willing to go public.

Trump, at the top of the political pyramid, has been widely condemned for failing to live up to the standards of civility, decency and honesty that have been expected of presidents for many years. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CNN recently: “The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues….I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.”

Questioning Trump’s “stability,” Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump is not a “role model” for the world and for America’s children, and added: “I think at the end of the day when his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, just the name calling, I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.” more>

How to rig an election in three not-so-easy steps

BOOK REVIEW

Primary Politics, Author: Elaine Kamarck.

By Elaine Kamarck – The first and most straightforward way to “rig” an election is to arrange to steal votes.

One popular tactic of the big-city political machines was to vote the graveyards. They would get a group of people who went from precinct to precinct voting in the name of people who had died and were still on the rolls. This was pretty easy to do in the days before computer technology could update voter rolls.

The list of other ways you can commit electoral fraud is lengthy. Voter intimidation, vote buying, disinformation, confusing or misleading ballots, ballot stuffing, mis-recording of votes, destruction of ballots, tampering with voting machines, and voter impersonation are just a few. more>

Preparing for the Trump trade wars

By Bill Emmott – Next year, Trump can be expected to turn rhetoric into action on two main fronts. The first is China, which Trump has singled out as the greatest trade exploiter of the US. Unless the North Korea standoff escalates critically, he will likely initiate anti-dumping actions against Chinese industries – notably in steel – deemed to be selling their goods below cost; and he will probably launch a broad assault on intellectual-property violations in China.

These measures will almost certainly provoke retaliation from China. China feels stronger than ever in the Trump era, and in the eyes of Chinese cadres, not responding forcefully would be a sign of weakness.

The other main front for Trump is the World Trade Organization, which America helped establish in the early 1990s as a successor to the post-war General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Robert Lighthizer has gone on record to describe the WTO’s dispute-settlement system as harmful to America. And already, the Trump administration is blocking the appointment of new judges to WTO arbitration panels. If it maintains that policy, the WTO’s entire dispute-settlement system will be crippled within months. more>

Network Neutrality Can’t Fix the Internet

The FCC is poised to dismantle common carriage for broadband and wireless providers. That’s bad, but the internet itself is worse.
By Ian Bogost – It makes sense to construe broadband and wireless providers as common carriers, like telephone companies and utilities. And a majority of Americans, no matter their affiliation, support regulating internet providers in this manner.Security breaches, privacy violations, election meddling, wealth inequality, and a host of other concerns have sullied the tech sector’s reputation.

A public darling during the Obama years, when net neutrality won out, the tech industry has effectively become Big Tech, an aggressor industry along the lines of pharmaceuticals, oil, or tobacco.Local retailers have to manage their searchability on Google, or pay for ads to compete with big companies like Amazon. Restaurants must make sure they’re listed on Google Maps and Yelp and OpenTable.

Creating a mobile app requires payment of registration fees for listing products on the Google or Apple app stores, and a substantial commission on every sale or subscription.

If the internet is to remain a public utility, it must also become a public utility worth using, and one that doesn’t dismantle the society that would use it through neglect and deceit and malice.

It’s time to stop treating the internet as a flawless treasure whose honor must be protected from desecration. It hasn’t been such for a long time, if indeed it ever was. more>

The FCC’s net neutrality proposal: A shameful sham that sells out consumers

By Tom Wheeler – Fighting against monopolization in the internet era…meet ideologically-driven “do what the big guys want.”

A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect.

For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.

The assertion that the FCC proposal is somehow pro-consumer is a sham that doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority. more>

Related>

Did technology kill the truth?

By Tom Wheeler – We carry in our pockets and purses the greatest democratizing tool ever developed. Never before has civilization possessed such an instrument of free expression.

Yet, that unparalleled technology has also become a tool to undermine truth and trust.

The glue that holds institutions and governments together has been thinned and weakened by the unrestrained capabilities of technology exploited for commercial gain. The result has been to de-democratize the internet.

We exist in a time when technological capabilities and economic incentives have combined to attack truth and weaken trust. It is not an act of pre-planned perdition. Unchecked, however, it will have the same effect.

For a century-and-a-half, the economic model for media companies was to assemble information in order to attract eyeballs for advertising. To maximize that reach, traditional outlets curated that information for veracity and balance.

In stark contrast, the curation of social media platforms is not for veracity, but for advertising velocity. more>