Tag Archives: Block
Within hours of California governor Jerry Brown signing a sweeping net neutrality bill into law, the US Department of Justice sued the state, sparking the latest battle in the long legal war over the ground rules for the internet. Groups representing broadband providers followed suit on Wednesday, with their own lawsuit arguing that California’s law was illegal.
The California law, set to take effect on January 1, will ban internet service providers from blocking or otherwise discriminating against lawful internet content. The rules are designed to replace similar regulations passed by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission but jettisoned earlier this year by the now Republican-controlled agency.
Lawyers say the dispute raises novel questions about the relationship between the federal government and the states. First is whether California has authority to impose net neutrality rules at all. Both the DOJ and the broadband industry claim that the inherently interstate nature of the internet means that only the federal government can regulate broadband services. A second, even thornier question is whether the FCC was within its rights when it effectively banned states from adopting net neutrality rules earlier this year.
At its heart is this conundrum: In repealing the Obama-era rules, the FCC said it didn’t have authority to impose net neutrality regulations. But the agency now claims it does have the authority to ban states from adopting their own rules.
“It’s hard to find a case that’s perfectly, squarely applicable, where an agency says ‘we’re vacating the field, and we’re not allowing anyone else to enter the field,’” says Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer during the presidency of George H.W. Bush who is chair of law firm Perkins Coie’s communications practice.
The California net neutrality dispute is just one part of a larger struggle between progressive states and the Trump administration on issues including immigration bans, separation of families at the border, and vehicle emissions. On net neutrality, several states, led by New York, are suing the FCC, arguing, among other things, that its decision was “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore illegal. A few states, including New York and Oregon, have banned state agencies from doing business with broadband providers that don’t protect net neutrality. And Washington, like California, passed a law to protect net neutrality directly.
Supporters of the California and Washington laws say they don’t conflict with federal regulations because, well, there aren’t any federal net neutrality regulations to conflict with.
“Usually you have preemption where there is a federal rule and a state tries to enact an incompatible rule,” says Pantelis Michalopoulos, a lawyer with the firm Steptoe & Johnson who is representing net neutrality advocates in a federal lawsuit against the FCC. “You’re in a much weaker position when you try to preempt a state rule where there is no federal rule.”
It’s not unheard of for the federal government to preempt state or local regulations when those regulations conflict with federal policy, even when the federal policy is not to regulate. Martin, the former FCC staffer, points to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which banned states from reimposing federal airline regulations.
But that was a decision by Congress, not a federal agency. More relevant to this case are court decisions upholding the FCC’s moves to block the state of Minnesota from regulating internet phone services like Vonage like traditional telephone carriers. But the Vonage cases differ from the California net neutrality case in that the FCC’s authority to regulate internet phone services wasn’t in doubt. It’s less clear that the FCC still has authority to regulate broadband in the same way.
The FCC spent years, under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, trying to enact net neutrality regulations, but was repeatedly shot down in court until the FCC reclassified broadband providers as “Title II” common carriers, not unlike traditional telephone services. When the FCC passed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which took effect earlier this year and repealed Obama-era federal net neutrality rules, the agency returned broadband to the less stringent “Title I” information service category. The agency also concluded that it doesn’t actually have the authority to ban broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against particular internet content.
In a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, a coalition of state and local governments and technology companies argued in a brief that this admission by the FCC effectively undermines its ability to preempt state laws, pointing to a 1976 federal court decision striking down the FCC’s attempt to preempt state regulation of two-way communications over cable television connections. That case was primarily about intrastate communications, but highlighted what Judge Malcolm Wilkey called a “vital difference between a refusal to use granted power, and an attempt to prevent regulation by others in an area where no ordinary Commission jurisdiction appears to exist.” Combined with the earlier cases that blocked the FCC from imposing net neutrality regulations without classifying broadband providers as common carriers, net neutrality advocates argue that the FCC lacks the authority to preempt states.
The question that remains is whether having the option to classify broadband as Title II and refusing to do so helps the FCC’s case, because it clearly had the authority to regulate net neutrality at one point, or hurts it, because it has given that authority up.
Martin thinks the states that are trying to protect net neutrality through policies barring state agencies from using broadband providers that don’t respect net neutrality are on stronger footing than the California and Washington laws. States are typically allowed to make their own decisions about how they spend their budgets. But Thomas Nachbar, senior fellow for national security law at the University of Virginia, isn’t so sure. He says those rules go too far by dictating how broadband providers treat not just the state, but other customers.
More Great WIRED Stories
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday stood by a decision blocking an exchange-traded fund that would have tracked bitcoin, citing concerns about market manipulation.
Brothers Cameron (L) and Tyler Winklevoss talk to each other as they attend a New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) virtual currency hearing in the Manhattan borough of New York January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The securities regulator found “unpersuasive” arguments that the bitcoin ETF proposed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers who founded crypto exchange Gemini Trust Co LLC, would be sufficiently protected from manipulation, it said in a 92-page analysis bit.ly/2K3GoWG posted on its website.
“Regulated bitcoin-related markets are in the early stages of their development,” the SEC said, saying that it “cannot…conclude that bitcoin markets are uniquely resistant to manipulation.”
But the agency did not completely shut the door to such products coming to market once the bitcoin market has matured, offering some hope for at least five other bitcoin ETF proposals that are still pending before the regulator.
Bitcoin BTC=BTSP turned negative after the SEC’s ruling, and last traded down 2.9 percent.
The virtual currency can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government. A fund holding the currency could attract more investors and push its price higher.
The SEC said there was not enough evidence that efforts to thwart manipulation of the ETF’s price or that of the underlying bitcoin market would be successful.
The SEC had blocked the Winklevoss ETF from coming to market in March 2017, but then faced an appeal from CBOE Holdings Inc’s (CBOE.O) Bats exchange, which applied to list the ETF.
The parties can appeal the SEC’s decision in federal court.
CBOE and Gemini did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Winklevoss twins are best known for their feud with Facebook Inc (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg over whether he stole the idea for what became the world’s most popular social networking website from them. The former Olympic rowers ultimately settled their legal dispute, which was dramatized in the 2010 film “The Social Network.”
The SEC’s decision to block the ETF was voted for 3-1 by its sitting commissioners, with Republican commissioner Hester Peirce voting against. In a statement, Peirce said she believed the product met the legal standard.
“More institutional participation would ameliorate many of the Commission’s concerns with the bitcoin market that underlie its disapproval order,” she said, adding that the ruling “sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets.”
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York and Michelle Price in Washington; additional reporting by Anna Irrera in New York; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Leslie Adler
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration urged a federal judge on Thursday to block AT&T Inc’s proposed $ 85 billion merger with Time Warner Inc, saying the deal would hand the company a “weapon” to harm competition and raise consumer prices.
During opening statements in one of the most closely watched U.S. antitrust trials in years, Justice Department lawyer Craig Conrath said the deal would hike prices by more than $ 400 million annually, or an average of $ 0.45 a month for pay TV subscribers.
Conrath said AT&T would be able to use content from movie and TV show maker Time Warner including its Turner unit to prevent innovation. The merger will hurt 90 million U.S. pay TV subscribers, Conrath added.
“This is a weapon to harm competition,” Conrath told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who will decide the case.
The Justice Department filed suit in November to stop AT&T, which has some 25 million pay-TV subscribers, from closing the deal. AT&T says a merger would benefit consumers by creating efficiencies. AT&T is the biggest pay-TV provider via subsidiary DirecTV.
Opening statements were delayed one day by bad weather in Washington.
Conrath suggested that AT&T would be able to hike fees that Turner charges for its content by about 10 percent if the merger were approved and that the company could withhold content from rival distributors. He referenced an internal email from Turner executives that Dish Network Corp’s Sling service would be “crap” without Turner content, as he paraphrased the stronger language in the email.
Trump publicly criticized the deal as a candidate and as president, and the Republican president often has excoriated Time Warner’s CNN news network.
If the administration loses, that could open up the field for similar tie-ups between distributors and content providers. But a win could strengthen the hand of antitrust regulators looking at other, similarly structured mergers.
AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors, making the deal a so-called vertical merger between companies on the same supply chain. The vast majority of challenged mergers involve one rival buying another.
The merger would hand AT&T, if it becomes the new owner of Time Warner, the motive and opportunity to refuse to license March Madness NCAA basketball tournament games, along with premium cable channel HBO and other content, to pay-TV rivals and online distributors, the Justice Department has said.
AT&T lawyer Daniel Petrocelli had asked for access to communications between the White House and Justice Department about the deal, but the judge denied the request.
If the government loses, Verizon Communications Inc and Charter Communications Inc could strike deals to buy movie or television makers and squeeze smaller pay-TV providers.
AT&T has said the merger would result in more than $ 2.5 billion in annual cost savings by 2020. It argues that the deal is crucial to compete with companies like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc.
The internet companies pose two challenges to pay TV. They either compete with cable and satellite television for ad dollars or provide cheaper online video that has hurt pricey pay-TV. Some do both.
Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Web browser developer Mozilla Corp and video-sharing website Vimeo Inc said on Thursday they had refiled legal challenges intended to block the Trump administration’s repeal of landmark net neutrality rules from taking effect.
A coalition of more than 20 state attorneys general led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman separately plans to refile a legal challenge as early as today.
The Federal Communications Commission officially published its order overturning net neutrality rules in the Federal Register on Thursday, a procedural step that allows for the filing of legal challenges.
The Republican-led FCC in December voted 3-2 to overturn rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The White House Office of Management and Budget still must sign off on some aspects of the FCC reversal before it takes legal effect and that could take months.
Congressional aides say the publication will trigger a 60-legislative-day deadline for Congress to vote on whether to overturn the decision. U.S. Senate Democrats have the backing of 50 members of the 100-person chamber for repeal, leaving them just one vote short of a majority.
Even if Democrats could win a majority in the Senate, reinstatement of net neutrality would also require a favorable vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by President Donald Trump. Democrats need 51 votes to win any proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate because Vice President Mike Pence can break any tie.
On Friday, a coalition of more than 20 state attorneys general and advocacy groups agreed to withdraw a protective petition filed in January that sought to preserve the right to sue.
Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said last week the office agreed to withdraw ”the original petition and will simply refile it once the final rule is published. Either way, our coalition of AGs is taking the FCC to court to challenge its illegal rollback of net neutrality.”
The repeal was a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc, conferring power over what content consumers can access.
Technology companies including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc have thrown their weight behind the congressional bid to reverse the FCC December vote.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky
YouTube won’t stand for any kind of resistance. The site, which recently announced that it will launch its own paid streaming music service, is threatening various record labels by saying it will remove videos affiliated with these groups. Artists involved in this dispute include Radiohead, Adele, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend. According to […]
Twitter just realised an array of tools to limit abuse on the platform – the trouble is they can also be used to block your brand.
Block Storage, a highly available and scalable SSD-based cloud service, enables developers to attach extra disk space to DigitalOcean Droplet cloud servers.