FCC Under Fire For Putting ALEC Rep On 'Consumer' Advisory Board

from the foxes-and-the-hen-house dept

In 2017, FCC head Ajit Pai came under fire for filling a new "Broadband Deployment Advisory Council" (BDAC) task force with oodles of industry representatives, but few if any consumer representatives or local town or city officials. Not too surprisingly the panel saw a significant amount of controversy, several protest resignations, and the arrest of a one-time panel chair for fraud, but the panel itself never actually accomplished much of anything to address the problem it was created for.

Fast forward to last week, and the FCC has once again found itself under fire for appointing a member of the The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to the agency's "consumer advisory" panel:

"A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

The most obvious problem is that ALEC is directly employed by the telecom sector to undermine and eliminate consumer protections.

ALEC played a starring role in helping the broadband industry pass blatantly-protectionist bills in more than 21 states that hamstrung or simply banned towns or cities from building their own networks, even in instances when private industry refuses to. It has also bandied about cease and desist warnings against critics who've pointed this out. Both ALEC and Hauenschild have lobbied against net neutrality protections that continue to have the overwhelming bipartisan support of the public. You'd be hard pressed to find a single actual consumer advocate who'd agree with ALEC's positions on these issues.

While Hauenschild likely holds some personally divergent opinions from his employer, there's very little in his background or time at ALEC that would qualify him as expert on consumer telecom issues. Certainly nothing that would somehow position him above a universe of objective experts or academics who've actually worked to protect consumer welfare. And while Pai appointing a like-minded ally to an FCC panel isn't surprising, involving ALEC also raised a few eyebrows given that even AT&T and Verizon have recently backed away from the organization due to its recent hosting of a bigoted, far-right extremist:

"ALEC has long received financial support from the telecom industry. But Verizon left ALEC in September 2018 after it hosted a speech by right-wing activist David Horowitz, in which Horowitz argued against the legalization of abortion and gay marriage, compared the left wing's support of "redistribution of income" to slavery, and said that "at the K-12 level, school curricula have been turned over to racist organizations like Black Lives Matter, and terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood."

Verizon explained to The Intercept that it "has no tolerance for racist, white supremacist, or sexist comment[s] or ideals." AT&T subsequently ended its membership in ALEC, also citing the Horowitz speech."

While ALEC certainly has expertise in consumer protection, it comes in the form of trying to prevent it from happening. Again, Pai surrounding himself with like-minded allies isn't surprising. But appointing an ALEC rep to a consumer issue advisory panel is kind of like inviting a hungry shark to your swimming safety seminar: there's certainly experience there, just not of a variety you're going to find useful. And certainly not helpful when it comes to fixing the universe of problems consumers face in a telecom sector dominated by wealthy and well-connected natural monopolies.

Filed Under: ajit pai, consumer advisory board, fcc
Companies: alec


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2019 @ 4:11pm

    Ajit Pai, known to lie

    I honestly hope that the rest of this travesty that is regulatory capture in action will be used as a history lesson on what not to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2019 @ 5:17pm

      Re: history lesson

      the history lessons on regulatory capture and regulatory malfeasance have long been documented

      but those clear lessons have no impact upon the many who lack understanding of government and economics.
      No matter what Pai does, the blind faith in the FCC and regulatory model will endure and expand.

      current FCC is hardly the worst regime in FCC history and many other Federal regulatory bureaucracies are worse.
      pick your poison.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonOpsapdnsf.com, 20 Apr 2019 @ 12:11am

      Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

      Sometimes the reasons for regulatory capture is so we do not have electrical lines and poles say like a Mexican or Brazilian favela. However, I think that ironclad regulations are better than regulatory capture in that regard. When everything is not determined by the USC or UCC, everything then degrades towards race to the bottom.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2019 @ 6:54am

        Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

        "Sometimes the reasons for regulatory capture is so we do not have electrical lines and poles say like a Mexican or Brazilian favela."

        How does regulatory capture prevent spaghetti lines and poles?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          AnonyOps, 20 Apr 2019 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

          The lack of multiple services aka contractual monopolies with local govs.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2019 @ 12:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

            That is not exclusive to regulatory capture.
            It may be indicative of regulation but not of capture.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              AnonyOps, 20 Apr 2019 @ 2:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

              Agree to disagree unless you have a link to something factual to back it up.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2019 @ 3:28pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

                Regulatory capture:
                Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.[1]
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

                • Two separate things; 1) regulation, 2) capture

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  AnonyOps, 20 Apr 2019 @ 6:54pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

                  You do realize an agency is a direct agent of the government on the behalf of a business that is still controlled by a government not under a business contract. You have just compared apples to oranges.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2019 @ 7:32am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

                    You seem very confused.

                    I simply pointed out that it is possible to have a regulatory agency that regulates industry without it being captured by said industry.

                    It is possible to have government that is not corrupt, will not happen - but it is possible. Several agencies regulated at first, before they were taken over by industry which then overturned any good that had been done.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  AnonyOps.com, 20 Apr 2019 @ 6:57pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

                  A contract is a legally-binding agreement which recognises and governs the rights and duties of the parties to the agreement.[1] A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. An agreement typically involves the exchange of goods, services, money, or promises of any of those. In the event of breach of contract, the law awards the injured party access to legal remedies such as damages and cancellation.[2]

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2019 @ 7:35am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ajit Pai, known to lie

                    Nice ... irrelevant - but nice.

                    You think all regulated industries are forced to enter into a contract with the government? Nah - that can't be it.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 4:37pm

    Dear Ajit Pai

    One wonders why when putting together a Consumer Advisory Board that anyone other than consumers are necessary? Now we imagine that there are a variety of consumers out there, but your specialty is communications. So why isn't your board made up of individuals who are customers of all the main players in those industries? ISP's, landline companies, Mobile companies, etc.. Ones that DON"T have connections to those that have connections to you?.

    We also imagine that the board should discuss the lack of competition, their customer service practices, the efforts of the industry to buy regulation in their favor, and the efforts of industry to buy regulation preventing competition as a set of top priorities.

    What do you mean there is plenty of competition? How many places in the US have access to more than one ISP. Please don't use information from the ISP's, they lie, try walking up to say 1000 homes in various places and states and ask. That would be a better use of your time than anything you have done since your term in office began.

    The Rest of the World

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2019 @ 6:56am

    In the past, organized crime and their crony politicians did a rather good job at hiding their illegal activities but lately it seems they do not even try anymore. It is simply out there - in your face - corruption and the hypocrites do not want anyone to point that out because they feel they are allowed to do all that shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 20 Apr 2019 @ 10:21am

    The United States of Denial

    Methinks that as long as everyone keeps "believing" that all of this stuff is caused by ignorance/incompetence, rather than willful, intentional malice, its just gonna get worse. And, from I've seen over the last decade, its just gonna get worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 20 Apr 2019 @ 12:16pm

    Apr 17, 2019 post by FCC...

    https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/blog/2019/04/17/fast-reliable-and-secure

    By Ajit Pai | FCC Chairman
    Last week, I joined the President at the White House to discuss the FCC’s efforts to promote U.S. leadership in 5G wireless communications. “American companies must lead the world in cellular technology,” the President declared Opens a New Window. . “5G networks must be secure. . . . They must cover every community, and they must be deployed as soon as possible.” Last week, the FCC made progress toward the last two goals, announcing December 10 as the start date for the largest spectrum auction in our nation’s history, and revealing plans to create a new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to extend high-speed broadband in rural America. At the Commission’s May meeting, we will take action to advance the goal of security.

    Much more on site.(dont laugh)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 21 Apr 2019 @ 11:39am

      Re: Apr 17, 2019 post by FCC...

      Posted this to get a rebuttal...

      But its the same Iv said to anyone that think 5g is here...IT AINT.

      https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/spectrum_wall_chart_aug2011.pdf

      This chart can show some interesting things...
      (BESIDES needing to enlarge it to even see the data)

      Anyone understanding Very little of how frequency works..May know the problem. There are only a few ways to KEEP the existing Freq, and to Increase the data rate.

      1. Buy up all the other services, becasue there isnt enough room.

      1 is to Widen the sending freq so that you can insert More data. but Even with DIGITAL data and signals over lapping with this and that, Widening the signal, TAKES more space and you then need more room to send More individual signals groups. You can only over lap so much data before every thing goes Sideways.

      There other way isnt much better. Increasing the Amplitude. which is better to send signals long ranges.

      NOT technical...
      Higher freq dont Bounce, FM/AM radio can bounce around and get to a person, Cellphone signals already have problems.
      the Change over from Analog TV to Digital, TAKES over 10 times the power.

      Even if we get everyone OFF the lower settings, (2g,3g,4g) there isnt Much room in those areas left. esp in METRO areas, where you have Thousands of people in an area.

      If thye go up the spectrum, they are going to take something away thats already there. they wanted to do this years ago. But your wireless Router is up there, for your home devices to get to the internet.
      Anyoine ever notice how many Routers are in your local area, Broadcasting LIVE...In my little town of 3000, I can see over 20 while sitting in my home. Want to add Cellphones to that?? For every person in a 1-2 mile area, you get to see a signal??

      And with that, we have another problem.. Which we already have. do you think they will CREATE a new Security format?? NOPE. They will use whats already there...And that is Broken(if you didnt know)... everything your wireless devices send, security has been broken, until it gets to the modem and router. And even then, its not secure.

      So everything that the FBI/CIA and all the rest wanted in NO ENCRYPTION... is already there, unless you have another way to send data, that can be interpreted, on the other side, Is now OPEN game for anyone that knows how.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2019 @ 5:11pm

    Thank of the shareholders...

    Do you realize the cunning of your typical city councilman? If we let them plan an ISP, there is no private business that could stand up to such a competitive force.

    Dozens of smaller companies would go bankrupt overnight. Even large entities could not stand up to the might of the City Council. Eventually even AT&T and Verizon would be ran out of business.

    Hundreds of private employees would be replaced by a half dozen highly efficient government works.

    Be thankful of the hard working lobbyist. They are the only one protecting us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2019 @ 7:41am

      Re: Thank of the shareholders...

      "If we let them plan an ISP, there is no private business that could stand up to such a competitive force. "

      • Please explain. What makes a local/public ISP "such a competitive force"?

      "Dozens of smaller companies would go bankrupt overnight."

      • So be it. Market efficiency.

      "Even large entities could not stand up to the might of the City Council"

      • Hog wash. You have any data in support of your claims?

      "Hundreds of private employees would be replaced by a half dozen highly efficient government works. "

      • Now I think you are just trying to be funny.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Philly Bob, 21 Apr 2019 @ 6:28pm

    Aaaaannnd... up next, Martin Shkreli to head the FDA...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 22 Apr 2019 @ 11:27am

    Can Ajit Pai be impeached

    He's a "federal officer" isn't he?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 22 Apr 2019 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Can Ajit Pai be impeached

      Yes, but while it only takes a simple House majority to impeach, it takes a 2/3 Senate majority to convict. That means at least 20 Republicans.

      There are only 3 Senate Republicans who voted to restore the Wheeler-era NN regulations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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