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FCC resorts to the usual malarkey defending itself against Mozilla lawsuit

Mozilla filed a lawsuit in August alleging the FCC had unlawfully overturned 2015’s net neutrality rules, by among other things “fundamentally mischaracterizing how internet access works.” The FCC has filed its official response, and as you might expect it has doubled down on those fundamental mischaracterizations. The Mozilla suit, which you can read here or embedded at the bottom of this post, was sort of a cluster bomb of allegations striking at the FCC order on technical, legal, and procedural grounds. They aren’t new, revelatory arguments — they’re what net neutrality advocates have been saying for years. There are at least a dozen separate allegations, but most fall under two general categories. That the FCC wrongly classifies broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” There’s a long story behind this that I documented in the Commission Impossible series. The logic on which this determination is based has been refuted by practically every technical authority and really is just plain wrong . This pulls the rug out from numerous justifications for undoing the previous rules and instating new ones. That by failing to consider consumer complaints or perform adequate studies on the state of the industry, federal protections, and effects of the rules, the FCC’s order is “arbitrary and capricious” and thus cannot be considered to have been lawfully enacted. The FCC’s responses to these allegations are likewise unsurprising. The bulk of big rulemaking documents like Restoring Internet Freedom isn’t composed of the actual rules but in the justification of those rules. So the FCC took preventative measures in its proposal identifying potential objections (like Mozilla’s) and dismissing them by various means. These are the arguments against net neutrality and why they’re wrong That their counter-arguments on the broadband classification are nothing new is in itself a little surprising, though. These very same arguments were rejected by a panel of judges in the DC circuit back in 2015

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Hidden fees that raise price of broadband would be banned by proposed law

Enlarge / Bill shock. (credit: Getty Images | Biddiboo) US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation that would require telecom companies to include all charges in their advertised prices, potentially ending the practice of advertising low prices and then socking customers with loads of extra fees. The bill would also force telecom companies to justify price increases that occur during a contract term, and it would let consumers opt out of contracts without paying termination fees when prices are increased. The bill would also prohibit providers from requiring arbitration in the case of billing errors, thus preserving consumers' rights to sue the providers over price disputes. Eshoo's TRUE Fees Act (Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees) would apply to phone, TV, and home or mobile Internet providers. The bill isn't likely to get much support from Republicans in Congress, who have generally protected Internet providers from new requirements. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Robocaller spoofed real numbers to avoid angry call-backs to his own phone

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Charles Taylor) The Federal Communications Commission yesterday issued about $120 million dollars' worth of fines to two robocallers accused of spoofing real people's phone numbers. In one of the cases, the robocaller made 21 million calls overall and told the FCC that he spoofed real people's numbers in Caller ID in order to avoid angry call-backs to his own phone. In the other case, the FCC said the robocaller made 2.3 million calls including 48,349 that spoofed the number of a single person. That unlucky person ended up getting about five angry call-backs a day for two months, the FCC said. In the first case, the FCC fined telemarketer Philip Roesel and his companies more than $82 million. This is the same amount that the FCC proposed to fine Roesel a year ago—as is standard, the commission gave him a chance to respond before making the decision final. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Lawmakers ask Ajit Pai about false DDoS claims

A handful of Democratic lawmakers have some questions for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regarding claims of a DDoS attack that the Inspector General recently concluded were false. Specifically, they want to know when Pai became aware that disruption to the a...

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FCC accused of ‘dereliction of duty’ in failing to dispel cyberattack ‘myth’

Following the issuance of a report from the FCC’s Inspector General essentially saying the reports of cyberattacks on the agency were made up out of whole cloth, several lawmakers are demanding answers from Chairman Ajit Pai. The report, published last week , reveals that the narrative of an attack against the FCC’s comment system — a narrative the agency has propped up for over a year — had no evidence to support it. The comment system, the record indicates, was simply overwhelmed by people hammering it after becoming aware of net neutrality issues and how they could make their voice heard. Net neutrality activists, not hackers, crashed the FCC’s comment system Part of this long-lived mistake was, necessarily, making false statements to the public and Congress, since the latter repeatedly requested more information on the purported attacks. Although federal prosecutors declined to pursue this infraction, the members of Congress to whom Pai repeatedly told untruths have indicated they are not likely to forgive and forget. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) sent a letter (PDF) to Ajit Pai today admonishing him and his office for their failure. Pallone and Doyle particularly have been nipping at the chairman’s heels almost constantly since he took the job, so they have extra cause to be angered by his actions. Given the significant media, public, and Congressional attention this alleged cyberattack received for over a year, it is hard to believe that the release of the IG’s Report was the first time that you and your staff realized that no cyberattack occurred. Such ignorance would signify a dereliction of your duty as the head of the FCC, particularly due to the severity of the allegations and the blatant lack of evidence. It is troubling that you allowed the public myth created by the FCC to persist and your misrepresentations to remain uncorrected for over a year… To the extent that you were aware of the misrepresentations prior to the release of the Report and failed to correct them, such actions constitute a wanton disregard for Congress and the American public. Chairman Pai does have a legitimate excuse to a certain extent in that the FCC’s Office of the Inspector General had requested that the agency keep quiet about its investigation while it was ongoing. So we may fairly say that Pai and his office may have in some ways had their hands tied.

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