June 27, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3351, an appropriations bill that funds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The bill includes three amendments that promote digital equity, protect consumer rights, and block harmful FCC proposals. New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI) endorsed all three amendments.
First, OTI endorsed an amendment by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) that would stop the FCC’s attack on the Universal Service Fund (USF). The FCC has proposed capping the USF budget, which would needlessly jeopardize funding for rural health care, schools and libraries, low-income Americans, and hard-to-reach rural communities. Pocan’s amendment would prohibit FCC action on this proposal.
Second, OTI endorsed an amendment by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) that would block the FCC’s efforts to preempt state and local laws that protect renters and promote competition. The FCC has proposed preempting local laws that ban anticompetitive practices that create hyper-local broadband monopolies in apartment buildings and deny tenants a choice of broadband provider.
Finally, OTI endorsed an amendment by Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Calif.) that would highlight the need for the FCC to finish its investigation into the sale of geolocation data to bounty hunters and other third party aggregators. On June 14, OTI, Free Press, and the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology filed a complaint urging the FCC to take enforcement action against the wireless carriers that enabled this serious and pervasive violation of their customers’ privacy.
The following quote can be attributed to Joshua Stager, senior counsel for New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“We applaud Congress for stepping up to protect the American people in areas where the current FCC leadership has failed. From public safety to consumer rights, the FCC has been asleep at the wheel. We are particularly grateful to Reps. Pocan, Porter, and Trahan for their leadership on these important issues.
“Collectively, these three amendments send a clear message: Congress is not happy with the direction the FCC has taken under Chairman Pai.”