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The 2016 Net Neutrality Time Bomb

(Special to Medium)

No matter who wins the next presidential election, Net Neutrality isn’t secure without legislation.

Elections aren’t always a good thing (I know that sounds un-American but hear me out…)

Elections are the bedrock of our democracy and one of the many things that make this country great. If an elected leader isn’t cutting it, the voters have the opportunity to kick him or her out of office every few years. That’s powerful stuff.

But when it comes to Net Neutrality, the very nature of elections puts the Internet at risk. Thanks to recent action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Net Neutrality is now the province of the FCC.

On January 20, 2016, the nation’s new President will be inaugurated and he (or she) will appoint a new FCC Chairman to replace current Chairman Tom Wheeler. That person will have an outsized influence on the future of Net Neutrality and he (or she) may decide not to enforce the current rules or to change them all together. Everything is riding on the next President’s feeling about Net Neutrality. Although the campaign season is just getting started, we’re already getting a look at who the likely candidates will be and where they stand on Internet freedom.

Read the full article here: https:[email protected]/the-2016-net-neutrality-time-bomb-6bac50e0b7ab

Congress Must Act if DOJ’s Actions Harm Viability of Music Streaming

Special to Roll Call:

By Mike Montgomery

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held what should be considered an historic hearing to discuss the competitive landscape surrounding music licensing; not just the age old fight about how to divide the royalties, but to examine whether competition in the music space is healthy enough to allow new entrants — such as Pandora and iHeart — to continue to innovate and delight consumers.

In his opening statement, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said the committee needs to work toward ensuring fair compensation for artists while also ensuring that new music streaming companies can thrive. And that brought to the fore the 65-year-old antitrust consent decrees that dictate how music license rights are handled in the U.S.

Leahy’s goal isn’t ambitious — it’s logical. But it won’t be met if music labels and the organizations that represent songwriters and publishers get their way, because any modification of the consent decrees would threaten the existence of companies such as Spotify.

Read more: http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/congress-must-act-dojs-actions-harm-viability-music-streaming-commentary/?dcz=

Sen. Mike McGuire’s bill would require reporting by vacation rental companies

Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

A North Coast senator is taking aim at online vacation rental businesses such as Airbnb through proposed legislation that could reap millions for cities and counties in uncollected bed taxes, but critics slam as government over-reach and a threat to the so-called sharing economy.

But critics said the bill would be bad for business and for innovation.

“While consumer protections are generally a great thing, consumers shouldn’t be fooled by this barely-veiled, anti-competitive threat to innovative marketplaces,” Mike Montgomery, executive director of CALinnovates, said in a statement.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/home/3681120-181/sen-mike-mcguires-bill-would

 

NERA: Effect of Title II on Investment Incentives “Worse Than We Thought”

When the FCC released it’s Net Neutrality Order last week, it cited a White Paper commissioned by CALinnovates and drafted by NERA.  The authors of NERA’s White Paper issued a response.  What follows is the conclusion, with a link to the full response, below:

We stand behind the basic results of NERA’s White Paper and find that, if anything, the Order has actually made us more worried about the state of competition and innovation than we were before seeing it, assuming it manages to pass its initial, and inevitable, court challenges. Although the Order is quite long, the actual new rules are very short, reflecting the difficulties that nomenclature and case-by-case analysis will bring. Further, the Order tries to describe the new rules as “light-handed,” ignoring the incentives of aggrieved parties to achieve through FCC litigation what they could not achieve in open competition. As a result, innovation is shackled with new costs that could kill, or at least severely hamper, further development of the Internet ecosystem.

Click here to read NERA’s full response

Business Insider: Uber and Lyft fail to convince judges their employees are ‘independent contractors’

Here are the two most pertinent quotes from the story, both coming from California District Judge Vince Chhabria:

“The jury in this case will be handed a square peg and asked to choose between two round holes.”

“California’s outmoded test for classifying workers will apply in cases like this. And because the test provides nothing remotely close to a clear answer, it will often be for juries to decide.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/uber-and-lyft-fail-to-convince-judges-their-employees-are-independent-contractors-2015-3#ixzz3UIFTYbVy

CALinnovates Statement Regarding FCC Release Of Open Internet Order

The following can be attributed to Executive Director Mike Montgomery

“The inevitable happened today – the FCC’s website broke as it tried to release its 400-page ‘Open Internet’ order, two weeks after the agency voted to approve utility-style regulation of the Internet. Who saw that coming?  Errors aside, today marks the beginning of yet another chapter of the ongoing and seemingly never-ending net neutrality debate. Now that the actual document is finally here, the partisan feud about the agency’s lack of transparency on an issue dealing precisely with openness and transparency might finally be put to pasture.  In the coming days, speed-readers will have their moment in the sun as the nation scrambles to comprehend the 400-page Order and its effect on the Internet ecosystem.

We hope this new stage of transparency and openness will be applied long-term, but the FCC vote will likely prove the wrong vehicle as litigation and future FCCs loom.  Today, CALinnovates calls upon our nation’s federally elected officials to prove the naysayers wrong – bipartisan legislation isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s a necessity.”

Congress Presses Uber And Lyft On Driver Background Checks

(Via Tech Crunch)

Ride-sharing companies are not strangers to Congressional inquiries. This week a group of Congressional Democrats hit the CEOs of Uber, Sidecar and Lyft with another letter, this time demanding the companies conduct more comprehensive background checks on their drivers to better protect customers from sexual assaults.

Although these companies conduct internal screenings, the cohort of lawmakers do not believe they go far enough. The representatives called on the companies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, both new and existing. The representatives believe a change to the policy is needed following the alleged string of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Read the full article here.

Raising royalty rates won’t save music

(Via The Hill)

Instead, it could kill off an industry that has finally helped combat piracy.

Today, listening to the music you want to hear is easier than ever. Forget waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio or camping out on a Tuesday night to be one of the first to buy the latest CD. Thanks to streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio, listeners have access to millions of songs at the click of a mouse for less than the cost of buying one CD per month.

But while consuming music is now a breeze, ensuring the right people are getting paid for their work is more complicated than ever.There’s no question that the royalties system is broken. Artists and songwriters are being compensated for their works under completely outdated laws that line the pockets of the record labels while leaving the artists high and dry. But simply raising the royalties tech companies have to pay for music won’t help the situation — if anything it will make it worse.

Read the full article here.

Zombie Ridesharing Bill Comes Back To Life In California

Via Tech Crunch

A bill designed to regulate ridesharing companies in California is back. State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian has submitted a bill aimed at placing new rules on companies like Uber and Lyft. Assembly Bill 24, however, is incredibly similar to Assembly Bill 612, which failed in committee in 2014. Nazarian notes in a release on the bill that 24 is “similar” to 612, which is understatement.

Maligning ridesharing services as “simply high-tech hitchhiking,” Nazarian claims to be “hopeful that after too many senseless and preventable acts of violence [that] ridesharing companies would be more inclined to work with me to pass legislation that restores the public’s trust in this wonderful and innovative transportation model.”

 

Read the entire Tech Crunch article here

US can’t have it both ways on Internet

From a March 6, 2015 op-ed in The Hill by Executive Director Mike Montgomery

The United States’ policy schizophrenia regarding the Internet was on full display last week in Washington. On one day, the Commerce Department explained to a Senate committee why it’s important for the U.S. government to take a hands-off approach to the Internet as a reason why it’s ending its ties to ICANN. And on the very next day, the Federal Communications Commission explained why it’s important to take a hands-on approach to the Internet by imposing net neutrality rules.

Meanwhile, other governments must be smirking at us.

Read the full article here 

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