News feeds

Trump Sweeps 304 of 306 GOP Electors, Hillary Loses 5

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 22:31
Trump Sweeps 304 of 306 GOP Electors, Hillary Loses 5
by Stephen Lendman
It’s all over but the postmortems. The campaign to dump Trump fizzled. The only surprise was Hillary losing five elector votes. 
Commenting on why he rejected her, Hawaii Democrat elector said “(t)hey can call me faithless, but the point is if we don’t think someone’s qualified - and Hillary Clinton I do not feel is qualified.”
Four Washington state Democrat electors dumped her. Three others in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota unsuccessfully tried switching their votes from her.
For the first time in US history, more than one elector defected. Trump swept all GOP delegates except two in Texas. One voted for Ron Paul.
Commenting on his triumph, Trump said “(t)oday marks a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation's democracy.” 
“This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible.” 
“With this historic step we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans. Together, we will make America great again.”
Separately, he tweeted “(w)e did it. Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).”
Monday’s vote was Hillary’s third humiliating defeat - losing to Obama in 2008, defeated by Trump in November, and electors on Monday making it official.
They overwhelmingly rejected her, despite weeks of intensive scoundrel media supported efforts to dump Trump.
The threat of the most ruthlessly dangerous presidential aspirant in US history ended with a resounding rejection of her unfitness to serve.
On January 6, a joint congressional session will certify Monday’s results, Trump’s inauguration to follow on January 20 - disruptive tactics continuing.
Inauguration day protests are planned to block his peaceful transition. From January 2 - 20, a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) #Earth2Trump campaign promises resistance, demonstrations planned in over a dozen cities, concluding in Washington.
CBD calls for “rallying and empowering defenders of civil rights and the environment" to galvanize a network of resistance.
The organization headlined “The fight is on,” saying “(w)e must stand and oppose every Trump policy that hurts wildlife; poisons our air and water; destroys our climate; promotes racism, misogyny or homophobia; and marginalizes entire segments of our society.”
CBD urged supporters to sign a “Pledge of Resistance to Donald Trump's Assault on America's Environment, Democracy and Civil Rights.”
It accused him of a laundry list of offenses before he’s done anything. Its pledge states:
“I pledge to resist Trump through action.”
“I pledge to speak out, make phone calls, sign petitions, join rallies, support conservation and civil rights groups, educate my family and friends, and keep a compassionate, loving heart while fighting fiercely for the values I cherish most.”
What’s vitally needed is resistance against money-controlled duopoly governance, endless imperial wars on humanity at home and abroad, corporate favoritism at the expense of beneficial social, economic and political change, along with police state rule - policies enforced by both wings of America’s one-party state.
Grassroots revolutionary change alone can fix things. Nothing else can work. Elections are farcical, voting a waste of time, ordinary people shut out entirely. 
Wealth, power and privilege alone are served at their expense. It’s the American way, unchanged throughout its history - continuing for four more years, the process repeating each election cycle no matter who’s elected president.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Were CIA Dirty Hands Behind Assassination of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 22:17
Were CIA Dirty Hands Behind Assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey?
by Stephen Lendman
Russia’s investigation will get to the bottom of what happened, why and who was responsible.
Though unknown at this point, it has the earmarks of a CIA plot to undermine growing Russian/Turkish ties, notably their cooperation in Syria, adversely affecting Washington’s regional imperial agenda.
The assassination happened in the wake of Aleppo’s liberation, a major defeat for Washington, NATO, Israel and other rogue Middle East states.
It came on the eve of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers meeting in Moscow (America, Britain and France excluded) “to discuss in trilateral format the situation in and around Syria first and foremost,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov explained.
On Tuesday, they’ll meet in Moscow “to try to reach an agreement on lasting ceasefire, on resolution of some humanitarian issues with eye of reaching political settlement.” 
“We have the basis for that and it is United Nations Security Council resolution 2254,” he added. Cessation of hostilities and conflict resolution would be a major step toward defeating Washington’s regional imperial agenda.
If Trump normalizes ties with Russia, both countries cooperating in combating terrorism, it’ll represent a major change of US foreign policy for as long as it lasts. Deep state dark forces in Washington want it prevented.
According to Tass, Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov “was assassinated on Monday in the country’s capital of Ankara by former special task police force officer Mevlut Mert Altintas,” citing Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu.
Karlov was killed during the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition called “Russia through Turks’ eyes,” dedicated to normalized bilateral relations between both countries.
He died later at an Ankara hospital, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained.
Putin commented on his assassination, calling it “undeniably a provocation aimed at derailing the normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations and the peace process in Syria, which is actively promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in the settlement of the internal conflict in Syria.”
“There can be only one response - stepping up the fight against terrorism - which the criminals will find out firsthand.”
“Russia’s Investigative Committee has already opened a case on the murder, and has been tasked with forming a working group which will promptly leave for Ankara to take part in the investigation of this crime together with Turkish partners.” 
“This was just agreed during a telephone conversation with the President of Turkey. We must find out who directed the killer’s hand.”
Separately, Turkish President Erdogan said “(w)e are determined to maintain our ties with Russia.”
Karlov’s strategically timed assassination was likely aimed at undermining Russian/Turkish relations - especially after Aleppo’s liberation and US electors confirming Trump’s triumph.
The provocative scheme seems destined to fail as decisively as the campaign to deny America’s president-elect the office he won.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

NYT Post-Election Sour Grapes

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 21:59
NYT Post-Election Sour Grapes
by Stephen Lendman
On Monday, electors confirmed Trump’s November 8 triumph. On January 20, he’ll be sworn in as America’s 45th president, ending Obama’s deplorable tenure - a record of unaccountable high crimes for eight long depressing  years.
NYT editors won’t end their fury. They continue bashing Trump relentlessly - likely angry because  their one-sided pro-Hillary press agent services failed.
They lashed out, knowing Trump will succeed Obama, also upset over twice as many Democrat electors defecting as GOP ones, along with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin recounts adding small numbers to his winning margin in all three states.
Pouting won’t change things. The scheme to delegitimize his triumph by phony claims of Russian election hacking fizzled.
Times editors: “Leaders of groups that were lobbying the electors had privately believed they had a chance to sway enough Republican electors to defect, denying him an Electoral College majority and throwing the election to the House of Representatives.”
Fact: As things turned out, the ill-conceived coup plot failed. Trump won. Hillary lost. Results won’t change.
Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway denounced anti-Trump elements for “attempting to foment a permanent opposition that is corrosive to our constitutional democracy and ignores what just happened in this election…They’re trying to deny him what he just earned.”
Times editors: “Democrats…are unified in their view that the Trump presidency represents an existential threat.”
Fact: Who can know? He has no public record. He hasn’t done anything yet except announce cabinet and other appointments.
Judge him solely on his actions in office, not on campaign rhetoric. What politicians do matters, especially heads of state, not what they say.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Trump on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press

eff.org - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 12:19

No one can know for sure what the incoming Trump administration will do, but President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized and threatened the media in the United States. In lieu of attempting the impossible and predicting the future, we’ve gathered all of Trump’s stated positions on free speech and freedom of the press. If you are aware of any additional statements that we have not included, please email kate@eff.org with a link to your source material, and we will consider it for inclusion.

While running for president, Trump made his general feelings about the press very clear. He has called the media “dishonest” and described reporters as “scum,” “sleaze,” and “horrible people.” At a rally last February, he famously said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

In the past, Trump has filed frivolous lawsuits against media defendants that threaten to silence critics and draw scarce resources away from important reporting work. For example, in 1984, Trump sued the Chicago Tribune and its Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, Paul Gapp for an article that made fun of Trump's proposal to build a 150-story skyscraper on landfill in New York. In 2006, Trump sued Time Warner Books and an author for publishing a book that reported Trump was worth substantially less than he claimed. He sued for $5 billion in damages. And during the election, Trump sued Univision and its head of programming for dropping coverage of the Miss Universe pageant (in response to Trump’s comments that Mexicans are rapists), and for posting a picture of Trump next to a picture of convicted murderer Dylan Roof on Instagram with the comment “Sin commentaries.” Although none of these statements met the libel standard and Trump failed to win any case, in each the media defendants had to hire—and pay—lawyers to defend themselves—all the way to the appellate court in at least one case. Trump said, about one case he lost, “I liked it because I cost him a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of money.”

Trump has repeatedly denied the media access. During his campaign, he pulled out of two debates because he reportedly didn’t like the way he was treated by Fox News and its reporter, Megyn Kelly.

He also pulled the credentials of several national media outlets, including the Washington Post, for ideological disagreements, and, in the Post’s case, for an arguably inaccurate headline. The Post’s Executive Editor Marty Baron called the move, “nothing less than a repudiation of a free and independent press.” Trump’s campaign also blacklisted reporters from Gawker, BuzzFeed, Foreign Policy, Politico, Fusion, Univision, Mother Jones, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Des Moines Register, the Daily Beast and Huffington Post. That left reporters having “to try to walk into public events with the general crowd rather than being escorted into the press section.” However, when one Politico reporter tried to report from the general audience section at a Trump rally instead of the press pen, Trump’s staff kicked him out and then denied him credentials to a later campaign event.

Since winning the election, the incoming administration has broken from the practices of past incoming presidents in ways that could impact how the press reports on and the public learns about its activities. For example, Trump broke from “decades of tradition” by not traveling with a press pool during his campaign and continued to do so even after the election. This meant that the public often learned about Trump’s conversations with leaders of foreign countries from the countries themselves, rather than the press. And Trump’s incoming Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, implied in an interview last week that the new administration may do away with daily press briefings in the White House.

This blog post is part of a campaign asking the tech community to defend users and digital rights.  Have we missed something? Send us any additional statements from Trump and his advisors about free speech by emailing kate@eff.org.


Share this: Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Trump and His Advisors on Surveillance, Encryption, Cybersecurity

eff.org - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 12:16

Where will the incoming Trump administration come down on issues like surveillance, encryption, and cybersecurity? While it is impossible to know the future, we have collected everything we could find about the stated positions of Trump and those likely to be in his administration on these crucial digital privacy issues. If you are aware of any additional statements that we have not included, please email kate@eff.org with a link to your source material, and we will consider it for inclusion.

Surveillance

During the 2016 campaign Trump made a series of statements about how he wants to expand the country’s surveillance apparatus. In late 2015, Trump said in an interview he tends “to err on the side of security” and that restoring parts of the Patriot Act that have been amended would “be fine.”

“When you have people that are beheading [you] if you’re a Christian and, frankly, for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security.”

Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Republican Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, has also defended the country’s sweeping surveillance program and protested any narrow restraints placed on government surveillance.

When Congress passed a series of modest surveillance reforms in the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015, many Republicans joined the bipartisan effort to protect civil liberties. But Pompeo later introduced legislation that would undo many of the changes in the USA FREEDOM Act. “To share Edward Snowden’s vision of America as the problem is to come down on the side of President Obama’s diminishing willingness to collect intelligence on jihadis,” he wrote in a 2015 op-ed.

Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions felt similarly, penning an op-ed against USA FREEDOM that said the bulk phone records collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act was “subject to extraordinary oversight” and warned the bill “would make it vastly more difficult for the NSA to stop a terrorist than it is to stop a tax cheat.”

On the domestic surveillance front, Sessions also helped to derail a bill in the Senate that would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing stored electronic communications, like emails.

Trump has also called for specific surveillance of targeted communities, including Muslims. Early in the campaign, he said he supports surveillance of mosques and that he “would certainly implement” a database for Muslim Americans.

When asked about the possibility of warrantless searches of Muslim Americans by Yahoo News, Trump said, “everybody is feeling that security is going to rule.”

“And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Trump has also been critical of former government contractor Edward Snowden, whose 2013 leaks shed light on NSA surveillance programs. In 2013, Trump called Snowden a “terrible threat” and a “terrible traitor,” threatening that the U.S. should do to Snowden “what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country.”

Pompeo went further, saying on CSPAN that Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.” 

Encryption

On encryption, Trump said in early 2016 that Apple should have to make available data stored on an iPhone linked to the shooter in last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple repeatedly challenged the FBI’s demands that the company build a tool to access the secure data on the encrypted device.

"But to think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cell phone," Trump said in an interview. "Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it up."

Trump also famously called for a boycott of Apple until the company helped to unlock the device, criticizing Apple CEO Tim Cook for “looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is.”

Cybersecurity

Trump pledged to boost the country’s cybersecurity protections if elected, calling cybersecurity “the future of warfare.” He said he would be more aggressive in using cyber attacks against opponents including terrorists and would create an international task force to deal with hacks.

Trump has also repeatedly cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion that Russia was behind the damaging DNC hack during the 2016 campaign. At a rally during the campaign, he guessed the people behind the hack could be Chinese or “a 400 pound person sitting in bed,” and he said he envied their abilities. “I wish I had that power,” he said. “Man, that would be power.”

Trump’s pick for National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, has also suggested a more aggressive approach to cybersecurity and has called the United States’ cyber capabilities “underwhelming.”

"We cannot win playing on one side of the playing field, on the defensive end. …You only are going to win if you go on the offensive once in a while.”

He has also called for a task force on cybersecurity composed of private sector representatives and federal and state government officials, and he has suggested that the country have a “story-teller in chief” to translate complex cyber issues to a lay audience.

This blog post is part of a campaign asking the tech community to defend users and digital rights. Have we missed something? Send us any additional statements from Trump and his advisors about surveillance, encryption, and cybersecurity by emailing kate@eff.org


Share this: Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

How Tech Companies Can Fight for Their Users in the Courts

eff.org - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 12:05

There are a lot of political uncertainties around the incoming Trump administration, but the threats to civil liberties are potentially greater than ever. President Obama failed to rein in the surveillance state, and Mr. Trump has nominated cabinet members like Mike Pompeo who are big fans of bulk surveillance. Now, given Mr. Trump’s campaign posture of being a “law and order” candidate who has openly criticized Apple for standing up for strong encryption, tech companies need to be even more vigilant in fighting for their users in the courts.

EFF stands ready to support those who will be pioneers in these efforts. Below, we highlight a few ways companies can stand up for their users, along with some prominent examples of from the past. In addition, for the last six years EFF has produced an annual “Who Has Your Back?” report evaluating the practices of technology companies in categories such as insisting on a warrant for user content and issuing transparency reports. Companies can look at these reports to get a sense of best practices in the industry.

Pushing Back Against Overbroad and Unlawful Requests for User Information

Because they tend to hold lots of user data, tech companies get a lot of requests for this information from the government—warrants, subpoenas and other court orders—and not all of them are valid.  These requests can have many deficiencies, ranging from being overly broad to downright getting the law wrong. Companies should publicly push back against these deficient requests in favor of proper legal processes rooted in well-established law.

Perhaps most famously, Yahoo challenged a secret order the company received in 2007 to produce user data in bulk under a just-passed law giving the NSA warrantless surveillance authority. Instead of blindly accepting the government’s constitutionally questionable order, Yahoo fought back and challenged the legality of the order in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive court that routinely grants expansive government applications for surveillance. Though Yahoo ultimately lost the battle, we applauded the company for silently fighting for its users because it was right thing to do.

Other prominent examples of this in recent years include Microsoft’s successful challenge of a search warrant that required the company to produce email content stored in Ireland. Microsoft fought to establish the precedent that warrant issued by a U.S. federal court under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) does not allow law enforcement to get user data no matter where it’s located in the world.

Beyond the context of government data requests, CloudFlare has pushed back against court orders that are aimed at pressuring Internet intermediaries into becoming Internet censors on behalf of rightsholders. Taking action against these potentially dangerous legal instruments also deserves recognition.

Fighting Against National Security Letters and Unconstitutional Gag Orders

In addition to fighting improper requests for information, companies can play an important role by publicizing these requests as part of regular transparency reports. But one thing that often stands in the way of publishing a fully honest transparency report is a gag order, particularly in the national security context. Companies may receive government data requests that come with mandatory gags, preventing them from notifying their users of the request and in some cases even forcing them not to acknowledge they have received a request at all. While there may be circumstances where the government has good reason to prevent a company from informing the target of a data request—if it would truly compromise a sensitive investigation or endanger someone’s life, for example—the Constitution requires that these gag orders be very tightly controlled.

Perhaps the most egregious example of unconstitutional gag orders are national security letters (NSLs), which allow the FBI to request user information from communication service providers and force the providers to stay completely silent about the request for a potentially unlimited time, just on the FBI’s say-so. With help from courageous NSL recipient companies, EFF has been fighting to get the NSL statute struck down and establish the principle that the First Amendment requires a court to promptly assess the true need for a gag order in every case. Recently, we were able to reveal that one of our clients is CREDO Mobile, which has been fighting NSLs for years, and we also successfully pushed back against an NSL on behalf of the Internet Archive. Other companies such as Google and Yahoo have been publishing NSLs when allowed to do so by the FBI.

Outside of NSLs, Microsoft recently went above and beyond by filing a straight-up challenge to another law that allows the government to get indefinite gag orders when seeking access to its customers’ stored email and other content. As Microsoft pointed out, an astoundingly high percentage of these gag orders last indefinitely, even though the First Amendment requires they be limited in time and scope and the Fourth Amendment requires that users get notified at some point about these searches. EFF filed an amicus brief in support of Microsoft’s lawsuit, and we commend the company’s efforts to set an important and far-ranging legal precedent.

Resisting Demands for Encryption Backdoors

Anyone familiar with EFF’s work knows that we are big supporters of strong encryption because it is crucial for our collective security, privacy, and free expression. Government officials may renew their calls for encryption “backdoors”, where an encryption system is intentionally weakened so that government can access data with a court order. But this is a nonstarter. Encryption is fundamentally math, and you can’t manipulate math problems to be solved only by one particular group of people, i.e. the government. Additionally, designing secure systems is already hard enough, and intentionally introducing vulnerabilities is a recipe for disaster.

Apple recognizes this and bravely resisted the government’s demand for it to intentionally weaken the security of its mobile operating system, iOS. Despite immense pressure from some public figures including Mr. Trump himself, who called for a boycott of Apple products, the company did the right thing and stood up for its users’ privacy and security. Similarly, other tech companies have taken strong stances in support of encryption and should resist and fight back against future government demands for encryption backdoors, or pressure to redesign their systems for ease of government surveillance.

Looking Ahead

We hope that companies will severely limit what information they collect and keep on their users in the first place. Regardless, there is a strong possibility that the incoming administration will be more aggressive in its desire to get whatever information companies have, and companies should be prepared for that scenario.

When we launched our inaugural Who Has Your Back Report? in 2011, tech companies largely weren’t fighting for their users in courts. Out of 13 major companies of the time, only 3 were meaningfully engaged in the practice. Thankfully, by 2014, things were a lot different. Out of the 26 companies we surveyed, 13 were standing up for their users in courts in some manner. The industry has made significant progress, but more can be done, by more companies and in more areas.

The political climate may present tech companies with plenty of opportunities to fight for their users in the courts, and we hope they’ll be ready. We will be here to support them.

Related Cases: Yahoo's Challenge to the Protect America Act in the Foreign Intelligence Court of ReviewNational Security Letters (NSLs)In re Warrant for Microsoft Email Stored in Dublin, IrelandApple Challenges FBI: All Writs Act Order (CA)
Share this: Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Trump and His Advisors on Net Neutrality

eff.org - Tue, 20/12/2016 - 11:54

Through the combined efforts of EFF and a coalition of public interest groups -- and four million of you who wrote in to the FCC -- we won carefully tailored and essential net neutrality protections in 2015 and defended them in court in 2016. But how will the incoming Trump administration impact net neutrality in 2017? We’ve collected a range of statements on the positions of Trump, his transition team, and those who are likely to guide the new administration on this issue.

Trump took a swipe at net neutrality in a November 2014 tweet, stating, “Obama’s Attack on the Internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target Conservative Media.”

The Republican Party platform [PDF] was also critical of net neutrality, and Trump’s transition team is stocked with staunch opponents to net neutrality.

Several key members of Trump’s transition team belong to a block of Republicans in Congress that have long sought to undermine net neutrality. Vice-President-elect Pence, the chair of Trump’s transition team, co-sponsored a 2011 bill that would have stripped the FCC of authority to govern Internet access services, as it did in the Open Internet Order. That bill, the Internet Freedom Act, was sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and co-sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Tom Reed, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, all vice-chairs on Trump’s transition team. Pence (along with vice-chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and other members of the transition team) also voted against net neutrality as early as 2006.

Vice-chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn has routinely introduced bills that attempt to block effective net neutrality from every angle. In 2011, she sponsored the Internet Freedom Act, discussed above. She re-introduced it in 2014—this time, the bill would have prohibited the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules from coming into effect and kept the agency from re-issuing such rules in the future, unless explicitly authorized by Congress. That bill was re-introduced again in 2015, this time seeking to nullify the FCC’s Open Internet Order and prevent the agency from re-issuing them, unless authorized by Congress. In 2016, Rep. Blackburn sponsored an amendment to the annual budget authorization that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement any of the FCC's proposed broadband privacy rules. Rep. Blackburn also co-sponsored bills aimed at altering the process through which the FCC can pass rules like the Open Internet order, and further limiting the FCC’s ability to do so.

Rep. Blackburn also co-sponsored two resolutions, one in 2010 and one in 2011 (both with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, vice-chair) challenging the FCC’s authority to implement an earlier version of net neutrality. The 2011 resolution was also co-sponsored by Rep. Nunes another vice-chair, and VP-elect Pence, and passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but died in the Senate. This year, Rep. Blackburn co-sponsored H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, a bill with the potential to undermine net neutrality.

Rep. Blackburn has been highly critical of net neutrality in her public statements. In 2016, in support of a Senate bill attacking net neutrality, Blackburn stated, “[w]e must stop the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, which are nothing more than a Trojan horse for government takeover of the Internet. These overreaching rules will stifle innovation, restrict freedoms, and lead to billions of dollars in new fees and taxes for American consumers.” And in 2014, Rep. Blackburn issued a statement insisting that Congress, not the FCC, should decide when to “regulate the Internet,” and called the proposal a “net loser[] that need[s] to be retired once and for all.”  Rep. Blackburn responded similarly to the much more limited 2010 Open Internet rules, stating “[t]he FCC is building an Iron Curtain that will restrict more of our freedom.” This followed her earlier comment that the FCC had taken a “vampiric leap from its traditional jurisdiction.”

Rep. Blackburn hasn’t limited her assault on the open Internet to net neutrality: she was also an initial co-sponsor for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a disastrous bill that would have allowed for blocking of "blacklisted" websites. Fortunately, the public rose up to protect the Internet back then, too.

Several members of the transition team’s executive committee also oppose net neutrality. Rep. Tom Marino disagreed with the commission’s Open Internet rules and called the decision a “slippery slope which ultimately endangers our liberty… regulating the internet is just another way this Administration uses the bureaucracy to allow and condone more regulation and government control.” Rep. Chris Collins also opposed the decision, saying “[t]he FCC’s actions threaten the innovative culture that makes the Internet one of the world’s greatest technologies.” He called the decision “a direct threat to Internet freedom” and a “foreshadowing of the big government overregulation that will stem from Title II classification.” And Rep. Devin Nunes also objected to the rules.

Rep. Dennis Ross, and Rep. Ryan Zinke, Trump's pick for Interior Secretary, co-sponsored a resolution disapproving the FCC’s Open Internet rules. Sen. Jeff Sessions, vice-chair of the transition team and Trump’s pick for Attorney General, co-sponsored a senate resolution along the same lines with regard to the 2010 rules.

When the Open Internet Order was challenged in court, both Rep. Blackburn and Rep. Zinke joined a group of House Republicans in an amicus curiae brief to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The brief argued that the FCC lacked the authority to classify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II.

Trump’s advisor Peter Thiel has likewise been outwardly critical of net neutrality, saying in a Reddit AMA that net neutrality “hasn’t been necessary so far, and I’m not sure anything has changed to make it necessary right now. And I don’t like government regulation.”

It is not yet clear who will be replacing Chairman Wheeler next year, or who will fill seats vacated by democratic commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn (when her term ends, or if she decides to leave sooner). Trump has tapped Jeffrey Eisenach, Roslyn Layton and Mark Jamison, three highly vocal opponents of net neutrality, to lead the transition team’s work at the agency -- suggesting they may be candidates for the post. Eisenach, Layton, and Jamison have all been prolific in their opposition to the FCC's net neutrality rules, and the following merely provide a sample of their comments.

Eisenach, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and former consultant for Verizon and the trade association GSMA has argued that “net neutrality is not about protecting consumers from rapacious Internet Service Providers (ISPs)… And it has nothing to do with protecting free speech or dissenting voices. Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple—an effort by one group of private interests to enrich itself at the expense of another group by using the power of the state.” Eisenach has also called net neutrality a “government mandated rip-off,” and a threat to global Internet freedom. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Eisenach argued “[d]eclaring the Internet a public utility is not necessary, and it will surely prove to be unwise.” He’s also described it as “a political circus” and “Wheeler’s Vietnam.”

In 2014, Eisenach testified [PDF] in Congress and asserted that net neutrality “cannot be justified on grounds of enhancing consumer welfare or protecting the public interest. Rather, it is best understood as an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another—a classic example of what economists term 'rent seeking.'"

Mark Jamison, a visiting fellow at the SEI and former lobbyist for Sprint, has also been highly critical of the FCC’s approach to net neutrality. In an op-ed, Jamison criticized net neutrality as “bestowing benefits to some segments of the industry at the expense of other segments, and at the expense of customers, who ultimately bear the brunt of regulatory rent-seeking.” He also called for dramatically scaling back the FCC’s duties. He’s called the FCC’s decision “inconsistent with a stable, evidence-based regulatory approach” and questioned the agency’s authority. Jamison has, however, supported a multi-stakeholder best practices approach to net neutrality, or failing that, explicitly Congressionally authorized regulation under limited conditions.

Roslyn Layton, also an AEI fellow, co-authored a report [PDF] with Jamison, arguing that net neutrality “is failing.” Layton also rejects the idea that government regulation is needed to protect net neutrality.

When Trump’s administration takes office, the administration will soon be able to appoint three members of the Federal Communications Commission, including a new Chairman. Existing Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Reilly have criticized the commission’s net neutrality decision, and dissented [PDF] from [PDF] the Commission’s Open Internet Order. Either one could also be nominated for the Chairman’s position.

Commissioner Pai, in a recent speech [PDF], predicted that the Open Internet Order’s “days are numbered” and hoped for “a more sober” regulatory approach under the new Administration. In a speech given at the same event, Commissioner O’Reilly expressed [PDF] a desire to "undo harmful policies" and advised that "[n]ext year’s Commission should consider acting quickly to reverse any damaging policies put into place over the last eight years and in the last few weeks of this Administration.”

Whoever Trump picks to lead the FCC in the next administration, there’s ample reason to believe that net neutrality will be under threat.

This blog post is part of a campaign asking the tech community to defend users and digital rights. Have we missed something important? Send us any additional statements from Trump and his advisors about net neutrality by emailing kerry.sheehan@eff.org.


Share this: Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Advertising

 


Advertise here!

Syndicate content
All content and comments posted are owned and © by the Author and/or Poster.
Web site Copyright © 1995 - 2007 Clemens Vermeulen, Cairns - All Rights Reserved
Drupal design and maintenance by Clemens Vermeulen Drupal theme by Kiwi Themes.
Buy now