The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The Federal Trade Commission announced the panelists for its September 15, 2014, Workshop entitled “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” The workshop will explore the use of “big data” and its impact on American consumers, including low income and underserved consumers. “Big data” generally refers to advancing technologies that are dramatically expanding the commercial collection, analysis, use, and storage of data. The day-long program will feature presentations and panel discussions with academic researchers, consumer groups, industry representatives and others with expertise on these issues and include remarks by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Commissioner Julie Brill. Topics include:
- How are organizations using big data to categorize consumers?
- What benefits do consumers gain from these practices? Do these practices raise consumer protection concerns?
- What benefits do organizations gain from these practices? What are the social and economic impacts, both positive and negative, from the use of big data to categorize consumers?
- How do existing laws apply to such practices? Are there gaps in the legal framework?
- Are companies appropriately assessing the impact of big data practices on low income and underserved populations? Should additional measures be considered?
A live webcast will be available.
In a speech at 1776, a startup incubator in Washington, D.C., FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler addressed the state of competition in the market for high-speed broadband. In his prepared remarks, Chairman Wheeler said that “meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections, both to take advantage of today’s new services, and to incentivize the development of tomorrow’s innovations.” He noted that:
– One in five American homes does not have access to high-speed Internet, the essential infrastructure of the 21st century economy, of 25 Mbps;
The Chairman laid out his Agenda for Broadband Competition – a policy framework aimed at helping deliver meaningful competitive choices for broadband to consumers and innovators. The principles are: (1) Where competition exists, the FCC will protect it; (2) Where greater competition can exist, the FCC will encourage it; (3) Where meaningful competition is not available, the FCC will work to create it; and (4) Where competition cannot be expected to exist, the FCC must shoulder the responsibility of promoting the deployment of broadband for the sake of consumers and innovators.
On August 25, 2014, there was a PURA hearing regarding the Frontier Communications and AT&T proposed settlement agreement regarding the companies’ joint application for approval of a change of control. As a result of the hearing, a technical meeting will be held on September 10, 2014. The purpose of the meeting “will be to discuss outstanding issues of concern to the PURA in this docket as a means of resolving them on an expeditious basis,” PURA said. Among other things, the PURA wants to discuss: an independent IT security assessment to be conducted by year-end 2015; the unconditional acceptance of all duties, obligations and current commitments made by AT&T; and post-sale monitoring by the PURA focused on ensuring fulfillment of all duties, obligations, and commitments made in this proceeding with prescribed financial penalties for any failure. The PURA said that it seeks to “improve the likelihood of success of Frontier as it assumes the duties, obligations and responsibilities currently held by AT&T in Connecticut; balance the interests of all parties affected by this transaction, promote competition and preserve the public’s rights to safe and adequate communications services.”