Daily Digest 11/14/2017 (Trust in the Media)

Benton Foundation

Digital infrastructure, cybersecurity, DoJ oversight on today's agenda https://www.benton.org/events 

Communications and Democracy

Distrust of the media is an excuse to disbelieve Roy Moore’s accusers

[Commentary] Some supporters of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore have come right out and said they do not believe four women who claim the Alabama Republican pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. But for Moore backers uncomfortable with the apparent insensitivity of directly challenging his accusers — one of whom says the candidate molested her when she was 14 — there is a more socially acceptable workaround: Doubt the media, instead. The goal of Moore's media boosters is to turn the allegations against him into a referendum on the credibility of the mainstream press — to give people with a conscience permission to vote for the former Alabama chief justice, anyway. No one is working harder to accomplish this mission than Stephen Bannon and Breitbart News. These criticisms of The Post's reporting, even if valid, would not address, let alone undermine, the substance of the accusations against Moore.

The media today: Roy Moore and the media’s battle for trust (Columbia Journalism Review)

The Supreme Court’s next (cautious, careful) move into the digital age

A new era of cutting-age technology begins Nov 13 at the United States Supreme Court, as the public for the first time will be able to access briefs and other case documents on the court’s website. Unimpressed? Perhaps the reader, in the waning second decade of the 21st century, thinks such an innovation might have been implemented, say, many years ago, as it was for the rest of the federal courts. “The courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote when announcing the online project at the end of 2014. “Courts are simply different in important respects when it comes to adopting technology, including information technology.” The court’s primary responsibility is deciding the cases and controversies that come before it.

The Internet isn’t saving local news. Here’s how that’s hurting democracy.

[Commentary] Much has been written about the challenges facing the news business in the Internet and social media age. But recent research helps explain why local news outlets have struggled so mightily — and what that means for citizen engagement in local politics and elections. 1) Local news isn’t popular; 2) Audiences have shifted to national sources; 3) Local newsrooms are shrinking their staffs and their coverage; and 4) As local news declines, Americans stay away from local elections — even for members of Congress. [Danny Hayes is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University]


Broadband gaps impact every member of Congress

Based on an analysis of all 435 congressional districts, every member stands to benefit from federal policies that boost wireline broadband availability and adoption. Developing bipartisan solutions—especially for Republican members’ constituents, who face the largest broadband gaps—will ensure that every household has a chance to participate in America’s rapidly-evolving digital economy. 

When Students Can’t Get Broadband, Career Success Proves Elusive

For many university students, high-speed internet access on campus is as expected as sidewalks and electricity. With a large number of college curriculums and tools dependent on these digital connections, what happens for students who don’t have regular access to high-speed internet? According to new research from the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) presented to the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC), the lack of widely available broadband internet access in Florida is correlated to a smaller percentage of citizens with college degrees or certificates.

via EdTech

NTIA Data Offers Window Into Understanding Veterans’ Computer and Internet Use

Understanding the barriers to veterans' broadband access and adoption is the first step to reducing the challenges veterans face as they seek out job opportunities, affordable housing, vital health services and more. In advance of Veterans Day, NTIA conducted an analysis of its Digital Nation data to better understand the landscape of veterans' computer and internet use in America.  Since 1994, NTIA has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to survey Americans about their computer and Internet use. Were we able to break out the data by veteran status going all the way back to our earliest data collections. We also added "Veteran Status" as a search option in our Data Explorer tool so that the public can more easily examine the data and create custom charts about internet use by veterans. Veterans are demographically distinct from the overall U.S. population. The average age of veterans is 61, which is considerably older than non-veterans, with an average age of 45.

Changing Antritust Laws May Not Be the Whole Solution for Net Neutrality

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) wants to repeal the current net neutrality rules — even if it takes amending antitrust law. But economist Hal Singer says that’s not the solution. While antitrust law has typically sought to address “concrete harms” like price increases, it hasn’t recognized what he calls “mild forms of discrimination.” That includes an ISP prioritizing one set of internet content over another to promote its own interests to the detriment of its competitors. The antitrust laws might be changed to more explicitly address the harm such discrimination can do to innovation. But Singer, principal at Economists Inc.

Verizon accelerates copper-to-fiber transition, sets new network resiliency practices

Following 2012's Hurricane Sandy, Verizon has put together a new set of flood barrier and network transformation methods that are designed to achieve two goals: keep its wireline network operational and hasten its ongoing copper-to-fiber migration. During Sandy, which flooded several of its service and central offices, the service provider reported $1 billion in damage due to water and related storm damage. While Verizon always prepares for storms, Kevin Service, SVP of network operations at Verizon, said that the company did not expect the water to rise so quickly to flood various key switching centers in New York and New Jersey. “It was remarkable how fast the water came up and flooded some of these offices,” Service said. “Even though we have generators and backup power to support our network, there’s not a lot you can do when everything is under water.”

via Fierce

Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee: Streamlining Federal Siting

Through its deliberations, the Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group Working Group found that the fundamental concerns regarding the streamlining of federal siting are 1) predictability and complexity of the application process and accompanying requirements and 2) the application review time. The Working Group offers ten recommentations; see them all at the URL below.


Missouri launches investigation into Google’s handling of consumer data

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has launched an investigation into whether Google has mishandled private customer data and manipulated its search results to favor its own products and stifle competitors. The investigation will focus on three issues: the scope of Google's data collection, whether it has abused its market position as a dominant search engine and whether the company has unfairly used content produced by competitors, like Yelp, in its own search results. The state has issued Google a subpoena seeking information about its business practices. “The bottom line is Missouri is not going to give Google a free pass,” AG Hawley said. "I will not stand idly by and simply take the word of any corporate giant as to their best interests."


Verizon accuses T-Mobile of making up information on LTE-A deployments

Always one to pride itself on its technological achievements, Verizon isn’t taking any smack from T-Mobile, saying the operator made up claims about Verizon's technical achievements, many of them related to LTE Advanced. "They were very clearly misrepresenting Verizon's deployment and the leadership that we have taken in this new technology innovation and rollout," said Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz. To be sure, T-Mobile stands by its remarks. The “uncarrier” announced that it has expanded LTE-Advanced to more than 920 markets, “eclipsing every other national wireless company,” with a powerful combination of three speed-boosting technologies—a "trifecta" of carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM—now live in 430 of those markets.

via Fierce

CTIA to FAA: Commercial Wireless Should Be Drone Home (Multichannel News)

AT&T, Verizon and Tillman Infrastructure announce collaboration to build hundreds of cell towers (Verizon)


Matt Stoller: Trump’s administration is right to block the AT&T and Time Warner merger (Washington Post)


PTC Picks Naughty & Nice Advertisers List (Multichannel News)


Lawmakers want FCC Chairman investigated over Sinclair-Tribune merger

Top House Democrats are calling for the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to be investigated over whether he has been improperly clearing regulatory hurdles for the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media. Reps Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Frank Pallone Jr (D-NJ), the top Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Commerce Committee respectively, sent a letter to the FCC inspector general, asking that he probe whether Chairman Ajit Pai has been clearing the way for the $3.9 billion deal. “We request that you examine how the FCC has conducted its business with regard to Sinclair,” wrote Ranking Members Cummings and Pallone. Their letter cites a list of deregulatory moves that the FCC has taken this year that have benefitted Sinclair in its goal of expanding its massive holdings of local television stations across the country.

The Trump-FCC-AT&T-Et Al. Plan: The Insidious “Wheel of Mis-Fortune”

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission et al have created a series of interconnected proposed rules, regulations and actions. Unfortunately, we, the public, are now facing at least 10-20+ different cuts into the public interest, (depending on how you count). Killing off net neutrality is just one of the many planned harms. While none of this is new, it is now a sped up, concealed, heavily funded and very well coordinated plan, aided by the ability of the companies to control the FCC’s votes. [Bruce Kushnick]

FCC Announces The Appointment Of Matthew Duchesne As Chief Of The Office Of Native Affairs And Policy

The Federal Communications Commission announced the appointment of Matthew Duchesne to serve as the chief of the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy (ONAP). Duchesne is joining the FCC from the US Bureau of Reclamation where he served as program manager for Native American and International Affairs. While there, he led the agency’s work related to Tribal consultation and negotiation of settlements associated with Tribal water rights claims in the western United States. Duchesne has also worked as a senior policy official at the Department of Energy with a portfolio that included serving as a negotiator with Tribal and state governments on behalf of the United States. He served as a Brookings Institution legislative fellow with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Ron Wyden, and served as a Supreme Court fellow in the office of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Mr.

FCC Commissioner Carr Added to Joint Boards

The Federal Communications Commission appoints Commissioner Brendan Carr to serve on the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and the Federal-State Joint Board on Jurisdictional Separations

Berners-Lee, Father of the Web, Confronts His Creation in the Era of Fake News

Tim Berners-Lee's concerns during the web’s first 25 years focused on expanding access to more people. But now he thinks the web has become as complex and intricate as a human brain—so the tech industry requires a multi-disciplinary approach to “look out for unintended consequences” and study the impact of services as they are introduced to the world. The big tech companies, he said, “need to find engineers and people of all kinds of disciplines who can help you figure out and simulate what will happen if you turn these systems on.” But too often web companies just plow ahead without understanding the consequences. He criticized the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter  for creating advertising systems that, for example, incentivized fake-news purveyors in Veles, Macedonia, “who learned that if you tweet something which is wrong, and put an article with a fake headline on your site, you will get more clicks and more ad revenue. They didn’t do that out of malice.

Stories From Abroad

Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) -- we welcome your comments.
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