Consumer Reports documents the deceptive cable industry practices used to hike real prices 24% over advertised ones

Your cable company advertises one price, but charges another, much higher one: on average, your real bill will be 24% higher than the price you were promised. Read the rest

Gilligan's Island's S.S. Minnow was named as an insult to the chair of the FCC

Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz named the ill-fated S.S. Minnow after the then-chair of the FCC who Schwartz said "ruined television." Read the rest

Congress orders Ajit Pai: hands off San Francisco's broadband competition law

San Francisco passed a law requiring owners of multi-unit buildings to choose which ISP they use, ending the practice of landlords selling access to tenants to ISPs, locking in the tenants to ISPs who don't have to keep them happy to keep their business. Read the rest

Maine's new ISP privacy law has both California and New York beat

The Great State of Maine, having jettisoned its far-right lunatic "government" and replaced it with a responsive, progressive, evidence-based one, is now set to pass the nation's most stringent ISP privacy law, going further than both New York and California. Read the rest

Native American tribes need better internet access. This one weird spectrum might do the trick.

Marginalized Native American communities throughout the United States could have better access to high-speed internet if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to allow tribes to use the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum for services like telemedicine, transmitting medical records electronically, or an online high school. Read the rest

Phone companies get to block robocalls if this proposed FCC rule happens

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a new rule to allow carriers to block robocalls. “The American people are fed up with illegal robocalls,” he said. Read the rest

Of $208m in fines leveled against robocallers, the FCC has collected ... $6,790

The Wall Street Journal reports that robocallers go largely unpunished, with all those headline-grabbing fines virtually uncollected.

As syndicated to Fox News:

An FCC spokesman said his agency lacks the authority to enforce the forfeiture orders it issues and has passed all unpaid penalties to the Justice Department, which has the power to collect the fines. Many of the spoofers and robocallers the agency tries to punish are individuals and small operations, he added, which means they are at times unable to pay the full penalties.

“Fines serve to penalize bad conduct and deter future misconduct,” the FCC spokesman said. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which can settle or drop cases, declined to comment.

The dearth of financial penalties collected by the U.S. government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.

I'd bet a dollar the only fines ever collected were from a tiny handful of otherwise legitimate callers who made stupid mistakes. Robocalls and the like will account for nearly half of all calls in 2019, according to the FCC.

Correction: FCC, not FTC. Read the rest

Trump's FCC relies on telcos to self-police anti-robocall measures and they're planning on gutting existing regs, so John Oliver is robocalling the whole FCC every 90 minutes

Every 90 minutes, the office phones of all five FCC Commissioners rings and John Oliver's voice comes out of it, demanding that they take action on robocalls, reversing FCC Chairman (and former Verizon exec) Ajit Pai's policy of relying on carriers to self-police their anti-robocall measures, and heading off his plan to gut the existing, weak protections. Read the rest

Blockbuster Gizmodo investigation reveals probable masterminds of the massive anti-Net Neutrality identity theft/astroturf campaign

US government agencies can't just make up rules: they're require to show that the rules they make reflect the best evidence, and part of that is a "notice and comment" period for major policy shifts where the public gets to weigh in on proposals. Read the rest

Appeals court to Donald Trump's FCC: "Drop dead."

The federal appeals court in the DC circuit has overturned the FCC's decision to make it effectively impossible for people on tribal lands to make use of the federal "Lifeline} program that provides cheap broadband access to poor communities. Read the rest

Today, a DC appeals court hears arguments on whether Ajit Pai's act of neutricide will stand

An appeals court in the Federal Circuit is hearing arguments today from plaintiffs who say that Donald Trump's FCC Chairman -- and former telcoms exec -- Ajit Pai violated federal law when he overturned Net Neutrality without considering millions of public comments and expert opinions on the proposal. Read the rest

Data-broker implicated in bounty-hunters' access to mobile location data lobbied FCC to fight consent for sharing location data

When Motherboard broke the story of a thriving underground in bounty-hunters and other unsavory sorts buying realtime location data from America's cellular carriers, many were outraged that the carriers had not lived up to their year-old promises to fix that massive hole in our location data. Read the rest

Vermont official fact-checks mobile carriers' coverage maps, proves they're lying like crazy

America's major cellular carriers publish maps showing that virtually the entire state is well-covered, with solid signals and 5MB/s internet speeds, but Vermonters know that this is totally untrue. Read the rest

Trump's FCC chairman won't do anything about your cellular company selling your location to bountyhunters because shutdown

Motherboard's blockbuster story about mobile carriers selling your realtime location data into a marketplace where bounty hunters and other villains can buy it for just a few dollars has triggered an urgent, national conversation about the fact that, in the year since the first stories about this emerged, the carriers have not only failed to live up to their promises to put a stop to it, but seem to have made it even worse. Read the rest

FCC closed due to government shutdown, Ajit Pai won't be at CES

Is 911 service down in your area? Got a complaint about your mobile provider? Just invented a new iphone-killer, and need safety approval before your product goes to market? Well, too bad, you'll have to wait. The Federal Communications Commission just went dark. All but the agency's most essential operations abruptly halted late Thursday because of Trump's government shutdown. Read the rest

Trump's FCC seems to have ended the practice of releasing its ISP speed-tests, leaving Americans in the dark about what they're paying for

When Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality (by deliberately ignoring comments from actual humans in favor of comments left by obvious bots), he said that removing regulation from telcos would boost investment, finally ending the US's status as the worst broadband nation in the world. Read the rest

Cut the cord NOW: Cable bills are up 50% since 2010

My local cable monopoly is Spectrum, part of Charter, and I refuse to get anything except internet service through them (alas, my city, Burbank, will not sell me access to our amazing, 100GB/s fiber network, which runs directly under my house, because they have a deal with Charter not to connect any non-commercial-zoned properties to our muni fiber). Read the rest

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