Overnight Tech: FCC caps on prison call rates face setback

LEDE: The Federal Communications Commission faced a setback Monday as an appeals court temporarily blocked a new cap on the prices prisoners pay for phone calls.

The ruling means a major portion of the rules -- championed by civil rights and inmate advocates -- will be on hold while a broader lawsuit goes forward, which will determine the ultimate fate of the regulations.

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said they were par for the course, noting that "everyone sues us about everything." On Monday, he continued to express confidence that the rules would hold up in the end and noted other portions will be allowed to go forward.

Republicans on the commission who warned that the rules overstepped FCC authority used it as a told-you-so moment, saying Monday's ruling "was no surprise." GOP commissioner Ajit Pai applauded the court, saying "rules and reason may yet triumph over raw power."

THUNE ROLLS OUT FCC BILL: Senate Commerce Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneFacebook offers set of 'Values' to reassure users of neutrality Overnight Tech: Groups grade Clinton tech agenda | Facebook activates safety check in Istanbul | Another holdup for location data bill Congress prepping short-term FAA bill MORE (R-S.D.) dropped his FCC reauthorization bill Monday. If it became law, it would be the first time since 1990 that the agency was reauthorized. "Restarting the process of regular authorizations for the FCC will make the agency more accountable to the American people and ensure that the agency has the right tools to do its job," he said in a statement.

The bill runs the gamut. In addition to authorizing the agency, it includes language that makes it clear that commissioners can stick around after their term ends but before they are replaced. It also would require that the agency send Congress the same budget estimates it provides to the administration. You can read the whole thing here.

T-MOBILE COULD GET MORE $$$ AHEAD OF AUCTION: Reuters reports that T-Mobile can issue $2 billion in bonds, if it chooses to, to raise money before the upcoming broadcast incentive auction. If it's not used to buy low-band spectrum, it could also be applied to more general costs or refinancing. T-Mobile will have access to a reserve of 30 megahertz meant for competitive carriers. A spokesperson told Reuters that the bonds were designed to grant the company more flexibility and wouldn't comment on the auction.

AMAZON REVERSES ON TABLET ENCRYPTION: Amazon said it will reverse course and restore an encryption feature on its Fire tablets. It had originally discontinued the feature, explaining that few customers used it. That decision sparked backlash, especially in light of Apple's court battle with the FBI. Amazon was one of the dozens of companies that signed on to a friend of the court brief supporting Apple.

UBER RESPONDS TO BUZZFEED STORY: From the end of 2012 to August 2015, Uber received five customer service reports of rape and 170 related to sexual assault, the company revealed after digging from Buzzfeed. "Uber is a relatively young company and we're the first to admit that we haven't always gotten things right. But we are working hard to ensure passengers everywhere can get a safe, reliable ride, as well as to provide great customer service when things go wrong," the company wrote in a Medium post.

Uber provided the data to rebut a Buzzfeed report that searches for "rape" or "sexual assault" turned up thousands of results.

NPR INTERVIEW WITH EMAIL PIONEER TOMLINSON: One of the early pioneers of email, Ray Tomlinson, died on Saturday. He was also the one who selected the "@" sign, which is commonly associated with email today. As a memorial, NPR re-upped a 2009 interview with him.

 

ON TAP:

At noon, FCC Republican Commissioner Michael O'Rielly appears at a lunch hosted by FaegreBD.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Verizon Wireless will pay a fine and make changes to its internal practices as part of a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the use of so-called supercookies to track customer's Web browsing habits.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee praised the Obama administration's decision to impose export restrictions on China's ZTE, one of the country's top telecommunications equipment manufacturers.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Apple's appeal of a $450 million judgment over e-book pricing, effectively forcing the company to pay the penalty.

An Apple executive said in a Sunday night op-ed that granting the FBI's request to create an encryption backdoor would set Apple back in its fight to keep data safe.

Consumer and civil liberty groups are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to not hold back when developing its new Internet privacy rules.

 

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com

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