Overnight Tech: FCC chief rails against net neutrality | Websites go down after Amazon cloud trouble | Uber CEO caught arguing with driver | Xbox launches subscription service

Overnight Tech: FCC chief rails against net neutrality | Websites go down after Amazon cloud trouble | Uber CEO caught arguing with driver | Xbox launches subscription service
© Greg Nash

PAI BLASTS NET NEUTRALITY: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai railed against net neutrality on Tuesday, saying that the 2015 rules are "outdated" and stifling the internet economy.

"The FCC decided to apply last-century, utility-style regulation to today's broadband networks," Pai said during a speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

"Rules developed to tame a 1930s monopoly were imported into the 21st century to regulate the Internet. This reversal wasn't necessary to solve any problem; we were not living in a digital dystopia."

The new Republican chairman, speaking just two days after the two-year anniversary of the landmark Open Internet Order, pledged to approach regulation with a "light-touch" approach. He said the rules have stifled economic growth and investment in the broadband industry.

"But today, the torch at the FCC has been passed to a new generation, dedicated to renewal as well as change," he said. "We are confident in the decades-long, cross-party consensus on light-touch internet regulation -- one that helped America's digital economy thrive. And we are on track to returning to that successful approach."


It's been little over a month since he was tapped as chair, but Pai has already gone to work chipping away at the rules enshrining net neutrality. Those rules prohibited internet service providers from discriminating against traffic to certain websites.

Conservatives like Pai were angry that the rules reclassified service providers as common carriers, allowing the FCC to regulate them like public utilities.

Democrats have been mobilizing to defend net neutrality, which they see as crucial for preserving free speech and encouraging innovation.

Read more here.


Please send your tips, comments and your takes on President Trump's speech to Congress to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland@hneidig  and @HilliconValley. We're also on Signal. Email or DM us for our numbers.


TOP DEM HAMMERS TRUMP OVER MEDIA: Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHannity, Kimmel, Farrow among Time's '100 Most Influential' The Hill's Morning Report: 200 Days to the Election Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (D-Ill.) on Tuesday railed against President Trump, blasting the president for his attacks on the news media.

"The integrity of the news industry is under an unprecedented attack," Durbin said at an event put on by National Association of Broadcasters. "These attacks aren't just coming from outside our border or the Russian government. The attacks are coming from our own government."

In his speech, the Democratic senator outlined several protections for journalists that he wants Congress to pursue, including preserving federal libel standards and spending more on public media.

Read more here.


AMAZON CLOUD TROUBLES: Amazon experienced issues with its cloud computing services Tuesday afternoon that affected websites across the United States. Amazon Web Services first reported problems with its S3 storage system on the East Coast around 1:30 p.m., notifying customers that they would experience "high error rates."

About an hour later, the company reported that the dashboard had "recovered." Multiple websites using Amazon Web Services experienced disruptions or outages as a result of problems with the service.

Read more here.


WHO'S IN CHARGE OF THE DOJ ANTITRUST SEARCH?: Earlier reports suggested that tech billionaire Peter Thiel was leading the hunt for Justice Department's antitrust chief. Fox Business News' Charlie Gasparino, though, reported Tuesday that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser is heading up the search. Whether its Kushner or Thiel in charge of the search, the eventual pick will be in charge of assessing the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, and serve in a Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe to sue Trump admin for defamation, wrongful termination Trump pressed Sessions to fire FBI agents who sent anti-Trump texts: report The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos MORE. Trump declined to speak on the merger when questioned about it yesterday by Breitbart, but did note that he's opposed to consolidating too much media power. On the campaign trail, Trump said that he would not approve of the merger, but has since said he has not decided.


DEMS LASH OUT AT FCC OVER INTERNET PRIVACY: Democratic Senators slammed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for his recent move to abandon the FCC's proposed internet privacy rules.

Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers 'Fearless Girl' statue to be moved away from Wall Street bull Sanders, Warren, O’Rourke inspire patriotic small donor waves MORE (D-Mass.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenWhy Smokin' Joe leads the pack of 2020 Democratic hopefuls Pawlenty to announce bid for Minnesota governor Al Franken: Sessions firing McCabe ‘is hypocrisy at its worst’ MORE (D-Minn.) cited security concerns to criticize Pai's decision not to enact the rules that would make it harder for broadband service providers to use customer data without permission. The provisions had been approved under former Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler tenure at the FCC. Pai, a Republican, blocked the rule last week.

"Your proposal comes despite the mounting number of data breaches impacting consumers throughout this country," the senators wrote in the letter to Pai. "We oppose your efforts and believe it would make subscribers' sensitive information more vulnerable to breaches and unauthorized use."

Read more here.


NEW XBOX SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE: Microsoft will soon be offering a service that allows Xbox users access to over 100 games every month, the company announced on Tuesday. The Netflix-like offering will cost gamers $10 a month and will include discounts to select games. When the Xbox Game Pass launches later this spring the selection of games will include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II.


UBER CEO CAUGHT ARGUING WITH DRIVER: The CEO of Uber is seen in a recent video getting into a heated argument with a driver over falling fares. In the video, given to Bloomberg, CEO Travis Kalanick is seen riding in a car with two other passengers, reportedly on Super Bowl Sunday earlier this month. During the ride, one of the women in the car says she's heard Uber has been having a hard year.

"I make sure every year is a hard year." Kalanick says in response. "That's kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it's easy I'm not pushing hard enough."

Kalanick soon found himself arguing with the car's driver over changes to Uber Black, the ride-hailing company's premium service.

Read more here.



The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing on infrastructure at 10 a.m.



FCC announces cooperation agreement with Indian counterpart

Durbin hammers Trump for criticizing media

Amazon cloud service outage disrupts websites

Uber CEO seen arguing with driver over falling fares

Senate Dems hit FCC chairman over internet privacy

Companies losing confidence in ‘digital IQ,’ survey finds

The next iPhone will have a curved screen, the Wall Street Journal reports