THE LEDE: The Federal Communications Commission could do a better job helping the public compare the Internet speed offerings of different companies, according to the Government Accountability Office.
"The GAO points out that [Internet Service Providers] currently do not provide easy-to-understand data on broadband performance, and that the lack of a standardized format to disclose this data makes it difficult for consumers to compare between providers," said a group of Democrats who asked for the report back in 2011, including Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Overnight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests MORE (D-Mass.), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).
There are multiple ways for people to find the speed offered by providers like Comcast or Verizon, but they are not always easy to track down. The report released over the weekend concluded that the FCC should conduct research and set performance goals to measure the success of its outreach to the public on Internet speed.
The report noted that providers are required to publish the information under previous FCC transparency rules, but the information is not standardized. The FCC publishes a yearly report on the advertised vs. actual speeds of Internet service through the Measuring Broadband America program. But the GAO found the report is not targeted at consumers and the public may not even be aware of it. Online speed tests are another tool, but they can be affected by a number of outside factors.
The commission cited multiple FCC web pages, hundreds of videos and hundreds of outreach events that staff has attended. But the FCC also agreed to evaluate consumer research on the speed topic and to develop performance measures to see how well its outreach works.
PATENT MARKUP DELAYED PAST MEMORIAL BREAK: A House Judiciary Committee aide said the committee will not mark up its patent reform bill this week, reversing a previous announcement. The only explanation offered was that lawmakers were still talking with stakeholders about the deal. The Senate's patent bill made it onto the Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda Thursday, but because of committee rules, it will likely be held over for a week.
STARTUPS FLY IN ON PATENT REFORM: Kickstarter, Etsy and other tech companies will be hitting Capitol Hill on Tuesday in support of a pair of patent reform bills in the House and Senate. The group is expected to meet with lawmakers and staff in both chambers. The Consumer Electronics Association and Engine organized the fly in for lawyers from Kickstarter, Easy and Meetup and Mapbox. The founders of Jump Rope, Smart Ride and TMSoft will also be hitting the hill. Engine also released a book of stories about companies hurt by so-called patent trolls, which they will be pitching to lawmakers.
SEVEN FCC TRANSPARENCY BILLS ON DECK FOR WEDNESDAY MARKUP: House Energy and Commerce's communications and technology subcommittee has scheduled a markup of seven different bills aimed at making the FCC more transparent, including subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden's (R-Ore.) FCC Process Reform Act. Democrats complained at a hearing last week that the committee was not going to consider a bill that would have the FCC require more detailed disclosures attached to political ads. A full list of bills to be marked up is here.
OBAMA'S TWEET CAME FROM IPHONE: President Obama's first tweet from his new Twitter account came from an iPhone, but it does not belong to the president, according to BuzzFeed. The White House told the news outlet that the phone is registered to the Executive Office of the President. Obama continues to have a secure Blackberry, which is much more restricted than a device you would buy on the market. By Monday evening, Obama's account had more than 1 million followers.
WHEELER MEETS WITH AT&T CHIEF: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last Thursday to push for the company's proposed $48 billion merger with DirecTV. The two discussed "peering and interconnection issues" that have been raised, and Stephenson urged FCC approval, according to a disclosure filing published Monday. A number of advocacy groups and companies have urged the commission to impose restrictions on how AT&T charges for interconnection as a condition of the merger.
WHITE HOUSE LAUNCHES POLICE DATA PROGRAM: With President Obama in Camden, N.J. on Monday talking about policing, the White House announced the creation of an initiative to improve the way police forces use data. "By finding innovative work already underway in these diverse communities and bringing their leaders together with top technologists, researchers, data scientists and design experts, the Police Data Initiative is helping accelerate progress around data transparency and analysis, toward the goal of increased trust and impact," the White House said in a blog post. In the aftermath of officer-involved shootings that have drawn national attention, many have called for better data on how the police interact with the communities they serve.
THINK TANK OFFERS IDEAS TO GET TECH INTO TRANSPO BILL: The Information and Technology Innovation Foundation will formally release a report on Tuesday suggesting ways that Congress can better support innovation in transportation in the 2015 Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill. Suggestions include sending at least five percent of Highway Trust Fund funding to digital projects and having the Department of Transportation create APIs for real-time traffic data.
VERIZON HITS T-MOBILE, SPRINT, DISH: In a company blog post, Verizon knocked the three carriers for asking the FCC to set aside additional spectrum in next year's planned auction -- which they say will benefit smaller carriers. "Policymakers should see this spectrum grab for what it is: a case of greed masquerading as need," Verizon said.
BERNINGER TO FILE ANOTHER STAY: Tech innovator Daniel Berninger, who is suing to block the FCC's net neutrality rules, is expected to file a request to delay the rules Tuesday in a federal appeals court. A host of trade groups and Internet service providers that also filed suit have already appealed for a stay, and the FCC has Friday to respond.
At 10:00 a.m., Senate Commerce will have a hearing on the modernization of the nation's air traffic control system.
At 2:30 p.m., the Senate Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing on police body cameras.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled YouTube should not have been forced to remove a controversial film mocking the Prophet Muhammad due to copyright concerns.
The CEO of AT&T said that he doesn't expect the FCC to announce a decision on the company's merger with DirecTV this week.
A group founded by a number of big names in the technology industry is bolstering its lobbying power in Washington.
Digital rights groups are piling on criticism that Facebook's worldwide Internet access project, Internet.org, doesn't promote privacy or security.
And, if you hadn't heard, President Obama got his own Twitter account.