Overnight Tech: Facebook not giving up on Internet plans

LEDE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said the company's focus on India isn't over after the government there effectively blocked Free Basics, a suite of free web services meant to connect poor users to the Internet.

"While we're disappointed with today's decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world," he said. "Connecting India is an important goal we won't give up on, because more than a billion people in India don't have access to the internet."

Monday's decision by Indian regulators to block services that provide free data for selected services and websites -- known as zero rating -- was a victory for public interest advocates, who say Free Basics allows Facebook to steer users towards its favored version of the web.


"The publication of these rules demonstrates the sharpening global consensus on preventing network discrimination and protecting the open internet -- which is critical to realising our rights to free expression and access to information," said Raman Jit Singh Chima, the policy director at Access Now, an advocacy group. "This historic decision comes at a time where the EU is finalising its own rules on Net Neutrality, in particular around zero rating services, and the US faces legal challenges to its rules. We encourage lawmakers from all around the world to follow India's lead by protecting access to the full unfettered internet."

OPEN QUESTION: The FCC is doing its own examination of zero-rating, having called in Comcast, T-Mobile and AT&T to chat about their zero-rated offerings. An FCC spokesperson said those meetings have occurred with agency staffers. So far, the debate over zero-rating in the U.S. has centered on T-Mobile's Binge On, which allows users to view video without cutting into their data caps. But Verizon's decision to zero-rate its go90 video service is also drawing concerns from public interest groups. The agency spokesperson had no comment on the next steps in their examination of zero-rating.

FCC COMMISSIONERS HEAD UP TO THE HILL AGAIN: All five FCC commissioners will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on March 2, the committee says. It's a general oversight hearing -- but it seems that recent actions on set-top boxes and the upcoming broadcast incentive auction will come up. "From video policy to spectrum, the FCC's decisions have an enormous effect on the future of our technology economy," said Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneParnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama McConnell, Schumer hunt for debt ceiling off-ramp MORE (R-S.D.). The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology is also planning to hold an oversight hearing for the agency in March.

NYT PRESSES FOR EMAIL PRIVACY: The New York Times editorial board on Monday pressed Congress to pass an email privacy bill that would require law enforcement to get a warrant, rather than a subpoena, before forcing companies like Google and Facebook to hand over customers' electronic communications. The bill is slated for a markup in the House next month and the newspaper said the widely supported bill could be one of the few measures that Congress takes care of before Washington policymaking slows to a halt amid the 2016 presidential campaign.

ICANN'S NEW CEO: The non-profit that helps manage the Internet domain name system announced a new CEO on Monday. Göran Marby, a Swedish telecom official, will take over at ICANN in May and move to Los Angeles, where the non-profit's headquarters are located. ICANN is contracted out by the government to help run the system and has also been tasked with leading the transition away from U.S. government oversight. The handoff to a non-governmental organization is expected to happen later this year, over the objections of some Republicans like Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGermany calls on Congress not to sanction Nord Stream 2 pipeline: report Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress MORE (R-Texas). 

WHITE HOUSE WI-FI: President Obama and his wife during a CBS interview Monday night joked about some of the wi-fi limitations in the White House when sharing advice for the next first couple. Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Son gives emotional tribute to Colin Powell at service MORE said that the couple's teenage daughters "are just irritated" by" the number of wi-fi dead spots in the residence. 

MONICA LEWINSKY IS MAKING EMOJI NOW: Monica Lewinsky is bringing her anti-cyberbullying campaign to your smartphone. Recode talked to her about new emoji she's developed with Vodaphone that lets users lend support to those who are the victims of online harassment.


At 9 a.m., CTIA is holding an event on the next generation of wireless, featuring remarks by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

At 1:30 p.m., CompTIA is hosting a tech policy summit



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Monday that 325,000 drones have been registered thus far under new rules that require users to provide their information to the federal government and pay a fee to fly the devices.

Cell phone calls during flights would be banned under an aviation funding bill scheduled to be considered by lawmakers in the House this week.

India's communications regulator issued an opinion Monday that is likely to block a controversial Facebook-administered program for delivering free web services to poor customers.

A total of 51 percent of voters said they would not ride in a driverless car, while 63 percent said they were unlikely to buy a self-driving car in the next decade, according to a new poll. 

Washington's tech policy wonks are celebrating an anniversary this week: 20 years ago Monday, President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFederal judge changes his mind about stepping down, eliminating vacancy for Biden to fill Joe Biden's gamble with history Can America prevent a global warming cold war? MORE signed the 1996 Telecommunications Act into law at the Library of Congress.


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