Overnight Tech: Zero hour nears for net neutrality | GOP applauds repeal plan | Dems make last push to delay vote | White House unveils report on modernizing tech | Dem wants to revisit NBC, Comcast merger

Overnight Tech: Zero hour nears for net neutrality | GOP applauds repeal plan | Dems make last push to delay vote | White House unveils report on modernizing tech | Dem wants to revisit NBC, Comcast merger
© Greg Nash

ZERO HOUR NEARS FOR NET NEUTRALITY RULES: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving forward with a plan to scrap net neutrality rules, defying a massive outcry from activists, Democrats and consumers.

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On Thursday, the FCC is expected to approve Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to repeal rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The measure is expected to pass 3-2, with all the Republican appointees supporting repeal and all the Democratic appointees opposing.

Polls on the topic vary, but a recent Morning Consult/Politico survey found that 52 percent of voters support the rules that are in place, including 53 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats. Overall disapproval of the rules sits at 18 percent.

Pai and the other FCC Republicans defend ending the rules, saying there is little danger that broadband providers will slow down or censor internet content if they aren't in place. The regulations are too onerous, they say, and hurt the industry's ability to innovate and tailor their services to consumers.

"I think what net neutrality repealed would actually mean is we once again have a free and open internet," Pai said on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show Monday night. "The government would not be regulating how anyone in the internet service providers, how anyone else in the internet economy manages their networks."

Pai and his Republican allies in Congress say investment in broadband infrastructure has declined since former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler put the net neutrality rules in place in 2015. They warn that drop in investment will slow gains in broadband speeds and raise costs for consumers.

Democrats, major internet firms and tech startups see things very differently.

They say the net neutrality rules are essential for preserving an open internet. Without them, they warn, web companies will no longer compete on a level playing field.

Read more here.

 

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

 

 

HOUSE GOP APPLAUDS NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL: More than a hundred House Republicans sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday applauding the agency's plan to repeal its net neutrality rules.

"This proposal is a major step forward in the effort to clear the way for the substantial investment necessary to advance our Internet architecture for the next generation and close the digital divide," the group of 107 House members wrote.

"When its effects are fully realized, more Americans than ever will experience the benefits of telemedicine, distance learning, streaming video, and future innovations made possible by broadband."

Read more here.

 

...AND HOUSE DEMS MAKE FINAL PUSH TO DELAY VOTE: A high-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is making one final plea to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay its vote on Wednesday to scrap the net neutrality rules.

Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHillicon Valley: Trump turns up heat on Apple over gunman's phone | Mnuchin says Huawei won't be 'chess piece' in trade talks | Dems seek briefing on Iranian cyber threats | Buttigieg loses cyber chief House Democrats request briefings on Iranian cyber threats from DHS, FCC Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash MORE (D-Pa.), the ranking Democrat on the Communications and Technology subcommittee, asked Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a letter on Wednesday to postpone the vote and remove the net neutrality item from the December open meeting agenda.

The letter was also signed by 117 other House Democrats.

Others, including several state attorneys general, Democratic FCC commissioners and even Republican Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (Colo.), have also asked Pai to postpone the vote.

Read more here.

 

NY AG ALLEGES WIDESPREAD IDENTITY THEFT IN NET NEUTRALITY COMMENTS: As many as 2 million net neutrality comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were fake, according to the New York Attorney General's office.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) slammed the FCC on Wednesday over the agency's decision to reject his previous request for information about comments filed about net neutrality and to delay the vote amid the fake comments.

"As we've told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda," Schneiderman said. "The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened."

Read more here.

 

BLUMENTHAL WANTS SECOND LOOK AT COMCAST, NBC MERGER: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether the 2011 Comcast-NBC merger has hurt market competition.

Blumenthal sent a letter to the Trump administration's top antitrust prosecutor, Makan Delrahim, on Wednesday, asking him to revisit the deal and to try to keep in place behavioral conditions that are set to expire next year.

"Given your responsibilities as head of the Antitrust Division to enforce our nation's antitrust laws, it is incumbent on you to continue to ensure that Comcast's acquisition of NBCU does not undermine free and fair competition," Blumenthal wrote.

The Connecticut Democrat asked Delrahim to consider splitting up the two companies if he finds that their merger has dampened competition.

Read more here.

 

WHITE HOUSE UNVEILS REPORT ON MODERNIZING TECH: The White House released a report Wednesday on modernizing the government's information technology, urging agencies to move to cloud storage.

The report also outlined general steps the government should take to ramp up its modernization efforts. The recommendations include bolstering security for the highest risk and most valuable technology, consolidating networks to save money and adopting broader tech tools that aren't agency-specific to save money.

"It is imperative for the Federal Government to leverage these innovations to provide better service for its citizens in the most cost-effective and secure manner," the report says. 

"This Administration has prioritized modernization of Federal information technology (IT) systems, and to that end, has committed to help agencies better leverage American innovations through increased use of commercial technology."

The guidance is part of the administration's increased attention to modernizing the government's technology.

Read more here.

 

THREE PLEAD GUILTY OVER CYBER ATTACK: Three defendants have pleaded guilty to charges involving Mirai, a tool used to throw websites offline that was released to the public and eventually used against Twitter, The New York Times and Netflix. 

Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman pleaded guilty to charges stemming from Mirai in Alaska last week, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday. 

Mirai launches distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, coordinated floods of traffic so large they overwhelm victims' servers and force them to crash or severely slow. Mirai generated the traffic by creating networks of hacked internet-connected devices, such as security cameras, and having them all contact a target at the same time. 

Mirai served as an automated platform for hacking the devices and built networks so big they broke several records for the size of DDoS attacks. 

Read more here.

 

CNN SAYS STOLEN PHONE LED TO ANDERSON COOPER'S TRUMP TWEET: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's Wednesday tweet labeling President Trump a "pathetic loser" was the result of someone taking his assistant's phone, according to the network.

A person stole the smartphone belonging to Cooper's assistant, the only other person with access to the anchor's Twitter account, after he "left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym early this morning," a CNN spokesperson told The Hill.

"Geolocation tools confirm that the tweet in question was not sent from Anderson Cooper's phone. Anderson was in Washington, and we have proof the tweet was sent from New York, from a phone belonging to his assistant," read the statement.

"Oh Really? You endorsed him you tool! Pathetic loser," read the tweet, which has since been deleted. It was posted on Cooper's account Wednesday as a response to a tweet from Trump about Roy Moore's loss in the Alabama Senate race.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP:

The FCC will hold its monthly open meeting, which includes its vote to get rid of net neutrality at 10:30 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Reuters: Bitcoin fever exposes crypto-market frailties

WSJ: Apple awards $390 million to face ID tech company Finisar

Bloomberg: Uber investor sues over acquisition of self-driving car firm

CNN: Facebook and Twitter must be held responsible for illegal content - U.K. panel

Op-ed: Repealing net neutrality would reduce access to critical health services

Op-ed: How small businesses are affected by net neutrality