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Hillicon Valley: Pai formally announces plans to leave FCC | FCC ends proceeding with no changes to in-flight mobile phone call ban | Italy fines Apple $12 million over claims about waterproof iPhones

Hillicon Valley: Pai formally announces plans to leave FCC | FCC ends proceeding with no changes to in-flight mobile phone call ban | Italy fines Apple $12 million over claims about waterproof iPhones
© Aaron Schwartz

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

PAI’S PLANS TO LEAVE: Ajit Pai formally announced Monday that he will leave his position as chair of the Federal Communications Commission on Jan. 20.

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Stepping down from the FCC when a new president is inaugurated is an agency tradition.

Pai, a Republican promoted to chairman by President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, has had a tenure mired in controversy.

His most notable decision, the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules that allowed the commission to go after service providers that discriminate against certain web traffic, is likely to be overturned shortly after Democrats have a 3-2 majority.

Other decisions, like overseeing the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, will be harder to reverse.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in a statement.

He highlighted some of his other achievements in Monday’s statement, including “closing the digital divide” and designating 988 as the new number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFive examples of media's sycophancy for Biden on inauguration week Drastic measures for drastic times — caregiver need mobile health apps Boycott sham impeachment MORE will now have the opportunity to either promote one of the two Democrats on the commission — Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks — or bring in a new chair from outside the FCC.

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Read more here.

KEEP YOUR PHONES ON AIRPLANE MODE: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it has terminated proceedings launched in 2013 to consider allowing in-flight mobile phone calls without making any changes to the existing ban. 

The FCC’s order ending the proceedings, released Friday, cited “strong opposition” to the proposed changes from airline pilots and flight attendants who argued they would fail to address safety and national security concerns. 

“We find that, given the state of the record, it would not serve the public interest or be a wise use of the agency’s limited resources to continue to pursue this rulemaking proceeding,” the order stated. 

Read more here. 

THAT’S NOT AMORE: Italy’s antitrust agency on Monday announced that it had fined Apple roughly $12 million for deceptive marketing about its iPhones.

The Italian Competition Authority, or AGCM, said that Apple had advertised the iPhone 8 through iPhone 11 as being waterproof without making clear that that was only the case under specific conditions.

Additionally, Apple’s disclaimer that phones were not covered for liquid damage tricked consumers, the agency said.

Apple allegedly refused to provide support when phones were damaged by water.

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment on the fine. The company has 60 days from the day it was notified of the fine to appeal the decision.

Apple has faced tougher enforcement from European agencies than their American counterparts. The AGCM fined Apple and Samsung roughly $15 million two years ago for forcing updates onto users' phones that caused them to slow down.

Read more here. 

ICYMI: KREBS SPEAKS OUT: Christopher Krebs, the top federal cybersecurity official who was fired by President Trump last week due to the official’s efforts to dispel concerns on 2020 election safety, said in a “60 Minutes” interview this week that he was “most upset" that he “didn't get a chance to say goodbye” to his team. 

In the interview, a portion of which aired on “CBS This Morning” Friday, correspondent Scott Pelley read out a statement Krebs released earlier this month on behalf of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), stating that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. ... There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes or changed votes or was in any way compromised.” 

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"Yeah, I stand by that," Krebs told Pelley. 

"The president tweeted after that statement, quote, 'The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate in that there were massive improprieties and fraud,'" Pelley continued. "Do you remember what the president said at the end of that tweet?"

"Oh, I was terminated?" Krebs asked. “Yes. I recall that.”

"Were you surprised?" Pelley replied.

"I don't know if I was necessarily surprised. It's not how I wanted to go out,” Krebs said. 

Read more here.  

TRUMP RAILS AGAINST TWITTER, ON TWITTER — AGAIN: President Trump railed against Twitter in late night tweets on Thanksgiving, criticizing its trends algorithm and “big Conservative discrimination.”

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The president slammed the social media platform for “sending out totally false ‘Trends’ that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world.”

“They make it up, and only negative ‘stuff,’” he wrote. “Same thing will happen to Twitter as is happening to @FoxNews daytime. Also, big Conservative discrimination!”

In a separate tweet, he posted, “For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!”

The president and Republicans have pushed for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to be repealed, saying that it allows social media companies to discriminate against conservative content on their websites, although such content is often amplified. 

Read more here.  

Lighter click: Polar Express to the chiropractor 

An op-ed to chew on: The free market is the best way to curtail the power of technology firms 

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NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Van Buren v. United States: The SCOTUS case splitting the privacy world in two (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

The death of the department store and the American middle class (Recode / Jason Del Rey)

Covid-19 vaccines face a varied and powerful misinformation movement online (NBC News / Brandy Zadrozny)

It’s hard to keep a big botnet down: TrickBot sputters back towards full health (CyberScoop / Tim Starks)