Democrats Plan Sweeping Net Neutrality Bill As FCC Majority Stalls

Democratic lawmakers’ inability to secure a majority at the FCC has stymied plans for the agency to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules. Amid the impasse, lawmakers are renewing efforts to take the issue into their own hands with a sweeping new bill, according to a copy. Led by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and open companies like AT&T and Verizon up to stricter oversight by the FCC.

Sen. Wyden Proposes New Shield Law To Protect Journalists’ Phone, Email Records

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a longtime critic of government surveillance programs, proposed legislation Monday designed to protect journalists’ data from government subpoenas in the wake of recent admissions by the Justice Department that investigators seized reporters’ records hoping to identify sources. The bill, called Protect Reporters from Excessive State Suppression (PRESS) Act, goes further than past efforts to create a federal shield law for reporters and safeguard their phone and email records, which are often held by third-party service providers.

Senate Dems Aim To Block Simington

Two Senate Democrats —  Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut (l) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) — and a coalition of digital rights groups are hoping to derail the confirmation of telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to the FCC, arguing that his appointment during the lame-duck session would hamper President-Elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda.

Lawmakers Worried About Fake Video Tech

Lawmakers are concerned that advances in video manipulation technology could set off a new era of fake news. Now legislators say they want to start working on fixes to the problem before it’s too late. Technology experts have begun to sound the alarm on the new software, which lets users take existing videos and make high-quality altered video and audio that appears real. The emergence of the technology opens up a new world of hoaxes driven by doctored audio or video, and threatens to shake faith in the media even further.

Wyden Is One To Watch On Ad Tax Deduction

The fate of the advertising tax deduction on the Senate side now rests with Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was officially confirmed by the Senate as chairman of the powerful finance committee on Thursday. Wyden succeeds Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who was confirmed last week as ambassador to China. Before his appointment, Baucus had proposed a tax reform package draft that included a limit on the advertising tax deduction by half in the first year, with the rest amortized over the next five years. It’s hard to predict how Wyden will respond as chairman.