With his tweet voicing support for Sinclair, says former Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, President Trump attempt to influence the FCC’s handling of the Sinclair-Tribune merger moves from “a thumb on the scale to a chain-mailed fist.”
The government should require social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to use an open application programming interface. This would make it possible for third parties to build software to monitor and report on the effects of social media algorithms. To be clear, the proposal is not to force companies to open up their algorithms — just the results of the algorithms.
Tom Wheeler, the former chairman of the FCC under President Obama, on Wednesday called for internet giants like Facebook and Google to be regulated. “It is time to recognize that the most powerful companies in the country should not be making their own rules,” Wheeler wrote.
Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that local broadcasting’s focus on serving the public good “is being stealthily watered down, with the industry’s support, by the Trump FCC. In little-noticed decisions, the agency has been removing regulatory requirements to protect broadcast localism, shield a diversity of local voices and avoid the establishment of a dominant national broadcaster.”
Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says legislation now headed for the President’s desk “not only gives cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they like with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity, but it would also prevent the [FCC] from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.”
Over three years leading the FCC, Wheeler, a Democrat, has addressed the nation’s thorniest technology issues. Once pilloried by consumer advocates and the comedian John Oliver as a shill for big business, Wheeler took many by surprise as he brought challenge after challenge to the dominance of the cable and wireless companies he once represented.
Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler said the other day that the auction “delivered on its ambitious promise.” That’s quite a stretch by any measure. The final numbers of $18.3 billion for 70 MHz of spectrum is miles away from the commission’s talk when this all started back in 2010.
Citing unidentified people, Bloomberg and Politico both reported Friday that the next chairman of the FCC will be Ajit Pai, an old hand at the agency. Pai has long maintained that the FCC under former chairman Thomas Wheeler had overstepped its bounds, suggesting that he would steer the agency in a direction more favorable to big phone and cable companies.
Although Tom Wheeler entered the FCC chairman’s office with a reputation for supporting the cable and cellular industries — he was their top lobbyist in Washington in the 1980s and 1990s — under pressure from activists, he pushed an agenda that focused on disrupting old tech industries (“incumbents”) by helping new ones (“insurgents”). Here, he talks about his tenure.
The FCC chairman, who will be gone by tomorrow, praised the incentive spectrum auction, but cautioned that “there is still a long road ahead,” meaning the necessary repack. “This will be an extremely important task for my successor and the new commission,” he said.