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Source: Proposed FCC rule undermines Trump’s rural broadband directives

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A source close familiar with the internal machinations of the Federal Communications Commission told Big League Politics the panel, now controlled by Republican-appointed members and chairman, intends to resist President Donald J. Trump’s program to bring broadband Internet to rural communities.

 

In play is a move pushed by the mobile phone industry that reverses the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service rules adopted in 2015 by the FCC in a unanimous vote by all five commissions, by expanding the tracts of land for each license, the Priority Access Licenses, from the current regions based on the Census Bureau’s sub-division of the country to much larger Partial Economic Areas.

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Big League Politics has seen the draft of a coalition letter being circulated by advocates for rural broadband to conservatives organizations and operatives as the first step in their push to convince the FCC to maintain the current license map.

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Advocates of rural broadband champion the smaller Census Bureau regions because they more precisely isolate out urban and non-urban populations.

The smaller regions also provides opportunities to smaller Internet providers, who have the capitization to bid on the smaller tracts, but not the larger ones that would become the province of the national mobile providers.

If the FCC goes forward with the larger regions, the advocates argue that mobile phone companies have the economic incentive to bid for the larger regions with the pockets of urban density that they want, while leaving the rural communities in the rest of the region back where they started: white space on the map.

In his Jan. 8 Executive Order 13821, “Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America,” Trump directed the federal bureaucracy to drive the expansion of Internet service in the non-urban centers.

Currently, too many American citizens and businesses still lack access to this basic tool of modern economic connectivity.  This problem is particularly acute in rural America, and it hinders the ability of rural American communities to increase economic prosperity; attract new businesses; enhance job growth; extend the reach of affordable, high-quality healthcare; enrich student learning with digital tools; and facilitate access to the digital marketplace.

It shall therefore be the policy of the executive branch to use all viable tools to accelerate the deployment and adoption of affordable, reliable, modern high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America, including rural homes, farms, small businesses, manufacturing and production sites, tribal communities, transportation systems, and healthcare and education facilities.

In the FCC’s 2016 “Broadband Progress Report,” the commission said that roughly 23 million rural Americans did not have access to the quality of broadband that is the everyday expectation of urban and suburban American–39 percent of the country’s rural population.

 

Free Speech

YOUR NEW MASTER: Twitter’s Head of Conversational Safety, a “Young, Queer Asian-American Businesswoman,” is “Rethinking” the Concept of User Safety

Do you trust someone like her to make Twitter “a safer place”?

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The media company Protocol, a sister site of Politico, recently published an article about Twitter’s new “head of product for conversational safety,” Christine Su. It claims that Su, a “young, queer Asian-American businesswoman,” is revolutionizing what “user safety” on social media means.

Twitter hired Su around six months ago to be in charge of “what might be the most difficult task on Twitter,” despite having no apparent experience in politics, programming, and media relations. But Twitter seems to like her for her “creative” and “somewhat radical new ideas” about user safety.

“As a queer woman of color who is an Asian American in tech in rural America, that experience is a very intersectional one. I’ve had plenty of experiences moving through spaces where I wanted more safety,” Su said.

Protocol writes that Su’s vision incorporates “transformative and procedural justice.” Transformative justice ostensibly refers to a non-retributive form of repairing harm done to someone and preventing it from happening again; procedural justice to enacting a set of rules that “make harm rarer in the first place.”

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This all sounds nice and dandy—but beware. So-called transformative and procedural justice will not benefit you, but will crush you. Anything that’s perceived as “harmful” against “women and people from marginalized groups” can and will be used to censor you. Christine Su may reassuringly claim that “the point is not to make the entire world a safe space,” but she’s open about the fact that she will help give the Coalition of the Fringes more control over what people are allowed to do and say on Twitter.

Examples from the article:

  • Creating an audio hangout feature called “Spaces,” which will allow users to determine who is allowed to participate, as well as who can speak and when. (Note that it’s being tested on “women and marginalized groups of people” first.)
  • Potentially doubling down on functions that “encourage people to read content before reposting it.” (Which is exclusively done to censor or limit the reach of conservative and other right-wing content.)
  • Building tools that “create private pathways for apologies, forgiveness and deescalation.” (The finer details are still a work in progress according to Su.)
  • Defining what a “meaningful conversation” is. (Would people like Su think that anything right-wingers say or believe belongs in a “meaningful conversation”? Let’s just say I wouldn’t bet money on it…)

You know full well that a company like Facebook would shortly follow suit. After all, it’s not just Twitter that Su is “revolutionizing,” but the concept of social media itself. Figure out where all this is heading.

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