Government Report: February 18, 2011

AAF Government Report

February 18, 2011

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

Daniella Martinez, Federation Intern

New Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced a new committee structure which included a new subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.  The subcommittee will be chaired by Sen. Al Franken. D-Minn., who has been very vocal on technology issues and stated that he intends to use his position to protect privacy rights. Other members of the subcommittee are:

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. (Ranking Minority Member)
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

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Net Neutrality Challenged, Enforced

House and Senate Republicans have filed legislation to repeal the net neutrality rules enacted at the Federal Communications Commission, claiming that the precedent would allow the FCC to unilaterally regulate virtually any matter discussed in its national broadband plan.  House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., has filed an amendment to the continuing resolution being debated in the House to defund any FCC effort to enforce net neutrality rules.

Meanwhile, a number of public interest groups have filed the first net neutrality complaint at the FCC against MetroPCS claiming that their multitier pricing plan violates the Commission’s net neutrality rules.

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Budget for Public Broadcasting in Dispute

President Obama’s budget proposal includes increases in funding of $6 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an increase of $6 million from the last fiscal year budget. Members of the Republican Study Committee released a proposal to trim $2.5 trillion from the budget over 10 years, with public broadcasting among the budget items that would receive the steepest cuts.

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Spectrum Auction Could Raise $33 billion

According to a study done to build support for a spectrum auction, the federal government could raise as much as $33 billion by auctioning off 120 MHz of underused broadcast spectrum. The Obama administration recently unveiled a plan provide wireless coverage to 98% of the country, financed entirely by spectrum auctions. The National Association of Broadcasters not expressed opposition to the plan, as long as broadcasters have the option of releasing spectrum space voluntarily.  The NAB opposes a mandated relinquishing of spectrum space. 

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Obama’s budget has huge impact on the telecom industry

The new Obama administration budget is includes provisions to invest in high-tech programs as a method of promoting economic growth. The budget calls for $5 billion to extend access to high-speed Internet, an increase in $18 million to the Federal Communications Commission, $34 million for an electronic government fund, and $183 million for the Veterans Affairs Department’s electronic records program. The budget also promises to monetarily support companies involved in technology developments.

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