Don’t expect Trump to leave internet rules, regulations intact

President-elect likely to reverse net neutrality, beef up smartphone spying

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Fed­er­al rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing the inter­net dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion are in for a major upheaval.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Commission—and Sil­i­con Valley—commanded unprece­dent­ed atten­tion from the White House over the past eight years. FCC poli­cies flowed from the exec­u­tive branch’s strat­e­gy to bypass Con­gress and gov­ern the inter­net via exec­u­tive order, backed by a 3-to-2 major­i­ty rule at the FCC.

Relat­ed: Oba­ma cham­pi­ons pri­va­cy, con­sumer rights

Ed note_Precursor_Scott ClelandOne of the sin­gle most uni­fy­ing pri­or­i­ties in a Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Repub­li­can Con­gress will be the rolling back of the Oba­ma administration’s many exec­u­tive and reg­u­la­to­ry deci­sions that steam­rolled strong con­gres­sion­al oppo­si­tion over the past few years. Here’s what to expect, with regard to key inter­net rules:

Smart­phone snoop­ing: Expect the FBI to gain fed­er­al sup­port to wire­tap smart­phones to thwart crime and com­bat ter­ror­ism. This will come despite vehe­ment tech oppo­si­tion from Apple, Google, Face­book, et al. The tech giants are con­cerned about a con­sumer back­lash over any per­ceived fail­ure to pro­tect indi­vid­ual privacy.

The his­to­ry: Con­gress passed the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Assis­tance to Law Enforce­ment Act of 1994 to define the fed­er­al government’s wire-tap­ping author­i­ty. The FCC under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush ruled that broad­band inter­net access and inter­con­nect­ed VoIP were sub­ject to CALEA, a rul­ing that was upheld by the Wash­ing­ton, D.C, Cir­cuit Court of Appeals in June 2006.

Relat­ed: Apple’s dilem­ma — prof­its vs. patriotism

Pres­i­den­tial-elect Trump already has pub­licly chas­tised Apple for refus­ing to coop­er­ate with legit­i­mate law enforce­ment inves­ti­ga­tions. Expect the Trump FCC to set rules to ensure smart­phones are sub­ject to the CALEA.

 Bye-bye to spec­trum shar­ing: The Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion first came up with the idea to auc­tion off spe­cif­ic bands of the elec­tro­mag­net­ic spec­trum under­used by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. In 2013 Pres­i­dent Oba­ma ordered the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to share a huge chunk of the wire­less spec­trum reserved for gov­ern­ment use in order to expand wire­less broad­band inter­net access for indi­vid­u­als across the country.

Obama’s spec­trum-shar­ing pol­i­cy runs counter to the long­stand­ing, suc­cess­ful pol­i­cy of increas­ing­ly com­mer­cial­iz­ing under­used gov­ern­ment spec­trum via pub­lic auc­tions. Tak­ing a nation­al asset and uni­lat­er­al­ly man­dat­ing gov­ern­ment shar­ing of spec­trum to super­sede a prop­er­ty rights-based pol­i­cy sup­port­ing spec­trum auc­tions appears to run counter to Repub­li­can eco­nom­ic principles.

Increas­ing­ly com­mer­cial­iz­ing under­used gov­ern­ment spec­trum, via pub­lic auc­tions, could gen­er­ate well over $100 bil­lion of rev­enue over 10 years. This could help fund var­i­ous Repub­li­can fis­cal pri­or­i­ties with­out adding to the bud­get deficit.

Net neu­tral­i­ty rever­sal. The Oba­ma FCC has ruled that inter­net ser­vice providers may not block or throt­tle law­ful inter­net traf­fic or speed up web ser­vices in exchange for pay­ments from online ser­vice providers. Expect the Trump FCC to return to some form of the Bush FCC’s def­i­n­i­tion ensur­ing users’ free­dom to access the con­tent, web­sites and devices of their choice, with­out going as far as Obama-FCC’s require­ment for ISPs to treat all inter­net traf­fic equally.

Net neu­tral­i­ty is not found in law, and remains a solu­tion in search of a prob­lem after 12 years of intense scruti­ny. Telling­ly, the only time net neu­tral­i­ty sup­port­ers tried to make net neu­tral­i­ty an elec­tion issue was in 2010, when 95 Sen­ate and House can­di­dates signed a PCCC Net Neu­tral­i­ty Pledge (all Democ­rats) and all those 95 can­di­dates lost their respec­tive con­gres­sion­al races.

More sto­ries about inter­net and the fed­er­al government:
Pass or fail? A look at the top pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ views on pri­va­cy, security
Data secu­ri­ty best prac­tices should begin with fed­er­al government
Fed­er­al data breach law should be approached with caution