AT&T CEO Calls on Congress to Restore Net Neutrality

AT&T chairman/CEO Randall Stephenson apparently believes in miracles.

Speaking Nov. 12 at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech D. Live confab in Laguna Beach, Calif., Stephenson called on politically-divided Congress to enact net neutrality guidelines for the nation’s Internet service providers.

It was wishful thinking, Stephenson agreed, joking the lawmakers can’t agree on the freezing temperature of water.

“I get fatigued every time the President changes, the head of the FCC changes, and regulations swing from left to right,” he said.

Indeed, with politics driving the Obama-era net neutrality guidelines enacted in 2015 by the Federal Communications Commission, a slightly revamped FCC three years later under President Trump rescinded the provisions that sought to treat the Internet as a utility, intending to safeguard content distribution against ISPs throttling, denying access, and charging higher prices for faster streaming speeds, among other issues.

To Stephenson, whose telecom is both an ISP and streaming content distributor and creator through subsidiary WarnerMedia, the lack of clear regulation will only encourage individual states to employ their own versions of net neutrality – as California lawmakers voted to do this year.

“What would be at total disaster for the innovation we see in Silicon Valley is to pick our head up and have 50 different sets of rules across the U.S.,” Stephenson said.

Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai – an Obama nominee upped to head the agency by Trump – has argued that net neutrality is regulation in search of an industry.

“It is not the job of the government to pick the winners and losers of the internet … We should have a level playing field [via market forces],” Pai said earlier this year.

Critics contend the lack of regulation hurts consumers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – a Democrat – said reversing net neutrality put the FCC “on the wrong side of the American public.”

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month declined to hear a case brought by the telecommunications industry and the Department of Justice seeking to reverse a lower appeals court ruling upholding the subsequently rescinded Obama-era guidelines.

The Supreme Court’s lack of action does not reverse the repeal of the net neutrality guidelines, and leaves the door open to future litigation should a future FCC restore the guidelines.

The latest round of net neutrality lawsuits involves the Trump Administration, arguing the supremacy clause gives the Federal government the sole authority to regulate the Internet in the United States, suing states attempting to enact their own stricter guidelines.

 

 

Netflix Names Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to Board of Directors

Netflix is a global brand seeking insight from a former senior member of the United Nations.

The SVOD pioneer March 28 announced the appointment of Susan E. Rice, a former U.S. National Security Advisor and Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, to its board of directors.

Rice is currently a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times.

“For decades, Ambassador Rice has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom,” Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement.

From 2013-2017, Rice directed the National Security Council staff, chaired the Cabinet-level National Security Principals committee, providing daily national security briefing to Obama, and was responsible for the formulation, coordination and implementation of all aspects of administration’s foreign and national security policy, intelligence and military efforts. From 2009 to 2013, she served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a cabinet member.

Previously, Ambassador Rice held positions as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and as a Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, Senior Director, and Director on the National Security Council staff.  She was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC from 2002-2008.

Rice began her career as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company in Toronto, Canada. She has served on numerous boards, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bureau of National Affairs, National Democratic Institute, and the US Fund for UNICEF.

Rice received her Master’s degree (M.Phil.) and Ph.D (D.Phil.) in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her BA in History with honors from Stanford University in 1986.  In 2017, French President Francois Hollande presented Ambassador Rice with the Award of Commander, the Legion of Honor of France, for her contributions to Franco-American relations.