Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington, DC.Getty Images | Mark Wilson

A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

Hauenschild, who wrote on Twitter that he's "looking forward to helping advise the FCC on consumer matters," has told the FCC in filings that it should stop regulating net neutrality and preempt state and local broadband laws. He's argued that California's net neutrality law is "disastrous." On the topic of municipal broadband, he argued that states should ensure that municipalities have "tried all other options before launching a municipal network including public-private partnerships."

ALEC has long received financial support from the telecom industry. But Verizon left ALEC in September 2018 after it hosted a speech by right-wing activist David Horowitz, in which Horowitz argued against the legalization of abortion and gay marriage, compared the left wing's support of "redistribution of income" to slavery, and said that "at the K-12 level, school curricula have been turned over to racist organizations like Black Lives Matter, and terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood."

Verizon explained to The Intercept that it "has no tolerance for racist, white supremacist, or sexist comment[s] or ideals." AT&T subsequently ended its membership in ALEC, also citing the Horowitz speech.

Sprint and T-Mobile had quit ALEC in 2012 and 2015, respectively, "leav[ing] Comcast, Charter Communications, CenturyLink, and Cox Communications as the last major telecom companies sticking with the corporate bill mill," PR Watch reported in November 2018.

ALEC itself admitted that it made a mistake by hosting Horowitz, removed video of the Horowitz speech from its site, and said that it "does not condone hate speech of any kind."

Civil rights advocacy group Color of Change's president, Rashad Robinson, blasted Pai for bringing ALEC onto the committee:

The @FCCs Ajit Pai has shown yet again that he has no interest in protecting consumers, only corporations. The appointment of Jonathon Hauenschild, a member of @ALEC_states leadership, and Katie McAuliffe, from @taxreformer, to the Consumer Advisory Council is a disgrace.

— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) April 12, 2019

Consumer advocates and industry lobbyists on committee

The FCC's 27-member Consumer Advisory Committee "provides advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of consumer matters specified by the Commission," the FCC said. The committee held five meetings during its previous two-year term in 2017 and 2018, and the group issued several recommendations related to fighting robocalls.

The group's membership for 2019 and 2020 does include some consumer advocates, such as representatives of the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

But the committee is also heavy on industry lobbyists. AT&T is on the committee, as are the four most prominent lobby groups representing home and mobile broadband providers. NCTA and ACA—which both dropped the word "cable" from their names in order to improve their reputations—are representing the cable industry. Phone companies are represented by USTelecom and mobile lobby group CTIA.

The FCC said the committee "consists of a diverse mix of organizations representing consumers, the communications industry, government regulators, trade associations, academia, and other stakeholdersRead More – Source


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