Carmen Scurato: The FCC’s Attack on Civil Rights (Ep. 118)

Carmen Scurato_net neutrality_WashingTech_NHMC

 

Bio

Carmen Scurato (@carmenscurato) is Vice President, Policy and General Counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, where she leads NHMC’s policy and government affairs office in Washington, D.C. She is responsible for developing policy and legal strategies that encourage open and affordable communications, innovation, competition, and diversity. Carmen represents NHMC in meetings with decision makers in Congress and at federal regulatory agencies. She has spoken extensively on the ways that communications policy impacts people of color and regularly appears in outlets such as Fast Company, Fortune, The Root and the Guardian to highlight NHMC’s policy and advocacy efforts.

Carmen coordinates organizational responses to regulatory proposals that threaten to widen the digital divide and has co-authored several notable filings for Voices for Internet Freedom highlighting the importance of Net Neutrality and the Lifeline program for communities of color. In 2017, Carmen was the architect of Freedom of Information Act requests that compelled the FCC to release more than 50,000 consumer complaints, previously undisclosed, that drew renewed attention to the importance of preserving the 2015 Open Internet Order. Carmen also supervises NHMC’s legal fellowship program, which provides an opportunity for select students throughout the country to experience media, technology, and telecommunications law and advocacy.

Before joining NHMC, Carmen worked at the Department of Justice and assisted in Medicare fraud investigations, including a False Claims Act case that resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars. She also worked at the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs on large document requests received from congressional oversight committees.

Carmen, a native of Puerto Rico, earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and her B.A. cum laude from New York University.

Carmen also serves on the public policy advisory council to the American Library Association and is a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee. She also sits on the Advisory Board for Full Color Future and was named as one of 2017’s Full Color 50. Carmen is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Hispanic National Bar Association, and the Federal Communications Bar Association.

Resources

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

News Roundup

Despite deeply flawed public record, FCC still plans net neutrality repeal

The FCC is poised to repeal its net neutrality rules this Thursday despite tens of thousands of fake or fraudulent comments in the record. Both Democratic FCC Commissioners, several members of Congress, and protesters have called on the FCC to delay repealing the rules. However, Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues are planning to overturn the rules anyway.

The FCC on Monday announced a so-called framework under which it and the FTC would ostensibly work in partnership to weed out bad actors on the internet. However, this is more likely to be political maneuvering by the two agencies’ Republican leadership, since FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeney wrote a widely-read op-ed in Quartz last week stating that the FTC does not have the expertise to regulate internet service providers.

Additionally, Brian Fung noted in the Washington Post that a case that’s currently pending in the 9th Circuit could restrict those who wish to file grievances against their internet service providers even further. In FTC v. AT&T Mobility, the court will decide, within days, whether a parent corporate entity can escape being classified as a common carrier even if one or more of its smaller subsidiaries is classified as such. This is important because the FTC does not have jurisdiction over common carriers–only the FCC does. So if the court defines AT&T as a common carrier, the notion that the FTC would have any kind of authority to enforce net neutrality principles against ISPs, is a joke, basically–since AT&T would be able to claim an exemption from FTC enforcement based on the fact that its subsidiary is classified as a common carrier. And, as Brian explains, overturning the net neutrality rules would effectively remove AT&T from the FCC’s common carrier definition. Taken together, a decision in the 9th circuit that’s favorable to AT&T, combined with the FCC overturning the net neutrality rules, would make it a great week for AT&T, as it would mean that the company isn’t subject to regulation by either agency.

House Democrats, including Elijah Cummings, are calling on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the fake comments.

Former National Security Officials say Trump voter database could be hacked

In an amicus brief filed in the DC Circuit in support of Common Cause’s lawsuit against the Trump Administration, Former National Security officials are worried that the Trump administration’s proposed database that’s designed to prevent so-called voter fraud would be susceptible to large-scale hacking. The former officials, including former National Intelligence Director James Clapper say exposing the personal information of millions of Americans online would invite hacking by both nation-states and criminals.

Cloudflare CEO backtracks on ‘Daily Stormer’ takedown

Remember when Cloudflare decided to stop hosting the neo-Nazi website ‘Daily Stormer’ for mocking the woman who was mowed down during Charlottesville riots in August? Now, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince says that was a mistake because he’s almost a “free speech absolutist” and that he let his emotions get the better of him. He says he’s going to try not to be so impulsive next time. And, in the future, if the Southern Poverty Law Center reaches out to him to complain about hateful content Cloudflare is hosting, he’s just going to delegate it to the Electronic Frontier Foundation–a privacy-focused non-profit that’s based on the West Coast–and let those two duke it out. He’s too busy to help curtail hate speech, basically. Meanwhile, Google announced that it will be hiring 10,000 people to help stamp out extremist content on YouTube.

SEC Crypto unit files first charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s new division that’s focused on cryptocurrencies filed its first charges last week. They’re against a company called PlexCorps, which was about to hold an initial coin offering (ICO) for which it claimed investors would receive 13 times their investment. The SEC alleged fraud and froze the company’s assets. Meanwhile, the price of a single Bitcoin has jumped to over $17,000, from around $1,000 in January. Bitcoin futures also launched on the New York and London exchanges on Monday. Many experts are predicting that Bitcoin will eventually crash.

Facebook kids messenger app raises privacy red flags

Facebook released a new app last week called Messenger Kids which lets kids under 12 “connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want.” Almost immediately, Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumentahl raised concerns, saying that the app raises privacy and security concerns. So they’re asking Facebook for more clarity on how the app works.

White House says warrantless NSA surveillance can continue after statute expires

The NSA’s warrantless surveillance program will expire on January 1st if Congress doesn’t pass an extension. However, the White House says that it has the authority to keep the program going because the FISA court met on April 26th and made changes that would remain in place for a year. Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times.

Google blocks Youtube on Amazon devices

Google has blocked YouTube on Amazon’s streaming devices. Google says Amazon refuses to offer Amazon Prime through Google gadgets and has recently halted the sale of Google’s Nest.

AT&T/Time Warner merger trial set for March

The trial between the Department of Justice against the AT&T/Time Warner merger is set to begin on March 19th. This is unlikely to meet that April 22 deadline for the deal to close, on which AT&T would have to pay Time Warner $500 million.