September 16, 2021

Volume XI, Number 259

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Biden Signs Executive Order Reshaping Competition for Tech and the Internet

Today, President Biden signed a sweeping Executive Order containing 72 directives for more than a dozen federal agencies to impose regulations, largely aimed at Big Tech and Telecom to reshape and promote competition within tech and on the internet. The Order encourages the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to restore its former net neutrality principles and to increase transparency and competition among internet service providers (ISP). It also emboldens the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to crackdown on what the Administration views as massive, anticompetitive Big Tech.

What Does This Mean for Telecom?

The Executive Order encourages the FCC to ban excessive fees for early termination of internet service and prohibits the exclusive partnerships between landlords and ISPs that offer tenants only one internet option, viewed as unfairly driving prices up.

In order to promote transparency, the Order encourages the FCC to revisit Obama Administration plans for a “Broadband Nutrition Label” requirement, which would more clearly inform customers of pricing and subscription rates.

Net Neutrality Reinstated

The Order also encourages the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules from the Obama Administration, which classify ISPs as a common carrier, along with telecommunication companies. These rules were rolled back by the FCC under the Trump Administration, which excluded the internet from almost all regulation. Net neutrality regulations would prohibit ISPs from slowing down or blocking access to online services, also known as throttling.

What Does This Mean for Big Tech?

Biden’s Executive Order also emboldens the FTC and DOJ to ramp up on the Big Tech antitrust crackdown. The Administration is encouraging these federal agencies to strengthen its scrutiny of mergers, unfair competition with small businesses, and the mass accumulation of user data. The Administration hopes these additional steps will also better protect user privacy.

This comes on the heels of Lina Khan’s confirmation as chair of the FTC. Khan is a vocal critic of Big Tech after first gaining attention as a Yale Law student with an essay on Amazon’s perceived antitrust violations.  

Copyright © 2021 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 190
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About this Author

Caressa D. Bennet Partner Womble DC Regulatory, IP Technology Data
Partner

Having launched several startups, including her own successful boutique communications and technology law firm prior to joining Womble Bond Dickinson, Carri Bennet uses her entrepreneurial spirit and smarts to make the often times seemingly impossible achievable. Carri is exacting and persistent in achieving her clients’ goals.  When working with clients, Carri determines the desired outcome and then creatively develops solutions that are structured to be cost effective and result oriented.  She is known as a spunky outspoken advocate for small rural carriers, having battled with...

202-857-4519
Michael Bennet Communications Attorney
Partner

Michael Bennet has been advocating for and advising companies across the communications spectrum for over 30 years. Michael began his career in the pre-divestiture world as a broadcast attorney assisting radio and television stations with their licensing and transactional needs, as well as litigating in comparative hearings, before expanding his practice to servicing public utilities, petroleum companies, and providers of wireline and wireless telecommunications and broadband services.

As a founding member of a successful boutique telecommunications law firm known for strongly...

202.857.4442
Martin L. Stern, Womble Carlyle Law Firm, Regulatory Policy Attorney
Partner

Mr. Stern provides legal and strategic counsel on regulatory, policy and commercial matters to telecommunications, information technology and media firms, including network operators, programmers, and technology companies, in the United States and globally.  He represents clients before the Administration, Congress, and federal agencies, including the FCC, U.S. Departments of Justice, Commerce, Transportation, and Homeland Security, FTC, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and CFIUS.  He also develops and executes regulatory and legislative strategies,...

202-857-4417
Marjorie Spivak Telecommunications Lawyer Womble Bond Dickinson Law Firm
Partner

Marjorie Spivak represents telecommunications and broadband carriers across the United States advising them on all aspects of regulatory compliance. She provides her clients with business and legal advice on regulatory, transactional, and contractual matters. Her clients are located in rural and urban areas utilizing wireless and wired platforms on both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Marjorie energetically represents her clients in obtaining spectrum to offer new services utilizing new technologies. Of particular interest to Marjorie are tower siting matters. Marjorie has...

202-857-4538
Robert Silverman, Womble Dickinson Law Firm, Washington DC, Communication Law Attorney
Senior Counsel

Bob Silverman provides guidance to telecommunications carriers and technology companies seeking to navigate through complex regulatory, commercial and compliance structures established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government agencies.  Bob’s wireless spectrum experience spans a variety of services—including 700 MHz, 2.5 GHz, AWS, Cellular, PCS and Citizens Broadband Radio Service—and runs the gamut from auctions and compliance reporting to assignments, lease agreements, and enforcement actions.  On behalf of various communications trade...

202-857-4532
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