Benton Foundation

The mission of the Benton Foundation is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems.

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Headlines

  • Jul 21 2014

    The US Chamber of Commerce is pressuring the Senate to take up and “expeditiously” pass a Senate cybersecurity bill that would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and the federal government.

  • Jul 21 2014

    House leadership has scheduled debate on the STELA Reauthorization (STELAR/ H.R. 4572) Act, for 2 pm on July 22. If nobody asks for a roll-call vote, the bill could pass soon after that 2 pm debate.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Advocates for farmers are putting pressure on members of Congress to support a “clean” reauthorization of an expiring satellite TV law.

  • Jul 21 2014

    The National Association of Broadcasters does not oppose the House version of the bill reauthorizing the satellite compulsory license (formerly STELA, now STELAR), which is expected to come to the House floor for a vote.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Time Warner is playing defense. The company has amended its corporate bylaws and removed a provision that allowed shareholders to call a special board meeting.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Teens haven't abandoned Facebook yet, and a new report finds Facebook continues to lead in social referrals by a wide margin. From June 2013 to June 2014, Facebook drove 23.4% of social referrals across the web.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Mediacom asked the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules that would prevent volume-based discounts in program carriage deals, insure access to content online, and require the disclosure of rates.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdziarski demonstrated "a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device" and "suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier."

  • Jul 21 2014

    The Voices for Internet Freedom coalition filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of more than 50 civil rights, human rights, community-based and media organizations in support of strong network neutrality rules that protect the digital rights of communities of color.

  • Jul 21 2014

    Americans are watching more television than ever. They’re just doing it on their own schedule.

Blog

  • Over the past few months, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received over a million net neutrality comments—a reflection of the broad and vocal interest around the country in the debate over the best path forward for strong open Internet protections. Yesterday, New America’s Open Technology Institute added our voice to the conversation, filing joint comments with the Benton Foundation in the Open Internet docket. We urge the FCC to craft strong new rules that protect users against the full scope of harms on all platforms, arguing that reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service is the clearest and most legally sound way to achieve this important goal.

  • Public Knowledge, along with our allies Access Sonoma Broadband and Benton Foundation, submitted comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding (that’s the net neutrality proceeding). Although our comments were long, their message was simple: it is time to do this right. It has been almost a decade since the FCC put out its “internet policy statement,” recognizing its critical role in protecting an open internet. Since then, we have seen many things happen in the world of net neutrality. But we have not seen robust net neutrality rules capable of withstanding a court challenge.

  • You may well have read about the Federal Communications Commission’s vote last August to cap rates for interstate phone calls placed by prison inmates. Understandably, most of the coverage of this controversy has focused upon what the FCC did, rather than the legal underpinnings of its actions. This post will address some of those legal questions.

  • Next week public comments are due regarding the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposed rules for net neutrality. Much of the focus will be on arcane legalisms, the particulars of various court decisions, and the confounding twists and turns of FCC regulatory oversight (or lack thereof). This is all well and good, and based on more than a decade tracking such minutiae as a member of the FCC, I am confident that those of us favoring a real Open Internet will have much the better detailed arguments to put forward. But it’s more -- much more -- than that.

  • Over the last decade, a diversity of groups, from the State Education Technology Directors Association to the LEAD Commission to the Department of Education, among many others, have advocated that the FCC modernize the E-Rate program. Now that the FCC is finally set to act, how do the prospects for improvement appear? We put that question to Blair Levin (1), who was the Chief of Staff at the FCC when the program was initially conceived and implemented, and also was the principal architect of the National Broadband Plan, which proposed a number of E-Rate related changes now being considered by the FCC. Here is his response.

  • More and more people now understand the Internet to be the most opportunity-creating tool of our time. It is, increasingly, the door to jobs, education, healthcare, equal opportunity, and to the news and information we need to sustain our civic dialogue. But the question now is: opportunity for whom? Is the Net going to be the tool of the many that helps us all live better -- or will it become the playground of the privileged few that only widens the many divides that are creating a stratified and unequal America? Are we heading toward an online future with fast lanes for the 1% and slow lanes for the 99%? Well, it’s decision time. Now. The Federal Communications Commission is considering rules that would permit giant Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to create fast lanes for their business partners and friends who can afford to pay what will inevitably be very heavy freight, while start-ups, innovators, and potential competitors are priced out of the express lane. The fate of the Internet will be decided in the next few months, so this is the time for concerned citizens to speak out.

  • On July 2, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released a detailed analysis of U.S. surveillance programs. The headline-grabbing conclusion of the research is that a set of National Security Agency programs that collect vast amounts of Internet communications from U.S. companies has proved to be an effective intelligence tool, but that some aspects bordered on unconstitutionality. The board said that the NSA programs need better safeguards for protecting Americans' communications scooped up in the process. One of the goals of the board in writing the report has been to increase transparency about U.S. surveillance. In addition to this effort to explain the program, the board has set forth a series of policy recommendations designed to ensure that the program appropriately balances national security concerns with privacy and civil liberties. As you pack up for July 4 weekend, we thought we’d take a closer look at what the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is and what it found out about the NSA.

  • Two tech-related rulings have us thinking about the role of the Supreme Court in telecommunications policy these days.

  • This is a story about a uniquely successful government initiative. Over the last three decades, the Federal Communications Commission has created and expanded bands of spectrum which are made available for unlicensed use. Unlicensed use, particularly for Wi-Fi, has enabled a proliferation of consumer devices such as garage door openers, remote controls, baby monitors and wireless speakers. There are also innumerable vital industrial and scientific applications using unlicensed spectrum. A new analysis from the Consumer Electronics Association estimates that unlicensed spectrum uses already generate $62 billion annually for the U.S. economy. Even though this may be somewhat overstated, there is no doubt that freeing up spectrum for unlicensed use has been a roaring success.