Jun 11, 2018

Axios Login

It's already a busy week and it's only Monday.

1 big thing: Net neutrality no longer law of the land

Net neutrality supporters project a message onto a building in D.C. Photo: Mari Matsuri/AFP/Getty Images

The FCC’s net neutrality rules officially end today, but the years-long battle over how to deal with the issue continues, Axios' David McCabe reports, as advocates fight to restore them.

Why it matters: With content companies and internet service providers consolidating and online platforms expanding, the government's choice of whether to police the equal treatment of web traffic has greater consequences than ever.

What’s next? Net neutrality backers describe a multi-pronged strategy to restore the strong rules they prefer.

  • The short game: On Capitol Hill, Democrats in the House are trying to get enough Republican signatures to force a vote on a resolution that would restore the FCC's rules. The measure already passed in the Senate, but the House is more difficult. “I think it’s an uphill fight,” said Chris Lewis, vice president at Public Knowledge.
  • The long game: Public interest groups and Silicon Valley companies are among those who are suing over the repeal of the rules. Oral arguments in the case could come later this year in federal court, they say. “It’s just a longer timeline,” Lewis said.
  • What to watch: Democrats hope to make net neutrality a campaign-trail issue in the months before the midterm election, and state officials have tried to institute their own rules.
  • Above all, vigilance: Advocates say they fully expect internet service providers to strike deals or take action that will discriminate against certain content. "This will not happen right away, because everyone is watching, but it certainly will happen in the months and years to come," said Andrew Schwartzman of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • What not to expect this year: Compromise legislation that sees Congress create new, permanent net neutrality rules, which Republicans have been pushing for some time. Democrats worry that effort would end up stripping the FCC of some broadband-related authorities. “The odds for other legislation in 2018 are zero,” said Matt Wood, Free Press’ policy director.

Yes, but: For his part, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the effort to repeal the rules, promised the Washington Post that his agency is nonetheless "going to be a powerful tool for weeding out any anti-competitive conduct.”

The bottom line: The end of the rules is far from the end of this story. Additional consolidation in the telecom space (a judge will rule Tuesday on whether AT&T’s Time Warner deal can go forward) and developments over the court case will keep advocates and opponents of net neutrality regulations busy.

Go deeper: Axios’ Kim Hart has more on the end of the rules and our ongoing coverage is here.

2. Facebook’s year of missteps

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Facebook's troubles in Washington have accumulated over the past year not as the result of a single scandal but through a pileup of missteps large and small.

Why it matters: The controversies — and Facebook’s sometimes-halting response — have painted a picture for policymakers of a company unable to be totally forthcoming about its past mistakes.

Go deeper: David has a timeline of all of the trials and tribulations.

3. Microsoft buys game studios as E3 kicks off

Microsoft announced on Sunday it's buying four game studios and bringing a number of exclusives to the Xbox console.

What's happening: At its E3 press conference, the company said it was acquiring Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs and Compulsion Games. That brings a number of franchises in-house, including the popular Forza racing series.

Why it matters: With no new blockbuster hardware expected from the game giants, new titles and exclusives are where it's at. (Microsoft did say its next console is in development.)


Separately, in our Expert Voices section, Marine energy expert David Hume writes about Microsoft's recent announcement of deploying their underwater data center, Project Natick, off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

  • By placing the data center underwater, Microsoft is hoping to limit its energy costs and take advantage of the shorter deployment time to the dense populations of coastal cities.
  • This project marks the first time a commercial data center has been powered, at least in part, by marine renewable energy.
4. Skip: Win the scooter war by following rules

Photo: Skip

Skip hasn't yet dumped its e-scooters onto the streets of hometown San Francisco, instead quietly testing its service in Washington, D.C., while waiting for San Francisco to put a regulatory regime in place.

San Francisco is giving e-scooter permits to only five companies, but a dozen companies applied. Skip not only will compete against established e-scooter rivals, but also against ride-share giants Uber and Lyft.

Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva has a look at how Skip is trying to stand out from its rivals using a friendlier, play-by-the-rules approach.

Go deeper:

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • Expect more video game news as the E3 event formally kicks off in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Sony's press conference is tonight, while Nintendo's is on Tuesday.
  • On the other side of the computing spectrum, corporate computing megaconference CEBIT takes place this week in Hanover, Germany.
  • A ruling is expected this week on whether AT&T should be able to buy Time Warner.

Trading Places

  • Expedia CTO Tony Donohoe is leaving for a San Francisco startup, per GeekWire, which added that Uber said Donohoe is not joining former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at that company.


6. After you Login

I look forward to seeing more signs like this at tech events.