Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

Fred Haitt's Magically Never-Changing Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission should head up to Capitol Hill, gather round a table with industry and advocacy groups, and cobble together a new set of rules for broadband, according to an editiorial in The Washington Post today: For some eight years, the agency has argued that broadband constitutes an "information service" and that it should be subject only to a light regulatory touch. To reverse course now by classifying broadband as a telecommunications service would require the agency to throw out years of its own data and analysis. While agencies have broad latitude in reevaluating regulatory schemes, reversals should be linked to significant market shifts. The facts do not support such a conclusion, and the FCC should not now try to shoehorn broadband into an existing -- but incompatible -- regulatory scheme. There haven't been relevant "market shifts" in the broadband realm? I've said in the past, and I'll say again, that as a strategic matter, open Internet groups have...

Monsanto's Bid to Buck Up Wobbly Backers.

It seems that people who are accustomed to making a healthy profit from the aggressive business strategy of bio-agricultural giant Monsanto are growing nervous about the soundness of the company's long-term vision. Now we're seeing their executive vice president for seeds and seed traits say things like, "We have some room to improve in the things we're going to do," in an attempt to placate a roomful of investors in New York late last week. From the Monsanto perspective, the problem seems to be that the game they've pursued is increasingly looking to be of the all-in variety. Monsanto has set itself up as the one-stop seed shop for American farmers, sort of the Microsoft of the agricultural world. The promise is that if farmers buy into the Monsanto system of chemically dependent agriculture and lay out the necessary investment, then more lucrative and somewhat less backbreaking farming will eventually be their reward. That arrangement works better for Monsanto if American farmers...

Explainer: What the FCC Has Planned for the Tubes.

To his great credit, the legal justification that FCC general counsel Austin Schlick put together on the proposed plan the commission announced yesterday to regulate broadband service is eminently readable -- though some of that credit has to go to chair Julius Genachowski , because he's come up with a proposal that's actually an elegant public-policy response to the question of how the commission was going to claim the authority to do everything from ensuring net neutrality to promoting universal broadband access. (Remember that the underlying question here for Obama's FCC is whether it was going to lightly regulate the Internet in its role as an "information service" or whether it should have a broader hand to play because of the Internet's infrastructural role as pipeline for communications.) The appealing simplicity of Genachowski's third-way approach, as he's calling it, is captured by the fact that Schlick's argument is supported by both Justice Clarence Thomas' majority opinion...

Reclaiming Broadband.

If reports are to be believed, the Federal Communications Commission is on the very cusp of making a big bold move on broadband. FCC Chair Julius Genachowski is expected to announce that the commission is declaring its authority over broadband Internet service. In regulation-speak, from here on out broadband will be treated as a Title II service, as it had been until 2002. That gives the FCC the power to regulate broadband as a common carrier service, as part of the backbone of the modern telecommunications infrastructure. Genachowski's move puts everything back on the table, from net neutrality to the implementation of the National Broadband Plan. This would be day one of a new telecommunications landscape in the United States. That said, the most important word we're going to hear today on this topic is "forbearance." The solution that Genachowski worked out is to say that he and his commission won't use all of the authority granted to it under Title II. For example, one prospect...

What the FCC Is Giving Up.

Advocates for net neutrality are, to use a technical term, freaking out today, and it's justified, if this report in today's Washington Post is to be believed. The gist is that FCC chair Julius Genachowski is on the cusp of announcing that he won't seek to reclassify broadband Internet as a common carrier service, as advocates have been pushing him to do. What that means is we're left with an FCC almost completely unable to regulate the modern communications landscape. This is a case of ever-shrinking jurisdiction. The Bush-era FCC, in a blaze of deregulatory fervor, decided that broadband Internet wouldn't be treated like, for example, the telephone, where there's an expectation that telecom infrastructure is open and designed to best meet the needs of the greatest number of people. Instead, broadband became an "information service" regulated with only the lightest of touches. When the FCC did hold telecoms responsible for breaches, they did it by extrapolating existing authority...

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