Former FCC Commissioner Michael Cobbs: It’s Time to Fix This Mess
On January 23, the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society published, “Hold The Hallelujahs” by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, decrying the influence of Republican-held House on media and telecommunications policy.
“Michael Copps served as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission from May 2001 to December 2011 and was the FCC’s Acting Chairman from January to June 2009. His years at the Commission have been highlighted by his strong defense of “the public interest”; outreach to what he calls “non-traditional stakeholders” in the decisions of the FCC, particularly minorities, Native Americans and the various disabilities communities; and actions to stem the tide of what he regards as excessive consolidation in the nation’s media and telecommunications industries. In 2012, former Commissioner Copps joined Common Cause to lead its Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Learn more about Commissioner Copps.“
The Benton Institute
“The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy – rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity – has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.”
Michael Cobbs; “Hold The Hallelujahs”
In his article, Michael Cobbs noted, ‘I warned that a House of Representatives fixated on investigating the Biden Administration rather than addressing the systemic shortfalls of our country augured poorly for the two years just ahead. With a House stubbornly averse to meeting its Constitutionally-mandated legislative responsibilities and—perhaps just as bad—an increasingly dysfunctional judiciary that seems intent on neutering the other two branches of government, I wrote that it looked like tough sledding ahead for our struggling democracy.” [ ]
“Some will say our country has survived worse, and arguably it has. They will say we are better off now than we were generations ago. That, too, is true—for many, but certainly not all, of us. The better test of where we are is to measure our progress against the tools we now have available to improve our lives. Online technology opens vast new vistas of opportunity—but at the same time it is imposing serious harms on us, our children, and our society. [ ]
“My list could go on, but you get my point. Now add to all of this a media system that pays little attention to these challenges because it has morphed into entertaining and profiteering rather than informing us, and you begin to understand one of the greatest ills from which we suffer. A successful democracy absolutely depends upon informed citizens.”
The former FCC Commissioner noted, “we need to repair commercial media like radio and TV, bringing back Federal Communications Commission regulatory oversight that was built up over the years but eliminated by recent GOP-majority FCCs. Rules and regulations limiting mergers and acquisitions, requiring diversity of viewpoint and diversity of ownership, coverage of local news like mayors’ offices, courts, school boards, environmental challenges, limits on advertising, some semblance of balance in the presentation of viewpoints, and programs for children. [ ]”
He concluded, “We need media that informs and underpins democracy. But we have let media run wild in an orgy of commercialism, consolidation, profiteering, and disregard for the citizenry that must be its lodestar. It is time to fix this mess.”
Both Parties Culpable: Democrats & Republicans, Since 1984
Setting aside partisan politics, let’s not jump on the bandwagon of assuming that increased FCC regulatory oversight by Democrats would result in Americans singing the Halleluiah Chorus.
As the Environmental Health Trust clarified in correspondence to President Biden, the last time that either political party’s Environmental Protection Agency looked at the question of the RF safety (relative to cell phones) was in 1984.
“As the Natural Museum of Natural History notes, “Motorola produced the DynaTAC cell phone in 1984 after more than a decade of work in cellular research and technology. The Motorola DynaTAC (an abbreviation of Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) was the first commercially available portable handheld cell phone. The phone was a 9-inches tall, weighed 2.5 pounds, had 30 minutes of battery life, and sold for $4,000. The Federal Communications Commission divided the country into market areas and licensed cellular service to two companies per market, one affiliated with a wired telephone company and one non-wired franchise.”
The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Democratic-Led Deregulation and Consolidation, from Cell Phones to Towers
We might be better protected if mobile phones were still 9-inches tall, weighed 2.5 pounds, had 30 minutes of battery life, and sold for $4,000, because for nearly 40 years, we have been willfully ignoring the non-thermal effects of non-ionizing radiation on human health and the environment. (Maybe babies wouldn’t be holding portable phones if they were heavier.)
But the issue is much more significant than the question of cell phones vs. landlines. Towers, antennas, small cells, satellites, boosters, and hot spots with increasingly stealth and disguised architecture have all escaped from the barn, because Democrats locked the gate opened.
In fact, under Democratic leadership of the Clinton administration, section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was created, which states, “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.” Section 704 of The Telecommunications Act of 1996
Physicians for Safe Technology explains, “The U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Spectrum Act of 2012 limit local government’s ability to place infrastructure for cellular communications and simultaneously facilitates industry deployment.”
“The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major revision of the 62-year-old Communications Act of 1934. The stated FCC goal of this restructuring of US Markets was to reduce the Monopoly AT&T had on the long distance market. The passage of the Telecom Act has however led to such significant deregulation that there is much more consolidation of radio and phone service with only a few carriers who essentially monopolize and control the industry with the help of a powerful industry association, CITA. The effort to pass the Telecom Act was led by the telecommunications industry and has incorporated protections for business, however, not for public or environmental health (nor for privacy or security).”
Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
“The language was codified in Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act, which prohibits environmental concerns (or health concerns by purported lack of substantial evidence) as a reason for denial of cell towers. This is despite growing awareness and scientific confirmation of both environmental and health effects from exposure to cell tower radiation and all radiofrequency wireless devices. Many are challenging this egregious policy. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) can be used in some circumstances to deny cell towers.” – Physicians for Safe Technology
FCC Captured Agency and Captured Politicians, Including Highly Paid Democrats
“Captured agencies are essentially controlled by the industries they are supposed to regulate.…the entire system is greased by the free flow of executive leadership between the FCC and the industries it presumably oversees.” Norm Alster, Captured Agency
(Politicians on both sides of the aisle, including highly paid MA Democratic Senator Edward Markey, receive significant funding from the industry. Senator Markey, who helped draft the Telecom Act of 1996, has refused to support constituents in Massachusetts seeking advocacy for wireless concerns.)
More Wireless by Democrats: Obama’s Smart Grid
During the Obama administration, federal funding was directed towards stimulating the economy by rolling out wireless smart utility meters. The deployments immediately resulted in reports of the acute onset of microwave sickness in a portion of the population, which were ignored.
Because very few health care providers have been trained to recognize and diagnose the condition of sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, or other adverse health effects associated with wireless exposures and/or polluted power quality, the actual incidence of harm remains un-quantified. But the fact that smart meter opt-out battles ensued after the meters were installed in so many jurisdictions is indicative of concerns, including privacy, health, and green-washing, as well as the fact that mercenary liar-for-hire tobacco scientists were employed industry-wide to negate reports of harm.
And as noted by the Cities of Boston and Philadelphia in their joint testimony to the FCC in 2013, “The FCC admits its own lack of expertise in the field. But the overlap of federal agency responsibilities for RF radiation protection and the merely advisory status of the Radiofrequency Interagency Work Group often leaves leadership unclear and encourages a pass-the-buck attitude. The 1999-2000 judicial challenge to the FCC’s 1996 rules never reached the issue of “electrosensitivity” as a cognizable disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (“ADA”) Here again, an agency responsible for ADA implementation acknowledges that the impairment may be disabling but has promised merely further inquiry. After more than a decade, that investigation remains unopened. The dockets here have been updated with massive additional evidence of the crippling effects of RF radiation on an admitted minority – but a suffering minority – of U.S. citizens. The FCC and its sister regulatory agencies share responsibility for adherence to the ADA and should replace promises with serious attention to a serious medical problem. This is one area where the FCC could lead in advice to electrosensitive persons about prudent avoidance.”- SOURCE
Nearly another full decade has passed since this 2013 testimony, and neither political party has addressed the FCC ignoring ADA accommodation. Lack of access to safe housing caused by an environmentally induced, avoidable health condition (justified by Democrats under ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate emergency’) is a repressive violation of human rights.
According to researcher Beatrice Golumb, an expert who helped investigate Havana Syndrome injuries to diplomats, the installation of a wireless smart utility meter was cited as the most frequent variable associated with the acute onset of EMF/RF illness, yet deployments continue across the country.
The CHD/EHT FCC Lawsuit
Subsequently, Jrseco.com explains,
“In 2012, Congress directed the FCC to reassess its exposure limits, set in 1996, in light of the enormous developments in new wireless technologies since then, and their rollout. The FCC then opened a public comment period for the public to submit comments. Thousands of comments and scientific studies were submitted by scientists, medical organizations and doctors, as well as hundreds of reports from people who have become ill from electromagnetic radiation.
Then on Dec. 4, 2019, the FCC closed the public comment period and issued its decision, simply stating that it would maintain the 1996 exposure limits, without making the slightest attempt to properly evaluate the comments submitted and all the evidence.”
In response, the Environmental Health Trust and Children’s Health Defense of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed a lawsuit against the FCC in early 2020. The lawsuits were combined, and in August 2021 the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling followed.
The court ruled that the FCC had failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its view that the exposure limits would adequately protect against the harmful effects of radio frequency (RF) radiation. The FCC’s December 2019 decision to maintain its 1996 safety limits was “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The court ruled that the FCC failed to respond to “established evidence that exposure to RF radiation at levels below the current limits can cause adverse health effects unrelated to cancer.” The court ruled that the FCC ignored numerous organizations, scientists and doctors who urged it to adjust the limits. The court found that the FCC failed to address the following issues:
- impacts of long term wireless exposure
- impacts to children
- the testimony of people injured by wireless radiation
- impacts to wildlife and the environment
- impacts to the developing brain and reproduction” – Jrseco.com
The FCC has failed to address the court’s remand.
Connectivity does in fact offer tremendous opportunities to communities. But the benefits of wired and wireless have been conflated. Wireless ‘safety’ standards are inadequate. Neither political party has done its due diligence,
Massachusetts and Connecticut
Senator Michael Moore of Worcester Massachusetts can’t put the Commonwealth’s legislature on the right side of history by himself, but the preamble to the 2023 smart meter opt out bill that he has sponsored has given ratepayers hope. ‘Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to maintain public health, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, and, c) The utility companies shall be required to obtain the ratepayer’s written consent:(1) before installing wireless meters or “equivalent technology” on the ratepayer’s property…” (Advocates in MA have attempted to pass protective legislation for a decade, dating back to 2013.)
The purpose of Connecticut House Bill 5107 “An Act Concerning Small Cell Siting And Smart Meter Opt-in” sponsored by Democratic Representatives David Michel and Anne Hughes is “to give municipalities different options in conducting the siting for small cell installations and to prohibit electric utilities from installing smart meters if the customer does not opt in and consent to the installation.”
One option could be not siting small cell installations that cause harm.
“Flying Blind” On The Health Effects Of 5G Wireless Technology Confirmed At US Senate Hearing After Senator Blumenthal Questions Industry
As reported by the Environmental Health Trust nearly 4 years ago, Connecticut Senator Blumenthal raised concerns about the lack of any scientific research and data on the technology’s potential health risks, (5G) stating, ” “I believe the American people deserve to know what the health effects are…We are flying blind here on health and safety”.
There are plenty of actions that Democrats can pursue to move the needle in the direction of “fixing this mess,” including recognizing science, human rights, and the rights of nature. And, consumers of any and all political persuasions can begin to facilitate a necessary course correction. Please send a comment: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/wireless-safety-standards-should-protect-people-and-wildlife