Net Neutrality Moves Forward

Open internetFebruary 26, 2015: It’s official! The Internet will now be regulated as a public utility.

In a 3-2 party line vote today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed strong new regulation to ensure net neutrality protections are firmly in place and the Internet “won’t be sold to the highest bidder.”

In what many consider to be a milestone moment, the FCC decided to apply the same rules to broadband service that have been governing the telephone industry for decades.  Broadband will now be considered a Title II telecommunications service under the 1934 Communications Act.  The new rules replace regulations thrown out by a federal court last year.

For a full explanation of what Net Neutrality is and what these new rules will and won’t do, see the February 14 article NET NEUTRALITY MILESTONE on our Facebook page.

Proponents of these changes hope it will ensure fair and equal treatment for all traffic on the Internet.

Opponents such as cable operators, wireless providers and phone companies consider the move a “nuclear option,” with potentially devastating fallout from unintended consequences.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said these fears are overblown.

AT&T has already hinted that they will sue.  The company’s top legislative executive, Jim Cicconi, said, “What doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of 80 years ago, live under it.”

Verizon, not particularly known for having a sense of humor, issued their press release today mocking the FCC’s decision as archaic by using Morse code to underscore the point that Title II was first written in 1934.  Not bad.

The political lines have been drawn.  Congressional Republicans and their corporate puppet-masters are already lined up to strip the FCC’s ability to enforce the regulations.  Although Republicans control both the House and the Senate, they concede they don’t have the votes to override an executive veto from President Obama. As we all have seen, that likely won’t stop them from going through the motions anyway.

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Anthem Hacking Message

Anthem, the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the latest big corporations to be hacked.  Current and former enrollees should have been contacted directly by Anthem.  In case you have not seen their message, it is posted below:

To Members:

On January 29, 2015, Anthem, Inc. (Anthem) discovered that cyber attackers executed a sophisticated attack to gain unauthorized access to Anthem’s IT system and obtained personal information relating to consumers who were or are currently covered by Anthem or other independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that work with Anthem. Anthem believes that this suspicious activity may have occurred over the course of several weeks beginning in early December, 2014.

As soon as we discovered the attack, we immediately began working to close the security vulnerability and contacted the FBI. We have been fully cooperating with the FBI’s investigation. Anthem has also retained Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to assist us in our investigation and to strengthen the security of our systems.

Consumers Impacted

Current or former members of one of Anthem’s affiliated health plans may be impacted. In addition, some members of other independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans who received healthcare services through the BlueCard program in any of the areas that Anthem serves over the last 10 years may be impacted. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s BlueCard program is a national program that enables members of one Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan to obtain healthcare services while traveling or living in another Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan’s service area. Anthem is providing identity protection services to all individuals that are impacted. For a listing of potentially impacted Anthem affiliated health plans and other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies for which Anthem provides services under the BlueCard program, visit AnthemFacts.com to view a list. You are receiving this message from Anthem as a current or former member of one of these potentially impacted companies.

Information Accessed

The information accessed may have included names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, health care ID numbers, home addresses, email addresses, employment information, including income data. We have no reason to believe credit card or banking information was compromised, nor is there evidence at this time that medical information such as claims, test results, or diagnostic codes, was targeted or obtained.

Identity Protection Services

Anthem has arranged to have AllClear ID protect your identity for two (2) years at no cost to you. The following identity protection services start on the date of this notice, or the date you previously enrolled in services based on information posted on AnthemFacts.com. You can use them at any time during the next two (2) years after your service begins.

  • AllClear SECURE: The team at AllClear ID is ready and standing by if you need identity repair assistance. This service is automatically available to you with no enrollment required. If a problem arises, simply call 1-877-263-7995 and a dedicated investigator will do the work to recover financial losses, restore your credit and make sure your identity is returned to its proper condition. AllClear ID maintains an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau.
  • AllClear PRO: This service offers additional layers of protection including credit monitoring and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy. For a child under 18 years old, AllClear ID ChildScan identifies acts of fraud against children by searching thousands of databases for use of your child’s information. To use the PRO service, you will need to provide your personal information to AllClear ID. To learn more about these services, or to enroll, visit our source of truth www.AnthemFacts.com and click on the AllClear ID link from there. Please note: Additional steps may be required by you in order to activate your phone alerts.

Mailed Notification

Anthem will also individually notify potentially impacted current and former members by U.S. Postal mail with this same specific information on how to enroll in free credit monitoring and identity protection services. These services will be provided to potentially impact current and former members free of charge. Anthem has also established a dedicated website (AnthemFacts.com) where members can access additional information, including frequently asked questions and answers.

Toll-Free Hotline

Anthem has established a dedicated toll-free number that you can call if you have questions related to this incident. That number is 877-263-7995. We have included contact information for the three nationwide credit bureaus below.

Fraud Prevention Tips

We want to make you aware of steps you may take to guard against identity theft or fraud.

We recommend that potentially impacted members remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft, including by reviewing account statements and monitoring free credit reports. In addition, you can report suspected incidents of identity theft to local law enforcement, Federal Trade Commission, or your state attorney general. To learn more, you can go to the FTC’s Web site, at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or call the FTC, at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338) or write to Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

You should be aware of scam email campaigns targeting current and former Anthem members. These scams, designed to capture personal information (known as “phishing”), are designed to appear as if they are from Anthem and the emails include a “click here” link for credit monitoring. These emails are NOT from Anthem.

  • DO NOT reply to the email or reach out to the senders in any way.
  • DO NOT supply any information on the website that may open, if you have clicked on a link in email.
  • DO NOT open any attachments that arrive with email.

Anthem is not calling members regarding the cyber-attack and is not asking for credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone. For more guidance on recognizing scam email, please visit the FTC Website for their article on phishing.

Credit Bureau Information

Equifax
PO BOX 740241
ATLANTA GA 30374-0241
1-800-685-1111
equifax.com
 
Experian,
PO BOX 9532
ALLEN TX 75013
1-888-397-3742
experian.com
 
TransUnion
PO BOX 6790
FULLERTON CA 92834-6790
1-800-916-8800
transunion.com

 

You can obtain additional information from the FTC and the nationwide credit bureaus about fraud alerts and security freezes. You can add a fraud alert to your credit report file to help protect your credit information. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, but it also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide credit bureaus listed above. As soon as that bureau processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two bureaus, which then must also place fraud alerts in your file. In addition, you can visit the credit bureau links below to determine if and how you may place a security freeze on your credit report to prohibit a credit bureau from releasing information from your credit report without your prior written authorization:

  • Equifax security freeze: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
  • Experian security freeze: http://www.experian.com/consumer/security_freeze.html
  • TransUnion security freeze: http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page
  • Visit the Federal Trade Commission website at:

www.ftc.gov, or call 1-877-ID-THEFT

or write to this address:

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580

Worried about links?

We know you might be concerned about clicking links, so Anthem did not include any in this message. However, some email programs and smart phones automatically add links. Remember, you can always type a web address manually in your browser instead of clicking through from this email.

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Verizon Announces Sale to Frontier

While CWA delegates were convening in Philadelphia today for the Verizon Bargaining Council, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam confirmed persistent rumors that they have reached a deal to sell its former GTE properties in California, Texas and Florida to Frontier Communications. Also included in the deal are the sale of cell towers to American Tower which will likely be leased by Verizon Wireless.

The deal must meet regulatory agency approvals including those in each of the three state franchising territories.  CWA will play a significant role in those deliberations to ensure workers and consumers are not harmed as a result.sold out

According to the Wall Street Journal and other analysts, the deal is worth approximately $10 billion. Frontier stock took off on the news.

CWA is very familiar with asset sales of this nature. However, unlike the deals Verizon made to sell off its entire Northern New England wireline regional assets to FairPoint or rural properties in 14 other states to Frontier, the company is considering selling pieces of its wireline assets in the states it currently serves.

Rumors have been flying since early December in California where Verizon-West officials claimed it was a “mistake” when routers and cable reels sporting Frontier property tags were discovered in two separate service areas. As CWA 9003 President T Santora put it, “Their so-called ‘mistake’ was that our members found the Frontier tags. Despite repeated denials, Verizon has been hinting at a sale to Frontier for quite some time.”

Verizon was formed as a result of the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger in 2000. Verizon properties in California have been among the most lucrative of the company’s wireline properties when measured by profits/productivity per customer.  While the announcement is creating deep concerns among members worried about their future benefits, it is important to note that our contract and all it’s contents remain in place and enforceable by law.  Until a new contract is negotiated, no changes are expected without union approval.

These deals will provide a way for Verizon to pay off debt and cover the $10.4 billion in wireless licenses it purchased during the FCC’s AWS-3 (Advanced Wireless Services) auction. Besides the AWS auction, Verizon also paid $130 billion to purchase Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in their U.S. wireless joint venture.

Speculation about a possible sale of wireline assets emerged in January when McAdam told investors during the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference that there were some wireline assets in some markets that would be better served by another service provider.

McAdam said: “I think there’s an opportunity to trim out some markets in a state and hold onto other markets in a state.”

Source: Sean Buckley for Fierce Telecom

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February is Black History Month

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the US and Canada for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in February.

In 1976 Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

A.Phillip RandolphPROFILE:  A. Philip Randolph

One of the pioneers of the black labor movement was A. Philip Randolph, who formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) in 1925. His members were attendants on sleeping cars on overnight trains. They routinely worked 400 hours a month. The AFL resisted giving the BSCP a charter, but finally did so in 1937. Randolph was able to negotiate with the company to win recognition for his union, as well as higher wages, seniority, and a cut in hours for 35,000 black porters and maids.

Randolph was also one of the chief architects of the 1963 March on Washington as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made is historic “I Have a Dream” speech.  The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, under the theme “jobs and freedom”.  It is estimated that approximately 250,000 people participated in the march. Observers estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were black.

The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and motivating the Selma to Montgomery marches which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act (1965).

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COURT APPROVES $15 MILLION SETTLEMENT AGAINST VERIZON-WEST

cashVerizon must pay a $15 million settlement ending a wage and hour class action Labor Code lawsuit brought against the company.

 

Filed separately by former Verizon employees Hector Banda and Scott Cerkoney in 2010, the cases were subsequently consolidated in 2011. The lawsuits allege Verizon violated the California Labor Code and the code’s Private Attorney General Act by not listing the pay period beginning date, applicable hourly rates and number of hours worked at each rate on the wage statements it issued to employees. According to the complaint, Verizon allegedly issued some 223,000 wage statements to its 6,800 California employees during the class period.

 

In the California labor law class action, the plaintiffs claimed Verizon issued inaccurate wage statements that omitted crucial information making it impossible for the workers to determine whether they had been paid properly. In addition to approving the settlement motion, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff certified the proposed settlement class, which consists of employees paid biweekly in California who received itemized income statements from Verizon between April 1, 2009 and May 2011.

 

All covered employees will receive a Notice of Settlement letter from the Court. For those on payroll during the entire period, the estimated payout is approx. $1500. Unless they wish to opt out of the Class, they do not need to do anything in order to receive their settlement payment other than update their contact information in the event it has changed. The estimated time before checks are issued is up to 4 months. The Settlement Administrator is Simpluris Inc. They may be reached at (888) 406-0862.

 

The cases are Hector Banda et al. v. Verizon California Inc. et al., case number BC434587, and Scott Cerkoney et al. v. Verizon California Inc. et al., case number BC442358, both in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

 

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