Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Four Russian-linked Facebook accounts that bought ads during the U.S. election period were active, posting divisive messages, as late as this past August. “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “Heart of Texas” and “Being Patriotic” collectively had almost one million followers, before Facebook removed them for misrepresenting their identities. On “Secured Borders,” which had 133,000 followers, messages included those calling for the killing of Muslims and dubbing illegal immigrants “rapists, murderers and child molesters.” Google, Facebook and Twitter are expected to testify before Congress about Russian ties to ad buying, search manipulation and fake news. Continue reading Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

The Equifax breach exposed millions of U.S. adults’ personal information, prompted Federal Trade Commission and FBI investigations, and spurred lawsuits by many states’ attorneys general. With the threat of even worse breaches in the future, companies will be urged to adopt better cybersecurity practices. But the Equifax breach is likely to have another result that tech companies won’t like: the need for transparency. Although 48 states have already passed data-breach disclosure laws, now federal regulations are proposed. Continue reading Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

The current Republican-majority FCC intends to end net neutrality rules, as spelled out in 2015’s Open Internet Order. Now, 10 members of Congress are fighting back with an official comment describing their position. Among the signers are Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At the same time, 15 Senate Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) have asked FCC chair Ajit Pai for more time for comments, given the record volume of public interest. Continue reading Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

Senate Confirms Rosenworcel, Carr as FCC Commissioners

The Senate voted yesterday to confirm Democratic nominee Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican nominee Brendan Carr as new FCC commissioners. The confirmations return the agency to its full strength of five commissioners, following a seven-month gap. The new commissioners will take office as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to roll back the net neutrality rules that were passed by the Democratic majority in 2015. The Senate opted to postpone Pai’s reconfirmation; Rosenworcel and Carr were confirmed via voice vote yesterday, and there will be a recorded vote for Pai later this fall. Continue reading Senate Confirms Rosenworcel, Carr as FCC Commissioners

Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

The Consumer Technology Association projects that antenna sales in the U.S. will jump 7 percent to about 8 million units, driven largely by consumers who are accessing HBO, Hulu, Netflix and other services online. While today’s antennas “can be hidden behind a flat TV or hung like a picture frame,” notes The Wall Street Journal, a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters found that 29 percent of Americans are not aware that television content is available for free. The confusion may linger from the 2009 HD transition, despite the FCC’s efforts to educate the public. While today’s consumer may not think of the older tech as a practical means of saving money, WSJ cites examples of viewers using antennas to watch free local programming. Continue reading Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

Amazon is ramping up hiring, which is why it posted a 51 percent increase in general and administrative costs and one reason why its stock price dropped more than 3 percent. The company consistently hires for warehouse positions, and hopes to add 50,000 more workers at an August 2 job fair. The growth rate of salespeople for its AWS cloud computing and advertising businesses is also accelerating faster than the 42 percent company average, and Amazon says it will continue to spend on growth, meaning lower profits will also continue. Continue reading Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

Microsoft has a plan for providing inexpensive broadband access to underserved areas of the U.S., and its president/chief legal officer Brad Smith just declared the company’s support for that plan. The company has long advocated the use of so-called TV white-space technology — unused TV spectrum — to bring broadband especially to rural areas. As part of the plan, Microsoft would also urge the Trump administration and Congress to make sure that unlicensed white-space spectrum is available in every market in the U.S. Continue reading Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

News Media Unite for Collective Bargaining with Tech Titans

The difficult relationship between Google and Facebook and traditional journalism outlets is based on the fact that the former has control over digital advertising and distribution, disempowering the latter. Now, the News Media Alliance, that industry’s main trade group, is working to win collective bargaining rights with the digital titans they are forced to depend on, asking Congress for a limited antitrust exemption to do so. Experts give the effort long-shot odds, but news media industry is determined to proceed. Continue reading News Media Unite for Collective Bargaining with Tech Titans

Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit and Y Combinator are planning a “day of action” to oppose the FCC’s plan to undo net neutrality. On July 12, the companies plan to change their websites in various ways to raise awareness of the current efforts to repeal net neutrality, which prohibits ISPs from blocking or slowing websites or charging fees to display content. A recent poll showed that a large percentage of Americans, across all political affiliations, support net neutrality and question the government’s ability to protect Internet access. Continue reading Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Bill Calls For More Drone Control, FAA Registry Struck Down

The Trump administration is upending the nascent drone industry, proposing legislation that would allow the federal government to track, commandeer, disable or destroy unmanned aerial vehicles. The legislation would include a new exception to surveillance, computer privacy and aircraft protection laws. The administration held a classified briefing for congressional staff members. At the same time, the D.C.-based U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the FAA requirement for non-commercial drone owners to register their aircraft. Continue reading Bill Calls For More Drone Control, FAA Registry Struck Down

FCC Chair Pai Begins His Promised Rollback of Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission has begun to rollback net neutrality rules established during President Obama’s time in office. FCC chair Ajit Pai, who leads the commission in creating new rules that will benefit mainly cable and wireless companies, argues that net neutrality rules have slowed down investment in broadband infrastructure. To prove his point, he cited a study showing that domestic capital investment among large ISPs has dropped 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2016, which he blames on heavy-handed rules. Continue reading FCC Chair Pai Begins His Promised Rollback of Net Neutrality

Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

A federal court on Monday declined to reconsider the telecom industry’s net neutrality challenge since the FCC and its chairman Ajit Pai plan to roll back the Obama-era rules anyway. The decision could set the stage for an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court. Despite Pai’s recent announcement regarding plans to eliminate and possibly replace net neutrality rules, telecoms and their supporters are still seeking court backing to help provide future legal protection. However, Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Tatel wrote that a rehearing “would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC’s Order.” Continue reading Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

After meeting with execs at Cisco, Facebook, Intel and Oracle to discuss future plans for net neutrality, FCC chair Ajit Pai believes tech companies are interested in finding “common ground.” Most Internet companies have expressed support for “net neutrality, saying the protections guard them from paying tolls to get their content in front of consumers,” reports The New York Times. “Pai said that he agreed with the broad principles of net neutrality but that the rules, created by the commission in 2015, went too far in restricting broadband providers.” Continue reading FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

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