FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

FCC chair Ajit Pai recommends Congress include expanded broadband Internet service in upcoming infrastructure legislation. “The one consistent message I hear is that there is a thirst for better, faster, cheaper Internet access… I think members of Congress get that as well,” he said. Pai’s broadband deployment agenda “is aimed at encouraging telecommunications firms to make high-speed Internet service more widely available in hard-to-serve areas,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “President Donald Trump has indicated he wants an infrastructure initiative worth as much as $1 trillion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and other physical assets, which would require legislation and, potentially, a way to pay for it.” Continue reading New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

Snap has inked a deal for Google Cloud services worth $400 million annually over the next five years, for a total of $2 billion. The deal is a continuation of a partnership that dates back to 2013. Analysts say the $400 million will give Google a “hefty annual bump.” Google doesn’t report numbers specific to its cloud business, but rolls it into all non-advertising revenue. In Q4 2016, Google’s non-advertising sector earned $3.4 billion in sales. The partnership could presage future alliances or mutually beneficial projects. Continue reading Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

The European Union has unveiled proposed regulations designed to help protect its consumers. The goal is to create a single market out of Europe’s many regions, enabling its 500 million consumers to access the same services. But the EU proposals also create stricter demands for privacy and against copyright infringement, including reforms that would hold streaming services responsible for instituting better anti-piracy methods. From the perspective of Silicon Valley and much of Hollywood, the EU’s efforts are a form of protectionism. Continue reading EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

When Facebook bought the popular free messaging service WhatsApp, it promised it wouldn’t change the privacy policies. Now the company has done just that, and organizations including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy are not happy. Facebook has stated it will now connect users’ phone numbers with Facebook’s systems, offering “better friend suggestions” and more relevant ads. The new approach will help Facebook finally monetize WhatsApp. Continue reading WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

The operation of drones has sparked heated debate and industry angst regarding issues of safety, privacy and regulation. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first detailed rules that clarify nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and bans operation of drones at nighttime. But it still hasn’t touched the hot button topics of privacy protections, high altitude flying, drones heavier than the currently-approved 55-pounds and other issues. In that vacuum, local governments are coming up with their own regulations. Continue reading FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is reminding the tech industry that cybersecurity standards should be a significant consideration while moving forward with the development of 5G wireless Internet. Last week, the FCC published a request “for comment on a new set of proposed 5G rules to the Federal Register focused on adding specific ‘performance requirements’ for developers of example Internet-connected devices,” reports FedScoop. Companies interested in a license to access 5G spectrum will need to comply with the new requirements, which will include network security plans. Continue reading FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Deutsche Telekom and Spain’s Telefónica have long lobbied the European Union to either repeal some of the onerous regulations governing carriers or to extend them to Internet-based text-message and voice-call services, including Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Now, carriers might get their wish as the EU’s executive body is on the verge of suggesting more rules for Skype, WhatsApp and their ilk: tighter privacy and security, and an easier way for consumers to move information when switching services. Continue reading EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

After a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules, the NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom and the American Cable Association — all the trade organizations representing U.S. Internet service providers — challenged that ruling. They did so by filing a petition for an “en banc” rehearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. En banc hearings are to rehear a case in front of all the judges (rather than a panel), usually in cases of “exceptional public importance.” Continue reading Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

Following extensive debate, the European Union has approved the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield data transfer agreement that will replace Safe Harbor, which “was struck down by the European Court of Justice in October of last year over concerns about how EU data was being treated once it was transferred to the U.S.,” reports Digital Trends. According to the European Commission’s press release, “For the first time, the U.S. has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens’ data.” Continue reading EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

According to a new Accenture report, 23 percent of consumers claim their financial data has been breached at least once in the past two years. Interestingly, most remain willing to share their data if it means better service. “About 63 percent of respondents are willing to give their bank direct access to personal information,” reports HousingWire. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recently called on Congress to combat hacking with legislation that would create stricter standards for retail businesses. Accenture surveyed 4,013 bank customers in North America — 70 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in Canada. Continue reading Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

The Federal Aviation Administration just issued rules, to take effect in August, for how businesses can use small drones, specifically for those weighing less than 55 pounds. Among the new restrictions are that drone speed must be kept under 100 miles per hour and that users may operate them during twilight only if they are equipped with anti-collision lights. The maximum altitude has also been lowered to 400 feet from 500 feet, and the age limit for operators also lowered, to 16 from 17 years old. Continue reading FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

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