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Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Read more

Wi-Fi 6 Will Eventually Benefit Homes with Connected Devices

Wi-Fi 6 has arrived, promising faster speeds, broader coverage and the ability to share connections across a single household’s wireless devices. The latter means that if one device is consuming huge amounts of data, it will not slow down the household’s other devices. The new generation Wi-Fi actually debuted in 2018 but is only now affordable enough and more widely available on Internet routers to become mainstream. While consumers can now purchase smartphones and computers including chips that enable use of Wi-Fi 6, the tech’s real benefits will likely have a stronger impact once households have more connected devices. Read more

Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

In response to a worrying shortage in chips, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to conduct a 100-day review of the supply chains for semiconductors for various products, large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and rare-earth elements crucial to technology and defense. Biden is also seeking $37 billion in funding to “supercharge” chip manufacturing and urged a separate one-year review of supply chains of six “broader sectors” including food production and technology. Read more

Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Read more

Treasury Department May Put an End to Location Data Sales

The U.S. military, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are reportedly among the agencies that have been buying citizens’ location data from commercial services. Now, a Treasury Department inspector general report has indicated that this practice is illegal without first obtaining a warrant. The agencies in question say they are buying commercially available data from those who have consented to having their data collected. Read more

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