Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Columbia University law professor Lina Khan, a leader of the Big Tech antitrust movement, for an open seat on the Federal Trade Commission, where she would have power to enforce existing regulations. Biden appointed another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC) as a special assistant for technology and competition policy. Big Tech antitrust wasn’t a signature focus of Biden’s presidential campaign, but the appointments seem to signal his intentions. Continue reading Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify will debut a Hi-Fi option later this year, the company announced during its recent “Stream On” presentation. Chief executive and co-founder Daniel Ek also revealed that the company paid $5 billion in royalties during 2020, and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff added that, over the last four years, 800+ recording artists have made more than $1 million a year in recording and publishing, up over 82 percent. About 7,500 artists made more than $100,000 a year, up 79 percent. Spotify also announced that it will launch paid podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

CES: Economic Council Chief Discusses Biden’s Tech Goals

Consumer Technology Association president and chief executive Gary Shapiro held a conversation with the incoming Biden administration’s designated director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese. In that position, Deese will advise President-elect Joe Biden on domestic and international economic policy and coordinate the administration’s economic agenda. “Taking the vision and direction of the president and turning it into an action plan across all agencies is particularly important at times of economic crisis,” he said. Continue reading CES: Economic Council Chief Discusses Biden’s Tech Goals

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Charter Can Charge Video Services for Network Connections

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Charter Communications can charge Netflix and other video streaming services for network interconnection. That overturned one of the merger conditions imposed by the Obama administration when, in 2016, Charter purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. FCC chair Ajit Pai set the stage for the court overturning these conditions by not defending their merits in court. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed the suit. Continue reading Charter Can Charge Video Services for Network Connections

Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Since 2015, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and the company board have been warned annually about internal cybersecurity risks. In fact, there are about 1,500 employees plus contractors with the power to make changes in 186 million daily user accounts, and the company had experienced breaches due to internal sources. Then, on July 15, hackers tricked employees to compromise 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk, stealing data from eight unidentified accounts. Continue reading Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

On Wednesday, scammers launched one of the most audacious attacks in recent memory, posting messages from the Twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Kanye West, Bill Gates and Elon Musk that if people sent Bitcoin, the famous person would send back double the money. The first attack targeted high-profile cryptocurrency leaders and companies, but soon broadened to include a list of prominent U.S. politicians and entertainment and tech executives. It appears that an internal Twitter account was involved in the attacks, but it has yet to be determined whether an employee was willfully complicit. Continue reading Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Entertainment inked a deal with SiriusXM to create exclusive podcasts for the latter’s satellite radio and streaming services, including Pandora. This is SiriusXM’s first major effort in podcasting and is also an attempt to attract more listeners. The deal comes at a time that many media companies are taking their first steps into podcasting. Disney has also focused on expanding Marvel out of big movie theaters and into broadcast television and its Disney+ streaming service. Continue reading Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday upheld the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality in the latest ruling that impacts how companies connect people to the Internet. However, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped in its decision to prevent state and local governments from establishing their own related rules. The mixed ruling will likely lead to continued debate over net neutrality regulation, especially on the state level. It is also seen as a victory for the Trump administration, which has supported deregulation, and FCC chair Ajit Pai, who believes the repeal is good for the economy and fosters innovation. Continue reading Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Comcast has expanded its Internet Essentials program to make inexpensive broadband Internet available to any eligible low-income customer. Currently, according to U.S. Census data, in cities with the highest poverty rates, households are ten times more likely not to have broadband compared to households in wealthier cities. With Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest cable provider will help close the so-called digital divide, offering 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month, which is $40 less than its typical service. Continue reading Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk and his startup Neuralink’s scientists showed off a new brain-computer interface they say will advance therapeutic devices treating various neurological conditions with a new level of precision. The technology, in development for two years, will soon be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on human subjects. The company thus far has received $158 million in funding and has about 100 employees. Musk stated that one goal of the announcement is to recruit more talent. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

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