California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

California passed AB126 to build a statewide, open-access fiber network, with a vote of 78-0 in the California Assembly and 39-0 in the Senate. The fiber network will operate as a “middle mile” network carrying data from Internet backbone networks to urban and rural connection points where local ISPs take it the “last mile” to residences. The network will offer “non-discriminatory access to eligible entities on a technology and competitively neutral basis, regardless of whether the entity is privately or publicly owned.” Continue reading California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Alphabet conducted internal research that found Google software engineers felt as productive working from home as before the pandemic, although 75 percent of employees said they wanted more “collaboration and social connections” at work. Human resources vice president Brian Welle reported that “most staff also specifically craved physical proximity when working on new projects.” As a result, Alphabet still plans to bring employees back to the office this fall, although some will be able to work full-time from home. Continue reading Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Alphabet’s Google is being sued by a group of 36 states and the District of Columbia that claim the Big Tech company abuses its market dominance with the Google Play Store. Although it is the fourth such state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is the first to take aim directly at the tech giant’s app store. The other suits have focused on search and advertising. California, Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee lead this suit. Continue reading Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has already launched 1,500+ satellites for Elon Musk’s broadband Internet network Starlink that is currently available in about a dozen countries. According to Musk, who spoke at the Mobile World Congress this week, Starlink will be beaming Internet everywhere in the world except polar regions by August. He added that Starlink should have about 500,000 users within the next 12 months and that SpaceX will have invested between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow becomes positive. Continue reading SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) has revisited her Data Protection Act of 2020 to add the creation of a government agency that would regulate and enforce federal privacy laws. She noted that, “Big Tech companies are free to sell individuals’ data to the highest bidder without fear of real consequences … a data privacy crisis is looming over the everyday lives of Americans.” The revamped version, more likely to be passed during the Biden administration, also includes sections on antitrust and civil rights. Continue reading Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, which have been branching out into areas such as food delivery and scooter rentals, spent about $200 million to pass a ballot initiative that countered California’s 2019 legislation giving gig workers the status of employees. The two companies are now focused on avoiding the same battle in other states by pushing for legislation classifying their drivers as contractors. In New York state, for example, Uber and Lyft offered bargaining rights and other benefits to their workers, but not full classification of employees, which could raise their prices 20 to 30 percent. Continue reading Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

Google’s Quantum AI Campus Envisions Commercial System

Google distinguished scientist Hartmut Neven revealed that, by 2029, the company will build a commercially useable quantum computer for flawless large-scale enterprise and scientific calculations. Google revealed it has expanded a campus in Santa Barbara, California focused on the project. Neven, who oversees the Quantum AI program, added that the company is at an “inflection point.” Google has been investing in the quantum computing effort for several years, as have IBM, D-Wave Systems and Honeywell International. Continue reading Google’s Quantum AI Campus Envisions Commercial System

Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

On May 6, the Biden administration rescinded the “Independent Contractor Rule,” created during the Trump administration, that made it easier to classify gig workers as independent contractors. The Department of Labor stated that withdrawing the rule would “maintain workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh added that the move will “stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect.” Continue reading Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service Disney+ reached 100 million subscribers in its first 16 months of operation, after reporting 94.9 million subscribers on January 2. With the latest announcement, Disney+ is clearly on track to reach the goal of 260 million subscribers by 2024. At a shareholder meeting, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek again stressed that Disney+ is a company priority and that it still plans to add 100+ new titles each year. In comparison, Netflix has 203.7 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

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. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Cuomo Greenlights March 5 Opening for NYC Movie Theaters

New York governor Andrew Cuomo gave the okay for movie theaters to open beginning March 5 for a maximum of 50 people per screening, a capacity of 25 percent. This marks the first time that movie theaters there have opened in almost a year. Theaters must use advanced air filtration systems, while attendees are required to wear masks and sit in their assigned seats. State theaters outside New York City have reopened over the last few months based on lower COVID-19 infection numbers. In reaction to the news, AMC Entertainment stock rose 16 percent. Continue reading Cuomo Greenlights March 5 Opening for NYC Movie Theaters

States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Rather than wait for federal Internet privacy laws, a growing number of states are pursuing their own proposals. Virginia, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are moving ahead with data protection legislation, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive more users online for work, education and other daily activities. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. But Internet privacy experts warn that companies will find it difficult to do business across state lines should this state-by-state model take hold. Continue reading States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

After several months of investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two U.S. Attorneys’ offices, Zoom Video Communications revealed that it has provided investigators with information regarding its interactions with China and other governments in addition to security and user privacy issues. A former employee based in China, Xinjiang Jin (also known as Julien Jin) has been charged by the Department of Justice for helping the Chinese government halt a remote commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Continue reading SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

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