Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

President-elect Joe Biden and top Democratic allies in Congress, including James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), are focused on significantly increasing federal spending on broadband to improve Internet access and affordability, especially in rural areas. The effort is more urgent as the pandemic continues, and the first step towards this goal is part of the new coronavirus stimulus package. Biden already endorsed the relief bill, passed by the House, that includes $4 billion for Internet access to low-income Americans. Continue reading Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

Congress Is United in Passing Internet of Things Security Bill

Congress gave unanimous approval to the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act, a law covering all the bases for the security of the Internet of Things. The Act was written with advice from Symantec, Mozilla and BSA | The Software Alliance among others, which contributed a list of considerations including secure development, identity management, patching, and configuration management. The law is perceived as establishing a baseline for IoT devices and products. Manufacturers can choose to release products that do not comply. Continue reading Congress Is United in Passing Internet of Things Security Bill

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Although ByteDance’s TikTok missed a Thursday deadline to complete its deal with Oracle and Walmart, the Commerce Department did not enforce the shutdown order, citing last month’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone. That suit was brought by three TikTok stars who charged that the government exceeded its authority by threatening the “robust exchange of informational materials.” President Trump initiated the effort to get TikTok to divest itself of its U.S. operations based on national security concerns. Now the deadline has been extended to November 27. Continue reading Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

The Coalition for App Fairness Draws More Developer Interest

The Coalition for App Fairness, debuted last month by Epic Games, Match Group, Spotify and others t0 combat what they claim are excessive commission payments to Apple, is experiencing a sharp increase in membership. Thirteen members founded the group, which has grown to 40 members with more than 400 requests to join. Smaller developers that are dependent on the Apple App Store for survival have, until now, been too intimidated to speak up. Microsoft voiced support for the Coalition and adopted its recommendations for its own store. Continue reading The Coalition for App Fairness Draws More Developer Interest

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

Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

The Pentagon and the Federal Communications Commission are preparing separate plans for Defense Department-controlled 5G wireless spectrum, both dubbed the Beat China for 5G Act of 2020. The Pentagon would create a military cellular network and lease extra capacity to the private sector. The FCC wants to auction some of the spectrum in late 2021. The Pentagon’s more detailed plan may go public before the November 3 presidential election. The spectrum is currently used for military radar and aviation. Continue reading Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee presented a 449-page report stating that Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google abused their monopoly positions and calling for reform of the antitrust laws. Lawmakers stated the companies had evolved from startups to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons” and stated their breakup would restore competition. This marks the biggest antitrust effort since the government sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Continue reading Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

Cineworld Temporarily Suspends Operation of Regal Cinemas

A day after the opening of James Bond film “No Time to Die” was pushed to April 2, 2021, Cineworld stated it was considering closing 536 Regal Cinema theaters across the United States and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse Cinemas locations in the United Kingdom. Now, Cineworld has confirmed the temporary suspension of its U.S. and UK operations starting Thursday, October 8, blaming the lack of new films in the pipeline. Cineworld is the UK’s biggest cinema operator and the second largest chain in the U.S. The closure will impact about 45,000 employees. Continue reading Cineworld Temporarily Suspends Operation of Regal Cinemas

Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is about to release a report of its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The lawmakers gathered 1+ million documents from the companies in question and their rivals. The subcommittee, chaired by Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), also met with the four companies’ chief executives. Meanwhile, the European Union plans to ban tech companies from “preferencing” their own services and apps, and China is planning its own antitrust investigation of Google. Continue reading Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

In light of the fact that 26 percent of Americans say they get news on YouTube, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in January of 12,638 U.S. adults who consumed news on YouTube, asking about their experiences. The Pew study analyzed the news channels consumers watched and the content of videos on these channels, relying on a subset of videos published in December 2019. The study found a news environment on YouTube in which established news organizations and indie news channels “thrive side by side.”

Continue reading YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Apple’s 30 percent commission on digital goods and services in its App Store has raised the ire of numerous companies, including Netflix and Spotify, which have formed a coalition to promote legal and regulatory changes for app marketplaces. Apple and Epic Games are battling the issue in court, and Spotify filed an antitrust suit in Europe last year, with claims that it unfairly harms competitors. Apple is, however, giving a brief COVID-19-related reprieve on fees to some companies selling virtual experiences. Continue reading Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

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