House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and former House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton (R-Michigan) introduced a bill to speed up distribution of the $16 billion the FCC earmarked to expand broadband infrastructure to rural areas. The FCC currently plans to disburse the money in an October auction, but rural areas today cannot access remote schooling or healthcare resources. Thirty-nine state attorneys general are also pressing Congress to increase broadband funding for these areas. Continue reading House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Facebook is a founding member of American Edge, an emerging political advocacy group. Because it is registered as a non-profit, American Edge can raise money and publish ads without disclosing its donors. “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting,” said spokesperson Andy Stone. The group, however, has not yet officially launched. Continue reading Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge Timothy Kelly approved a deal reached last summer whereby Facebook will pay a $5 billion fine to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook will also be restricted in some of its business decisions and will be subject to ongoing oversight. Facebook chief privacy officer for product Michel Protti noted that the agreement “has already brought fundamental changes to our company.” Continue reading Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

As Americans stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are revisiting the issue of closing the digital divide, as part of an effort to spur economic recovery and improve the U.S. competitive edge. House communications and technology subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) noted that, “having affordable broadband — it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Both parties have stated interest in pushing legislation, noting that the pandemic gave impetus to the issue. Continue reading Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook and its partners pulled back their ambitious plans for the Libra cryptocurrency, which was unveiled last June as “a futuristic global money” that could be the foundation of a “new kind of financial system.” In the months since its June debut, the Libra project has encountered a range of obstacles and the scrutiny of regulators. The Swiss-backed Libra Association, citing global opposition to the project, now aims to create a payment network with coins tied to a local currency. Continue reading Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Federal Government Considers Plans For Broadband Access

Although millions of Americans are at home, the Senate did not include money for broadband infrastructure in the $3 trillion stimulus package under consideration. However, the current bill does include some funding to deploy mobile hot spots around the country. Proponents of accessible broadband will try to add that to any upcoming stimulus package. Meanwhile, the U.S. government, along with several Big Tech companies, is providing global access to 16 supercomputers to help researchers discover vaccines to combat the coronavirus. Continue reading Federal Government Considers Plans For Broadband Access

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

The French Competition Authority fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) after determining that the company unfairly divided products and customers between two wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, and forced them to charge the same prices as those offered in its own retail stores. The Authority president Isabelle de Silva stated that doing so had the effect of “sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products.” Tech Data and Ingram Micro were fined 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros, respectively. Continue reading French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission released a report based on a months-long study that showed the U.S. government’s lack of ability to block cyber threats. The Commission lists 75 recommendations for major structural changes, including the creation of Congressional committees dedicated to cybersecurity and a White House-based national cybersecurity director to be confirmed by the Senate. The report is blunt in its assessment that the U.S. government’s current approach to cyberattacks is “fundamentally flawed.” Continue reading Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

In a rare bipartisan move, Democratic and Republican legislators joined forces to propose the Shop Safe Act, which would make e-commerce companies responsible for counterfeit products from China and other countries sold on their websites. The bill would focus on trademark liability for those fake products that impact consumer health and safety, such as pharmaceuticals and medical products, and would force e-tailers to more closely vet sellers and remove those who repeatedly sell counterfeits. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

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

Bipartisan Law Regulating Facial Recognition Being Planned

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform held its third hearing in less than a year on facial recognition, planning to introduce legislation to regulate its use by the federal government, law enforcement and the private sector. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) stated the draft legislation will appear in the “very near future” and noted the need to “explore” the privacy protections already in place. Facial recognition is already in use with smartphones, job interviews and in airports. Continue reading Bipartisan Law Regulating Facial Recognition Being Planned

CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

Suppose you post your latest travel photos on your website, and later, in the comments section, a drug dealer offers his illegal wares for sale. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, noted CTA senior vice president of government affairs Michael Petricone, you cannot be prosecuted for drug sales. “Section 230 provides broad but not absolute immunity for Internet service providers for content published by users,” he said. “It’s important for platforms — but it can also encourage toxic online behavior.” Continue reading CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

CES 2020: Experts Say AI Leadership Not Zero Sum Game

Congressional candidate Darrell Issa opened a CES session on the global race for AI leadership by warning that this is an “existential threat to employment and national security.” “On the commercial side, whoever owns AI will own the industrial revolution,” he said. “If you’re leading AI, it’s about how many jobs you’ll gain. Whoever leads in AI will also lead in weapons systems that will matter for as long as this planet survives. This isn’t science fiction and it isn’t the future — it’s now.” Continue reading CES 2020: Experts Say AI Leadership Not Zero Sum Game

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