Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

With efforts to fill the vacant FCC seat and tilt the commission back to a Democratic majority, the Senate is poised to try an alternate path to realizing the party’s longtime goal of restoring net neutrality rules. Championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act proposes to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open up companies including AT&T and Verizon to stricter FCC oversight. Internet service providers would be prevented from blocking or throttling content, while pricing and privacy would also receive scrutiny. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

Meta Platforms Will Adjust Ad Tech per Agreement with DOJ

Meta Platforms has agreed to change its advertising technology and pay a $115,054 fine to settle a Justice Department claim of race and gender discrimination by the algorithm used to display its housing ads. “Meta will — for the first time — change its ad delivery system to address algorithmic discrimination,” U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “But if Meta fails to demonstrate that it has sufficiently changed its delivery system to guard against algorithmic bias, this office will proceed with the litigation.” Continue reading Meta Platforms Will Adjust Ad Tech per Agreement with DOJ

Unions a Gaming Hot Button as Activision Blizzard Organizes

Activision Blizzard has become the first major North American video game company where workers have voted to form a union, the Game Workers Alliance. The vote, which took place over the last few weeks, passed 19 to 3, affecting 28 quality-assurance employees at the company’s Wisconsin-based Raven Software subsidiary, which works on “Call of Duty” game development. Results were tabulated by the National Labor Relations Board on Monday. Activision has a week to lodge formal objections. The Communications Workers of America says it hopes the development “serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios.” Continue reading Unions a Gaming Hot Button as Activision Blizzard Organizes

AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

With the federal government still in the early phase of regulating artificial intelligence, cities and states are stepping in as they begin to actively deploy AI. While managing traffic patterns is straightforward, when it comes to policing and hiring practices, precautions must be taken to guard against algorithmic bias inherited from training data. The challenges are formidable. As with human reasoning, it is often difficult to trace the logic behind a machine’s decisions, making it challenging to identify a fix. Municipalities are evaluating different solutions, the goal being to prevent programmatic marginalization. Continue reading AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

Guidelines, Accountability Considered as AI Becomes Priority

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are technologies with lots of heat behind them, and some controversy. Organizations (including the Entertainment Technology Center at USC) are working to better understand the ramifications of AI and how to hold its users accountable. Among the criticisms is that AI disproportionately exhibits bias against minority groups — the so-called “discrimination feedback loop.” In November, the New York City Council became the first in the nation to pass a law requiring that the hiring and promotion algorithms of employers be subject to audit. Continue reading Guidelines, Accountability Considered as AI Becomes Priority

SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into Activision Blizzard examining how the gaming company handled information related to workplace discrimination and sexual misconduct. Senior executives including CEO Bobby Kotick have been subpoenaed along with former and current employees. The SEC asked for Kotick’s internal communications and minutes from Activision board meetings dating from 2019. The publisher of “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush” must also provide the agency with personnel files and 2021 separation agreements. Continue reading SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Facebook-owned Instagram created an “equity and inclusion team” to look at how Black, Hispanic and other U.S. minority users are impacted by the company’s algorithms and machine-learning systems. An Instagram spokesperson revealed that Facebook is planning a similar team. Only last year, Facebook wouldn’t allow employees to study the issue of bias introduced by algorithms, so the move is a reversal. Meanwhile, the advertiser boycott against Facebook, in part for how it deals with racial issues, is still in effect. Continue reading Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Google’s YouTube unveiled a new policy in its latest attempt to clean up the content of the popular video platform. The policy bans videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” as well as those that deny violent events happened, such as the Holocaust or the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Discrimination includes age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status. With this policy in place, YouTube has begun to remove thousands of videos to rid its site of bigotry, extremism and hate speech. Continue reading YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Facebook will stop allowing marketers to target advertisements based on housing, jobs or credit to people of a specific race, gender or age group. Federal law bans discrimination in these three areas, and Facebook’s changes would put the company in compliance. The move is also part of a settlement of several lawsuits opposing the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union, National Fair Housing Alliance and Communications Workers of America are among those that have sued Facebook over biased targeted advertising. Continue reading Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

A group of 28 developers in China have hired a local law firm to file a complaint against Apple that claims the company engaged in “monopolistic behavior” after it removed apps from the App Store in China “without detailed explanation” and charged “excessive fees for in-app purchases,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The complaint also alleges Apple doesn’t give details on why apps are removed and puts local developers at a disadvantage by not responding to queries in Chinese.” Continue reading Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Travis Kalanick stepped down from his chief exec position of ride-hailing service Uber yesterday. Kalanick helped found the company in 2009, but months of scrutiny regarding charges of harassment and discrimination, followed by a recent shareholder revolt resulted in his departure. “Five of Uber’s major investors demanded that [he] resign immediately,” according to The New York Times. “The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.” The company will seek new leadership, although Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board of directors. Continue reading Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick announced his plans to take a leave of absence as chief exec while the company works to salvage its brand and launches a reorganization that includes closer supervision by its board of directors. “At a packed meeting with employees on Tuesday morning,” reports The New York Times, “Uber released 13 pages of recommendations compiled as part of an investigation into sexual harassment and other wrongdoing conducted by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burlington.” Continue reading Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

Facebook just filed for a patent that tracks how users are networked together. The patent can be used to prevent people from sending spam to those they’re not legitimately connected with. But the patent filing also describes a less savory possibility: that banks and other lenders could examine the credit scores of those in your network when deciding whether or not to make a loan to you. For some experts, at least, this conjures up visions of housing discrimination, aimed at the poor and people of color. Continue reading Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

Transparency for the Web: XRay Tracks Use of Personal Data

In a step toward protecting the personal data of online users, researchers at Columbia University have created new software called XRay that can observe and predict how tech companies are using the personal data that they collect. The software is based on research related to Google’s Gmail ads, Amazon recommendations, and YouTube recommendations. XRay, which will help privacy-concerned watchdogs track how personal data is used, is still in development. Continue reading Transparency for the Web: XRay Tracks Use of Personal Data

Government Considers Limits on Customer Data Collection

As the next step in the ongoing privacy debate sparked by the actions of Edward Snowden, the White House has released a report that recommends the government create limits on how companies make use of the information they gather online from customers. The report’s chief author is John Podesta, a senior White House adviser. Private companies fear a government initiative that could regulate how they profit from data gathered through mobile communication and Internet surfing habits. Continue reading Government Considers Limits on Customer Data Collection