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

TikTok Rebounds in the U.S. But EU Groups File Complaints

During the Trump administration, video-sharing platform TikTok was scrutinized and charged of spying for China, which resulted in the app losing numerous major advertisers. Since Joe Biden won the presidency, however, TikTok is seeing a strong uptick in corporate sponsors, ad dollars and general interest. Mediahub Worldwide VP and director of social media Erica Patrick said the previous administration’s outcry over national security risks was “more of a stunt” and is not a concern of advertisers. Meanwhile, EU consumer groups are accusing TikTok of violating consumer laws and failing to protect children. Continue reading TikTok Rebounds in the U.S. But EU Groups File Complaints

Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

At the very end of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially provides online platforms with immunity from liability based on third-party content. He failed, but Congress has received 20 proposals to update or change the section. On February 5, three Democratic senators introduced a bill to make social media firms accountable for enabling cyberstalking, harassment and discrimination. More recently, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) plan to reintroduce the PACT Act, a proposal to jumpstart change. Continue reading Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications company, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking for a review of last year’s FCC ruling that found it a national security risk. As a result of the FCC’s ruling, U.S. telecommunications operators were blocked from buying Huawei’s 5G equipment. Huawei has previously challenged numerous actions taken against it in recent years. The Trump administration blocked Huawei from accessing U.S. technology and encouraged allies to do the same. Continue reading Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Twitter Experiences Subscriber Growth and Plans Expansion

Since Twitter banned former president Trump, the company said daily users rose to 192 million from Q3’s 187 million, including one million in the U.S. In January, the social platform gained more daily users than the average month in the last four years. Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey revealed that 80 percent of its user base is outside the U.S., adding that it is “not dependent upon just news and politics.” The company is looking to expand and continue development of a decentralized social network. With regard to banning Trump, chief finance officer Ned Segal said the decision was well received by advertisers. Continue reading Twitter Experiences Subscriber Growth and Plans Expansion

Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Community-based social site Reddit raised $250+ million in a new round of funding, doubling its valuation to $6 billion from the $3 billion it was valued after a February 2019 round. Led by Vy Capital, the latest funding included Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings, all previous investors. The social media company, launched in 2005, hosts topic-based message boards, including WallStreetBets, the message board that recently encouraged amateur investors to drive up the stock price of companies shorted by Wall Street investors. Continue reading Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

When Facebook launched Groups in 2019, it was intended to be, per chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the “heart of the app.” This last August, however, its own data scientists warned about “blatant misinformation and calls to violence” in the site’s top “civic” Groups. Facebook was aware of the problems for years but accelerated plans to make actual changes after rioters broke into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Groups in question, dedicated to politics, together reached “hundreds of millions of users.” Continue reading Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, President Biden’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, described some of her positions during a Senate confirmation hearing. She revealed that she will take a “very aggressive” stance against China’s “unfair” trade practices stressing the need to develop a “whole-of-government response” in concert with U.S. allies. Raimondo also called for a national 5G spectrum policy and stated she will pursue changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Continue reading Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

China’s top quantum research group said its Jiuzhang quantum computer produced results in minutes that would take 2+ billion years by the world’s No. 3 powerful supercomputer. That exceeds Google’s prototype quantum computer which, last year, came up with a result in minutes that it estimated would take a supercomputer 10,000 years. The two quantum computers work differently: China’s University of Science and Technology’s computer manipulates photons, whereas Google’s builds quantum circuits via super-cold superconducting metal. Continue reading Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

The European Union is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, even as it scrutinizes proposals targeting U.S. Big Tech behavior and, in some cases, business models in an effort to reestablish itself as the “global tech cop.” Although the Electoral College has yet to convene and vote and inauguration day isn’t until January 20, the European Commission and Council are already issuing policy papers on how they hope to partner with the new U.S. administration on numerous issues. Continue reading EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai announced he will step down from his position on January 20, 2021. The FCC senior Democratic member, Jessica Rosenworcel, is predicted to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Pai, although former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn has also been mentioned. With Pai’s departure, president-elect Joe Biden will be able to work with Democrats shortly after Inauguration Day on such anticipated priorities as restoring net neutrality and expanding universal broadband access.

Continue reading Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

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