Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Locast, a non-profit organization founded by lawyer and former FCC legal advisor David Goodfriend, streamed local TV to those who couldn’t access local signals, declaring that U.S. copyright law allows third parties to boost local signals. Major broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX disputed that claim, believing that Locast simply wanted to avoid carriage fees, and have now won a court battle finding that Locast violated their copyrights. The court also stated that Locast cannot use its non-profit status as a defense against further action. Continue reading Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

The U.S. Senate introduced the Open App Markets Act to give consumers more control over their devices; stop app stores from ‘disadvantaging’ developers and allow them to inform consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; improve the ability of startup apps, third-party app stores and payment services to compete; require devices to allow ‘sideloading’ of apps; and continue to protect privacy, security and safety of consumers. If voted into law, the Act could end Apple and Google’s monopoly over the app ecosystem. Continue reading Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

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

Google Slows Down Plan to Replace Cookies Until Late 2023

After announcing that it planned to end third-party cookies for its Chrome Internet browser in early 2022, Google advanced the date to late 2023 in response to pushback from advertisers, privacy advocates and regulators. The company said the delay of almost two years will allow more time for these groups to adapt to new technologies it’s developing that will continue to allow targeted advertising. The issue highlights the tension between the $455 billion online advertising world and Big Tech’s attempts to add more privacy. Continue reading Google Slows Down Plan to Replace Cookies Until Late 2023

Google’s Solution to Replace Cookies Under Review at W3C

By 2022, Google plans to block cookies on its Chrome browser, used by about 70 percent of global desktop computer owners, instead offering a solution that will protect privacy and still target ads. Even as privacy advocates find flaws in Google’s idea, advertising technology companies are joining forces to create tracking tools based on email addresses. Amazon has responded by blocking Chrome from collecting data on which users go to its websites. Politicians from around the world say Google’s move could hurt its rivals. Continue reading Google’s Solution to Replace Cookies Under Review at W3C

Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

Russia’s Internet regulator, Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), has increased demands that Facebook, Google and Twitter remove “illegal” content and restore blocked pro-Kremlin content or face restrictions. Since anti-Kremlin protesters used the platforms more recently, Roskomnadzor has upped the frequency of its demands. This week it told Google to block “thousands of pieces of illegal content” or risk throttling. A Russian court also fined Google six million rubles ($81,000) for not removing another piece of content. Continue reading Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

Google Plans to Swap Cookies for Another Targeted Ad Tech

Google is making its first moves to adopt the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) tracking system by 2022. FLoC allows advertisers to target ads without exposing individuals’ personal data but, instead, groups people by similar interests, such as football fans, retired travelers or truck drivers. Google group product manager, user trust and privacy Chetna Bindra explained that, “this approach effectively hides individuals ‘in the crowd’ and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.” Continue reading Google Plans to Swap Cookies for Another Targeted Ad Tech

Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

Apple released an iPhone software update, iOS 14.5, that includes the privacy tool App Tracking Transparency, intended to give users more control over how their data is shared. Now, when an app wants to share information about a user’s activities, a window will pop up asking for permission to do so. Privacy advocates are rejoicing, but many digital advertisers are declaring the tool harmful to small businesses. Facebook is chief among them, although the privacy setting is also likely to hurt its business as well. Continue reading Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

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

Legislators Introduce Bill to Halt the Use of Facial Recognition

After recent reports revealing government use of facial recognition that fails to correctly identify people of color at a much higher rate than white people, Democratic lawmakers have proposed the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act to ban government use of the technology. Amazon, IBM and Microsoft have already temporarily stopped selling their facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies, and the bicameral bill would make this state of affairs permanent. Continue reading Legislators Introduce Bill to Halt the Use of Facial Recognition

Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act, which would regulate how companies such as YouTube and TikTok handle what is accessible to children online, including advertising, app design and potentially harmful content. One of the main targets of the new bill are so-called unboxing videos, such as YouTube channel “Ryan’s World,” which can get millions of views. The KIDS Act would not ban the content, but prohibit the platform from recommending it to kids, curbing its distribution. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

CES 2020: Smart Devices Enter an Anticipatory Tech World

When your smart home takes stock of who’s there before turning the heat on to their favored temperature, that’s anticipatory technology. CNET editor-at-large Brian Cooley and CBS Interactive Tech Sites senior vice president, content strategy Lindsey Turrentine led a CES discussion on how data including location, human behavior, facial recognition and object recognition can help smart homes and smart devices anticipate human needs. “Some things will get better,” said Cooley. “And others might be unnerving.” Continue reading CES 2020: Smart Devices Enter an Anticipatory Tech World

CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

More than 300 conference sessions and 1,100 speakers across 22 different tracks offer first-person insight into the universe of topics to be featured at CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas. As the world’s largest showcase of tech innovation, CES gathers leaders and experts to share the latest developments in products and policies. This year’s lineup of SuperSessions captures the zeitgeist of the market as it advances from an imagined future to real issues, opportunities and challenges. ETC will report on many of the sessions most relevant to media and entertainment. Continue reading CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

In July, a bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee reintroduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, by which the U.S. Copyright Office will create a three-person Copyright Claims Board that will supervise a ‘small claims-style’ system for damages. The Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists Guild approved the move, which allows a copyright owner whose content was used without permission to claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work and $30,000 in total. However, some groups are opposing the Act and question the cost of such an approach. Continue reading CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

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