Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Facebook collects data from 1.6 billion people, on everything from “likes” to social connections, to establish behavioral patterns. That went further — some would say, too far — in June 2014 when the company conducted a psychological test on 700,000 people to look at how omitting “positive” or “negative” words could alter mood. The resulting controversy about the company’s ethics moved Facebook to add an internal review policy in October 2014. But it is just now publishing new details on how it conducts that research. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the FCC’s net neutrality rules, “handing a defeat to cable and telephone companies trying to fend off tighter oversight of the consumer broadband business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The ruling is also considered a victory for the Obama administration and companies such as Google and Netflix that see net neutrality as a defense against unfair competition from ISPs. The decision “opens the door to further pending FCC regulatory steps that cable and wireless firms have resisted,” notes WSJ. “It also sharpens a growing policy divide between Internet firms and the broadband-access industry.” Continue reading Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Pandora Media and Sony/ATV announced a multiyear licensing deal yesterday that brings the companies together to provide better rates for artists while allowing Pandora to “benefit from greater rate certainty” that could also help “add new flexibility to the company’s product offering over time.” The direct licensing deal arrives as the music industry prepares for potential changes regarding federal regulation of songwriting rights. Sony/ATV is the world’s biggest music publisher with songwriting rights to thousands of artists, including the Beatles and Taylor Swift. Continue reading Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

Technology trade groups — including TechNet, the Internet Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association — have joined the Reform Government Surveillance group in support of the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill intends to limit federal government bulk surveillance programs in an effort to protect privacy while still addressing national security. The consortium supports more transparency and a change to the collection of bulk data. Continue reading Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

President Obama Approves Order Against Foreign Cyberattacks

A new executive order signed by President Obama earlier this week aims to warn off foreign online hackers from targeting the United States. The order authorizes severe consequences to the individual or foreign party determined to be involved with any attack that may compromise the security, foreign policy, economic health, and financial stability of the U.S. Any violations of the policy could result in both financial and travel sanctions as regulated by the federal government. Continue reading President Obama Approves Order Against Foreign Cyberattacks

FCC Chairman Announces His Plan to Ensure an Open Internet

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been working to create new rules to help guarantee net neutrality. Over the last year, a debate has unfolded involving the cable television and telecommunications industries, amongst others, while critics and Internet service providers have pointed to concerns regarding a potential shift toward stronger regulation. Wheeler’s plan, which was revealed yesterday and calls for Internet service to be regulated as a public utility, went even further than some analysts expected. Continue reading FCC Chairman Announces His Plan to Ensure an Open Internet

President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

President Barack Obama proposed a series of new regulations that intend to help protect the country from cyberattacks. In the wake of a series of significant hacks last year, Obama is asking Congress to increase prosecution and toughen the penalties of people committing cybercrimes. He also wants companies to be able to share their information about hacks. In other news, President Obama wants to increase broadband competition by ending the laws in 19 states that limit municipal broadband. Continue reading President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

Google Plans Initiative to Build Products for Ages 12 and Under

Google has confirmed that it plans to develop kid-friendly versions of some of its more popular products next year. While Google has yet to release specific details about the initiative, many predict that Chrome and YouTube will be among those products redesigned for children 12 and younger. Google understands that kids are among those most active on the Internet, so it hopes to create Web-related products and services that are deemed appropriate for their use. Continue reading Google Plans Initiative to Build Products for Ages 12 and Under

Data Caps May Result in Higher Prices for Internet Customers

The U.S. Government Accountability Office warns that data caps may drive the prices of Internet service up for everyone, instead of keeping costs low for the people who only use a small amount of data. Internet service providers do not have enough competition in some places, which would make it easier for ISPs to abuse a usage-based pricing system. The GAO recommends that the Federal Communications Commission develop a voluntary code of conduct for ISPs. Continue reading Data Caps May Result in Higher Prices for Internet Customers

Verizon Will Not Sue FCC Over Net Neutrality, Despite History

Verizon now says it will not sue the Federal Communications Commission over net neutrality rules as long as broadband providers are not reclassified as utilities. However, Verizon did sue the FCC (and won) the last time net neutrality rules were introduced, which is one reason the FCC is presently considering reclassifying broadband. “We are going to be sued,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week. In response, Verizon EVP Randal Milch e-mailed that Verizon would not sue if the FCC uses Section 706. Continue reading Verizon Will Not Sue FCC Over Net Neutrality, Despite History

Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

Amazon and Hachette have finally resolved their ongoing public dispute, which began back in January. Hachette will now have the ability to set its own prices for e-books and print books, but will be offered incentives for selling at lower prices. Despite yesterday’s announcement, seen by most as a victory for Hachette (in the short term), Amazon still controls almost half of today’s book trade. In addition, the long-running dispute showed the industry that Amazon is not afraid to use its power to affect sales. Continue reading Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

France’s Iliad Concludes its Ambitious Pursuit of T-Mobile US

French telecommunications company Iliad has ended its pursuit of American wireless provider T-Mobile US. While T-Mobile was in talks about a merger with Sprint to launch a more competitive rival to AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Iliad was ambitiously attempting to buy control of T-Mobile for $15 billion (an offer worth nearly as much as its own market value). Yesterday, Iliad issued a statement that it was ending its efforts, despite having increased the proposed acquisition stake and price. Continue reading France’s Iliad Concludes its Ambitious Pursuit of T-Mobile US

AT&T to Pay $105 Million to Settle Accusations of ‘Cramming’

AT&T will pay $105 million to settle accusations that it billed hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus third-party charges to its wireless subscribers. The settlement is the latest in a number of similar moves by regulators to curtail mobile “cramming” — the practice of charging fees for third-party services that subscribers did not order. A similar case against T-Mobile is still pending. The AT&T settlement marks the largest to-date against a specific carrier for cramming. Continue reading AT&T to Pay $105 Million to Settle Accusations of ‘Cramming’

Bar Association Pushes for Change in Online Piracy Legislation

Attorneys with the American Bar Association are advising the government on dealing with online piracy through a 113-page white paper titled “A Call for Action for Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Legislation.” While they suggest many measures similar to SOPA and PIPA, the lawyers also advise against suing the file-sharers because it is usually counterproductive, costing more money than they recover, and it can also be bad PR for the copyright holders.  Continue reading Bar Association Pushes for Change in Online Piracy Legislation

Aereo Shifts Gears, Tells Court it is Now a Cable Provider

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that Aereo’s online TV streaming service violated copyright law, company lawyers have filed a letter with a New York district court claiming that Aereo now views itself as a cable provider. If Aereo can obtain a license, it contends that it is entitled to the same protections as other providers paying royalty fees. This is a dramatic shift in strategy for the company that previously said it would shutter if the Supreme Court did not rule in its favor. Continue reading Aereo Shifts Gears, Tells Court it is Now a Cable Provider

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