FCC’s Latest Broadband Maps Aim to Turn Up Heat on ISPs

The Federal Communications Commission has unveiled a draft of its long-awaited broadband maps, which detail broadband availability across the country. “The maps will only get better from here,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, emphasizing that even in this early form they are a lot better than what had been available. The new maps integrate information from broadband providers with hundreds of location-specific data sources, providing an accurate-to-the-home picture of fixed and mobile broadband availability. Users now have “a one-stop-shop” to search their address and find the Internet service providers available to that location. Continue reading FCC’s Latest Broadband Maps Aim to Turn Up Heat on ISPs

FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

The Federal Communications Commission has unveiled specifics for new labels that clarify hidden fees and surprise rate hikes on consumer broadband services. Broadband providers will be required to display, at the point of sale, labels that show key information about prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and other key information using a format that resembles the familiar “nutrition labels” that appear on food products. Emphasizing broadband as “an essential service, for everyone, everywhere,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the labeling rules apply to both wired and wireless services. Continue reading FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids

A coalition of more than 20 advocacy groups with an interest in child safety is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media platforms including TikTok as well as online games and other services from bombarding kids with ads and using other tactics that may hook children online. Regulators are being lobbied to prevent online services from offering minors “low-friction rewards” — unpredictably granting positive reinforcement for scrolling, tapping or logging on to prolonged use. The groups say the technique is the same used by slot machine makers to keep gamblers engaged. Continue reading Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids

IAB Says FTC Digital Ad Inquiry May End Up Costing Billions

The advertising industry is pushing back against the Federal Trade Commission’s exploration of rulemaking as relates to collecting personal data to serve ads, which the FTC is calling a crackdown on “commercial surveillance.” The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says the FTC’s definition of that loaded term is “so broad” that any resultant rulemaking “could criminalize the Internet itself” as well as potentially reduce digital ad spending by billions of dollars. FTC chair Lina Khan says “potentially unlawful practices may be prevalent” in the “endless hoovering up of sensitive user data” that has become common practice in ad targeting. Continue reading IAB Says FTC Digital Ad Inquiry May End Up Costing Billions

White House Creates a ‘Blueprint’ of AI Rights for Consumers

The White House has issued a “blueprint” for consumer protections with regard to artificial intelligence. Aimed at guiding federal agencies while setting the bar for future legislation, the voluntary directive offers five areas of focus — safety, algorithmic discrimination protection, data privacy, notice, human alternatives — and a section on applying the rules. “Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public,” begins the bill, which says such tools are “too often used” to limit opportunities and prevent access to critical resources or services. Continue reading White House Creates a ‘Blueprint’ of AI Rights for Consumers

Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

Senate Homeland Security Committee leaders Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have introduced a bill requiring a risk framework for open-source code. The proposed legislation would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop the risk evaluation process for open-source software being used by federal agencies and critical infrastructure. The move follows the discovery in December of a vulnerability in the Apache Software Foundation’s popular Log4j Java logging utility. Peters said the Log4j incident presented a serious threat to banks, hospitals, and utility companies, among other national security operations. Continue reading Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act into law last week, making his state the first in the nation to adopt online child safety measures. The bipartisan legislation requires online platforms to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health. The new law, cosponsored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) and Jordan Cunningham (R-35th District), prohibits companies that provide online services and products in California from using a child’s personal information and forbids collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation, among other things. Continue reading California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

FTC Explores New Rules Surrounding Data Collection and AI

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to create rules that would protect the digital privacy of teens. Human Rights Watch is asking the FTC for safeguards to prevent education companies from selling minors’ personal information to data brokers and a ban on data-driven advertising targeting children. Both groups were represented at the FTC’s first public forum to explore adopting new rules around data collection and AI training on personal data. Practices the FTC is examining include the timeframe in which companies can retain consumer data and mandating audits of automated decision-making systems. Continue reading FTC Explores New Rules Surrounding Data Collection and AI

Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

As it seeks to build-out a metaverse, online game platform and game creation system Roblox is courting brands as well as older users (54 percent of the platform’s daily active users are said to be age 12 and below). The popular gaming platform is adding facial capture for users and offering advertisers digital billboards and links to branded destinations. Roblox has been trying to divide its users by age, and added authentication for those 13 and above last September for access to more adult content. As part of the content diversification critical to both initiatives, Roblox is increasing its Game Fund to $35 million. Continue reading Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

EU’s AI Act Could Present Dangers for Open-Source Coders

The EU’s draft AI Act is causing quite a stir, particular as it pertains to regulating general-purpose artificial intelligence, including guidelines for open source developers that specify procedures for accuracy, risk management, transparency, technical documentation and data governance, well as cybersecurity. The first law on AI by a major regulator anywhere, the proposed AI Act seeks to promote “trustworthy AI,” but some are critical that as written the legislation could hurt open efforts to develop AI systems. The EU is seeking industry input as the proposal heads for a vote this fall. Continue reading EU’s AI Act Could Present Dangers for Open-Source Coders

California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

A first of its kind U.S. proposal to protecting children online cleared the California Legislature Tuesday and was sent to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act will require social media platforms to implement guardrails for users under 18. The new rules will curb risks — such as allowing strangers to message children — and require changes to recommendation algorithms and ad targeting where minors are concerned. The bill was drafted following Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 2021 congressional testimony about the negative effects of social media on children’s mental health. Continue reading California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

Biden Signs Bill to Boost Chip Production and Supply Chains

President Biden signed the expansive $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act into law yesterday. The legislation includes $52.7 billion in subsidies and tax credits to help strengthen U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and workforce development. In addition to revitalizing domestic manufacturing efforts, the package intends to “create good-paying American jobs, strengthen American supply chains, and accelerate the industries of the future,” explains the White House. The measure is also part of larger effort by the federal government to combat the growing influence of China, especially involving tech sectors and the potential impact to security and privacy. Continue reading Biden Signs Bill to Boost Chip Production and Supply Chains

Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

After a big victory passing CHIPS-plus, Congress recessed on Saturday with several technology goals pending. Among the outstanding items is a bipartisan antitrust bill that seeks to rein in the industry’s heavyweight players, a consumer privacy bill and confirmation of Gigi Sohn, a Biden administration nominee to the FCC, where net neutrality hangs in the balance. Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has promised to fast track those votes immediately upon return September 6, the clock is winding down as November’s midterm elections may push Democrats out of power in one or both houses. Continue reading Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) is working on new legislation to help musicians boost their share of the revenue pouring into streaming services, which currently sits at fractions of a cent per stream. Tlaib is working with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) on a new royalty program that would increase the royalty rate per-stream model. Tlaib and her team are actively collaborating to draft the resolution. The Recording Industry Association of America says that streaming accounts for 83 percent of all recorded music income.  Continue reading House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians