Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in a 63-32 vote this week that allocates $250 billion for technology R&D to counter foreign competition, primarily from China. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) intends to boost research investment, build semiconductor manufacturing capacity and focus on AI development. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will also play a more significant role. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) stated the bill is “about investing in that innovation economy of the future.” It still needs to pass the House. Continue reading Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

The FCC unanimously agreed to enact the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to provide resources for U.S. schools and libraries to buy laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband connections for online learning during the pandemic. Starting on May 12, the program, part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, will also provide $50 per month to low-income households and $75 to households on Native American lands to pay for broadband services and $100 towards buying a laptop or tablet. Continue reading FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

Legislators Urge FTC to Scrutinize Mobile Ad Data Collection

Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate how the mobile advertising industry tracks consumers without their knowledge via digital display ads. The covert practice, known as “bidstream” data, enables the collection of sensitive information about consumers that is then packaged and sold by data brokers. Meanwhile, Google released “Ads Transparency Spotlight,” a Chrome extension to inform consumers about how advertisers are targeting them. Continue reading Legislators Urge FTC to Scrutinize Mobile Ad Data Collection

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a stalled bipartisan effort to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and prevent companies from hiding what they are doing with user data. To reinvigorate the debate, a group of Democrats, led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), top Democrat in the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced their version of the federal privacy law. “[Privacy rights] should be like your Miranda rights — clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation,” she said. Continue reading Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation