Facebook’s Zuckerberg Lists Options for Managing Fake News

After weeks of accusation that fake news on Facebook, much of it favorable to Donald Trump, impacted the election, Facebook chairman/chief executive Mark Zuckerberg published a post describing ways the social media company might handle the issue. Among the potential steps are third-party verifications, improved automated detection tools and simpler ways for an ordinary user to flag suspicious content. Zuckerberg originally stated that the idea Facebook influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea.” Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg Lists Options for Managing Fake News

Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

The FCC delayed its vote yesterday on the proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes. FCC members “could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box,” reports The New York Times. “The plan was intended to bring more competition to the television industry and liberate consumers from an average of $231 in annual cable box fees.” While the proposal will be considered for a future vote, FCC chair Tom Wheeler said commissioners needed additional discussions. However, with an upcoming change of administration, Wheeler’s window to adopt the regulation may be dwindling. Continue reading Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to Develop 5G Networks

The Obama administration has announced its Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, a government-funded $400 million seven-year project aimed at developing 5G wireless networking technology, with speeds 100 times faster than today’s 4G and LTE networks. As stated, the project also wants to “maintain U.S. leadership and win the next generation of mobile technology.” The National Science Foundation will lead the project, and other commercial partners including Samsung and carriers will participate. Continue reading Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to Develop 5G Networks

Feds, Tech Titans Grapple Over Approaches to Cybersecurity

President Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity met with tech industry executives at UC Berkeley to gather suggestions on how to improve cybersecurity. Executives from Google, Facebook, Dropbox and others had their own agenda: to move the issues of consumer data privacy, transparency and sharing of cyber threats towards more openness. Former NSA director General Keith Alexander and Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan are among the members of the commission. Continue reading Feds, Tech Titans Grapple Over Approaches to Cybersecurity

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

Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

The Supreme Court yesterday sided with patent holders in a decision that would make it easier to award financial damages when inventions are copied without permission. “The high court, in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, overturned a specialized appellate court that had adopted a hard-to-meet legal standard for winning punitive damages, even in cases where the defendant’s patent infringement was willful,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The decision provides leeway for judges regarding the amount of damages. While the Obama administration supported availability of punitive damages, tech companies such as Facebook and Google argued that strict limits on damage awards would protect innovation and curb unnecessary or abusive lawsuits. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

Proposed Encryption Bill Faces Opposition from Silicon Valley

Washington and Silicon Valley are poised to clash again in the ongoing debate over encryption technology in relation to data privacy, law enforcement and national security. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (Republican, NC) and Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, CA), the panel’s vice chair, have introduced proposed legislation that would require companies to unlock encrypted devices when served a court order. Congress has been working on a balance between security and privacy regarding encryption, especially in the wake of the recent iPhone case. Continue reading Proposed Encryption Bill Faces Opposition from Silicon Valley

FBI Tests Method to Unlock iPhone, Cancels Today’s Hearing

The FBI asked to postpone a hearing scheduled for today regarding the Apple encryption case. The Justice Department may no longer need the tech company’s help in opening an iPhone used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook in the San Bernardino shootings. A third party has reportedly come forward with a technique to help unlock the phone, which is currently being tested. Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted the Justice Department’s motion to postpone. The government is required to provide an update to the court by April 5. Continue reading FBI Tests Method to Unlock iPhone, Cancels Today’s Hearing

SXSW Focuses on Big Issues, Lifestyle Products Replace Apps

At this year’s SXSW, the verdict is that apps are over. Instead, tech-influenced lifestyle innovations and big picture issues took center stage. President Obama became the first U.S. President to attend the festival, where he delivered a keynote address about encryption and fighting terrorism, without directly referencing the current battle between the Justice Department and Apple. In addition to hearing about futuristic technologies, SXSW attendees discussed the election and enjoyed “lifestyle brand” products. Continue reading SXSW Focuses on Big Issues, Lifestyle Products Replace Apps

Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

Although President Obama finally stated that he sides with the Justice Department in the ongoing battles between law enforcement and Apple over encryption of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, U.S. citizens aren’t so sure. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey revealed that 47 percent of Americans believe Apple shouldn’t cooperate with law enforcement. The government is not just facing a difficult battle with Apple but another, even more crucial one with Facebook’s WhatsApp popular messaging application. Continue reading Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a lot to say about net neutrality, zero rating, privacy and Silicon Valley companies, among other topics that he’s been facing over the last months. Although net neutrality passed a year ago, a lawsuit still challenges its legality in court, with Senate Republicans issuing a report that President Obama “inappropriately and secretly influenced the FCC” into regulating broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Wheeler begs to differ. Continue reading FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

States that want to collect sales taxes from out-of-state Internet e-tailers are tired of waiting for Congress to act. As a result, they’re passing state laws to do so. Alabama, South Dakota, Utah and 10 other states have passed legislation that directly contradicts the standing national law that states can only apply tax to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations there. State legislators are hoping that by challenging the existing law, they will spur litigation and force Congress to re-examine the issue. Continue reading States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

Two years after government contractor Edward Snowden famously leaked secret NSA documents, another release of classified information has occurred. This time, The Intercept — which is staffed by journalists who previously worked with Snowden — has published what it claims is a comprehensive breakdown of the U.S. government’s military drone program. The report, featuring documents provided by another whistleblower, offers details regarding U.S. strategy to kill foreign targets in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen — and highlights the unintended consequences involved with drone wars. Continue reading Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

WikiLeaks Releases IP Chapter of Trans-Pacific Partnership

WikiLeaks has released what it says is the complete intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. With its release, some digital rights activists say their worst fears have been realized. They’re referring to one portion that says any of the 12 signatory countries can curtail legal proceedings to tamp down the public spread of embarrassing information, and a legal action from any signatory can force all signatories to block any online content/website rules to be infringing copyright. Continue reading WikiLeaks Releases IP Chapter of Trans-Pacific Partnership

CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

California Governor Jerry Brown last week signed a new law designed to protect digital privacy rights. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) mandates that a warrant is required in order for state law enforcement agencies or investigators to compel businesses to turn over metadata or digital communications such as emails, texts, and cloud-stored documents. Additionally, it requires a warrant for the tracking or searching of electronic devices. The White House, meanwhile, has backed down on its battle with tech companies over encrypted data of digital devices. Continue reading CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

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