Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

After a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules, the NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom and the American Cable Association — all the trade organizations representing U.S. Internet service providers — challenged that ruling. They did so by filing a petition for an “en banc” rehearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. En banc hearings are to rehear a case in front of all the judges (rather than a panel), usually in cases of “exceptional public importance.” Continue reading Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

Following extensive debate, the European Union has approved the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield data transfer agreement that will replace Safe Harbor, which “was struck down by the European Court of Justice in October of last year over concerns about how EU data was being treated once it was transferred to the U.S.,” reports Digital Trends. According to the European Commission’s press release, “For the first time, the U.S. has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens’ data.” Continue reading EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

According to a new Accenture report, 23 percent of consumers claim their financial data has been breached at least once in the past two years. Interestingly, most remain willing to share their data if it means better service. “About 63 percent of respondents are willing to give their bank direct access to personal information,” reports HousingWire. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recently called on Congress to combat hacking with legislation that would create stricter standards for retail businesses. Accenture surveyed 4,013 bank customers in North America — 70 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in Canada. Continue reading Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

The Federal Aviation Administration just issued rules, to take effect in August, for how businesses can use small drones, specifically for those weighing less than 55 pounds. Among the new restrictions are that drone speed must be kept under 100 miles per hour and that users may operate them during twilight only if they are equipped with anti-collision lights. The maximum altitude has also been lowered to 400 feet from 500 feet, and the age limit for operators also lowered, to 16 from 17 years old. Continue reading FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The FAA’s mandatory drone registration does not seem to be impacting UAV sales, which have grown 224 percent from April 2015 to April 2016 for a total of nearly $200 million, according to The NPD Group. Robotics Trends reports the FAA’s database indicates there are now “461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes.” NPD notes that DJI is the clear U.S. market leader at 49 percent, followed by Parrot (19 percent), Protocol (6.3 percent), Yuneec (5.6 percent) and 3D Robotics (4 percent). Drones with 4K cameras represented more than one-third of sales for the 12 month period, and GPS-outfitted drones accounted for 64 percent of sales. Continue reading Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

In March, South Dakota passed a new law requiring many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state’s sales tax, a challenge to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Quill v. North Dakota prohibiting states from doing exactly this. The regulation has already resulted in several lawsuits. If the law is not overturned, other states are likely to follow suit, levying similar Internet sales tax rules. The implications would be enormous if numerous states adopt these rules, likely forcing audits and new tax rules in thousands of jurisdictions across the nation. Continue reading South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

According to an SEC filing, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service Venmo is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the company “engaged in deceptive or unfair practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” PayPal received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the FTC on March 28. “The CID could lead to an enforcement action and/or one or more consent orders,” explains PayPal, “which may result in substantial costs, including legal fees, fines, penalties, and remediation expenses and actions, and could require us to change aspects of the manner in which we operate Venmo.” Continue reading Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies

As a growing number of consumers, particularly millennials, access financial services on their smartphones, traditional banks are struggling to keep up with new competitors. Major tech companies, from Apple to Snapchat, have entered the consumer banking industry, along with a wide variety of financial tech startups. Banks like Citigroup have formed new partnerships and departments for developing more mobile-friendly banking services as Americans’ banking habits continue to evolve. Continue reading Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies

Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

During CES 2016, representatives from Amazon, Google, Intel and NASA discussed the future of air traffic control in regards to drones. Both Google and Amazon are developing drones that they hope will eventually deliver packages to their online customers, but the companies differ on how to regulate the drones’ flights. Google favors a system in which drones report their flight to a centralized coordination facility before takeoff. Amazon, on the other hand, wants less emphasis on a central command center. Continue reading Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

CES: Chinese UAV Company Unveils Autonomous Flying Taxi

Chinese company EHang, known for its Ghostdrone with head-tracking VR goggles, introduced a giant quadcopter simply called “184 drone” in Las Vegas this week. The cockpit has no controls, just a seat for one passenger, a tablet stand and air conditioning. Navigation is controlled by a mobile app using Google Maps, so passengers do not require a pilot’s license, according to the company. (However, the drone will still need FAA approval in the U.S.) The drone stands about 4.9 feet, weighs 440 pounds and can transport a 260-pound load capacity for about 23 minutes. Continue reading CES: Chinese UAV Company Unveils Autonomous Flying Taxi

Drones Grow Up: More Use Cases, Capabilities, Regulations

With FAA drone regulations newly in place, industry pioneers gathered at CES to describe the issues roiling this growing category. Drones allow people to fulfill the fantasy of flying and thus in our DNA, says 3D Robotics CRO Colin Guinn. The use cases, however, from agriculture to movie making, are very real, generating more attention. That’s why Flytrex Aviation chief exec Yariv Bash predicts we’ll see many more consumer and pro versions, and Parrot chief exec Henri Seydoux notes the drone’s data collection as its key feature. Continue reading Drones Grow Up: More Use Cases, Capabilities, Regulations

DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

Drone manufacturer DJI launched a beta geofencing system last week called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO), designed to prevent drones from operating in areas restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. While DJI’s current flight limitation software stops drones from flying in restricted areas such as airports, the more dynamic GEO also enables updates to maps and restrictions based on unfolding events, including scheduled sports competitions or hazardous conditions like wildfires. Upon an event’s conclusion, maps can be updated again so that restrictions can be lifted. Continue reading DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just announced its rules for drones, in advance of the holiday shopping season when consumers are expected to purchase 700,000 of them. The rules, which call for all owners to register their drones in a national database with their names, home and email addresses, is aimed at allaying safety fears and encourage responsible ownership. This is the first time that owners have been required to register what are also known as unmanned aircraft systems. Continue reading FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays