Government Surveillance Bill Is Sidelined by Privacy Question

The House of Representatives, after closed-door negotiations, came to an agreement to bring an amendment to vote that would protect Americans from FBI and CIA surveillance of their web browsing history without a warrant. The amendment, introduced by Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), would be a “significant reform to Section 215 [of the USA Patriot Act] that protects Americans’ civil liberties,” said Lofgren. However, after full details of the proposal were released, debate over who would specifically be protected led to the amendment’s downfall. Continue reading Government Surveillance Bill Is Sidelined by Privacy Question

Federal Government Considers Plans For Broadband Access

Although millions of Americans are at home, the Senate did not include money for broadband infrastructure in the $3 trillion stimulus package under consideration. However, the current bill does include some funding to deploy mobile hot spots around the country. Proponents of accessible broadband will try to add that to any upcoming stimulus package. Meanwhile, the U.S. government, along with several Big Tech companies, is providing global access to 16 supercomputers to help researchers discover vaccines to combat the coronavirus. Continue reading Federal Government Considers Plans For Broadband Access

House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

In a rare bipartisan move, Democratic and Republican legislators joined forces to propose the Shop Safe Act, which would make e-commerce companies responsible for counterfeit products from China and other countries sold on their websites. The bill would focus on trademark liability for those fake products that impact consumer health and safety, such as pharmaceuticals and medical products, and would force e-tailers to more closely vet sellers and remove those who repeatedly sell counterfeits. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

In a 410-6 vote, the House of Representatives approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act that will allow online content creators to more efficiently pursue infringers. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) introduced the measure last year. If it becomes law, it will create a new small claims court with a tribunal of copyright claims officers who would work with both parties to resolve the issue. Potential damages would no more than $15,000 per claim or $30,000 in total. Continue reading House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

In July, a bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee reintroduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, by which the U.S. Copyright Office will create a three-person Copyright Claims Board that will supervise a ‘small claims-style’ system for damages. The Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists Guild approved the move, which allows a copyright owner whose content was used without permission to claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work and $30,000 in total. However, some groups are opposing the Act and question the cost of such an approach. Continue reading CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

According to a study by the News Media Alliance, Google earned $4.7 billion last year from the work of news publishers via the company’s search and Google News services (and the estimate is considered conservative since it does not include the value of personal data that Google collects on readers when they click on an article). The estimate is close to the $5.1 billion from digital advertising the entire U.S. news industry generated in 2018. The News Media Alliance is a trade association that represents more than 2,000 newspapers in North America. Its president and CEO David Chavern says journalists deserve a share of the $4.7 billion. Continue reading Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

Congress Introduces IoT Bill to Protect Connected Devices

Congress introduced the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act yesterday, in an effort to position legislative power behind securing connected devices. Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley told lawmakers last year that IoT devices are considered one of the “most important emerging cyberthreats” to national security. Without a national standard for IoT security, we need to rely on steps taken by individual companies. The legislation, which was first introduced in 2017, would require security standards for IoT devices used by the federal government. Continue reading Congress Introduces IoT Bill to Protect Connected Devices

Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Following the House of Representatives passage of the Music Modernization Act in April, the U.S. Senate also gave its unanimous consent on September 18. The bill was renamed after Republican Utah senator Orrin Hatch, also a songwriter, scheduled to retire at the end of his term this year. With the Senate passage, the bill will return to the House to get approval for all the changes made to achieve Senate approval. If and when the House approves, the bill will go to President Donald Trump to become law. Continue reading Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook identified and removed 652 fake accounts, pages and groups from Iran and Russia that were attempting to sow misinformation in several countries. Such campaigns in the past — most notably leading up to the 2016 presidential election — targeted the U.S., but these accounts targeted the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East as well. This discovery is dramatically larger than the 32 pages and accounts that Facebook removed last month. The Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was indicted for the 2016 campaign. Continue reading Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise. Continue reading President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

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