After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

The SolarWinds hack invaded at least nine U.S. government agencies and 100+ corporations. Now, Microsoft is at odds with Dell Technologies and IBM on the best way to secure data. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated that “cloud migration is critical to improving security maturity,” but the other two companies opine that a hybrid cloud and on-premise data storage is preferable. Smith stated that all the breached accounts Microsoft identified involved on-premise systems and that a hybrid system is more vulnerable to attacks. Continue reading After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislation to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms vulnerable to legal action for content posted by users. The proposed changes would create liability for platforms that allow “known criminal content” to remain once they are aware of it. President Trump claims that social media companies are biased against conservatives. The platforms have not been protected against some civil suits. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

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

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