Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Online privacy protections for consumers are in focus on Capitol Hill, with the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) getting particular attention. A coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Fairplay and the American Psychological Association are calling on senators to advance KOSA this month. Co-sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), the legislation would require social media platforms to conduct annual audits to identify risks to minors as well as more concrete steps like opting out of algorithmic recommendations and disabling “addictive” features.  Continue reading Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

The U.S. Is Now Home to the World’s Fastest Supercomputer

In a big win for the United States, the Department of Energy’s Frontier supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee was ranked No. 1 in the Top500 worldwide performance contest and the first to top the quintillion operations-per-second (exascale) benchmark in a LINPACK test. The Department of Energy has said it will spend a total of $1.8 billion to build three machines with exascale performance. The Frontier, or OLCF-5, supercomputer (which features a theoretical peak performance of 2 exaflops) was built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and is powered by AMD chips. Continue reading The U.S. Is Now Home to the World’s Fastest Supercomputer

New Federal Program to Make Internet Access Available to All

The Biden Administration has secured private sector commitments designed to provide free or reduced-rate Internet to American families. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) allows tens of millions of U.S. households to lower their monthly bills or sign-up for new service. Among the 20 leading Internet providers participating in the plan, which reaches more than 80 percent of the population, are AT&T (Spectrum), Comcast (Xfinity) and Verizon. The list also includes smaller rural providers such as Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina. Continue reading New Federal Program to Make Internet Access Available to All

State AGs Launch Investigation into Effects of TikTok on Kids

A group of state attorneys general has announced an investigation into TikTok and the potential harm it may cause younger users. The fact-finding is not unlike that launched by top state legal advisors last year into Meta Platforms. The bipartisan group is exploring whether TikTok is violating state consumer protection laws with engagement tactics that may cause minors to become “hooked” on the app. Kids in the age of social media “feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens,” said California attorney general Rob Bonta. Continue reading State AGs Launch Investigation into Effects of TikTok on Kids

Meta Quest VR Unit Faces Antitrust Probe by FTC and States

In the wake of a last week’s ruling that the Federal Trade Commission can prosecute its antitrust suit against Meta Platforms, it is now reported that the FTC and multiple state attorneys general are scrutinizing the company’s virtual reality unit — formerly known as Oculus Quest but renamed Meta Quest — for potential anti-competitive practices. New York, North Carolina and Tennessee are among the states that, in addition to the FTC, are said to be investigating whether the Meta Quest app store discriminates against app developers whose goods compete against Meta’s own products. Continue reading Meta Quest VR Unit Faces Antitrust Probe by FTC and States

Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Alphabet’s Google is being sued by a group of 36 states and the District of Columbia that claim the Big Tech company abuses its market dominance with the Google Play Store. Although it is the fourth such state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is the first to take aim directly at the tech giant’s app store. The other suits have focused on search and advertising. California, Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee lead this suit. Continue reading Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

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

AMD’s New Frontier Will Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer

This week, AMD announced a partnership with Cray to build a supercomputer called Frontier, which the two companies predict will become the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of “exascale” performance when it is released in 2021. All told, they expect Frontier to be capable of 1.5 exaflops, performing somewhere around 50 times faster than the top supercomputers out today, and faster than the currently available top 160 supercomputers combined. Frontier will be built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Continue reading AMD’s New Frontier Will Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer

In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon has decided to cancel plans to develop a new campus in New York’s Long Island City, taking with it the promise of 25,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. In recent weeks, a debate has heated up between government officials who supported the e-commerce leader’s plans and New York politicians, activists and labor union leaders who have criticized a lack of transparency regarding deal specifics and questioned the necessity to provide Amazon with tax incentives worth billions. Despite the debate, the news still came as a surprise to many, especially real estate developers and renters who were rushing to the Long Island City neighborhood. Continue reading In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Municipalities Increasingly Targeted for Ransomware Attacks

Cyber criminals recently hacked the municipal computers of Rockport, Maine, demanding $1,200 in Bitcoin to unlock them. That’s just one example of a surge of ransomware aimed at municipal computer systems, both large and small, including the city of Atlanta and a St. Louis library system. According to Ponemon Institute, an information systems research firm, these kinds of public sector hacks are increasing faster than those on private ones. City officials are often unprepared to deal with the consequences. Continue reading Municipalities Increasingly Targeted for Ransomware Attacks

Amazon’s Free Shipping Casts Shadow Over Smaller Retailers

As Amazon rapidly expands its free shipping, retailers are struggling to compete, looking to a range of fulfillment companies to help offer faster, less expensive delivery options. Amazon Prime provides two-day shipping on millions of items found on its site. Shipping companies such as FedEx, threatened by Amazon’s reach, have targeted smaller businesses, from startups to midsized national chains, that can’t compete with Amazon, Walmart and other big retailers spending billlions of dollars to speed-up delivery. Continue reading Amazon’s Free Shipping Casts Shadow Over Smaller Retailers

‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

“Dig Once” legislation — whereby construction workers would install plastic pipes any time they build or upgrade roads and sidewalks — is gaining momentum. The idea is that, although the plastic pipes that can house fiber cables may be empty when installed, they make it easier and cheaper to add at a later date. Good news is that the proposal has bipartisan support, having been proposed since 2009 by California Democrat congresswoman Anna Eshoo and now supported by Tennessee Republican representative Marsha Blackburn. Continue reading ‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

Alphabet Stops Expansion of Google Fiber in Favor of Wireless

Alphabet is tightening up staffing at Google Fiber, sending hundreds of employees who work at the Google division Access to other parts of the company. Google Fiber, first announced in 2010, is installed in several U.S. cities, but Access revealed in October that it was pulling back on plans to expand to new locations. This isn’t the end of Google Fiber, says a spokesperson, but Alphabet is rethinking its plan moving forward. Although Fiber could be a part of the company’s future, Access has a new focus on wireless technologies. Continue reading Alphabet Stops Expansion of Google Fiber in Favor of Wireless

Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

In recent years, some cities have created broadband networks to provide Internet in communities — especially rural ones — where commercial services aren’t willing to set up shop. Those so-called “municipal broadband networks” just got slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld laws in North Carolina and Tennessee halting their growth. For now, the ruling only impacts networks in those two states, but other cities that have created municipal networks have taken note. Continue reading Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks