Daily Digest 1/11/2019 (Federal Broadband Assistance Programs)

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Table of Contents


Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Congressional Research Service
Rep Collins Introduces the Connect America Fund Accountability Act  |  Read below  |  Rep Doug Collins (R-GA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives
Global universal internet access unlikely until at least 2050, experts say  |  Read below  |  Ian Sample  |  Guardian, The


Government shutdown halts FCC device approvals  |  Read below  |  Kim Hart  |  Axios
Ignore 5G, for Now  |  Wired
T-Mobile begins verifying calls to protect against spam  |  Vox
T-Mobile adds more phone subscribers than expected in fourth quarter of 2018  |  Reuters
Wireless carriers pledge again to close data access after location-tracking scandal  |  Vox


We Could Easily Stop Location Data Scandals, But We Cower to Lobbyists Instead  |  Vice
How New House Armed Services Committee Chairman plans to watchdog offensive hacking operations  |  Washington Post
America’s Electric Grid Has a Vulnerable Back Door—and Russia Walked Through It  |  Wall Street Journal
When Chinese hackers declared war on the rest of us  |  Technology Review
US Blocks Some Exports From Huawei’s Silicon Valley Unit, Futurewei  |  Wall Street Journal


Sen Jones (D-AL) asks FEC to investigate misinformation campaign tactics in AL Senate race  |  Hill, The
Op-Ed: How campaigns can protect themselves from deepfakes, disinformation, and social media manipulation  |  Brookings


Thomas Lenard: Washington Can't Solve Silicon Valley's Problems  |  Real Clear Policy


CES 2019: Sinclair in Deal To Push TV Broadcasting In Cars  |  MediaPost


Analysis: New study finds social media junkies make riskier decisions  |  Washington Post


The Rise and Demise of RSS  |  Vice


The Tactics Media Unions Are Using to Build Membership  |  Harvard Business Review
Google board tried to cover up sexual misconduct, shareholders allege  |  Guardian, The


Margaret Sullivan: Trump’s Oval Office address was a pure propaganda opportunity. Networks shouldn’t allow it next time.  |  Washington Post

Government & Communications

CES 2019: Muni Leaders Talk Education, Working with Citizens and Data  |  Government Technology
Daniel Lyons -- Attention President Trump: Blocking on Twitter may violate First Amendment  |  American Enterprise Institute


William Barr Helped Build America’s Surveillance State  |  American Civil Liberties Union


Karan Bhatia, Google's New Policy Chief, Weighs Washington Reshuffle  |  Bloomberg
CompTIA Absorbs Locally Focused Public Technology Institute  |  Government Technology
New America: The First 20 Years  |  New America

Stories From Abroad

Cambridge Analytica owner fined £15,000 for ignoring data request by US professor  |  Guardian, The
Myanmar Court Upholds Convictions of Two Reuters Journalists  |  New York Times
Facebook rolls out fact-checking operation in UK  |  Guardian, The
Twitter Users in China Face Detention and Threats in New Beijing Crackdown  |  New York Times
The internet, but not as we know it: life online in China, Cuba, India and Russia  |  Guardian, The
Smartphone users warned to be careful of the Antichrist  |  BBC
Today's Top Stories


Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

With the conclusion of the grant and loan awards established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there remain two primary ongoing federal vehicles which direct federal money to fund broadband infrastructure: the broadband and telecommunications programs at the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs under the Federal Communications Commission. RUS broadband programs were reauthorized and modified by the 2018 farm bill. The USF High Cost Fund is undergoing a major transition to the Connect America Fund, which is targeted to the deployment, adoption, and utilization of both fixed and mobile broadband. Meanwhile, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141) appropriated $600 million to RUS to conduct a new broadband loan and grant pilot program (called the ReConnect Program), and appropriated $7.5 million to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to update the national broadband availability map in coordination with the FCC. Additionally, P.L. 115-141 contained provisions seeking to facilitate deployment of broadband infrastructure on federal property, as well as making more spectrum available for wireless broadband. To the extent that the 116th Congress may consider various options for further encouraging broadband deployment and adoption, a key issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment.

Rep Collins Introduces the Connect America Fund Accountability Act

Rep Doug Collins (R-GA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

The Connect America Fund (CAF) Accountability Act of 2019 would requires covered telecommunications carriers (CTCs) to include certain additional information in their speed and latency reports to the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, CAF recipients are required by the FCC to report on the speeds and latency provided to consumers within their service areas. The new reports are to be sent to the FCC on a quarterly basis.

Global universal internet access unlikely until at least 2050, experts say

Ian Sample  |  Guardian, The

Parts of the world will be excluded from the internet for decades to come without major efforts to boost education, online literacy and broadband infrastructure, experts have warned. While half the world’s population now uses the internet, a desperate lack of skills and stagnant investment mean the United Nation’s goal of universal access, defined as 90% of people being online, may not be reached until 2050 or later, they said. The bleak assessment highlights the dramatic digital divide that has opened up between those who take the internet and its benefits for granted and those who are sidelined because they either lack the skills to be online, cannot afford access or live in a region with no connection. “If there is any kind of faltering in the rate of people coming online, which it appears that there is, then we’ll have a real challenge in getting 70%, 80% or 90% connected,” said Adrian Lovett, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, an organisation set up by the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.


Government shutdown halts FCC device approvals

Kim Hart  |  Axios

The Federal Communications Commission — the agency tasked with authorizing new devices using radio frequencies — is on furlough along with the rest of the federal government. In addition to product authorizations, other suspended activities include work on consumer complaints, enforcement actions and licensing proceedings. The FCC also reviews major deals — like the pending merger of Sprint and T-Mobile — and those reviews have also stopped. "It does stifle business opportunity and strategy," said Marc Martin, chairman of the communications practice at law firm Perkins Coie, who noted that some of his clients are annoyed by the shutdown disruption to business plans: "Companies rely on government timelines for things to get resolved."

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Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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