Daily Digest 1/31/2019 (FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Sworn In)

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Table of Contents

News from the FCC Meeting

FCC Holds Brief Open Meeting  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable
Geoffrey Starks Statement on Being Sworn in as FCC Commissioner  |  Read below  |  FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Announces Staff  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission


Prisons Across the US Are Quietly Building Databases of Incarcerated People's Voice Prints  |  Read below  |  George Joseph, Debbie Nathan  |  Intercept, The
Law enforcement demands for Verizon customer data jumped 5% from 2017  |  Fierce


Google also monitored iPhone usage with an app that collected data through Apple's back door  |  Read below  |  Zack Whittaker, Josh Constine, Ingrid Lunden  |  TechCrunch
Apple prevents Facebook from offering research app that could monitor online activity  |  Read below  |  Hamza Shaban  |  Washington Post
Apple escalates war against Facebook and its privacy practices  |  Washington Post
Lawmakers express anger at Facebook's teen data collection project: ‘wiretapping teens is not research’  |  Vox
Maybe Only Tim Cook Can Fix Facebook’s Privacy Problem  |  New York Times
Casey Newton: Apple’s power over Facebook ought to worry the rest of us  |  Vox
Thoughts on Facebook's WhatsApp + Messenger + Instagram Integration  |  Read below  |  Gus Rossi  |  Editorial  |  Public Knowledge
Does Facebook Really Know How Many Fake Accounts It Has?  |  New York Times
Facebook just hired a handful of its toughest privacy critics  |  Read below  |  Cyrus Farivar  |  Ars Technica
Lawyer sues Apple, claims FaceTime bug “allowed” recording of deposition  |  Ars Technica
New York State Attorney General Launches Investigation Into Circumstances of Apple's FaceTime Bug  |  Vox
New York Attorney General targets fake social media activity  |  CNN


Net Neutrality Oral Argument Shaping up As Epic Battle  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News, Hill, The
The High Cost of Doing Nothing on Net Neutrality  |  Business Forward


AT&T CEO Stephenson: ‘5G Will Serve as a Fixed Broadband Replacement Product’ in 3 to 5 Years  |  Multichannel News
AT&T Plans to Test 5G with AirGig fixed broadband tech, Seeks AirGig Manufacturers  |  telecompetitor
Verizon pauses 5G Home rollout until actual 5G equipment is ready -- sometime in the second half of 2019  |  Vox
Senate Commerce Chairman Wicker Targets Growing Threat of Chinese 5G Tech Dominance in Armed Services Committee Hearing  |  US Senate
Wheeler Q&A: 5G networks could pose a cybersecurity risk. So who's in charge of making sure they don't?  |  Marketplace
T-Mobile and Sprint Announce Post-Merger Plans to Build Five Customer Experience Centers  |  T-Mobile
Satellite company Telesat will use Loon’s networking software to manage Low Earth orbit constellations  |  Vox


Chairman Pai Response to Members of Congress from Arkansas Regarding Rate Floor Rule in USF High-Cost Program  |  Federal Communications Commission

Cable TV

Chairman Response Regarding Franchise Fee Cap Impact on PEG Channels  |  Federal Communications Commission


Netflix, Amazon, and Hollywood studios shut down maker of “free TV” box  |  Ars Technica
Apple Music customers can stream music for free over Wi-Fi on American Airlines soon  |  Vox
Early Childhood Education by Television: Lessons from Sesame Street  |  American Economic Journal


Op-Ed: Media's Fatal Flaw: Ignoring the Mistakes of Newspapers  |  Wired
Farhad Manjoo: The BuzzFeed Layoffs as Democratic Emergency  |  New York Times
Tech NYT Journalists are Using: Skype, Voice Recorders, and FOIAs  |  New York Times

Government and Communications

Sheriff sued for blocking, banning Black Lives Matter leaders on Facebook, suit says  |  Sacramento Bee


Rep Matsui Appointed Vice Chair of House Communications Subcommittee  |  Read below  |  Rep Doris Matsui (D-CA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Names GOP Members for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence  |  House of Representatives

Stories From Abroad

Analysis: Why are so many African leaders shutting off the Internet in 2019?  |  Washington Post
United Arab Emirates Used Super-Weapon to Spy on iPhones of Foes  |  Reuters
Apple’s China Problem May Require a New iPhone  |  Wall Street Journal

Company News

Facebook Reports Record Profit  |  Wall Street Journal
Cities Grow Skeptical of the Promises of Big Tech  |  Wired
Today's Top Stories

News from the FCC Meeting

FCC Holds Brief Open Meeting

John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable

The Federal Communications Commission held its very brief January Open Meeting, but only to thank returning staffers and give a warm welcome its newest member, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. The meeting was a pro forma affair after the government shutdown forced the FCC to move its agenda to the Feb 14 meeting, after not being sure when the government would reopen.

Geoffrey Starks Statement on Being Sworn in as FCC Commissioner

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

I am deeply honored to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and I thank the President and the United States Senate for this exceptional privilege. As the last few weeks have affirmed, being a public servant is a calling to serve a mission bigger than yourself. Throughout my career, I have focused on protecting the most vulnerable and holding wrongdoers accountable.

In my new role, I shall not only continue to pursue those goals, but also look forward to working with Congress, my fellow Commissioners, and the FCC’s outstanding staff to serve the public interest by encouraging innovation, competition, and security, as well as advancing policies to increase the quality, availability, and affordability of our country’s communications services. Every community has a stake in the future of communications in this country, and all have the right to be heard. I will always be listening.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Announces Staff

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks announced the appointment of several individuals who will serve in his office in acting capacities.

Daudeline Meme, Acting Chief of Staff and Acting Legal Advisor for Wireless and International. Meme will serve as Acting Chief of Staff and advise Commissioner Starks on wireless and international matters. Meme previously served as Deputy Chief in the International Bureau’s Telecommunications & Analysis Division. Prior to that, she served as FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s Legal Advisor for Wireless, Public Safety, and International issues. Immediately before that, Meme was Chief of Staff of the Enforcement Bureau,where she was responsible for providing legal, policy, and administrative oversight. Meme also worked with Chairman Tom Wheeler’s office on implementation of FCC Process Reform and as an Assistant Chief in the Enforcement Bureau’s Spectrum Enforcement Division. 

Michael Scurato, Acting Legal Advisor for Media and Consumer Protection. Scurato will advise Commissioner Starks on media and consumer protection matters. Scurato joins the Commissioner’s staff from his position as Special Counsel for the Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. Previously, Scurato served as Legal Advisor for Commissioner Clyburn. Prior to joining the Commission, Scurato was Vice President of Policy at the National Hispanic Media Coalition. 

Randy Clarke, Acting Legal Advisor for Wireline and Public Safety. Clarke will advise Commissioner Starks on wireline and public safety issues. Clarke joins the Commission following service as FCC counsel to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Prior to his work in the Senate, Clarke was Acting Deputy Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau. He has held a variety of roles in the Wireline  Competition Bureau since 2004, including Chief of the Competition Policy Division, Deputy Chief of the Pricing Policy Division, Legal Advisor to the Bureau Chief, and Attorney Advisor in the Bureau. Before joining the FCC, Clarke served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois, focusing on telecommunications policy and consumer advocacy. 

Renee Coles, Acting Confidential Assistant. Coles will serve as Commissioner Starks’ Acting Confidential Assistant, addressing all administrative needs. During her 13 years at the Commission, Coles has served as the Staff Assistant to Commissioner Michael Copps and worked in Human Resources as a Specialist in Payroll and Benefits. Prior to joining the Commission, Coles owned a small retail business.

Natalie Martinez, Acting Staff Assistant. Martinez will serve as Acting Staff Assistant in Commissioner Starks’ office. Martinez has served as the Confidential Assistant to five successive General Counsels of the FCC. Before that, she served as the Confidential Assistant to the Chief of the Enforcement Bureau for four years. Martinez began her career at the FCC in 2001 as an Office Automation Clerk in the International Bureau.

[more at the links below]


Prisons Across the US Are Quietly Building Databases of Incarcerated People's Voice Prints

George Joseph, Debbie Nathan  |  Intercept, The

In New York and other states across the country, authorities are acquiring technology to extract and digitize the voices of incarcerated people into unique biometric signatures, known as voice prints. Prison authorities have quietly enrolled hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people’s voice prints into large-scale biometric databases. Computer algorithms then draw on these databases to identify the voices taking part in a call and to search for other calls in which the voices of interest are detected. Some programs, like New York’s, even analyze the voices of call recipients outside prisons to track which outsiders speak to multiple prisoners regularly.

Authorities and prison technology companies say this mass biometric surveillance supports prison security and fraud prevention efforts. But civil liberties advocates argue that the biometric buildup has been neither transparent nor consensual. Some jurisdictions, for example, limit incarcerated people’s phone access if they refuse to enroll in the voice recognition system, while others enroll incarcerated people without their knowledge. It’s particularly alarming, they add, that the technology’s use in prisons can ensnare people beyond their walls. Prisoners’ rights advocates worry that outsider voice surveillance technology could also be used to coordinate crackdowns against prison organizing campaigns.


Google also monitored iPhone usage with an app that collected data through Apple's back door

Zack Whittaker, Josh Constine, Ingrid Lunden  |  TechCrunch

It looks like Facebook was not the only one abusing Apple’s system for distributing employee-only apps to sidestep the App Store and collect extensive data on users. Google has been running an app called Screenwise Meter, which bears a strong resemblance to the app distributed by Facebook Research that has now been barred by Apple. In its app, Google invites users aged 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app by way of a special code and registration process using an Enterprise Certificate. That’s the same type of policy violation that led Apple to shut down Facebook’s similar Research VPN iOS app, which had the knock-on effect of also disabling usage of Facebook’s legitimate employee-only apps — which run on the same Facebook Enterprise Certificate. Google said in a statement, “The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”

Apple prevents Facebook from offering research app that could monitor online activity

Hamza Shaban  |  Washington Post

Apple announced that Facebook violated an agreement by distributing a data-collecting app to consumers, bypassing Apple’s normal review for an app intended for the public. Apple said it is cutting off Facebook’s ability to offer the app to consumers. The announcement comes after the revelation that Facebook has been paying some users (aged 13-35) $20 per month to install a research app on their phones that can collect intimate information about their online behavior and communications. Apple’s developer program allows companies to create their own apps for employees, giving them a way to test and use apps outside of the app store, which are not subject to the same privacy and data policies as those intended for public consumption. But Facebook used this process to sidestep the app store and offer a research app directly to consumers, which Apple has ruled is a breach of the agreement.

Thoughts on Facebook's WhatsApp + Messenger + Instagram Integration

Gus Rossi  |  Editorial  |  Public Knowledge

In general, we think the integration of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram has the potential to be beneficial for consumers -- if done right. We still need more details from Facebook’s plan to monetize this move in order to fully understand its privacy implications. However, we believe that there’s a lot of positive potential in this move. Making WhatsApp-level end-to-end encryption the standard for Facebook Messenger and Instagram would in one simple move radically improve the privacy and security of the communications of millions of people. In addition, this restructuring has the potential to provide a blueprint for the interoperability of competitors and potential competitors. We are looking forward to Facebook explaining in detail to its users why this move is in their best interest, and not just a rent-seeking strategy.

Facebook just hired a handful of its toughest privacy critics

Cyrus Farivar  |  Ars Technica

Facebook has acknolwedged it has hired three veteran privacy law activists, including Nate Cardozo, an attorney formerly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has been very publicly critical of the company in recent years. In 2015, Cardozo once wrote in an op-ed that Facebook's "business model depends on our collective confusion and apathy about privacy."  In addition to Cardozo, Facebook also hired attorney Robyn Greene, previously with the Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC, and Nathan White, who is set to leave his position at Access Now.


Net Neutrality Oral Argument Shaping up As Epic Battle

John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News, Hill, The

The Feb. 1 oral argument in the legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's Restoring Internet Freedom order (the case is Mozilla Corp. V. FCC) is going to be an epic event, at least in terms of the time allotted for both sides to make their cases. It is the only case slated for argument that day. It will also be streamed live on the court Web site, as has been the case with oral arguments in the circuit since late 2018. The FCC and those challenging its Restoring Internet Freedom order teamed up to jointly ask the court for 75 minutes apiece (with rebuttal time included), divided among various attorneys arguing different issues. The court accepted the proposal and, if past is prologue, the argument will be even longer than those two and a half hours --j udges usually allow some flexibility in individual time allocations and push the time limits with their own questions. By contrast to that 150 minutes, most arguments are only scheduled for between 20 minutes and an hour.


Rep Matsui Appointed Vice Chair of House Communications Subcommittee

Rep Doris Matsui (D-CA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

Rep Doris Matsui (D-CA) has been appointed Vice Chair of the House Communications Subcommittee. “In this capacity, I plan to continue my focus promoting policies to achieve 5G and beyond and spur innovation in the US economy,” Rep Matsui said. 

Rep Matsui has been a leader on communications and technology policy, including as Co-Chair of the Congressional High Tech Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus. She has authored multiple provisions of law that have facilitated spectrum auctions, including the record breaking AWS-3 auction, and focused on commercializing federally-held spectrum for wireless use.  She plans to continue to prioritize her work on various spectrum policy initiatives and on the next generation of broadband networks, such as 5G. Rep Matsui is also a leader on preserving network neutrality principles and policies. She will also focus on responsibly promoting innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain.

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