Thursday, April 27, 2023
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Inside Lumen, a private portal from GOP campaigns to local news sites
Enforcement Efforts Against Discrimination and Bias in Automated Systems
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News From the FCC
The Federal Communications Commission’s May open meeting will be headlined by a pair of spectrum policy changes to both pave the way for future wireless technologies and also unlock new wireless services right now. Here’s everything we have lined up for our May open meeting:
- We’re unlocking cutting-edge radar-enabled technologies. The FCC will vote on rules to expand the permissible uses for short-range radars in this band, while making sure new operations can coexist with other services already making use of this spectrum. These changes would facilitate advances in everything from augmented reality to drones to healthcare monitoring.
- We’re optimizing a massive swath of spectrum for services from 6G to satellite. In a pair of separate proceedings, the FCC has been studying how best to use more than 1 gigahertz of mid-band spectrum from 12.2 GHz to 13.25 GHz.
- We’re ramping up our all-of-the-above approach to combat robocalls.
- We will also consider an adjudicatory matter from our Media Bureau.
The Federal Communications Commission is committing nearly $21 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program, which provides digital services for students in communities across the country. The funding commitment will benefit approximately 55,000 students across the country, including students in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. These awards will support approximately 50 schools, 5 libraries, and 3 consortia.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $5.8 Million in Internet for All Grants to Tribal Lands
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded grants totaling $5,841,477.13 to 12 Tribes as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). In the next few months, NTIA will release a second Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for an additional round of funding from the TBCP program. The Tribes awarded are:
- Blue Lake Rancheria (CA): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment & and Planning, Engineering, Feasibility, and Sustainability, $493,400.48;
- Bridgeport Indian Colony (CA): Planning, Engineering, Feasibility, and Sustainability, $355,153.32;
- Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria (CA): Broadband Use and Adoption, $495,477.00;
- Resighini Rancheria (CA): Planning, Engineering, Feasibility, and Sustainability, $499,953.00;
- The Wiyot Tribe (CA): Broadband Use and Adoption, $499,997.16;
- Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (KS): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment, $499,741.00;
- Bay Mills Indian Community (MI): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment, $499,850.00;
- Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (MI): Broadband Use and Adoption, $500,000.00 ;
- Comanche Nation (OK): Planning, Engineering, Feasibility, and Sustainability, $500,000.00;
- Burns Paiute Tribe (OR): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment, $499,728.17;
- Nisqually Indian Tribe (WA): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment, $499,960.00;
- Oneida Nation (WI): Broadband Infrastructure Deployment, $498,217.00.
Focus Broadband has completed the final stages of a project in Brunswick County (NC). Residents and businesses in the communities of Northwest and Sandy Creek now can access gigabit speed service. Focus Broadband was awarded $1.4 million to provide high-speed Internet to more than 1,000 addresses in Brunswick County in North Carolina’s special supplementary round of the Growing Rural Economies through Access to Technology (GREAT) program. The program is administered by the state’s Department of Information Technology (DIT). “This was the first time we were able to secure grant funding for unserved portions of Brunswick County that fell outside of our cooperative service area,” Focus Broadband CEO Keith Holden said.
Consumers increasingly are ditching traditional broadband plans for more-affordable 5G fixed-wireless internet service. In response, cable companies say they may be losing some battles, but in the end they’ll win the war—and that customers who have switched will return. Since 2018, wireless carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile US have used the excess capacity on their fifth-generation cellular networks to lure broadband-internet subscribers away with 5G fixed-wireless plans that in some cases can cost half of what a cable plan does. As cable companies bleed subscribers to fixed wireless, they’ve harped on the cheaper service’s shortcomings in public rhetoric and TV commercials, in a phone-versus-cable tit-for-tat. With fixed-wireless plans, a subscriber uses an in-home receiver to pick up signals from a cell tower. A number of factors can hurt the web speeds, including network congestion, the receiver’s distance from the cell tower and obstacles such as trees between the receiver and the tower. Both T-Mobile and Verizon acknowledge these limitations on their websites.
A little-known partnership between the country's military cyber forces and homeland defenders has stymied the impact of two state-linked attacks, senior officials disclosed. With so many cyber-related agencies in the US, it's often difficult for anyone outside of the government to understand which office is responsible for what during an attack. These disclosures are some of the first clear examples of how the Pentagon-based Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) cooperate. During the 2020 presidential election, the CNMF discovered Iranian-linked hacking group Pioneer Kitten lurking on a city's infrastructure "used to report the results of voting," Hartman said. CNMF looped in CISA, which contacted the jurisdiction — resulting in immediate remediation of the threat, the officials said. In another incident, CISA identified three federal agencies facing an "intrusion campaign from foreign-based cybercriminals," Goldstein said. CISA handed this information over to the command, which weighed how it could thwart the malicious hackers. However, much of this partnership still relies heavily on input from private sector partners.
Joint Statement on Enforcement Efforts Against Discrimination and Bias in Automated Systems
America’s commitment to the core principles of fairness, equality, and justice are deeply embedded in the federal laws that our agencies enforce to protect civil rights, fair competition, consumer protection, and equal opportunity. Today, the use of automated systems, including those sometimes marketed as “artificial intelligence” or “AI,” is becoming increasingly common in our daily lives. We use the term “automated systems” broadly to mean software and algorithmic processes, including AI, that are used to automate workflows and help people complete tasks or make decisions. Existing legal authorities apply to the use of automated systems and innovative new technologies just as they apply to other practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission are among the federal agencies responsible for enforcing civil rights, non-discrimination, fair competition, consumer protection, and other vitally important legal protections. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that these rapidly evolving automated systems are developed and used in a manner consistent with federal laws, and each of our agencies has previously expressed concern about potentially harmful uses of automated systems. Our agencies reiterate our resolve to monitor the development and use of automated systems and promote responsible innovation. We also pledge to vigorously use our collective authorities to protect individuals’ rights regardless of whether legal violations occur through traditional means or advanced technologies.
Sens. Schatz, Cotton, Murphy, Britt Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Help Protect Kids From Harmful Impacts Of Social Media
Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Katie Britt (R-AL) introduced new legislation to help protect children from the harmful impacts of social media. The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media apps and would require parental consent for 13 through17 year-olds. The bill would also prevent social media companies from feeding content using algorithms to users under the age of 18. The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act would:
- Require social media companies to undertake rigorous age verification measures based on the latest technology, while prohibiting companies from using age verification information for any other purpose;
- Prohibit children under the age of 13 from using social media, consistent with the current practices of major social media companies;
- Prohibit social media companies from recommending content using algorithms to users under the age of 18;
- Require a guardian’s permission for users under 18 to create an account;
- Create a pilot project for a government-provided age verification system that platforms can choose to use; and
- Provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general authority to enforce the provisions of the bill.
The top Republican campaigns in Illinois used a private online portal to request stories and shape coverage in a network of media outlets that present themselves as local newspapers. Screenshots show that the password-protected portal, called Lumen, allowed users to pitch stories; provide interview subjects as well as questions; place announcements and submit op-eds to be “published verbatim” in any of about 30 sites that form part of the Illinois-focused media network, called Local Government Information Services. In some cases, users with Lumen access could choose whether to add a fact-checking step. Campaigns could find feedback about the stories they had submitted within the portal, including online views and the kinds of audiences reacting to the content. The online portal offers the potential for a new level of collaboration between political operators and certain media outlets — one in which candidates can easily seek to customize news stories without the public’s knowledge.
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), Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org), and David L. Clay II (dclay AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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