Daily Digest 9/10/2019 (The cruel irony of the digital divide)

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Table of Contents

Broadband

KentuckyWired broadband project completed in Eastern Kentucky  |  Read below  |  MaryAnn Fletcher  |  WYMT
Momentum Builds for Maryland’s Rural Broadband Initiative  |  Read below  |  Jed Pressgrove  |  Government Technology
“The cruel irony of the digital divide” in Colorado: Urban poor are left behind even as access, technology improves  |  Read below  |  Tamara Chuang  |  Colorado Sun

Wireless

In the Race to Dominate 5G, China Sprints Ahead  |  Read below  |  Stu Woo  |  Wall Street Journal
US Cellular Emphasizes Fairness with New Strategy, Including 5G for Rural  |  telecompetitor

Platforms

50 US states and territories announce broad antitrust investigation of Google  |  Read below  |  Tony Romm  |  Washington Post
The Government vs. Big Tech: Arguments Each Side Could Make  |  Wall Street Journal
Tech Firms Need More Regulation  |  Read below  |  Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne  |  Op-Ed  |  Atlantic, The
48 states are probing Google on antitrust grounds. Why isn’t California?  |  Los Angeles Times
Google is always listening. Now it’s watching, too, with the Nest Hub Max.  |  Washington Post
Big Tech's moral compass remains glitchy  |  Axios
Appeals court smacks down LinkedIn—says scraping isn’t hacking  |  Ars Technica

Journalism

Local newspapers are suffering, but they’re still (by far) the most significant journalism producers in their communities  |  Read below  |  Philip Napoli, Jessica Mahone  |  Op-Ed  |  Nieman Lab

Kids and Media

YouTube promised to halt comments on kids videos already. It hasn't.  |  C|Net
Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life  |  Read below  |  Emily Vogels  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center
Stuart Brotman: Millennials can help grandparents achieve stronger internet privacy  |  Hill, The

Health

Telepsychiatry Helps Recruitment And Patient Care In Rural Areas  |  National Public Radio

Government & Communications

First ‘High-Tech Census’ Raises Stakes for Local Government  |  Government Technology

Emergency Communications

FCC Proposes $272,000 Fine of CBS for Misuse of Emergency Alert Tone  |  Federal Communications Commission

Company News

AT&T Faces Demands for Strategy Shift From Hedge Fund. Told to Sell DirecTV.  |  New York Times
  • President Trump suggests activist investor intervene at CNN, calls network 'bad for the USA'  |  Hill, The
  • Erik Wemple: Give it up, President Trump. CNN will outlast you.  |  Washington Post

Trade

Tech industry pushes Congress to pass President Trump's North American trade pact  |  Hill, The

Stories From Abroad

Apple, Foxconn caught breaking Chinese labor laws while making iPhones  |  Ars Technica
Chinese professor stole hard drive secrets for Huawei, US government charges  |  Ars Technica
Opinion -- Dictators and the Internet: A love story  |  Washington Post
Opinion: Ahead of elections, Canadians must be vigilant about misinformation online  |  Washington Post
 
Today's Top Stories

Broadband

KentuckyWired broadband project completed in Eastern Kentucky

MaryAnn Fletcher  |  WYMT

The construction phase of the KentuckyWired project in Eastern Kentucky is complete after multiple delays. Governor Matt Bevin (R) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R) made the announcement at the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit in Pikeville. With the help of the crowd counting down, the two pressed a button and activated the broadband internet connection in the region. KentuckyWired's 1B and 2 rings will provide infrastructure for broadband connectivity in 39 counties, including: (Ring 1B) Bath, Bourbon, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Wolfe, and (Ring 2) Bell, Harlan, Knox, Letcher, McCreary, Pike, Wayne and Whitley.

Momentum Builds for Maryland’s Rural Broadband Initiative

Jed Pressgrove  |  Government Technology

Kenrick Gordon, director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband, sees numerous ways that improved broadband access can transform life and work in rural areas. But sometimes framing this issue is as simple as tying it all back to education. “If our children have to go to McDonald’s to do their homework, that’s not a good thing,” he said. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) revealed a five-year, $100 million plan to expand rural broadband. The dollar amount attached to the plan, which Gordon developed, is an estimation of how much funding it will take to provide last-mile Internet services to unserved households in rural Maryland. About $9.7 million of that figure will be spent during the first year, which will set the tone for what’s to come in the state. The grants will cover up to half of capital construction costs, and a minimum of a 100 percent match is required for the funding. Gordon added that the grants are intended to support larger infrastructure projects and will mostly involve work at the county level. Other details, such as the grant application process, have not been fleshed out and will be addressed by a recently formed advisory committee. 

“The cruel irony of the digital divide” in Colorado: Urban poor are left behind even as access, technology improves

Tamara Chuang  |  Colorado Sun

When money is tight, Elysia Lucero has to make a choice: Pay the internet bill or buy food for her family.  She bought food last month. On Wednesday, she stopped by the PCs for People store on West Alameda Avenue in Denver (CO) to take care of the unpaid internet bill. “We can’t live without the internet,” said Lucero, whose service had been cut off. At least her family qualifies for internet access that is relatively affordable, less than $15 a month, compared to the $50 to $100 that many households in metro Denver pay. But efforts to keep broadband prices below $15 a month appear to be relegated to companies or nonprofit organizations. Attempts to close the digital divide by legislators focus on rural communities, where internet infrastructure doesn’t exist. Sometimes after those communities finally get service, broadband prices can soar into the triple digits. “Almost all (public) subsidies are going to households with zero access as opposed to households with zero money,” said Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  “The political dynamic is that there are no opponents to working on rural broadband…If you start to look into investing in broadband for lower-income users, you make the cable companies nervous because it increases competition.”

Wireless

In the Race to Dominate 5G, China Sprints Ahead

Stu Woo  |  Wall Street Journal

Because 5G is set to be embedded in so many fields of endeavor, the country that dominates the technology is likely to reap outsize profits, attract top-tier engineering talent and seize an edge in other critical future technologies, including weaponry. President Donald Trump has said 5G is a race that the US must win. But while American wireless carriers are leading in early deployment of the technology, some telecom-industry leaders say Beijing is poised to vault ahead in coming months. China plans to blanket urban areas with it by the end of 2020 and the rest of the country soon after. A local manager at one carrier estimated that even Tongguan, which lacks modern plumbing, could get the superfast networks by 2021. As it did in constructing its high-speed rail network and Olympic Games infrastructure, the Chinese government has flexed its authoritarian, top-down power to clear red tape for a 5G project that it deems a national priority. It has directed regulators, provincial and local governments and its three major state-owned wireless carriers to work together. In the US, where residents are prone to complain loudly about new cellphone towers going up next door, Washington's (DC) strategy is far from unified. The White House hasn’t taken an important step to clear the military from valuable 5G airwaves, while measures from the Federal Communications Commission meant to fast-track 5G have actually created infighting among Washington, municipal governments and private wireless carriers, which are now suing one another.

Platforms

50 US states and territories announce broad antitrust investigation of Google

Tony Romm  |  Washington Post

Attorneys general for 50 US states and territories officially announced an antitrust investigation of Google (CA and AL are the only states that have not signed onto the probe), embarking on a wide-ranging review of a tech giant that the officials said may threaten competition, consumers and the continued growth of the web. Appearing on the steps of the Supreme Court, TX Attorney General Ken Paxton charged that Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” though he cautioned that despite his criticism the states had launched an investigation for now and not a lawsuit. TX AG Paxton said the probe’s initial focus will be online advertising, a market in which Google is a leader, raking in more than $48 billion in 2019. But some of those attorneys general raised additional complaints about Google, ranging from the way the company processes and ranks search results to the extent to which it may not fully protect users’ personal information. Their early rebukes raised the stakes for Google, threatening top-to-bottom scrutiny of its sprawling business beyond just ads. Paxton promised the probe would go wherever the facts lead.

Another group of 11 state attorneys general — led by New York’s Letitia James — has commenced their own probe against Facebook, exploring whether it violates competition laws and mishandles consumers’ personal information.

Tech Firms Need More Regulation

Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne  |  Op-Ed  |  Atlantic, The

In contrast to prior technological eras—marked by inventions such as the railroad, telephone, automobile, and television—the age of digital technology has progressed for several decades with remarkably little regulation, or even self‑regulation. This hands‑off attide needs to give way to a more activist approach. The greatest risk facing technology firms isn’t overregulation—it’s that government won’t do enough, swiftly enough, to address the technology issues affecting the world. In the democracies of the world, one of the most cherished values is that the public determines its course by electing the people who make the laws that govern everyone. Tech leaders may be chosen by boards of directors selected by shareholders, but they are not chosen by the public. Democratic countries should not cede the future to leaders the public did not elect.

Technology innovation is not going to slow down. The work to manage it needs to speed up.

[Brad Smith is the president of Microsoft. Carol Ann Browne is senior director of communications and external relations at Microsoft]

Journalism

Local newspapers are suffering, but they’re still (by far) the most significant journalism producers in their communities

Philip Napoli, Jessica Mahone  |  Op-Ed  |  Nieman Lab

Local newspapers have always been the epicenter of local news ecosystems. While communities may have other sources of journalism, such as TV and radio stations and online-only outlets, the bulk of the reporting serving local communities has traditionally been provided by local newspapers. we conducted a study that explores which types of outlets are the most significant producers of journalism in 100 randomly sampled communities across the US. The results show, fairly convincingly, that despite the economic hardships that local newspapers have endured, they remain, by far, the most significant providers of journalism in their communities. And while there is great hope and expectation that newer, online journalism sources will emerge to compensate for the cutbacks and closures affecting local newspapers, our study has shown that this has yet to take place. We found, for instance, that while local newspapers accounted for roughly 25 percent of the local media outlets in our sample, they accounted for nearly 50 percent of the original news stories in our database. Local newspapers also accounted for nearly 60 percent of the local news stories in our database (again, while accounting for only 25 percent of the outlet in our sample). Essentially, local newspapers produced more of the local reporting in the communities we studied than television, radio, and online-only outlets combined.

While legacy newspapers have declined, they certainly have yet to be displaced as vital producers of local journalism. And the long hoped for emergence of online-only outlets as comparable providers of local journalism still appears to be a long way off. As policymakers and philanthropic organizations concerned about local journalism consider their next steps, and where to invest their efforts and resources, it may be worth keeping these numbers in mind.

[Philip M. Napoli is the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he is also a faculty affiliate with the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. Jessica Mahone is an associate in research at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at Duke University.]

Kids and Media

Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life

Emily Vogels  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center

Millennials have often led older Americans in their adoption and use of technology, and this largely holds true today. But there has been significant growth in tech adoption since 2012 among older generations – particularly Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Some findings:

  • More than nine-in-ten Millennials (93% of those who turn ages 23 to 38 this year) own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers (those ages 39 to 54 this year), 68% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) and 40% of the Silent Generation (74 to 91). 
  • Those in the Silent Generation also lag when it comes to having broadband service at home. Whereas most Millennials (78%), Gen Xers (78%) and Boomers (74%) say they subscribe to home broadband, fewer than half of Silents (45%) say this.
  • While generations differ in their use of various technologies, a 2018 Center survey found that younger internet users also were more likely than older Americans who use the internet to say the internet has had a positive impact on society: 73% of online Millennials said the internet has been mostly a good thing for society, compared with 63% of users in the Silent Generation. Americans were also less positive about the societal impact of the internet last year than four years earlier. Gen Xers’ views of the internet’s impact on society declined the most in that time. In 2014, 80% of Gen X internet users believed the internet had been mostly a positive thing for society, a number that dropped to 69% in 2018. Millennial and Silent internet users were also somewhat less optimistic in 2018 than in 2014.

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