Digital Content

Information that is published or distributed in a digital form, including text, data, sound recordings, photographs and images, motion pictures, and software.

Supreme Court strikes down sex offender social media ban

The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that bars convicted sex offenders from Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites. The justices ruled unanimously in favor of North Carolina resident Lester Packingham Jr.

His Facebook boast about beating a traffic ticket led to his conviction for violating a 2008 law aimed at keeping sex offenders off internet sites children might use. The court rejected the state’s argument that the law deals with the virtual world in the same way that states keep sex offenders out of playgrounds and other places children visit. “In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

A Republican contractor’s database of nearly every voter was left exposed on the Internet for 12 days, researcher says

A Republican analytics firm's database of nearly every registered American voter was left vulnerable to theft on a public server for 12 days in June, according to a cybersecurity researcher who found and downloaded the trove of data. The lapse in security was striking for putting at risk the identities, voting histories and views of voters across the political spectrum, with data drawn from a wide range of sources including social media, public government records and proprietary polling by political groups.

Chris Vickery, a risk analyst at cybersecurity firm UpGuard, said he found a spreadsheet of nearly 200 million Americans on a server run by Amazon's cloud hosting business that was left without a password or any other protection. Anyone with Internet access who found the server could also have downloaded the entire file. The server contained data from Deep Root Analytics, which created a database of information from a variety of sources including the Republican National Committee, one of the company's clients. Deep Root Analytics used Amazon Web Services for server storage, and Vickery said he came up on the server's address as he scanned the Internet for unsecured databases.

President Trump: 'Fake News Media hates when I use' Twitter

President Donald Trump boasted about his "very powerful" use of Twitter, saying that it allowed him to sidestep the news media and deliver his message directly to supporters. "The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media — over 100 million people! I can go around them," he tweeted. President Trump has long used Twitter to comment on the news and announce policy decisions. He has argued that the social media site allows him to skirt traditional news sources that he claims treat him unfairly.

FCC makes net neutrality commenters’ e-mail addresses public through API

If you’re one of the many people filing comments on the Federal Communications Commission plan to gut network neutrality rules, be aware that your e-mail address and any other information you submit could be made public. There’s nothing nefarious going on, but the FCC’s privacy policy could lead people to believe that e-mail addresses will be kept secret if they file comments on FCC proceedings.

The commission’s privacy policy has a section titled “Comments,” which says the following: "Prior to commenting, you will be prompted to login, either by providing your e-mail address, or by linking your comment to an existing account on a popular website such as Google, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Twitter. While your e-mail address will not be made public, if you login with a social media service, your picture, as well as a link to your profile will be posted alongside your comment." However, this privacy policy applies not to comments on FCC proceedings but to comments on blog posts, such as those posted by Chairman Ajit Pai. When you go to submit comments on the net neutrality plan—or any other FCC proceeding—you are told the following: “You are filing a document into an official FCC proceeding. All information submitted, including names and addresses, will be publicly available via the web.”

Judge Backs Making Consumer Websites Accessible to Blind

US District Judge Robert Scola ruled that grocery chain Winn-Dixie Stores must make its website accessible to the blind, following an unprecedented trial over a gray area of accessibility law.

The decision adds momentum to a push by plaintiffs’ lawyers and disability-rights groups to make all consumer websites accessible to the blind and hearing-impaired. Uncertainty in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and a lack of Justice Department guidance has created widespread confusion over whether websites must meet the same stringent accessibility standards as stores do. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have latched on to the ambiguity to launch hundreds of website accessibility lawsuits, most of which privately settle. The latest ruling “is definitely a game-changer,” said Minh Vu, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP who represents companies facing accessibility claims and is not involved in the case. While the decision is only immediately applicable to Winn-Dixie, Ms. Vu said, it sends a signal to other companies that “there’s a very real possibility a judge could find this way.”

FCC Chairman Pai Honors Innovators In Accessibility Communications Technology

Recognizing innovative communications technology designed for people with disabilities, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced winners and honorable mentions of the sixth annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA).

2017’s winners include an app that can caption live conversations, automated image recognition for social media that tags images with descriptive text for those with limited sight, guidelines to script video content in ways that naturally describe on-screen action for those who cannot see it, and an audible video programing interface for people who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to the four winners, two honorable mentions were chosen.

House Digital Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on IoT

The House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep Bob Latta (R-OH), held a hearing to discuss how businesses are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to create, innovate, and connect. Following the bipartisan IoT Showcase, witnesses discussed how various industries are capitalizing on network connectivity, what this means for consumers across the country, and challenges hampering advancement and further innovation in this space.

“We are seeing IoT revolutionize a variety of industries and optimize everything from manufacturing and home appliances to automobiles and healthcare,” said Chairman Latta in his opening statement. “These connected devices offer consumers and businesses significant benefits. For businesses, IoT is improving efficiency and increasing productivity all while helping drive down overhead costs. For consumers, IoT provides quick responsive services, enhanced experiences and convenience.”

Democratic Sens Seek Answers About Trump Officials and Encrypted Apps

Top Democratic Sens on the Homeland Security Committee are asking inspectors general at 24 federal agencies to investigate whether Trump Administration officials are skirting federal records laws by using encrypted and vanishing messaging apps. The committee’s current and former ranking members, Sens Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tom Carper (D-DE) also want the IGs to investigate whether top agency officials are barring staffers from responding to information requests from congressional Democrats.

That request follows a report that Trump Administration lawyers advised agencies to ignore Democratic requests. The senators collected the requests into a single, alphabetically arranged document that runs to 120 pages, beginning with the Agriculture Department IG and ending with Veterans Affairs.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer resigns, cites achievements by fallen firm as Verizon deal closes

Verizon officially closed its $4.5 billion agreement to purchase Yahoo. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced her resignation in a message to employees. “It’s an emotional time for all of us,” Mayer wrote in a blog post. “Given the inherent changes to my role, I’ll be leaving the company. However, I want all of you to know that I’m brimming with nostalgia, gratitude, and optimism.”

“Yahoo’s imprint and impact on the valley will long outlive its own history,” said Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino. “For so many years, (its) creative culture and the individual leaders left an indelible mark on the valley.”

Yahoo’s drawn-out, painful demise seemed as much about the laws of nature as the laws of business, as it struggled in vain to keep its strength while a wily predator gobbled up its sustenance. Once that upstart Google came onto the internet scene with a better algorithm for searching, Yahoo’s kicking and flailing at a digital advertising market that had left it behind provided drama that time after time captivated Silicon Valley. It made for an epic tale that showcased the power of rapidly changing technology to both create and destroy.

Facebook Building Feature to Let Users Subscribe to News Publications

Facebook may soon help its users do something unfamiliar on the platform: pay for news. The social-media giant is building a feature that would allow users to subscribe to publishers directly from the mobile app, apparently. The feature, long-requested by publishers, is expected to roll out by the end of 2017. Many details remain up in the air, but discussions have centered around making the feature available only on stories published natively to Facebook through its Instant Articles product. Talks have also focused on how to structure the arrangement, with Facebook leaning toward a metered-payment model, which would allow users to read some articles for free each month before prompting them to pay.