Digital Content

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

How seriously should we take Trump’s tweets? Apparently this debate will never end.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had settled it when he said President Trump's tweets “are considered official statements by the president of the United States.” But Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) doesn't agree. In an interview about Trump's (Twitter-driven) attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rep Stewart said this: “I quit reading the president's tweets quite a long time ago. I don’t pay that much attention to them, and I'd recommend other people not pay a whole lot of attention to it because I don’t think it's policy.” And House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, "I don't read that stuff."

Remarks Of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai At Telecommunications For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing, Inc. Biennial Conference

The Federal Communications Commission is determined to be Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s (TDI) partner and meet this moment. I’d like to walk through the Commission’s multi-part strategy for improving the lives of Americans with disabilities through communications technology. The first part of this strategy is pretty straightforward: to uphold our legal obligations to promote accessibility and to advance new rules when appropriate. Part two of our accessibility strategy is encouraging the private sector to make accessibility a priority, rather than an afterthought. A third way that the FCC aims to promote accessibility is to lead by example. We are seeing real success with our direct video calling program—also called DVC. Bottom line: When it comes to accessibility, the FCC is practicing what we preach. The fourth and final piece of our accessibility agenda might not strike you at first as relevant to accessibility. But our work to bridge the digital divide is critically important to Americans with disabilities. We are aiming to connect every American with digital opportunity regardless of who they are or where they live.

Sens Expected to Unveil E-mail Privacy Legislation July 27

Apparently, Sens Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are expected to unveil legislation that will force the government to obtain warrants to look at American citizen’s e-mails. Sens Leahy and Lee’s bill, titled the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017, aims to update the Email Communications Privacy Act of 1986. The bill will initially be released without any cosponsors.

Currently, law enforcement can obtain Americans’ e-mail correspondence with a written statement saying that the e-mails are necessary to an investigation, a process that does not require judicial review. The new bill would change this and require law enforcement agencies to get warrants through a court to gain access to citizens’ e-mails. Apparently, the reforms would cover areas beyond email privacy like protections on metadata, and improvements to the current gag rules which allow the government to keep e-mail service providers from notifying users that their e-mails have been obtained. The bill has been extremely popular in the House, passing with an overwhelming, bipartisan majority the last two times it was introduced.

Foundation Launched To Promote Content Diversity

A diverse group of stakeholders is launching a new foundation to help diverse content creators find distribution. The Creative Thread Foundation is billed as a "a non-profit organization focused on breaking down barriers of entry for underrepresented content creators and those working behind the scenes in media and entertainment."

The coalition was launched in Washington on July 26, with the blessing and support of the Congressional Multicultural Media Caucus chairs Reps Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Judy Chu (D-CA) and with an assist from co-founder and Fusion TV Correspondent Kimberly Brooks. Founding partners, there are over 60 of them, include everyone from Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Disney, Amazon, Fusion, the National Association of Broadcasters and AT&T, to Black Mamas Matter and Green 2.0.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is ‘looking closely’ at online sales taxes

The Trump administration is weighing whether to support online sales taxes that could give state governments greater flexibility in their budgets. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee July 25, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House “is looking very closely at this issue” and that it intends to “come out with a position shortly.”

Sec Mnuchin said that the policy could be an important way for states to fund infrastructure — an issue that President donald Trump has touted as a key part of his agenda with a $1 trillion spending plan. Some analysts have questioned the feasibility of that plan because it would cut federal investments in infrastructure by tens of billions of dollars. But allowing states to require companies to collect and remit taxes on online sales could help make up some of the shortfall.

Republican Reps battle within party over online sales tax bill

Members of the House Judiciary Committee sparred over the implications of a bill that aims to take away states' ability to collect online sales taxes. Republican Reps clashed within their own party and with Democrats in a hearing over whether or not the “No Regulation Without Representation” act (HR 2887) would help local economies or violate principles of state sovereignty.

“For most of American history, it was axiomatic that states cannot regulate beyond their borders,” said Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). “HR 2887 would provide a clear congressional response that would, at the same time, protect states’ rights.” Chairman Goodlatte contended that one state imposing an online sales tax could violate another’s right to govern. A bookseller in Idaho selling on Amazon to a buyer in Texas, for example, could be hypothetically affected by an online sales tax in Texas. One Republican legislator from South Dakota, state Sen Deb Peters (R-SD), testifying before the committee, said the opposite effect would be achieved. "With respect to interstate sales tax collection, the No Regulation Without Representation Act unjustifiably pre-empts state authority,” state Sen Peters said, arguing that the legislation Goodlatte is supporting would unfairly bar states from regulating commerce within their own borders.

FTC Announces Winner of its Internet of Things Home Device Security Contest

The Federal Trade Commission announced that a mobile app developed by a New Hampshire software developer was awarded the top prize in the agency’s competition seeking tools to help consumers protect the security of their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The FTC launched the contest in January to challenge innovators to develop a tool that would help address security vulnerabilities of IoT devices.

With the assistance of an expert panel of five judges, the FTC awarded Steve Castle the $25,000 top prize for his proposal for a mobile app, “IoT Watchdog.” As a software developer, Castle said he was motivated to enter the contest to distill his network security knowledge and experience into a tool that can help users easily determine if their devices are out of date or if their networks are insecure. The mobile app he proposed seeks to help users manage the IoT devices in their home. It would enable users with limited technical expertise to scan their home Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks to identify and inventory connected devices. It would flag devices with out-of-date software and other common vulnerabilities and provide instructions on how to update each device’s software and fix other vulnerabilities.

How Smart Devices Could Violate Your Privacy

Where smart technologies are concerned, the expectation of privacy extends only from the consumer to machine. Once the machine communicates with an outside server – even where data is sent to a server controlled by the product's manufacturer – privacy is violated. Currently, law enforcement can obtain a search warrant compelling a third party to turn over data recorded by the smart device if the company can control or access the information.

The Supreme Court has yet to consider a case that specifically addresses whether, in an era of modern technology where we regularly choose to give personal data to third parties, a person should have an expectation of privacy in the information. As the law stands, once information is voluntarily disclosed to a third party, he does not. One case currently pending at the Supreme Court may tee up the issue of the Third Party Doctrine in the digital age, but until the Court takes on such a case, this premise holds true. It seems the one thing technologists and lawyers alike agree on is that the "right" to privacy could be overcome by technology very soon. The danger is that the new standard will become: You have the right to remain silent, but your smart home does not.

Twitter faces new criticism from Congress amid charges it briefly blocked net neutrality critics

Sens Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sharply rebuked Twitter following reports that the website briefly blocked its users from posting links to a blog post that criticized the US government’s network neutrality rules. Twitter previously had described the mishap as a glitch, but Sens Johnson and Blunt still penned a letter that slammed the company’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, for an incident that appeared to lawmakers to be “an affront to free expression.”

The confusing saga began on July 12, the day that Twitter joined Facebook, Google and other tech giants for an online rally in defense of an open internet. But those who sought to share the company’s blog post could not do so on Twitter. For a time, the site marked the link as suspicious and blocked new tweets containing it. That immediately led to cries of censorship, given Twitter’s public participation in the day of action in support of net neutrality — and on the opposite side of the debate from AT&T. A Twitter spokesman at the time said the link was “erroneously caught in Twitter's anti-spam filters” and quickly remedied the mistake. But the fracas still managed to reach Capitol Hill, where Sens Johnson and Blunt on Tuesday described the incident in a letter to Dorsey as “disturbing.”

Google Fights Against Canada's Order to Change Global Search Results

In June, Canada's Supreme Court came down on Google—hard. It ruled that the tech giant must take down certain Google search results for pirated products. And not just in Canada, but globally. Now, Google is going south of the Canadian border to push back on this landmark court ruling.

The tech giant filed an injunction July 24 with the US District Court for Northern California, arguing that globally removing the search results violates US law, and thus Google should not be forced to comply with the Canadian ruling. Because the case had already made its way to the highest court in Canada, Google should have not been able to fight the ruling. But Google is hoping to find a loophole on American soil by arguing this violates the First Amendment. “We’re taking this court action to defend the legal principle that one country shouldn’t be able to decide what information people in other countries can access online,” says David Price, senior product counsel at Google. “Undermining this core principle inevitably leads to a world where internet users are subject to the most restrictive content limitations from every country.”