Stories from Abroad

Since 2010, the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation have partnered to highlight telecommunications debates from countries outside the U.S.

U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with Microsoft data privacy fight

Supreme Court justices wrestled with Microsoft’s dispute with the US Justice Department over whether prosecutors can force technology companies to hand over data stored overseas, with some signaling support for the government and others urging Congress to pass a law to resolve the issue. Microsoft argues that laws have not caught up to modern computing infrastructure and it should not hand over data stored internationally. The Justice Department argues that refusing to turn over easily accessible data impedes criminal investigations.

Remote learning is deepening the divide between rich and poor

Peru, the nation with the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate, is also one of dozens of countries where schools nationwide remain closed on account of the pandemic, with no reopening date in sight. The quarantine here is particularly severe; children 14 and under are permitted out of their homes only one hour per day. Some families can afford workarounds. Students from families wealthy enough to pay for private schools have kept their educations going with private tutors and interactive classes on home computers.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s £5 billion broadband plan ‘ludicrously unrealistic’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election promise to connect the entire country to cutting-edge broadband speeds by 2025 has been dubbed “ludicrously unrealistic” after the parliament’s spending watchdog warned that rural internet users risk being left behind by the slow pace of progress. The comments from Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee, followed a National Audit Office report that said the 2025 target was “challenging” and warned that those rural areas risk being further left behind.

Pandemic Exposes Europe’s Creaking Internet for All to See

Europe’s internet infrastructure is riddled with gaps and bottlenecks, exposed over the past seven months by surging hospital admissions to the rise of home working and explosion of e-commerce.

FCC Commissioner starks calls for new scrutiny of undersea data cables

Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called for new scrutiny of undersea cables that transmit nearly all the world’s internet data traffic at the FCC meeting Sept 30.  “We must take a closer look at cables with landing locations in adversary countries,” Commissioner Starks said.

Lessons learned from Taiwan and South Korea's tech-enabled COVID-19 communications

In exploring the principles behind democratic health communications around the world, South Korea and Taiwan stood out for their use of technology both to understand what their citizens were thinking and to prevent the health disinformation spreading as it did in Europe and North America. Their experiences in dealing with the infodemic provide five important lessons for policymakers:

Big Tech Faces Ban From Favoring Own Services Under European Union Rules

Big tech firms could be banned from preferencing their own services in search rankings or exclusively pre-installing their own applications on devices, under new regulations planned by the European Union.

Some Google Search Rivals Lose Footing on Android System

A system Google set up to promote competition on Android has left some smaller search engines having trouble gaining traction, fueling rivals’ complaints about the tech giant’s compliance with a European Union antitrust decision ahead of potential US charges. Since March, Google has been showing people in Europe who set up new mobile devices running the company’s Android operating system what it calls a “choice screen,” a list of rival search engines that they can select as the device’s default.

Remarks By FCC Chairman Pai To The Prague 5G Security Conference

We’ve gathered to discuss 5G security, of course, but I think it’s important to say up front that we can’t let these challenges hold back our efforts to unlock the possibilities of 5G itself. Over the past few years, the Federal Communications Commission has aggressively executed what we call our 5G FAST plan. This strategy for promoting 5G innovation and investment features three key parts: freeing up commercial spectrum, promoting the installation of wireless infrastructure, and encouraging fiber deployment.

The WeChat ban vs. the First Amendment

The Trump Administration said it would challenge a federal court ruling Sept 20 that temporarily blocked its attempt to curb the use of Chinese messaging and e-commerce app WeChat in the US. WeChat's ban has had a lower profile than TikTok's, but the fate of the app, widely used by Chinese people around the world to stay in touch with family and friends, is at least as consequential. The ruling suggests that WeChat's fate in the US could be decided not only on grounds of national security and commercial regulations but also around freedom of speech principles.