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.

EU Lawmakers Pass Strict New Rules Affecting Big US Tech

The lead committee in the European Parliament writing new tech rules passed measures that could impact major US and European tech companies. Lawmakers voted to approve measures in the draft Digital Markets Act that could mean: 

FCC Approves Verizon-TracFone Deal with Consumer Protections

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve—with strong consumer protection conditions—the transfer of control of TracFone Wireless from América Móvil to Verizon Communications. After rigorous review, the FCC found that the transaction, as modified by Verizon’s enforceable commitments, will make Verizon and TracFone stronger providers of prepaid and Lifeline services. Given the communities that TracFone primarily serves within the US, the FCC adopted a number of binding conditions to address potential harms and to ensure the transaction will be in the public interest.

EU lawmakers agree on rules to target Big Tech

EU lawmakers have reached a breakthrough on how to target tech companies, including Apple and Google, as part of moves by Brussels to curb anti-competitive practices in the digital economy. The European Parliament’s main political parties agreed to a deal that would apply to companies with a market capitalisation of at least €80 billion and offering at least one internet service, such as online search. It means the rules would draw more companies than thought into the EU’s planned Digital Markets Act (DMA), a wide-ranging effort to rein in Big Tech.

Vodafone widens UK broadband footprint with capacity deals

Vodafone has stepped up its push into the UK broadband market after striking new deals with BT’s Openreach and challenger network CityFibre that hand the group the largest ultrafast broadband footprint in the country. The deals mean Vodafone will be able to offer the high-speed broadband product to 8 million homes by spring 2022 at steep discounts as it looks to grow its share of the market. The UK company is Europe’s largest broadband provider, with more than 25 million customers after acquiring cable networks in markets including Germany and Spain.

Australia Backs $1.6 Billion Buy of Pacific Mobile Networks

Australia is backing the purchase of mobile networks in six Pacific countries, a move that foreign-policy experts say is designed to block a military rival from buying the strategically important assets. The government said its export-finance arm agreed to provide $1.33 billion in funding to support the $1.6 billion purchase by Telstra Corp, Australia’s biggest communications provider, of the networks in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

Twitter admits bias in algorithm for rightwing politicians and news outlets

Twitter has admitted it amplifies more tweets from rightwing politicians and news outlets than content from leftwing sources. The company examined tweets from elected officials in seven countries – the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Japan. It also studied whether political content from news organisations was amplified on Twitter, focusing primarily on US news sources such as Fox News, the New York Times and BuzzFeed.

EU’s Ambitious New Tech Rules to Be Delayed Further Into 2022

European Union countries will delay a key target of finalizing new rules hitting tech platforms by the spring of 2022, now saying they aim to reach a deal “as soon as possible” ahead of a leaders’ summit on October 21. The EU’s Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act are two heavily debated pieces of legislation unveiled in 2020 by the European Commission that seek to curb the power of Big Tech. The Digital Markets Act seeks to curb anti-competitive behavior, while the Digital Services Act would regulate online content.

Factors affecting the sustainability of telecentres in developing countries

Due to rapid technological changes, governments in developing countries have paid special attention to sustainability. However, understanding insights into the sustainability of telecentres remains an open question (Editor's note: telecentres are public places where people can access computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies). This paper aims to fill this gap. We conducted a case study analyzing the sustainability of telecentres in Vietnam.

The Digital Divide is Real—And It’s Sexist

For many, the digital divide is the gap between who has access to broadband infrastructure or who does not. But a truer definition is the gap between who's actually using our most powerful communications tools and who is not. Using this broader measure and examining use around the world, we see that women are being left offline. And this gender gap costs everyone.