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Tag Archives: policy

T-Mobile should stop claiming it has “Best Unlimited Network,” ad group says

Enlarge (credit: T-Mobile ) T-Mobile USA should stop claiming that it has "America's Best Unlimited Network," the advertising industry's self-regulator said today. AT&T challenged T-Mobile's ads to the National Advertising Division (NAD), which ruled that T-Mobile hasn't substantiated its claim that it has the best wireless network. T-Mobile defended itself by arguing that speed outweighs all other factors—apparently including overall coverage and reliability. But to reasonably claim that one has the best overall network for unlimited data, a carrier should prove that it also has the widest geographic coverage and best reliability, the NAD concluded. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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‘My Data Request’ lists guides to get data about you

GDPR is right around the corner, so it’s time to prepare your personal data requests. If you live in the European Union, tech companies have to comply with personal data requests after May 25th. And there’s a handy website that helps you do just that. My Data Request lists dozens of tech companies and tells you how you can contact them. The website also links to the privacy policy of each service and tells you what to do even if you don’t live in the EU. Some companies, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Tinder and Snapchat have made that easy as they have created a page on their website to download a zip archive with all your personal data. But it’s worth nothing that your archive doesn’t necessarily include all data about you. For instance, Facebook tracks your web and location history as much as possible. But you won’t find any of that in the archive. The download tool is mostly about getting a copy of your posts, Messenger conversations, photos and more. For most companies (including Amazon), you’ll have to email them yourself. My Data Request has created handy email templates. You just have to copy the message, put your name and contact information and send the email.

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ISPs and Ajit Pai are really sad about Senate’s vote for net neutrality

Enlarge / MAY 16, 2018: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a press conference after a Senate vote to maintain net neutrality rules. (credit: Getty Images | Congressional Quarterly) Broadband lobby groups and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai are upset about yesterday's US Senate vote to restore net neutrality rules and are calling on Republican lawmakers to kill the effort in the House. Yesterday's Senate vote "throws into reverse our shared goal of maintaining an open, thriving Internet," said  USTelecom, which represents AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and other telcos. USTelecom claimed to speak on behalf of Internet users, saying that "Consumers want permanent, comprehensive online protections, not half measures or election year posturing from our representatives in Congress." Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Zuckerberg will meet with European parliament in private next week

Who says privacy is dead?  Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to take European parliamentarians’ questions about how his platform impacts the privacy of hundreds of millions of European citizens — but only behind closed doors. Where no one except a handful of carefully chosen MEPs will bear witness to what’s said. The private meeting will take place on May 22 at 17.45CET in Brussels. After which the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, will hold a press conference to furnish the media with his version of events. It’s just a shame that journalists are being blocked from being able to report on what actually goes on in the room. And that members of the public won’t be able to form their own opinions about how Facebook’s founder responds to pressing questions about what Zuckerberg’s platform is doing to their privacy and their fundamental rights . Because the doors are being closed to journalists and citizens. The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament will meet on 22 May at 17.45 with Mark Zuckerberg to discuss the use of personal data of millions of #Facebook EU users. After the meeting @EP_President Tajani will inform media of the discussions. Details will follow.

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After Senate victory, House announces plans to force its own vote on net neutrality

Hot on the heels of a surprising 52-47 Senate disapproval of the FCC’s new, weaker net neutrality rules, the House of Representatives will soon attempt to force a similar vote under the Congressional Review Act. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced in a statement and at a press conference following the Senate vote that he will begin the process first thing tomorrow morning. “I have introduced a companion CRA in the house,” Rep. Doyle said, “but I’m also going to begin a discharge petition which we will have open for signature tomorrow morning. And I urge every member who’s uproots a free and open internet to join me and sign this petition so we can bring this legislation to the floor.” The CRA requires Senate and House to submit the resolution itself, in the former’s case Joint Resolution 52 , after which a certain number of people to sign off on what’s called a discharge petition, actually forces a vote. Senate votes to reverse FCC order and restore net neutrality In the Senate this number is only 30, which makes it a useful tool for the minority party, which can easily gather that many votes if it’s an important issue (a full majority is still required to pass the resolution). But in the House a majority is required, 218 at present. That’s a more difficult ask, since Democrats only hold 193 seats there. They’d need two dozen Republicans to switch sides, and while it’s clear from the defection of three Senators from the party line that such bipartisan support is possible, it’s far from a done deal. Today’s success may help move the needle, though. Should the required votes be gathered, which could happen tomorrow, or take much longer, the vote will then be scheduled, though a Congressional aide I talked to was unsure how quickly it would follow. It only took a week in the Senate to go from petition to floor vote, but that period could be longer in the House depending on how the schedule works out.

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Senate votes to reverse FCC order and restore net neutrality

The Senate today voted 52-47 to disapprove the FCC’s recent order replacing 2015’s net neutrality rules, a pleasant surprise for internet advocates and consumers throughout the country. Although the disapproval will almost certainly not lead to the new rules being undone, it is a powerful statement of solidarity with a constituency activated against this deeply unpopular order. To be clear, the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” is still set to take effect in June. BREAKING: The Senate just voted to restore #NetNeutrality ! We won. To all of those who kept fighting and didn’t get discouraged: you did this. You raised your voices and we heard you. Thank you. Now the fight continues. On to the House! — Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 16, 2018 Senate Joint Resolution 52 officially disapproves the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to undo recently created rules by federal agencies. It will have to pass in the House as well and then be signed by the president for the old rules to be restored (that or a two-thirds majority, which is equally unlikely).

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Ex-CIA employee ID’d but not charged in Vault 7 leak of hacking tools

(credit: Dominic Byrd-McDevitt - Wikimedia ) Federal authorities have identified a suspect behind last year’s Vault 7 leak of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools . The trove published to WikiLeaks included exploits and documents for infecting iPhones, Wi-Fi routers , and Cisco Switches , and it represented the biggest-known loss of classified information in CIA history. According to articles posted by The Washington Post and The New York Times , the suspect is 29-year-old Joshua A. Schulte. FBI agents reportedly searched his Manhattan home a week after the WikiLeaks published its first Vault 7 dispatch in March 2017. A transcript of a court hearing this past January indicates that agents seized phones, computers, and unspecified "top secret government information." According to the transcript, the evidence immediately made Schulte a target in the leak investigation. For reasons that are still unknown, Schulte hasn’t been charged in the case despite being arrested more than a year ago. Instead, authorities charged him in August with possessing and transporting child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty in that case. His attorneys have also denied he had any involvement in the Vault 7 leak. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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White House sheds cyber coordinator role

The White House has opted to eliminate the cyber coordinator role on the National Security Council, in what some see as a step back in strong cybersecurity policy. The duties formerly performed by the coordinator will be taken up by the other two senior directors of the NSC’s cyber team. Politico first reported the news . Rob Joyce, who left the role on Friday, was chief of an NSA hacking outfit (Tailored Access Operations) last March. John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, ended the role with Joyce’s departure; a memo sent to NSC employees explained that the elimination is to “streamline authority” in the Council. The other directors will pick up the slack. The cyber coordinator role was first created by President Obama in 2009; its occupant in charge of, as you might expect, coordinating national cybersecurity policy across the many places in the government where it is being addressed. DHS and FBI detail how Russia is hacking into U.S. nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure In a time when cyber policy is increasing in importance and cyber-threats are clear and present in the country’s elections and other critical infrastructure, it seems a strange decision to “streamline” rather than bolster an important cybersecurity-related office. Trump’s administration has made noises about taking cybersecurity seriously, and in other areas has taken steps to improve things — for instance, its choice in August to elevate the Military’s Cyber Command and give it more independence. This added roles, rather than subtracting them. But Bolton’s moves put more hats on fewer people, which would seem to complicate authority rather than streamline it

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Germany’s Typhoon problem: Only four fighters can be made combat ready

SITREP: Germany's Typhoon problem. Click here for a transcript. (video link) If you thought the US Department of Defense's procurement adventures with the F-35 and other big-budget weapons systems are bad, you might want to check out what's going on in Europe, where defense procurement battles have left most of the German Luftwaffe grounded for lack of parts. Last week, at the annual Charlemagne Prize ceremony in Aachen, Germany—in which French President Emmanuel Macron was recognized for his efforts on behalf of European unity—German Prime Minister Angela Merkel pronounced that Europe could no longer depend on the United States for its protection. "Europe has to take its destiny into its own hands," Merkel said. "That is the task of the future." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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President Trump says he’s working to give ZTE a reprieve

In a remarkable development, President Trump has thrown an olive branch to controversial Chinese telecom firm ZTE . The company, which sells telcom network equipment and consumer devices including smartphones, said on Wednesday that it would cease its main business operations after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a seven-year export restriction for the company , resulting in a ban on U.S. component makers selling to ZTE. The company has been banned from selling equipment in the U.S., but shutting out supply chain partners like Intel, Qualcomm and Google is potentially catastrophic. ( The fact ZTE postponed its earnings tells you all you need to know .) Reports suggested that the Chinese government was working on ZTE’s behalf to find a compromise, and it looks like Chinese Premier Xi Jinping himself got in touch with the U.S. President, who said today in a tweet that is he “working…to give…ZTE a way back into business, fast.” Somewhat bizarrely, Trump cited a loss of jobs in China as a motivating factor. President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018 Given that U.S.

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California approves measure to require solar on new homes after 2020

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images ) On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved a set of standards that will require most new homes built in the state after 2020 to include solar panels on their roofs. The standards  (PDF) apply only to single-family homes and certain low-rise condos, townhomes, and apartments. Exceptions are made for homes with roofs that would receive excessive shade during the daytime or homes with roofs too small to benefit from a few solar panels. The standards also include some smaller efficiency requirements for non-residential buildings. The state expects that, on the whole, the new requirements will help state residents save money. Overall, California expects the new residential and non-residential standards to cost the state economy $2.17 billion, while generating an energy bill savings of $3.87 billion, for a net savings of $1.7 billion. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google is banning Irish abortion referendum ads ahead of vote

Google is suspending adverts related to a referendum in Ireland on whether or not to overturn a constitutional clause banning abortion. The vote is due to take place in a little over two weeks time. “Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the eighth amendment,” a Google spokesperson told us. The spokesperson said enforcement of the policy — which will cover referendum adverts that appear alongside Google search results and on its video sharing platform YouTube — will begin in the next 24 hours, with the pause remaining in effect through the referendum, with the vote due to take place on May 25. The move follows an announcement by Facebook yesterday  saying it had stopped accepting referendum related ads paid for by foreign entities. However Google is going further and pausing all ads targeting the vote. Given the sensitivity of the issue a blanket ban is likely the least controversial option for the company, as well as also the simplest to implement — whereas Facebook has said it has been liaising with local groups for some time, and has created a dedicated channel where ads that might be breaking its ban on foreign buyers can be reported by the groups, generating reports that Facebook will need to review and act on quickly. Given how close the vote now is both tech giants have been accused of acting too late to prevent foreign interests from using their platforms to exploit a loophole in Irish law to get around a ban on foreign donations to political campaigns by pouring money into unregulated digital advertising instead. Speaking to the Guardian , a technology spokesperson for Ireland’s opposition party Fianna Fáil, described Google’s decision to ban the adverts as “too late in the day”. “Fake news has already had a corrosive impact on the referendum debate on social media,” James Lawless TD told it, adding that the referendum campaign had made it clear Ireland needs legislation to restrict the activities of Internet companies’ ad products “in the same way that steps were taken in the past to regulate political advertising on traditional forms of print and broadcast media”. We’ve asked Google why it’s only taken the decision to suspend referendum ad buys now, and why it did not act months earlier — given the Irish government announced its intention to hold a 2018 referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment in mid 2017 — and will update this post with any response. In a public policy blog post earlier this month, the company’s policy SVP Kent Walker talked up the steps the company is taking to (as he put it) “support… election integrity through greater advertising transparency”, saying it’s rolling out new policies for U.S. election ads across its platforms, including requiring additional verification for election ad buyers, such as confirmation that an advertiser is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

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Georgia governor vetoes cyber bill that would criminalize “unauthorized access”

Enlarge / Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, with wife Sandra Deal, receives the Infinity Gauntlet from Mitch Bell on April 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. It is not known if he used the gauntlet to apply the veto stamp to Senate Bill 315, which would have criminalized some security research while allowing companies to "hack back." (credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images) A bill passed by Georgia's legislature that would have criminalized unauthorized access of computer systems and allowed companies to "hack back" in defense against breaches was vetoed on May 8 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The veto came after many weeks of opposition from information security firms and professionals, as well as major technology companies—including Google and Microsoft executives , who expressed concern that the bill would actually make it more difficult to secure computer systems. Given that Georgia is the home of Fort Gordon , an Army base that serves as home to units of the Army's Cyber Command and to parts of the National Security Agency, and that Georgia has become home to an increasing number of cybersecurity firms as a result both of the Army/NSA presence and research at Georgia's universities, Deal realized after feedback from the industry that the bill could have resulted in inadvertent damage. But Deal's reasoning wasn't necessarily what individuals in the information security research community would have hoped for. And there's still a chance that another bill—one more acceptable to technology giants but still criminalizing some aspects of information security research—could emerge in the next legislative session and win Deal's approval. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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White House will host tech industry for AI summit on Thursday

Artificial intelligence has been a mainstay of the conversation in Silicon Valley these past few years, and now the technology is increasingly being discussed in policy circles in DC . Washington types see opportunities for AI to improve efficiency and increase economic growth, while at the same time, they have growing concerns around job automation and competitive threats from China and other countries. Now, it appears the White House itself is getting involved in bringing together key American stakeholders to discuss AI and those opportunities and challenges. According to Tony Romm and Drew Harwell of the Washington Post , the White House intends to bring executives from major tech companies and other large corporations together on Thursday to discuss AI and how American companies can cooperate to take advantage of new advances in these technologies. Among the confirmed guests are Facebook’s Jerome Pesenti, Amazon’s Rohit Prasad, and Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich. While the event has many tech companies present, a total of 38 companies are expected to be in attendance including United Airlines and Ford. AI policy has been top-of-mind for many policymakers around the world. French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a comprehensive national AI strategy , as has Canada, which has put together a research fund and a set of programs to attempt to build on the success of notable local AI researchers such as University of Toronto professor George Hinton, who is a major figure in deep learning. But it is China that has increasingly drawn the attention and concern of U.S. policymakers.

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AT&T/Verizon lobby asks FCC to help raise prices on smaller ISPs

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Jeffrey Coolidge) A lobby group that represents AT&T, Verizon, and other telcos is asking the government to stop enforcing 22-year-old rules that let smaller network operators purchase access to the incumbents' networks at reasonable rates. Although the Federal Communications Commission eliminated a range of line-sharing requirements in 2005, incumbent telcos are still required to make certain copper-based network elements available via wholesale at regulated prices. Smaller ISPs that buy wholesale access warn that eliminating the requirements would ultimately raise rates on home Internet users who subscribe to smaller ISPs. These wholesale copper services are still offered by telcos such as AT&T , Verizon , and CenturyLink . The USTelecom lobby group, which represents all three of those carriers, petitioned the FCC on Friday to eliminate the wholesale requirements, which were implemented as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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