Limiting Municipal Broadband Expansion: The Sixth Circuit ruled that the FCC could not prevent Tennessee and North Carolina from regulating to restrict municipal broadband expansion beyond existing boundaries, after the FCC voted last year for an order to preempt such state laws.
Connecting Users in India: Google is enabling internet access for millions of people in India by providing free Wi-Fi at train stations, seeking to maximize online users and advertisement visibility, while Facebook is testing services to deliver cheaper internet access to people in India while maintaining stakeholder sustainability.
New Privacy Technology: Apple will incorporate differential privacy into its newest mobile operating system, a technology that will track and collect user activity but will add noise to the data before it is transmitted to prevent accumulation of “raw data” that reveals a specific individual’s activity.
Unprecedented Info for PI’s: A company has combined public and nonpublic records of personal information with marketing, demographic, and behavioral data to create a profile on every American adult for private investigators to access; use of this and like databases must comply with US privacy laws and FTC oversight, but the high volume of searches means that private investigation companies are mostly expected to monitor themselves.
Narrowing Down “Periodic” Review: The DC District Court ruled in a redacted order that the FBI should specify a time frame for its “periodic” reviews of NSL gag orders, finding that a three-year review balances the burdens on the FBI against the company’s countervailing interest in “avoiding a lengthy and indefinite nondisclosure bar.”
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Problems for Australian Census: Australia’s first online national census, containing personal, economic, religious, and social information and requiring Australians to identify themselves, came under a possible cyber attack when the survey website crashed overnight.
Oracle Payment Systems Infiltrated: A Russian cybercrime group hacked Oracle’s Micros division, one of world’s largest point of sale vendor systems used at over 330,000 payment locations; the company said payment card data is encrypted “both at rest and in transit” in the Micros systems and it will be implementing security measures to prevent another attack.
Election System Critical Infrastructure? Following the DNC hack, the Obama administration may classify US election systems as critical infrastructure and increase their cyber protections; however, US response to attacks on the political process may have varying implications for national security.
Viral Videos and Copyright: While news programs that show videos of events shot by people using their mobile phones in real time are protected by fair use, “middlemen” who buy the videos immediately after they go viral and then attempt to license them have established a monetary value to the videos, complicating the fair use formula by skewing one of the factors involved, the market of the use.
Free Expression and Censorship
Muffling Deceptive Links: Facebook is altering its rules for displaying outside content, featuring headlines that “withhold or distort information” farther down rather than ordering outside stories by amount of traffic; the company is concerned about the association between the content it links to and its brand as a function of user happiness.
On the Lighter Side
Meme of 2016: Some memes, like that created by K.C. Green and shared by the Republican Party during the DNC, reach beyond pop culture silliness to resonate as cultural commentary.