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February 27, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality and City-Owned Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission took historic action this week to claim broader regulatory authority over broadband service providers, reclassifying broadband service under a 1934 law that governs common carriers. Your Weekly Wrapup includes posts on the FCC’s net neutrality rules, city-owned broadband and a tax bill in Oregon that state lawmakers hope will attract Google Fiber and others.

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Net Neutrality Meeting Highlights

Walden Wants “Better Path” on Net Neutrality

FCC Republicans Call for Delay in Net Neutrality Vote

Twitter Praises Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Net Neutrality Wasn’t the Only Item the FCC Voted on Thursday

Oregon Senate Panel Advances Tax Bill that Lawmakers Hope Will Attract Google Fiber and Others

A Look at the FCC’s Rules Seeking to Improve 911 Call Location Accuracy

February 23, 2015

Twitter Praises Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Twitter executives on Monday praised the net neutrality proposal slated to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission later this week.

In a blog post titled “Why Twitter faves #NetNeturality,” Will Carty, the company’s public policy manager, describes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal as one that “will put vital consumer and competitive protections back on the books to ensure an open Internet and continue U.S. leadership in Internet policymaking.”

He also writes:

Through The Internet Association, Twitter has joined other leading Internet companies to urge the FCC to promulgate common sense net neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed securing the legal foundation for these rules in Title II of the Communications Act (along with other statutory authority). We strongly support ensuring that such rules include prohibitions against blocking or throttling of sites and services as well as the paid prioritization of some traffic over others. These rules should govern Internet service whether users are at their desk at home or on their smartphone across town.

In moving forward, the FCC is also wisely avoiding unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation. The Commission is embracing the same kind of “light touch” regulatory approach that the Congress and the Commission has pursued with respect to wireless services since the 1990s. We’re also pleased that in recent weeks on Capitol Hill, we’ve seen a return to bipartisan support for net neutrality rules. We welcome the discussion of possible statutory rules that could codify these principles.

February 13, 2015

Weekend Reads: Public Shaming and Social Media and More

If you’re looking to catch up on your reading this long weekend, here are a few pieces to get you started.

The New York Times Magazine has a piece on public shaming and social media, focusing on the story of Justine Sacco: “So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media.”

Re/code has a week-long series on Detroit and looks at tech startups in the city: “The next Detroit is a city of startups, growing like a coral reef built on top of the shipwreck of the last generation.”

The Los Angeles Times has a piece laying out the issues and broader context for the court case involving BMI and Pandora that started this week: “The backdrop to the trial is the rise of Internet music streaming as a cultural force — with more than 132.6 million users — bumping up against a rate-setting system with roots in the radio age.”

February 9, 2015

Twitter Reports Big Increase in Government Requests for Account Information

Twitter saw a big increase in worldwide government requests for user account information — roughly 40 percent — in the second half of 2014 compared to the first half, Twitter reports.

“The continued rise follows industry trends and is also likely due in part to Twitter’s continued international expansion,” the company writes in its latest reporting of data released Monday, which covers the second half of 2014. “There were also several world events during this time period, including various elections and terrorist attacks, which led to an increase in requests.”

The number of requests for account information from Turkey drastically increased. Twitter received 356 requests for account information from Turkey in the second half of 2014, compared to 24 requests for account information in the first half of the year. Twitter reports that it didn’t comply with the requests.

From the transparency report, referring to the second half of 2014:

The United States continues to make the majority of requests for account information, comprising 56% of all requests received. Of the remaining 44%, Turkey became our second largest requester, constituting 12% of all requests (and increasing 11% since the prior report). Japan remains in the top three requesting countries at 10% of the total requests received.

Rounding out the top requesters are the United Kingdom, hovering steadily around 4%, and Russia, which is new to this section of the report. During the second half of 2014, we received a total of 108 requests for account information from Russia, following the passage of its new “bloggers law” in August 2014, to which we have not provided any information.

Twitter also reports that it saw an 84 percent increase in requests to remove content in the second half of 2014 compared to the first half. That includes requests from governments and “authorized reporters.”

From Twitter’s report:

The majority of these requests came from Turkey (477), Russia (91), and Germany (43) resulting in the collective withholding of 79 accounts and 1,835 Tweets. Overall, 85 accounts and 1,982 Tweets were withheld in various countries around the world.

Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post here gives more details on the kinds of requests made by the three countries and how the company responded.

January 23, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: SOTU, Net Neutrality and Patents

It was a short but busy week and your Weekly Wrapup includes posts on the State of the Union address, net neutrality hearings and patents.

  • President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address and in advance of the speech, Technocrat had a roundup of a few stories that at least touched upon social media and either White House strategy or lawmakers.
  • Among the issues that weren’t mentioned in Tuesday’ night’s address was patents, and  a couple proponents of legislation targeting abusive patent litigation said they were disappointedMichelle K. Lee, deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, later said it wasn’t a reflection of any change in priorities.
  • Lawmakers on the Hill held net neutrality hearings and Technocrat had a post on interesting quotes from a couple House Republicans showing their current approach to the issue.
  • Oh, and Valencia Martin-Wallace has been promoted to a newly-created job at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — deputy commissioner for patent quality.

Quote of the Day: Obama and Cybersecurity


Thursday’s livestream of YouTube stars interviewing President Barack Obama wasn’t focused on tech policy, with questions ranging from marijuana policy to bullying. But the YouTubers did ask a couple questions dealing with the Sony hack and Chinese Internet censorship.

In case you missed it, among Obama’s response to a question regarding the Sony hack: “In fact the hacking against Sony  – which we believe was done by North Korea – it wasn’t even that sophisticated. But it just goes to show how vulnerable we are.”


January 20, 2015

SOTU & Social Media

In advance of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, here are a few stories that at least touch upon social media and either White House strategy or lawmakers.

  • Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox writes about the White House’s strategy for targeting four different audiences it sees: people actually on the House floor and watching on television, people streaming the speech online, people both watching on television and keeping tabs on social media commentary, and people who won’t watch or reach the speech.

“So while declining TV numbers have forced the White House to chase audiences across the social media landscape, the result has been to give the speech a longer life online,” he writes.

  • The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear reports: “The Obama administration has revamped its digital communications strategy in an attempt to reach new audiences for the State of the Union speech – a classic old-media event – and sidestep the skeptical filter often applied by White House reporters.”
  • CQ Roll Call’s David Hawkings writes: “This year there are more defensible rationales than ever for members of Congress to miss the State of the Union address. But there doesn’t seem to be any groundswell of absenteeism in the works.”

Among the “defensible rationales” for skipping out that Hawkings mentions: social media allowing lawmakers to just live-tweet commentary from home. But he writes that “as many lawmakers as ever” are gearing up to endure being “marooned under the House chamber’s hot TV lights and the crush in Statuary Hall’s ‘spin room.’” Among his reasons for why that would be: “It’s a rare opportunity for even the most obscure backbencher to be glimpsed live on 13 television networks simultaneously — an ego bump even for those aware the audience is likely to slip below last year’s 33.3 million, the smallest number since Clinton’s final address in 2000.”

January 16, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, Obama and Space Debris

Get ready for a double feature of net neutrality hearings from the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over telecom next week. This week, the GOP chairmen the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee laid out a net neutrality proposal in a Reuters op-ed and released legislative text as well.

In case you missed them, other Technocrat coverage included posts on space debris, stress and technology and more:

  • The Pew Research Center released a report on stress and technology. Here’s our takeway from the report: if you’re stressed out and you think it’s because of all that texting and tweeting, don’t blame it on frequent use of Internet and social media itself. There is, though, something to be said about social use of technology and knowing about stressful events in others’ lives.
  • Technocrat also had a roundup of a few stories on issues covered in President Barack Obama’s multiple tech-related announcements this week that either give you a sense of stakeholder reaction, the current landscape or another announcement made in one particular state.
  • Among the findings in a recent Government Accountability Office report: the government watchdog contends that there are several reasons why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s estimate of a minimum three-month potential gap in satellite data could occur sooner and last longer than anticipated. One of those reasons has to do with space debris.

January 15, 2015

Is Technology Stressing You Out?

Is all that texting and tweeting stressing you out? According to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, frequent use of technology isn’t to blame, but there is something to be said about the social use of technology and knowing about stressful events in others’ lives.

The report, based on a survey of roughly 1,800 people, found that: “Overall, frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress.”

In fact, for women, frequent use of some technologies (compared to not using them at all) was linked to less stress:

When it comes to stress, there was no statistical difference in stress levels between men who use social media, cell phones or the internet and men who do not use these technologies. However, some tech activities were linked to less stress among women – Twitter use, email use, and photo sharing via cell phones. Compared with a woman who does not use these technologies, a women who uses Twitter several times per day, sends or receives 25 emails per day, and shares two digital pictures through her mobile phone per day, scores 21% lower on our stress measure than a women who does not use these technologies at all.

But here’s the catch. The report shows that technology users (think Facebook, Instagram, texting, sharing photos online, etc.) are generally aware of more stressful events in the lives of people they know. (There are differences, though, in the specific technologies and awareness of these events according to gender and level of relationship.) People aware of certain stressful events in others’ lives also had higher stress levels themselves, according to the report. (This differs between men and women as well.)

“At the same time, the data show there are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others,” the report’s summary states. “Especially for women, this greater awareness is tied to higher levels of stress and it has been called the ‘cost of caring.’”

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