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December 19, 2014

Posts in "Social Media"

December 12, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: E-Rate Funding Cap Increase, Internet Tax Moratorium and IP Nominees

Among the happenings this week: the Federal Communications Commission increased the funding cap on the E-Rate program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on intellectual property nominees, and the spending package to fund the federal government includes provisions such as an extension of the Internet tax moratorium.

  • The House passed a spending package to fund the federal government that includes an extension of the Internet tax moratorium through Oct. 1, 2015. It also includes a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities over Internet domain names and other domain functions. The NTIA wants to shift those duties to organizations with a stake in the Internet, but Republicans have opposed the change. The Senate’s now considering the package.
  • The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure that would raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for the E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s supported by Universal Service Fund fees, consumers will see up to $1.90 in additional fees on their phone bills each year.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear that the nominations of Michelle K. Lee to be director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel H. Marti to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wouldn’t advance in the 113th Congress, since there wasn’t enough time. But he also indicated that the nominations might be acted on early in the next Congress.
  • Technocrat had a Q&A with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about the Supreme Court case involving violent comments made on Facebook. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association organized a letter to FCC commissioners and House and Senate leaders opposing proposals to reclassify broadband as a common carrier as part of the FCC’s rewrite of net neutrality rules. Sixty companies signed on including IBM, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco, and dLink.
  • BSA | The Software Alliance released a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners and decision makers in the U.S. and Europe on data analytics and among its U.S. findings: While 33 percent thought more than 10 percent of their company’s growth will be related to data analytics this year, 58 percent thought the same looking five years from now.

December 11, 2014

Q&A: UNC Law Professor William P. Marshall, Part Two

Technocrat talked with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about potential implications for social media of Elonis v. United States, which the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on last week. You can find a roundup of the background of the case here. Below is Part Two of our Q&A with Marshall (lightly edited). Part One can be found here.

Q: So if the court finds in favor of Elonis, how could that impact social media…?

A: I think that will protect more kinds of communications that take place on social media. I mean this is a relatively narrow issue. The issue of threats is a relatively narrow issue. But it [suggests] that the court may be looking at Internet speech in not the same kind of way that it looks at face-to-face speech. So… [it] might allow a little bit more latitude on what you do on the Internet than you might otherwise do outside of that context.

Q: What about if the court rules against Elonis?

A: Well if the court rules the other way, I think this again will be a relatively narrow decision dealing with threats, but I think it will also be setting the table for other kinds of regulations of speech to be applied to people in their communications on the Internet.

…We say often things that we might say to a person in a private conversation that we know isn’t gonna go anywhere. A lot of people have yet to realize that when you send the same thing to somebody over the Internet it’s a long-term record that can be replicated and occasionally turned over to law enforcement authorities.

So it’s gonna tell us all to think before we write, whether it be text, or Twitter or email or Facebook.

Q: And how do you think the case will turn out?

A: My own thought is that I think they will overturn his conviction on the narrow statutory grounds and require there has to be a subjective intent to threaten.

And the reason why I think they may do that is because I’m not sure they’re ready to deal with the broader issues on Internet regulation that we just talked about….

December 9, 2014

Q&A: UNC Law Professor William P. Marshall, Part One

William Marshall 159x240 Q&A: UNC Law Professor William P. Marshall, Part One

(Photo by Steve Exum, courtesy UNC School of Law)

William P. Marshall is a law professor at the University of North Carolina who writes about First Amendment and constitutional law and separation of powers. Technocrat chatted with him about implications for social media of the Supreme Court case Elonis v. United States, which deals with violent comments Anthony Elonis made on Facebook. The court heard oral arguments last week. Below is some of the discussion (lightly edited).

Q: … What’s the issue in this case?

A: Okay, there are actually two issues here. One is the question of interpreting the statute under which Elonis was prosecuted and whether that required that in order to be convicted, the defendant had to have a specific intent to threaten or whether it would just be sufficient if it was reasonably interpreted that what he had to say would be taken as a threat.

Full story

December 5, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property Panel Chairman, Orion Test Flight

A Senate hearing on sports blackouts, the announcement of the next chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over intellectual property issues and NASA’s Orion crew capsule’s first flight into space was among the news this week.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on sports blackouts and CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta reported (subscription) that senators and the National Football League exchanged threats over the issue.
  • A coalition of groups and companies, called the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, opposing the Comcast Time-Warner merger was announced. The coalition includes satellite television provider Dish Network, Public Knowledge, Writers Guild of America, West, and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, and others.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., announced Darrell Issa, R-Calif., as chairman of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee.
  • NASA’s Orion crew vehicle had its test flight which the Wall Street Journal described as “virtually flawless.” Technocrat had a preview here.
  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Pennsylvania resident Anthony Elonis, who was convicted in 2010 of a felony for making violent comments on Facebook and Technocrat had a roundup here.
  • Technocrat reported that Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,  said there was “such potential for conflicting regulatory directives” from agencies when it comes to the Internet of Things and that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee had a responsibility to “really look at the big picture and ensure that agencies aren’t conflicting with each other, that what is being done makes sense and… allows for future innovation that we can’t even anticipate right now.”

December 2, 2014

Roundup: SCOTUS Case Dealing with Online Threats and Free Speech

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in the case of Pennsylvania resident Anthony Elonis, who was convicted in 2010 of a felony for making violent comments on Facebook. CQ Roll Call’s  Todd Ruger reported (subscription):

Elonis considers his posts rap lyrics that were therapeutic to write — and protected First Amendment speech, just like music from artists. Federal prosecutors say the posts crossed the line and were threats.

At oral arguments, the justices used their questions to explore the gray area in between. There was no clear indication from the arguments which way the justices would rule.

The Washington Post reported:

The justices seemed reluctant to accept the government’s position that a threat exists whenever the speech in question would make a reasonable person fearful. But there did not seem to be a consensus on what more prosecutors should be required to prove.

The AP reported:

The government argues the proper test is not what Elonis intended, but whether his words would make a reasonable person feel threatened. That’s the standard a jury used in convicting him under a federal law barring threats of violence.

Some justices seemed concerned that the government’s position is too broad and risks sweeping in language protected by the First Amendment. But there seemed to be little agreement over what standard to use.

November 25, 2014

Study Indicates Most Internet Users Understand Concept of Net Neutrality

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, the majority of Internet users correctly identified what the concept of net neutrality refers to.

The online survey released Tuesday – which quizzed roughly 1,000 Internet users between Sept. 12 and 18 – asked a number of questions, like whether Twitter has a 140 character limit and whether the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same.

One of the questions asked what net neutrality refers to, and according to Pew, 61 percent selected the correct answer from four options: “Equal treatment of digital content by internet service providers.”

Another 12 percent incorrectly chose the answer “The postings on websites that are nonpartisan” and 13 percent selected “A promise by users of some websites that they will not make critical comments.”

“The way Wikipedia editors are instructed to handle new entries on their site” was an answer selected by six percent of respondents and nine percent didn’t answer the question at all.

The percent of respondents who correctly answered a privacy-related question was much lower.

The survey found that only 44 percent of Internet users are “aware that when a company posts a privacy statement, it does not necessarily mean that the firm actually keeps in information it collects on users confidential.”

The majority – 52 percent – incorrectly answered that this statement was true: “When a company posts a privacy policy, it ensures that the company keeps confidential all the information it collects on users.”

November 24, 2014

Next Week: SCOTUS Hears Case on Threats Via Facebook

It’s a slow week in D.C. for tech policy with the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner. But next week, when things kick into gear again, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving threats issued via Facebook and the First Amendment.

Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post had stories Sunday on the case that’s scheduled to be argued on Dec. 1.

The Washington Post writes: “In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, [Anthony] Elonis’s postings constituted a “true threat” to his wife and others.”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The appeal, up for arguments on Dec. 1, presents a vexing legal issue courts have long struggled to settle, and it does so when what people say can reach a bigger audience than ever before through social media. Although social-media companies have rules for managing individual speech online, the outcome could affect the leeway people have to express themselves, even darkly and violently, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites.

NPR and Slate had a rundowns on the case earlier this year.

From Slate, earlier this year on the legal nitty-gritty:

The case deals with an area of First Amendment law known as “true threats.” These kinds of threats are unprotected under the First Amendment. The trick is figuring out whether Elonis’ speech was a true threat or not. At his trial, the jury was told that the legal standard for whether something is an unprotected “true threat” is if an objective person could consider Elonis’ posts to be threatening. Elonis claims that the correct test should look at whether he intended for the posts to be understood as threats. He also argues that his rap lyrics are important protected speech, no different from the rap lyrics created by the great artists.

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 3:11 p.m.
Social Media

November 13, 2014

LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner Talks Education

126695011 445x296 LinkedIns Jeff Weiner Talks Education

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talks to the audience before a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama on September 26, 2011 in Mountain View, California. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has an interest in the issue of education and at a  Thursday event he talked about his personal investment in the matter.

“I got into business because I was interested in education reform,” he said at an event hosted by AtlanticLive. “And I can’t separate my career path from this interest in reforming education and democratizing access to information.”

Full story

November 10, 2014

The Week Ahead: Net Neutrality, Cybersecurity and Lifeline

Congress returns for the lame duck session and events on net neutrality, cybersecurity and the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program are on tap this week.

Full story

November 3, 2014

Partisan Divide Alive and Well Among Politicians… At Least on Twitter

If you were hoping for more bipartisanship among politicians, you might not want to hold your breath. It looks like the partisan divide is alive and well among politicians… at least on Twitter.

Twitter put together the above visual featuring the accounts of various governors and lawmakers in the House and Senate running for re-election, as well as candidates for these offices and some politicians not seeking re-election.

According to a Twitter blog post: “The big circles are the politicians who follow (and are followed back by) the most others. Blue circles represent Democrats; red circles represent Republicans.”

Among its findings: the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats accounted for in the visual interactive don’t have any mutual follows from politicians or candidates from the other party.

From the blog post:

Of the 581 Republicans, 85% have no mutual connections on Twitter with a single Democratic politician or candidate. Similarly, 86% of the Democrats have no mutual Republican connections on Twitter.

It also notes that Illinois Republican John Shimkus is the candidate with the highest number of mutual follows, 165 to be exact, and with 13 percent of them from Democrats. It looks like Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette has fewer mutual follows (140) than Shimkus, but a higher portion, 17 percent, of them from the opposing party.

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