Among the key provisions of the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal) signed into law by President Joe Biden on Monday, Nov. 15, is $65 billion that will be dedicated to improving access to reliable high-speed Internet. This will include both increased availability of broadband to more than 30 million Americans who do not have minimally acceptable broadband speeds, and assistance in lowering prices for Internet services so that more households can afford better Internet service.
This new law aimed at closing the digital divide also should be used to close the digital privacy divide – the gap between more personal information being stored and shared and the level of privacy protection for online users that is provided to them.
Continue reading “Invest in Better Digital Privacy Protection Along With Faster Broadband Speeds”
Our nation’s momentum toward accelerated COVID-19 vaccine distribution is fully apparent. President Joe Biden has publicly urged state governments to make every adult in the U.S. eligible for a vaccine by May 1.
With this fast-track schedule, increasing attention now should be focused on how Americans will be able to digitally verify their vaccine completion status, not only for travel abroad but possibly even to get into local sporting events, theaters, hotels, or cruise ships.
Continue reading “Digital COVID Vaccine Passports Should Be Antitrust-Exempt”
One of the major unresolved issues in crafting comprehensive federal digital privacy legislation has carried over from last year to the current 117th Congress. This regards whether current or future state privacy laws should be preempted so that there only will be one uniform national set of enforceable rules regarding the collection, storage, and transmission of personally identifiable information.
A one-size-fits-all approach makes intuitive sense since online services and social media are not confined to traditional geographic boundaries. And absent a fully federal approach, there is the possibility that digital companies will be faced with a crazy-quilt pattern of regulatory compliance, increasing both their potential legal liability and the cost of doing business. In short, this is a scenario for Plan A.
Perhaps the most distasteful national omelet we’ve been served during the past four years has been the one that has mixed together an unsavory combination of three ingredients: fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.
While many express growing concerns and look for ways to deal with them, that may be difficult – if not impossible – as long as we use these terms without any agreed-upon definitions that set useful boundaries and are easy to understand among the public at large. The alternative is to continue repeating the mantra “fake news-misinformation- disinformation” so often that it loses meaning, or using the terms interchangeably so that they become permanently blurred in our minds.
Continue reading “Guardrails for Describing Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation”
With COVID-19 and economic recovery at the top of the policy agenda for the Biden Administration and the new Congress, it may take awhile until serious attention is devoted to enacting national digital privacy legislation. This continues to put states in a leadership position to craft their own approaches. Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Washington are among the states that are in the process of developing their own bills for timely legislative approval.
And Virginia’s pending Consumer Data Protection Act is poised to be signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, after receiving very strong bipartisan support in both the Virginia House and the state Senate.
Continue reading “Digital Privacy Laws Should Reflect Our Work-From-Home Pandemic Lives”
The resumption of daily press briefings by the new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has brought back a welcomed routine of making the president’s chief spokesperson available for informational updates and responses to questions posed by various reporters in the press corps. Ms. Psaki typically holds these weekday sessions in the early afternoon and they can be viewed on a variety of websites.
With that scheduling constant now in place, it’s time for the Biden Administration to devise a separate social media schedule for COVID-19 updates to help minimize the tsunami of misinformation about testing, PPE availability, mandated mask orders, vaccine supply, and actual vaccinations. These updates should be based on actual data and science, not on rumors or speculation. And when sufficient information is not yet forthcoming, we should be told why it has not been released and when it may be made public.
Continue reading “Greater Social Media Trust Is Needed To Fight COVID-19”
In a single swipe, Twitter and Facebook have done what the U.S. government and the Constitution could not: delete the power of an irreverent president to rile and rally Americans to violent action.
Twitter announced Jan. 8 that it permanently suspended Trump’s account, while Facebook announced Jan. 7 it had suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.
Continue reading “Big Tech Must Self-Regulate To Protect Public Safety”
As 2021 begins, one source of optimism from Congress was the recent enactment of much-needed legislation to expand broadband network availability into rural and tribal areas.
The new emergency stimulus funding includes $300 million to be made available as Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants to target unserved areas for network infrastructure construction that prioritizes funds for counties, cities, or towns with less than 50,000 inhabitants.
Continue reading “A Better Way To Close the Digital Divide”
One can scarcely remember the time, only a few short decades ago, when life moved along without the array of personal digital devices that have come to define today’s culture. All of that changed, of course, with the advent of the Internet and the ability to access a burgeoning number of websites (which themselves were rapidly evolving).
Personal desktop computers, portable laptops, tablets, cell phones, and “smart phones” would fuel the tech revolution. Who could imagine that someday one’s phone, tablet, and computers would all be synchronized into a seamless whole. Or that millions of Americans would spend vast amounts of time engaging each other via something called “social media.”
Continue reading “The Role of Targeted Advertising In Supporting First Amendment Principles”
In the 40 years since The Media Institute began, it’s difficult to recall a national environment quite like the one we’re in today.
Basic principles of free speech are being challenged in multiple ways and by multiple forces: foreign governments distorting the “truth” through social media, and varying outlets promoting wildly disparate views of the “news.” Divisiveness and contention are at an all-time high in our politics and our national discourse.
Continue reading “First Amendment Values and a Voice for Everyone”