The recent launch of Google Buzz — the online giant’s attempt to compete with Twitter — raised a number of privacy concerns. Now, as Ars Technica reports, those concerns have reached Congress:
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) condemned Google’s mismanagement of the service’s rollout and lack of privacy safeguards. EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC, calling for the organization to review the matter. A bipartisan group of congressmen are the latest to join the chorus. In an open letter addressed to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, eleven members of the US House of Representatives called for an investigation of Buzz and closer scrutiny of Google’s pending acquisition of mobile advertising company AdMob.
“We are writing to express our concern over claims that Google’s ‘Google Buzz’ social networking tool breaches online consumer privacy and trust. Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this—either directly or indirectly—we feel that these claims warrant the Commission’s review of Google’s public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz,” the letter says.
With the arrival of Apple’s iPad just days away, Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania has announced that starting in the fall every full-time student will receive one of the devices as part of their enrollment.
Multichannel News sat down with former FCC Chairman Michael Powell to talk about the National Broadband Plan.
On the whole, Powell believes the plan is a great step toward connecting everyone in America to broadband. But when it comes to the idea of reclassifying the Internet as a Title II service, the former Chairman doesn’t mince words:
MultiChannel News: What do you think about the FCC possibly classifying Internet service as a Title II service subject to mandatory access?
Michael Powell: I think that idea is an unadulterated disaster.
MCN: Not a surprise, since yours was the commission that defined it as an information service subject to lighter regulations.
MP: Not entirely. Part of that decision was during my commission, part of that was during Kevin Martin’s tenure [Powell’s successor as chairman]. I see so many misrepresentations of historical fact that it is worth noting here that broadband has never been classified as Title II. You will get people who will say: “We’re going back to something.” No, we never had that something. Cable is the leading broadband provider in the United States and it has never been a Title II and never been a common carrier. … The only thing that was ever Title II was the old dial-up telephone service, more because of historical accident than policy forethought.
So, broadband itself has never been Title II. In fact, all the investment that has been deployed in the United States has been on the assumption that it is a lightly regulated information service. If the commission wants to recklessly change and try to fight the battle to reclassify that, we will be in a period of painful, prolonged uncertainty, confusion and war for probably four to six years with an undoubted trip to the Supreme Court interspersed between.
And for a country that says it wants to dramatically up the amount of private investment going on in broadband, that would seem like a very backward way to do it.
Google and Verizon have not always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to the regulation of the Internet, but they have found some common ground. From a joint editorial by the two companies in the Wall Street Journal:
The Internet has thrived in an environment of minimal regulation. While our two companies don’t agree on every issue, we do agree generally as a matter of policy that the framework of minimal government involvement should continue.
The FCC underscores the importance of creating the right climate for private investment and market-driven innovation to advance broadband. That’s the right approach and why we are encouraged to see the FCC’s plan.
It may be surprising to learn that the single biggest reason that African Americans and Latinos are not subscribing to broadband is not cost-related. Rather, our poll found that the most consistent reason given by non-broadband users is that they do not see the value in the Internet and therefore have no perceived need to go online. This challenge should be easily surmounted. Already, efforts by the president and other community leaders to extol the benefits of broadband are having a positive impact.
With respect to broadband adoption, Internet content is king. Younger minorities expressed interest in educational content, online gaming and sports information. Older citizens in communities of color value health information and the ability of broadband Internet to connect them to their families and communities. Heads of households see broadband as increasingly critical to their jobs and career opportunities.
The share of smartphones as a proportion of overall device sales has increased to 29% for phone purchasers in the last six months and 45% of respondents to a Nielsen survey indicated that their next device will be a smartphone. If we combine these intentional data points with falling prices and increasing capabilities of these devices along with a explosion of applications for devices, we are seeing the beginning of a groundswell. This increase will be so rapid, that by the end of 2011, Nielsen expects more smartphones in the U.S. market than feature phones.
No wonder the FCC made increasing the amount of spectrum available to wireless service providers a key component of the National Broadband Plan.
Out of 35 million span emails sent out in one month, only 28 actually turned into sales. (Are you reading this, guy who will no doubt drop spam below this very post, likely in the form of ASCII “bear” or “battleship” art?) But if you extrapolate that out to the whole network, that comes to $3.5 million in earnings.
The Washington Post reports that all told, the FCC spent $20 million putting together the National Broadband Plan. $13 million came from stimulus funds, the other $7 million from the agency’s own budget.
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