Broadband Roundup: Microsoft on Privacy, 11th Circuit on Warrants, and Wheeler on Community Broadband

Education, FCC, Privacy June 12th, 2014

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2014 – Microsoft is determined to fight a recent U.S. government demand for a user’s emails on company computers in Ireland, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Congress has not authorized the issuance of warrants that reach outside U.S. territory,” Microsoft wrote in its filing with U.S. District Court in Manhattan, according to the Journal.

The public’s mistrust of how technology companies protect personal information is worsened by government intervention, which will “ultimately erode the leadership of U.S. technology companies in the global market,” the company said.

In other news, the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals held that police are required to obtain a warrant before collecting cellphone location data, The Verge reported.

“The Fourth Amendment guarantee protects the privacy rights of the people without respect to whether the alleged ‘search’ constituted a trespass against property rights,” the Verge reported the court as saying.

“While committing a crime is certainly not within a legitimate expectation of privacy, if the cell site location data could place him near those scenes, it could place him near any other scene. There is a reasonable privacy interest in being near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is not pleased with the state of school Wi-Fi following a visit to a middle school in Oakland. The New York Times reported that the FCC Chairman would be proposing regulatory change to promote greater connectivity within schools with his fellow agency commissioners. The details of the plan will be disclosed at the FCC’s July 11 meeting.

The Times article reveals that a report by EducationSuperHighway and the Consortium for School Networking said only 43 percent of schools have adequate broadband connectivity. Without better connections, they can’t take advantage of online educational material.

In other news, Wheeler wrote on June 10 stressing the need for competitive local broadband.

He used Chattanooga, Tenn., as a “poster child for the benefits of community broadband networks, and also a prime example of the efforts to restrict them.”

Tennessee is one of many states, Wheeler said, that has placed legal restraints on locally built networks. Networks from one community cannot interconnect with those of others, which is stifling growth.

Communities in which commercial broadband providers have no vested interest are left n the dark, Wheeler said. Chattanooga, however, is trying to expand “affordable broadband Internet access” to all of its citizens.

“If the people, acting through their elected local governments, want to pursue competitive community broadband, they shouldn’t be stopped by state laws promoted by cable and telephone companies that don’t want that competition,” he said. “I believe that it is in the best interests of consumers and competition that the FCC exercises its power to preempt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband.”

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