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Maps Still Inaccurate, YouTube Privacy Breach, and Commerce Department Dysfunction

Emily McPhie

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On Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urging the agency to utilize public input to fix broadband coverage maps.

“The FCC’s maps are still woefully inaccurate, and they are hurting the economy and the people of West Virginia,” said Manchin, adding that the lack of broadband access has been especially harmful to the tourism industry.

The letter included the results of speed tests taken in the city of Cabins, W.V. averaging 0.15 Megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 0.11 Mbps upload speed.

“These numbers are well below your agency’s definition of broadband and the advertised speed they were given by their provider,” said Manchin, asking the agency to “use this data to validate the information West Virginia’s broadband providers have submitted to the FCC and ensure that they are eligible for any and all relevant broadband grants and other resources.”

Federal Trade Commission finalizes Google-YouTube Children privacy settlement 

The Federal Trade Commission has finalized a settlement with Google after the tech giant’s breach of federal data privacy laws for children. The multimillion-dollar settlement, which was supported by the agency’s three Republicans and opposed by its two Democrats, found that YouTube illegally targets children while claiming that its services are not meant for users under the age of 13.

The settlement follows the FTC’s announcement on Wednesday that the agency is inviting public comment on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in an attempt to update the regulation.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., was the original author of COPPA in 1998, and has frequently encouraged the agency to update the law for the digital age. “If the Commission is truly serious about protecting young people online, it will enforce existing protections, hold violators accountable no matter how powerful they are, and act as a forceful check against the ever-increasing appetite for children's data," he said.

Markey recently introduced the “COPPA 2.0” bill with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., which would expand protections and enforcement.

Politico details alleged dysfunction at the U.S. Department of Commerce

The Commerce Department under Secretary Wilbur Ross has become increasingly dysfunctional, according to Politico. Ross is reportedly rarely in the building, fails to hold routine meetings, and is avoiding testifying to Congress.

“With our ongoing trade wars and the census looming, Commerce needs functional leadership in order to be effective, and right now they just don’t have it,” said Theo LeCompte, a former department official.

Commerce Press Secretary Kevin Manning fought back against the allegations, calling Ross “a tireless worker who is the sole decision-maker at the department” and adding that he “routinely works 12-hour days and travels often, with visits to seven countries and eight states in the last three months to advance the president’s agenda.

(Photo of Secretary Wilbur Ross by Gage Skidmore, used with permission.)

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