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Broadband Roundup: Britain and Huawei, EPIC Fights Against Facial Recognition, E-Rate Fiber

Adrienne Patton

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Photo of Boris Johnson from September 2017 by Annika Haas used with permission

Axios says that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is inching toward a decision that could profoundly shift the relationship between Britain and the United States over Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei. But in a research note, Strand Consult projects that the U.K. will in fact ban the use of Huawei equipment in the “core” networks while still permitting the equipment to operate in the radio access network.

The U.K.’s Johnson is expected to decide whether to defy Trump's request that he make the ban more complete and universal.

In some ways, Axios argues that the Huawei debate has become an urgent foreign policy priority of the Trump administration and a significant test of the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S and Britain.

Some countries, including the U.S. and Australia, have banned Huawei from providing equipment for 5G. Intelligence and national security analysts in these countries have claimed that if Chinese gear were to be embedded in networks within the country, there would be no way of guaranteeing that the Chinese state won't use it for nefarious purposes.

But British and German officials also say they can't afford to exclude Huawei, while Trump administration officials say allies should work with the U.S. to quickly develop affordable alternatives to Huawei.

EPIC joins the fight against facial recognition technologies

Along with several other entities, the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter Monday to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board addressing their concerns regarding biased and public facial recognition technologies that ultimately infringe on American privacy.

The letter expressed concern that the hundreds of law enforcement agencies engaging with facial recognition are posing a threat to the American people.

The letter stated that “many local governments are taking steps to protect their residents against the use of facial recognition for mass surveillance.”

Urging the review board to “examine the more significant public concerns about the use of facial recognition in public spaces,” the letter suggested the board be in conversation with the executive branch to protect the civil liberties threatened by facial recognition.

Facial recognition technologies also pose a civil threat as “false positives are up to 100 times more likely for Asian and African American faces when compared to White faces.” African American females are particularly at risk.

FCC abolishes amortization requirement for E-Rate fiber 

The Federal Communications Commission released a report on Monday abolishing the amortization requirement for the E-Rate program, a decision applauded by Executive Director of Schools, Heath and Libraries Broadband  Coalition John Windhausen.

The FCC created the E-Rate program to support students by providing broadband to schools and libraries.

The E-Rate amortization period “increased costs for E-Rate supported builds and created uncertainty for applicants about the availability of E-Rate funding for the second and third years of the amortization cycle.”

The FCC stated that fiber deployment will be boosted and “increased buildout and deployment of high-speed broadband networks because all special construction costs could be paid upfront, instead of in a piecemeal fashion over three years.”

Windhausen's statement read, “The FCC deserves great praise for working on a bipartisan basis to eliminate this outdated rule.” “The decision will encourage greater investment in fiber networks and promote enormous cost-savings for schools and libraries,” he concluded.

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