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Vulnerabilities in Online Voting, Data Privacy Legislation, Google’s 6 GHz Wi-Fi Tests

Jericho Casper



Photo of Distinguished Fellow Stuart Brotman courtesy the Media Institute

Many stakeholders in the communications sector made it clear that the internet should not be the tool used to collect ballots for the 2020 presidential election, according to an article in Law360.

Virtual voting is fraught with vulnerabilities and would jeopardize the entire election.

In fact, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommends that local election authorities avoid wireless connections entirely.

“Any online connections remain vulnerable to hacking or outside influence,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

Districts that use electronic voting machines or that store and transmit paper ballot results over the internet can also be exposed to external threats.

Any pathway to the internet opens elections "to the same threats as other wireless communications” face, said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

Failed attempts during the 2018 midterm elections and February's Iowa Caucus to use online voting largely eroded confidence that online technology is viable for this year's general election.

State-led data privacy legislation initiatives

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased public interest in potential privacy legislation in the United States, as much of the U.S. workforce, public and private education, and personal communications have moved online.

“These forces now represent our nation’s critical moment in time for digital privacy,” wrote Stuart Brotman, distinguished fellow at the Media Institute.

The most prominent U.S. data privacy law currently in place is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which became effective on January 1, 2020.

It creates rights for California’s 40 million residents to access, correct and opt out of the sale of personal information.

The CCPA has influenced other states to consider similar privacy legislation. Maine and Nevada also now have their own laws in place.

The next five most populated states, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, have already assembled privacy taskforces, introduced bills and initiated legislative committee reviews.

Secretive Google 6 GHz Wi-Fi tests raise questions

A redacted FCC document reveals a request for a secretive Google 6 GHz Wi-Fi testing program, reported Telecompetitor.

The company claims the testing “aims to produce technical information relevant to the utility of these frequencies for providing reliable broadband connections.”

In the FCC filing, Google asks for permission to test technology in 26 cities across 17 states and further requests confidential treatment for the testing, due to its “significant commercial value.”

Google may have multiple motivations for the secret testing initiative.

The Google 6 GHz Wi-Fi testing program may aim to expand the capabilities of Google’s wireless service, Google Fi.

Or, the company may be looking to develop Google Webpass, an active fixed wireless provider, operating in about nine markets across the U.S. today, which claims speeds of 100 Mbps to 1 gig.

Google, which already has its hands in many aspects of wireless, seems to be slowing down no time soon.


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