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HDNet Founder Mark Cuban and Google Spar Over Copyright at FCC Hearing

July 21 – The founder of a high-definition cable television channel and a top content official with Google sparred at an FCC field hearing on Monday over the role that search engines should play in policing broadband content for copyright violation.

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By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

July 21 – The founder of a high-definition cable television channel and a top content official with Google sparred at an FCC field hearing on Monday over the role that search engines should play in policing broadband content for copyright violation.

Mark Cuban, co-founder of HDNet and the owners of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, compared Google’s policy of allowing users to upload content that may infringe on others’ copyrights to allowing Google to define for itself what pornography is and isn’t.

Cuban spoke on the first of two panel at an FCC Hearing, on “The Future of Digital Media,” held in Pittsburgh.

After championing YouTube’s ability to enhance understanding between people’s, promote freedom of expression and democracy, and ennoble cultural understanding, David Eun, vice president for content partnerships at Google, was forced to counter Cuban.

Eun said that over the past 18 months, YouTube has developed a system to identify when content uploads are placed on YouTube. Since more than 13 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube every minute, it is nearly impossible to track every upload before it is on the website, he said.

Content owners have the right to disputed content, and often do, said Eun.

Content owners may utilitize a “notice and takedown” procedure called for by a 1998 digital copyright law, meaning that when they notify Google of infringing content, Google has an obligation to take the content down, although it is shielded from liability if it meets the law’s requirements.On this matter, Google’s YouTube has been sued by Viacom over alleged copyright infringement.

At the hearing, Google found itself being squeezed between attempting to please copyright owners like Cuban and others who want a free and open internet.

Cuban said that Google’s policies demonstrated an attitude in which the company is more inclined to ask for forgiveness than permission. Cuban said he disagreed with the assumption that other businesses would have no objection to their content being illegally copied, so long as the businesses from which the content is stolen were able to profit from the monetization of the video.

As a content owner, Cuban said he would rather be told first if his content is being put on the Internet.

Also attending the field hearing were representatives of companies and trade association including Intel, American Cable Association, WhereverTV, DeepLocal, Sim Ops Studios, and Conviva.

Jeff Lawrence, director for global content policy at Intel, told the FCC that the 1394 Connector should be replaced with a standard internet protocol home networking connector.

Matthew Polka, president of the American Cable Association, asked the FCC to exempt small companies from the requirement that cable operators “must carry” broadcasters’ multiple digtial television streams. This would allow small cable companies to invest more in broadband, he said.

Polka also bemoaned the “steep” costs of broadband, the scarcity of capital, and the difficulty of maintaining a broadband system in rural areas where a company may have to send a worker on an hour drive to service a customer.

Mark Cavicchia, CEO of WhereverTV, drew applause from the audience when he decried Time Warner’s “ludicrous” and “unreasonable” limits on broadband usage. Universal punishment of users is wrong, he said, adding that only those who abuse access privileges should receive punishment.

Nathan Martin, CEO of DeepLocal, voiced his disapproval of wireless companies’ “confusing and arbitrary” regulation that retards innovation, while Jake Witherell, a advisory board member of Sim Ops Studios, championed the continuation of an open internet and the need to promote digital literacy.

During the panel, Cuban also said that a market for three-diminsion video is emerging. Movies, sports games, plays, and music concerts will all utilitize 3D imagry, he said.

Education

Education Executives Tout Artificial Intelligence Benefits for Classroom Learning

Artificial intelligence can help fill in gaps when teacher resources are limited, an event heard.

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Screenshot of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2022 – Artificial intelligence can help fill in gaps when teacher resources are limited and provide extra help for students who need individualized teaching, experts said at an event hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on Tuesday.

As policy makers weigh the options for a structure for AI in the classroom, panelists agreed on its benefits for both teachers and students. Michelle Zhou, CEO of AI company Juji Inc., said AI technology in the classroom can be tools and applications like chatbots for real-time questions during class, and post-class questions at home for when the teacher is not available.

Lynda Martin, director of learning strategy for strategic solutions at learning company McGraw Hill, said AI provides the extra help students need, but sometimes are too shy to ask.

When a teacher has a high volume of students, it is difficult to effectively help and connect with each student individually, Martin said. AI gives the teacher crucial information to get to know the student on a more personal level as it transmits the student’s misconceptions and detects areas of need. AI can bring student concerns to the teacher and foster “individualized attention” she added.

Privacy and security concerns

Jeremy Roschelle from Digital Promise, an education non-profit, raise the privacy and security concerns in his cautious support of the idea. He noted that there needs to be more information about who has access to the data and what kinds of data should be used.

Beside bias and ethical issues that AI could pose, Roschelle cautioned about the potential harms AI could present, including misdetecting a child’s behavior, resulting in potential educational setbacks.

To utilize the technology and ensure education outcomes, Sharad Sundararajan, co-founder of learning company Merlyn Minds, touched on the need for AI training. As Merlyn Minds provides digital assistant technology to educators, he noted the company’s focus on training teachers and students on various forms of AI tech to enhance user experience.

There is an “appetite” from schools that are calling for this, said Sundararajan. As policy makers contemplate a strategic vision for AI in the classroom, he added that AI adoption in the classroom around the country will require algorithmic work, company partnerships, and government efforts for the best AI success.

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Education

Closing Digital Divide for Students Requires Community Involvement, Workforce Training, Event Hears

Barriers to closing the divide including awareness of programs, resources and increasing digital literacy.

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Screenshot of Ji Soo Song, broadband advisor at the U.S. Department of Education

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2022 – Experts in education technology said Monday that to close the digital divide for students, the nation must eliminate barriers at the community level, including raising awareness of programs and resources and increasing digital literacy.

“We are hearing from schools and district leaders that it’s not enough to make just broadband available and affordable, although those are critical steps,” said Ji Soo Song, broadband advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, said at an event hosted by trade group the Self-Insurance Institute of America. “We also have to make sure that we’re solving for the human barriers that often inhibit adoption.”

Song highlighted four “initial barriers” that students are facing. First, a lack of awareness and understanding of programs and resources. Second, signing up for programs is often confusing regarding eligibility requirements, application status, and installment. Third, there may be a lack of trust between communities and services. Fourth, a lack of digital literacy among students can prevent them from succeeding.

Song said he believes that with the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, states have an “incredible opportunity to address adoption barriers.”

Workforce shortages still a problem, but funding may help

Rosemary Lahasky, senior director for government affairs at Cengage, a maker of educational content, added that current data suggests that 16 million students lack access to a broadband connection. While this disparity in American homes remained, tech job posts nearly doubled in 2021, but the average number of applicants shrunk by 25 percent.

But panelists said they are hopeful that funding will address these shortages. “Almost every single agency that received funding…received either direct funding for workforce training or were given the flexibility to spend some of their money on workforce training,” said Lahasky of the IIJA, which carves out funding for workforce training.

This money is also, according to Lahasky, funding apprenticeship programs, which have been recommended by many as a solution to workforce shortages.

Student connectivity has been a long-held concern following the COVID-19 pandemic. Students themselves are stepping up to fight against the digital inequity in their schools as technology becomes increasingly essential for success. Texas students organized a panel to discuss internet access in education just last year.

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Education

FTC Approves Policy Statement on Guiding Review of Children’s Online Protection

The policy statement provides the guiding principles for which the FTC will review the collection and use of children’s data online.

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FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2022 – The Federal Trade Commission last week unanimously approved a policy statement guiding how it will enforce the collection and use of children’s online data gathered by education technology companies.

The policy statement outlines four provisions in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, including ones related to limiting the amount of data collected for children’s access to educational tools; restricting types of data collected and requiring reasons for why they are being collected; prohibiting ed tech companies from holding on to data for speculative purposes; and prohibiting the use of the data for targeted advertising purposes.

“Today’s statement underscores how the protections of the COPPA rule ensure children can do their schoolwork without having to surrender to commercial surveillance practices,” said FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan at an open meeting on Thursday.

Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter added Thursday that although COPPA provides the strongest data minimization rule in US law, it’s enforcement may not be as strong, saying that “this policy statement is timely and necessary.”

Slaughter, who was the acting FTC chairwoman before Khan was approved to lead the agency, said last year that the commission was taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling privacy and data collection practices of ed tech companies, which has seen a boom in interest since the start of the pandemic.

Thursday’s statement comes after lawmakers have clamored for big technology companies to do more to prevent the unnecessary collection of children’s data online. It also comes after President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address earlier this year that companies must be held accountable for the “national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”

Lawmakers have already pushed legislation that would reform COPPA – originally published in 1998 to limit the amount of information that operators could collect from children without parental consent – to raise the age for online protections for children.

Thursday’s FTC statement also seeks to scrutinize unwarranted surveillance practices in education technology, such as geographic locating or data profiling. Khan added that though endless tracking and expansive use of data have become increasingly common practices, companies cannot extend these practices into schools.

Review is nothing new

“Today’s policy statement is nothing particularly new,” said Commissioner Noah Phillips, saying that the review started in July 2019.

Commissioner Christine Wilson, while supporting the statement, was also more withdrawn about its impact. “I am concerned that issuing policy statements gives the illusion of taking action, especially when these policy statements break no new ground.”

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