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Broadband's Impact

NebuAd Chairman Says Company 'Satisfied' With 'Opt-in' Privacy Proposals

WASHINGTON, July 17 – With other panelists calling for comprehensive privacy legislation, NebuAd’s CEO told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday that the internet advertising company would be “satisfied” if an “opt-in” rule became mandatory.



By William G. Korver, Reporter,

WASHINGTON, July 17 – With other panelists calling for comprehensive privacy legislation, NebuAd’s CEO told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday that the internet advertising company would be “satisfied” if an “opt-in” rule became mandatory.

During the a hearing on “What Your Broadband Provider Knows About Your Web Use: Deep Packet Inspection and Communications Laws and Policies,” before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., said that most of subcommittee members favored an opt-in approach.

Under an opt-in rule, internet consumers would have to consent before personal information could be shared. Current law more closely replicates an “opt-out” model, with consumers required to affirmatively object to data-sharing by businesses.

Markey said that most Americans do not believe than the implied consent of the opt-out model should be the nation’s privacy standard.

In other words, under Markey’s approach (and that of a majority of the subcommittee), if a consumer did not give explicit consent, NebuAd would not be able to monitor a consumer’s web habits.

NebuAd’s business model gleans information from broadband carriers who are customers of NebuAd without prior consent of either the consumers or the owners of web sites that the internet consumers visit.

Charter Communications, for example, was considering using NebuAd.

David Reed, a professor in the Media Lab at MIT and a developer of the Internet in the 1970s, said that NebuAd’s actions are like a mailman opening and reading the contents of the mail before it is delivered.

Prompted to dismiss the analogy by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., NebuAd Chairman and CEO Robert Dykes did so: the post office is a government-owned enterprise, while NebuAd is a private company.

UPS and FedEx are also private companies, yet the public does not expected them to engage in such activities, countered Markey.

Attempting to calm fears, Dykes reiterated his position over the past several weeks: NebuAd has and will continue to provide “robust” notice to users and allow a user to op-out of information-sharing with NebuAd.

When a user selects to opt-out, NebuAd immediately deletes the information that it has stored on the individual and ceases to monitor the individual, said Dykes.

He said NebuAd only surveys categories like travel and automotives and maps these categories against de-identified user profiles. The Center for Democracy and Technology and other privacy groups claim that NebuAd’s model is pseudononymous, not anonymous.

Alissa Cooper, CDT’s chief computer scientist, said her group had “warned that that consumers are increasingly concerned about the growing amount of personal data being collected by online advertising practices,” and urged the passage of comprehensive privacy legislation.

In his testimony, Dykes said that officials from his company met earlier this week to discuss privacy issues with CDT. He said that “self-policing” in the advertising world has worked.

Dykes also committed to a privacy audit of the company’s practices.

Attempting to steer privacy oversight to search engine giant Google, Scott Cleland, president of Precursor, a consultancy engaged in advocacy against network neutrality, blasted the company as “the worst privacy offender on the Internet” and engaging in “unauthorized web service surveillance.” He got a laugh out of his description of the company as “J. Edgar Google.”

Information about web clicks are a true treasure trove about sensitive personal data, he said. As a result, Congress should pay more attention to Google’s privacy practices than those of broadband providers, Cleland said.

Also testifying against NebuAd’s practices was Bijan Sabet, general partner for Spark Capital. Although such “deep packet inspection” is a milestone in technological innovation, Sabet counseled the members of the subcommittee that the practice threatens the openness of the Internet. He also championed Net neutrality.


Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say

Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.



Photo of telehealth consultation from Healthcare IT News

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.

Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.

Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.

Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.

Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.

The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.

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Digital Inclusion

W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.



The author of this Expert Opinion is Reverend W. Antoni Sinkfield, Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary.

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.

In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.

To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.

It’s a question of plain fairness.

Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.

People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access

Lack of broadband disproportionately affects communities of color, as well: 35 percent of Americans of Latino descent and 29 percent of African-Americans do not have a broadband connection at home.

Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.

Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.

Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide

As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.

All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.

When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.

This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.

Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.

Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Broadband's Impact

Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households

Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.



Screenshot of President Joe Biden delivering remarks at the White Hose Rose Garden

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.

Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.

“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.

“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”

Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.

“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”

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