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Broadband and Democratization

With Broadband as Driver for Today’s Consumer Electronics Technologies, Here’s the Top 10 Issues for 2013

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WASHINGTON, January 13, 2013 – Starting the New Year off by attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas provides a wonderful lens with which to focus on the year ahead in technology.

Today, broadband is the driver for almost all of today’s digital technologies. Of the hundreds of examples of digital technologies that I experienced last week, I cannot recall a single one of them that wasn’t broadband-enabled.

Going to the show allows one to double-check one’s instincts for top issues in broadband. Here’s our list of the 10 most significant broadband developments to watch for in 2013 — and your guide to learning more about each of these subjects through the Broadband Breakfast Club, your window on broadband.

1. Data Caps for Wireless Broadband, the Spectrum Crunch, and Wireless Home Networking
The two largest wireless providers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, have moved to a pay-per-megabit model for the consumption of wireless broadband. Consumers strongly resisted data caps for cable and DSL services, but have warmed to paying usage-based rates for wireless data. And users are chewing up data on their Samsung Galaxy phones, their Microsoft Windows Surface tablets, and on Apple iPhones and iPads and iPods. So long as users have both a wired home broadband connection, with a second screen that accesses Wi-Fi, broadband costs are manageable. Policy questions arise when users must rely exclusively on third-generation or fourth-generation wireless networks. This issue will be explored in the February 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

2. How Will FirstNET Improve Public Safety Communications?
One of the reasons that wireless providers insist on tiered pricing for wireless broadband is the spectrum crunch occasioned by more and more data usage over 3G and 4G wireless networks. This is one of several reasons why the government has been easing television broadcasters out of the airwaves, and beginning to make the most desirable frequencies available for other uses. Two of these high-value uses are for public safety communications and commercial mobile broadband. FirstNET, the nationwide, public-safety network called for in legislation last February, could provide key answers to weaknesses in response by police, fire and emergency response officials. This issue will be explored in the March 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

3. Smart Cars, Data Sensors, and Machine-to-Machine Communications: What’s Coming Up this Year
The increasingly small sizes of silicon transistors, coupled with greater broadband ubiquity, is making it possible to envision a world of machine-to-machine communications. Typical families now have more than five or even 10 broadband-connected devices — expect that number to rapidly multiply in the coming year. One of the most exciting developments in machine-to-machine communications exists in the world of smart cars. One Verizon Communications device on display at the Consumer Electronics Show was a Delphi Automotive plug-in, for sale as an aftermarket plug-in designed to send location, diagnostic, speed and mileage information about your car to a web-enabled portal. But how will smarter cars begin to affect vehicle safety? This issue will be explored in the April 16, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

4. Becoming a Gigabit Nation: What Have we Learned About Ultra-High Speed from Google, Comcast, Verizon and Others?
Speaking at the show, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski lauded the nation’s progress on broadband speeds. “More and more [providers] are thinking of speeds in terms of gigabits instead of megabits,” he said in an interview with Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. But he said it still wasn’t enough. “We need more gigabit test beds in this country. We are in a global bandwidth race, and we don’t want to be behind the rest of the world on speed.” More and more gigabit or near-gigabit initiatives are now available for consumers and we need to learn from their progress. This issue will be explored in the May 21, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

5. Global and Mobile: How Wireless Broadband Spurs Economic Development
Many celebrities flock to the Consumer Electronics Show. One of them, former President Bill Clinton, delivered a substantive message about the impact that mobile smartphones are having upon the developing world. And the major manufacturers are paying attention to this need. One of the show’s big announcements concerned the creation of a chipset design from Intel that will enable cheaper smart phones. What does the developing world need in a mobile broadband network to spur economic development? This issue will be explored in the June 18, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

6. Smart Energy: Broadband and the Green Revolution
Advanced energy was a big theme emphasized by a variety of companies, from Ford to Panasonic to Verizon to Qualcomm. Information technology is being asked to play a supportive role in helping to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. This can be done by helping regulate energy consumption in homes, buildings and cars. Technology can also provide new service opportunities (e.g., telemedicine) that help avoid additional emissions. How can broadband be harnessed as a green technology? This issue will be explored in the July 16, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

7. Over the Top: Broadband Video Challenges Cable and Broadcast Programming
From Dish Network’s Hopper with Sling, which enables content sharing beyond the home; to Apple’s and Netflix’s attempts to offer a la carte television programming; to the many manufacturers designing smart and customized televisions, the next year is likely to bring new challenges and opportunities for video programmers. “Over the top” video is the next frontier for pay television programming. Is it a threat or an opportunity for cable operators? This issue will be explored in the September 17, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

8. Mobile Health: Will Wireless Devices Help Solve the Nation’s Health Crises?
In the “Last Gadget Standing” event at the Consumer Electronics Show, attendees were invited to put forward their proposals for “killer applications” that will change lives for the better. Three of the 10 finalists were mobile health applications. One was a diabetes monitor. The other conducted a battery of heart measurements. A third continuously provided global positioning service information about fitness and motion. These were just a sample of the mobile wireless technologies that could begin to provide answers to our nation’s health care problems. This issue will be explored in the October 15, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

9. Changes to Patent Law and the Landscape for Innovation
One surprising significant issue addressed in the show were the challenges that so-called “patent trolls” can cause to entrepreneurs. An unexpectedly strong turn-out greeted the discussion on patent reform, which was also highlighted in the keynote address by CEA’s Shapiro. This issue will be explored in the November 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

10. Will Tablets Dethrone Computers as the Gateway to Sustainable Broadband Adoption?
Previously, technology prognosticators focused on the three-screen world: televisions, computers and mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Coming to CES this year forced me to think that we are really entering a two-screen world: a big screen at home (a TV) and a mobile screen that you take with you. Sure, the computer isn’t going away anytime soon, but the bulk of the innovation was on the big screen and the little screen. As consumers who have not yet adopted broadband begin to use mobile phones and tablets for serious online activity, it will be important to assess the best way to reach those currently not online.

Although this is one issue for which we haven’t yet scheduled an upcoming Broadband Breakfast Club, we expect it will be discussed at this Tuesday’s event, “The President’s and Congress’ New Broadband Agenda” on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Please join us! Register at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the broadband economy at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Our goals at #CES2013 last week were to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Broadband and Democratization

Stamping out Election Falsehoods Like Playing Whack-a-Mole, Says Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger

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Photo of Brad Raffensperger from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

February 5, 2021 – With election misinformation and conspiracy theories rampant in Election 2020, secretaries of state representing pivotal states swapped stories on Thursday about the howlers they faced – and what they did to try to maintain public trust in upholding election integrity.

Perhaps no one faced more pressure to act to overturn the results of his state’s presidential vote tally than Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Among the many false accusations he faced was that a Ron Raffensperger, allegedly a brother of his, works for a Chinese technology firm. While there is such a person, and that person does in fact work for the Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei, that Ron Raffensperger is not Brad Raffensperger’s brother.

At Thursday’s meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Raffensperger said again that he does not have a brother named Ron. He also expressed condolences for the real Ron Raffensperger out there.

Stamping out falsehoods is like playing a game of ‘rumor-whack-a-mole,’ said Brad Raffensperger. Once you eradicate one rumor, another just pops up. It’s as if the truth has 30,000 Twitter followers while falsehood has 80 million followers, he added.

Screenshot of the NASS webinar

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs addressed the “Sharpiegate” scandal, another fake claim concocted by Republicans. Sharpiegate was the wrong notion pushed by some that Sharpie pens distributed at polling places were handed out for voting.

But the felt-tip pen’s ink bled through the ballot, making it unreadable by a machine and thus keeping the Sharpie victim’s vote from being counted. The twist in this particular story is that only the Sharpie-marked ballots cast by Republican candidates were thrown out, somehow.

While recognizing the seriousness of this misinformation campaign, exacerbated by Eric Trump’s tweets about it, souvenir Sharpies were ordered bearing “Sharpiegate 2020” printed on them – just as a joke, said Hobbs.

Michigan had a plan in place for months on how to collect, process, and release voting results, said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. However, because its processes were so efficient, Michigan caught its critics off guard. This exposed Michigan to accusations of allegedly counting its ballots too fast in an effort to try to “fix” the election. Robocalls targeted minority majority communities, including in Detroit.

Ohio also anticipated a barrage of misinformation. As a preemptive measure, the state rolled out numerous tools and resources to inform citizens of voting processes.

Secretaries of state need to help voters build confidence knowing their voice will be heard in a fair and honest contest, and not to tear it down, said Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State. He praised Ohio’s election integrity and said it had a record low in ballot rejection, and a record high in ballot workers.

The state also tried to stop spreaders of misinformation by warning of felony charges for spreading lies.

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Broadband and Democratization

At New America Foundation Event on India, Panelists Talk of ‘Digital Colonization’ by U.S. and China

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Screenshot from the webinar

October 1, 2020 – When it comes to social media, India is currently in a “two-house race” between the United States and China, explained India expert Madhulika Srikumar at New America on Wednesday.

Tiktok and Facebook have been big players in this race, each attracted to India’s large audience base.

Srikumar, an attorney formerly with the Cyber Initiative at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, cited two statistics. First, one-third of TikTok’s users were Indian, before the app was banned in June by the Indian government. Second, if India’s Facebook audience were a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world.

She explained the recent trend of Chinese and U.S. companies each investing in Indian companies.

New American CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter said in response, “When I hear you Madhu, all I can think of is digital colonization.”

Slaughter stressed that it was vital we don’t have a world where states lock down their internet and asserted that the world would be a better place if there was more competition and if companies had to be more open with their policies

“Our institutions for holding power accountable are still from the analog age,” Said Rebecca MacKinnon, founding director of New America’s Ranking Digital Rights project, adding that there’s nothing in our law that could prevent Tiktok from becoming a vehicle for hate speech.

Slaughter blamed the platforms, claiming that platforms were publishers wielding great political power who were responsible for polarization and declining trust.

She pointed to a future Biden-Harris administration, and projected that if elected, it would provide a new vision for internet policy by working with a number of other countries, including Europe, to adopt global standards for a free internet. This consortium would insist that companies abide by such rules.

When asked whether the UN could play a role, Slaughter said that it could, but it would need to have strong member support since “the current U.S. government has distain for non-US institutions.” The United Nations would have difficulty putting regulations in place with one of it’s biggest members not being supportive.

MacKinnon agreed that UN involvement would be complicated. For the past decade, there’s been a fight brewing over who sets standards for the tech community and for global technologies.

Srikumar, in turn, appealed for greater resources to flesh out what exactly an open internet means, as well as a move to divorce content from gatekeepers.

Joshua Keating, senior editor of Slate moderated the webinar.

See also “The Privacy Negotiators: The Need for U.S. Tech Companies to Mediate Agreements on Government Access to Data in India,” by Madhulika Srikumar on New America

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Broadband and Democratization

Mobile Technology Aided the Growth of Black Lives Matter, But Will Hashtag Outrage Lead to Change?

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Screenshot of panelists on the Brookings Institution webinar

September 21, 2020 — In the United States, widespread public use of mobile phone cameras and social media has thrust the longstanding issue of police brutality against Black Americans into the national spotlight like never before.

Delving deeply into the subject of how digital tools have contributed to the goals of anti-brutality activists, panelists at a Brookings Institution event on September 14 detailed the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and whether the explosive growth of the hashtag #BLM might result in any institutional change.

In the summer of 2014, videos, images, and text narratives of violent encounters between police officers and unarmed Black people circulated widely through news and social media, spurring public outrage.

“A large digital archive of Tweets started in 2014, when Michael Brown was killed,” said Rashawn Ray, professor of sociology and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research at the University of Maryland.

Media activism fueled by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner gave rise to Black Lives Matter, or #BLM, a loosely-coordinated, nationwide movement dedicated to ending police brutality, which uses online media extensively.

The panelists referenced the “Beyond the Hashtag” report authored by Meredith Clark, assistant professor at the University of Virginia, analyzes the movement’s rise on Twitter.

“Mobile technology became an agent of change,” said Mignon Clyburn, former commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, referring to the 2007 introduction of the iPhone as a turning point in the way individuals utilize devices. “Devices became smaller, less expensive, and more ubiquitous,” said Clyburn, “we are now seeing a global, mobile revolution.”

Increased accessibility to mobile devices and social media cracked open doors previously kept tightly shut by pro-corporate, pro-government gatekeepers of the media, which spread anti-Black ideologies. Mobile devices initiated a leveling of the media playing field, allowing for marginalized groups to intervene in dialogues.

“Black Americans have the opportunity to share distinctively what is happening to us,” said Nicol Turner Lee, senior fellow in governance studies and the director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute.

“These videos show our humanity, and how it is destroyed and undermined,” added Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

While videos taken to report instances of police brutality are critical resources, they come with significant consequences for those filming and viewing them.

In order to record an instance of police, an individual has to be courageous, as many citizen journalists attempting to capture an act of police brutality, end up a subject of cruelty.

“You have the right to record protected under First Amendment,” Clarke informed, urging that officers be trained on respecting citizens First Amendment rights to film.

While recording instances of police brutality is distressing in itself, sharing the video online, although necessary, amplifies the video’s power to traumatize indefinitely. “There will no doubt be a generation of children that will be traumatized,” by repeatedly seeing images of Black Americans brutalized by the police, said Lee.

Clarke urged individuals who decide to share content, to do so with a trigger warning.

While digital tools have enabled video evidence of brutality to be caught, amass widespread attention, and cause public outrage, as of yet, it has not translated into real-life justice for Black individuals. Difficulty to bring prosecution against excessively violent officers remains.

Clarke noted that police union contracts are barriers to reform. “The terms of collective bargaining agreements allow officers to see video evidence before reporting on how the events transpired,” detailed Clarke.

Ray called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, H.R. 7120, introduced by Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, which he said was currently ‘collecting dust’ in the Senate.

The bill would establish new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, necessitating them to report data on use-of-force incidents, obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and wear body cameras.

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