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House Passes Email Privacy Act

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WASHINGTON, February 6, 2017  – The House of Representatives on Monday approved by voice vote the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 387, designed to protect Americans’ privacy and public safety in the digital age. Below is a statement from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, applauding passage of the bill.

I’ve written about previous version of this legislation in each of the past three years, including this column from March 1, 2015 and from May 1, 2016 for the Deseret News. In the former of the two columns, I wrote:

It’s important at the outset to dispense the shibboleth that the Internet changes everything. What the Internet needs is a strong dose of 18th century legal wisdom, not words about “freedom of expression in the 21st century,” to quote the [former] chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during [a vote by] the agency on network neutrality.

The Constitution says that we have the right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers and effects.” We have the right to speak free from regulation by the government. There are some who say that the Internet has rewritten the laws of supply and demand, or changed common decency and morality, or altered the possibility of being free from police surveillance. They are mistaken.

[more…]

From Chairman Goodlatte: “The U.S. Constitution protects Americans’ property from unreasonable searches and seizures and we must ensure that this principle continues to thrive in the digital age. Current law governing law enforcement’s access to electronic communications was enacted in 1986 – when mail was sent through the U.S. Postal Service, a search engine was called a library, tweets were the sounds made by birds in the trees, and clouds were found only in the sky.

“As technology has far-outpaced the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, the Email Privacy Act modernizes this decades-old law to establish a uniform warrant requirement to acquire stored electronic communications in criminal investigations. These updates to the law will better safeguard Americans’ constitutional rights while also protecting law enforcement’s ability to fight crime.  As the House again has overwhelmingly approved this bill, it’s time for the Senate to take up this bipartisan legislation and send it to the President’s desk to become law.”

Background from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte:

Nearly 30 years ago, Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to provide a fair balance between the privacy expectations of American citizens and the legitimate needs of law enforcement agencies. The law sets forth a system to protect the privacy rights of customers and subscribers of computer network service providers and governs requests to obtain stored content, records, or other information, which includes stored emails, text or instant messages, documents, videos, or sound recordings stored in the cloud. ECPA applies not only to federal criminal investigations and prosecutions, but to state and local investigations and prosecutions, public safety requests, and civil investigations in which stored communications of these types of information are sought.

There is broad consensus that ECPA is outdated and contains insufficient protections for Americans’ privacy. The Email Privacy Act, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, modernizes ECPA to protect Americans’ privacy and provide law enforcement with tools needed for its investigations. Last year, the House passed the bill unanimously by a vote of 419-0 but the Senate failed to act.

Key Provisions of the Email Privacy Act:

Warrant requirement: The bill creates a uniform warrant standard for law enforcement to obtain the content of communications in criminal investigations. ECPA warrants will continue to be executed with the provider since, as with any other third-party custodian, the information is stored with them. It allows the provider to notify its customers of receipt of a warrant, court order, or subpoena, unless the provider is court ordered to delay such notification.

Remote Computing Services: The bill maintains current law that delineates which remote computing service providers – or cloud providers – are subject to the warrant requirement for content in a criminal investigation.  ECPA has traditionally imposed heightened legal process and procedures to obtain information for which the customer has a reasonable expectation of privacy, namely emails, texts, photos, videos, and documents stored in the cloud.

Allows Law Enforcement to Access Public Information: ECPA currently makes no distinction between content disclosed to the public, like an advertisement on a website, versus content disclosed only to one or a handful of persons, like an email or text message.  The result is that law enforcement would be required to obtain a warrant even for publicly-disclosed content. The bill clarifies that commercial public content can be obtained with a process other than a warrant.

Maintains Congress’s investigative power: The bill clarifies that nothing in the law limits Congress’s authority to subpoena information from third parties in furtherance of congressional oversight.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. 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.

Press Releases

Institute for Local Self-Reliance Announces Two Initiatives to Foster Local Broadband Solutions

Urban Digital Equity Bootcamp and Let’s Get Going Broadband Program announced.

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But the broadband landscape is complicated and confusing for those new to working in it. Every day, we hear from communities looking to orient themselves to the challenges and opportunities they face, and this need only seems to be growing. In response, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is excited to announce two new programs to help leaders and local government officials address their community’s needs in practical, efficient, clear-eyed ways, with sensitivity to all the things that make their community unique. ILSR has nearly 20 years of experience working on local broadband solutions that are accountable to local residents and businesses. We helped to develop the Tribal Broadband Bootcamp, and have worked with hundreds of communities from the smallest towns to the largest cities and counties.

Neither of the programs below is intended to replace existing specialized consultants. Rather, the aim is to help communities understand what their options are before they engage with consultants, so that they can be more efficient with their time.

Announcing the Urban Digital Equity Bootcamp

While most policymakers remain focused on broadband gaps in rural areas, residents of urban areas understand all too well the connectivity problems faced by those who live in cities. The greatest opportunities to achieve digital equity in urban communities is approaching, with unprecedented government and philanthropic support available to address needs long neglected. However, communities need local champions to ensure that problems are resolved in accordance with local goals.

More than 20 years of top-down solutions have failed to result in more connected, resilient communities. The Urban Digital Equity Bootcamps are instead based on the framework that bottom-up approaches, based on trust and local relationships, offer the best path forward. Modeled after the Tribal Broadband Bootcamp, and having learned lessons from the Digital Equity Leadership Lab and Broadband Accelerate approaches, we propose two-day events to develop skills and relationships as well as the needed expertise and partnerships to set and achieve digital equity goals. The program is designed to:

  • Increase knowledge and confidence of participants to allow them to better take action in their communities to achieve digital equity. This includes developing familiarity with key jargon and technologies related to Internet access.
  • Develop diverse cohorts and a larger human network of people sharing local strategies, challenges, and solutions.
  • Demystify Internet technology through hands-on applications and small group learning

Attendees will include a diverse group of stakeholders, from local leaders to activists to the philanthropic community. A key group of attendees would include organizations that already have the trust of frontline communities – groups that understand the importance of digital equity but haven’t had the capacity to address it. In larger communities, multiple events can be tailored to fit the different needs of different neighborhoods.

The primary objective will be building knowledge and trust among local organizations so they can engage in strategic campaigns of digital inclusion. These events will need significant local coordination to be effective.

The Urban Digital Equity Bootcamps will begin this fall. Contact Community Broadband Networks Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar at deanne@ilsr.org for more details, including cost.

Announcing the Let’s Get Going Broadband Program

Community broadband planning and coordinating digital inclusion ecosystems is complicated work. Cities and counties struggling to find the best tools and methodologies needed to address infrastructure and digital inclusion can find the solutions they need by participating in ILSR’s Let’s Get Going Broadband Program.

This eight-week, cohort-based program is designed to help local governments, elected officials, nonprofits, foundations, and digital equity advocates orient themselves and develop solutions. This progressive, syllabus-based program is aimed at helping participants understand local needs, evaluate options, and chart an achievable path to their goals. From leveraging existing assets, to financing, to partnerships, to evaluating available models for success, this program demystifies every step of the process.

It offers individualized advice and assistance along the way, while at the same time placing each community in a small cohort with other cities and counties aiming to solve similar problems. Each cohort will move through the Let’s Get Going Broadband Program together, sharing information, asking questions, and building a network of support along the way. It includes targeted readings, discussions facilitated by ILSR staff, interactive webinars, technical orientation, and lessons learned from fifteen years of tracking, writing about, and talking to communities that have tackled the task of improving their city infrastructure, boosting economic development, improving competition, and reaching the unserved and underserved by investing in locally owned solutions.

The first Let’s Get Going Broadband Program cohort is scheduled to begin in September. The cost per community is $15,000, and we recommend each community will select 3-5 participants to attend.

See the full program flyer with schedule here [pdf], or below.

It includes:

  • Cohort Building – An opportunity for a local broadband team to join a eight-week cohort with other communities in a customized curriculum to develop expertise in solving broadband challenges and taking advantage of funding opportunities.
  • Trainings – 90-minute interactive webinars  focused on understanding – in a commonly accessible manner – broadband technologies, challenges, and how similarly situated communities have addressed these problems.
  • Technical Assistance – Eight, 2-hour technical assistance sessions rooted in local needs
  • Community Progress Reports and Research – Help in developing an information-gathering project with diverse community stakeholders to define digital inclusion problems.

Contact Community Broadband Networks Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar at deanne@ilsr.org for more details.

Sign up for the Let’s Get Going Broadband Program here.

Originally published on the web site of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Municipal Networks Project, this page is reprinted with permission.
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Digital Inclusion

Event: Building for Digital Equity – Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding

ILSR and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance team up for two-hour livestream event on March 16 from 2-4 p.m. ET

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This press release is authored by the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Networks Project led by Christopher Mitchell, and NTIA's Angela Siefer

We’re living through a time with an unprecedented level of broadband infrastructure funding, fueled not only by the American Rescue Plan, but the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Hundreds of community-driven projects are already underway, but finding solid footing amidst these programs, statutes, and evolving rules is difficult. 

To help, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is teaming up with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for a two-hour livestream event to demystify the landscape. On Wednesday, March 16th, from 2-4pm ET, we’re hosting an online conversation to bring together local stakeholders, policy advocates, and funding experts in one place. We’re calling it Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding.

But this isn’t your average conference or webinar, with 45-minute panels that make your butt go numb and your eyes glaze over. Oh no. We’re aiming for a fast-paced, fun, and most importantly interactive conversation between policy advocates, network builders, local officials, and anyone else interested in learning how we can ensure that the tens of billions in upcoming infrastructure funding goes to solving the connectivity crisis permanently rather than once again disappearing into the pockets of the monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The event will feature a mixture of short presentations, panels with Q and A across a bunch of different platforms (so you can watch wherever you want), and trivia with prizes.

You can register for the event here.

Here’s the line-up:

  • It will be emceed by our own Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, and NDIA’s Training and Community Engagement Manager, Pamela Rosales.
  • The main event is a 50-minute block with multiple presentations on coalition building that will cover what regional governments and coalitions are doing to leverage the flood of federal funds for broadband in the American Rescue Plan, the Consolidated Appropriation Act, the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Shannon Millsaps, Director of Operations at Thrive, will do a lightning round on strategies for working regionally and NDIA’s Munirih Jester will highlight some related takeaways from NDIA’s Digital Inclusion Guidebook.
  • The coalition building block will end with a panel featuring ConnectMaine Authority Executive Director Peggy Schaffer and Founder/Executive Director of the National Digital Equity Center Susan Corbett who will talk about how successful broadband coalitions were formed in Maine.
  • After that, Abi Waldrupe of NDIA will discuss Digital Navigators, and more importantly, what is not a Digital Navigator.
  • Another block will zero in on key details about the buckets of federal funds available to states and local communities, centered around the five things every local community should know about how these funds can be used most effectively.
  • Dustin Loup and ILSR’s Data and GIS specialist Christine Parker will preview recent developments around maps, setting the table for a future discussion in greater depth.

Fun trivia questions will be asked of attendees throughout the event and we will close out with a trivia wrap-up and prize give away before the grand finale that will allow attendees to pepper Chris and Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, with lingering questions or thoughts.

You can register for the event here.

Editor’s note: This press release was originally published on Muninetworks.org on February 15, 2022, and was supplemented on March 2, 2022.

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Press Releases

NTIA and RUS Chiefs, Plus FCC and Treasury Officials, to Speak at Broadband Breakfast for Lunch Events

NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson and other top broadband officials have agreed to speak at Broadband Breakfast for Lunch Events.

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WASHINGTON, March 9, 2022 – Broadband Breakfast announced its programs for the Spring, including its weekly Broadband Breakfast Live Online series, and sessions for its new signature event, Broadband Breakfast for Lunch.

Among the speakers at upcoming events will include Alan Davidson, Administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Christopher McLean, Acting Administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service, and other top broadband officials.

Bookmark the Broadband Breakfast Live Online event page (it’s also at https://broadbandbreakfast.com/bblo for short), to always find details for the next events in the series. They take place on Wednesdays at 12 Noon ET.

“Right now the world of broadband enthusiasts, in Washington and around the country, are laser-focused on implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and Broadband Breakfast is as well,” said Drew Clark, CEO of Breakfast Media LLC, which publishes Broadband Breakfast and hosts its news coverage on broadband policy and internet technology.

Broadband Breakfast Live Online is a free event and it takes place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET, and lasts for one hour. Individuals are welcome to sign up and participate from wherever they are located.

Broadband Breakfast for Lunch takes place on the second Wednesday of each month – on March 9, April 13, May 11 and June 8, 2022.

There are two ways to participate in Broadband Breakfast for Lunch events: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend IN PERSON, sign up to attend in person through Eventbrite. Please arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

You can also PARTICIPATE ONLINE in any Broadband Breakfast Live Online – including Broadband Breakfast for Lunch – on Zoom, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

Closely focusing on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

“In closely focusing on IIJA and bringing together the top policy-makers at NTIA, USDA, FCC and the Treasury Department, Broadband Breakfast is doing what it does best: Building a big tent approach to getting better broadband, better lives,” said Clark. “We aim to connect and enlighten with timely, topical and smart events.”

At the March 9 event, which is co-hosted with Broadband.Money, Broadband Breakfast for Lunch will include a discussion of how to prepare for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, featuring Edyael Casaperalta of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Discussion will tackle what actions the federal government, states and infrastructure builders should take to ready for the years of infrastructure projects that this investment will bring.

The March 16 Broadband Breakfast Live Online discussion will take place live from WISPAmerica, the spring show of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association in New Orleans. It will feature a discussion about whether local wireless internet service providers should “overbuild themselves.”

The March 23 event will examine competition in the markets of social media and big tech and evaluate the American Innovation and Choice Online Act that is currently being considered by policymakers in Congress.

The March 30 event, in advance of Earth Day, environmental policy stakeholders will enter a conversation on how technology can help the environment amid ongoing climate concerns said to threaten humans in the future.

The event on April 6 will continue Broadband Breakfast Live Online’s discussion of broadband mapping and data that previously checked in on mapping efforts in several states around the country. This time the focus will be drawn inside the home – looking at how local service providers are working to improve customers’ connectivity once internet service reaches the walls of their dwellings through advancements in router technology and recommendations to optimize user experience.

Broadband Breakfast for Lunch on April 13 will continue consideration of key features in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as we look at the bill’s proposed middle-mile infrastructure programs and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s execution of the programs through an intimate fireside chat.

Upcoming Broadband Breakfast Live Online events

Although Broadband Breakfast Live Online programs are subject to change to accomodate breaking news events, the next eight weeks of events include:

  • Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Censorship by a Country, or Censorship by a Tech Platform?
  • Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 12 Noon ET — New Wires on Old Poles: Will the FCC Change Rules for Attachments?
  • Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 12 Noon ET — The Future of the Smart Home, and the Future of the Smart Apartment Building 
  • Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Preparing for IIJA’s Digital Equity Planning Grant Program — BROADBAND BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH, IN PERSON AND LIVE ONLINE
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Changing the Universal Service Fund: At What Cost?
  • Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 12 Noon ET — The Future of Privacy
  • Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Broadband Mapping and Data (Part 3)
  • Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Preparing for IIJA’s State Digital Equity Capacity Grant and Competitive Grant Programs — BROADBAND BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH, IN PERSON AND LIVE ONLINE

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE ONLINE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on Zoom.

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