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Digital Advertising Experts Square Off on Privacy Against Skeptical Members of Congress

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WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 – Top digital advertising experts defended the importance of data collection against a committee skeptical of ad companies’ ethics.

With data privacy increasingly at the forefront of tech policy debate, a June 14 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the digital advertising ecosystem became a flashpoint for the debate between members of congress and industry experts on the dangers digital advertising present to consumer data privacy.

Among the markers of controversy include the Equifax data breach of September 2017 that compromised millions of Americans. This year, revelations of Facebook selling user data to Cambridge Analytica, and more than 60 other companies.

An example of the practice of digital advertising tracking, as applied to a congresswoman and opiods

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., recounted how she had been conducting research on opioids late night on Google. In the morning, she was being given drug rehabilitation center advertisements online.

“I didn’t want anybody to think that I was a drug user, but that’s the kind of data that’s being collected, then a potential employer can buy that from somebody,” Dingell warned.

When asked if that could actually happen, privacy official Rachel Glasser said: “Anything is really possible, right? It absolutely can happen,” Glasser said, though within the industry, there are restrictions on certain types of targeted advertising.

Glasser, chief privacy officer at Wunderman – parent company of a KPMG data analytics company – defended how companies typically use consumer data.

“Most ad tech companies don’t want to know the identity of a consumer,” Glasser said. “They only want to link interest categories (loves travel) or demographic data (male under 30) with a consumer’s browser so that they can serve up relevant ads.”

Glasser emphasized the importance of digital advertising to the current internet. “Digital advertising is the lifeblood for the internet economy,” Glasser said. “Data is at the center of this American success story.”

Necessary to maintain the internet marketplace, or reserving broad rights to themselves – or both?

Howard Beales, George Washington University professor of strategic management and public policy argued that revenue from digital advertising is necessary to maintain the internet content as a private market.

“The value of advertising depends critically on the availability of information about the likely viewer,” Beales said, stressing the importance of collecting data for internet content providers.

“When information is available, advertising prices are roughly three times higher than when there is no information about the viewer. Impairing the flow of information would significantly reduce the revenues available to support internet content, an impact that would be particularly problematic for smaller publishers.”

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, criticized Congress for the lack of effective protection policies.

“Congress has been woefully slow in responding to the risks that online advertising practices pose to privacy, fairness, and our very democracy. The FCC does not have the resources it needs to be an effective consumer watchdog,” she said, listing lack of staff and not enough tools.

Justin Brookman, director at Consumers Union – which publishes Consumer Reports – called for better transparency, arguing that Congress should legislate some basic “rules of the road”, for instance, requiring greater transparency.

“You know, I review privacy policies as part of my job. I can’t make heads or tails of them, and it’s my job,” he said. “They don’t actually say what companies are doing – they reserve really broad rights to do stuff.”

(Photo of Rep. Debbie Dingell by Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy used with permission.)

 

Broadband's Impact

Sunne McPeak: Achieving True Digital Equity Requires Strong Leadership and Sincere Collaboration

Collaboration between community leaders will be essential in ensuring success of the Biden infrastructure bill in California.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Sunne Wright McPeak

This week, President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for expanding broadband deployment and access for all Americans.

The national plan is described as the most significant infrastructure upgrade in the three decades since the Cold War. “This is an opportunity to create an Eisenhower national highway system for the information age,” says a former White House National Security Council senior director.

For California – the nation’s largest state – it means a minimum $100 million for broadband infrastructure that is designed to expand high-speed internet access for at least 545,000 residents, particularly in unserved and underserved communities, according to the White House. The federal funding will support California’s $6 billion broadband infrastructure plan.

Closing the digital divide and achieving true digital equity requires strong leadership and sincere collaboration among public agencies, internet service providers and civic leaders to seize this unique opportunity to achieve strategic priorities in education, telehealth, transportation and economic development. The 2021 USC-CETF Statewide Survey on Broadband Adoption highlighted that a significant number of Californians will be left behind because they are unable to access the internet and other digital functionality needed for vital activities.

Now, the question is how to ensure the public’s funds will be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. California must implement a thoughtful, aggressive strategy that will maximize immediate impact and optimize return on investment. Separately, for several years, CETF has been calling for broadband deployment as a green strategy for sustainability; that urgency only grows in the wake of the COP26 climate meetings. As leaders begin to make historic investments, they should embrace these key principles for action:

  • Prioritize and drive infrastructure construction to the hardest-to-reach residents — rural unserved areas, tribal lands, and poor urban neighborhoods — and then connect all locations, especially anchor institutions (schools, libraries and health care facilities), along the path of deployment.
  • Require open-access fiber middle-mile infrastructure with end-user internet speeds sufficient to support distance learning and telehealth.
  • Strive to achieve ubiquitous deployment in each region to avoid cherry picking for more lucrative areas.
  • Encourage coordination among local governments and regional agencies to streamline permitting and achieve economies of scale.
  • Develop an open competitive process to achieve the most cost-effective investment of new dollars by optimizing use of existing infrastructure that ratepayers and taxpayers already have built.

To learn more, please contact Sunne Wright McPeak at sunne.mcpeak@cetfund.org

Sunne Wright McPeak is President and CEO of California Emerging Technology Fund, a statewide non-profit foundation with 15 years of experience addressing broadband issues to close the Digital Divide in California. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

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

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Funding

Bigger Investment Needed for Next Generation 9-1-1 Services, Experts Say

Former head of NTIA said it could cost $12 billion.

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David Redl, CEO of consulting group Salt Point Strategies and former head of NTIA

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2021–– Experts at a Federal Communications Bar Association event earlier this month said the current funding allocation for next-generation 911 services is inadequate.

Currently, under the Joe Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act, the new 911 services – which will allow people to share videos, images and texts with 911 call centers – is allocated $500 million.

“It’s not enough to fully fund 911,” David Redl, CEO of consulting group Salt Point Strategies, said on the FCBA’s “What Comes Next in 911” panel on November 4. Redl was formerly the head of the Commerce Department’s telecom agency National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Redl said the number could be “about 12 billion.” For Redl, the challenge is to address the funding gap for NG911 “when there’s skepticism in Washington and the [Federal Communications Commission and] when states have different ideas about the best way to allocate funding and best technology to use.”

Dan Henry, director of government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association, agreed.

While Henry said he’s excited about the national-level interoperability tools for call centers that will allow the ability to transfer emergency calls across states with the call’s incident file intact, the failure to get sufficient funding for NG911 puts health and safety at risk. “We’re not near what we need to get [NG911] across the finish line,” he said.

The technology to deploy NG911 is ready, added Chandy Ghosh, chief operating officer and general manager of emergency services at communications company Inteliquent. “It’s not a tech issue,” she said. Wireless clients have been testing NG911 with successful results.

Stakeholders need to communicate with government

Chris Moore, principal at consulting firm Brooks Bawden Moore, said a federal investment is required to deploy NG911. He suggested that industry stakeholders should convene to tell government what they need.

“For now we’ll get what we get, we’re going to continue to push for more funding, but it’s not going to be this round,” he said.

On October 26, the National Association of State 911 Administrators Association asked the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to assist with the implementation of NG911 by clarifying the agency’s authority to regulate the delivery of 911 services through internet protocol-based emergency networks and shift cost-bearing to service providers.

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Funding

Another $700 Million for 26 States Through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Over 400,000 locations across the U.S. will get broadband in this funding wave.

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Photo by John Staley from NextTV

WASHINGTON, November 12, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it will authorize $709,060,159 for 26 states through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

These are disbursements of the $9.2 billion that were announced in round one of the RDOF reverse auction that took place in the fall of 2020.

The rural fund supports new broadband deployment efforts for 50 broadband providers in 400,000 locations across the U.S. Much of the funding will go to nonprofit rural electric cooperatives to deploy broadband in their service areas.

But others awarded funding under the auction have already defaulted on coverage that they said they would provide as part of their winning bids.

The 26 states ready to receive Wednesday’s funding include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that the announcement “highlights the agency’s commitment to supporting even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service while doing our due diligence to ensure the applicants can deliver to these unserved communities as promised.”

The Commission’s announcement comes after the FCC launched the second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program on Tuesday, granting $42.5 million for health care providers. This telehealth program and exceeds the FCC’s $150 million goal by reaching $166.13 million for telehealth funding.

These funding programs provide reimbursements for telecommunication and information services and connected devices the providers have purchased to continue their telehealth services. The Commission also announced $421 million on Monday to keep over 10 million students connected across the U.S. as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

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