Connect with us

Broadband Roundup

Facebook and Austrian Censorship, Qualcomm Sells 4G Chips to Huawei, Giving Artificial Intelligence Legal Rights



Photo courtesy the Register

A ruling by the high court in Austria, in line with local defamation policy, ordered Facebook to remove a post insulting a former Green Party leader, and demanded that all similar posts be removed on a global scale.

This case has been going on since 2016 when a Facebook user shared a photo of Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, chair of Austria’s Green Party at the time.

The user labeled her a “lousy traitor,” “corrupt oaf,” and member of a “fascist party,” evidently in response to her immigration policies. While this kind of speech is protected in the United States, under Austrian law it was considered defamation.

While Facebook agreed to remove the post, they did not agree to remove all others like it, nor do so on a global scale. They argued doing so would violate the EU’s e-Commerce Directive, which prohibits EU member states from imposing general monitoring regulations on tech companies.

The EU court ended up siding with Austria in October of 2019, saying the e-Commerce Directive did not prevent them from enforcing their local defamation standards.

There were two limits set by the EU court ruling on EU member state courts. First that they were obligations to look for and take down equivalent content must be issued with enough specificity so that independent providers don’t need to assess the content, and second, that worldwide injunctions must comport with “relevant international law.”

This precedent has potentially far-reaching effects and could create, wrote Slate’s Jennifer Daskal, a “race to the bottom, with the most censor-prone nation setting global speech rules.”

Although the Austrian court ruling was final, it was issued with provisional proceedings. Therefore, there is a chance that the injunction could be lifted as part of the main proceedings.

Qualcomm approved to sell 4G chips to Huawei despite U.S. restrictions

Qualcomm has been granted a license by the US government to sell 4G mobile chips to Huawei, in the face of an otherwise-present ban on U.S. sales with the company.

The company received a license to sell several products, including 4G chips, and they have other licensing applications pending, said a Qualcomm spokeswoman at a Reuters event on Saturday.

Restrictions on Huawei equipment in the United States began in May after President Trump issued an executive order banning the equipment in the U.S. In August, the Commerce Department expanded the regulations to limit Huawei’s access to chips that were made using American equipment.

Reuters said the impact of this license is limited, as many are opting for 5G phones now. It is unclear whether the company will be granted a license to sell 5G chips to Huawei.

How legal neutrality for artificial intelligence would benefit everyone

When the law draws distinctions between human behavior and the behavior are artificially intelligent machines, there tend to be negative outcomes, argued Ryan Abbott, author of The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law.

Morally, AI doesn’t have rights, he said in a virtual book discussion hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. While we sometimes treat corporations as if they have rights, but only because such a presumption encourages commerce and entrepreneurship, he said.

That said, there might be some circumstances in which it made sense to treat a machine as if it did have rights.

For instance, with a fully-autonomous self-driving car, the owner of the vehicle may need to hold an insurance policy for the AV to potentially compensate victims. But that wouldn’t be because it was morally deserving of rights.

He also suggested that it might make sense to have a more legal neutral tax system between humans and machines. Businesses are taxed differently depending on the kind of job the AI is doing, he explained.

McDonald’s, for instance, could realize a lot of tax benefits from having a machine do a job instead of a human because the company wouldn’t have to worry about payroll or other taxes for the robot.

In the industrial revolution, many people worried that they would lose their jobs to up and coming technology. In fact, many did, said Abbott.

But the industrial revolution proved that increasing automation doesn’t take humans out of the equation entirely, it just forces them to adapt. Having a legal neutral tax system for automation could allow us to reap the convenience and precision of automation while having enough revenue to compensate individuals who are negatively affected by the transition.

Broadband Roundup

Broadband Prices Decline, AT&T’s Fiber Build in Texas, Conexon Partners for Build in Georgia

A USTelecom report finds that despite high inflation, broadband prices have been declining.



Screenshot of Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – A USTelecom report released Wednesday found that broadband prices have been declining, despite high inflation.

The association’s 2022 Broadband Pricing Index Report found that broadband pricing decreased even with significant inflation of an estimated 8 percent in the past year, the most popular broadband prices dropped by 14.7 percent, and the highest speed broadband prices dropped by 11.6 percent from 2021-2022.

“Broadband prices at all speeds have decreased in the last five years,” it said.

The analysis also found that broadband prices are half of what they used to be in 2015. The most popular broadband services decreased by 44.6 percent, while the fastest broadband services decreased their prices by 52.7 percent from 2015-2022.

Lastly, the report found that the “consumer value of broadband services has never been higher.” As providers offer faster speeds at lower prices, the overall value to customers has dramatically improved, it said.

“This is great news for American broadband consumers,” said Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association.

AT&T strikes deal in Amarillo, Texas for fiber project

AT&T struck a deal Wednesday with the city of Amarillo, Texas to extend its fiber reach.

A press release said the $24 million project in Amarillo will cover approximately 22,000 locations.

“The city of Amarillo broadband access plan is one of the more significant technological infrastructure advancements in city history,” said Amarillo mayor Ginger Nelson in the release.

It’s the latest partnership for AT&T, which is planning on reaching upwards of 60,000 locations via public-private partnerships in counties in Indiana, Kentucky and now Amarillo, Texas.

Conexon partners with Georgia electric company for broadband build

Georgia’s Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation partnered with internet service provider Conexon Connect on Tuesday to bring reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband to rural Georgia.

The partnership will see the deployment of a network that spans 2,100 miles of fiber to the home for service to up to 8,000 members in centra Georgia, a press release said.

“I commend Ocmulgee EMC and Conexon for this exciting public-private partnership and their commitment to creating value for their communities,” said Governor Brian Kemp in a press release.

The project is estimated to take 2-4 years to complete and is set to start this September. The first customers expected to be connected in early 2023.

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

TikTok Data Concerns, Broadband Data Collection System, Internet Access on COVID-19 Mortality

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is requesting Apple and Google remove the TikTok app over data concerns.



Photo of Brendan Carr

June 29, 2022 – Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called for Apple and Google to remove Beijing-based popular video-sharing application, TikTok, from their app stores.

The app is run by ByteDance, a company that is “beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands,” read the June 24 letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sunder Pichai.

“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data,” said Carr, calling it a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data” such as search histories, keystroke patterns and biometric identifies.”

Carr claims that TikTok’s pattern of conduct regarding persons in Beijing having access U.S. sensitive data violates policies that both companies require every app to adhere to as a condition of remaining available on the app stores. “I am requesting that you apply the plain text of your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from your app stores for failure to abide by those terms.”

TikTok has assured users that American’s data is being stored in the U.S. but, according to Carr, this statement “says nothing about where that data can be accessed from.”

FCC opens mapping data system for filers early 

The Federal Communications Commission released a public notice on Thursday announcing that filers of broadband availability data in its new maps may obtain early access of the system for registering filer information.

The filing window for the Broadband Data Collection opens June 30, but early access will enable users to register their entities in the system and become familiar with the system before that date, the FCC said.

“We are making this functionality available in advance of the opening of the filing window to enable filers to log in, register, and be ready to enter their availability data as early in the filing window as possible,” read the public notice.

The BDC program is said to help improve broadband mapping data to help funnel federal dollars to where broadband infrastructure is needed. Most fixed and mobile broadband providers will be required to file information in the system, but third parties and government entities are also encouraged.

Impact of internet access on COVID-19 mortality

New analysis released last week by private research university Tufts found that increased broadband access in the United States reduced COVID-19 mortality rates.

“Even after controlling for a host of other socioeconomic factors, a 1 percent increase in broadband access across the U.S. reduced COVID mortality by approximately 19 deaths per 100,000, all things equal,” read the report.

The study also found that the impact was felt more strongly in metro areas, where a 1 percent increase in broadband access reduced the deaths by 36 per 100,000.

By conducting a correlation analysis, Tuft researchers found that broadband access is negatively correlated with COVID mortality, even after controlling for other major factors such as health status, income, race and education.

The study only considered pre-vaccine number to account for inconsistencies.

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

Rosenworcel Committed to Net Neutrality, Better Spectrum Coordination, Starlink Up in Internet Speeds

The FCC chairwoman reaffirmed her commitment to net neutrality at a conference on Friday.



FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – At a conference hosted by the American Library Association on Friday, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel reaffirmed her support for net neutrality rules.

According to a press release, Rosenworcel stated she wants to make a “return to common carrier regulation of internet service providers which aims to prevent ISPs from slowing down or blocking web traffic.”

Rosenworcel “fully backs” net neutrality rules passed under the Obama administration that were repealed during the Trump administration. “I opposed the last administration’s effort to roll it back, and I want it to once again become the law of the land,” she stated at the ALA.

A press release calls Rosenworcel ’s statement on net neutrality the “hallmark of her tenure” and says she faces opposition in her attempt to bring back net neutrality rules.

“It is just wrong for the internet to have slow lanes for people with less money,” Patty Wong, president of the ALA, said at the conference.

Better coordination needed for receiver performance 

On Monday, non-partisan think tank TechPolicy urged more coordination by the Federal Communications Commission with other agencies to better utilize spectrum assets during its receiver performance study, filing comments in response to the commission’s public consultation about that matter.

“The Commission has a considerable expertise and prior work to review in assessing whether it has the statutory authority in this area, and how to best incentivize all parties to build more robust receivers to operate in more and more congested spectrum,” the think tank said.

It suggested engaging with other agencies, such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as well as users of government receivers.

James Dunstan, general counsel of TechFreedom, stated, “the FCC cannot fine-tune spectrum management with only half the orchestra.” He added that if the FCC does not engage with government users, “there will be little progress made toward finding broad solutions to increased spectrum congestion.”

The FCC and the NTIA have already agreed earlier this year to coordinate on spectrum management.

Ookla finds Starlink increased speeds by 38 percent over the past year

Metrics company Ookla said Tuesday that, according to its review of Starlink satellite broadband service in the first quarter, the company saw an increase of 38 percent in internet performance in the United States over the past year, said a press release.

However, the company’s analysis also showed that Starlink’s upload speeds decreased nearly 33 percent in the U.S. from 16.29 Mbps in 2021 to 9.33 in 2022.

Ookla notes that even as consumers choose Starlink, competitors are not far behind. It mentioned as key developments FCC approval for Amazon’s Project Kuiper to test its satellite service this year, and Viasat getting closer to merging with Inmarsat for a constellation launch next year.

Continue Reading


Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field