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FTC Wants Answers From Social Media Companies, New USF Fee of 31.8%, FCC Extends E-Rate Waiver

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Photo of FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra from the Huffington Post

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday issued orders to nine social media and video streaming companies requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present users’ personal information; their advertising and user engagement practices; and further, how these practices affect children and teens.

The orders are being sent to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, ByteDance, Twitch, Reddit, and Discord. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond. The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.

“Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy,” wrote FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson in a joint statement issued on the matter.

Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered. Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users’ data and attention. It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us, the statement reads.

The FTC is specifically seeking information related to how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.

The Commission voted 4-1 to issue the orders. Commissioner Noah  Phillips voted no and issued a separate dissenting statement, in which he questions the logic behind the choice in recipients, among making further critiques.

FCC raises universal service contribution fee to 31.8%

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday released a public notice announcing the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter of 2021 will be 31.8 percent, up from the previous quarter’s 27.1 percent.

At 31.8 percent, the universal service fund contribution factor, or fee on telecommunications and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services is the highest ever recorded. The 31.8 percent fee broke last quarter’s record, which broke the record set one quarter earlier.

“If you aren’t optimizing your communication tax and regulatory fee billing, collection and reporting practices, then you (and your customers) are subsidizing the companies that are,” said Jonathan Marashlian of The CommLaw Group. The firm conducts optimization analysis about how to potentially minimize the economic impact of federal USF contribution costs and end user pass-through surcharges.

FCC extends gift rule waiver for E-rate and Rural Health Care programs

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission extended its waiver of the gift rules currently governing the E-rate and Rural Health Care Programs, through June 30, 2021. The FCC initially established the gift rule waiver in March, when it became clear that many schools, libraries, and healthcare providers would need additional broadband support to handle the surge in telehealth and remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, the Consortium for School Networking and the State Educational Technology Directors Association jointly filed a request in August to extend these waivers through the end of the funding year. The FCC previously granted this waiver through December 31, 2020.

To reiterate its request for the extended waiver, the SHLB Coalition additionally filed a joint ex parte letter with the State E-rate Coordinators Alliance, calling for vitally important anchor institutions to have access to every available resource to address the needs of students, patrons and patients during these extraordinary circumstances. It also reiterated the request in an additional ex parte letter.

“We are very pleased that the FCC approved the SHLB Coalition’s request to extend the gift rule waivers through June 2021,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, in a recent statement.

“With each new day bringing staggering new coronavirus statistics, schools, libraries, and healthcare providers require all the help they can get from their service provider partners during this challenging time. Through the waiver extension, these anchors have received free or discounted tablets and Chromebooks, hotspots and networking equipment, and additional internet bandwidth to help them serve their communities.”

Broadband Roundup

Infrastructure Bill Gets Agreement, Fiber Connect Wraps Up, Washington Community Broadband

White House announced infrastructure bill to include $65B, Fiber Connect 2021 wraps up, Washington State community broadband bill becomes law.

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The Federal Trade Commission on Monday issued orders to nine social media and video streaming companies requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present users’ personal information; their advertising and user engagement practices; and further, how these practices affect children and teens.

The orders are being sent to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, ByteDance, Twitch, Reddit, and Discord. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond. The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.

“Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy,” wrote FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson in a joint statement issued on the matter.

Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered. Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users’ data and attention. It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us, the statement reads.

The FTC is specifically seeking information related to how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.

The Commission voted 4-1 to issue the orders. Commissioner Noah  Phillips voted no and issued a separate dissenting statement, in which he questions the logic behind the choice in recipients, among making further critiques.

FCC raises universal service contribution fee to 31.8%

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday released a public notice announcing the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter of 2021 will be 31.8 percent, up from the previous quarter’s 27.1 percent.

At 31.8 percent, the universal service fund contribution factor, or fee on telecommunications and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services is the highest ever recorded. The 31.8 percent fee broke last quarter’s record, which broke the record set one quarter earlier.

“If you aren’t optimizing your communication tax and regulatory fee billing, collection and reporting practices, then you (and your customers) are subsidizing the companies that are,” said Jonathan Marashlian of The CommLaw Group. The firm conducts optimization analysis about how to potentially minimize the economic impact of federal USF contribution costs and end user pass-through surcharges.

FCC extends gift rule waiver for E-rate and Rural Health Care programs

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission extended its waiver of the gift rules currently governing the E-rate and Rural Health Care Programs, through June 30, 2021. The FCC initially established the gift rule waiver in March, when it became clear that many schools, libraries, and healthcare providers would need additional broadband support to handle the surge in telehealth and remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, the Consortium for School Networking and the State Educational Technology Directors Association jointly filed a request in August to extend these waivers through the end of the funding year. The FCC previously granted this waiver through December 31, 2020.

To reiterate its request for the extended waiver, the SHLB Coalition additionally filed a joint ex parte letter with the State E-rate Coordinators Alliance, calling for vitally important anchor institutions to have access to every available resource to address the needs of students, patrons and patients during these extraordinary circumstances. It also reiterated the request in an additional ex parte letter.

“We are very pleased that the FCC approved the SHLB Coalition’s request to extend the gift rule waivers through June 2021,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, in a recent statement.

“With each new day bringing staggering new coronavirus statistics, schools, libraries, and healthcare providers require all the help they can get from their service provider partners during this challenging time. Through the waiver extension, these anchors have received free or discounted tablets and Chromebooks, hotspots and networking equipment, and additional internet bandwidth to help them serve their communities.”

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Broadband Roundup

FCC Says 4M on Emergency Broadband Benefit, Ritter Puts $12M in Arkansas, New STL Cabling Product

$3.2-billion program has 4 million households, Ritter to connect 100% in river valley, STL efficient cables.

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Ritter Communications CEO Alan Morse, left.

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday issued orders to nine social media and video streaming companies requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present users’ personal information; their advertising and user engagement practices; and further, how these practices affect children and teens.

The orders are being sent to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, ByteDance, Twitch, Reddit, and Discord. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond. The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.

“Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy,” wrote FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson in a joint statement issued on the matter.

Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered. Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users’ data and attention. It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us, the statement reads.

The FTC is specifically seeking information related to how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.

The Commission voted 4-1 to issue the orders. Commissioner Noah  Phillips voted no and issued a separate dissenting statement, in which he questions the logic behind the choice in recipients, among making further critiques.

FCC raises universal service contribution fee to 31.8%

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday released a public notice announcing the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter of 2021 will be 31.8 percent, up from the previous quarter’s 27.1 percent.

At 31.8 percent, the universal service fund contribution factor, or fee on telecommunications and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services is the highest ever recorded. The 31.8 percent fee broke last quarter’s record, which broke the record set one quarter earlier.

“If you aren’t optimizing your communication tax and regulatory fee billing, collection and reporting practices, then you (and your customers) are subsidizing the companies that are,” said Jonathan Marashlian of The CommLaw Group. The firm conducts optimization analysis about how to potentially minimize the economic impact of federal USF contribution costs and end user pass-through surcharges.

FCC extends gift rule waiver for E-rate and Rural Health Care programs

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission extended its waiver of the gift rules currently governing the E-rate and Rural Health Care Programs, through June 30, 2021. The FCC initially established the gift rule waiver in March, when it became clear that many schools, libraries, and healthcare providers would need additional broadband support to handle the surge in telehealth and remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, the Consortium for School Networking and the State Educational Technology Directors Association jointly filed a request in August to extend these waivers through the end of the funding year. The FCC previously granted this waiver through December 31, 2020.

To reiterate its request for the extended waiver, the SHLB Coalition additionally filed a joint ex parte letter with the State E-rate Coordinators Alliance, calling for vitally important anchor institutions to have access to every available resource to address the needs of students, patrons and patients during these extraordinary circumstances. It also reiterated the request in an additional ex parte letter.

“We are very pleased that the FCC approved the SHLB Coalition’s request to extend the gift rule waivers through June 2021,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, in a recent statement.

“With each new day bringing staggering new coronavirus statistics, schools, libraries, and healthcare providers require all the help they can get from their service provider partners during this challenging time. Through the waiver extension, these anchors have received free or discounted tablets and Chromebooks, hotspots and networking equipment, and additional internet bandwidth to help them serve their communities.”

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Broadband Roundup

New York Drops $15 Internet, Lumen Gets Army Contract, Illinois Signs Telehealth Bill

New York drops $15 internet after interim court decision, Lumen gets army contract for broadband, Illinois allows telehealth for all.

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The Federal Trade Commission on Monday issued orders to nine social media and video streaming companies requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present users’ personal information; their advertising and user engagement practices; and further, how these practices affect children and teens.

The orders are being sent to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, ByteDance, Twitch, Reddit, and Discord. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond. The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.

“Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy,” wrote FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson in a joint statement issued on the matter.

Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered. Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users’ data and attention. It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us, the statement reads.

The FTC is specifically seeking information related to how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.

The Commission voted 4-1 to issue the orders. Commissioner Noah  Phillips voted no and issued a separate dissenting statement, in which he questions the logic behind the choice in recipients, among making further critiques.

FCC raises universal service contribution fee to 31.8%

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday released a public notice announcing the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter of 2021 will be 31.8 percent, up from the previous quarter’s 27.1 percent.

At 31.8 percent, the universal service fund contribution factor, or fee on telecommunications and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services is the highest ever recorded. The 31.8 percent fee broke last quarter’s record, which broke the record set one quarter earlier.

“If you aren’t optimizing your communication tax and regulatory fee billing, collection and reporting practices, then you (and your customers) are subsidizing the companies that are,” said Jonathan Marashlian of The CommLaw Group. The firm conducts optimization analysis about how to potentially minimize the economic impact of federal USF contribution costs and end user pass-through surcharges.

FCC extends gift rule waiver for E-rate and Rural Health Care programs

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission extended its waiver of the gift rules currently governing the E-rate and Rural Health Care Programs, through June 30, 2021. The FCC initially established the gift rule waiver in March, when it became clear that many schools, libraries, and healthcare providers would need additional broadband support to handle the surge in telehealth and remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, the Consortium for School Networking and the State Educational Technology Directors Association jointly filed a request in August to extend these waivers through the end of the funding year. The FCC previously granted this waiver through December 31, 2020.

To reiterate its request for the extended waiver, the SHLB Coalition additionally filed a joint ex parte letter with the State E-rate Coordinators Alliance, calling for vitally important anchor institutions to have access to every available resource to address the needs of students, patrons and patients during these extraordinary circumstances. It also reiterated the request in an additional ex parte letter.

“We are very pleased that the FCC approved the SHLB Coalition’s request to extend the gift rule waivers through June 2021,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, in a recent statement.

“With each new day bringing staggering new coronavirus statistics, schools, libraries, and healthcare providers require all the help they can get from their service provider partners during this challenging time. Through the waiver extension, these anchors have received free or discounted tablets and Chromebooks, hotspots and networking equipment, and additional internet bandwidth to help them serve their communities.”

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