National Data Privacy Plan, $4 Million for Tribal Broadband, Twitter Rebrands

$2 million will go toward broadband builds.

National Data Privacy Plan, $4 Million for Tribal Broadband, Twitter Rebrands
Photo of Andrew Long of FSF

July 24, 2023 — The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Thursday that it has awarded almost $4 million to eight tribes as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

Of the $4 million, $2 million will go toward broadband infrastructure deployment. The remaining funds will go toward planning, engineering and feasibility studies. Each tribe received a grant of $500,000 during this round of funding.

The grants bring the total program investments to more than $1.78 billion to 191 tribes across the United States. The money will be used to help tribes reduce monthly internet service costs, plan for future internet infrastructure investments, upgrade network equipment and purchase devices.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a nearly $3-billion grant program as part of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The NTIA will release a second notice of funding for an additional funding round in the next few weeks.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said of the award that “the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to bringing high-quality, affordable internet access to every Tribal Community. These investments will improve internet access across six states and give Tribes the connectivity they need to work, learn, and access health care.”

Twitter has rebranded as “X”

In a tweet on Sunday Elon Musk, owner of popular social media platform Twitter, announced that the company will be rebranded as “X.”

“Soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds,” wrote Musk, referring to the iconic blue bird that represents the brand.

The company’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino added her support in a tweet, “X is here! Let’s do this.” The company recently announced that it would limit the number of direct messages for non-paying users and limit the tweets a user can read to 600 tweets per day on a tier system that limits tweets based on verification status and length of subscription.

The company announced in April that it is now called X Corp. Musk said he aspires to build what he calls “the everything app” that will support messaging, payments, delivery and ride sharing. The name comes from Musk’s financial services startup, which was acquired by PayPal in 2000.

Meta’s new competing social media platform released in early July saw a high number of initial users, some touting it as the “potential end of Twitter.” The platform, called Threads, has seen a nearly 70 percent decline in daily active users since its peak on July 7. The company announced it had hit 100 million sign ups within a week after it launched.

Think tank urges national privacy framework preempting state laws

Think tank Free State Foundation urged Congress to establish a uniform national data privacy framework that preempts state laws in a Monday report.

Senior fellow Andrew Long of the FSF argued the “’patchwork’ of laws has become so complicated that interested observers can no longer agree even on the precise number of comprehensive data privacy statutes that have been passed.”

“Unless Congress acts, there is an increasing risk that the ‘patchwork’ of state laws, containing often conflicting varying requirements, may well result in so much consumer confusion that there will be less online engagement. This decreased consumer engagement will result in overall consumer welfare losses,” Long continued.

As states continue to adopt comprehensive data privacy statues, the “patchwork” evolves in terms of topics addressed and in scope, continued the report. According to Long, this increases burdens on businesses, particularly small business, by imposing new compliance obligations that vary from state to state and incurs costly analyses that legal counsel must engage in at the outset.

“Consumers deserve a single, consistent set of privacy rights that are easy to understand and apply nationwide, and the only way to realize that goal is through the passage of a federal comprehensive data privacy law,” Long concluded.

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which formulates a national data privacy framework with a set of consumer data privacy rights and appropriate enforcement mechanism, cleared the House Commerce Committee in July 2022. It has not progressed further.

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