California Net-Neutrality Law And State’s Internet Privacy Rules (#GotBitcoin)
Justice Department contends state overstepped authority after Gov. Jerry Brown signed law Sunday. California Net-Neutrality Law And State’s Internet Privacy Rules (#GotBitcoin)
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill reinstating Obama-era open-internet rules in the state, and the Justice Department responded almost immediately with a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the federal government, not the states, should oversee the internet, and California had “enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”
State lawmakers in August passed the nation’s strongest net-neutrality provisions, with the support of all the legislature’s Democrats and some Republicans. The law forbids internet service providers from blocking websites, intentionally slowing down a website or app or accepting payments to make online services go faster.
Experts had expected a legal showdown over the California measure. Mr. Pai, in a recent speech, called California’s measure “illegal.” In rolling back the Obama-era rules, the FCC claimed to pre-empt any state rules.
On Sunday, Mr. Pai said in a statement that he was “pleased” the Justice Department had filed suit. He added: “The internet is inherently an interstate information service. As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area.”
Mr. Pai contends the California law also would hurt consumers and is unnecessary to protect the open internet.
In response to the Justice Department suit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “While the Trump Administration continues to ignore the millions of Americans who voiced strong support for net-neutrality rules, California—home to countless start-ups, tech giants and nearly 40 million consumers—will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load.”
California is already fighting the Trump administration in court on a number of fronts, including environmental and immigration issues. Mr. Brown waited until the last day legally allowed to make his decision on the net-neutrality law. He didn’t issue a statement on his reasons for signing it.
Democrats in the state said the legislation was necessary to protect a competitive internet, echoing activists and many tech companies for whom the issue has become a rallying cry.
“Net neutrality, at its core, is the basic notion that we each get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to having that decision made for us by internet service providers,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat who wrote the measure, said after Mr. Brown signed it Sunday but before the federal government lawsuit. “Today marks a true win for the internet and for an open society.”
The governors of six other states—Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed executive orders reinstating some net-neutrality provisions. Oregon, Vermont and Washington also have enacted net-neutrality legislation.
Beyond outlawing the blocking or slowdown of access to websites, the new law also bans, in certain cases, “zero rating,” an increasingly common practice where telecom providers stream content they favor without counting it against consumers’ data usage.
The California bill also says interconnection agreements—in which an online service pays a cable or wireless provider to carry its traffic—can’t be used by media companies to circumvent the open internet rules and receive faster speeds.
Cable and wireless companies that provide Internet service lobbied aggressively against the bill in the legislature.
They and other industry groups have argued the rules represent a government overreach and could create a patchwork of regulation.
Web Creator Tim Berners-Lee Ready To Drive Decentralization Forward
Berners-Lee gave us the web nearly 30 years ago, but it didn’t quite work out the way he expected. As blockchain proponents work to provide decentralization and remove the technology giant’s monopolies on our data, Berners-Lee also has a solution. Solid, and his new company to drive the success of Solid – Inrupt.
It’s no secret that Berners-Lee is “devastated” by today’s internet.
Though he recognizes the internet has brought a “better and more connected world,” but for all the good, says Berners-Lee:
The web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.
Berners-Lee’s latest words arrive in a blog post on Inrupt, his new venture where he will be “guiding the next stage of the web in a very direct way.” Inrupt, Berners-Lee says, will be the “infrastructure” to allow his new web platform Solid to grow.
SOLID — RESTORING BALANCE
Working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and others Berners-Lee has developed the open-source Solid platform he believes will restore the “power and agency of individuals” and “restore balance.”
Solid’s focus is on giving individuals complete control over data, giving users a choice where data is stored and letting users decide which applications, people, or groups can access which elements of data. Users will be able to share the data they choose and applications will be able to use the same data at the same time.
Solid is being built for individuals, developers, and businesses and the web genius sees multiple market possibilities, including Solid apps and Solid data storage.
The project principle is “personal empowerment through data,” fundamental to the “success” of the next era of the web, the decentralized internet, or Web3, where data is controlled by the owning individuals and two-way.
Berners-Lee infers that Solid will have a cost to the user, but says:
People want apps that help them do what they want and need to do — without spying on them.
Apps that don’t have an ulterior motive of distracting them with propositions to buy this or that.
INRUPT — COMMERCIAL ENERGY AND ECOSYSTEM
Berners-Lee founded Inrupt alongside technology business leader John Bruce, it will, he says, provide infrastructure, commercial energy, and an ecosystem for Solid. He believes open-source projects benefit from a commercial entity that also provides technical support and business services.
The combination of Solid and Inrupt, he hopes, will deliver trusted services and systems that work for everyone:
I’m incredibly optimistic for this next era of the web.
Though Berners-Lee is a supporter of blockchain technology, Solid is purportedly built on existing web technology rather than blockchain. He’s made no apparent mention of incorporating or integrating blockchain, yet at least.
To either work with Solid — or compete against its promise —blockchain technology may need to be interoperable, or prove its interoperability between chains.
DOJ Drops California Lawsuit, Opening Door For Return Of Net Neutrality
The Department of Justice is withdrawing a lawsuit aimed at blocking California from establishing statewide net neutrality laws after the Federal Communications Commission repealed similar federal laws in 2018.
The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality was controversial at the time, and opposed by Democrats on the commission, including Jessica Rosenworcel, the current acting head of the communications regulator.
“I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit,” Rosenworcel said in a statement Monday.
“When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws,” she added. “By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land.”
Net neutrality laws prevent internet services providers from discriminating against certain content or data than is transmitted over its networks. After the FCC overturned its rule enforcing net neutrality several states, including California, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington enacted laws of their own.
States Push Internet Privacy Rules In Lieu Of Federal Standards
Data protection bills in Washington and Virginia come as the pandemic pushes life further online.
A growing mosaic of state-level internet privacy proposals in lieu of a nationwide framework could provide new protections for consumers and additional question marks for businesses.
Lawmakers in Virginia are nearing passage of data protection legislation in a rapid-fire legislative session slated to conclude this month. Washington state officials are considering compromises over enforcement of a potential privacy law for the third time. States including New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are pushing ahead with similar proposals of their own.
The movement in recent weeks comes as the coronavirus pandemic has pushed daily life further online, privacy experts say, adding to consumer fears of potential abuses. Executives warn the emerging landscape for how companies can collect and use personal data could create headaches for firms that do business across state lines.
“The notion that you can divide up your business to treat consumers in California differently than you do in Washington or Virginia is silly,” said Tanya Forsheit, chair of the Privacy & Data Security Group at law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein+Selz PC.
Many businesses have warned of a patchwork of privacy laws since California passed its landmark statute in 2018 and as elected officials in Washington, D.C. have clashed over a federal baseline.
Responding to divergent approaches could be complex for e-commerce, which has surged during the pandemic, said Cy Fenton, chairman of the National Retail Federation’s information-technology security council. While online stores sell products to consumers in one state, he said, they often deliver those products to recipients in other states and share data from those transactions with third-party marketers elsewhere.
Going it Alone
California’s 2018 privacy law supercharged other state-level attempts to pass comprehensive data protections in lieu of a federal standard.
The upshot of trying to comply with a web of rules, he said, “is that your targeted advertising becomes a little less effective.”
Many companies are responding to such pressures by staffing up with lawyers or enlisting startups for compliance help, often tailoring their approaches to the strictest law on the books.
But lawmakers, consumer advocates and corporate lobbyists are now debating details that might differ from existing statutes in California and the European Union, such as carve-outs for some data processing, definitions of “publicly available information,” or consumer rights to opt in or opt out of firms’ collection of “sensitive” data.
Officials in Virginia, where near-identical proposals have passed both chambers of the legislature, say they hope to craft a business-friendly approach to regulation. Unlike California’s law, which gives consumers a limited right to sue companies for privacy lapses, the commonwealth’s Consumer Data Protection Act gives Virginians’ no such right.
Consumer Reports and other advocacy groups criticized the inability for individuals to file lawsuits against companies for privacy violations in a letter to Virginia lawmakers this month. Tech companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. say they support the bill.
“If states could look to Virginia as a model, and states sort of follow that in some sort of a uniform way, that would be helpful to us,” said Christina Montgomery, IBM’s chief privacy officer. She added that Virginia’s proposals also use terminology for data “controllers” and “processors” that are similar to EU rules.
Enforcement remains an open question in Washington state, where Democratic Sen. Reuven Carlyle last month introduced an updated version of the Washington Privacy Act, which has stalled each of the past two years over concerns the attorney general couldn’t enforce the resulting law alone.
Rep. Shelley Kloba, also a Democrat, unveiled a competing bill, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, that includes a private right of action and allows local governments to pass potentially stronger privacy protections.
But Ms. Kloba said that she is open to potential compromises given the digitization of work, school and socializing during the pandemic.
Some companies are trying to innovate around the consumer concerns and regulatory questions.
The digital advertising firm GumGum Inc., based in Santa Monica-Calif., places ads by analyzing content and metadata on pages users visit, company officials say, rather than by analyzing those users’ behavioral data such as past browsing habits.
Even so, the firm responds to about 10 requests a day to stop selling consumers’ information, said T’Juana Albert, GumGum’s director of global compliance and legal affairs. Such compliance questions for third-party vendors could multiply as more businesses share data to market their products and more state laws come online, she said.
“Oftentimes, [outside partners] are the ones that are not compliant,” Ms. Albert added. “You as a business don’t necessarily know that.”
Court Clears Path For California’s Net-Neutrality Law
Federal judge’s decision allows largest state’s law protecting open internet principles to go into effect.
A federal judge rejected a telecommunications-industry challenge to California’s two-year-old net neutrality law, clearing the way for the state to begin enforcing the consumer protections.
The law’s supporters argued that stronger protections for net neutrality—the principle that cable and wireless companies should treat all online content under consistent standards—will protect the internet’s open nature and prevent telecom companies from picking winners and losers on the web. Internet-service providers said the rules are unnecessary and interfere with reasonable business practices.
The Tuesday decision from U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez denied an injunction sought by trade groups representing the country’s largest cable and wireless companies. The ruling means officials could start enforcing the rules within weeks absent other legal challenges.
California legislators passed the law in 2018. The state protections followed the spirit of federal rules written during the Obama administration, by barring internet service providers from blocking access to lawful websites or slowing down connections to certain web domains. The law also banned “zero rating,” an industry practice of providing some data free of charge while billing for online traffic from other sources.
A coalition of telephone and cable companies immediately opposed the rule and the Trump administration’s Justice Department sued to block it. The administration argued that new rules passed by a Republican-led Federal Communications Commission not only repealed federal net-neutrality protections but also pre-empted the kind of regulations California had sought on a state level.
The Justice Department under President Biden dropped its challenge to the state law earlier this month, giving California officials another boost.
The Biden administration also named Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, a longtime advocate of open internet rules, as acting chairwoman of the FCC. The agency’s new leadership could write new rules restoring some of the Obama-era regulations, but a partisan deadlock in the normally five-seat commission makes such rule-making unlikely in the near term.
Past FCC rules governing broadband providers’ practices have also faced court challenges from opponents, who have argued that federal legislation last passed in 1996 don’t authorize the stronger internet regulations. California’s legislature wrote its rules, providing them a stronger defense to legal challenges like the one dismissed Tuesday.
A spokesman for the trade groups that challenged the law said the coalition hasn’t yet decided on its next steps. The law could go into effect within a month if it isn’t challenged again.
“A state-by-state approach to internet regulation will confuse consumers and deter innovation, just as the importance of broadband for all has never been more apparent,” the group said in a statement.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, the law’s author, hailed the decision in a tweet as a boost for “the strongest net neutrality law in the nation.”
“We worked incredibly hard to pass this law, overcoming massive corporate opposition,” he wrote. “California can now fully protect an open internet.”
Tim Wu, The ‘Father Of Net Neutrality’ Reportedly Owns Over $1M In Bitcoin
Tim Wu, a one-time Bitcoin critic and current technology policy adviser at the White House, reportedly owns between 29 and 146 BTC.
Cryptocurrencies might be anathema for certain members of United States President Joe Biden’s administration, but that has not stopped one staffer from owning a small fortune in Bitcoin (BTC).
According to a report by Politico on Monday, Tim Wu, special assistant for technology and competition policy to the president at the National Economic Council, owns over $1 million in Bitcoin.
Wu’s BTC ownership came to light after a recent personal financial disclosure that also revealed his ownership of Filecoin (FIL). Wu reportedly owns between $1 million and $5 million worth of Bitcoin as well as between $100,001 and $250,000 worth of FIL.
The White House adviser’s Bitcoin pot allegedly constitutes a major portion of Wu’s financial portfolio, which is estimated to be between $4 million and $11.5 million in value. Based on his estimated Bitcoin ownership, Wu may hold between 29 and 146 BTC.
Wu, a prominent legal scholar and Columbia University law professor, has previously argued against Bitcoin’s value proposition. Back in December 2018, Wu joined the chorus of critics labeling BTC a bubble as the premier cryptocurrency rallied to a then all-time high near $20,000.
The legal scholar is also a noted critic of Big Tech firms and was responsible for coining the term “net neutrality” back in 2003. According to Politico, an anonymous source at the White House said Wu has recused himself from policy matters related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Back in August 2017, Wu weighed in on the Bitcoin hard fork saga that led to the emergence of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). At the time, Wu criticized Coinbase’s initial decision to not support the fork and temporarily prevent its users from accessing BCH.
Bitcoin and crypto in general are coming under increased scrutiny under the Biden administration, with the new anti-BTC narrative seemingly shifting toward ransomware attacks. Both Gary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have hinted at stricter cryptocurrency regulations.
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