The WashingTECH Policy Podcast is your resource for media and tech law and policy news. Each week, the WashingTECH Policy Podcast gives you the latest developments in media and tech law & policy, as well as an interview with an influencer in the media and technology sectors, whether they be policyma…
Listeners of WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller that love the show mention: joe interviews, great work joe, tech news, policies, services, washington, technology, fantastic show, timely, upbeat, prepare, super interesting, definitely recommend, concept, intro, informed, media, hot, produced, tv.
When the pandemic started, courts that were slower in adopting technology had to undergo a two-week revolution to move their operations to a remote setting. Under normal circumstances, that would have taken them twenty years to achieve. Existing research shows that while remote technologies can be helpful in court proceedings, they can also harm individuals if not used carefully. Several issues have been coming up around the effects that remote court proceedings have had on our communities. Today's guest is Douglas Keith, counsel in the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he works primarily on promoting fair, diverse, and impartial courts. He will walk us through the various concerns. Douglas Keith was the George A. Katz Fellow at the Brennan Center, where he worked on issues around money in politics, voting rights, and redistricting. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Atlantic, Guardian, New York Daily News, and Huffington Post. Before that, Keith worked as a Ford Foundation public interest law fellow at Advancement Project. He directed voting rights advocates in New York, served as an international election observer for the National Democratic Institute and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and educated poll workers for the New York City Board of Elections. Keith is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Duke University. What should we be concerned about? All existing research suggests a real reason exists for courts to be cautious about doing video hearings. Studies have shown that video court cases have not always worked out as well as those cases when people have appeared in person. Higher bail amounts charged for video court cases in Chicago In Chicago, in the early 2000s, courts began using video for most of their felony bail hearings. A study that looked at 600,000 of those hearings found that judges imposed much higher bail amounts for those required to have video hearings rather than appearing in person. On average, the video cases paid 50% more bail, and in some instances, they paid up to 90% more. People detained in deportation proceedings People detained in deportation proceedings stood a much higher chance of being removed if they were required to appear by video rather than appearing in person. A quiet place to appear and access to broadband When people get detained, questions tend to arise about the quality of the broadband and them having access to a quiet place to appear. Also, when someone has to appear in court remotely from a jail or prison setting, the background could influence, impact, or change how a judge might view them as an individual. The digital divide When someone not detained has to appear remotely, many different issues related to the digital divide could arise. They might not have the quality of internet that a judge might expect, and there are also massive differences in terms of the devices people are using to access the proceedings. Those issues need to be taken into account if the proceedings are to be fair. What has changed? Since Douglas has been advocating for the communities that have been affected by doing court proceedings remotely, there have been technological improvements that might make a difference. Remote proceedings are here to stay Over the last year, courts have become very enthusiastic about how remote proceedings have been working out. Court leaders across the country have said that remote proceedings are here to stay because they have been efficient, speedy, and time-saving. The problem Most jurisdictions have not been talking to the people going through remote court proceedings or their attorneys to learn what is and is not working. A common concern A common concern with remote hearings is the ability for the client to communicate with their attorney during the proceedings. That ability gets hampered because remote tools do not allow the client and attorney to make eye contact and quietly confer about any information that might be relevant to the case during the proceedings. Eviction proceedings Douglas spoke to many individuals from legal aid organizations, representing people earning below certain income thresholds and going through eviction proceedings. What you can do, on a local level, when someone's rights are violated Pay closer attention to what the courts in your jurisdiction are doing. Courts often allow for public comment or testimony when going through the process of proposing rule changes to allow for more remote proceedings. Engage with the courts and get involved. Watch your local courts to see the types of rule changes they are proposing, in terms of remote proceedings. If you disapprove and they do not require consent to move forward remotely, write to the court to tell them about your concerns and why you think consent should be required. Resolving the issues Advocates from all over the country are busy working on resolving these issues. They range from academics studying the impact of remote tools during the pandemic to practitioners in various spaces, guiding attorneys. Research More research is needed because we do not know enough about how people are being affected by remote tools. At the Brennan Center, they advocate for more resources towards that research to prevent the courts from inadvertently doing any harm. Some other issues that Douglas is working on that are happening where tech intersects with the judicial system Douglas is working on allowing the public access to court proceedings. During the pandemic, many courts started live streaming. That allows court watch groups to remotely observe the court proceedings and report to the public what is and is not working in the courthouses. That raised questions about the point of allowing public access to the courts. The watchdog effect Public access makes the court aware that it is being watched and reminds them of their responsibility. Live streaming might result in a loss of some of that watchdog effect. So although technology has improved public access to the courts in some ways, we could also lose something along the way. Remote tools The use of remote tools in the courts is nuanced. They can lessen the burden that the courts place on people, but there are also times when those tools could be a cause for concern. That is why the courts need to work with their communities to find the right answers. Resources: The Brennan Center for Justice Washingtech.org
WashingTECH Policy Podcast was started largely because of the impact of tech, AI and cybersecurity on communities of color, working class and immigrants, and none of the big players in the industry have it on their radar. Our conversation today is on this very topic and there is no one more knowledgeable on the topic than Camille Stewart. Camille Stewart is an attorney and executive whose crosscutting perspective on complex technology, cyber, and national security, and foreign policy issues has landed her in significant roles at leading government and private sector companies like the Department of Homeland Security, Deloitte, and Google. Camille builds global cybersecurity, privacy, and election security/integrity programs in complex environments for large companies and government agencies. Camille is the Global Head of Product Security Strategy at Google advising Google's product leads on federated security and risk. Previously, Camille was the Head of Security Policy for Google Play and Android at Google where she leads security, privacy, election integrity, and dis/mis-information. Prior to Google, Camille was a manager in Deloitte's Cyber Risk practice working on cybersecurity, election security, tech innovation, and risk issues for DHS, DOD, and other federal agencies. Diversity in Cybersecurity is a Problem We have long ignored the fact that addressing issues of diversity is more than just the right thing to do, as it is actually a mission imperative in cybersecurity. And as technology underpins pretty much everything that we do, how systemic racism is amplified, or cured by technology implementation, is something that we have to be thinking about. And the policy decisions that we've made in the past, and the ones that we make moving forward, are all impacted by a society built on systemic racism, our investments are all impacted by legacy and current day systemic racism, informed decision making policies and bodies. The Paper to Address Diversity The Aspen Institute came to Camille seeing this moment where we needed to kind of dive in and talk about how diversity, equity and inclusion is impacting the work and convened a large group of folks across diverse backgrounds, leaders in cybersecurity, academia, industry government, to come together for a closed door, Chatham House rules, discussion on how we could move the needle on this. How can we come together to identify what the issues are around diversity and cybersecurity and then come up with some solutions. And the thing that was really appreciated is, as Aspen and Camille worked through this, they were very clear that it needed to be action oriented. And so the discussion was really rooted in that how can we actually do work, take action, to drive diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity, for the betterment of not only the people who will and may participate in this industry, but also for the work. Why Diversity In Cybersecurity Should Matter to Everyone Let's think about the large scale cyber incidents we've seen recently. The attack on Colonial Pipeline then cascaded into you, not being able to get gas. The attack on JBS foods that meant you probably couldn't get your lunch meat for your kids, means that you should be concerned about cybersecurity as an individual. And there are so many other reasons beyond that, but those very large scale incidents are very attached to the individual and how they impact your ability to access services and operate, or because you as an individual could take an action that could lead to one of those breaches. So diversity, as a part of cybersecurity as a part of the industry is important because you can identify things based on your lived experiences and how technology shows up in your life that other people cannot. The Future of the Cybersecurity Workforce A lot of the diversity issues in cybersecurity are systemic. There are issues with hiring; there are issues with retention; issues of education. So many people don't even recognize the fact that working in technology, and cybersecurity is an option for them - access to the industry, building a network, etc. And so we created some buckets that kind of address those things divided up the practitioners that were participating. They put their brain power behind thinking about what are some solutions to the educational barriers. Certifications are a common tool in cybersecurity. But that's really tough, because most certifications require some years of experience. And you're seeing a lot of entry level jobs that require those certifications. How can it be an entry level job if you need five years of experience to get the certification that is required to get the job? Links and Resources: Connect with Camille on Twitter or Instagram @Camilleesq Camille's Paper
Some of the earliest documented instances of health misinformation occurred as early as the 1930s. So it's not as recent of a phenomenon as you may think. Obviously, social media has made the speed and prevalence of health misinformation and disinformation much worse. It started with cancer misinformation, but now we are dealing with vaccine misinformation and of course, the battle field is social media. All of the medical and technological advances we have made as a first world country don't make a difference if we can't overcome the health disinformation that is prevalent on social media. Today's guest is Dr. Tara Sell. Dr. Sell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and a Senior Associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She conducts research to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events such as disease outbreaks, bioterrorism, natural disasters, or radiological/nuclear events. Dr. Sell's work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. She works on qualitative and quantitative research analyses and uses this research to assist in the development of strategy and policy recommendations. Her primary research interests include biosecurity and biodefense, public health preparedness, emerging infectious disease, federal funding and budgeting, and nuclear preparedness policy and practice. She also serves as an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism). How to Discern the Truth Determining how true information that you share on social media is can be confusing. Disinformation is designed to look like accurate information and is more easily shareable that you realize. As a society, we have to do 2 things: We need to hold policy makers accountable to the truth and to come up with solutions to address the disinformation. We have to have a national strategy that controls the spread and sources of misinformation and a system to promote good information, increase public resiliency to misinformation and bring all of the stakeholders together. Identifying Misinformation Needs to be a Top Priority Misinformation is intentionally designed to play on your emotions, and be so compelling that you will also want to share it. We need to have a unified effort to show people the tactics that are being used to make us an unwitting accomplice in the spread of misinformation. There are online fact checking tools that simply aren't used enough. Additionally, when misinformation is prevalent, there isn't a cohesive strategy to help us share the truth as a countermeasure to the misinformation. Better digital literacy will go a long way in helping combat misinformation. Government Skepticism One thing that is hindering the adoption of the safe and effective vaccines, is the general distrust of the government. It's not good for the government to be playing the role as the arbiter of truth in these situations. The government needs to be more transparent and bring together different agencies and address misinformation from a public health perspective, but it also needs to bleed into the national security side of government. We need a national strategy to confront health misinformation across the spectrum, so that it can more easily be identified and stamped out. Being Caught In the Middle With Friends and Family Many people are dreading the potential confrontations that may happen at the Thanksgiving table over the medical misinformation on the different sides of the political arguments. If you find yourself in this situation, Tara advises: Engage respectfully. No one will be convinced of the truth if they are dismissed or ridiculed. Connect over shared values. Everyone wants their children and their families to be safe. Talk about the tactics used to spread misinformation and your experience with it. Discuss alternative explanations for the conspiracy theories and use information sources that people will accept. Provide trusted sources for information that are not the CDC or WHO since they have become targets. Use Johns Hopkins or other reputable medical sources. Enlist the help of trusted family members. The High Cost of Misinformation Tara's organization did an analysis of what the actual misinformation is costing us, as medical misinformation has been declared a public health emergency. If 5% of non-vaccination is caused by medical misinformation, that leads to a cost of $50M in harm each day of a non-Delta surge environment. It would be even bigger during the Delta surge or if that non-vaccination number due to misinformation is higher. If it's 30% then that number increases to a cost of $300M dollars per day. Who Is It Costing? The cost of misinformation is spread out across sectors, but where ever there are people bearing more of the burden for misinformation, the associated costs are also concentrated there. What Can You Do? We have to face the fact that health related misinformation is going to be with us for a while. We aren't just going to be done with it when the pandemic is over. New targets will emerge. We have to make investments in solutions for health misinformation. We have to work on our own resilience. Encourage friends and family to be more resilient to misinformation as well. Resources: Connect with Tara on Twitter @skirkell Chamber of Progress Website Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Across the US, many states are considering laws that prohibit online platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. from enforcing rules against what we call “lawful but awful” online content. Lawmakers are motivated to do this because they think laws are needed to prevent social media platforms from censoring conservative viewpoints. As with many laws though, the unintended consequences of these laws could prove to be much more harmful than the behavior the law was intended to regulate. To help us navigate the craziness of what would and would not be allowed if these laws go through, our guest today is Elizabeth Banker, VP of Legal Advocacy for Chamber of Progress. Chamber of Progress is also a sponsor of this show. Elizabeth Banker is Vice President of Legal Advocacy for Chamber of Progress. Elizabeth brings twenty-five years of in-house, law firm, and trade association experience on intermediary liability, Section 230, and online safety. Most recently, Elizabeth was Deputy General Counsel at Internet Association where she directed policy on consumer privacy and content moderation. While at IA, Elizabeth conducted a review of 500 Section 230 decisions and testified twice before the Senate on efforts to reform Section 230. Elizabeth has first-hand experience responding to the challenges that face online services as a veteran of both Twitter and Yahoo!. She was Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Law Enforcement, Security and Safety at Yahoo! Inc. for more than a decade. More recently she was Senior Director and Associate General Counsel for Global Law Enforcement and Safety at Twitter. Elizabeth spent five years as a shareholder at ZwillGen, a boutique law firm focused on privacy and security in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth began her career in government with the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection during the Clinton Administration. Hate Speech and Bully Speech Would Stand Many of the laws being proposed would actually tie the hands of social media platforms on some of the regulations that they currently have in place about harassment, bullying, and threatening behavior. These are all types of content that no social media platform wants to see on their platforms. Currently, the social media providers have rules and regulations that they currently enforce across their platforms to keep users free from hateful, bullying speech and harassment. These new laws would add many complexities to enforcing the rules and it will open them up to the constant appeals process for users who have their content removed, etc. 100 Bills and Counting So far in 2021, we have seen over 100 bills proposed in state legislatures all across the nation. There will probably be many more before the end of the year. The Amicus Brief that Chamber of Progress files was a way to explain to the court the real world implications of these laws, should they be passed and hold up to the legal battles ensuing. Objections Being Filed The TX law that is currently under consideration was one in which we filed our objections in the amicus brief. We believe that all platforms should be able to moderate harmful content in order for consumers to be healthy and safe on their platforms. Additionally, these platforms should be inclusive and widely accessible. Here are the main objections we have to this TX law: It prevents platforms from removing content that is not illegal, such as harassment, hate speech, misinformation, suicide, etc. The law undermines the current content moderation efforts by forcing platforms to basically publish a playbook about how they detect illegal content. This means child abusers, terrorists, spammers, identity thieves, and other bad actors would have enough information to evade detection. So this will lead to more illegal content online. This law places an undue burden on content moderation. If content is removed, the platform has to go through lots of additional steps that will discourage the company from actually removing content that should actually be taken down. So again, the net effect is that consumers will have more harmful content to wade through in order to enjoy a platform. Should Parents Be Worried? The TX law actually prevents platforms from taking the content moderation steps that they currently take. When it comes to content directed at children, there are many areas that fall under the awful, but lawful heading that would probably be left on the platform. For example, content glorifying suicide, or self-harm, or promoting eating disorders, etc. are all types of content that platforms would no longer be able to regulate. Cyber bullying is another area where the current protections would be removed. So, school fight videos that are normally removed, would still be accessible. Non-consensual intimate images, called revenge porn would not be taken down, as well as other types of harassment that could be very harmful to teens. So parents have every right to be worried, especially if you've already been through dealing with these sorts of problems, because under this law, they will only worsen. Misconceptions About Free Speech The First Amendment does not apply to private companies. It only prohibits government regulation and restriction. Each social media platform has their own First Amendment concerns about what they allow on their platforms too. The argument that social media platforms are violating a person's right to free speech just doesn't hold water. Misunderstanding Section 230 Section 230 plays a critical role in allowing the platforms to remove harmful content without being sued. The platforms rely on this protection. Recently a Russian foreign influence campaign sued because their content was removed. The lawsuit failed because of Section 230. It's important for us to fight to keep both the First Amendment and the Section 230 protections for content moderation strong in order to keep consumers safe while they enjoy these online platforms. Resources: Progress Chamber Website Follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @elizabethbanker
With Federal privacy regulation leaving much to be desired, it has fallen to individual states to make up the gap and establish their own privacy rules. This approach is problematic for many reasons, which is why Justin Brookman is on the show today. Correction: The name of the individual Joe referenced in the intro is Alex Stamos, from the Stanford Internet Observatory, not John Stamos as was stated in the episode Consumer Privacy Has a Home a Consumer Reports Justin Brookman is with Consumer Reports where he's the head of tech policy. He wrote an excellent paper several months ago on state privacy regulation (you can read it here). Justin is the Director, Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy, for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. In this new privacy role at CR, he will help the organization continue its groundbreaking work to shape the digital marketplace in a way that empowers consumers and puts their data privacy and security needs first. This work includes using CR research to identify critical gaps in consumer privacy, data security, and technology law and policy, as well as building strategies to expand the use and influence of the new Digital Standard being developed by CR and partner organizations to evaluate the privacy and security of products and services. The Politics of Privacy If you keep up with the news of the day, you know that right now, everybody has had it with big tech companies, like Facebook. Consumers, politicians, the media and other businesses have been sounding off about the pitfalls of having big tech intrude into our lives. It's brought about a lot of policy proposals, but no comprehensive legislation that is likely to pass at the Federal level. This gaping hole has been filled in by the privacy legislation that is popping up at the state level. Legislation State By State As is often the case, California is one of the first states to come forward with privacy legislation of its own. The California Consumer Privacy Act has already been amended to make the legislation stronger than the original bill. Virginia also came forward with a bill, and Colorado quickly followed suit. We're also currently seeing legislative battles in New York and Washington State over privacy, and the proposals are really all over the place. The Federal Role of Privacy The Federal government has basically taken a hands off approach to the privacy legislation popping up around the country. Because all of the privacy laws ultimately center around the first amendment, the Federal government is reluctant to play a heavy handed role in the laws that are cropping up throughout the country. There have been some challenges to legislation around the first amendment and some have been rejected, as the judiciary is reluctant to regulate companies. Consumers vs. Businesses vs. Government Consumers don't want Facebook or their ISPs to track their every move and collect data on them. At the same time, the government doesn't want private data collected to be in the hands of these companies and outside of the reach of government agencies. Many states are willing to take a more aggressive approach to privacy in light of the massive data breaches that consumers have experienced in recent years. Where are we now While it's clear that aggressive action needs to be taken to prevent data breaches, it's going to take regulatory agencies some time to catch up because Federal legislation moves so slowly. Much of the existing legislation is unwieldy for the consumer. Whether it relies on a physical opt out by consumers or it goes state by state, it's just not that easy for consumers to actually protect themselves with the current regulations. State legislatures do not have the staff or the expertise to create the kind of legislation that is needed for consumers to truly be protected. We need to find a balance between what can effectively protect consumers, but also allow businesses to function in a way that doesn't put consumers at risk. Resources: Connect with Justin on Twitter @justinbrookman
CDT Comments to US Dept. of ED Urging the Protection of Students of Color and Students with Disabilities, And Their Data @venzkec Cody Venzke is a Policy Counsel for CDT's Equity in Civic Technology Project, where he works to ensure that education agencies and other civic institutions use technology responsibly and equitably while protecting the privacy and civil rights of individuals. He is a contributor to the California Lawyers Association's treatise on the California Consumer Privacy Act, including on the right to opt out and compliance with recordkeeping and training requirements. Prior to joining CDT, Cody served as an Attorney Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission and clerked for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes on the Third Circuit and the Honorable Jan E. DuBois in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Cody also worked on the litigation team of an international law firm, where he served clients in emerging technologies such as clean energy, medicine, and media. In his pro bono work, Cody has represented tenants in eviction actions, assisted applicants under the U visa program, and supported litigation to ensure criminal defendants receive adequate representation under the Fifth Amendment. Prior to starting his law career, Cody taught math at a large public high school in Houston, Texas through Teach For America. Cody graduated from St. Olaf College and Stanford Law School, and grew up in rural Iowa.
Margaret graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2003 and began her legal career with the Housing Preservation Project. She began her career as a community organizer, fighting for the rights of manufactured home community members with All Parks Alliance for Change. After law school, Margaret joined HJC under its former name Housing Preservation Project, where she worked on a range of issues including preservation of federally subsidized housing and manufactured home community preservation. She then returned to APAC as the Legal and Public Policy Director where she helped resident associations fight for their rights in parks, represented resident associations in court, and helped push legislation to support manufactured homeowners, including a law that prevented deceptive lending practices and creation of the relocation trust fund for homeowners displaced through park closures. Next, she spent four years at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs as the Operations Director for the Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing, working to ensure that people affected by decisions had the tools and skills to organize and advocate on issues ranging from education to transportation to police community relations to housing. Most recently she spent six years as the Community Development Director at Minnesota Housing where she worked to create connections between community needs across the state of Minnesota and the programs and policies of Minnesota Housing. Margaret was also a policy fellow with the North Star Policy Institute. She brings a wealth of knowledge about local, state, and federal housing policy and programs as well as a robust background in the intersection of community organizing and the law. Discussion Materials Opening the Door: Tenant Screening and Selection
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Bio David J. Johns is known for his passion, public policy acumen and fierce advocacy for youth. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people. On September 1, 2017, David Johns began his next life chapter as the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)—a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC’s mission is to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ bias and stigma. In 2013, Johns was appointed as the first executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative) by President Barack H. Obama and served until the last day of the Obama Administration in January, 2017. The Initiative worked across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education and workforce development programs for African American students of all ages. Under his leadership, the Initiative studied the experiences of students—leveraged a partnership with Johnson Publishing Company (EBONY Magazine) to produce a series of African American Educational Summits (AfAmEdSummits) at college campuses throughout the country, where the only experts who sat in front of the White House seal were students as young as elementary school. The recommendations that students made at AfAmEdSummits have been used to improve policies, programs and practices, including curriculum, designed to ensure that students thrive—both in school and in life. Prior to his White House appointment, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Before working for the Senate HELP Committee, Johns served under the leadership of the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY). Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth, early childhood education, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males—both within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males. Johns has been featured as an influential politico and advocate by several publications and outlets, including TheRoot.com, NBC, EBONY and The Washington Post. Johns is a prominent strategist who offers commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, EducationPost and TV One. David is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in sociology and education policy at Columbia University. Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2013 and 2014, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015, and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016. He has also served as an adjunct professor at American University. Resources National Black Justice Coalition Johns, D., 2020. Don’t Make the Internet Unwelcome to Diverse Communities, Especially Black and Latinx LGBTQ People. [Blog] Morning Consult, Available at: [Accessed 11 November 2020]. Related Episodes ‘Social media policy: It's the moderation, stupid!’ with Chris Lewis Ep. 232(Opens in a new browser tab) Intro JOE: Hey everybody. So here we are on the other side of the election. They're still counting the votes. But this thing looks over. Even in the face of several lawsuits, President Trump has brought to challenge the election results, Biden's win is only becoming more decisive. The president-elect is on track to win by over 5 million popular votes, bringing his total to more than 80 million, more than any presidential candidate in history, and he still has another 75 likely electoral votes outstanding in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. So ... we're pretty much done here. Hit me up. (866) 482-3898. Leave your thoughts! Maybe we’ll use them in a future episode. (866) 482-3898. What tech policy issues should the Biden administration and Congress focus on? Let us know. (866) 482-3898. Save it to your contacts. So, you know, I don’t have to say the number over and over again. Like a ShamWow commercial. So that brings us to -- what will the next 4+ years look like in terms of tech policy? Obviously, China will be a major issue, and particularly Huawei. It will be interesting to see whether the Biden administration continues its ban of U.S. companies doing any business with Huawei whatsoever. Key allies haven’t supported the Trump administration’s ban, citing their reliance on Huawei technology. Outside of technology, what are the chances of war with China over the coming years, as China has continued to object to the U.S. presence in the South China Sea? What happens there directly affects the tech markets--war would certainly have a major impact on the supply chain. So that is definitely something to watch out for. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that platforms aren’t legally responsible for the content their users post, has been an issue, as you know, with the Trump administration attempting to get the FCC--an independent agency, no less -- to use Section 230 to rein in what some conservatives see as an “anti-conservative bias” on platforms like Twitter. I’d be very surprised to see the Biden administration continue down that path. It’s just a huge waste of administrative, legislative and judicial resources for a policy that, I believe, would ultimately lose on First Amendment grounds once it hit the Supreme Court. Republicans and some Democrats could certainly purse reforming Section 230. But we’ll have to see if Josh Hawley is as passionate about illegal sexual content, and sex trafficking, as he says he is, and pursues Section 230 as vigorously as he has up until now. And another issue, I think, that we haven’t heard a lot about but probably should since we saw growth among Latino and Black working-class voters voting for Trumpism, is the Future of Work. What does the future of work look like for Americans in a tech sector that hasn’t done anything meaningful, other than releasing diversity reports, to improve diversity and inclusion -- nothing observable, I should say, because we can’t see everything that’s going on--all we see are the numbers which are pretty sad--they don’t look anything like the U.S. population. And you have companies like IBM already lobbying the Biden administration to fill the government skills gap by working with these same companies. The same companies hiring from the same 5 schools. We have over 5,000 colleges in the United States, many of which offer amazing programs -- since they’re accredited, right? -- they have amazing programs but don’t have the endowments--they don’t have the marketing budgets--for various, historical reasons we don’t need to get into. We hear a lot about recruiting from HBCUs. That’s great! But we have many many state and local colleges with incredible diversity -- Minority Serving Institutions -- with Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American students -- that don’t get much advocacy at all. Why is that? So those are just 3 areas I’m certainly going to be watching. There are many, many others, we’ll get to them on future episodes … Let’s get into Section 230 -- David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, and someone I greatly, and many, greatly respect and admire this man for his sheer intellect and incredible interpersonal skills. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent, and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people. David Johns.
Bio Alejandro Roark is Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) in Washington, DC. HTTP is a national non-profit that convenes an intersectional coalition of national Latino organizations committed to promoting access, adoption, and the full utilization of technology and telecommunications resources by the Hispanic/Latino/a community in the United States. HTTP works at the intersection of ethics, technology, and public policy to educate, advocate, and serve as a national voice for Hispanics/Latinos in technology and telecommunications policy. As Executive Director, Alejandro leads a strategic planning process with HTTP member organizations to set the national Latino tech policy agenda that creates opportunities for national, and local advocates to engage with Congress and the Administration to advocate for inclusive public policy that promotes civil rights protections, equitable access to broadband, and increased diversity in media and tech workforces. HTTP works to extend Latino priorities in the following policy areas: broadband adoption, spectrum allocation, consumer privacy, open internet, intellectual property, and diversity & Inclusion within the technology workforce. With nearly a decade of experience working at the local, state and national level, Alejandro has dedicated his career to the elimination of structural inequities across LGBT inclusion, racial and social justice, and civil rights policies, through community power building, story-telling, equitable resource allocation and by creating pathways for a more diverse workforce. Alejandro applies his skills and leadership to the examination of the ethical and social dimensions of technological change including the attention economy, data privacy, algorithmic decision-making, and artificial intelligence to ensure that Latino priorities are integrated into the policy-making process. Prior to his position with HTTP, Alejandro oversaw the tech policy portfolio which included the planning and execution of its annual Latinx Tech Summit, for LULAC National, the nation's oldest nation’s country’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization. In addition to leading the corporate social responsibility team where he worked with fortune 500 companies to develop, implement, and scale nationwide community programs and coordinating LULAC’s Corporate Alliance. Alejandro has also served as the founding executive director for Utah’s first and only Mexican Cultural Arts organization, as well as the associate director for Equality Utah where he managed the region’s public relations systems, community outreach programming, and state, local, and federal advocacy work. Resources Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership Intro Hey everyone. Here we are on Election Day as purveyors of misinformation and intimidation use both traditional and digital tactics to keep voters away from the polls. The backdrop to this, of course, has been the Supreme Court’s roll-back of the Voting Rights Act, most notably its Shelby County v. Holder decision, in which it essentially neutered the VRA’s preclearance requirement -- the provision requiring state and local governments to get federal approval before making changes to their voting laws and practices. Section 5 is still there. The Court just ruled the 40-year-old data Congress relied on to decide which states are subject to the requirement were too-old. Then, as Laurence Tribe wrote in Lawfare last week, we have the current, conservative majority of the Supreme Court, with the exception of Chief Justice Roberts, suggesting state legislatures should be the highest authority in each state when it comes to each state’s voting laws, even above the highest state court charged with enforcing each state’s constitution. Social media has not played as dominant a role in shaping public opinion as it did in 2016. But that doesn’t mean state actors and others aren’t still using it. And the Washington Post reports bad actors are using robocalls, in Michigan specifically, to explicitly tell people to stay away from the polls. The FCC empowered carriers to block robocalls before they reach consumers. But apparently they dropped the ball here. The New York Times warned the public this morning about potential rigged voting machines, tossed ballots, and intimidating federal agents, Yes, this is 2020. And yes, we are still fighting this battle. In this election though the electorate cast their votes by mail in record numbers. So we are seeing this shift across the political spectrum to more analog tacticseither to suppress votes or to preserve them. --- We’ll see what happens. I’m tuning it out--at least until tomorrow. I don’t think I’m even gonna watch the results come in. I’ll wake up tomorrow and see what happened. But my guest today is Alejandro Roark, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Parntership here in Washington. Previously, Alejandro led LULAC’s tech portfolio. He was also the founding Executive Director of the state of Utah’s first and only Mexican Culutral Arts Organization. Alejandro Roark!
Bio Richard Fowler is Host of radio’s nationally syndicated The Richard Fowler Show, Democratic Messaging Expert, and Millennial Engagement Specialist, Richard Fowler is an advocate for youth and social policy reform. Currently, Richard works with teachers, nurses, and higher education faculty to make sure their voices matters in the decision making process taking place at city halls, state capitols, and our nation’s Capital. Fowler is regularly featured on prime-time cable news discussing a wide variety of issues, including the 2016 election, social justice, race, and news of the day. Most frequently, he appears on The Kelly File and Hardball on MSNBC, in addition to other major international and outlets across the country. He was a 2012 Democratic National Convention Delegate. The Richard Fowler Show can be heard in over 9.1 million homes internationally and is a partner in the TYT Network, a multi-channel network on YouTube specializing in political talk shows. Richard has been a regular fill-in anchor on Current TV and RTTV and currently serves as the official guest host for The Full Court Press with Bill Press. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Richard got his first taste of politics at a young age when he went with his mother into the voting booth to pull the lever for Bill Clinton for President. After that auspicious start, Richard began his involvement in politics. As a young man he volunteered on numerous local races in Florida, including former Attorney General Janet Reno’s gubernatorial campaign. From registering and organizing more than a thousand young voters in Florida for the NAACP — to being a campaign manager in the District of Columbia, Richard has used his experience to advise youth, minority and female candidates. Richard has been a featured speaker at the Center For American Progress, National Council of La Raza’s National Conference, College Democrats of America, United States Student Association, the American Councils on International Education, the Young Democrats of America, over twenty different foreign delegations, and numerous colleges and universities. He has trained nearly 2,000 young people about the importance of image and messaging in the political arena. Richard is also the co-founder of Richard Media Company, a boutique messaging, public relations, and production outfit located in Washington, DC. Outside of his work in media, Richard was the co-founder and director of PHOENIX FREEDOM PAC, a transportation solutions political action committee. Richard Formerly served as the Advocacy Director of The Young Democrats of America and as the Executive Director of Generational Alliance, a progressive youth engagement organization. He sat on the Board of Directors for Amara Legal Center and now is a National Executive Board Member for Pride at Work. He is also the former Executive Director of the Virginia Young Democrats Annual Conference, a Fellow at the New Leaders Council, and a former Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership. Richard earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University. Resources The Richard Fowler Show Intro A coalition of the United States Department of Justice and 11 mostly red states announced Tuesday that they filed a new antitrust lawsuit against Google because of its search dominance. The complaint accuses Google of engaging in a number of anti-competitive practices. One of them is Apple’s exclusive relationship with Google that allows Google’s search engine to be the default in Apple’s Safari browser. The Wall Street Journal reports that some estimates place the cost to Google for this relationship at $11 billion, comprising some 20% of Apple’s total revenue. A key piece of evidence here was a 2018 email from a top Apple executive telling his counterpart at Google, “Our vision is that we work as if we are one company.” Neither company has released the name of the executive who sent that email. But I am just beside myself trying to figure out, and I’m really trying to empathize with the person who sent it, why, out of all of the things they could have put in writing, why they wrote the absolute worst thing they could possibly think of. This was a high-level interaction with a competitor in which anticompetitive pitfalls were blatantly obvious. The first thing on this executive’s mind should have been to avoid an appearance of impropriety at all costs, especially given the discourse here in Washington about both companies’ market dominance and bipartisan support for regulating tech companies. These executives are supposed to be the best and brightest, right? But this is just basic antitrust law and policy. A high-ranking executive in a company like Apple should know it. It’s just basic. It’s not hard. I cannot help but wonder if the executive here was a person of color. Forgive me if I sound harsh. But companies like Apple use their purported inability to find qualified diverse talent as an excuse to justify the sheer lack of diversity in their executive ranks. I really want to know how someone, who is supposed to be so superior to everyone else who competed for their job, could make such a dumb mistake. I’m not saying this person should be fired. Everyone makes mistakes. But for a company that seems so invested in meritocracy, I, like many of you, can’t help but wonder 1) was this executive a person of color, and; 2) how did the company respond to this? Are they treating it as an isolated, forgivable incident, or, are they are globalizing it, making a value judgment about the executive’s overall intelligence? I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not even saying it’s healthy to think this way. I’m just saying it crossed my mind. And I won’t even get into Jeffrey Toobin.
How to spot and stop misinformation with John Breyault (Ep. 244) How to spot and stop misinformation with John Breyault (Ep. 244) -- John and Joe Miller discuss how consumers themselves can correct misinformation, by weighing in when they see it, rather than relying on tech companies. Bio John Breyault is a nationally-recognized consumer advocate with more than 15 years of experience championing the rights of consumers and the underserved. At the National Consumers League, he advocates for stronger consumer protections before Congress and federal agencies on issues related to telecommunications, fraud, data security, privacy, aviation, live event ticketing, video gaming, and other consumer concerns. In addition, John manages NCL’s Fraud.org and #DataInsecurity project campaigns. John has testified multiple times before Congress and federal agencies and is a regular contributor to national press outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Prior to NCL, John was the director of research at Amplify Public Affairs, where hs supported clients in the telecommunications, energy, labor, and environmental sectors. Earlier in his career, John worked at Sprint and at the American Center for Polich Culture in Washington, DC. A lifelong Virginian, John is a graduate of George Mason University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in French. Resources: National Consumers League Intro Joe: Hey everybody. Congress can’t get anything done. Now the state Attorneys General are hamstrung by corruption and politics, as they try to execute a serious of actions against big tech. Real news outlets believe the Department of Justice and various state coalitions are planning to sue Google. The DOJ is expected to focus on Google’s search dominance. The state coalitions are working together with the DOJ, but then again, they’re no,t because many of them believe the DOJ’s moving too slowly. Congress has subpoenaed Facebook, Google, and Twitter. But, of course, Republicans and Democrats rarely see eye-to-eye. But now we’ve got problems in Texas -- with their Attorney General, Ken Paxton, facing bribery charges -- accusations his own Deputies alleged in a whistleblower complaint. It’s a litany of allegations claiming that: He received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts for his own legal defense fund. What did the people who gave those donations expect in exchange? They couldn’t have given them out of the goodness of their hearts. In that case, why not give it to poor people? Nevertheless, Paxton says these donors are family friends. His own wife, a state senator, introduced a bill to expand his power to exempt individuals from state regulations, which would have set him up to return favors to people. He unilaterally decided that Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s ban of elective procedures due to COVID-19 should apply to abortions. This went into effect immediately, forcing women to cancel their appointments, pending the outcome of litigation arising from this. The list goes on and on. So Democratic Attorneys General are calling for Paxton to step down, saying it threatens their multistate investigation into Google’s market practices. Meanwhile, sources expect the DOJ to file a lawsuit in a few days. Why that’s public, I have no idea. You’d think it’d be attorney-privileged. But, frankly, following ethical guidelines doesn’t appear to be part of Bill Barr’s skill set. To make matters worse, you have a dozen or so other Republican Attorneys General facing similar corruption problems. Eliot Spitzer must feel vindicated for his little prostitution situation back in 2008. But that was 12 years ago! Let’s move on, let’s move on. John McAfee, the namesake of the antivirus software, was arrested in Spain Monday. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges McAfee took $23 million from people to invest in cryptocurrencies he was being paid to promote. But the officials note this is a personal lawsuit, not one against McAfee, the company. So we’re in this place where politics are holding up anything meaningful when it comes to antitrust enforcement against big tech companies. We’ll see what the DOJ lawsuit says. But, without even looking at it, I anticipate a number of free speech problems that will have to be overcome, and much of the case law has been written by Conservatives. Related Episodes ‘Social media policy: It's the moderation, stupid!’ with Chris Lewis Ep. 232(Opens in a new browser tab) 'Health Tech and Communications in Crisis' with Licy DoCanto (Ep. 231)(Opens in a new browser tab) 'They Smile in Your Face: How the Internet is Unmasking Hidden Racism' with Robert Eschmann (Ep. 222)(Opens in a new browser tab) Ep. 203: The Internet and Racial Justice w/ Charlton McIlwain(Opens in a new browser tab) Kids and YouTube with Patrick van Kessel (Ep. 197)(Opens in a new browser tab)
John Bergmayer is Legal Director at Public Knowledge, specializing in telecommunications, media, internet, and intellectual property issues. He advocates for the public interest before courts and policymakers, and works to make sure that all stakeholders -- including ordinary citizens, artists, and technological innovators -- have a say in shaping emerging digital policies. Resources Bergmayer, J., 2020. Tending The Garden: How To Ensure App Stores Put Users First. [ebook] Washington, DC: Public Knowledge. Available at: [Accessed 27 September 2020].
Bio Charlton McIlwain (@cmcilwain) is Vice Provost or Faculty Engagement and Development; Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His recent work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. He recently wrote Racial Formation, Inequality & the Political Economy of Web Traffic, in the journal Information, Communication & Society, and he co-authored, with Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, the recent report Beyond the Hashtags: Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice, published by the Center for Media & Social Impact, and supported by the Spencer Foundation. Today, Tuesday October 1st, 2019, his new book entitled Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter releases via Oxford University Press and available wherever you buy books. Resources McIlwain, Charlton. Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter (Oxford University Press, 2019)
Bios Mike Alkire Michael J. Alkire (@AlkirePremier) is the President at Premier, the largest global supply chain, healthcare technology company in the U.S, that helps hospitals and health systems provide higher quality patient care at a better cost. In addition to leading the integration of the company’s clinical, financial, supply chain and operational performance offerings, Alkire also oversees the quality, safety, labor and supply chain technology solutions. An influential figure in America’s efforts to address drug shortages and infuse data-enabled technology solutions into the U.S. healthcare system, Alkire has been consulted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA, congressional lawmakers, Wall Street investors and private sector industry leaders on how to stabilize the medical and pharmaceutical supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to offering his expertise in the media, he shares perspectives via his podcast, InsideOut, through discussions with insiders in healthcare. With an eye on equipping the nation’s hospitals and health systems with the clinical, financial, supply chain and operational performance improvement offerings they need to provide quality care at efficient costs, Alkire oversees Premier’s quality, safety, labor and supply chain technology apps and data-driven collaboratives including Premier’s comparative database, one of the nation’s largest outcomes databases. Alkire also led Premier’s efforts to address public health and safety issues from the nationwide drug shortage problem, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Premier research on shortages and gray market price gouging. This work contributed to the president and Congress taking action to investigate and correct the problem, resulting in two pieces of bipartisan legislation. Alkire is a past board member of GHX and the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. He recently was named one of the Top 25 COOs in Healthcare for 2018 by Modern Healthcare. In 2015, Alkire won the Gold Stevie Award for Executive of the Year and in 2014 he was recognized as a Gold Award Winner for COO of the Year by the Golden Bridge Awards. He has more than 20 years of experience in running business operations and business development organizations at Deloitte & Touche and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Before joining Premier, he served in a number of leadership roles at Cap Gemini, including North American responsibilities for supply chain and high-tech manufacturing. Alkire graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University and a MBA from Indiana University. Jonathan Slotkin MD, FAANS Jonathan Slotkin leads clinical strategy, innovation and operations for Contigo Health by partnering with health systems and employers to deliver the highest quality care at a fair price. He works to support the development of novel products and implementation approaches that always aim for clinical excellence, patient satisfaction and value. Slotkin is a neurosurgeon and scientist who has led prominent care delivery reengineering and digital transformation initiatives centered around patients. He has partnered with some of the nation’s largest employers to help them reimagine the care of their associates. Slotkin believes higher quality care will always be the most cost-effective care in the end and that innovative employers and providers working together is the most powerful force we have to fix the U.S. healthcare system. He maintains a clinical practice caring for patients directly at Geisinger where he is associate chief medical informatics officer and Vice Chair of neurosurgery. Resources Scott Weingarten, Jonathan Slotkin & Mike Alkire, Building A Real-Time Covid-19 Early-Warning System, Harvard Business Review, 2020, https://hbr.org/2020/06/building-a-real-time-covid-19-early-warning-system (last visited Aug 3, 2020). Lisa Woods, Jonathan R. Slotkin & M. Ruth Coleman, How Employers are Fixing Healthcare, Harvard Business Review, 2019, https://hbr.org/cover-story/2019/03/how-employers-are-fixing-health-care (last visited Aug 3, 2020). Jonathan R. Slotkin, Karen Murphy & Jaewon Ryu, How One Health System is Transforming in Response to COVID-19, Harvard Business Review, 2020, https://hbr.org/2020/06/how-one-health-system-is-transforming-in-response-to-covid-19 (last visited Aug 3, 2020).
Bio Philip N. Howard (@pnhoward) the Director of the Oxford Internet Institute and a statutory Professor of Internet Studies at Balliol College at the University of Oxford. Howard investigates the impact of digital media on political life around the world, and he is a frequent commentator on global media and political affairs. Howard’s research has demonstrated how new information technologies are used in both civic engagement and social control in countries around the world. His projects on digital activism, computational propaganda, and modern governance have been supported by the European Research Council, National Science Foundation, US Institutes of Peace, and Intel’s People and Practices Group. He has published nine books and over 140 academic articles, book chapters, conference papers, and commentary essays on information technology, international affairs and public life. His articles examine the role of new information and communication technologies in politics and social development, and he has published in peer review journals such as the American Behavioral Scientist, the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and The Journal of Communication. His first book on information technology and elections in the United States is called New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). It is one of the few books to ever win simultaneous “best book” prizes from the professional associations of multiple disciplines, with awards from the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the International Communication Association. His authored books include The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), Castells and the Media (London, UK: Polity, 2011), Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012, with Muzammil Hussain), and Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015). He has edited Society Online: The Internet in Context (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004, with Steve Jones), the Handbook of Internet Politics (London, UK: Routledge, 2008, with Andrew Chadwick), State Power 2.0: Authoritarian Entrenchment and Political Engagement Worldwide (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2013, with Muzammil Hussain) and Computational Propaganda: Political Parties, Politicians and Manipulation on Social Media (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018, with Samuel Woolley). Howard has had senior teaching, research, and administrative appointments at universities around the world. He has been on the teaching faculty at the Central European University, Columbia University, Northwestern University, the University of Oslo, and the University of Washington. He has had fellowship appointments at the Pew Internet & American Life Project in Washington D.C., the Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research at the London School of Economics, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. From 2013-15 he helped design and launch a new School of Public Policy at Central European University in Budapest, where he was the school’s first Founding Professor and Director of the Center for Media, Data and Society. He currently serves as Director of the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, the leading center of research and teaching on technology and society. Howard’s research and commentary writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many international media outlets. He was awarded the National Democratic Institute’s 2018 “Democracy Prize” and Foreign Policy magazine named him a “Global Thinker” for pioneering the social science of fake news production. His B.A. is in political science from Innis College at the University of Toronto, his M.Sc. is in economics from the London School of Economics, and his Ph.D. is in sociology from Northwestern University. His website is philhoward.org. Resources Philip Howard, Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives (2020)
Sara Harrison - 'Telehealth at the End of Life' (Ep. 238) Sara Harrison, a New York City-based freelance journalist, joined Joe Miller to talk about telehealth and palliative care. Bio Sara Harrison (@SaraHarrison) is a freelance writer and journalist based in New York. Previously she was a reporting fellow at WIRED where she covering vaping, content moderation, sleep science, and much more. She is a former assistant editor for the politics section of the Los Angeles Review of Books and her work has been featured in outlets including WIRED, Protocol, San Francisco Magazine, and on NPR-affiliate KALW's Crosscurrents. Sara holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and a masters degree from the UC Berkeley School of Journalism where she was a Dean's Merit Fellow. Her thesis, “The Quest to Make a Bot that Can Smell as Well as a Dog,” won the Clay Felker Award for Excellence in Narrative Writing. Email: sara[dot]harrison[at]berkeley[dot]edu Resources Sara Harrison, When Doctors and Patients Talk About Death Over Zoom Wired (2020), https://www.wired.com/story/when-doctors-and-patients-talk-about-death-over-zoom/ (last visited Jul 20, 2020).
Transportation Equity with Henry Greenidge (Ep. 237) Transportation Equity with Henry Greenidge (Ep. 237) -- New York University's McSilver Institute Fellow-in-Residence Henry Greenidge joined Joe to discuss transportation equity and what new legislation will mean for communities of color. Bio Henry L. Greenidge is a dynamic attorney and government affairs professional with over ten years of experience in policy advising and legal advocacy. His areas of expertise include sustainability, energy, infrastructure, broadband, and autonomous transportation. Currently, he leads state and local government affairs in addition to public engagement for Cruise, a GM subsidiary focused on autonomous vehicles. Previously, Henry held legal, policy, budget, and government affairs roles in Washington, DC during the Obama Administration. He has also served in senior leadership positions for the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYC Mayor’s Office. Henry strongly believes in the importance of investing in your community and is active in several organizations including the New York Urban League and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. His board service includes Brooklyn Community Board 9, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Tech 2025, the Apollo Theater Young Professionals, and the Emma L. Bowen Foundation, providing undergraduate students of color with internships at top media and tech companies. In addition to awards and commendations received during his time with the Obama Administration, Henry’s work has been recognized by several organizations including New York University as an Emerging Leader in Transportation, City & State Magazine as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star, and the New York Urban League as a Trailblazer. Henry has also completed the Coro Leadership New York Fellowship program and was a Fellow with the Council of Urban Professionals. Henry holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore and a Bachelor of Arts from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University where he graduated with honors. During his free time, Henry can be found chasing his two young children around and doting on his beautiful wife, Linara. He also enjoys golf, cycling and collecting rare vinyl records. Resources The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research at New York University
Bio Christina Thomas is the Divisional Vice President for Youth Exchanges at World Learning. Christina oversees the World Learning’s multimillion-dollar U.S. and international youth exchange portfolio consisting of World Learning’s flagship program, the Experiment in International Living. The Exchange portfolio serves over 1,200 high school age U.S. and international students and adult educators and hires up to 150 program leaders annually. Programs focus on experiential learning, global issues, and youth leadership. Christina also serves as the Board President of the Federation EIL providing member support in strategic planning, capacity building, and quality assurance. The Federation is a nonprofit association representing a global network of international educational program providers supporting 12 members around the globe who offer programs in volunteerism, group travel, language training, and study abroad. Before joining World Learning in 2003, Christina taught English to junior and senior high school students and designed teacher training programs for Japanese English teachers on the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program (JET) for three years. Christina received her master's degree in international communications from the School of International Service with an emphasis on international education and management from American University in Washington, DC. Resources Global Youth Exchanges - World Learning, World Learning (2020), https://www.worldlearning.org/what-we-do/global-youth-exchanges/ (last visited Jun 28, 2020). News Roundup Growing list of companies pull ads from Facebook As of Monday morning, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever announced they would be pulling their ads from Facebook in protest over the social media giant’s refusal to take down hate speech. Patagonia, North Face, and REI had previously announced they’d be pulling their ads, along with Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer, and Honda America who were among the first companies to make the announcement. Unilever announced it would be pulling its ads at least until the end of the year. Bloomberg reported Friday that Zuckerberg lost over $7 billion of his wealth after Facebook’s stock price dropped 8.3%. While Zuckerberg has come under intense scrutiny, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook investor, board member, and Trump adviser Peter Thiel is actually the one calling the shots. What exactly is Peter Thiel’s role in the “boogaloo” movement? Thiel donated $1.25 million to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and is also a co-founder of Palantir, the controversial surveillance firm that’s developed a predictive policing algorithm popular among the boys in blue. The company has sold its software to local law enforcement agencies around the world, as well as to the U.S. military and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. It’s notorious for allegedly helping police unfairly target Blacks and Latinos and reinforcing racialized patterns within the criminal justice system, which apparently has become a breeding ground for white supremacists, including 2 now-fired cops, in Wilmington, North Carolina, who were caught on a patrol car video saying they couldn’t wait to slaughter black people. The Department of Health and Human Services has also awarded Palantir a mysterious coronavirus contract, about which Democrats in Congress, led by Congressman Joaquin Castro, wrote HHS Secretary Alex Azar Thursday, calling for the Palantir contract, as well as similar contracts with Oracle and Amazon, to be made public. The increased focus on Thiel last week came amidst reports of the growing anti-government “boogaloo” movement pushing for a Second Civil War, the type of apocalyptic event about which Peter Thiel has ostensibly been pining for years, given his 477-acre retreat in New Zealand, the Guardian reported about in a 2018 article, which would be perfect to escape such a calamity. Peter Thiel has pulled strings in the background before, when he funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker after Gawker alleged that Thiel was gay, resulting in Gawker’s 2016 bankruptcy. The American right partners with Falun Gong Axios first reported last week President Trump has fired the head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which includes the Open Technology Fund, which used to fund a variety of projects, like Signal, that allow devices access to sites repressive regimes try to block. Trump replaced USAGM’s former lead John Lansing with Steve Bannon ally and conservative filmmaker Michael Pack. Pack then fired Libby Liu, former head of the Open Technology Fund within USAGM. Now conservatives are looking to invest exclusively in two specific technologies known as UltraSurf and Freegate, technologies religious freedom advocacy organizations like Asia’s Falun Gong prefer because they see them as a way to topple China’s “Great Firewall”. Falun Gong also owns Epoch Times, which Axios notes is part of Trump’s conservative news ecosystem, and the organization is seen to align themselves with religious freedom advocates on America’s far-right, in an effort many fear will politicize America’s international media outlet. Federal government ramps up surveillance efforts The Intercept reported last week the FBI has ramped up surveillance efforts, citing contracts with companies like Venntel, which tracks the movements of millions of Americans. The Intercept found what it termed an “expedited agreement” between the FBI and a company called Dataminr as demonstrators took to the streets to protest systemic injustice, worldwide protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer who knelt on Mr. Floyds neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis despite the fact that he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, called for his mother, and was motionless for several minutes. The FBI has a long history of targeting racial, ethnic, and religious minorities especially Muslims. Boston bans facial recognition In a major victory for civil rights advocates, the City of Boston has officially banned facial recognition from policing, becoming the second-largest city to do so, following San Francisco. The Boston City Council voted unanimously in favor of the ban. On the federal level, however, no one seems to know how facial recognition technologies are used, after lawmakers sought information from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on how the Department uses the technology in public housing, which includes some 1.2 million households. The Department said it doesn’t keep track. In another development, more than 1,000 machine learning experts wrote a letter to the publisher of an article set to be released from a couple of researchers at Harrisburg University claiming they have developed a facial recognition program with an accuracy rate of 80%. Also check out the profile The New York Times did on the black man whose case became the nation’s first dealing with false identification by an facial recognition algorithm. Indiana Supreme Court rules woman not required to unlock her phone for police The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Carmel, Indiana woman, Katelin Seo, who refused to unlock her phone for police during a criminal investigation, which led to the lower court holding her in contempt. The Indiana Supreme Court found that requiring Seo to unlock her phone would have violated her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Trump restricts highly-skilled worker visas The White House last week announced that it will be restricting the number of foreign worker visas including the H1B visas tech companies use to attract highly skilled workers. Most of these workers are people of color from countries in Asia. The Trump administration claims the visas would put America at an economic disadvantage during its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. TaskRabbit CEO, Stacy Brown-Philpot Resigns Finally, Task Rabbit C.E.O. Stacy Brown-Philpot has resigned after four years leading the gig working company. Ms. Brown-Philpot said she will stay with the company until the end of August to give it enough time to find her successor. Brown-Philpot is one of the few Black or Female technology industry CEOs. She is also on the Boards of HP and Nordstrom and is currently advising a $100 million Softbank fund to support companies led by people of color. Ms. Brown-Philpot indicated she was deeply affected by the killing of George Floyd, championed the hiring of more women and black people in tech, and said the gig working industry needs to do more for contract workers.
‘Protecting the 2020 Election from COVID19’ with Gowri Ramachandran (Ep. 235) Protecting the 2020 Election from COVID 19 - Gowri Ramachandran, Counsel in the Election Security program at the Brennan Center joined Joe Miller. Bio Gowri Ramachandran is Counsel in the Election Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. She is currently on leave from her position as professor of law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. At Southwestern, she taught courses in constitutional law, employment discrimination, critical race theory, and the Ninth Circuit Appellate Litigation Clinic, which received the Ninth Circuit’s 2018 Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award. She received her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Yale College and a master’s degree in statistics from Harvard University. While in law school, she served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. After graduating from law school in 2003, Ramachandran served as law clerk to Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Billings, Montana. After a fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center, she joined the Southwestern faculty in 2006. Resources Gowri Ramachandran, How to Keep the 2020 Election Secure Brennan Center for Justice (2020), https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/how-keep-2020-election-secure (last visited Jun 21, 2020). Edgardo Cortés et al., Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Problems During the Pandemic: A Guide for Election Officials (2020), https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/preparing-cyberattacks-and-technical-problems-during-pandemic-guide (last visited Jun 21, 2020). Related Episodes ‘Communications Policy in the COVID-19 Era’ with Hon. Geoffrey Starks (Ep. 225)(Opens in a new browser tab) News Roundup Lawmakers step up efforts to rein in facial recognition companies’ work with law enforcement IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon announced plans to scale back the sale of their facial recognition technologies to law enforcement. But while those companies are some of the largest providers of such technologies, smaller competitors continue to supply police departments, and Amazon has only stated that it would stop selling facial recognition technology for 12 months as it waits for Congress to write new legislation. Many important studies have repeatedly demonstrated how these technologies produce biased outcomes when it comes to women and people of color. One Zero also reported last week that technology companies also make substantial donations to police organizations. WSJ: How federal authorities use marketing, GPS data to pursue suspects In 2018, the Supreme Court decided Carpenter v. U.S., in which it held that law enforcement needs a search warrant before obtaining cell tower location data from carriers when they pursue suspects. But in an exclusive report, the Wall Street Journal explains how the police now circumvent Carpenter using marketing data – which is anonymized but when correlated with other factors can reveal the personal identity of a suspect. These law enforcement agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, have concluded those data don’t fall within the scope of data for which the U.S. Supreme Court requires probable cause per Carpenter since the data doesn’t come from cell phone data and, instead, comes from geolocation data. Venntel, the subject of the Wall Street Journal report and company that provided marketing data to the IRS, claims its data is “pseudanonimized”. It will be interesting to see how courts and lawmakers consider how such pseudanonimized data should be treated in light of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Facebook struggles to respond to backlash over its content moderation policies and calls for boycotts by civil rights organizations Facebook is still under fire for failing to adequately moderate misinformation posted by the president. Several Civil Rights organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change and others called on advertisers to boycott Facebook after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to even flag misinformation Trump posted a couple of weeks ago saying mail-in ballots pose a risk for voter fraud, a claim that is unsubstantiated. Several research reports by prominent institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have concluded mail-in ballots produce no meaningful advantage for either political party. Amidst the backlash, Facebook announced plans last week to invest $200 million to support Black-owned businesses and organizations. The company also announced an effort to register 4 million voters. Trump tests waters with new social media violations President Trump continued to defy social media boundaries with more misleading and hateful content last week. On Thursday, the Trump campaign posted an ad containing the upside down, red triangle Nazi’s used to identify communists, socialists and liberals in concentration camps. Facebook and Twitter removed that ad. On Friday, the president tweeted a manipulated video appearing to show a white child running after a black child with a fake lower-third saying “terrified toddler runs from racist baby”. Twitter initially flagged the tweet but ultimately took it down. Both Twitter and Facebook also announced last week they’ve seen foreign actors evolve their social media propaganda efforts but as yet no coordinated efforts by state actors to manipulate election outcomes. France upholds $56 million fine against Google for privacy violations After an 18-month appeal effort, Google has lost against French regulators who found the company violated Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by failing to make it easy for users to determine how the company used their data, notice which required users to go through several steps, according to the French Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, which upheld the $56 million fine it levied against Google back in January of last year. Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings announced that Netflix would be investing $120 million in Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Government relations pros blast Pinterest for discriminating against them for being black women Two prominent government relations pros, both of whom are African American women, put Pinterest on blast last week for allegedly having a toxic work environment that is hostile to black employees. Ifeoma Ozoma reported on Twitter that a white male inside Pinterest doxed her, sharing her private information publicly, and failed to give her a pay raise. She also said that, during her performance review, her manager criticized her for being outspoken during discussions around the company’s new policy to stop advertising slave plantation—according to Ozoma, the manager accused her of not “both-siding” the issue. Ozoma also noted that her replacement, Aerica Banks, also a black woman, also resigned.
Bio Harold Hughes (@OneBandwagonFan) is the founder & CEO of Bandwagon – an identity infrastructure company that helps companies and organizations transparently manage, aggregate, and store valuable consumer data. A rising star in sports tech, Harold has had his ideas validated as a graduate (and now mentor) of the Founder Institute Greenville chapter; graduate of Capital Factory – Austin, one of the inaugural companies in Google for Startups Black Founders Exchange Program, and most recently the IBM Blockchain Accelerator. In his hometown community, he serves as the founder and Managing Director of Brickyard Innovation Lab: an entrepreneur ecosystem for early-stage startups and emerging growth companies. He is also a Co-Director of the Founder Institute Greenville chapter, a startup incubator, and a member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. A man of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Harold is actively involved in the community participating on the Board of Directors for Rebuild Upstate and Visit Greenville. As a strong believer in mentorship, he makes time to speak with youth and his peers about his journey to entrepreneurship and how he has found success along the way. Harold Hughes is a graduate of Clemson University where he received Bachelors degrees in both Economics (B.A) and Political Science (B.A.). As a “Triple Tiger”, he also completed his MBA at Clemson, before pursuing a graduate certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Stanford University. Resources Aura Bandwagon Fan Club News Roundup Tech giants curtail, end sale of facial recognition to police IBM and Microsoft announced plans last week to end the sale of surveillance technology to police departments, with IBM stopping all research, development and production of such systems indefinitely, and Microsoft saying it plans to stop the practice until Congress passes legislation. Amazon currently only has plans to pause the sale of its Rekognition software to police for one year, but it too has called for new legislation. The decisions came after years of advocacy reached a boiling point amidst reports that police have been using facial recognition during worldwide protests, in support of Black Lives, after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police just over two weeks ago. However, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon are just 3 of the companies selling facial recognition technology to police. Also last week, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other organizations sued Clearview AI, a supplier of facial recognition technology to police departments, for scanning Illinois’ residents’ faces, without their consent, in violation of an Illinois law preventing nonconsensual fingerprinting and face scans, The New York Times reported. The Hill reports Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey also called on Clearview to conduct an independent assessment of whether police have been using their technology during the protests, to which Clearview responded that it only helps police after crimes have already been committed. And Vice surveyed 43 facial recognition companies whether they too will refuse to work with police. According to Vice, most didn’t respond to the inquiry—you can find a link to the list of those companies in the show notes. You’ll also want to read Geoffrey Fowler’s Washington Post piece discussing efforts by other companies, including lesser-known companies like NEC and Idemia to thwart lawmakers’ efforts to rein in law enforcement’s use of facial recognition to spy on U.S. citizens. Zuckerberg still being difficult about curbing misinformation Despite leading lawmakers’ and activists’ calls on Facebook to improve how it flags misinformation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still being difficult. But at the same time he claims he’s “disgusted” by President Trump’s content, The Hill reported last week. The debate with Facebook has continued for years, with the company condescending to and patronizing a handful of civil rights groups making repeated calls for the company to better moderate hate speech. The term “hate speech”, of course, being one Fox News like to wrap in quotes as if it’s not a real thing, never mind that centuries of newspapers’, broadcast stations’, the FCC’s, and social media companies’ enabling of bigots and misogynists suggest otherwise. Sure. Facebook will take down hundreds of accounts managed by anti-racist Skinheads. But when Trump threatens bodily injury posting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, lumping peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters into a single category of “looters” … That’s no problem. On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee wrote Zuckerberg, again, urging him to curb Trump’s “dangerous” posts. Zuckerberg’s response? Writing a letter in reply to 270 concerned scientists he and his wife Priscilla Chan fund through their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, admitting Trump’s posts constituted misinformation, that they were incendiary, that they were “deeply shaken and disgusted” by them. But, alas, “Having more voices at the table that represent a diversity of perspectives, viewpoints, and lived experiences isn’t just a good way to help solve the world’s biggest problems and challenges – it is the only way.” “The only way”. Those words are important because they negate diverse perspectives, viewpoints, and lived experiences. They urge authoritarianism. Uber waives fees for black-owned restaurants The Hill reported that Uber Eats, after creating a list of black-owned businesses, has waived fees for customers ordering from black-owned restaurants. Uber’s ride-sharing unit also announced discounts for passengers going to black-owned establishments. The company said the deals will continue through until the end of the year. Jeff Bezos ‘happy to lose’ racist customers Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to Instagram last week to drag a racist customer named Dave who complained about Amazon’s homepage statement in support of Black Lives Matter. The customer sent an email deriding the world’s wealthiest person saying he’d laugh watching the company’s profits decline as a result of the statement. Bezos posted the email, redacting the customer’s name, saying he’s happy to lose such customers. Amazon was up 24 points on Monday June 8th’s market close, the first market close after Bezos’s post, to 2,524.06 per share. Police investigate disruptions of police radios during protests Someone took advantage of police officers’ unencrypted frequencies during protests. In one intrusion, hackers played Tay Zonday’s YouTube viral hit “Chocolate Rain” over police radios. Authorities are investigating incidents in Minnesota, Illinois and Texas. Some departments have switched over to encrypted frequencies. Twitter makes Juneteenth a holiday Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced last week that the company will now recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday every June 19th. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date African Americans in Galveston, Texas first learned of their emancipation from Union General Gordon Granger, who delivered the news nine weeks following Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court Courthouse, and some two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. YouTube announces $100 million for black creators YouTube announced last week that it would be investing $100 million to amplify the voices of black creators. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki made the announcement Thursday, in a post in which she also reported the company removed some 100,000 hateful videos and 100 million such comments in the second quarter.
Bio McKinley L. Price is President of the African American Mayors Association and Mayor of Newport News, Virginia. He is a native of Newport News, Virginia. He graduated from Huntington High School in 1967 and then received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia, in 1971. McKinley was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1972 as 1st Lt. In 1976, he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and performed his general anesthesia residency at Provident Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Price has received numerous honors and awards from various professional associations. In 1989, he was elected by his peers as President of the Peninsula Dental Society; he was the first black president of this organization. He was also named "Dentist of the Year" by the Old Dominion Dental Society. Dr. Price is a Fellow in the Virginia Dental Association, the American College of Dentists, and the International College of Dentists. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Delta Dental of Virginia, serving on the Audit and Compliance Committee and Dental Policy Advisory Committee. Dr. Price’s community service was highlighted by his being appointed chair of the Newport News School Board for two years, during his eight years of service, from 1984-1992. In 1994, Dr. Price received the President’s Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Peninsula Chapter of 100 Black Men and in 1996 he received the Presidential Citizenship Award from Hampton University. The Peninsula Chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice presented him with their Humanitarian Award in 1996. In 1998, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated honored him as Citizen of the Year during the Mid-Atlantic 44th Annual Regional Conference. The Daily Press Newspaper awarded him “Citizen of the Year” for 2005, which highlighted his Co-Chairmanship of the organization People to People whose mission is to improve race relations and the quality of life in Newport News. It also commended him for being a founding member of the Virginia Peninsula Chapter of 100 Black Men. They recognized him as the Role Model of the Year in April 2011. Thomas Nelson Community College awarded him their TNCC Medallion Award during commencement exercises in May 2011. The Price Family was the Honored Family during the 2010 Hampton University’s Black Family Conference and he was the Founder’s Day speaker at Hampton in 2011. In addition to the commitment he makes to his professional activities and meeting the demands a successful dental practice, Dr. Price devotes untiring energy and time to the Hampton and Newport News community. He has served as Chairman of the Board for Riverside Health System Foundation, Vice Chair of the Riverside Health System Board, and Immediate Past Chairman of the Thomas Nelson Community College Board. He was also appointed to the Newport News City Council for a five month period in 2004. In addition, Dr. Price was appointed by Governor Warner to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Board. In May 2010, he was elected Mayor of the City of Newport News. He becomes the first black elected as mayor of Newport News. The term is four years. Dr. Price is a member of the First Church of Newport News (Baptist), a church founded by his great-great-grandfather. He is married to Valerie Scott Price. She is a retired educator having taught for 30 years, most of which were in the Newport News Public School System. They have two adult children and one grandson: McKinley II, DDS, an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, he and his wife Amy and their son live in Brooklyn, NY; and Marcia, a Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 95th District. Resources McKinley Price, The Need for Equitable Health Care Amid COVID-19, Governing, 2020, https://www.governing.com/now/The-Need-for-Equitable-Health-Care-Amid-COVID-19.html(last visited Jun 7, 2020). Home, Ourmayors.org (2020), https://www.ourmayors.org/Home (last visited Jun 7, 2020). COVID-19 Resources, Ourmayors.org (2020), https://www.ourmayors.org/Resources/COVID-19-Resources (last visited Jun 7, 2020). News Roundup Despite threats from White House, social media companies crack down on misinformation Despite president Trump’s continued claims that Silicon Valley, and social media companies in particular, harbor an anti-conservative bias, social media companies have stepped up their efforts to prevent a repeat performance of the 2016 election during which misinformation and state-sponsored propaganda ran rampant, often in favor of Trump’s presidency, according to the Mueller report and several other sources. On Monday night, after a day of employee virtual walkouts at the company in response to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg’s insistence on leaving up posts that contain misinformation, civil right leaders met with Zuckerberg via videocall and things did not go well. Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights President Vanita Gupta, NAACP Legal Defense Fund head Sherrilyn Ifill, and Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson issued a statement following the meeting stating that Zuckerberg “did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump's call for violence against protesters. Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.” Zuckerberg followed up with a company memo on Friday saying the social media giant was again in the process of reviewing its policies related to discussions about police brutality and voter suppression. Before Zuckerberg’s announcement, the company had already begun making the public aware of foreign interference on the platform by labeling state-sponsored posts. Following the meeting with civil rights leaders and Mr. Zuckerberg’s announcement, Facebook, citing copyright concerns, removed a campaign video in which the president appeared to pay tribute to George Floyd. The company cited copyright concerns for taking down the video, after it had received complaints from the artist who’d created some of the artwork featured in the video. Twitter had also removed the video, which the White House called an illegal escalation – Twitter denied that removing the video was illegal and also cited to the president’s use of copyrighted material. Facebook also removed some 200 accounts associated with white supremacy groups last week. The company also removed fake antifa accounts, according to Reuters. Over at Reddit, some subreddit pages went dark in protest over the company’s hate speech policy, which leans heavily in favor of free speech. The protest culminated in Reddit Co-Founder Alex Ohanian’s resignation from the board and calling for his seat to be filled by an African-American board member. Ohanian also indicated that he would be donating $1 million to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp and investing future gains on his stock in the black community. Also, on Wednesday, Snapchat announced that it would no longer promote President Trump’s account due to the president’s promotion of violence during protests over the weekend before last. Finally, the Center for Democracy and Technology sued the White House in the DC Circuit last week over the president’s executive order directing the independent Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to work together, along with the Department of Commerce, to curtail enforcement of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The president issued the order after Twitter flagged one of the president’s tweets as misleading, and a tweet in which the president criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order to allow mail-in ballots. Elon Musk calls for Amazon break-up Elon Musk took to Twitter calling for a break-up of Amazon, which he labelled a monopoly. The tweet came in response to a tweet by a New York Times reporter who’d written that Amazon had rejected his new book about COVID-19 on the grounds that it didn’t meet Amazon’s guidelines. Amazon has since stated that it removed the book in error. TikTok pledges to amplify black creators TikTok pledged to amplify black creators last week amidst criticism that it censored and suppressed content posted by blacks. The company stated that it would form a creator diversity council and a handful of other initiatives to address these concerns. The company also participated in the music industry-led “Blackout Tuesday” during which the company shut down its Sounds page. It also announced that it would invest $3 million in organizations that work to address black inequality (although the company didn’t mention which organizations it plans to invest in). Senators criticize AT&T on zero-rating In a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Senators Ed Markey and Ron Wyden criticized AT&T for zero-rating its own content on HBO. Zero-rating is the industry jargon used to describe the anticompetitive practice in which carriers count the use of competing platforms against their customers’ data limits but not their own content, in this case HBO, which AT&T acquired in 2018, along with HBO’s parent company WarnerMedia. The Senators set a response deadline of June 25th. Zoom announces end-to-end encryption for paying subscribers only Videoconference platform Zoom announced that it would be introducing end-to-end encryption, but only for paying subscribers. The company says doing so will allow it to work with the FBI to identify child pornographers and sex traffickers. However, Zoom made no reference to any evidence correlating free usership to the distribution of illegal content at a rate that exceeds the that of paid subscribers. California assembly introduces facial recognition bill The California Assembly is now considering a bill that would allow the State of California to conduct surveillance using facial recognition technology, if it gives notice ahead of time. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is opposing the measure on the grounds that it undercuts limitations on the use of facial recognition technology which are already in place in some local areas including San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Denver cop fired for inciting a riot over Instagram during George Floyd protests Tommy McClay, a former police officer in Denver posed with two other cops for an Instagram photo for which he wrote “let’s start a riot”. That night, Denver police used tear gas and foam bullets against protesters, according to Ars Technica. The Denver Police Department fired McClay for the post. McClay was a brand new recruit—just 9 months out of the police academy—and so still subject to the initial probationary period of his tenure there. But one civil rights leader in Denver told Ars that the Denver Police Department has a high rate of re-hiring officers who were previously fired.
Bio Christopher Lewis (@ChrisJLewis) is President and CEO at Public Knowledge. Prior to being elevated to President and CEO, Chris served for as PK’s Vice President from 2012 to 2019 where he led the organization’s day-to-day advocacy and political strategy on Capitol Hill and at government agencies. During that time he also served as a local elected official, serving two terms on the Alexandria City Public School Board. Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Local Self Reliance and represents Public Knowledge on the Board of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG). Before joining Public Knowledge, Chris worked in the Federal Communications Commission Office of Legislative Affairs, including as its Deputy Director. He is a former U.S. Senate staffer for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and has over 18 years of political organizing and advocacy experience, including serving as Virginia State Director at GenerationEngage, and working as the North Carolina Field Director for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign and other roles throughout the campaign. Chris graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors degree in Government and lives in Alexandria, VA where he continues to volunteer and advocate on local civic issues. Resources The Washington Center for Technology Policy Inclusion, 2020. President Trump’s Social Media Executive Order Violates The Voting Rights Act Of 1965. [online] Available at: https://www.washingtech.com/post/president-trump-s-social-media-executive-order-violates-the-voting-rights-act-of-1965 [Accessed 31 May 2020]. Public Knowledge, 2020. Public Knowledge Rejects White House Executive Order Targeting Free Speech On Social Media Platforms. [online] Available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org/press-release/public-knowledge-rejects-white-house-executive-order-targeting-free-speech-on-social-media-platforms/ [Accessed 31 May 2020]. Feld, H., 2020. Could the FCC Regulate Social Media Under Section 230? No. [Blog] Public Knowledge Blog, Available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/could-the-fcc-regulate-social-media-under-section-230-no/ [Accessed 31 May 2020]. Public Knowledge, 2020. Public Knowledge Responds To White House Proposal To Require FTC, FCC To Monitor Speech On Social Media. [online] Available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org/press-release/public-knowledge-responds-to-white-house-proposal-to-require-ftc-fcc-to-monitor-speech-on-social-media/ [Accessed 31 May 2020]. Related Episodes 'They Smile in Your Face: How the Internet is Unmasking Hidden Racism' with Robert Eschmann (Ep. 222)(Opens in a new browser tab) 'How Media Policies Have Helped the Far Right' with Anne Nelson (Ep. 217)(Opens in a new browser tab) Facebook and Civil Rights: What are the Options? with Ebonie Riley (Ep. 212)(Opens in a new browser tab) Should Americans Trust News on Social Media? with Elisa Shearer (Ep. 207)(Opens in a new browser tab) Examining "Social Media Bias" with Jen Schradie (Ep. 199)(Opens in a new browser tab) Renée DiResta: How to Fight the Imminent Disinformation Blitzkrieg (Ep. 175)(Opens in a new browser tab) News Roundup Trump tweets mark turning point in Section 230 discourse A tweet from President Trump last week that criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order allowing Californians’ the right to vote by mail, in addition to preserving Californians’ right to vote in person if they’d prefer, has triggered a turning point in the debate around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, even though the Centers for Disease Control recommended that election officials allow mail-in voting, specifically because of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 disease is having on communities of color. These communities have historically been targets of voter suppression efforts. Section 230 is the 1996 law widely seen as the heart of the internet as we know it, because it shields interactive content providers, like Twitter, Google, and Facebook, from liability stemming from content posted by users. In short, without Section 230, it would be all but impossible for Twitter, Facebook, and Google to exist: without Section 230, it would simply be too risky for social media platforms to expose themselves to liability for content that you and I, or even Trump, post. President Trump posted the now-infamous tweet about Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on Tuesday. In it, the president alleged that sending mail-in ballots to voters would cause what right-wing politicians theorize is “voter fraud”, and that sending ballots to what the president termed “millions of people” would lead to the ballots being stolen. The president didn’t indicate how those attempting to steal ballots would even know whether ballots were inside of a person’s mailbox. Would they go to every single mailbox every single day to see if a ballot’s inside? In any case, the president has expressed a general fear of snail mail in recent months. At the start of the pandemic, he and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin blocked funding from the $2 trillion stimulus bill that would have provided the U.S. Postal Service with billions of dollars in grants to balance its budget. So, something’s up with the mail that this president seems extremely frightened of. All of this culminated in Twitter, for the first time, posting a disclaimer on the president’s tweet – a blue hyperlink with an exclamation mark next to it that says, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”. When users click the link, they’re redirected to another Twitter page listing articles discussing the factual inconsistencies in the president’s claim that mail-in ballots would lead to election fraud and voting by immigrants. Unsurprisingly, Trump was livid when this happened. Two days later, he released an Executive Order providing for the Department of Commerce to file a petition at the Federal Communications Commission asking it to review still-unsubstantiated claims of social media companies’ alleged anti-conservative bias. The order also calls on the Federal Trade Commission to allow individuals to file complaints. When protests began around the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who has since been fired and charged with manslaughter, Trump tweeted a comment that echoed Miami’s then-Mayor Walter Headley’s 1967 remark “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which was met with scorn by civil rights leaders. In the tweet, the president called protesters “THUGS”, saying he’d spoken with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz “and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” (Here would be a good place to recall last summer’s Center for Investigative Journalism report that several Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia Facebook groups counted hundreds of police among their members, a report that corroborated an earlier finding by the FBI released over a decade ago that warned of the infiltration of law enforcement by white supremacists.) Twitter followed up with the president’s “THUGS” tweet by placing a notice over it saying the tweet violated Twitter’s policy against users glorifying violence, but still allowing users to clickthrough and see the president’s tweet. The company also went on to flag tweets from Ice Cube, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, and others it deemed to have violated Twitter’s community standards. But as far as Trump’s Executive Order to rein in social media companies is concerned, after speaking with experts like Tech Freedom’s Berin Szoka, Georgetown’s Gigi Sohn, and Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld – all of whom have been guests on the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast – the Hill reports that there’s a general consensus in the telecommunications public policy community that the president’s executive order is a non-starter. To make it happen, the FCC would need to undo years of precedent and essentially contradict every ruling it’s made, at least during Ajit Pai’s tenure there as Chairman, including its repeal of the net neutrality order. … On another front, Senator Ted Cruz, alleging that Twitter is violating sanctions against Iran, is calling for a criminal investigation into Twitter’s alleged preservation of accounts of enemies of the United States, like Iranian Supreme Leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Also, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confessed to Fox News last week that Facebook shouldn’t be “arbiters of truth”. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Facebook Executives ignored a 2018 internal report that found the company’s algorithms “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness”. It also warned that, if left unchecked, Facebook could spread even more discord, and that bringing Facebook’s algorithms under control would disproportionately affect users espousing conservative viewpoints. Facebook never publicly released the report or even acted internally to “check” conservative misinformation. Coincidentally, the presentation came at the same time the Trump administration was just beginning its campaign to characterize social media companies as being biased in favor of liberals. Last week, House Speaker Pelosi called Zuckerberg’s non-interventionist stance a “disgrace”. Running with the ball, Republicans in Congress are reportedly working on legislation to control speech on social media platforms by undoing the liability protections conferred by Section 230. Conservatives are pushing for the legislation even though a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by Freedom Watch, the conservative legal group, and far-right activist Laura Loomer, against Facebook, Google & Twitter, alleging the companies were conspiring to suppress conservative viewpoints. Trump creates more expansive warrantless watchlist President Trump has moved to further circumvent Constitutionally-guaranteed due process protections by expanding a September 11th-era terrorism watchlist to include individuals who aren’t even suspected of terrorism. Newsweek reports the watchlist could grow to as many as a million names. But the Trump administration hasn’t acknowledged it’s expanded the watchlist, even though it’s required to do so under federal law. Now individuals can be included on the watchlist even if they just have family in El Salvador. FBI ties Pensacola shooter to al Qaeda with iPhone data The FBI says the shooter at a Pensacola naval base last December, a shooting that took the lives of 3 sailors and injured 8 others, had ties to Al Qaeda. Twenty-one-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani initially attempted to destroy his iPhone following the shooting, but wasn’t successful. Initially, investigators approached Apple for help in gaining access to the phone’s data. When Apple declined, the FBI took matters into its own hands and figured out how to crack open the phone on its own. Indigent customers not getting broadband despite large carriers’ promises Even though internet service providers like Comcast and Charter promised free and low-cost internet to indigent residents, a lot of those residents are getting bills in the mail. The New York Times reports that customers who are supposed to have access to these programs are getting bills instead, sometimes for as much as $120. Customers have also reported not being able to get through to a customer service rep at all, much less in their native languages. In an unusual alliance, Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly joined Democrats in calling to expand broadband service around the country. O’Rielly told The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Clemons that equipment and affordability are the main barriers to broadband. Anonymous re-appears Hacktivist group Anonymous, which first made an appearance during the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, has reappeared amidst protests in cities around the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd and other grievances. A Facebook group owner who claims to be affiliated with Anonymous wrote that it would soon expose the Minneapolis police departments “many crimes in the world”. Forbes reports that Anonymous apparently even took down the Minneapolis Police Department’s website. FCC approves $16 million in telehealth funding The FCC also approved an additional $16 million for 43 applicants seeking funding to provide telehealth services during the pandemic. The money goes to healthcare providers for things like network upgrades and laptop, and is part of a total pool of $200 million Congress allocated for COVID-19-related telehealth programs. To date, the FCC has allocated $50 million, or just a quarter of that total amount.
Bio Licy Do Canto (@docantolicy) is Managing Director of BCW Healthcare in the firm’s Public Affairs and Crisis practice. He leads policy and public affairs strategy for the firm’s healthcare clients in North America across public and corporate affairs, government relations, communications and reputation management on a diverse and broad range of healthcare issues. He also oversees the BCW Healthcare Team in Washington, D.C. An expert in health and healthcare policy, with twenty five years of experience at the national, state and local levels across the nonprofit, philanthropic, corporate and government sectors, Licy is an accomplished, values-driven leader with unparalleled experience in developing and leading integrated public affairs campaigns combining strategic communications, public relations, political and legislative initiatives, policy, coalition building, grassroots/grasstops efforts and direct advocacy. Before joining BCW, Licy built and lead a nationally recognized minority owned strategic public affairs and communications firm, served as Health Practice Chair and Principal at The Raben Group, was the Chief Executive Officer of The AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families, and managed and helped set the leadership direction for strategic policy, communications and advocacy investments in executive and senior government affairs roles for the American Cancer Society and the nation’s Community Health Centers. Before joining the private sector, Licy served as health policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and served in several stints in the Office of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. During his extensive tenure in Washington, D.C., Licy has played a leading role in efforts to draft, shape and enact many pieces of legislation and policy affecting public health, health care safety net and the U.S. health care system. Licy is a graduate of Duke University and holds a certificate in public health leadership from the University of North Chapel Hill—School of Public Health and Kenan Flagler Business School, and is the recipient of multiple industry awards and citations for his leadership, policy and public affairs acumen, including being named to The Hill Newspaper list of most influential leaders in Washington, D.C. consecutively over the last ten years. Resources Why Embracing Diversity Will Lift Us Out of This Crisis Faster on Medium. Licy Do Canto Video Interview on the Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Times of Crisis New BCW Inclusion & Diversity Offering: https://bcw-global.com/now-next/inclusion-diversity Related Episodes Taking on the Inequities Laid Bare by COVID-19 with Robert Phillips (Ep. 229)(Opens in a new browser tab) Dr. Alisa Valentin: The Unifying Power of Social Justice (Ep. 178)(Opens in a new browser tab) News Roundup Antitrust red flags about Facebook and Google The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Department of Justice is prepping an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The suit is expected to focus on allegations that Google is monopolizing the online advertising ecosystem. Facebook also came under scrutiny in the Senate last week, with a bipartisan group of Senators calling foul on Facebook’s newly-announced plan to acquire the popular GIF-making platform Giphy in a $400 million deal which would give the social media giant access to Giphy’s huge user base and roughly 700 million daily impressions. The acquisition would give Facebook access to data on all of the platforms into which Giphy is integrated, Facebook’s competitors, like Mailchimp, iMessage, Signal, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, TikTok, Tinder, Trello, and Twitter. Snapchat/Twilio to offer in-app domestic violence support Snapchat and Twilio are planning to offer in-app domestic violence support, according to an exclusive report from Axios. The rollout will include an effort to address victims’ mental health concerns. Snapchat will be partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence to provide resources, including a way for friends of victims to offer support. Twilio announced that it would provide $2 million in cash grants to orgs providing support services during the pandemic. James Damore moves to dismiss lawsuit against Google Remember James Damore? The white male Google engineer who was fired back in 2017 for writing a screed entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”? The one that went on and on about how the corporate culture at Google discriminates and marginalizes the viewpoints of conservative white men, namely the alt-right? Well he decided to move to dismiss the case, a motion Google then joined, which led to a resolution that wasn’t made public. So it’s over. No one knows the details. But the matter that consumed the tech community for months over 2 years ago, has now drifted away like it never happened. Warren/Sanders demand explanation about Amazon firings Nine U.S. Senators led by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding an explanation for his company’s firing of at least 4 Amazon workers who’d raised concerns about Amazon’s working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter noted that COVID-19 infections have been reported in some 100 Amazon warehouses, that at least 3 Amazon workers have died from COVID-19 complications, and that an Amazon Vice President resigned in protest over the company’s handling of employees’ complaints. Other signers included Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris, and Tammy Baldwin. No Republicans signed the letter—not even Josh Hawley who has been very vocal about his concerns regarding what he sees as Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior. Amazon’s response is due by May 20th. Nutcase conspiracy theorist spits on 5G engineer who then contracts COVID-19 A conspiracy theorist in London ran up to Michael Demetroudi, an apprentice 5G engineer, yelled, “All you engineers are just trying to import the 5G in every single box”, and then spat in his face. Vice News reports that it wasn’t the first time Demetroudi has been harassed by lunatics for being a 5G engineer – one woman jumped out in front of his truck in the middle of the street and accused him of “spreading 5G from the top of his vehicle”. Another guy started yelling at him when he was just standing in line in his uniform, getting ready to buy a sandwich … I really don’t know what else to say. FCC fines Sinclair $48 million for fake news segments The FCC has fined Sinclair Broadcasting for $48 million for airing paid fake news segments 1,700 times across its stations nationwide in 2016. However, the FCC hasn’t revoked Sinclair’s licenses, even though Sinclair attempted to maintain control over stations it was supposed to divest as part of its proposed merger with Tribune back in 2018. Also in 2018, Sinclair was clowned for forcing its local newscasters nationwide to read the same script echoing President Trump’s exhortations about Fake News. Despite this pattern of conduct, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai refused to revoke Sinclair’s licenses, saying requests by advocates to do so were “politically motivated”.
Bio Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings (@MayaforCongress) is President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a certified B Corporation and mission-driven strategy firm, dedicated to helping community-based, philanthropic, academic, governmental, and corporate organizations achieve strategic objectives. The firm specializes in coalition building, public policy analysis and research, program development, project management, and government relations. Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings previously served as the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Vice President of Research and Programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Senior Resident Scholar at the National Urban League, Chief of Staff to former Congressman Charles Rangel, Professional Staff on the House Ways and Means Committee, and as a CBCF Legislative Fellow in the office of former Congressman Melvin Watt among other positions. A noted speaker and author, Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings’ areas of expertise include health, social insurance, economic security, education, technology, women’s issues and youth civic participation. She is the author of The Political Action Handbook: A How to Guide for the Hip-Hop Generation and co-editor of Strengthening Community: Social Insurance in a Diverse America among many other articles and chapters. Her frequent speaking engagements have included invitations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Economic Policy Institute, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Drexel University, Women Donors Network, National Association of Black Journalists, and Grantmakers in Aging among many other organizations. She has been quoted extensively in publications such as the Washington Post and New York Times and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and C-SPAN among other news outlets. The recipient of many awards, including the Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, she announced a run for Congress in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in November 2019 to succeed her late husband Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Resources Center for Global Policy Solutions News Roundup New York reports sharp uptick in domestic violence calls] Calls to the State of New York’s domestic violence hotline increased 30% in April, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Abusers are using the pandemic to justify keeping their victims isolated and have intensified the nature of their abuse from psychological or financial, to physical. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 and can be reached at 800-799-SAFE. 800-799-SAFE. That’s 800-799-7233. 800-799-7233. You can also text LOVEIS to 22522. That’s LOVEIS to 22522. Otherwise, you can log in to thehotline.org. That’s thehotline.org. Wyden, Eshoo introduce $5bn online child abuse bill Senator Ron Wyden and California Representative Anna Eshoo introduced a bill on Wednesday to stop the alarming spread of child sexual abuse material online. The Invest in Child Safety Act aims to invest $5bn to quadruple the number of FBI investigators focused on online child abuse and exploitation (from 30 to 120) and expand the capacity of state and local governments to investigate and prosecute the offenders and counsel the victims of online child abuse. The money would also help fund the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, create a White House oversight office, and require tech companies to keep evidence of online abuse for at least 6 months instead of 3. This new effort comes amidst a broader effort by lawmakers to limit Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which indemnifies tech companies for hosting content posted by third parties. California AG Becerra sues Uber and Lyft for misclassifying workers Invoking California Assembly Bill 5, which requires companies to treat workers as employees if they control how workers perform tasks of if the work is routine, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a coalition of city officials sued Uber and Lyft for misclassifying its workers as independent contractors. The bill took effect on January 1 but so far the companies have pushed back on compliance. The New York Times reports that Uber has even gone as far as saying they’re not required to pay their drivers as employees because technology is its core business, not ridesharing. The lawsuit also claims the companies’ noncompliance is harming other businesses who have begun implementing the law. Amazon VP resigns as company fires protesting workers Calling Amazon “chickenshit”, Tim Bray, a prominent Senior Engineer and VP at Amazon resigned “in dismay” in an open letter on his blog after the company fired employee organizers protesting the company’s treatment of warehouse workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers went on strike, along with workers from Target, FedEx, Whole Foods, and Instacart, to protest their employers’ weak efforts to protect them from the virus. At Amazon specifically, at least 75 employees across half the company’s 110 warehouses, have fallen ill. Uber lays off 14 percent of workforce Uber announced plans to lay off some 14% of its workforce, or 3,700 employees, as demand for ridesharing has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the layoffs will come from the CommOps and Recruiting teams. An internal memo suggested that more layoffs may be looming to as much as 20% of the current workforce, according to The Information. Airbnb has also announced plans to lay off approximately 25 percent of its workforce, or about 1,900 employees. Tumblr to remove posts that violate its hate speech policy Tumblr, founded in 2007, announced just the other day that it will remove all posts that violate its hate speech policy. Better late than never. “Researchers” at a Pennsylvania university claim to have solved the bias in AI problem Twitter dragged some so-called researchers at Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania after the university posted a link claiming they’d discovered a facial recognition method capable of detecting criminality with “80% accuracy and no racial bias”. One of researchers is a former NYPD police officer. The University pulled down the link. The paper will still be released but it’s doubtful to withstand scrutiny since many say 80% accuracy isn’t high enough for the technology to be considered bias-free.
Bio Robert Phillips (@rphillipsalluma) leads the strategic direction, fiscal stewardship, daily operations, and overall management of Alluma as CEO. A healthcare advocate and philanthropist, Robert joined the Board of Alluma (then Social Interest Solutions) in 2006, and became President of the Board and CEO in 2017. Robert has been acting on his commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of communities in the U.S. and California for over 25 years. He played a crucial role in strategic philanthropic and advocacy efforts to improve the health of children and youth of color, expand health coverage to all children in California, modernize enrollment into public programs using technology solutions, and implement electronic health records in community clinics. His leadership at Alluma builds from experience at the California Endowment, Sierra Health Foundation, PolicyLink, AFL-CIO, SEIU, and Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit and Strategy. Decade after decade he has been proactively gaining the tools to lead changemakers in building what we need to achieve the economic well-being we aspire to as a society. Resources Alluma News Roundup Sharing economy implodes as people stay home The sharing economy has imploded amidst sharply reduced demand for things like ride or apartment-sharing as Americans shelter in place. Lyft announced that it would be laying off 17% of its workforce, with more layoffs to come. Uber’s Chief Technology Officer stepped down as the company announced that it would be laying off some 20% of its workforce. And Axios reports that Airbnb took on two, separate, $1 billion loans in April alone. Study: Sextortionists netted some $500k in five months Sextortion has been on the rise according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Sophos. The company found that so-called sextortionists – criminals who blackmail people for thousands of dollars in exchange for not revealing their online porn habits and sexual predilections – have raked in some $500k. Interestingly, most people didn’t fall for the scheme which involved paying into a bitcoin wallet set up by the perpetrators, just .5% of targets paid into the wallet, according to the report. Still the amount of money these criminals raised from such a low response rate was enough to raise some red flags. Hate groups and tech Technology continues to enable hate speech and white supremacy as some investors have become unwitting funders of companies owned by white supremacists. The Tech Transparency project found about 125 militant groups on Facebook promoting a second Civil War, or “boogaloo”, as they refer to it. Also, Softbank has apparently invested in surveillance firm Banjo whose CEO, according to OneZero, apparently admitted to helping a KKK member shoot up a synagogue. According to the report, Damien Patton admitted to being involved with the Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Pretty sobering when you think about the fact that this is a surveillance firm he’s running. Banks and consumer advocates want a limited return to robocalling Banks and some consumer advocates, usually foes in their lobbying efforts, are both advocating for an exception to the general ban on robocalling Congress passed last year. The exception would allow robocalls in cases where the robocalls are designed to inform the public about financial relief. I think we can all anticipate the can of worms that would be opened there – give banks an inch and they’ll take a yard. Pretty soon banks will be calling you for any reason at all. Abortion via telemedicine Pam Belluck of the New York Times wrote a piece on pregnant women seeking abortions via telemedicine. A company call TelAbortion, which the F.D.A. has approved to run during the Trump administration, serves as something of a middleman between doctors and patients by facilitating telemedicine appointments and the mailing of abortion medication. Lots of questions regarding conflicts of law issues as each state has different abortion regulations. But you can find the story in the New York Times and we’ve linked to it in the show notes. Federal judge approves Baltimore spy initiative A Republican judge appointed by George W. Bush gave the greenlight to the City of Baltimore’s aerial surveillance program citing a “highly relevant” amount of violence “afflicting the city of Baltimore”. The ACLU had sued the City of Baltimore back on April 9th for the spy plane program arguing that it is an unconstitutional invasion of personal privacy and the 4th Amendment guarantee of freedom from unreasonable government searches. More in Baltimore Magazine. Democrats push to increase broadband access in next stimulus The Hill reports that Democrats in both chambers of Congress are pushing for more funding to improve broadband for people who can’t access internet service that’s fast enough to do things like participate in remote work or distance learning. Senators Blumenthal and Markey, as well as Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, participated in a livestream with several advocacy organizations arguing for lower broadband prices. The 12 organizations hosting the livestream also circulated a petition containing 110,000 signatures urging guaranteed access to broadband as part of the next stimulus. Fox News fires Diamond & Silk Fox News has fired controversial commentators Diamond & Silk, whose real names are Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, from their Fox Nation streaming service. The rabid Trump supporters have repeatedly promoted unsubstantiated conspiracy theories such as the claims that the World Health Organization is able to turn the coronavirus on and off at will, that Bill Gates is hiding the vaccine as a way to control the population, and that 5G causes the coronavirus to spread.
Bio Doug Brake (@dbrakeitif) directs the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s work on broadband and spectrum policy. He writes extensively and speaks frequently to lawmakers, the news media, and other influential audiences on topics such as next-generation wireless, rural broadband infrastructure, and network neutrality. Brake is a recognized broadband policy expert, having testified numerous times before Congress, state legislatures, and regulatory commissions, as well as serving on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Group. His written commentary has appeared in publications such as Democracy Journal, Ripon Forum, Morning Consult, Roll Call, The Hill, and RealClearPolicy, and he has provided analysis on air for broadcast outlets such as Bloomberg, NPR, CNBC, and Al Jazeera. He previously worked as a research assistant at the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado, and he interned as a Hatfield scholar at the FCC, assisting with the implementation of the advanced communications services section of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Brake holds a law degree from the University of Colorado Law School and a bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy from Macalester College. Resources Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) Robert D. Atkinson et al., Digital Policy for Physical Distancing: 28 Stimulus Proposals That Will Pay Long-Term Dividends Digital Policy for Physical Distancing: 28 Stimulus Proposals That Will Pay Long-Term Dividends (2020) (last visited Apr 21, 2020). News Roundup Event memorializing Holocaust Zoom-bombed with Hitler images Israeli Embassy in Germany The Israeli Embassy in Germany decided to hold its Holocaust memorial online this year, only to have it Zoom-bombed with images of Adolf Hitler. This is just one of several incidents involving Zoom calls, with a meeting held by African American students at UT Austin Zoom-bombed a few weeks ago with similar racist comments and imagery. Despite the well-publicized breaches, though, Zoom usage is way up, with the company’s CEO Eric Yuan reporting 300 million new users, or 50% higher, as the company’s share price rose some 12% this week. Human Rights groups try to protect kids online amidst EdTech commercialization efforts School districts across the nation have rolled out their distance learning programs with varying degrees of success. Fairfax County, Virginia Public Schools’ rollout was an embarrassing flop, for example, with students getting Zoom-bombed and users faced with persistent log in and access problems. But with the responsibility for education delegated to each state, how can students’ privacy and personal data be protected with so little uniformity? Who will manage the RFP process for school technology providers seeking to work with school districts? What are the standards that will be used to evaluate them? There aren’t any. So, as John Eggerton writes in Multichannel News, human rights groups are pushing for better oversight. TikTok has added additional parental controls, like disabling DMs for teens under age 16. But that doesn’t solve the problem of the China-based company potentially recording, predicting, and attempting to modify user behavior by conducting behavior and sentiment analysis over a lifetime, based on the profiles and videos their users have visited and how they have expressed themselves online since childhood, the effects of which we’ve yet to see. Nintendo confirmed 160,00 hacks last week, disabling users’ ability to log in, as the public shrugged off the hacks as a necessary tradeoff to enjoy our connected world. Fairfax County Police conducted a sting operation, arresting 30 adults who used the opportunity of the coronavirus lockdown to solicit underaged children for sex. While this effort is certainly a deterrent, many more perps, especially those who are technically literate, engage in the same behavior while evading detection, simply because lawmakers seem unable or unwilling to pass comprehensive privacy legislation to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of children’s data, much less their exploitation by criminals. Prisons are surveilling prisoners for discussions about coronavirus The Intercept reports that prisons are surveilling inmates’ phone calls for discussions about coronavirus. How doing so will help limit the spread of the deadly disease isn’t clear. But the technology was developed by a company called Verus, which was funded by Republican donor Elliott Brody according to the report. Cathy O’Neil: COVID-19 response threatens to automate ageism In an opinion piece for Bloomberg, ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ author Cathy O’Neil writes that biased data is causing healthcare providers to allocate resources away from the elderly, as they choose where to assign limited resources. She fears that nations will automate ageism in a way that preserves healthcare gaps between the young and elderly. O’Neil argues that not only is much of the data biased, but it is also incomplete, showing little to no justification at all for assigning lower priority to older patients based on their age. FCC denies extension of net neutrality comment period Not even during a pandemic is the current FCC able to show the slightest bit of graciousness for two cities among the hardest hit. Saying they had more than enough time to prepare comments, the FCC denied the Cities of Los Angeles and New York’s request to extend the comment deadline pertaining to those parts of the agency’s net neutrality repeal the DC Circuit sent back for it to reconsider. Newly unemployed find below-minimum-wage remote work on Amazon Newly unemployed workers are finding work on Amazon. The only problem is that it’s not the work in warehouses or delivering packages that most people think of. For many years, so-called “reviewers” have used Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” platform to perform tasks that pay a median wage of around 2.00 per hour, according to research from Carnegie Mellon University. Tasks include things like labeling pictures, text, or other items for large companies like Microsoft, according to Wired. So definitely some labor issues to think about there. Leaked Amazon pics show new efforts to track license plates Finally, Amazon has faced significant criticism of late regarding the surveillance components of its Ring camera and facial recognition program. But despite calls for reform, and in the absence of regulatory constraints, the company has continued developing this technology. Ars Technica reported last week that the company may now be tracking license plates. Several reports from the Washington Post and other sources have covered police departments’ widespread use of surveillance technology developed by Amazon, Google, Palantir and others. But as one can see, we’re essentially in a Wild West-type of era, similar to the early days of the internet, in which the supposed societal benefits, in this case public safety, are seen by tech moguls to outweigh our Constitutional rights.
Bio Michael Connor (@NYMichaelConnor) is the Executive Director of Open MIC, which he helped launch following a distinguished career as a media executive, entrepreneur and journalist. He has served as a consultant for more than a decade in the field of corporate responsibility and is the owner and Editor of Business Ethics magazine, an online publication. Michael is a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Correspondent and Senior Producer for ABC News. His television work has received numerous honors, including two national Emmys, a Columbia-duPont Award, a Writers Guild Award and a nomination for an Academy Award. He also held executive positions at Dow Jones & Co., where he led global development of the company’s TV and multimedia operations, served as CEO of a London-based pan-European business news channel and was Executive Producer of The Wall Street Journal Report, a weekly syndicated program. Michael currently serves on the board of the Center for an Urban Future, a NYC-based think tank dedicated to highlighting the critical opportunities and challenges facing New York and other cities. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. Resources Open MIC News Roundup Amazon fires employees critical of the company’s working conditions Amazon fired 3 employees last week who were critical of working conditions at the online retail behemoth which reached a market cap milestone of $1 trillion in January. The employees were fired for complaining about the company’s coronavirus response, urging the company to increase cleaning at its facilities, and joining public protests opposing the company’s practices. Organizers are calling for a mass employee walkout on April 24th. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth currently stands at $139.4 billion. Where are the unemployment checks? The U.S. unemployment rate is estimated at around 17%--the worst its been since the 1930s. The Nation’s unemployment insurance system, which was set up to compensate those who have lost their jobs, can’t keep up with the number of new unemployment claims surpassing the 20 million mark. A major reason for the problem is that the agency relies on COBOL, an outdated programming language that few programmers seem to know. So those who are unemployed have yet to receive their weekly checks, which, with the stimulus, can be as high as $1,000. ACLU sues City of Baltimore over aerial surveillance The City of Baltimore has reportedly entered into a contract that will allow private phone companies to conduct aerial surveillance and search for evidence. The pilot program claims to be designed to investigate murders, nonfatal shootings, armed robberies, and carjackings. The ACLU is challenging the program on the Fourth Amendment’s reasonable expectation of privacy guarantee and the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of association. Will students take the SAT online The SAT and ACT college entrance exams announced last week that they’d be developing digital versions of the test to allow prospective students to take them from home. But the SAT’s bosses at the College Board, namely its President, David Coleman, say that it’s unlikely the SAT would be conducted online. Over the past few years, many have question whether the SAT is even necessary, including Cornell, New York University, UT Austin, American University, and others, which have eliminated the requirement that students take the SAT as an admissions prerequisite. And many advocates point to the likelihood that administering the tests remotely would exacerbate current achievement gaps since the quality of testing environments would vary significantly between low-income and high-income test takers. In any case, the June, in person SAT has been cancelled. President seems confident, but does he have the data to back him up? President Trump has been adamant that he wants to reopen the government by May 1st. But where’s the data to back him up? The CDC has opened up their data to the public, but much of it is weeks old and conflicts with other data being conducted by research institutions. You can read more in Fedscoop. How much privacy should we give up to defeat COVID-19? Finally, Privacy concerns stemming from the use of mobility data to combat the novel coronavirus has opened up a passionate debate around the precedent policymakers are setting regarding the use of private data. Google and Apple are working together on technology intended to facilitate contact tracing so infected individuals and everyone they encountered in person can be notified and told to stay home. But not only will this require over a hundred thousand employees to carry out, it also would rely on mobility data, including Bluetooth data. We’ve linked to an interview with Berkman Center Executive Director Urs Gasser in which he explains some of the ways mobility data can be used to combat coronavirus and what the privacy implications are.
Bio Jessica Fulton (@JessicaJFulton) is the Vice President at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies where she engages in research and analysis to identify policies that advance the socioeconomic status of the Black community. She also manages the Joint Center's Policy Incubator. Prior to joining the Joint Center, she served as External Relations Director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She has also held positions at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Chicago Urban League. Jessica is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and serves as Board Chair of The Black Swan Academy. Jessica earned a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and a Master's Degree in Economic Policy Analysis from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at Depaul University. Resources Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Related Resources Domestic violence rises worldwide with COVID-19 lockdowns The New York Times reports that domestic violence cases are rising around the world, citing data provided by domestic violence hotlines, which have seen an uptick of reports over the last month. Rihanna and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have stepped in, though, by contributing a combined $4.2 million to a new effort to address domestic abuse. Jack Dorsey also announced this week that he’ll be contributing $1 billion of his own money to the coronavirus fight. Coronavirus hampers public transportation Axios reported this week that public transportation systems are struggling to hold on as coronavirus lockdowns and a rise in coronavirus cases among transit employees, have all but crippled transit systems across the country--causing massive losses in revenue—to the tune of some $38 billion combined. The transit crisis threatens essential workers in particular, many of which are people ofc color. Apple/Google launch corona virus tracking system Apple and Google have joined forces to launch a system that uses Bluetooth to track the spread of coronavirus. The companies plan to share the data with government and health agencies. But the tracking would be opt-in only and only public health officials would be permitted to use the data. The technology works not by tracking location data, but by tracking individuals to better determine how the disease travels from person to person. Ars Technica: Verizon is refusing to offer DSL to low-income users Ars Technica reports that while Comcast has the best program for low income consumers during the coronavirus pandemic, Verizon, Charter and other carriers are coming up short. While Verizon is offering steeply discounted internet service, it’s only available to FiOS subscribers, and not consumers who use DSL. Verizon says its DSL service is too slow, since its making its discounted service available to Lifeline consumers only, and that its DSL service doesn’t meet the FCC’s minimum speed requirement. The availability of high speed internet service around the country is inconsistent, with different regions having more access than others, which highlights discriminatory redlining. Landlord app flags delinquent tenants during COVID-19 Naborly, an app that helps landlords screen tenant applicants, is engaging in some curious tactics during this uncertain time of mass unemployment. As the number of unemployment claims has soared in recent weeks, the company has been flagging tenants who haven’t paid rent since April 1st. North Carolina is looking into expanding its online voting system The state of North Carolina is looking to set up and improve its online voting system, to allow voters to cast their ballots without leaving home. Activists are concerned about privacy violations and the potential for hacks and voter suppression.
‘Communications Policy in the COVID-19 Era’ with Geoffrey Starks (Ep. 225) FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks joined Joe Miller to discuss the communications priorities his office is focused on amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Bio Geoffrey Starks (@geoffreystarks) was nominated to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission by the President and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on January 2, 2019. He was sworn into office on January 30, 2019. Previously, Commissioner Starks served as Assistant Bureau Chief in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, Senior Counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he received the Attorney General Award for Exceptional Service—the highest award a DOJ employee can receive. Prior to his entry into federal public service, Commissioner Starks was an attorney at the law firm Williams & Connolly, clerked for the Honorable Judge Duane Benton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, served as a legislative staffer in the Illinois State Senate, and worked as a financial analyst. Commissioner Starks is a native of Kansas and was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Commissioner Starks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College with high honors and a law degree from Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Lauren, and their two children. Resources Starks, G. (2020). To Fight Coronavirus, Millions More Americans Need Internet Access. The New York Times available at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/internet-broadband-coronavirus.html. Miriam's Kitchen Larkin Street Youth Services Center Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications (FCC) News Roundup Zoom under fire for privacy breaches Zoom, which has been the darling of remote workers in recent weeks, is under fire for privacy violations. A Zoom user in California sued the company, claiming it improperly shared their data with Facebook. Also, So-called Zoom-bombers have been interrupting meetings breaching Zoom’s security systems. In one incident, black students at the University of Texas at Austin were conducting a meeting on the platform, only to be interrupted by someone making racial slurs. The FBI has reported “Zoombombing” incidents nationwide and New York Attorney General Letitia James wrote to Zoom leadership requesting a faster response to these and other security breaches. Remote learning challenges special education students and those without internet School systems across the country have launched remote learning platforms for their students in response to coronavirus-related school closures. But remote learning poses unique challenges for those without internet access at home. And the $2 trillion stimulus empowered Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to cut funding and support for accommodations for special education students. NY State Court of Appeals: Postmates workers are entitled to unemployment benefits The New York Court of Appeals, the State of New York’s highest court, has ruled that Postmates delivery workers are entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits. The decision has implications for gig workers throughout New York, including Uber and Lyft drivers. New York State Attorney General Letitia James applauded the decision. How much access to data should the government have to respond to COVID-19 Multiple reports found last week that federal officials are prying into cellphone tracking data to assess how the coronavirus is spreading. Advocates argue that data collection is necessary, but guardrails should be established to ensure that federal officials don’t use the data as a backdoor to conduct warrantless surveillance, which they have been angling to do for some time. Tech companies struggle to keep up with more sophisticated tactics to undermine elections Tech companies are scrambling to respond to ever-evolving risks to the electoral system. The New York Times reports that a number of tactics that Facebook, Twitter, and Google began implementing to defend against misinformation online, are being tested by politicians themselves, with Michael Bloomberg’s campaign investing directly in Instagram meme accounts promoting his campaign, for example. The companies spent billions to deal with threats happening in plain sight, the most well-known examples being those conducted by Russia with the assistance of Cambridge Analytica and prominent Republicans. But the stealthier approaches taken by bad actors 4 years later underscores the need to invest even more resources to address the newest attacks. FCC approves $300 million telehealth initiative The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a $300 million telehealth initiative designed to ensure that folks in remote areas can access telehealth applications while they’re stuck at home. But the funding is directed toward providers themselves. And most grants will be for less than $1 million. Part of the money will also be used to address remote access issues that have plagued the country for decades. DC District Court: Journalists and investigators can legally probe sites for algorithmic bias The US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled last week that journalists and others are free to investigate platforms for signs of algorithmic bias, even if it means submitting false information to the site that would violate the site’s terms of service. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the pre-enforcement lawsuit on behalf of two Northeastern University computer science professors, to prevent the Department of Justice from attempting to use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prevent investigators from using evasive tactics to assess the extent to which a platform engages in algorithmic bias. The Department of Justice argued that such violations would violate a platform’s First Amendment Rights. But the decision turned on whether the site had set up adequate permissions such that an investigator, scholar, or journalist could be found to have exceeded the granted permission level. The Court found that breaching terms of service agreements doesn’t rise to the high level of permission granted by, say, an authentication gate, which adds another level of permission by requiring a password.
Bio Ashkhen Kazaryan (@Ashkhen) is the Director of Civil Liberties at TechFreedom. She manages and develops policy projects on free speech, artificial intelligence, surveillance reform and sharing economy. Ashkhen also handles outreach and coalition building for the organization. Ashkhen is an Internet Law and Policy Fellow and an expert at the Federalist Society’s Emerging Technology Working Group, part of the Regulatory Transparency Project. Ashkhen received her Specialist in Law degree summa cum laude from Lomonosov MSU in 2012, Masters of Law Degree from Yale Law School and is completing her PhD in Law at the Law School of Lomonosov Moscow State University (thesis on Legal Regulation of Art Markets). At Yale Law she served as an Articles Editor of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Senior Editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review and Editor of the Yale Journal of Law and Technology while also being Co-Chair of the Public Interest Fellowship. Ashkhen worked as the leading legal analyst at the High Intellectual Property Court, drafting decisions of the Presidium of the Court, creating precedents, including on information intermediaries and use of trademarks. In 2013-2014 she was a Fox Fellow at Yale. She is a proud supporter of New England Patriots and Broadway musical enthusiast. Resources TechFreedom News Roundup Amidst COVID-19 epidemic, carriers challenged to balance network demands against providing needed access With millions of Americans now either working remotely or using the internet while they’re unemployed, the nation’s Internet Service Providers – or should I say, their workers—are working overtime to keep the networks going and traffic flowing freely online in order to meet demand. Edge providers like Disney and Netflix have cut bandwidth in Europe after regulators there stepped in and, here in the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission has opened additional spectrum for the carriers. The FCC has also relaxed a rule that prohibited carriers from gifting services to E-Rate subsidy recipients like schools and hospitals. Of specific concern to policymakers are rural residents without access who are unable to take advantage of remote healthcare options via high speed broadband. But the FCC has, up until now, lacked robust data regarding internet access in rural areas -- President Trump signed the Broadband DATA Act earlier this week, which will address some of the data challenges. But advocates like Matt Wood at Free Press are also pushing for better pricing regulations, an issue that affects both urban and rural areas, he told Gizmodo, as the average price of internet service in the United States surpasses that of countries like Russia, China, and Syria. Carriers’ responses to the increased demand brought on by coronavirus and relative high price of broadband have varied. In New York City, for example, Chalkbeat reported that ISPs that serve the area, including Charter and Optimum, have denied access to families with delinquent accounts, even if their children need an internet connection to participate in remote instruction while their schools are closed. Verizon, on the other hand, is offering free Fios and wireless service so customers who have been ordered to shelter in place can access entertainment and educational programming. Starting April 1, Verizon will also grant new customers access to its premium tier of movie channels, like HBO and Showtime, free for 30 days. Resilience of gig market tested Turning to the gig market … As you probably already know the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims reached an astonishing 3.3 million last week, the highest weekly unemployment rate ever, by a long shot. Previously, the worst weekly unemployment rate happened in 1982, when weekly jobless claims once hit 695,000 — still well under a million. But gig workers are being hit particularly hard, such as Uber and Lyft drivers faced with decreased demand for car service. And gig workers overall, who receive fewer employment perks and pay than full-timers working from home, have been laid off and, if they are 1099 independent contractors, aren’t able to claim unemployment insurance. When we look to corporate actors, there are good actors and some not so good. Google, for example, announced that it would extend the contracts of its temporary workforce by 60-days. The company is also investing $800 million in programs to help Small and Mid-sized businesses working to address the COVID-19 epidemic. Uber and Lyft on the other hand, according to the New York Times, have been promoting a California ballot initiative that would undue legislation signed into law there last year which would entitle workers whose work is controlled by their employers, like Uber and Lyft drivers, to qualify as employees, irrespective of whether they are W-2 or 1099 workers. The $2 trillion stimulus bill the president signed into law on Friday extends unemployment benefits to gig workers. However, advocates see this as only a band-aid—once it falls off, then what? Lacking health insurance, once Uber driver reportedly died from COVID-19 after he was exposed to a sick passenger. Turning to the ISPs, Charter isn’t giving bonus pay to workers who expose themselves to the coronavirus when they enter customers’ homes. What they are giving them though is a $25 restaurant gift card – no soap to wash their hands before they eat, though. That’s in the restaurant bathroom already. Twitter deletes Federalist post calling for mass coronavirus infection Twitter deleted a post from the Federalist, the right-wing website, for retweeting a post by a fake dermatologist who’d been advocating for mass exposure to the coronavirus. Twitter also temporarily blocked the account. FBI warns of fake CDC emails regarding COVID-19 The FBI warned the public about cybercriminals exploiting the coronavirus epidemic by sending fake emails that appear to be coming from the Centers for Disease Control or other healthcare organizations. So be careful to check and double check not just the From field, but also the meta data to determine exactly who the email is coming from before you open it. If you’ve subscribed to newsletters from healthcare organizations, you can also filter them to a separate folder automatically so that anything appearing to be from them in the regular inbox looks suspicious by default when you’re reviewing your messages.
‘The Digital Street -- Criminal Justice and Tech' with Jeff Lane (Ep. 223) Rutgers’ Jeff Lane joined Joe Miller to shed light on “the digital street”—how social media shapes the criminal justice system in Harlem and beyond. Bio Jeffrey Lane (@TheDigitalStre1) studies communication and technology as it relates to urban life, criminal justice, and social inequalities. He approaches these topics ethnographically by getting to know the same people and situations in person and online. Lane is the author the award-winning The Digital Street (Oxford University Press, 2019), a neighborhood study of social media use in Harlem (NYC) -- the first book about neighborhood street life in the digital age. Lane’s research has informed a needs assessment and a strategic plan for juvenile gangs convened by New York’s Center for Court Innovation. Lane's previous book, Under the Boards (University of Nebraska Press) focuses on the production of race, masculinity, and popular culture in the basketball industry. Resources Jeffrey Lane, The Digital Street (2018). Related Resources 'Palantir and the Police' with George Joseph (Ep. 145)(Opens in a new browser tab) 'The Racial Implications of Florida’s School Safety Portal' with Ora Tanner (Ep. 205)(Opens in a new browser tab) News Roundup Lawmakers weigh remote education options for students w/out internet access Lawmakers and educators are considering how to provide internet access to children who don’t have it, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies amidst crippling uncertainty as to when Americans will be able to come out from under house arrest, and when schools will reopen. On the federal level, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has been underscoring the need for universal access. Democratic Senators Klobuchar, Peters, and Tester urged the FCC in a letter last week to take actions to ensure that parents at least know about the options that are available to them for accessing high speed internet service if they need it. Federal Communications Commission data indicates that some 21 million Americans do not have access to the internet at home. The Senators noted in their letter that some 12 million children lack access to the internet at home. We here at WashingTECH have been advocating on the local level here in the DC area for stronger partnerships between groups like the National Parent Teachers Association and school districts to develop buddy systems that pair students who lack access with students who have it. Volunteer parents serving as host families could receive a stipend. Dems propose mail-in voting, not online for coronavirus-era elections Several Democratic Senators are proposing mail-in ballots ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Under the bill, the National Disaster and Emergency Relief Ballot Act (NDEBA), all voters would be entitled to obtain absentee ballots. The bill also provides for 20 days of early voting in all states. A new Brennan Center study found that maintaining the credibility of the U.S. electoral system during the pandemic, which would include measures outlined in the NDBEA, would cost taxpayers some $2 billion. Amazon shuts down New York City warehouse over coronavirus Amazon has shut down its Queens warehouse after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. The shutdown will be temporary but if one goes down, many can go down. And then what? An Amazon spokesperson told the Hill that the employee is under quarantine and that they sent their employees home with full pay. The company also announced that it would stop shipping nonessential items to warehouses and that it plans to hire another 100,000 workers to handle the spike in demand. Undocumented children increasingly facing judges online The Associated Press reports that more and more children who were detained at the border and separated from their parents, are not only having to face immigration judges alone, usually without counsel because they’re not entitled to it, but now they’re going to have to face them through video screens. The AP piece describes 7 children standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” in Houston, talking to a judge located a thousand miles away on a glitchy video link. Nearly 4 thousand children are currently in federal custody. A number of these children crossed the U.S./Mexico border alone. Elon Musk pledges to provide ventilators to those who need them Finally, you know there’s a ventilator shortage. Well Elon Musk has said his company would produce ventilators in the event of a shortage in hospitals. Just last week, Musk said coronavirus concerns were dumb. So it’s good to know he’s come to his senses.
Bio A Boston University School of Social Work faculty member since 2017, Rob Eschmann (@robeschmann) is a scholar and teacher whose interests include educational inequality, community violence, racism, social media and youth wellbeing. His research seeks to uncover individual, group and intuitional-level barriers to racial and economic equity—and he pays special attention to the heroic efforts everyday people make to combat those barriers. For Eschmann, this work is a part of the larger freedom struggle. “The function of racism is to reproduce racial inequality, but in the 21st century the devices of racism are often hidden behind color-neutral laws or friendly interactions,” he notes. “Highlighting the mechanisms of racism, therefore, can demonstrate the continuing significance of race, raise consciousness, and promote and strengthen resistance efforts.” His recent publications include “Unmasking Racism: Students of Color and Expressions of Racism in Online Spaces,” which appeared in the journal Social Problems in 2019, and “Rethinking Race,” a chapter in the book Education & Society (University of California Press, 2019). In addition to his appointment at BUSSW, Eschmann serves as an affiliated faculty member in the BU College of Arts & Sciences in the Department of Sociology and the African American Studies Program. Resources Robert D. Eschmann, Unmasking Racism: Students of Color and Expressions of Racism in Online Spaces (Society for the Study of Social Problems, Oxford University Press, 2019). News Roundup Facebook and Twitter halt Russian election interference campaign targeting African Americans Facebook and Twitter announced late Thursday that they had taken down multiple accounts and pages that were in the process of executing Russian interference campaigns targeting African Americans. Unlike during the 2016 election when Russia conducted similar operations from inside Russia, these latest intrusions prove Russia’s persistence and evolving sophistication. Russia disguised these latest interference efforts by conducting them from within Africa, namely Nigeria and Ghana, by recruiting operatives there to spread vitriol and suspicion around topics like Black Lives Matter, voting, and police brutality. The Hill reports that Facebook dismantled 49 accounts, 69 pages, and 85 Instagram accounts. Twitter said it removed 71 accounts that purported to be operated from within the United States. FTC warns Cardi B for not disclosing paid social media ads The Hill reports that the Federal Trade Commission has warned Cardi B and 10 other celebrities about not disclosing paid ads for their endorsements of things like supposed weight loss teas on their social media channels. The FTC didn’t file formal charges against the influencers. However, it has required them to provide a list of actions they plan to take to be more transparent about their sources of funding. Sen. Kamala Harris calls out Facebook for continued negligence regarding misinformation ahead of the U.S. Census So an ad ran on Facebook that appeared to be a link to the 2020 U.S. Census. But when users clicked the link, they were redirected to Trump’s campaign website. Senator Kamala Harris blasted Facebook in a letter last week for failing to stem the tide of misinformation on the platform, even misinformation that violates its own policies. Nancy Pelosi also blasted the social media behemoth. Harris pointed specifically to Facebook’s dismissive approach toward recommendations made by civil rights groups to address the effects of Census misinformation on people of color and other marginalized groups who are vulnerable to being undercounted. Facebook has since removed the ads. But what were the lessons learned back in January when Facebook was forced to remove misleading ads about the coronavirus? Facebook continues to mismanage information that appears on its site and isn’t being held accountable in any sort of lasting and effective way. Kamala Harris noted as much when she said the company’s response to misinformation about the Census will presage how it responds to the 2020 election. Last month the Atlantic predicted that misinformation will be a defining factor of Trump’s re-election campaign. That certainly appears to be the case thus far. Twitter caught in the middle Regarding Twitter … First, its CEO Jack Dorsey will stay on for the time being. Prior to the announcement, there had been speculation that activist investment firm Elliot Management would require Dorsey to step down due in part to perceived conflicts of interest because of his role as CEO at both Twitter and Square. But Twitter was also caught between Republicans and Democrats as it came under pressure to take down or flag a video that Trump retweeted which appeared to depict Joe Biden endorsing Trump’s re-election campaign. Twitter ultimately tagged the video as manipulated. But then a couple of days later, the Trump campaign followed up about an ad posted by the Biden campaign which included footage of Trump calling protesters on both sides of the deadly Charlottesville riot, which included far right protesters opposing the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, as “fine people”. The Biden ad took that quote and made it appear as though the president was only referring to racist protesters. Cybercriminals and coronavirus Finally, a new report from cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike finds that cybercriminals, including a group connected to China called PIRATE PANDA, are taking advantage of people’s fear and confusion about the coronavirus. The report notes that just like the coronavirus, the attacks are moving East to West, becoming steadily more sophisticated as they progress. The security breaches are designed to cajole unsuspecting users to open email attachments and take other actions consistent with previous criminal operations that malicious hackers have conducted against unsuspecting users.
Bio Bärí A. Williams is an attorney and startup advisor, previously served as Vice President of Legal, Policy, and Business Affairs at All Turtles, an artificial intelligence studio. Her primary practice areas include emerging technology transactions, privacy and data protection, and terms of service. She is the former Head of Business Operations Management for North America at StubHub, where she was responsible for business planning and operations to manage and oversee technical internal and external metrics, product innovation, and partnerships and drive P&L results across the company. Prior to StubHub, Bärí was a senior commercial attorney at Facebook supporting internet.org connectivity efforts, building drones, satellites, and lasers, and supporting the company's supply chain. She also successfully took on the passion project of creating and implementing Facebook’s Supplier Diversity Program, launched in October 2016. She has served as an advisor to startups in the enterprise and e-commerce space, including Blavity (and AfroTech), Bandwagon, Owl, and Telepath. Bärí is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (BA, Mass Communications), St. Mary’s College of California (MBA), the University of California, Los Angeles (MA, African-American Studies), and the University of California, Hastings College of Law (JD). She is also a published author with bylines in the New York Times, WIRED, Fortune, and Fast Company. She recently gave congressional testimony on bias in AI in financial services in Feb. 2020. Her book, Diversity in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Interviews to Jumpstart Conversations About Identity, Privilege, and Bias, will be released on March 31. Resources Human Interest Bärí Williams, Diversity in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Interviews to Jumpstart Conversations about Identity, Privilege, and Bias (2020) Bärí A. Williams News Roundup Tech responds to coronavirus Tech giants are responding to coronavirus fears as Amazon reported that an employee contracted the illness. Facebook has cancelled its annual participation in SXSW. The social media giant has also pledged to give the World Health Organization as many free ads as needed to combat the virus. And Google has canceled its annual I/O developer conference which was scheduled for May 12th and 14th. Google has also halted international travel for employees. NYPD to remove innocents’ DNA profiles from its database The New York City Police Department has said that it will remove DNA profiles of individuals who haven’t been convicted of any crimes. The New York Times reports that some 82,000 DNA profiles in the NYPD’s database belong to non-criminals. NYPD had detained and collected DNA evidence from kids as young as 12. The Times reports that officers once offered a 12-year-old a soda during questioning then collected the boy’s DNA from the straw. Many other individuals who were merely questioned, who weren’t convicted or in many cases not even arrested, also had their DNA collected. The database will be purged in the coming weeks and, going further, the NYPD will collect DNA from children only in cases involving felonies, sex crimes, gun charges, and hate crimes. House seeks info from Ring on surveillance Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy wrote Amazon VP of Public Policy Brian Huseman requesting extensive information regarding its home security subsidiary Ring’s partnerships with law enforcement to surveil communities with Ring’s footage. Back in August, Ring began disclosing the police departments it has been working with which, as of today, includes some 967 police departments nationwide. In the DC area, participating police departments include Takoma Park, Bladensburg, Seat Pleasant, Prince George’s in Maryland, and, in Virginia, Alexandria’s Police Department is working with Ring. Judge: Instacart cannot misclassify workers as independent contractors A San Diego judge has found that Instacart cannot misclassify workers as independent contractors. In granting a preliminary injunction against Instacart, the judge ruled to enforce the new AB5 law which seeks to ensure that gig workers are classified as employees in order to access benefits and have the right to form a union. NBC News has more. Democrats split on cybersecurity The Hill reports that Democrats are split on what to do about reauthorizing the USA Freedom Act, the cybersecurity bill put in place following Edward Snowden’s revelation that the National Security Agency was storing millions of Americans’ phone numbers. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler are spearheading efforts to reauthorize the bill while more liberal Democrats, including Zoe Lofgren, are seeking more privacy protections. Many of Schiff’s allies during the impeachment hearing are now opposing his efforts to reauthorize the cyber bill and, interestingly, the White House has also weighed in saying the President, including Attorney General Barr, wants the full bill reauthorized without changes. The disputed changes involve the extent to which there should be more transparency in how the FISA court operates with regard to surveillance.
Bio Gary Radburn (@VRGaryatDell) is the Director of VR/AR solutions at Dell. As part of this role, he works closely with Dell customers on VR/AR deployments and help to establish Dell’s VR Centers of Excellence with locations around the world for businesses and consumers to experience and learn more about VR in the real world. He has held various roles across the technology industry over the last three decades, ranging from Engineering to Sales & Marketing, and has experience across all aspects of designing products and solutions and bringing them to market. Resources Radburn, G. (2018). Real Innovators Use VR for Social Good. [Blog] Direct@Dell. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020]. News Roundup Washington Post report on Facebook/GOP coordination doesn't bode well for policy pros of color A Washington Post report by Craig Timberg doesn't bode well for lawyers of color and Democrats seeking to work in Facebook's policy office here in Washington. According to anonymous sources who contributed to the story, GOP operative Joel Kaplan, who dated Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg when they attended Harvard together, has no intention anytime soon of adding Democrats to his policy team. Only Republicans are driving Facebook's policymaking efforts, often acceding to Trump administration demands by enacting policies like the ban on removing political ads from the platform in which politicians make false statements. Last year civil rights leaders met with Mark Zuckerberg at his home in Palo Alto in an attempt to persuade him to remove such ads – he refused, likely after taking Kaplan's advice into account. So the disproportionate power dynamic at Facebook is just as out of whack as compared to its user base, as Congress is to the populace: Seventy-eight percent of lawmakers in Congress are white even though whites comprise only 61% of the total U.S. population. So, is Facebook using politics as a pretense for racial and gender discrimination? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe Democratic women and people of color who are listening should apply for jobs in Facebook’s policy shop and, when they don't get them, sue them and see what happens. Following resistance, UCLA bans campus-wide facial recognition The University of California at Los Angeles has banned the use of facial recognition surveillance on campus, Fight for the Future reported on Medium last week. The decision came amidst growing backlash against the 45,000 student university including a nationwide campaign to prevent the spread of facial recognition across college campuses. Schools like MIT, Harvard, Brown, and Columbia have issued public statements stating that they would not institute a facial recognition program. But UCLA decided to go ahead and see if it could roll out an always-on biometric scanning and identification system anyway, until it ultimately caved to pressure from the UCLA community. Here in DC, GW, and American have stated publicly that they might use facial recognition technology on campus. But the University of Maryland, on the other hand, has said they won't. UVA has also said that it will not implement facial recognition as part of its campus safety program. Kickstarter workers vote to unionize Engineers and other white-collar workers at Kickstarter have voted to form a union, according to the New York Times, becoming one of the first tech companies to do so. The vote was by a narrow margin – 46 to 37 – but the decision to unionize has put to rest many months of back-and-forth and tension at the company. Feds are raiding tech companies for medical records According to a new investigative report by Thomas Brewster at Forbes, federal law enforcement officials have been raiding tech companies to obtain their users' medical records data. And this isn't just DNA data, either -- We're all too familiar with the risks associated with giving our DNA data to companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com. But this is about law enforcement obtaining warrants to access your medical history, including any medications you're taking, by showing the warrant to a company called DrChrono, which specializes in warehousing this information online. Seattle city Councilwoman Kshama Sawant wants to tax Amazon to address housing shortages The Guardian reports that Seattle city Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced a bill last week that would impose a 1.7% payroll tax on Amazon, and other companies among Seattle's top 3%, generating up to a as much as $300 million per year. Three-quarters of the proceeds from the fund would go towards building affordable, publicly-owned homes. The remaining 25% would go to convert homes from using oil and gas, to clean electric energy. Target’s delivery app Shipt is hostile towards employees According to a new report in Motherboard – Shipt - Target's delivery app – is retaliating against employees for posting comments or criticisms about Shipt's labor practices. One Shipt employee reported publicly that, after Shipt tweaked its algorithm, she went from earning $200 per week to $0-25 per week. Shipt then deactivated her account. Some employee accounts have been deactivated for no apparent reason, leaving employees unaware of and on pins and needles wondering when the next shoe will drop. Northeastern University Study: No bias in YouTube Comment Moderation Ars Technica reports that a Northeastern University study has concluded that there is no apparent political bias in content moderation on YouTube. For the last several years, Republicans including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have claimed that platforms like YouTube are biased against conservative viewpoints. But after reviewing some 84,068 comments on 268 YouTube videos, the researchers found that the moderation of hate speech by right-leaning commenters versus that of left-leaning commenters was about the same.
Bio John Godfrey (@SamsungDC) is Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Samsung Electronics America. Based in Washington, D.C., he leads Samsung’s public policy team in engagement with government and industry, focusing on communications policy, digital television, wireless spectrum, health care, environment, broadband, cybersecurity, privacy and other areas. An active participant in the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Godfrey is a member and past chair of the CTA Foundation’s Board of Trustees and CTA’s Video Division Board, among other groups. He is also a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the standards developing organization for digital television broadcasting. Prior to joining Samsung in 2006, Godfrey was with Pioneer North America, Sony Electronics, the Information Technology Industry Council, the National Research Council, and SRI International. Godfrey has a Master's degree in Telecommunications from George Washington University, a Master's degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and a Bachelor's degree in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, artist Ellen Hill, have two sons and live in Rockville, Maryland. Resources 5G is Here (Samsung, 2020) News Roundup DOJ Charges Chinese Military Officials for Equifax Hack The Department of Justice indicted 4 Chinese People’s Liberation Army officials on Monday, charging them with 9 counts for the 2017 Equifax hack that led to the theft and sale of some 145 million Americans’ data. US Attorney General William Barr noted that this represents nearly half of the American population. The indictment includes charges for stealing trade secrets. Ancestry.com refuses warrant for member data DNA platform Ancestry.com refused to honor valid arrest warrants in 8 out of 9 cases last year, according to the company’s 2019 transparency report. Competitor 23andMe has also promised to keep its DNA database private. Ancestry.com’s DNA database is estimated to contain the DNA information of some 16 million people. Federal Court approves T-Mobiler/Sprint merger The US District Court of the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, approved the $26.5 billion T-Mobile/Sprint merger last week, over the objection of 15 Attorneys General, including California AG Xavier Becerra and NY AG Letitia James. Presiding Judge Victor Romero wrote that the merger is not likely to lessen competition. The merged company is required to divest resources to satellite provider Dish ensure Dish becomes a viable competitor. Amazon removes books written by Nazis Finally, Amazon has removed 2 books written by authors David Duke, who is a former KKK Grand Wizard, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi party. Some booksellers say that Amazon’s policies are opaque and have vocalized opposition to the removal of these titles.
‘How Data Mapping Can Save Moms’ Lives’ with Licy Do Canto (Ep. 218) Bio As Managing Director of BCW Healthcare in the firm’s Public Affairs and Crisis practice, Licy Do Canto (@LicyMD) leads policy and public affairs strategy for the firm’s healthcare clients in North America across public and corporate affairs, government relations, communications and reputation management on a diverse and broad range of healthcare issues. He also oversees the BCW Healthcare Team in Washington, D.C. An expert in health and healthcare policy, with twenty five years of experience at the national, state and local levels across the nonprofit, philanthropic, corporate and government sectors, Licy is an accomplished, values-driven leader with unparalleled experience in developing and leading integrated public affairs campaigns combining strategic communications, public relations, political and legislative initiatives, policy, coalition building, grassroots/grasstops efforts and direct advocacy. Before joining BCW, Licy built and lead a nationally recognized minority owned strategic public affairs and communications firm, served as Health Practice Chair and Principal at The Raben Group, was the Chief Executive Officer of The AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families, and managed and helped set the leadership direction for strategic policy, communications and advocacy investments in executive and senior government affairs roles for the American Cancer Society and the nation’s Community Health Centers. Before joining the private sector, Licy served as health policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and served in several stints in the Office of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. During his extensive tenure in Washington, D.C., Licy has played a leading role in efforts to draft, shape and enact many pieces of legislation and policy affecting public health, health care safety net and the U.S. health care system. Licy is a graduate of Duke University and holds a certificate in public health leadership from the University of North Chapel Hill—School of Public Health and Kenan Flagler Business School, and is the recipient of multiple industry awards and citations for his leadership, policy and public affairs acumen, including being named to The Hill Newspaper list of most influential leaders in Washington, D.C. consecutively over the last ten years. Resources BCW Global S.3152 – Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act News Roundup Zuckerberg says new content policies will ‘piss off a lot of people’ Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues his crusade to be the standard-bearer of free speech even if his company’s policies “piss off a lot of people”. Zuckerberg told CNN that he plans to draw a line in the sand when it comes to censorship as he thinks Facebook is taking on too much of that responsibility. He says that the company will continue to remove the most harmful content and also discussed plans to ramp up encryption on Facebook’s messaging service. Zuckerberg has remained steadfast in maintaining Facebook’s policy of leaving up false statements by politicians in their ads. Study: Using pre-trial risk assessment tools to book criminal defendants increases the likelihood they’ll considered a flight risk Courts routinely use pre-trial assessment tools to determine the likelihood that a defendant will flee if they’re released on bail. The higher the flight risk, the more pre-trial supervision the court will impose. The data these tools rely on includes data on past arrests. But a new study from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and San Francisco Public Defenders Office notes that many of those arrests lead to acquittals. But despite the acquittals, the study found, courts recommended a higher level of pre-trial supervision in 27% of cases that include prior arrest data in their pre-trial assessment tools. ACLU: Puerto Rico’s online voting plan is too risky The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing back against legislation in Puerto Rico that aims to bring voting fully online by 2028. The ACLU is asking Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez to veto the bill after it passes the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, which is expected to happen this week. Lawyers for the century-old advocacy organization argue that the plan is extremely susceptible to hacks and poses significant cybersecurity risks that threaten to undermine Puerto Ricans’ trust in the government. House Oversight Committee seeks answers from dating apps on kids’ privacy The House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy launched an investigation into dating platforms’ failure to prevent underage users from signing up. Members of the subcommittee wrote Bumble, Grindr, The Meet Group, the Match Group, Tinder, and OkCupid seeking documents pertaining to any policies they have in place to prevent underage users pretending that they’re over 18 and sex offenders from lurking on the platforms. The documents are due to the subcommittee on February 13. Health records app pushed opioids Bloomberg reports that in the midst of the opioid crisis, between 2016 and 2019, electronic health records company Practice Fusion pushed alerts encouraging opioid treatment on 230 million separate occasions. A Vermont federal court says the company has agreed to pay $145 million in civil and criminal damages.
'How Media Policies Have Helped the Far Right' w/ Anne Nelson (Ep. 217) The author of 'Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right' and Joe Miller discuss how media public policy has helped the Right seem bigger than they are. Bio Anne Nelson (@nelsona) is the author of ‘Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right’ (Macmillan, 2019) and lecturer in the fields of international affairs, media and human rights. As a journalist she covered the conflicts in El Salvador and Guatemala, and won the Livingston Award for best international reporting from the Philippines. She served as the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 1995 she became the director the international program at the Columbia School of Journalism, where she created the first curriculum in human rights reporting. Since 2003 Nelson has been teaching at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where her classes and research explore how digital media can support the underserved populations of the world through public health, education and culture. Nelson is a widely published author. Her 2009 book “Red Orchestra” describes the way media was used for both propaganda and resistance in Nazi Germany, and was published to wide acclaim in the U.S. and Germany. In October 2017, Simon & Schuster published her book “Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris,” telling the story of a rescue network in Paris that saved hundreds of Jewish children from deportation. The Wall Street Journal praised the way the book “vividly dramatizes the stakes of acting morally in a time of brutality.” It was named a finalist in the National Jewish Book Awards. The work was published as “Codename: Suzette” in the UK, and as “La Vie Heroique de Suzanne Spaak” by Robert Laffont in France. It is available as an audiobook, read by Nelson, and was released in paperback in October 2018. Nelson’s play “The Guys,” based on her experiences following the September 11th attacks, has been produced in all fifty states, fifteen countries, and as a feature film. It has been widely used to fund local fire departments and related causes such as trauma counseling and burn treatment centers. Nelson also has long experience in philanthropy. She has consulted for the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the Knight Foundation, among others, in areas of human rights, freedom of expression, social and economic development, and media policy. Nelson is a graduate of Yale University, a 2005 Guggenheim fellow, and a 2013 Bellagio Fellow. She is a fellow at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia, and a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the Council on Foreign Relations. Resources News Roundup Soros/Clinton drag Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire Democratic mega-donor George Soros called out Facebook’s apparent intention to get President Trump re-elected. The social media platform continues to maintain its policy of allowing ads placed by politicians that contain falsehoods to remain on the platform. According to Bloomberg, in a speech at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Mr. Soros stated “I think there is a kind of informal mutual assistance operation or agreement developing between Trump and Facebook”. He went on to say that Facebook and Trump will work to protect each other. At the Sundance Film Festival and in an Atlantic interview, Ms. Clinton expressed similar concerns and said that Zuckerberg’s philosophy of letting its users “decide for themselves” what’s true or false is an authoritarian perspective. Jeff Bezos’s phone hacked According to new reports in the Guardian, Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’s smart phone was hacked in 2018. Forensic investigators reportedly found a “high probability” that a malicious file that was embedded within a WhatsApp conversation between Mr. Bezos and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, scoured Bezos’s phone for personal information. The Hill notes that 9 months later, the National Enquirer revealed details of Mr. Bezos’s extramarital affair, although both Saudi Arabia and National Enquirer former parent company American Media Inc., both deny Saudi Arabia’s involvement. 2018 was also the year that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, a murder the U.S. concluded was ordered by bin Salman—an allegation that bin Salman and the Saudi government deny. President Trump has backed bin Salman and the Saudi government’s denials of the murder. In addition to controlling Amazon, Mr. Bezos also owns Washington Post, so multiple lawmakers and cybersecurity experts believe the alleged hack, reportedly conducted with tools linked to a bin Salman associate, was designed to suppress reporting on Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. On Wednesday, Bezos tweeted a photo of himself standing with Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancé under the hashtag #Jamal. NFL social media accounts hacked Hackers gained access to several NFL teams’ social media profiles on Monday, including those of the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, who are set to face off in Super Bowl 54 next Sunday. The hackers got into the teams Twitter Facebook and Instagram accounts. The hackers removed profile pictures, bios and headers. Other teams affected included the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, the Houston Texans, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the NFL’s official Twitter account. Newly tapped CBP head reportedly a member of racist/sexist Facebook group Rodney Scott, the 27-year Customs and Border Patrol veteran whom President Trump tapped to lead the agency, has reportedly been a member of the same Facebook group that led to his predecessor’s firing. The Facebook group “I’m 10-15”—10-15 is the code name CBP officers use to communicate that they have a so-called alien in custody—has been the site of racist and misogynistic attacks against Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in addition to other racist and sexist posts. Former CBP Chief Carla Provost retired after it was discovered that she was a member of the group. Georgetown University and the City of Washington work to develop an algorithm to prioritize building inspections Finally, the Washington Post reports that Georgetown University and the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs are working on a new algorithm to go after slum lords in the District of Columbia. The Washington Post had reported back in 2017 that Sanford Capital, which owns several buildings in the District, maintained poor conditions including broken doors, rat infestations and problems with heat and sewage, even as they received millions in taxpayer subsidies. The new algorithm will be designed by Georgetown students and with the goal of improving efficiencies in an understaffed and unwieldy building inspection system. Related Posts Ep 50: How to Promote Counter Narratives to Hate Speech with Jessica Gonzalez(Opens in a new browser tab) Renée DiResta: How to Fight the Imminent Disinformation Blitzkrieg (Ep. 175)(Opens in a new browser tab) Naeemah Clark: How to Define 'Viewpoint Diversity' in a Polarized America (Ep. 155)(Opens in a new browser tab)
Bio Yosef Getachew ( @ygetachew2) serves as Program Director of the Media & Democracy Program at Common Cause. Prior to joining Common Cause, Yosef served as a Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge where he worked on a variety of technology and communications issues. His work has focused on broadband privacy, broadband access and affordability, and other consumer issues. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Yosef worked as a law clerk for several technology and communications organizations including the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast, Facebook, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Yosef has also served as a Project Coordinator and Research Assistant for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Yosef received his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. In law school, he was an Articles Editor for the Federal Communications Law Journal. Yosef was born and raised in Washington D.C. Resources Common Cause, Media & Democracy Project We Must Remedy Discrimination in Our Media System by Jessica J. González (Common Dreams, 2019) News Roundup Pelosi accuses Facebook of intentionally misleading voters House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped Facebook last week saying the company shamefully, intentionally misleads voters by failing to remove political ads. Ms. Pelosi specifically called out Facebook’s capitalistic model as being antithetical to democracy and a fair election in 2020. She told reporters Thursday that Facebook only wants two things: continued tax cuts and weak antitrust enforcement. There were 58.5 billion robocalls made in 2019, which is up 22 percent Robocall-blocking service YouMail released a report last week finding a 22% increase in the number of robocalls placed in the U.S. since 2018. The company claims that Americans received nearly 18 robocalls per year in 2019. According to the company, overall, Americans have received some 100 billion robocalls over the last 2 years. At the end of December, President Trump signed a bi-partisan bill to reduce robocalls. Former Mueller Chief of Staff says Washington is failing to ensure election security John Carlin, the former Chief of Staff to Robert Mueller reportedly told the Hill that the federal government isn’t doing enough to prevent election interference. Mr. Carlin says the federal government’s response to the 2016 attacks, including a $425 million spending bill to address election security, did not go far enough its ongoing effort to deal with the proliferation of ransomeware and what he termed a “here and present threat” National Institute of Justice paid Purdue University to study social media for warnings of future crimes According to the National Institute of Justice’s own website, it awarded nearly $2 million to Purdue University to assign convicted offenders wearable devices and then monitor them remotely to determine the likelihood that they’ll commit future crimes. The NIJ claims the goal is to determine whether offenders should be permitted to re-enter society. But the results of the study could have significant implications for mass surveillance as the study, which calls for testing 250 randomly-selected offender participants, will likely unfairly target African American inmates since roughly 40% of the prison population is African American even though we comprise 13% of the total U.S. population. City of Washington discovered 115 “ghost guns” in 2019 The Washington City Paper reports that the number of “ghost guns” police discovered in 2019 grew by 25% compared to the year before, or to more than 115 ghost guns. DC Police found only 3 such guns in 2017. Ghost guns are guns made from materials that can’t be found by metal detectors, such as the plastic used to print 3D guns. The DC Council has proposed a bill that would ban some but not all 3D printed guns. Some officials are worried that legislation doesn’t encompass enough of the various types of ghost guns. DC officials report that ghost guns were used in 3 homicides in 2019.
"The 'Human Factor' of Cybersecurity" with Sherrod DeGrippo (Ep. 215) Proofpoint's Sherrod DeGrippo joined Joe Miller on the WashingTECH Podcast to discuss malware, the Emotet threat, and the human factor of cybersecurity. Bio Sherrod DeGrippo (@sherrod_im) is the Sr. Director of Threat Research and Detection for Proofpoint, Inc. She leads a worldwide malware research team to advance Proofpoint threat intelligence and keep organizations safe from cyberattacks. With more than 15 years of information security experience, Sherrod successfully directs her 24/7 team to investigate advanced threats, release multiple daily security updates and create scalable threat intelligence solutions that integrate directly into Proofpoint products. Resources Human Factor Report (Proofpoint, 2019) News Roundup Russia hacked the Ukrainian company at center of impeachment The New York Times reported Monday that Russia’s infamous Main Intelligence Unit formerly known as G.R.U, which is accused of working closely with Cambridge Analytica to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, hacked into the emails of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas producer which is at the center of president Trump’s impeachment. Former Vice President Joseph Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served on Burisma’s board from 2014, until his term expired last year, a position for which Biden was compensated up to $50,000 per month. The articles of impeachment against Trump allege that Trump bribed Ukrainian President Vloymyr Zelensky by conditioning the $391 million in military aid already earmarked for Ukraine on Ukraine’s investigation into Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Hunter Biden engaged in malfeasance during his time on Burisma’s board. Both the Ukrainian prosecutor who said that he saw no wrongdoing by Biden and the Ukrainian prosecutor who replaced him issued a joint statement in October of last year stating that they did not find any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden. The security firm Area 1 reports that Russian hackers conducted a phishing operation in which they created pages that appeared to be Burisma internal pages and tricked employees into entering their usernames and passwords, which gave the Russian’s access to Burisma’s network. It is not clear what information they obtained, but officials believe the hack was intended to find embarrassing information about Hunter Biden, given its timing amidst the impeachment investigation, as well as reports by the New York Times that Russian spies are conducting operations on the ground to gain access to Burisma in the physical world in order to achieve the same goal. Most Republicans in Congress currently deny that Trump should be removed from office, and zero republicans in the House voted for the articles of impeachment to move forward. Facebook holds forth on political misinformation policy Facebook persists in maintaining its corrosive political advertising policies, including the policy which allows politicians to microtarget false statements in their political ads. The company says it will soon allow users to limit the political ads they see and offer more details about the ads. The company has announced a ban on deepfake videos. Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub called the response weak. Twitter has banned political advertisements altogether and Google is allowing political ads but not microtargeting. White House recommends hands-off approach for discrimination in AI Despite concerns raised by major civil rights groups over the last few years about the discriminatory effects of AI bias, and research showing the discriminatory effects of AI in determining things like creditworthiness, making hiring decisions, and many other areas, the White House released a set of AI Regulatory Guidelines during the Consumer Electronic Show last week, which take a relatively hands-off approach to addressing discrimination in AI. Overall, the guidelines discourage regulations. Consider this phrase on page 5 of the guidelines: “When considering regulations or non-regulatory approaches related to AI applications, agencies should consider, in accordance with law, issues of fairness and non-discrimination with respect to outcomes and decisions produced by the AI application at issue.” What the White House is saying here is that agencies “should” consider – it’s optional – the outcomes and decisions produced—so not what goes into making the applications or addressing the fact that most of the people developing AI applications are not African-American, Hispanic, Latino, Southeast Asian, or Native American – but only the outcomes. This recommendation therefore means … let’s take a hands-off approach—let’s not develop standards for how AI applications are developed—let’s just take a wait and see approach—if they have harmful effects, we’ll go ahead and wait until someone spots those effects before we do anything about it. And it’s not like the guidelines don’t make strong recommendations in other areas … Agencies “MUST”, for example, report on the outcomes of stakeholder engagements and “identify existing regulatory barriers to AI applications …” So we’ve got a double-standard of a set of guidelines that mandate pre-emptive approaches to address regulatory barriers to the development of applications, but not barriers to say, you finding a job, or getting a mortgage, or getting Tinder matches who aren’t Ayn Rand enthusiasts. And the guidelines make no mention of civil rights at all. Barr asks Apple to unlock the Pensacola shooters iPhone U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has asked Apple to unlock the iPhone belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the Saudi air force member who shot and killed 3 American sailors in Pensacola last month. Apple has refused. The dispute is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga between Apple and law enforcement officials that began when the FBI sought to compel Apple to unlock the iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, terrorist who murdered 14 people in San Bernadino in 2015. Federal law enforcement officials abandoned that effort after finding an alternative way to gain access. Ivanka Trump speaks at the Consumer Electronics Show, met with resistance Despite a warm reception from the crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, White House adviser and daughter to the president Ivanka Trump was met with scorn and criticism, under the hashtag #BoycottCES from women and tech workers who said she didn’t belong there. The Hill reported for example that game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu took exception to the fact that Ms. Trump is not a woman in tech and criticized the Consumer Electronics Show’s “lazy” attempt to achieve speaker diversity by selecting her as a speaker. House passes 5G bills to ensure U.S. dominance over China Finally, The House of Representatives passed 3 bills last Wednesday which would allow data speeds of up to 100x of what we currently have. The bills will also give the United States more say in how 5G is developed internationally by, for one, requiring the Secretary of State to hire a telecom adviser. Both parties signed on to the bills nearly unanimously.
Bio Dylan Gilbert (@dgilbert_PK) is Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge where he advocates for the public interest with a focus on government affairs. His core work includes privacy, copyright reform, and a variety of telecommunications and platform-related issues. Prior to joining the Public Knowledge team, Dylan clerked at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and America’s Public Television Stations. Dylan also has over a decade of experience working in the music industry as a performer, producer, and music supervisor. Dylan holds a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and a B.A. from The College of William and Mary. In his free time, Dylan enjoys playing jazz piano and hitting errant golf shots at the driving range Resources Public Knowledge Making Sense of the Termination Right: How the System Fails Artists and How to Fix It by Dylan Gilbert, Meredith Rose and Alisa Valentin (Public Knowledge, 2019) Facebook and Twitter remove accounts tied to a fake pro-Trump network Facebook, Twitter and Instagram removed hundreds of accounts , pages, groups and Instagram accounts operated by individuals in Vietnam and the U.S. The accounts used artificial intelligence to evade detection and create fake profile see in order to spread misinformation. Facebook connected all of the accounts to The Epoch Times, a Chinese site operated by the Falun Gong which has been supportive of President Trump. Twitter also removed 88,000 accounts on Friday alone which the company tied to Saudia Arabia. Unanimous Senate Approves Robocall Legislation Every once in awhile, it’s nice to see some bipartisanship. The Senate last week unanimously approved Robocall legislation which will require phone carriers to block annoying robocalls free of charge. The bill also requires companies to verify that phone calls are coming from real numbers. It’s called the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence or TRACED Act. It now heads to the president’s desk for signature which Congressman Mike Doyle expects to happen within a week. Airbnb bans 60+ white supremacists Using data it collected from its user verification process, which included cross referencing its readership against the leaked SQL database of the now-defunct violent white extremist group Iron March, Airbnb banned more than 60 of its users, mostly guests rather than renrters, for their ties to Iron March. Gizmodo has more. France has fined Google $167 million for anti-compettive conduct France has fined Google some $167 million for anti-competitive conduct. The country asserts that Google controls some 90% of the online advertising market. Earlier this year, France began collecting a 3% company from firms that provide digital services to France-based customers. Reveal News reports on debilitating worker injuries at Amazon Reveal News published an article last week examining worker injuries at Amazon where, especially during the holiday season, workers are injured bending and lifting in an effort to reach a company goal of sending out 1 million orders out per hourdd. That translates to one item per 11 seconds for each employee. Moving at this breakneck speed, workers are increasingly injured, often keeping them out of work indefinitely. You can find that story in the show notes. The New York Times releases extensive report on location data collection The New York Times released a must-read report on how companies and entities we’ve never heard of, much less given consent to, are constantly collecting our location data, telling full stories about where we go, whom we’re with, and what we’re doing. It’s a long read, so definitely something to check out over the holidays.
Bio Mohamed Abdel-Kader (@MAKtweeter) is Executive Director of the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute. He previously served in the administration of President Barack Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education at the US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. In that role, Mohamed was responsible for encouraging and promoting the study of foreign languages and the study of the cultures of other countries at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States. He led his division’s work in administering grants for overseas studies and research programs funded through the Fulbright-Hays Act as well as Title VI grants to support language and area studies programs in the United States. Before joining the US Department of Education, Mohamed served as the Director of Development for the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and managed the university’s advancement strategy in the Middle East, where he focused on major gifts and strategic engagement. Previously, he developed international partnerships and led donor development efforts at George Mason University. He has advised a variety of clients on organizational strategy, doing business in emerging markets, intercultural communication, and cultural competency in international philanthropy. He speaks fluent Arabic and basic Spanish, is a Truman National Security Fellow and is the author of a children’s book about stereotypes. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Vanderbilt University, and an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Mohamed is a trustee of the Longview Foundation for International Education & World Affairs. Resources Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute Virtual Exchange Impact and Learning Report (Stevens Initiative, 2019) News Roundup Texas men plead guilty to committing hate crime against Grindr users Two Texas men admitted to using gay dating app Grindr to target gay men for hate crimes. The 24 and 18-year-old pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime, conspiracy to commit a hate crime, car jacking and use of a firearm, according to the Justice Department. The defendants used Grindr to lure gay men to a vacant apartment where they allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted them, forcing them to withdraw money from ATMs at gunpoint. They face between 15 and 30 years for their crimes. Groups file net neutrality appeal Several tech companies and advocacy groups, including Mozilla, Etsy, Vimeo, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, among others, filed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit asking the full panel of judges to reconsider the three-judge panel’s October decision to uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules. If the court grants the appeal petition, the full court will rehear the matter. Senators Booker/Wyden call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address algorithmic biases in healthcare Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma calling for action to address racial and ethnic biases in healthcare. The Senators specifically cited recent research published in Science magazine showing that doctors were more likely not to refer black patients for additional care since their healthcare costs are typically lower than those of white patients. The Senators also cited a 2016 study showing that medical students and residents thought that black patients have a higher threshold for pain than white patients, affecting treatment recommendations offered to black patients. The Senators requested answers to several questions as to how CMMS is addressing algorithmic bias in healthcare. The answers to those questions are due by December 31st. ProPublica: Facebook still allows discrimination against women and older workers in ad targeting ProPublica reported last week that Facebook still allows advertisers to to discriminate based on age and gender even though the company made changes to its platform to prevent advertisers from explicit targeting discrimination. But a new report by Northeastern and Upturn found that advertisers can still discriminate based on proxies for age and gender. Targeting audiences based on software engineering as an occupation, for example, can yield a larger percentage of male applicants. Facebook is adamant that it has done more than any other company to address advertising bias. New study finds increase in robocalls A new report from Hiya, a company that tracks robocalls, released a report Monday showing that some 54.6 million robocalls were placed between January and November of this year—a 108 percent increase compared to last year. Congress is expected to pass legislation that will require phone carriers to block robocalls as well as verify that the phone numbers from which calls originate are legit.
Bio Ebonie Riley currently serves as DC Bureau Chief of National Action Network’s Washington, DC Bureau. The function of the Bureau is to advocate for and influence Federal public policy that reflects the needs and desires of the communities based on the Action Agenda set forth by the National Action Networks national board and senior leadership. In this capacity, Ebonie serves as a conduit for information about what is happening in the halls of Congress, in the office and administration of the President, and United States Supreme Court. Moreover, she and her team work to educate lawmakers and other stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities facing communities, by advocating for more resources and polices that help invest and advance economic and social equality. Ebonie’s government affairs portfolio includes criminal justice, federal sentencing reform, ending racial profiling, equal employment protection, access to comprehensive healthcare, immigration, access to quality education, women’s rights, environmental justice, voting rights protection, housing, among other various issues that impact social and economic status, mobility, prosperity and empowerment of urban and under served communities. Prior to this role, she served as the Bureau’s Research and Policy Associate, analyzing legislation, drafts advocacy strategies, develops policy recommendations and monitors policy developments related to federal, state and local legislation while co-managing NAN’s Social Media. During her time at NAN she has helped organized several events and marches including coordinating NAN’s 2015 National Convention, NAN’s events in Baltimore, MD after the death of Freddie Gray, the Justice For All March in December 2014, NAN’s Legislative & Policy Conferences in 2015 and 2014, the National Action to Realize the Dream Rally and March in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with over 200,000 people in attendance and Justice For Trayvon 100 City Vigil in Washington, D.C. both in 2013, just to name a few. Born in Chicago, Illinois and growing up in Severn, Maryland, Ms. Riley graduated from Ft. Meade Senior High School and attended UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) where she graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in History. While at UMBC; she served as President of Africana Studies Council of Majors, while sitting on several academic research teams that focused on civil rights, voting rights, political behavior and attitudes, identity politics, race and representation, Congress, and elections. Specific interests include political engagement, civil rights law, voter turnout, voter suppression, and identity group politics. Resources National Action Network News Roundup LGBTQ+ groups call on Facebook to take down false drug ads Several LGBTQ+ civil rights groups are calling on Facebook to take down an ad posted by lawyers apparently seeking to capitalize by spreading misinformation about Truvada for PrEP, which studies have shown helps reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 99%. According to groups including GLAAD, The Human Rights Campaign and other groups, the lawyers are inaccurately claiming the drug causes certain side effects, and the groups are concerned that the ad will discourage people from taking the drug. Pensacola hit by cyberattack In a Facebook post, The City of Pensacola, Florida reported that it was the victim of a cyberattack over the weekend and into Monday, which took down much of the city’s network, including its online payment system and city government emails. 311 service was also affected. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robertson said in a press conference that it was not known whether the cyberattack was connected to last week’s shooting at the Pensacola Naval Station in which 3 people were killed and many others injured. TikTok lawsuits Legal troubles are mounting for Chinese social media company TikTok, whose growth has been outpacing that of established social media platforms, including Facebook. Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company, was already under federal investigation into potential ties to the Chinese government. Plaintiffs filed two lawsuits last week, one of which was settled. But a second lawsuit brought against ByteDance in the Northern District of California by a student alleges that TikTok is transferring private user data to the Chinese government. Separately, German digital rights and digital culture blog NetzPolitik reported that TikTok has been blocking users with disabilities including overweight users and users with intellectual disabilities. Netzpolitik also reports that TikTok has been nbanning gay users as well. The company purports to ban these users so that they won’t be subjected to bullying. Google Ads staff files retaliation complaint against Google The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint last Tuesday claiming the company fired several employees in retaliation for their having joined or supported a labor group and protesting the company’s terms and conditions of employment. Reports also state that Google’s rules prevent employees from organizing.
'What if There's Too Much Privacy?' with Michele Gilman (Ep. 211) Policymakers often discuss privacy as something that is lacking. But what if there is too much privacy? Michele Gilman joined Joe Miller to explain. Bio Michele Gilman (@profmgilman) is the Venable Professor of Law; Director, Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic; and Co-Director, Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is also a faculty fellow at Data & Society in New York, where she focuses on the intersection of data privacy law with the concerns of low-income communities. Before joining the faculty, Professor Gilman was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice; an associate at Arnold and Porter in Washington, D.C.; a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the District of Maryland; and an editor of the Michigan Law Review. Professor Gilman's scholarship focuses on issues relating to poverty, privacy, economic inequality, and feminist legal theory and her articles have been published in the California Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review and the Washington University Law Review, among others. She was a visiting associate professor at the William and Mary School of Law during the 2005-06 academic year and a professor in the University of Aberdeen summer program in summer 2009. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Teaching by a Full-Time Faculty Member Award. Professor Gilman directs the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic, in which student attorneys represent individuals and community groups in a wide array of civil litigation and law reform projects. She is involved in numerous groups working on behalf of low-income Marylanders. She is a member of the Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities of the ACLU of Maryland and the Judicial Selection Committee of the Women's Law Center. She is the past president of the board of the Public Justice Center, where she served from 2004-2014, as well as a past member of the Maryland Bar's Section Council on Delivery of Legal Services. She received the 2010 University System of Maryland Board of Regents' Award for Public Service. Professor Gilman is the former co-chair and a member of the Scholarship Committee of the AALS Clinical Legal Education Section, and a former editor of the Clinical Law Review Review and the Journal of Legal Education. She is also a co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism, which works to apply the insights of feminist legal theory to legal practice and policy. She is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars. Professor Gilman will be a faculty fellow at Data & Society in New York during the 2019-2020 academic year. She will be focusing on the intersection of data privacy law with the concerns of low-income communities. Resources University of Baltimore School of Law The Surveillance Gap: The Harms of Extreme Privacy and Data Marginalization by Michele Gilman (New York University Review of Law & Social Change, 2019). News Roundup Uber wins against woman in driver rape lawsuit Uber was victorious last week in a sexual assault lawsuit brought against it by a woman who says she was raped near a San Francisco shopping mall last year, by a suspended Uber driver who still had the Uber decal on his window. In her pleadings before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, the victim claimed that the suspended driver was acting within the scope of his employment and that she legitimately thought it would be a safe ride. But the court disagreed. Judge Corley did find, however, that the victim had made out a plausible claim for negligence and permitted her to refile for punitive damages for negligence stemming from Uber’s apparent failure to ensure the driver removed the decal from his window. The driver still faces a criminal trial which could send him away for life. Separately, Uber has begun videotaping rides. But the effort has faced resistance from privacy advocates. Prisoners in West Virginia prisons to be charged $.03 per minute to read e-books West Virginia prisoners will have to pay $.03 per minute to access e-books via Project Gutenberg, which otherwise offers the public free access to over 60,000 books. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (WVDCR) entered into a deal with Global Tel Link (GTL) to provide tablets to 10 prisons in West Virginia which will also allow inmates to watch videos and send written messages and photos. But the rates for those services, ranging between $.25 and $.50 per minute, are still very high relative to the $.04 per hour to $.58 per hour prisoners can earn in wages. The prisons will lift a current restriction on accessing books in print. But advocates who oppose the exploitative $.03 per minute fee for e-books note that the use of books in print comes with many more restrictions. DC AG sues DoorDash for wage theft DC Attorney General Karl Racine is suing DoorDash for pocketing tips the company solicits from customers. The Office of the Attorney General has been investigating the company since March, and now says that evidence shows that DoorDash routinely kept the tips to reduce the amount they had to pay drivers in wages. Congresswoman Val Demings introduces bipartisan digital evidence bill Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, a Democrat, has introduced new bipartisan legislation to improve law enforcement’s access to digital evidence from tech companies. The bill would create a new Office of Digital Law Enforcement within the Department of Justice to train law enforcement on how to handle digital evidence. It would also create a Center for Excellence for Digital Forensics to centralize tech expertise and legal assistance within the same building. The bill would also set up infrastructure for the DOJ to issue digital evidence program grants, as well as a Technology Policy Advisory Board to advise the Attorney General on digital evidence best practices. Brooklyn landlord nixes facial recognition plan A Brooklyn landlord has cancelled plans to install facial recognition technology after resistance from tenants and advocacy groups. Robert Nelson, President of Nelson Management Group, owns the 700-unit Atlantic Plaza Towers building in Brownsville where most tenants are black. Tenants and their supporters are now pushing for statewide legislation that would outlaw facial recognition technology throughout the Empire State. Democrats call out Oracle on Diversity Democratic lawmakers who are members of the House Tech Accountability Caucus, the Tri-Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus’ Diversity Task force called out Oracle for its lack of diversity in a letter to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The letter notes that Oracle has 0% board diversity, saying it is unacceptable given Oracle’s attempts to earn business from firms that serve people of color.
Bio Tyler McIntyre (@tmcpro) is the founder & CTO of Novo, a small business challenger bank in the United States that is building technology to help small and medium-sized businesses better understand where and how they are spending their money. Tyler has a strong technology background and understanding of business through his previous startups. He has also consulted for Fortune 500 companies. Tyler has been working with building artificially intelligent assistants since 2011. He has a Bachelors in Management from the University of Miami and a Certificate in Business Management from the University of Pennsylvania. His company is based in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. Resources Novo Bank News Roundup Microsoft steps up fight to save DACA Microsoft is stepping up its fight to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on behalf of its 66 DACA employees, referred to as “Dreamers”. The Obama-era program grants relief to the children of undocumented migrants who have spent their entire childhood in the United States. Applicants to the program do need to meet several requirements in order to qualify for DACA. For example, they can’t have any felony convictions or more than 3 misdemeanors. They also have to have earned a high school diploma or GED. If they qualify, Dreamers get renewable, 2-year deferrals from being deported and can ultimately become eligible to obtain a work permit. President Trump has said he would end the program. So many, including Microsoft, have been pushing Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, since the program was established under the Obama administration through an executive memo. The courts, including the Supreme Court which prevented its expansion, have held that the program is likely unconstitutional without action from Congress. Big Tech invests billions to fund public housing efforts in California Big tech companies are investing billions to address California’s public housing shortage. It started with Apple announcing a $2.5 billion investment, followed by pledges from Google and Facebook who pledged to contribute $1 billion apiece. But local California officials have said that the investment will not be enough to address decades of rapid employment growth in the tech sector. This growth has pushed some 28,000 people out of their homes, according to the Hill. Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders also criticized the program, calling for tax hikes, saying that its disingenuous for tech company tax evaders, who he says created the problem, to attempt to distract from it with investments that won’t be enough. Social media companies reconsider microtargeting in political ads Facebook, Google and Twitter are reconsidering allowing politicians to microtarget their ads based on user location and other factors. Twitter, for one, has banned all political advertising. Google is reportedly reconsidering its political ad policy with an announcement expected this week. These developments come amid criticism from Mozilla as well as an International Committee composed of lawmakers from Australia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Singapore, the UK and the United States, who have objected to microtargeting practices across social media. Facebook, YouTube pledge not to name whistleblower Facebook and YouTube have said that they will remove content revealing the name of the potential whistleblower who disclosed President Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to require Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for aid. The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into the president.= Twitter however, will continue to allow users to post the name of the whistleblower, but will remove personally identifiable information such as his or her phone number and address. Study: misinformation on Facebook is up ahead of 2020 election Avaaz, a global advocacy organization that tracks misinformation online, issued a study of the most viral fake political news stories in 2019. It found the stories generated nearly 160 million views, compared to 140 million views of fake news stories posted during the 2016 election. Some 62 percent of the fake stories were anti-Democrat. NY Times: NYPD staffers took kickbacks from health clinics, doctors, and lawyers in exchange for car accident victim data The New York Times reports that staffers of the New York City Police Department took kickbacks from health clinics, doctors, lawyers, and a fraud insurance ring in Queens, in exchange for data from car accident victims. Prosecutors have charged 27 individuals for their alleged involvement. Fifty-one year-old Anthony Rose allegedly directed the scheme in which 911 call operators sent car accident victims in low-income areas in New York City to fake call centers that directed them to partnering accident victim service providers. In exchange, the call centers allegedly paid kickbacks to Rose, a portion of which he then distributed to co-conspirators who worked for the NYPD. Sole anti-net neutrality Democratic Senator tied to Comcast The American Prospect reports that it has tied Kyrsten Sinema, the only Democrat in the Senate who opposes the pro-net neutrality Save the Internet Act, to a Super PAC that’s funded by telecom lobbyists. The report states that Sinema directed contributions to the Super PAC that ultimately funded her own campaign. Instagram to hide ‘likes’ beginning this week Finally, beginning this week, Instagram is expected to hide the number of ‘likes’ users generate from their posts. Users will reportedly continue to be able to see likes on their own posts, but not the likes of others’. But the new policy will only affect some of Instagram’s users. The Hill reports that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are also considering hiding likes.
The Common Law History of Section 230 with Brent Skorup (Ep. 208) Bio Brent Skorup (@bskorup) is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research areas include transportation technology, telecommunications, aviation, and wireless policy. He serves on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and on the Texas DOT’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Task Force. He is also a member of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project. The White House, the FCC, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and a dissenting opinion at the Illinois Supreme Court have cited his research. In addition to economics and law journal publication, he has authored pieces for National Affairs, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wired, Air Traffic Management magazine, Regulation magazine, and elsewhere. He’s appeared as a TV and radio interview guest for news outlets like C-SPAN, NPR, CBS News, ABC News, and CNBC Asia. Brent has a BA in economics from Wheaton College and a law degree from the George Mason University School of Law, where he was articles editor for the Civil Rights Law Journal. He was a legal clerk at the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and at the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before joining Mercatus, he was the Director of Research at the Information Economy Project, a law and economics university research center. Resources Mercatus Center The Erosion of Publisher Liability in American Law by Brent Skorup and Jennifer Huddleston (Mercatus Center, 2019) News Roundup Zuckerberg, Facebook under mounting pressure over political ads Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to meet with civil rights leaders this week after his company has maintained its policy to leave up political ads containing false statements by politicians. The company has applied the policy unevenly, first allowing Donald Trump to maliciously post an ad with false information about Joe Biden; then leaving up an Elizabeth Warren ad containing false information designed to illustrate the absurdity of Facebook’s ad policy. During a hearing, Zuckerberg also admitted to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that if she were to place a false political ad, that the company would probably leave it up. But Facebook is inexplicably removing false ads placed by Political Action Committees. One notable example is an ad placed the Really Online Lefty League – ROLL – a Political Action Committee co-founded by Adriel Hampton – which falsely claimed that Lindsey Graham supports the New Green Deal. Hampton, an experienced marketing and political strategist, responded by filing to run for governor of California. Then gubernatorial candidate Hampton posted a false political ad and Facebook took it down, saying his campaign wasn’t legit—that it was just a ploy to place a false ad to see what Facebook would do. Even though Hampton says he fully expects to win the governorship, Facebook hasn’t reinstated the ad. It’s a mess. Top officials from the NAACP, National Urban League, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights are scheduled to meet with Zuckerberg this week to express their concerns with Facebook’s political ad policy, which the company now says has been extended to the UK. Facebook sued for age, gender bias in financial services ads A plaintiff in San Francisco filed a potential class action federal lawsuit last week claiming that Facebook discriminates against users based on age and gender in determining who can see financial services ads. The lawsuit comes 7-months after Facebook agreed to tailor its platform to avoid discrimination on the basis of age, gender and zip code for job, credit, and housing ads. US launches Tik Tok investigation The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has launched a national security investigation into Tik Tok, which is owned by the Chinese firm Bytedance. A bipartisan cohort of lawmakers including Democrat Chuck Schumer, Republican Marco Rubio, and Tennessee Democratic Congressman Bart Gordon have all expressed concern about how the Chinese government uses TikTok’s data. TikTok’s growth has been outpacing the growth of incumbent social media companies in the U.S. Snowden: Facebook as untrustworthy as the NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is exiled in Russia for blowing the lid off the National Security Agency’s mass data collection practices six years ago, told ReCode’s Kara Swisher last week that Facebook is as untrustworthy as the NSA when it comes to privacy. But he didn’t limit his remarks to Facebook. He said that all tech companies are looking to exploit our personal data no matter the consequences. He also said that, on the surface, users may appear not to be concerned about how big tech companies handle their data but that, in reality, users are very concerned but feel powerless. Five people shot and killed at Airbnb rental Five people were shot and killed at an Airbnb rental Northern California during a Halloween party on Thursday. The rental listing on Airbnb prohibited parties and the renter claimed it was renting the space for family members who were suffering from smoke inhalation from the fires in the Los Angeles area. A witness reported to Buzzfeed that the shooting occurred with apparently no provocation. Airbnb has banned the renter from the platform. China launches 5G network Chinese officials announced last week that it would roll out 5G to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou 2 months ahead of schedule. The country also announced plans to roll out 5G to over 50 cities by the end of this year. While U.S. telecom companies have begun their 5G roll-out, it’s largely been rolled out on higher frequency bands than the 5G service that’s being rolled out in China. The lower frequency bands that China’s using cover a larger surface area, while the higher frequency bands U.S. companies are using are more powerful but cover less ground. Corey Booker introduces bill to ban facial recognition in public housing Senator Corey Booker has introduced a bill to ban facial recognition in public housing. The Senator cites the disproportionate impact that facial recognition technology threatens to have on the nation’s most vulnerable communities. The No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act targets public housing that receives funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Apple pledges $2.5 billion for California affordable housing Apple announced that it will invest $2.5 billion to address California’s affordable housing shortage. Some of those funds will be applied statewide. Others will be allocated for projects in the Bay Area. Three hundred million dollars will go towards affordable housing on Apple-owned property. Following Katie Hill’s resignation, Democrats push for revenge porn law Thirty-five democrats in Congress sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee to pass a federal revenge porn law that would criminalize the nonconsensual posting of sexually explicit images online. The letter followed Congresswoman Katie Hill’s resignation from Congress after someone posted nude images depicting her and others as well as accusations that she was having inappropriate relations with campaign and congressional staffers. Hill blames her husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing, for posting the photos. MIT president acknowledges discrimination against minorities and women on campus Finally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Rafael Reif acknowledged last week that women and people of color often face exclusion and belittlement on campus and that it’s something the university is trying to improve. The development follows revelations of Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to the university.
Bio Elisa Shearer (@elisashearer) is a Research Associate at the Pew Research Center. She earned her Masters in Communications, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Houghton College, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Resources Americans are Wary of the Role Social Media Sites Play in Delivering the News by Elisa Shearer and Elizabeth Grieco (Pew, 2019) Pew Research Journalism (Twitter) News Roundup Facebook’s Menlo Park Police Motherboard reports on Facebook’s comfortable relationship with the Menlo Park Police Department. Apparently, Facebook is paying the City of Menlo Park some $2 million per year – a large some for a small city – to have a dedicated police force for Facebook’s campus. One of the things the Facebook unit does is monitor for thefts of bikes the company sets out for its employees. The employees aren’t permitted to leave the bikes outside of Facebook’s campus, but they often do it anyway. Sometimes citizens in the neighboring community, East Palo Alto, use the bikes. The majority of citizens on East Palo Alto are black or Latinx. One of the people the cops picked up for using one of the bikes was Latinx. But it turns out the employee was a Facebook contractor. So citizens and advocates have called out the police and Facebook for working together on racial profiling. It’s a long read, but you can find the full report in the show notes. AOC Blasts Facebook for Political Ad Policy Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted Facebook on Twitter on Saturday, calling the company’s political behavior “increasingly disturbing”. Connecting the dots, the Congresswoman noted that Zuckerberg claimed he didn’t know when Facebook discovered the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that Zuckerberg met with Trump, and the far right thenm started allowing disinformation ads, and that Zuckerberg didn’t tell the whole truth about fact checkers. She says that Facebook acts like they’re just an innocent bystander but that Facebook’s decisions have become more and more disturbing. According to the New York Times, Hundreds of Facebook employees wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg urging him to hold ads placed by politicians to the same high accuracy standard as those placed by any advertiser. House passes third election security bill The House has passed a third election security bill designed to prevent foreign interference in the 2020 election. The bill passed 221-181 mostly along party lines. The act is dubbed the SHIELD act and it targets paid online political ads. Republicans raised First Amendment concerns about the bill, and the American Civil Liberties Union said that it sweeps to broadly. Facebook announces Russian efforts to remain undetected According to Reuters, Russian operatives attempting to interfere with the platform ahead of the 2020 election are trying to remain invisible by sacrificing followers. Facebook is specifically flagging accounts that grow very quickly. Google employees claim company is developing a tool to stop organizers Google employees are claiming that the company is creating a tool to monitor calendar invites to try and prevent staffers from organizing. The tool would apparently flag employees that create events with more than 10 rooms or 100 people. Google denies that the tool is designed to thwart organizing efforts. Pentagon awards $10 billion contrat to Microsoft The Pentagon awarded its 10 year, $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft, closing it off from Amazon, which was expected to win the deal, as it was considered by many analysts to have the best capabilities. But Microsoft too has the highest military security rating possible. A former speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that President Trump wanted to “screw over” Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post—one of the news outlets the president thinks is biased against him. But the Pentagon states that its awarding of the contract to Microsoft is in line with an overall multi-platform strategy, that can’t be handled by a single vendor. Google announces quantum computing milestone Google announced a quantum computing milestone last week, saying that it had developed a microprocessor that took minutes to perform a calculation that would have taken the world’s best super computer thousands of years.