Tech Bytes: 02.09.2017
Patrick Wheeler, Program Manager On February 9th, 2017
FCC Moves to Limit Internet Access to Poor Families, Schools, and Libraries – A program created in the Reagan Administration to subsidize phone service for poor families which now enables needy families to get subsidized internet access took a hit last week by new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The FCC’s Lifeline Program has been a huge success in connecting some of the nation’s lower income families to the internet by partnering with ISPs and wireless carriers to ensure affordable access for poor families. Pai pulled approval for nine ISPs approved at the end of the Obama Administration, including one designed to bring access to Native American reservations. Pai also scuttled a net neutrality ruling against AT&T and Verizon for implementing paid data cap exceptions (zero rating) and rescinded several white papers outlining: needed support for Wi-Fi in schools and libraries, the need to improve cybersecurity, and views on expanding the nation’s digital infrastructure. The combination of these moves will hold Americans back, especially poor Americans already limited by the digital divide that exists in the United States, from keeping pace with the digital economy. We need to find ways to expand digital access, not limit it.
Read More: FCC Chair Stuns Consumer Advocates with Move that Could Hurt Poor People
Read More: The FCC is Stopping 9 Companies from Providing Federally Subsidized Internet to the Poor
Read More: FCC Chair Defends Pulling Nine Companies from Low-income Internet Plan
Read More: Trump’s FCC Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules
Read More: FCC Performs Midnight Revocations of Previous Leadership’s ‘Midnight Regulations’
Read More: The FCC is Dropping its Probe into Internet Providers Over this Controversial Practice
Read More: Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers
Facebook Tries to Fight Discrimination in Its Ad Platform – The Facebook ad platform has long allowed the placer of an ad to target by hundreds of parameters, including racial affinity. While it claimed the racial affinity designation was not tied to race, but rather profiles that all shared common preferences, it was really just a proxy for race. Facebook took its share of heat over revelations about racial discrimination and has introduced new rules and policies designed to limit the use of racial targeting and exclusion by advertisers.
Read More: Improving Enforcement and Promoting Diversity: Updates to Ads Policies and Tools
Read More: Facebook Updates its Ad policies and Tools to Protect Against Discriminatory Practices
Read More: Facebook Cracks Down on Ads that Discriminate
Airbnb Diversifies Its Business with Luxury Retreats Acquisition – Airbnb just dropped $200 million to buy Luxury Retreats, a small competitor that exclusively focuses on the high end market, with properties owned by wealthy clients such as Richard Branson and Francis Ford-Coppola. The purchase points to a desire for airbnb to grow its user base and reach the higher end of the market its current properties are not able to serve. It also points to a potential new business model more in-line with a traditional destination property, from a clientele expecting service beyond key exchange. Only time will tell how well this acquisition will fit into the airbnb strategy, or if it will at all, but it looks like a wise move to expand the playing field.
European Automakers Focus on Silicon Valley Threats – During the CDS’ recent Roundtable on Digital Strategies session hosted by Volkswagen in Berlin, the European Chapter of the Roundtable was able to learn how VW has decided to separate its digital innovation arm from the main company and attach onto the tech scene in Berlin. The move is designed to both segment the group from legacy influences and also attract the right type of talent needed to go head-to-head with Silicon Valley. The NY Times this week looked at the move as well. One important lesson for established businesses looking to meet the challenge of technology startups invading their industry – think differently and create teams that work outside the normal business. It’s an important lesson that companies like Ford Motors have learned with their Palo Alto office focused on self-driving cars and new technology-driven products and services.
Read More: German Automakers Step Up to Silicon Valley Challenge
Read More: The Software-Driven Service Revolution
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