by Chris Witteman and Tracy Rosenberg. Originally published at 48 Hills.
Fourteen months of COVID quarantine made one thing clear: we need our broadband.
It used to be only media activists who insisted that Internet access was an essential service; now it’s accepted wisdom.
Unfortunately, the last year has also made clear that the current system is broken. Pictures of kids doing homework in parking lots because they have no broadband at home highlight the problem: The market has failed to deliver adequate broadband because there is no market.
High-speed broadband in most areas is available only from the monopoly cable company, occasionally from the duopoly phone company. It’s overpriced, unreliable, and – even based on the carriers’ overstated reporting — simply not available to millions of Californians – certainly not at the bandwidth needed for today’s applications.
People know this is so, despite industry propaganda to the contrary.
Californians need fast, modern Internet. Gov Newsom has responded with a budget that allots $7 billion — from a mix of state surplus dollars and federal rescue money – to actually build public broadband infrastructure rather than just talk about it or continue to throw money at the incumbents.
After many years of advocacy, the U.S. Low Power Radio community may be getting what it wants. The Federal Communications Commission has announced that they are considering a proposal to broadly authorize a power increase for many low power radio stations from 100 watts to 250 watts.
So-called “simple LP250”, which would make the increased wattage available with a minimum of exclusionary conditions, would provide the mini-radio stations with increased reach and increased legitimacy.
Two-thirds of existing low power radio stations are outside the top 100 media markets and offer local news, information and culture in areas with relatively little media diversity.
Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187, firstname.lastname@example.org Dana Floberg, Free Press Action, (202) 265-1490, email@example.com Taylor Billings, Corporate Accountability, (504) 621-6487, firstname.lastname@example.org Rianna Eckel, Food & Water Watch, (978) 835-6230, email@example.com
Senate Bill Aims to Protect Americans From Utility Shutoffs, Mounting Debt Crisis
WASHINGTON— Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced a bill today that would place a national moratorium on the disconnection of electric, water and broadband utility service due to uncollected payments. An increasing number of people in the country are at risk of losing access to vital utilities, including electricity, water and broadband, as utility debt increases nationwide.
Facial recognition software has become a common part of American life. It’s used by government employment agencies to verify an applicant’s identity, by landlords to monitor tenants, and by police in their investigations, which has resulted in some wrongful arrests. Indeed, studies show that facial recognition algorithms are often inaccurate when it comes to identifying women and people with dark skin tones. Privacy advocates concerned by how law enforcement has used surveillance technology cheered Amazon’s recent decision to extend a moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software, though Amazon gave no reason why it was doing so. We’ll talk to Bay Area experts about how facial recognition technology is being used, why it needs to be closely monitored, and what cities, states and the federal government are doing — or not doing — to regulate its use.
Matt Cagle, technology and civil rights attorney with the ACLU
Brian Hofer,, chair and executive director, Secure Justice
Daniel E. Ho, Scott Professor of Law, Stanford University and also an Associate Director at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
Tracy Rosenberg, executive director, Media Alliance
Media Alliance is a proud supporter of the Social Media DATA Act, introduced into Congress by MA democrat Lori Trahan. The DATA Act would compel social media companies to preserve their ad libraries and make them available to academic researchers to study the impact of targeted advertising.
See what people are saying about the Social Media DATA Act.
Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance: “The Social Media Data Act would ensure that qualified academic researchers can study social media advertising and its impacts with unimpeded access to the data they need. Digital advertising uses the information social media platforms collect about us to expose us to individualized targeted advertising for profit. Such advertising can be based on our preferences, associations, location, the state of our health, religion, race or age, When profit-driven imperatives control much of our social media feeds, we see different content based on who we are. This can result in discriminatory outcomes, increased polarization, the spread of misinformation, and the use of our most personal characteristics to manipulate our perceptions of the world. This should not go on in a black box where we cannot see under the hood to measure what is happening to us. With transparent access to social media advertising metrics, we can develop best practices to meaningfully study impact and develop policy to mitigate harm and protect personal privacy and vulnerable populations subject to discrimination. Social media has changed the world, in both positive and negative ways, and we should be able to reap the benefits without sacrificing our civil and human rights, if not the health of democracy itself. The Social Media Data Act would help to find that balance.”
United to Save the Mission, an umbrella coalition of community based organizations located in SF’s Mission District wrote a letter of objection to a proposed private camera network from the Castro District Business Improvement District, joining the Harvey Milk and Alice B. Toklas Democratic Clubs and the Castro LBGTQ District in opposing the Castro cameras.