7 The best PCs for privacy-minded people Don’t expect to see FCC Chairman Ajit Pai brief the House Committee on Energy and Commerce anytime soon. Alex Edelman / Getty Images Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai won’t brief a Congressional committee Monday about mobile carriers’ ability to share their subscribers’ location data with third parties.Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sought Pai for an emergency briefing after a Motherboard investigation revealed carriers are selling customers’ location data. But the committee was told the FCC boss wouldn’t appear due to the ongoing government shutdown.”In a phone conversation today, his staff asserted that these egregious actions are not a threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement. 22 Photos Now playing: Watch this: Stronger data privacy laws may be coming to the US 1:41 Comments It noted that the investigation would continue once normal FCC operations resume.Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who questioned last May why cops can track any phone in seconds, reportedly slammed Pai for tweeting “cat videos and tired memes” instead of briefing Congress.”It’s a new low for someone who has spent his tenure at the FCC refusing to do his job and stand up for American consumers,” Wyden said in a statement to Gizmodo.One of the third parties using the location data is credit reporting company Microbilt, which is offering to “track down delinquent debtors” via its Mobile Device Verify service.Ajit Pai on net neutrality: Congress was right not to restore the regulations, the FCC chairman says.A boost for 5G and Wi-Fi: The FCC votes to make more wireless spectrum available. FCC Privacy Security Politics Share your voice Pallone noted that Pai is still working, even though the shutdown resulted in the FCC ceasing most of its operations on Jan. 3.”There’s nothing in the law that should stop the Chairman personally from meeting about this serious threat that could allow criminals to track the location of police officers on patrol, victims of domestic abuse, or foreign adversaries to track military personnel on American soil,” he said.The FCC, however, stood firm in an emailed statement.”The Commission has been investigating wireless carriers’ handling of location information,” a spokesperson wrote. “Unfortunately, we were required to suspend that investigation earlier this month because of the lapse in funding, and pursuant to guidance from our expert attorneys, the career staff that is working on this issue are currently on furlough.” Tags
0 Here’s everything that 5G can do for you 5:13 How to solve the rural broadband problem? Fix the maps FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, said that it’s important to get the funds allocated as soon as possible and that the agency couldn’t afford to wait for the new mapping plan to take effect. The new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will essentially replace the Connect America Fund II auction for distributing USF money to rural carriers. The new fund will establish a two-phase reverse auction starting next year that will allow carriers to bid on the rights to use the funds to provide broadband and voice service in underserved high-cost areas, such as rural communities. The lowest bid wins the auction. Unlike the FCC’s Connect America Fund II auction, in which incumbent carriers got first dibs on deciding whether to serve a given area, the new fund will be available to any company, including cable providers or public utilities, that propose building a broadband network. Fixing broadband mapsEven though the FCC is moving forward with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund using existing broadband mapping criteria, the agency acknowledged its data collection program is flawed. And it voted to approve a long-awaited plan to improve the data it collects. Under the new proposal, broadband providers will be required to offer more detailed information on where they provide coverage and where they do not. The idea is to create a new map that will offer more “precise broadband service availability maps,” Pai said.The FCC’s current broadband maps have been widely criticized as inaccurate, showing broadband service in places where there isn’t and in other instances saying a location has no broadband when in fact it does, sometimes from multiple providers. We need maps before money. We need data before deployment. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel Tags Now playing: Watch this: These faulty maps have infuriated lawmakers who have been flooded with complaints from constituents, but the lack of visibility has also hampered the FCC’s efforts to distribute limited funds to help bring broadband to the 19 million people in this country, who still lack access even as the service is considered as important as water or electricity.Under the new plan, broadband providers will have to report broadband access using “shapefiles,” which will provide a more precise and detailed measurement. The current data collection includes information reported at the census block level, which counts an entire area as served even if only one household reports having broadband access. “We will no longer count everyone in the census block as served if just one person is served,” Pai said.The FCC will also collect feedback from the public and other agencies to ensure that the information provided by service providers is accurate. The three Republican commissioners supported the plan, but the two Democrats partially dissented. Rosenworcel said that the new proposal was a first step and that the agency still has a long way to go to gain public trust in its broadband data accuracy. She noted concerns over how the agency will push broadband providers to report accurate data. The trade group USTelecom, which represents many of the providers offering broadband in rural communities, applauded the FCC’s new mechanism for allocating USF funds for rural broadband, and the agency’s efforts to get more accurate broadband mapping information. The organization worked with several other groups to launch a two-state pilot in Virginia and Missouri in March to demonstrate how the FCC can identify where broadband can be offered and to determine which areas still lack broadband access. The group said that initial results of this study confirm the FCC’s assessment that its current process shows “serious discrepancies” in coverage. “Logically, in order for us (and the FCC) to declare mission accomplished [in closing the digital divide], we need to know which consumers do, and do not, have access to broadband,” Patrick Halley, senior vice president of advocacy and regulatory affairs for USTelecom, said in a blog post on Wednesday. “As the Commission’s draft data collection item acknowledges, the agency’s existing broadband availability data is ‘not sufficient to understanding where universal service support should be targeted and supporting the imperative of our broadband-deployment policy goals.'”Microsoft’s chief data analytics officer, John Kahan, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that he is encouraged that many of the suggestions the FCC has considered mirrors those proposed by the company. Microsoft is working with USTelecom on its pilot program, too. But he acknowledged more work is needed to close the digital divide. “Based on our data, about half of all Americans are not using the internet at broadband speeds at home,” he said. “This digital divide should be seen for the national crisis it is — without equal access to connectivity, we cannot provide equal opportunities to all Americans.”Other FCC mattersThe FCC also voted on several other items at the August meeting. One big one was the approval of new rules to go after illegal robocallers based overseas. The rules extend the Truth in Caller ID Act to text messages or international calls as intended under the passage of Ray Baum’s Act last year.According to the FCC, that act gives it the authority to broaden bans on illegal spoofing to text messages, calls originating outside the US and calls using voice over IP. The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed in 2009, already prohibits misleading or inaccurate caller ID “spoofing” with the intent to defraud for domestic callers, the agency said. But it doesn’t apply to text messages or international calls. Share your voice Mobile FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has traveled throughout the US talking to people about the digital divide in rural communities. On one of those trips, he met with farmers in Idaho. FCC The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to adopt a new mechanism for distributing subsidies to rural broadband providers. But Democrats want to see better data from a new broadband mapping effort first.At the agency’s August meeting, the FCC voted on two related items that commissioners say will help close the digital divide. First, the five-member commission unanimously voted to distribute more than $20 billion of Universal Service Fund subsidies over the next decade as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. It also adopted a long-awaited proposal to get more detailed information from broadband providers about where they offer service in order to improve the agency’s coverage maps. While the two items largely had bipartisan support, the two Democrat. They want more accurate mapping data before allocating any new funds to rural broadband providers. “The decisions we make now will direct funds for broadband for the next decade,” said Rosenworcel. “So choosing where those funds go for the next ten years without having accurate data is a real problem. … We need maps before money. We need data before deployment.” Post a comment 16 Photos FCC
Apple set to hire from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay this yearReutersIf you are in India and have often dreamt about how cool it would be to work for global tech giant Apple Inc., here’s some good news. The Cupertino, California, based firm is set to hire employees from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, this year.While the tech giant has been in talks with several IT institutes for the same for a while now, it has confirmed that it intends to hire from the Powai campus and has also started giving out application forms for it.”The tech giant is offering positions for coding profile and most computer science students and some enthusiasts from other streams have signed up for the test,” a source from IIT-Bombay told the Times of India.Even though a source has confirmed Apple’s participation in placements this year, IIT-B is yet to officially announce the news. Instead, it said: “We don’t want to comment whether Apple is participating or not.”Students who applied for the roles and were short-listed by Apple will now reportedly take up a test in the last week of November. The selected candidates will mostly be placed in the firm’s India facilities in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.The students at IIT-B are clearly thrilled with the opportunity to land a job with one of the most-loved brands and a student said: “The chance to be a part of the powerful ecosystem at Apple is so enticing that many of us have registered for the test and hope to be short-listed.”Meanwhile, Apple is yet to confirm if students from other institutes will also be hired and other IITs have said that they will need an answer in the next two to three days, failing which they would not be able to accommodate the tech giant. “Our schedule is very tight. There are three to four preliminary short-listing tests taking place everyday and if we don’t hear from Apple in the next two to three days, we will not have any slot to accommodate the company,” an institute’s placement head told the daily.Amid all the placement buzz, Apple seems to be irked with the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, after an announcement that the firm was set to hire talent from its campus.”We are elated that Apple has decided to come for our campus placements this year. We are not sure of the kind of profiles that the company will be offering. However, it will provide an opportunity to the graduating students to showcase their skills before representatives of the firm,” TV Devi Prasad, head of placements at the institute, had earlier told the daily.Apart from Apple, many other global brands including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google have been eyeing employees in India for a while now.