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Tech newsletter: AT&T spam texts

Here is a look at tech and politics news from the last week.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Sep 28, 2021   Updated Sep 28, 2021, 12:45 pm CDT

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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect tech and politics unfolding online. Today:

  • AT&T customers say they’re receiving an onslaught of spam texts
  • Senators push for Biden to name Rosenworcel as permanent FCC chair
  • Democrats urge FTC to combat consumer data privacy ‘crisis’

woman holding phone filled with AT&T spam texts

BREAK THE INTERNET

AT&T customers say they’re receiving an onslaught of spam texts

People claiming to be AT&T customers are taking to social media to complain that they’re receiving a significant number of spam texts. They say most of the texts claim to be from AT&T.

Many who report receiving the spam texts claim that the volume has increased significantly in recent weeks. Some are wondering why the company hasn’t been able to control the problem.

In recent weeks, people purporting to be AT&T customers have tweeted in droves to complain about such texts. Many included screenshots of the purported texts. Most either thank them for paying their bill or apologize for a recent service issue and offer people “a little something,” “a symbolic gift” and ask them to click a link to receive it.

Many of the tweeted complaints claim that such texts have increased significantly of late. Some are amused. More are frustrated.

In response to request for comment sent via email, AT&T provided the Daily Dot with links to its blogs about spam and scam texts. The blogs warn customers not to reply to such texts, click the links therein, or call the numbers they came from. They also give more information and links about detecting scams and reporting suspicious communications to AT&T.

The texts don’t appear to come from AT&T. Screenshots show the texts coming from a variety of phone numbers, none of which users recognize as AT&T’s.

—By Claire Goforth, contributing writer


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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

INTERNET RIGHTS

Senators push for Biden to name Rosenworcel as permanent FCC chair

A group of senators are urging President Joe Biden to name Jessica Rosenworcel the permanent chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after months of dragging his feet in filling out the agency.

Biden named Rosenworcel the acting chair of the FCC shortly after taking office in January. However, Rosenworcel was already a commissioner at the agency, so naming her still left the FCC in a deadlocked 2-2 makeup, with two Republicans and two Democrats.

As president, Biden has the ability to nominate a fifth commissioner to fill out the FCC—something he has faced pressure to do since taking office—and name someone to be the permanent chair of it. A 3-2 Democratic majority at the FCC would allow it to tackle a number of issues that would take a party-line vote, such as restoring net neutrality rules and the agency’s authority over broadband expansion.

Senators wrote a letter to Biden showing their support for Rosenworcel to be named the permanent chair. She would be the first woman to be named the permanent chair of the agency. 

The senators argued that the infrastructure bill and other broadband initiatives need “qualified appointees” to “coordinate the deployment effort across your administration.”

“Accordingly, the decision to nominate Acting Chair Rosenworcel to a full term as Commissioner and designate her as the permanent Chair of the FCC can no longer be delayed,” the letter reads. “We urge your administration to appoint her to this role as quickly as possible. Further delay simply puts at risk the major broadband goals that we share and that Congress has worked hard to advance as part of your administration’s agenda.”

—By Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor


FTC Chair Lina Khan next to a letter from Democrats urging the agency to start rulemaking to protect consumer data privacy.

BIG TECH

Democrats urge FTC to combat consumer data privacy ‘crisis’

A group of Democratic senators are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to start a rulemaking process that would strengthen consumer privacy in regards to big tech’s data practices.

Specifically, the senators asked FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan in a letter to start a rulemaking process that would “protect consumer privacy, promote civil rights, and set clear safeguards on the collection and use of personal data in the digital economy.”

The letter to Khan—which was signed by nine Democrats—notes that consumer privacy in the U.S. has become a “consumer crisis.”

“We believe that a national standard for data privacy and security is urgently needed to protect consumers, reinforce civil rights, and safeguard our nation’s cybersecurity,” the senators wrote. “Accordingly, and in parallel to congressional efforts to create federal privacy laws to give power back to consumers, the Commission should take advantage of every tool in its toolkit to protect consumers’ privacy.”

In the letter, they urge the FTC to start a rulemaking process that should consider protections for the data of members of marginalized communities; prohibitions on exploitative targeting of children and teenagers; opt-in consent rules on the use of personal data; and opt-out standards.

In July, a coalition of public interest groups called on the FTC to use its rulemaking authority to ban corporate use of facial recognition, surveillance in public, and “industry-wide data abuse.”

—A.W.

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*First Published: Sep 28, 2021, 11:06 am CDT