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Tech newsletter: FTC’s upcoming big tech crackdown

Here's this week's tech newsletter.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Dec 21, 2021   Updated Dec 21, 2021, 9:56 am CST

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

TODAY:

  • FTC will use ‘full suite of tools’ to tackle data privacy, discrimination, Lina Khan says
  • The beta for Trump’s ‘Truth Social’ gets located online yet again
  • 30 million eligible households haven’t signed up for the FCC’s broadband discount program

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Lina Khan smiling into camera.

BREAK THE INTERNET

FTC will use ‘full suite of tools’ to tackle data privacy, discrimination, Lina Khan says

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan said the commission will use its “full suite of tools” to combat a number of big tech issues like data privacy, lax security, and algorithmic discrimination.

Khan outlined her goals in a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who was one of several lawmakers who urged the FTC earlier this year 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.”

In her letter to Blumenthal, Khan—a noted critic of big tech who has broad support from progressives—said that she shared the lawmaker’s concerns about commercial surveillance and pledged to have the FTC “protect Americans from unfair or deceptive practices online.” 

Specifically, Khan said the FTC is considering initiating rulemaking to address “lax security practices, data privacy abuses, and algorithmic decision-making that may result in unlawful discrimination.”

“Rulemaking may prove a useful tool to address the breadth of challenges and harms that can result from commercial surveillance and other data practices,” Khan wrote. “Critically, rules could establish clear market-wide requirements and address potential harms on a broader scale.”

Many experts have said they hoped that the FTC would use its rulemaking authority more in the coming months and years. Over the summer, a coalition of nearly 50 civil rights, internet rights, and other groups urged the agency to step in and curb “unfair and deceptive” data collection and surveillance practices by big tech giants.

Read the whole story here.

—Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor


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A hand holding a cell phone in front of a photo of Donald Trump.

BIG TECH

The beta for Trump’s ‘Truth Social’ gets located online yet again

test version of former President Donald Trump’s social media network “Truth Social” was located online recently, less than two months after the mobile beta was taken over by a handful of journalists and trolls.

In a now-deleted tweet, Bloomberg News journalist William Turton revealed the domain for Truth Social’s beta site where select users have been testing out the platform ahead of its launch next year.

Analysis of the site, located at alpha.dw4nx3zk8.com, showed a login page intended for those who have been granted early access.

Registration data for the domain indicates that the URL was first secured on Oct. 21, less than 24 hours after the mobile beta was taken offline earlier this year.

A hacker claiming affiliation with Anonymous told the Daily Dot at the time that they had located the mobile beta after searching for the name of the developer for the platform’s unreleased iPhone app.

Just like the mobile beta, the testing version at alpha.dw4nx3zk8.com was also pulled offline just hours after the Daily Dot began tweeting about the discovery.

The current testing version did not allow users to register accounts like the mobile beta, protecting the platform from an embarrassing repeat of the events in October.

The testing domain now redirects to truthsocial.com, where users can only sign up for a waiting list to join the site when it officially launches. It remains unclear where the testing version of the site is now located online.

—Mikael Thalen, staff writer


DAILY DOT PICKS


A badly damaged ethernet cord for delivering broadband internet to a router.

INTERNET RIGHTS

30 million eligible households haven’t signed up for the FCC’s broadband discount program

While the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband discount program has attracted more than 7 million enrollees, a new report shows that millions of people who are eligible are not signing up for the program.

Earlier this year, the FCC launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which offers eligible people a monthly discount on their internet bills.

The program, which was initially part of a coronavirus relief package, will be expanding—and changing its name—after it was given an additional $14 billion to continue indefinitely in the recently signed infrastructure bill. The new program, the Affordable Connectivity Program, will lower the monthly discount from $50-per month to $30-per month.

While the number of enrollees has been climbing steadily each month—the FCC has reported around 1 million additional people signing up for the program each time they announce updates—a new report from Broadband Now shows that there are still millions of eligible households that haven’t taken advantage of the program.

States like South Dakota, North DakotaAlaskaNew Hampshire, and Wyoming have the largest gaps between the estimated households in the state that qualify for the program and the number of homes that have actually enrolled, according to Broadband Now.

Overall, the report estimates that as many as 30 million people who qualify for the program haven’t signed up yet.

—A.W.


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*First Published: Dec 21, 2021, 9:40 am CST