FCC plans December vote to kill Net Neutrality rules

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission next month is planning a vote to kill Obama-era rules demanding fair treatment of web traffic and may decide to vacate the regulations altogether, according to people familiar with the plans.

 The move would reignite a years-long debate that has seen Republicans and broadband providers seeking to eliminate the rules, while Democrats and technology companies support them. The regulations passed in 2015 bar broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from interfering with web traffic sent by Google, Facebook Inc.and others.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, chosen by President Donald Trump, in April proposed gutting the rules and asked for public reaction. The agency has taken in more than 22 million comments on the matter.

Pai plans to seek a vote in December, said two people who asked not to be identified because the matter hasn’t been made public. As the head of a Republican majority, he is likely to win a vote on whatever he proposes.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Video courtesy of Bloomberg.

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Success! Mattel announced that they were canceling the release of Aristotle

From Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood:

On October 4, Mattel announced that they were canceling the release of Aristotle. Thank you to the thousands of parents, caregivers, and experts who spoke out in support of kids’ privacy and well-being! We commend Mattel for doing the right thing and putting kids first. 

From The New York Times:

Mattel announced on Wednesday that it was canceling plans to bring to market a smart device called Aristotle, which was aimed at children from infancy to adolescence and was set to hit stores in 2018. The decision came after child advocacy groups, lawmakers and parents raised concerns about the impact the artificial intelligence device could have had on children’s privacy, development and well-being.

A petition asking Mattel not to release Aristotle, started in May by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Story of Stuff Project, garnered more than 15,000 signatures and argued that babies and older children shouldn’t be encouraged to form bonds with data-collecting devices.

Read more at The New York Times.

Mobile app gives felons a fresh start

Junior Castañeda spent most of the past decade addicted to methamphetamines and suffering through stints of homelessness. After racking up five misdemeanors, including three DUIs, he cleaned up a couple of years ago and entered community college with dreams of attaining an advanced degree in business.

To finance his education, Castañeda sought part-time employment this spring as a ticket-taker for the Oakland A’s. He thought the job interview went well, but a few weeks later Castañeda received a rejection letter denying him employment based on his prior criminal convictions.

Then, in March, Castañeda found out about a mobile app called Clear My Record. The platform helps people reduce or dismiss nonviolent convictions by submitting crime information to public defenders, streamlining a process that can take months and multiple visits to a county courthouse.

“All these companies have you run a background check,” said Castañeda. “Well, I’ve changed. I’ve reformed from my old life and I can be a productive member of society. I can be an asset to any company.”

Read more at KQED.

Advertisers, afraid to offend, weigh in on Shakespeare and Megyn Kelly

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America drew headlines this week for pulling their support from New York’s Public Theater in response to criticism about its production of “Julius Caesar,” in which the titular character — made up to look like Mr. Trump — is assassinated. Then, on Monday, JPMorgan Chase temporarily halted its ads on NBC News because of Megyn Kelly’s coming interview with Alex Jones, who operates the far-right site Infowars and has become more prominent because of his relationship with Mr. Trump. In both cases, the advertisers’ decisions were cheered by some and deplored as censorship by others.

“A lot of sponsorships that wouldn’t have garnered a lot of attention a year ago are now coming under greater scrutiny because people are wondering what that says about a business’s political stance,” said Kara Alaimo, who teaches public relations at Hofstra University. “Brands are going to be asking a lot more questions moving forward about the content of theatrical productions and potentially even of news outlets, which is sort of the more frightening prospect to me.”

Read more at The New York Times.

How media literacy can help students discern fake news

Recognizing bias in news stories is one form of media literacy. Spotting when the news is totally fabricated is something else entirely. How can teachers help students tell fact from media fiction? Educators and media literacy advocates in Washington state are working together with legislators to address the problem.

Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week reports in the June 6, 2017, edition of PBS NewsHour, featuring AME member Claire Beach and Washington State Senator Marko Liias (D) speaking in the weekly series Making the Grade.

Read the full article here.

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CNN refuses Trump campaign’s ‘fake news’ ad

The head of President Trump’s re-election campaign accused CNN of “censorship” on Tuesday afternoon after the broadcast network refused to run the group’s latest advertisement.

CNN said it would run the 30-second television spot, a celebration of Mr. Trump’s first 100 days in office, only if the campaign removed a section that featured the words “fake news” superimposed over several TV journalists, including Wolf Blitzer of CNN, and others from MSNBC, PBS, ABC and CBS.

CNN defended the decision in a statement on Twitter.

“The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false,” the network said. “Per our policy, it will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted.”

Read more at The New York Times.

 

Verizon accuses net neutrality advocates of lying to rile their base

Net neutrality is under threat and advocacy groups such as Free Press, Fight for the Future and others are pushing to save it. That’s not how Verizon, one of the Internet Service Providers hoping for a reversal of Federal Communications Commission rules enabling net neutrality, sees it.

“You gotta understand, there are a lot of advocacy groups out there that fundraise on this issue,” said Craig Sillman, executive VP-public policy and general counsel at the telco giant. “So how do you fundraise? You stir people up with outrageous claims. Unfortunately, we live in a time where people have discovered that it doesn’t matter what’s true, you just say things to rile up the base.”

Sillman spoke in a PR video released by Verizon on Friday in which he is interviewed by an apparent Verizon employee who calls himself “Jeremy.” Sillman argued the FCC is not planning to kill off net neutrality, it’s merely altering its legal footing.

View the video below, or read more at Ad Age.

Net neutrality: Free Press Action Fund project

Net Neutrality is essential for online activism.We’re working with our allies to mobilize people against the recent rulings on Net Neutrality. We’ll be organizing more creative disruptions and big protests at the FCC. We’ll be correcting the record in the press and doing economic research and legal work to expose and challenge what Pai and Trump are trying to do. People across the country are already speaking out, and there will be many opportunities in the weeks ahead to get involved.

To take action on this issue and save net neutrality, please consider donating to the Free Press Action Fund.

The Free Press Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization fighting for your rights to connect and communicate. The Free Press Action Fund does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

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House Bill 2200: A bill to create internet privacy protections

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Washington State is trying to pass a bill that would create internet privacy protections.

Check out this bill here!

The bill would create new internet privacy protections enforceable under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, including:

  • Compelling transparency by making ISP privacy policies available to customers so they know what to expect.
  • Protecting privacy by prohibiting ISPs from selling or using private information (such as a person’s browsing history) without consent.
  • Requiring ISPs to report to customers when they have been hacked and personal data has been breached so customers can protect themselves.
Please consider supporting this bill. It is important that consumers should have the option to keep their personal browser history private!

Silicon Valley is beginning to fight the Trump administration’s net neutrality plan

A lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other web giants told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission yesterday that it shouldn’t weaken net neutrality rules — an early warning shot at the ideas contemplated by the agency’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai.

Under Pai’s draft plan, which he has not yet presented publicly, internet providers like AT&T, Comcast*, Charter and Verizon could soon escape tough regulation: They would only have to promise in writing that they won’t block web pages or slow down their competitors’ traffic, sources have said.

Read more at Recode.

Image courtesy of Recode.

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ESSB 5449 successful: Our bill has passed!

On Thursday, April 20, our bill became a law! Governor Jay Inslee signed it with AME representatives Barbara Johnson, Nick Pernisco and Marilyn Cohen present. The law will go into effect on July 23.

In speaking with the group, Governor Inslee noted how this bill was addressing an important subject.

Multiple news articles have come out to coverage the passing of this bill:

View images from the bill signing below.

Something is breaking American politics, but it’s not social media

Here’s something everyone knows: Social media is driving American politics into a ditch of partisanship. Political junkies log on and cocoon themselves in a bubble of friendly punditry, appealing fake news, and outrageous acts from the other side. Every retweet and every like is another moment of identity confirmation, another high five to our friends, another reminder that we’re right and they’re wrong.

The result is, well, this ugly mess — President Donald Trump, red and blue Americas, polls showing we fear and hate the other party more than ever before, conspiracy theories growing like weeds, a polity where agreement is impossible and everyone is angry. Damn you, Facebook! Curse you, Twitter! (Instagram, you’re cool.)

But what if this obvious analysis is wrong? What if social media isn’t driving rising polarization in American politics?

Read more at Vox.

Image courtesy of Vox.

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Profile of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg reviews “like” campaign

This great piece from BuzzFeed highlights the Facebook CEO’s strategy to appeal to his constituents and expand the brand, drawing on his matured personality and candid lifestyle. The article goes on to say:

Until recently, Mark Zuckerberg’s most iconic public appearance may have been the image of the young startup founder sweating through his hoodie onstage while journalist Kara Swisher grilled him at a tech conference in 2010. But Zuckerberg’s reputation as someone averse to the hot seat began a couple years earlier, on 60 Minutes.

In the segment, anchor Lesley Stahl tells a 23-year-old Zuckerberg he’s replaced Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as the tech exec that “everyone is talking about.” In response, the CEO of Facebook says nothing, his face placid. “You’re just staring at me,” says Stahl. “Is that a question?” Zuckerberg shoots back. Cue the voiceover: “We were warned that he can be awkward and reluctant to talk about himself.”

Zuckerberg, now a 32-year-old dad with one daughter and another on the way, has evolved considerably in the intervening decade. He hired speechwriters. He spruced up his uniform from Valley schlub to monochrome minimalism. He took on a series of annual self-improvement challenges that made him into a “lifestyle guru” for some male tech workers, according to the New York Times Style section.

Read more at BuzzFeed.

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Net neutrality: Trump can’t ignore this

While Congress is on recess over the next two weeks, we will be mobilizing people like you to flood congressional offices and town halls and speak out about this issue. Your support will help lift up the voices of everyday people whose lives are most impacted in this fight, including media makers, communities of color and resistance fighters. Your ability to connect and communicate shouldn’t be up for sale, and we’re ready to activate the masses to save the internet you love.

To take action on this issue and save net neutrality, please consider donating to the Free Press Action Fund.

The Free Press Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization fighting for your rights to connect and communicate. The Free Press Action Fund does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

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California fake news bill

A legislative proposal aimed at outlawing “fake news” websites was sidelined in the California State Legislature at the eleventh hour Tuesday upon drawing fire from free speech advocates over its certain implications on the First Amendment.

California Assemblyman Ed Chau, Monterey Park Democrat, abruptly canceled plans Tuesday to hold a hearing dedicated to A.B. 1104, a bill that would have made it illegal to publish false or deceptive statements on the internet about a political candidate or ballot measure.

Also known as the California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act, Mr. Chau’s office previously called the proposal “an important step forward in the fight against ‘fake news’ and deceptive campaign tactics.”

Read more at The Washington Times.

Image courtesy of The Washington Times.

The odd love-hate relationship between Donald Trump and mainstream news

While there may be resentment from many on how much the news focuses on Donald Trump, viewership on news network has jumped, according to Nielsen ratings.

Two articles outline the strange connection between The Donald and his influence on the rise in news consumption, as well as how this conflicts with the overall decline in TV watching specifically.

This piece from Fortune shares:

The election of Donald Trump as president may be having a questionable effect on the economic and political outlook for the U.S., but it has been a considerable shot in the arm for the TV news business, according to new numbers from Nielsen.

Last year, adults over 18-years-old watched over 27 billion minutes of national cable television news programming per week. That’s almost 45% more than they watched in 2015, according to Nielsen’s latest Total Audience Report, which looks at consumption patterns for cable, smartphones, and desktop computers.

Read more at Fortune.

And this other piece from The New York Times focuses on Trump’s relationship with news giant CNN and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker specifically.

Had Trump lost the election, CNN would probably have returned to its previously scheduled struggle for survival. Instead, it has become more central to the national conversation than at any point in the network’s history since the first gulf war. And the man who is presiding over this historic moment at CNN happens to be the same one who was in some part responsible for Donald Trump’s political career.

Read more at The New York Times.

Step 8 of 9, how a bill becomes a law

We thought some of you might be interested in seeing where our bill is in the legislative process. The information below is taken from the Washington State Legislature about how a bill becomes a law. Our bill is at step 8. Almost there!

  1. A bill may be introduced in either the Senate or House of Representatives by a member.
  2. It is referred to a committee for a hearing. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject, or take no action on the bill.
  3. The committee report on the passed bill is read in open session of the House or Senate, and the bill is then referred to the Rules Committee.
  4. The Rules Committee can either place the bill on the second reading calendar for debate before the entire body, or take no action.
  5. At the second reading, a bill is subject to debate and amendment before being placed on the third reading calendar for final passage.
  6. After passing one house, the bill goes through the same procedure in the other house.
  7. If amendments are made in the other house, the first house must approve the changes.
  8. When the bill is accepted in both houses, it is signed by the respective leaders and sent to the governor.
  9. The governor signs the bill into law or may veto all or part of it. If the governor fails to act on the bill, it may become law without a signature.

For those of us old enough to remember, this whole thing is very Schoolhouse Rocky.

Go viral or die trying

With the House declining to hold a vote on the American Health Care Act, prospects for the millions who would have lost coverage aren’t quite as bleak as they seemed just a few days ago. But the bill’s lack of support came, at least in part, because it was somehow not cruel enough for the GOP’s far-right wing. Last week’s news isn’t cause for celebration because a perfect system has remained in place, then, but rather because a broken one wasn’t made worse. And regardless of what transpires with health care down the line, at a time when more than half of the country has less than $1,000 in savings in case of an emergency, it seems guaranteed that more and more people will turn to the aid of their Facebook network for health care.

For a steadily increasing number of Americans, including millions who now regularly use sites like YouCaring and GoFundMe, raising billions of dollars in charitable giving, health care has in fact become about competition, but not the kind Republicans usually talk about. Instead, even under the Affordable Care Act, it’s become a competition for individuals, like so much else in our modern lives, in the marketplace of virality.

Read more at Esquire.

Image courtesy of Esquire.

Comcast-funded civil rights groups claim low-income people prefer ads over privacy

The House of Representatives joined the Senate Tuesday in voting to repeal new Federal Communications Commission rules that would have stopped internet service providers (ISPs) from using and selling consumers’ web browsing data without their consent.

But a look at the comments submitted to the FCC reveal that many of the opponents of the privacy regulation came not from any “community” but from groups with extensive financial ties to phone and cable companies — with some of their claims hinging on the absurd.

For instance, the League of United Latin American Citizens and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, two self-described civil rights organizations, told the FCC that “many consumers, especially households with limited incomes, appreciate receiving relevant advertising that is keyed to their interests and provides them with discounts on the products and services they use.”

Read more at The Intercept.

Image courtesy of The Intercept.

AME featured in News Tribune article regarding media literacy

An article about media literacy in the Tacoma News Tribune features several AME members discussing our impact within the education field and work on the Digitial Citizenship/Media Literacy bill. Linda Kennedy, Claire Beach and Marilyn Cohen are mentioned, as well as Senator Marko Liias, who has championed the bill since the very beginning.

The article quotes AME members and Senator Liias:

“Screens wake us up in the morning. They send us off to school,” says Linda Kennedy, a former Seattle television journalist who now offers media literacy education.

“It was something we needed to tackle, and we could do it in a way that does not put a burden on districts.” -Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood

“How do students interpret information they find online? That goes to the heart of media literacy…. We’re seeing thousands of devices being delivered into our schools,” Marilyn Cohen said. “We are in a revolution.”

Read more at The News Tribune.

Trump’s new budget axes NPR and PBS, take action

On March 16, the Trump administration released its budget outline for 2018, complete with a plan to axe funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds hundreds of local NPR and PBS stations around the country along with many public-media programs.1

This could mean no more NewsHour, no more Frontline, and no more Democracy Now! on your local station. We encourage you to make your voice heard in denouncing this terrible news.

Take action to tell Congress how important public broadcasting is by clicking here.

The Free Press Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization fighting for your rights to connect and communicate. The Free Press Action Fund does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

Image courtesy of Free Press Action Fund.

Is TV really sheltering kids from climate change?

There’s no shortage of preschool shows that talk about nature and the environment. Toons like Nature Cat, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, and Ready Jet Go! cover everything from animal habitats, to sand dunes and the weather. But one of the most taboo topics for kids shows these days relates to the C words—climate change. The topic isn’t openly spoken about in any science-focused shows for young kids. But there’s more to the story.

Save for lone references in shows like Doc McStuffins and Dora the Explorer, kids series may not purposely talk about climate change—but they are still familiarizing kids with the concept.

“I think that these are complex issues, so they have to be handled in a simple way,” says  Cathy Galeota, Nickelodeon SVP of preschool production.

Hear from Cathy, Frances Nankin, a curriculum adviser for PBS KIDS series Nature Cat and Linda Simensky, VP of children’s programming at PBS on how these issues are being explained to young children through popular television shows.

Read more at Kidscreen.

Image courtesy of Kidscreen.

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Chatbot using Facebook Messenger app now helping refugees claim asylum

The creator of a chatbot which overturned more than 160,000 parking fines and helped vulnerable people apply for emergency housing is now turning the bot to helping refugees claim asylum.

The original DoNotPay, created by Stanford student Joshua Browder, describes itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer”, giving free legal aid to users through a simple-to-use chat interface. The chatbot, using Facebook Messenger, can now help refugees fill in an immigration application in the US and Canada. For those in the UK, it helps them apply for asylum support.

Read more at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Website turns negative Trump rhetoric into messages of hope

Fed up of hearing President Donald Trump already? A group of L.A. creatives has come up with a way of making his words sound more positive.

Its TrumpWith.Love website invites users to create their own video messages of love using Donald Trump’s words. Simply type in a message of love or positivity (the site will reject negative and foul language, dismissing it as "locker room talk") and it’ll make a video out of single words cut from Trump speeches.

Read more at Creativity Online.

The growing industry of political satire

A recent article in CBC News highlighted the power of political comedy.

And when it comes to satire, Trump is an industry. According to people in the business, Trump is making comedy great again. In a TV market where audiences are shrinking, the numbers for satirical comedy are holding their own or growing. Larger audiences and new programs mean higher revenues and more production jobs.

Read more at CBC News.

Additionally, U.S President Donald Trump’s reported reaction to an SNL parody of his White House press secretary is drawing attention about the power of political comedy. View it at CBC News below.

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