Daily Digest (11/5)

Calif. Voters Approve Prop 24 Privacy Measure; Did Social Media Actually Counter Election Misinformation?; US Judge Unsure If He Has Grounds to Issue New TikTok Injunction; T-Mobile to Pay $200M Fine to Resolve FCC Investigation.

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Calif. Voters Approve Prop 24 Privacy Measure

California voters chose Tuesday to rewrite the rules of the internet, passing the California Privacy Rights Act (Prop 24) by a huge margin, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The initiative reinforces and redefines parts of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which took effect this year, giving residents new rights on how companies collect and use their personal information.

Prop 24 closes several loopholes and makes it easier in some circumstances for people to opt out of having their data collected or processed.

To ensure that companies follow the rules, Prop 24 creates a state agency to enforce it, expanding the enforcement power that had been limited to the attorney general’s office.

These changes take effect in 2023.

“We are at the beginning of a journey that will profoundly shape the fabric of our society by redefining who is in control of our most personal information and putting consumers back in charge of their own data,” Alastair Mactaggart, chair of Californians for Consumer Privacy and Proposition 24 sponsor, told the Times in a statement.

“I’m looking forward to the work ahead and the next steps in implementing this law, including setting up a commission that is dedicated to protecting consumers online.”

But many consumer rights and privacy advocacy groups that supported CCPA, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Consumer Federation of California, opposed Prop 24 — calling it a step backward for privacy in some places and a missed opportunity in others.

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Did Social Media Actually Counter Election Misinformation?

Before Tuesday’s election, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube promised to clamp down on misinformation, including unsubstantiated charges of fraud and premature declarations of victory by candidates.

They mostly did just that, The Associated Press reports, though not without a few hiccups.

Overall, however, their measures still didn’t really address the problems exposed by the 2020 U.S. presidential contest, critics of the social platforms contend.

“We’re seeing exactly what we expected, which is not enough, especially in the case of Facebook,” Shannon McGregor, an assistant professor of journalism and media at the University of North Carolina, told AP.

One big test emerged early Wednesday as vote-counting continued in such battleground states as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Republican President Donald Trump told supporters at the White House that he would challenge the poll results. He also posted statements about the election on Facebook and Twitter, following months of signaling doubts about expanded mail-in voting and his desire for final election results when polls closed Tuesday.

In response, tech companies for the most part labeled false or misleading election posts in order to point users to reliable information, AP reports.

In Twitter’s case, that sometimes meant obscuring the offending posts, forcing readers to click through warnings to see them.

For Facebook and YouTube, it mostly meant attaching authoritative information to election-related posts.

For instance, Google-owned YouTube showed video of Trump’s White House remarks suggesting fraud and premature victories, just as some traditional news channels did.

But Google placed an “information panel” beneath the videos noting that election results may not be final and linking to Google’s election results page with additional information.

“They’re just appending this little label to the president’s posts, but they’re appending those to any politician talking about the election,” McGregor told AP.

She blamed tech giants and traditional media outlets for shirking their responsibility to curb the spread of misinformation about the election results versus amplifying comments just because the president said it.

“Allowing any false claim to spread can lead more people to accept it once it’s there,” she told AP.

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US Judge Unsure If He Has Grounds to Issue New TikTok Injunction

A federal district court judge said Wednesday that he was unsure if TikTok could demonstrate “irreparable harm” to win a new injunction against the government’s order that Apple and Google app stores remove TikTok for download by new users.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols for the District of Columbia made the observation during a Wednesday hearing, Reuters reports.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone stopped the Commerce Department from barring TikTok’s data-hosting within the U.S. and other technical transactions that she said would effectively ban the use of the app in this country.

The White House contends TikTok poses national-security concerns as the personal data of U.S. users could be obtained by China’s government.

TikTok denies the allegations. The restrictions were set to take effect Nov. 12.

A Justice Department lawyer told Nichols that the government had not decided whether to appeal Beetlestone’s order, Reuters reports.

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T-Mobile to Pay $200M Fine to Resolve FCC Investigation

T-Mobile U.S. Inc. will pay a $200 million penalty to resolve a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation into its Sprint unit over allegations it failed to comply with rules on a low-income subsidy program, the agency said Wednesday.

The settlement said Sprint might have received government subsidies for more than 1 million customers who did not receive service under the Lifeline program, Reuters reports.

In a statement, T-Mobile said it was glad the issue it inherited “is now resolved.

“We look forward to continuing to deliver reliable and affordable network connectivity to consumers,” the company said.

Sprint’s voluntary disclosure was due to a software programming issue, saying its systems failed to detect that more than a million Lifeline subscribers nationwide lacked usage over an extended period of time, the FCC said

That represented about a third of Sprint’s more than 3 million Lifeline customers.

Sprint also disclosed that “it potentially claimed Lifeline subsidies for subscribers that Sprint otherwise would not have submitted … under its policies and procedures,” the FCC said.

The agency disclosed early last year that it was investigating reports that Sprint, before it merged with T-Mobile, was improperly claiming monthly subsidies for serving about 885,000 Lifeline subscribers not using the service.

Chairman Ajit Pai said the settlement “sends a strong message about the importance of complying with rules designed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the Lifeline program.”

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— By DPN Staff