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The biggest stories this past month in our estimation were California’s move toward its own brand of net neutrality as well as other examples of government regulation of the tech industry. Not all of that regulation is for the better, however, so while Germany abandoned its silly digital tax, the UK decided to take even more steps toward spying on its citizens.
It’s not just political meddling that makes it into this state of the cloud, of course: we also have a few examples of corporate greed and Facebook steadfastly continuing the trend it started back in April when all those users’ details leaked. Let’s get started.
As most people know, the fight to abolish net neutrality in the United States hasn’t been an easy one for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his corporate puppet masters. Challenge after challenge has been issued and though they have all been rebuffed, it seems there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel for people that like a free and open internet (like everybody that isn’t an ISP or a politician paid off by them).
However, even when the repeal was only a glint in Pai’s eye, several governors promised to set in place net neutrality rules in their states even if there was a federal loosening of rules. Among them were New York and Montana (surprising, as that may be one of the reddest states out there), but it ended up being California as the first into that particular breach.
The Golden State’s governor, Jerry Brown, spurred on by the fact that Silicon Valley is in his state, quickly drew up plans for the bill. Interestingly enough, California’s new rules are even more restrictive on what ISPs can and cannot do than the recently repealed federal ones. Unsurprisingly, Verizon, Time Warner et al. wasted no time in running to daddy Donald to get them thrown out.
The ink of Brown’s signature on the new bill was barely dry on September 30th before the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of California, claiming that Sacramento doesn’t have the right to have its own net neutrality because how dare they.
Interestingly enough, when Republicans want to ban gay marriage or background checks for guns, states’ rights are a matter of the highest principle, but if you’d like to keep the internet free and fair, then the might of the federal government needs to be respected. Say what you want, but if you buy yourself a U.S. politician with massive campaign donations, he stays bought.
Witty Facebook Title Here (Seriously, We’re Running Out of Ideas)
Facebook is still in trouble. Somehow surviving a massive scandal, U.S. Congressional hearings, UK Parliamentary hearings and all other kinds of disasters, the corporation is going strong and somehow still has users. We have no idea why, but then again, we still have a Cloudwards.net Facebook page, too, so maybe we shouldn’t mock it too much.
The newest news is that Germany is considering an antitrust suit against the world’s biggest social media site, in this case for abusing its market position. Apparently, being the biggest kid in the playpen also means that you’ll get bad attention, too.
However, the edifice is crumbling elsewhere, too: the founders of Instagram, which Facebook bough for an obscene amount of money back in 2011, are leaving the Database of Doom. Their reasons for leaving are unknown, but scuttlebutt has it it’s over the way the company handles private data. They’re not the first to leave on a matter of principle, in August the company’s security chief also abandoned ship.
In early September, Amazon became the second company in the world to be worth $1 trillion, having being beaten to the punch by Apple by just a few days. A few weeks later, CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he would implement a company-wide minimum wage of $15 per hour, though the employees quickly found out this meant fewer bonuses and stock options. Bezos was later seen lighting up a cigar with a hundred-dollar note while laughing (we may need to fact check this).
Several governments want backdoors built into apps. This is worrying not just because our privacy is at stake, but also because given such easy access, you can expect surveillance agencies to not always honor the need for a warrant. In the same vein, Britain want ever more control over the internet. Apparently people doing whatever they want on the web is just not okay.
Another potentially restrictive measure is the passing of a new digital copyright law by the EU Parliament. The much-dreaded Article 13 was part of that package, which according to some will end the internet as we know it in Europe. Proponents of the bill say it will not and that the article is mainly aimed at stopping big corporations in their tracks. We’ll likely know more as the bill passes further through the legislative process.
Even while President Trump is congratulating himself over Twitter about kinda stopping the North Korean nuclear program, several agencies squarely put the blame on North Korea for WannaCry and other cyberattacks. This doesn’t seem to have put too much pressure on the relationship between the rogue regime and that of Kim Jong Un, so maybe back channels do work.
And with that news we end this little recap of the month that was and look eagerly toward October. Expect more Facebook fracas, article 13 hysteria, as well as more news about Google’s expansion into China. Watch this space.
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