The Week in Tech Policy: Sept. 10th Edition

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on a new Pew Center study focused on mobile app privacy, the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to measure mobile broadband speeds and more.

Pew Center study: app users are worried about privacy. A study released by the Pew Center on Sept. 5 indicates that more “than half of mobile application users have uninstalled or avoided certain apps over privacy concerns,” according to a report in Hillicon Valley. “The study found that 54 percent of app users have avoided an app when they discover how much personal information it collects or shares. About 30 percent have uninstalled an app that was already on the phone when they learned how it was using their data.”

FCC to measure mobile broadband speeds. The FCC announced on Sept. 5 that it will soon start to measure mobile broadband speeds and report the results to the public. According to this ZDNet report, “The idea is simple: the FCC wants to know — and publish — exactly what mobile broadband speeds users are getting versus the service that users are paying for.” To that end, the FCC will hold an open meeting to talk about the new program on Sept. 21, according to this official statement, which also says the agency has commitments to cooperate in this program from major wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, and CTIA—the Wireless Association.

U.S. privacy groups express support for the European Union’s proposed new privacy law. The National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose Blog reports that a consortium of U.S.-based groups – including the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and Public Citizen – have asked the EU to move ahead with a new privacy law proposed by the European Commission, arguing tougher protections in Europe will benefit U.S. Internet users. “Earlier this year, the commission proposed changes to strengthen the European Union’s 1995 data privacy directive. They include shifting the directive into a ‘regulation’ that would be binding on EU states when it is finalized. Other changes include expanding the definition of what data is considered ‘personal information,’ requiring companies to offer consumers a ‘right to be forgotten’ online, and authorizing privacy officials to impose bigger fines for privacy violations,” according to Tech Daily Dose writer Juilana Gruenwald.

Copyright law and the Internet. In this Sept. 1 editorial, The Economist looks at work under way in a number of countries to review and update copyright laws. They argue that “the response so far has been not to update the laws but to widen their scope and stiffen the penalties”, but also observes that may be changing in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. “Canada passed a law in June that sets a new standard of permissiveness. It caps statutory damages if copyright is breached for non-commercial purposes. It expands the definition of “fair dealing” (“fair use” in America) and creates exemptions for educational purposes and for parody,” the publication notes. “Britain too plans to introduce internet-friendly legislation this autumn after a review led by Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University.”

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