Charlton McIlwain (@cmcilwain) is Vice Provost or Faculty Engagement and Development; Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His recent work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. He recently wrote Racial Formation, Inequality & the Political Economy of Web Traffic, in the journal Information, Communication & Society, and he co-authored, with Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, the recent report Beyond the Hashtags: Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice, published by the Center for Media & Social Impact, and supported by the Spencer Foundation. Today, Tuesday October 1st, 2019, his new book entitled Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter, releases viaOxford University Press and available wherever you buy books.
McIlwain, Charlton. Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter (Oxford University Press, 2019)
The New York Times reports that the Electronic Frontier Foundation shared with it scores of documents uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act request that reveal the extent to which federal law enforcement officials issue subpoenas to companies in an effort to uncover personal data about individuals the Justice Department suspects of being a threat to National Security. The Justice Department has issued the so-called National Security Letters (NSLs) to companies as diverse as Equifax, Verizon, Google, and Microsoft seeking things like user names, IP addresses, locations, and records of purchases made by their customers.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is pushing for more tech expertise on the Hill, saying that it would help resist tech companies’ growing lobbying influence in Washington. Warren says tech companies’ strategy has been to purport that they understand tech issues better than congressional staffers. So she’s advocating for the reestablishment of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which Newt Gingrich dismantled in 1995. For about two decades, the OTA was tasked with helping to keep Congressional staffers abreast of tech issues.
The NAACP slammed Comcast for asking the Supreme Court to curtail section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which outlaws discrimination in contracting. Comcast and Trump’s Department of Justice are asking the Supreme Court to water down the statute by requiring plaintiffs to prove that race was the only motivating factor for why a defendant didn’t award a contract, as opposed being one of several factors. Comcast is requesting the more conservative reading of the statute in the context of a $20 billion lawsuit Byron Allen brought against it and Charter for opting out of carrying Allen’s cable channels. The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief on Comcast’s behalf. Allen is arguing that race does not need to be the only motivating factor in a contract discrimination lawsuit and that Comcast and the Trump administration are conspiring to eviscerate this landmark civil rights law, which was passed in the wake of the Civil War—the first one.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that seven (7) companies including Capital One, Edward Jones, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Enterprise Holdings, Renewal by Andersen, Drive Time Auto, and Sandhills Publishing discriminated against women and older workers by targeting ads based on age and gender. The Commission found that while targeting based on ages an gender may be appropriate in some cases, it’s not appropriate for housing, real estate, financial services, and job opportunities.
The Federal Trade Commission is suing dating platform Match Group, owner of Match, Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge, PlentyofFish and other dating apps, for fraud, TechCrunch reports. The lawsuit targets Match.com specifically saying the platform is overrun by bots and spammers that Match encourages and profits from.
Online delivery service DoorDash is one of the latest targets of a hack. This time, the hack exposed the data of 4.9 million people. Even though the hack happened in May, DoorDash didn’t discover it until September.
Finally, the Government Accountability Office wants the FCC to take more active measures to address a shortage of spectrum on Tribal lands. The report indicates that Tribal lands, especially those in rural areas, lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to broadband access. It says that wireless can help close the divide. GAO says the FCC needs to do more to assess the extent to which Tribal organizations participate in spectrum auctions and to which unused spectrum across tribal lands could be used to deliver broadband access.