Showing posts with label Comcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comcast. Show all posts

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Internet Governance Forum by Sachin Meier, Impact Investing Intern, Georgetown University.

Last Thursday, the Internet Governance Forum was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Sponsors included Facebook, Amazon, Comcast, the Charles Koch Institute, and ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The conference covered many topics – from blockchain, AI, and 5G to monopoly power and antitrust, privacy, and consumer protection.

Commissioner Christine Wilson of the Federal Trade Commission discussed the myriad problems surrounding Facebook and its "reckless" behavior with respect to user privacy, data collection and targeting. She took a strong stance on the need to directly regulate Facebook and “put a speed bump in front of Mr. Zuckerberg”. She was keen on controlling Zuckerberg’s power within his own company by dictating the composition of Facebook's Board of Directors and regulating other executive powers Zuckerberg holds within the company. She also suggested a more general, industry-wide reform of social media company consumer protection regulations.

Another panel discussed issues rising from new technologies, like Deepfakes and corporate surveillance, which have adversely affected consumers and about which the current laws provide little guidance. Very few of the most important questions were answered, in part because no one currently has the answers. One of the panelists left with the hope that either newer technology, social norms, or governmental regulation will control the malicious use of technology and allow us to find a stable equilibrium for society.

After a break, a panel of lawyers and regulators convened to discuss antitrust regulation and the future of Big Tech. This panel was generally in favor of using antitrust legislation as leverage in order to coerce compliance with rules and to encourage companies not to push their luck with extralegal actions. They discussed targeting Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. The panel noted that, as network effects and economies of scale are the driving force behind these monopolies, breaking them up would not solve the problem, merely destroy a relatively efficient market.

Another issue concerned “the right to be forgotten”. This concept has been seized upon in Europe but remains unacceptable in America. A few panelists pitched the idea.

Despite the pressing nature of many of these issues, and the proclaimed necessity of legislation to fix the problems, many of the speakers and panelists agreed that other, better-publicized issues would continue to have Congressional attention. It is up to the private sector, state and local governments, and society to find solutions to the risks increasingly powerful technology presents.

(Edited by William Michael Cunningham).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Your Freedom will not be brought to you by Comcast, Sprite or Google...

We are delighted that an idea and initiative we suggested has begun to get traction, as evidenced by an effort launched in July called “Venture DC 2015”. Sponsored by Comcast and supported by DC’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), the well funded Venture DC initiative claims to seek to “empower emerging entrepreneurs who are addressing and solving some of DC's most pressing challenges related to health care, education, housing, economic security and access to financial services, specifically in Wards 7 and 8.”

Perhaps a little background is in order. On January 19, 2015, Martin Luther King's Birthday, we convened several DC-based Black Tech firms, policy analysts and others at a meeting in Washington, DC to discuss social innovation and technology. For more, see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/martin-marion-tech-william-michael-cunningham-am-mba

“We focused on the role technology might play in addressing Black Male safety and security issues. The meeting resulted in a discussion about developing an app/apps to address Black Male Health Issues, specifically including the problem of elevated homicide.”As we noted at the time, this is extraordinarily difficult. But we also asked “what is the point of having tech skills if you cannot use them to improve lives, ALL lives, including the Black ones?”

(Besides, there's already an app that is being used to complain to police about Black and homeless people and to report non-crimes. We doubt this came up at the Comcast event.)

Venture DC 2015 probably did not address these issues. This is one reason having a truly diverse (race, gender, income) group discussing these issues, as we did on 1/19/15, matters. The picture below shows attendees at our meeting in contrast to one photo from the Venture DC 2015 meeting.

Left, Jan 2015. Right, Aug 2015


The Comcast event also follows my March 12, 2015 testimony to the DC City Council Government Oversight Committee on the lack of performance with respect to health care for DC residents, Black contracting. The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/rlr_DomOais and the details of the testimony can be found at "DC's revealed Black Economic Development "Plan"" https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dcs-real-development-plan-william-michael-cunningham-am-mba

Unfortunately, if you are an African American male actually from Wards 7 or 8, the City’s revealed economic “development plan” for you is to offer limited low wage employment (I know..I know...better than nothing) while devoting millions of dollars in funding to non-minority companies. 

For example, the D.C. Council gave nearly $33 million in tax breaks to Living Social and "gave" several valuable public properties to a firm called Fundrise. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-wire/post/dc-council-approves-livingsocial-tax-breaks/2012/06/26/gJQAQAvv4V_blog.html  and http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/fundrises_plans_for_the_r.l._christian_library_on_h_street/9772

As we have noted before, our economic research reveals the following: there is not a single city in the United States of America where the majority of Black people resident before gentrification have been better off post-gentrification. Not one. See:  http://twisri.blogspot.com/2015/04/gentrification-and-black-people-in-dc.html

Clearly, the issues we raised in January and March remain unresolved, even after we outlined (for the Chair of the DC City Council and the head of DC's Economic Development Department) two entirely new socially responsible financial instruments to help with these problems, 

Unfortunately, issues of honest inclusion limit the ability of the Comcast-funded effort to legitimately serve the needs of the African American portions of the Ward 7 and 8 community. This is, of course, not surprising. Your freedom will not be brought to you by Comcast, Sprite, or Google.