Senate backs down on ‘Facebook Bureau of Investigations’ mandate

Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking companies no longer have to worry about a mandate that would have required them to share with the United States government information about users discussing terrorism-related topics.
Not only is this great news for young students wishing to share info on self-made clock projects, but also for a large portion of citizens that don’t want the feds sifting through private social data without a warrant.
In an effort to pass a funding bill for federal intelligence agencies, the Senate has recently abandoned a provision that would force social networks to share data on users believed to be involved with terrorism activities. The bill itself was initially blocked from reaching the Senate floor by Sen. Ron Wyden, who described the mandate as a “vague [and] dangerous provision.” Wyden said in a statement Monday that he plans to release his hold on the bill, thus allowing it to move forward.
“Going after terrorist recruitment and activity online is a serious mission that demands a serious response from our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said. “Social media companies aren’t qualified to judge which posts amount to ‘terrorist activity,’ and they shouldn’t be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users’ speech.”
But the spirit of the provision is unlikely to be gone for long.
A spokesperson for Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Hill that the senator “regrets having to remove the provision” and “believes it’s important to block terrorists’ use of social media to recruit and incite violence and will continue to work on achieving that goal.” It’ll be back.
This is merely the latest in a string of examples of the government pressuring tech companies to provide it with more information, or to help it take down content related to extremist organizations like the so-called Islamic State. Other efforts relate to encryption, censorship, and access to private communications.

Senate confirms Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman

Wheeler will take over an FCC about to oversee a huge transfer of airwaves from the broadcast to the mobile industry, as well as wrestle with issues such as net neutrality and carrier consolidation.

Senators trying to write shield law can’t agree on who is a “real” journalist
Senators have been debating a so-called federal “shield law” that would protect journalists from government subpoenas and court orders related to their sources, but they can’t seem to agree on who should be defined as a “real” journalist.

What controversy? Verizon, Time Warner begin cross-selling services

Verizon’s joint marketing pact with the cable providers may be facing some serious scrutiny, but Verizon and its partners don’t seem to have noticed. On Thursday, Time Warner Cable blithely announced they would launch bundled mobile and cable services together in five markets.

Does a new crowdfunding bill for startups go too far?

Is new legislation that is aimed at allowing startups to raise money from individuals really going to help the economy — or is it just going to increase the number of stock scams and help fuel a dangerous kind of bubble mentality around investing?

Could crowdsourcing be a better way to make legislation?

In an attempt to come up with better laws on copyright, Reddit is crowdsourcing the creation of a Free Internet Act, while Public Knowledge is trying to introduce its own alternatives. But will crowdsourcing work, or will it just add to the chaos and confusion?

Gaiman: SOPA and PIPA are on the wrong side of history

Author Neil Gaiman said in an interview this week that the media industry is trying to “put genies back in bottles” with laws like SOPA and PIPA, and the Internet has fundamentally changed the landscape, just as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press did.