Kirsten Gillibrand Proposes U.S. Data Protection Agency

via Protocol:

The so-called Data Protection Act of 2020 would create the country’s first data protection agency to oversee how privacy laws in America are enforced and guide Congress on the development of those laws. The agency would be empowered to impose penalties on companies that violate people’s privacy, taken them to court, field consumer complaints, and launch investigations.

“As our country and economy continue to evolve with the digital age, we face a national crisis as our personal data gets targeted — and not just for marketing by brands, but also to establish if we can access certain jobs, loans, or prices on products,” Gillibrand wrote. “Americans should be able to go to an institution that will look out for, and actively work to protect, their privacy and freedom.

Schools in Rural Texas Find Workarounds to Address Lack of Broadband, Digital Divide

A new report from my office looks at how the lack of broadband in rural Texas communities is crippling business and agriculture, and forcing schools to find creative ways to provide online access to students:

To close the gap, students often create “workarounds” to connect with online resources, such as gathering outside businesses and school campuses to tap free Wi-Fi. Hetherington says Bandera students were often seen waiting in line at the Bandera County Library after school to use its high-speed internet. Today, Bandera ISD’s BEC-provided Wi-Fi has been incorporated into its curriculum; for example, Alkek Elementary students take iPads down Main Street on digital “scavenger hunts” to hone their online skills. Texas school districts such as Huntsville ISD and South Texas ISD have outfitted school buses with Wi-Fi so students can study during the ride home, while Weatherford ISD has provided signage and even recycled hardware for local businesses that want to offer students free internet access.

The Home Computer Christmas War of 1983

Fantastic article on the battle royale between computer and gaming manufacturers in the runup to Christmas in 1983:

Coleco had entered the videogame console market late, introducing the Colecovision in mid-1982 just as Atari was beginning to wear out its welcome with the public. With its superior graphics and sound, and Donkey Kong as its pack-in game, it sold well before Christmas, but was not immune to the plague ET subsequently cursed the industry with and when Coleco management saw consumer sentiment was turning toward home computers they saw an opportunity to jump trains. The marketing department decided their ideal customer was parents of less-technically savvy teenagers who needed to do school assignments and wanted to play arcade conversions, and so they suggested adding a printer, keyboard and tape storage to the existing Colecovision console, rather than develop an entire new machine. It was hoped this could get the computer, christened the Adam, to market faster, but adding all those peripherals was trickier than expected, and despite promises to retailers Coleco failed to deliver most of the units in time for Christmas – and many of those they did deliver were defective. Poor reviews and disappointed potential customers coloured public sentiment and the Adam bombed, taking the Colecovision with it.

Loneliness is Instagram’s Hottest Trend

Kaitlynn Tiffany at The Atlantic:

In a different era, the It Girl was someone whose photo was taken by onlookers at all the good parties. The new It Girl is someone who takes photos of herself, at home. She spends her time alone and is seen on Instagram, where her “art direction” is what makes her desirable. These young women, Stagg notes, “are, more often than not, self-described homebodies, even antisocial. Today, a cool girl is coaxed from a bedroom iPhone shoot into a professional studio.”

Court Upholds Willy-Nilly Gadget Searches Along U.S. Border

via Wired:

“We’re disappointed in today’s decision, which allows the government to conduct intrusive searches of Americans’ laptops and other electronics at the border without any suspicion that those devices contain evidence of wrongdoing,” said Catherine Crump, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case in July 2011. “Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.”

Google set to update Street View

via Google

Today we’re making our Street View coverage more comprehensive than ever before by launching our biggest ever update–doubling our number of special collections and updating over 250,000 miles of roads around the world. We’re increasing Street View coverage in Macau, Singapore, Sweden, the U.S., Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada. And we’re launching special collections in South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico, among others.