WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department has sent two proposed rules to the White House to regulate the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the agency said on Tuesday as it prepared to unveil the winners of new drone pilot projects.
One of the new rules would allow drones to fly over people while the other would allow for remote identification and tracking of unmanned aircraft in flight. After both are formally proposed, it would take months or even more than a year before they are finalized.
Current rules prohibit nighttime drone flights or operations over people without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has no requirements or voluntary standards for electrically broadcasting information to identify an unmanned aircraft.
The FAA has said regulations are necessary to protect the public and the National Airspace System from bad actors or errant hobbyists. Several incidents around major airports have involved drones getting close to aircraft.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in December a September collision between a small civilian drone and a U.S. Army helicopter was caused by the drone operator’s failure to see the helicopter because he was intentionally flying the drone out of visual range.
The helicopter landed safely but a 1-1/2 inch (3.8 cm) dent was found on the leading edge of one of its four main rotor blades and parts of the drone were found lodged in its engine oil cooler fan.
Later on Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil the winners for 10 drone projects involving cities, universities, an Indian tribe, counties and states. Reuters reported Tuesday that major technology and aerospace companies including Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc and Airbus SE are vying to take part in the new slate of drone tests.
The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for purposes ranging from package delivery to crop inspection.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday endorsed U.S. legislation to regulate political ads across the internet, a concession to lawmakers days before he is scheduled to testify in two U.S. congressional hearings.
FILE PHOTO: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Zuckerberg also said Facebook would begin requiring people who want to run ads on the social network addressing political issues to verify their identity and location. That expands an earlier plan to require such verification for ads directly about elections.
“Election interference is a problem that’s bigger than any one platform, and that’s why we support the Honest Ads Act,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.
That legislation was introduced last October to counter concerns about foreign nationals using social media to influence American politics, an issue being looked at as part of an investigation into possible Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence U.S. voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.
In February, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in the election by sowing discord on social media.
The legislation would expand existing election law covering television and radio outlets to apply to paid internet and digital advertisements on platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
Facebook had previously stopped short of backing the legislation, saying it wanted to work with lawmakers further and announcing attempts at self-regulation.
Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear on Tuesday before a joint hearing of two U.S. Senate committees, and on Wednesday before a U.S. House committee.
Under the Honest Ads Act, digital platforms with at least 50 million monthly views would need to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by anyone spending more than $ 500.
Zuckerberg said on Friday that he also wanted to shed more light on “issue ads,” or ads that discuss a political subject but do not directly relate to an election or a candidacy.
Issue ads are frequently run by interest groups, lobbying organizations and wealthy individuals who want to influence legislation or have an indirect impact on an election.
Every advertiser who wants to run an issue ad will need to confirm their identity and location, Zuckerberg wrote.
Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco and Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Bill Rigby
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc faced new calls for regulation from within U.S. Congress and was hit with questions about personal data safeguards on Saturday after reports a political consultant gained inappropriate access to 50 million users’ data starting in 2014.
FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
Facebook disclosed the issue in a blog post on Friday, hours before media reports that conservative-leaning Cambridge Analytica, a data company known for its work on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was given access to the data and may not have deleted it.
The scrutiny presented a new threat to Facebook’s reputation, which was already under attack over Russians’ alleged use of Facebook tools to sway American voters before and after the 2016 U.S. elections.
“It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted.
“They say ‘trust us.’ Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary,” she added, referring to Facebook’s CEO and a committee she sits on.
Facebook said the root of the problem was that researchers and Cambridge Analytica lied to it and abused its policies, but critics on Saturday threw blame at Facebook as well, demanding answers on behalf of users and calling for new regulation.
Facebook insisted the data was misused but not stolen, because users gave permission, sparking a debate about what constitutes a hack that must be disclosed to customers.
“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook’s data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.
Pasquale said Facebook’s response that data had not technically been stolen seemed to obfuscate the central issue that data was apparently used in a way contrary to the expectations of users.
“It amazes me that they are trying to make this about nomenclature. I guess that’s all they have left,” he said.
Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner said the episode bolstered the need for new regulations about internet advertising, describing the industry as the “Wild West.”
“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.
With Republicans controlling the Senate’s majority, though, it was not clear if Klobuchar and Warner would prevail.
The New York Times and London’s Observer reported on Saturday that private information from more than 50 million Facebook users improperly ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, and the information has not been deleted despite Facebook’s demands beginning in 2015.
Some 270,000 people allowed use of their data by a researcher, who scraped the data of all their friends as well, a move allowed by Facebook until 2015. The researcher sold the data to Cambridge, which was against Facebook rules, the newspapers said.
Cambridge Analytica worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. A Trump campaign official said, though, that it used Republican data sources, not Cambridge Analytica, for its voter information.
Facebook, in a series of written statements beginning late on Friday, said its policies had been broken by Cambridge Analytica and researchers and that it was exploring legal action.
Cambridge Analytica in turn said it had deleted all the data and that the company supplying it had been responsible for obtaining it.
Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, hinted the company could make more changes to demonstrate it values privacy. “We must do better and will,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that “our business depends on it at every level.”
Facebook said it asked for the data to be deleted in 2015 and then relied on written certifications by those involved that they had complied.
Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said Facebook was relying on the good will of decent people rather than preparing for intentional misuse.
Moreover, she found it puzzling that Facebook knew about the abuse in 2015 but did not disclose it until Friday. “That’s a long time,” she said.
Britain’s data protection authority and the Massachusetts attorney general on Saturday said they were launching investigations into the use of Facebook data.
“It is important that the public are fully aware of how information is used and shared in modern political campaigns and the potential impact on their privacy,” UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said she wants to understand how the data was used, what policies if any were violated and what the legal implications are.
Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Peter Henderson and Chris Reese
TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin extended its sharp tumble of the past 24 hours, skidding more than seven percent on Wednesday in a rapid downturn in fortunes as investors were spooked by fears regulators might clamp down on an asset whose value has skyrocketed in the past year.
The price of the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency fell to as low as $ 10,567 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, not far from its six-week nadir of $ 10,162 touched the previous day. The session’s high was $ 11,794.07.
It led the fall in cryptocurrencies, although others such as Ethereum and Ripple, have also slid sharply this week after reports South Korea and China could ban trading, sparking worries of a wider regulatory crackdown.
“Cryptocurrencies could be capped in the current quarter ahead of G20 meeting in March, where policymakers could discuss tighter regulations,” said Shuhei Fujise, chief analyst at Alt Design.
At its lows on Tuesday, Bitcoin had fallen 25 percent in the session, its biggest daily decline in four months. It was a far cry from its peak close to $ 20,000 in December, when the virtual currency had risen nearly 2000 percent over the year.
Tuesday’s decline followed reports that South Korea’s finance minister had said banning trading in cryptocurrencies was still an option and that the government plans a set of measures to clamp down on the “irrational” cryptocurrency investment craze.
Separately, a senior Chinese central banker said authorities should ban centralised trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services.
“Bitcoin is deciding whether this is the moment to crash and burn,” said Steven Englander, head of strategy at New York-based Rafiki Capital.
“My conjecture is that cryptocurrency holders are trying to decide whether to abandon Bitcoin because its limitations mean it will be superseded by better products or bet that it can thrive despite them.”
Bitcoin futures maturing on Wednesday on the Cboe Global Markets Inc’s Cboe Futures Exchange were at $ 10,740, with 1,586 contracts traded, after having opened at $ 10,850. The open interest was 2,895 contracts. The Cboe 14 March 2018 contract was quoted at $ 11,130.
The futures are cash-settled contracts based on the auction price of bitcoin in U.S. dollars on the Gemini Exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
The MVIS CryptoCompare Ripple Index, which covers the performance of a digital assets portfolio which invests in Ripple (XRP), a cryptocurrency developed by Ripple Labs, dropped 15 percent to $ 7,298 on Wednesday.
That equity index has seen a 66 percent slide in its value since the start of the year. Ripple itself was quoted at $ 1.15 on website CoinMarketCap, down from a high of $ 3.81 on Jan 4.
“The run-up in Bitcoin created a mystique of one-way trading which is being shaken but the pricing requires faith that there will always be demand,” Englander wrote.
“This is far from guaranteed given the existence of alternatives with better characteristics.”
Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in TOKYO; Writing by Vidya Ranganathan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam
Next week, New York State will begin a 45-day public comment period on its new financial industry cybersecurity regulation — and, so far, security experts have a favorable view of the proposal.
Under the new regulations, banks and insurance companies doing business in New York State will need to establish a cybersecurity program, appoint a Chief Information Security Officer and monitor the cybersecurity policies of their business partners.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this is the first such regulation in the country. “This regulation helps guarantee the financial services industry upholds its obligation to protect consumers and ensure that its systems are sufficiently constructed to prevent cyber-attacks to the fullest extent possible,” he said in a statement.