FCC Advances Net Neutrality Rulemaking, Raising Prospect of Stricter Privacy Rules for ISPs

The Federal Communications Commissions voted yesterday to move forward with its open internet protections rulemaking, a measure similar to the net neutrality rule adopted by the FCC in 2015 but later repealed during the Trump administration. In the rulemaking, the FCC seeks to classify broadband internet as a telecommunications service, which among other things would enable the Commission to apply its more robust privacy and cybersecurity authorities under Title II of the Communications Act to internet service providers (ISPs).

Whether a technology is classified as a “telecommunications service” determines which agency has authority over the corresponding industry and what authorities that agency can use to regulate that industry. Currently consumer protection authority over ISPs is shared between the FCC and the FTC, with state and federal agencies needing to sometimes overcome jurisdictional challenges when they attempt to regulate ISPs. Notably, the FCC has strongly implied that it would put an end to the sale of location data without consumer consent if it gains Title II authority over ISPs. The rulemaking also proposes treating SMS as a telecommunications service, which would enhance the Commission’s ability to fight unwanted robotexts under its more robust Title II authority.

“We applaud the FCC for taking this important step to solidify their jurisdiction to rein in harmful practices by broadband providers,” said EPIC Executive Director Alan Butler. “The Commission plays a key role in privacy enforcement in the absence of a comprehensive federal privacy law, and we look forward to seeing the FCC Privacy and Data Protection Task Force taking meaningful enforcement action to rein in data abuses.”

EPIC has long-supported a robust role for the FCC in protecting online privacy, especially as it relates to location data and preventing unwanted calls and texts.

7 Assumptions About the SHTF

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We make them all the time.  Mostly unconscious, like the grocery store will be open, fully stocked of bread, milk, toilet paper, and our favorite ice cream.  The gas station will be up and running to gas up our vehicles and maybe get a hot cup of coffee or a fat pill (doughnut).

Then there are other conscious assumptions we make about things,  like our retirement accounts doing well, plenty of money available for presents under the Christmas tree, or not having to resort to using a credit card to make the monthly bills.

Some of our assumptions are made based on historical facts.  Others from more recent events or experiences.  Then, we also have unconscious bias assumptions.

When it comes to the SHTF, I think we have some that are quite logical or common sense based.  Others – well, I’ve read a few that are really out there – such as Army-grown lab attack dogs trained to eat our children.

Yeah.  Really.

Based on several of Selco’s articles and some other books on various topics, historical and recent events are some assumptions I have made.  Your mileage may vary.  This is not a complete list, as I am sure I am forgetting more than a few.

One thing I want to mention is that OP commenter Backwoods Squirrel wrote “Just understand that what works in one area won’t necessarily work in another.”

He was referencing the differences between the Balkan War Selco went through to what SHTF could look like here in the US.  There could be similarities, and there could be differences between states, regions, or even towns.

From Taylor to Tina.  Or, From Rule of Law to Thunderdome.

How fast we go from Shake It Off to Thunderdome is an interesting assumption.

I have read some who think it will be nearly instantaneous or overnight.  Others say several days to weeks or somewhere in between.

There are some more recent events we can look to as examples.  Hurricane Katrina.  The lawlessness some major cities are currently experiencing.

Selco noted more than a few times in his writings how by the time they realized that SHTF, it was too late.  Where they were is where they were.  From panic-buying at the grocery store to outright looting.  From civil normalcy to stabbings with no EMS or LEOs responding.

It happened slowly.

Then suddenly.

Rule of Law (ROL) broke down.  As a society, we are only as good as the laws written and those who follow those laws.  Once ROL is gone, chaos and anarchy rule.

It is only…

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Tech Policy Press: Evaluating the Argument Over the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act 

Hyperfixation on the Act’s First Amendment implications could also obscure the harmful privacy practices that platforms regularly use, such as profiling kids by default or the use of dark patterns to manipulate their choices. In a digital press briefing by a group of civil society organizations calling itself The Kids’ Code Coalition shortly after the CAADCA was blocked, Megan Iorio, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), argued that Judge Freeman didn’t take seriously the list of widely-recognized harms often baked into a platform’s design. “The First Amendment doesn’t let a judge strike down laws simply because they disagree with the policy goals,” Iorio said. 

Read more here.

Passion Vine Is A Perfect Native Foraging Find

Passiflora incarnata—called passion vine, passion flower or even maypop (more on that name below)—is a native plant in much of the eastern United States. It’s getting a lot of attention lately because of its forage capacity in places where people want to grow their own food in small urban spaces. The passionflower looks tropical and, in fact, has cousins who are.

It’s one of the showiest native flowers we have in central Appalachia, perhaps rivaled by lady’s slipper orchids and catalpa. And humans aren’t the only ones attracted to these flowers. Bumblebees routinely dance around their nectaries, which open to the sun and seem to be a perfect landing pad for these giants of the pollinating kingdoms.

The flower, vine and fruits all have virtues to share with humans who ingest them.

Using Passion Vine

My most common herbal preparation of passion vine involves trimming one to three leaves per vine and drying for tea or tincturing for medicine. I include passion vine leaves in tea blends to help promote sleep and calm mental states. The tincture lasts longer on the shelf and can deliver more medicine per drop for those on the go and dealing with any mental anguish.

And passion vine fruits are delicious, though it’s tricky to know when they’re ripe. Somewhat like melons, we just keep tapping and opening new fruits, which appear over the course of several weeks. You’ll almost surely be tempted to pluck them before they are ripe. Opening unripened fruits reveals somewhat dry, pulpy flesh and tiny, unripened seeds that might be white, green or turning black (but still very small).

Next in the ripening phase, a bittersweet, pulpy, juicier and more moist flesh will begin to appear surrounding the seeds. And finally the entire fruit will be filled with juicy fruit casings that taste as sweet as any tropical fruit.

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But have patience. Tasting an unripened fruit will convince you that it is not edible!  Many simply wait for the ripe fruits to fall off the vine. I liken them to tiny pomegranates, as I suck the juice from around each seed and spit the seeds out into my hand to plant.

About Passion Vine

I like to stroll through the streets of my hometown of Frankfort, Kentucky, and spot blooms covering fencerows, calling to onlookers like a clematis but with much more color. Here and elsewhere, passion vine is also called maypop because it pops out of the ground in late May for a late spring surprise in the garden. But once it gets going, these small-looking shoots can cover a lot of territory in the summer, finally flowering and fruiting quickly after.

Source your plants from an area where they’re already growing. Runners can be transplanted and rooted more easily than potted seedlings started from seed. With tender loving care, this plant will establish and run wild for you to enjoy.

Check out these folks dedicating their time…

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WWLP: Creepy ads seen as tip of larger data privacy problem 

“We’ve all had the experience of being creeped out by an ad, right?” Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said. “A lot of people think our phones must be listening to us because the ads are so creepy. The reality is even creepier. They don’t need to listen to us to know what we’re seeing and thinking because that’s how much data they’re collecting on us.” 

Fitzgerald said companies track what websites internet users visit, whose cellphones are often near each other and what each of them are searching for, what people buy online and in stores, health and geolocation data, and more. 

“Advertising giants then use this data to create profiles about us, put us into categories like anxiety disorders, or heavy purchasers of pregnancy test kits, all to target us with more ads,” she said, testifying at a Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies hearing Thursday morning. 

… Fitzgerald said she and other data privacy organizations support the language in the bill that authorizes private right to action. 

“It’s really proven to be the only meaningful enforcement mechanism,” she said at a Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity hearing later on Thursday, during which people testified on Carey’s House version of the same bill. 

“Unfortunately, businesses know that the resources of the attorney general’s offices are limited, and they’re only going to be able to bring a few cases a year. So having that kind of threat of private action hanging over their heads forces compliance in a way that government enforcement does not,” she said. “It scares them more into compliance, and if you’re complying with the law, then it shouldn’t be an issue.” 

Read more here.

How To Get A No-Dig Garden Ready For Winter

I was first drawn to no-dig gardening for one simple reason: It’s easy! And while the practices may seem like lazy gardening, there’s meaningful science behind what we don’t do in a no-till garden. And when I saw with my own eyes the results touted by so many books and research papers, I became hooked.  

I love talking and sharing about no-dig gardening because it helps us shift our thoughts from how we garden to how nature grows best. And so far, taking cues from nature has always proved the right decision. 

What to Know About No-Dig

In many ways no-dig simply means building the soil up instead of digging down. We want to leave the soil microbes and all their infinitely webbed relationships intact. So the less digging we do, the better.  

At the end of the growing season, no-dig affects how we harvest and how we clean up the garden for its dormant season of rest.  

Harvesting, Not Pulling 

Ripping out plants with all their roots can be satisfying. But this clearing method can too easily devastate entire communities of fungi and bacteria that have been working with all the plant roots that get yanked out.

Those living microorganisms must find another way to sustain themselves, so they go elsewhere. So much for all the nutrient mining and resource sharing that slowly evolved over the growing season!

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The same wholesale displacement of soil life communities happens with tilling and double digging. Did you know you can find an estimated 1 billion microbes in a teaspoon of soil? Looking at things this way also helps us understand the benefits of growing more perennials.

So, what do soil life-loving gardeners do? We snip stems at soil level and leave the roots intact. These roots will slowly feed the microbes. It really is that easy. Compost the top parts of the plants and leave the roots. I also have good luck with “leaving the leaves” of most trees (except walnut and large amounts of oak). 

3 Tips to Get You Started 

First, definitely plan to leave the bean and pea plant roots. These likely have nodules of fixed nitrogen (thanks to bacteria) that will help feed your plants next year, so long as you leave them in place. It would be like extracting nitrogen from your soil if you removed these. 

Next, plan to leave marigold roots in place. As these plants decompose, they release a chemical in the roots that helps to suppress pest nematodes and cabbage worms. 

Finally, you can ahead and rip out any diseased plant roots, which usually includes tomatoes and cucurbits (any of the cucumber, melon, squash family). Powdery mildew and blights overwinter in the soil, and we don’t want to preserve disease.

Cover the Soil 

One of the basic concepts of building healthy soil is keeping it covered. After your final harvest of the season, your soil will be happiest with a blanket. You could add a…

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Communications Daily: Mass. Legislators ‘Dig In’ on Data Privacy 

It’s time for Massachusetts to pass a data privacy bill, agreed multiple legislators at a Joint Advanced Information Technology Committee hearing Thursday. But state lawmakers must decide between two proposals — one (H-83/S-25) based on Congress’ American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) and another (H-60) that’s more like laws in states including Connecticut and Virginia. 

“Interoperability is key,” so TechNet favors H-60 — especially if it’s amended to be even more like other state laws, said Executive Director-Northeast Chris Gilrein. H-83 is the stronger, more enforceable bill, countered witnesses from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), Consumer Reports and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Passing the ADPPA-like bill in Massachusetts “would be a watershed moment for privacy,” said CDT Privacy & Data Project co-Director Eric Null. 

… A broad PRA “scares them more into compliance,” said EPIC Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald. “If you’re complying with the law, it shouldn’t be an issue.” She warned that Amazon and other big tech companies played a big role writing many other state laws. The PRA should cover every possible violation, agreed Emiliano Falcon-Morano, ACLU Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Program policy counsel. And H-83 is better than the other bill on data minimization and protecting sensitive information, he said. “Less data collected and processed means less that can be misused or abused.” 

Read more here.

Episode 64: Reeba Daniel

Hobby Farms Presents: Growing Good Reeba DanielHobby Farms Presents: Growing Good Reeba Daniel

Reeba Daniel talks farm to school, land access, leadership in food systems and more on this episode of Hobby Farms Presents: Growing Good.

Reeba talks about their business, Keep Growing Seeds, that allows them to create and manage school gardens, work with “learners” to grow and eat good food, and also examine culture and connection through food. They talk about the benefits and challenges of gardening and garden education in the Pacific Northwest climate of Portland, Oregon, and how they adjust their plans based on the weather. Reeba shares their dream for school gardens and garden education everywhere and why this could be important to all of us.

Hear about Reeba’s own garden, growing and marketing culturally relevant crops from responsibly sourced seeds, and learning about the business side of farming from the Come Thru Market. They talk about the search for farmland, Black land loss and opportunities to create community partnerships for growing space. Learn about some of the value-added products Reeba creates—like vegan honey!—their R&AIRE botanical skincare line, Oregon’s cottage-food laws, and why value-added products are a smart business idea.

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Get to know the nonprofit Farmers Market Fund, which matches SNAP purchases at Oregon Farmers Markets. Reeba talks about their experience as a first-time board member—and podcast host Lisa Munniksma gives Reeba (and you!) a pep talk about why “we”—meaning everyday farmers and community members—are fully qualified to serve and actually must serve in leadership roles.

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EPIC Urges UK ICO To Address Law Enforcement Use of Private Data/Systems, Security Issues, AI, and “Soft Biometrics” in Draft Biometric Data Guidance

In comments filed October 20th, EPIC urged the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to make updates to its draft biometric data guidance. The guidance is meant to instruct organizations using biometric systems and vendors of these systems on good practice and legal obligations. EPIC recommends that the ICO expand the guidance to (i) address the pervasive ties between law enforcement and private companies’ biometric data and systems; (ii) establish baseline security standards for biometric processing, including a template risk assessment; and (iii) detail the risks of scale and scope of harm present where AI is integrated into biometric systems.

The guidance explicitly does not cover law enforcement or security service use of biometric data and systems. The close ties between law enforcement and private companies in this area makes it impossible to address one group’s practices without acknowledging the other. EPIC recommends that the UK put in place robust biometric regulation that would address all public and private use of biometric systems. In the meantime, EPIC’s proposed revisions to the guidelines will prompt more privacy-protective practices from companies.

EPIC consistently works to protect against the spread of biometric surveillance and protect civil liberties and privacy rights. To that end, EPIC has called for a ban on biometric recognition technology and encouraged multiple states to implement biometric privacy laws and defend existing regulations. Recently, EPIC opposed DHS’s rollout of biometric systems including facial recognition for Biometric Entry/Exit and called on Amazon to suspend hosting a vast biometric database for DHS. EPIC also urged the White House OSTP to implement better protections for biometric data and address biometrics.

Creating Your Own Garden Paradise: Tips for a Serene Outdoor Haven

Gardens are more than just outdoor spaces; they are opportunities to craft personal havens where you can escape, unwind, and relax with a glass of sweet wine. To turn your garden into a little paradise, consider the following tips and ideas that will transform it into a serene and rejuvenating oasis.

  1. Define Your Vision: The first step in creating a garden paradise is to define your vision. What do you want to experience in your garden? Is it a peaceful retreat, a vibrant floral haven, or a functional, self-sustaining space? Take some time to clarify your goals and visualize the atmosphere you want to create.
  2. Plan and Design: Once you have a clear vision, plan and design your garden space accordingly. Consider factors like the size of your garden, the climate, and the types of plants that thrive in your region. Design paths, seating areas, and focal points to ensure your garden is not only visually pleasing but also functional.
  3. Choose the Right Plants: The choice of plants is critical in transforming your garden into a paradise. Select a variety of plants, including trees, shrubs, flowers, and groundcovers, to add depth and interest. Opt for native plants that are well-suited to your climate, as they require less maintenance and can attract local wildlife.
  4. Create Inviting Paths and Walkways: Well-planned paths and walkways can enhance the appeal of your garden. Use natural materials like gravel, stone, or wood to create pathways that meander through the garden, inviting exploration. Incorporate curves and hidden corners to make your garden feel larger and more mysterious.
  5. Water Features: Water has a soothing effect and can elevate the tranquility of your garden. Consider adding a small pond, a bubbling fountain, or a simple birdbath. The sound of running water can drown out urban noise and create a serene environment for relaxation.
  6. Garden Seating: To fully enjoy your garden paradise, include comfortable seating. Whether it’s a bench, a swing, or a hammock, choose a spot where you can unwind, read, or simply soak in the beauty of your garden. Adding comfortable cushions or pillows will make your seating area even more inviting.
  7. Outdoor Lighting: Extend the hours of enjoyment in your garden by incorporating outdoor lighting. Soft, warm lighting can create a magical ambiance at night. Use solar-powered lights, string lights, lanterns, or hidden LED strips to illuminate paths, trees, and garden features.
  8. Wildlife-Friendly Garden: Encourage local wildlife to visit your garden by incorporating bird feeders, butterfly-friendly plants, and small wildlife habitats. The presence of birds, butterflies, and bees can add to the charm of your garden paradise and help create a harmonious ecosystem.
  9. Seasonal Variety: Ensure your garden paradise has something to offer in every season. Plant a mix of evergreen and deciduous plants, so your garden remains attractive throughout the year. Spring and summer can bring vibrant blooms, while autumn showcases beautiful foliage, and winter offers a unique, serene charm.
  10. Edible Delights: Consider incorporating a small vegetable or herb garden into your paradise. Fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits not only provide a rewarding gardening experience but also allow you to enjoy the…