Overnight Tech: FCC floats record fine for Sinclair | Senators criticize DHS face scans | Facebook drops 'disputed news tags'

Overnight Tech: FCC floats record fine for Sinclair | Senators criticize DHS face scans | Facebook drops 'disputed news tags'
© Greg Nash

FCC PROPOSES RECORD $13.4 MILLION FINE FOR SINCLAIR: The Federal Communications Commission has proposed to fine the Sinclair Broadcast Group $13.4 million for airing sponsored programming without disclosing its funders -- the largest such fine the agency has ever issued.

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The proposed fine comes more than a year after an anonymous tipster told the FCC that Sinclair-owned stations had been airing segments about the Huntsman Cancer Institute without disclosing that the group had been paying for the programming.

The cancer research center was founded by Jon Huntsman Sr., a billionaire businessman and the father of U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.

The FCC found that the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, which funds the cancer center, had paid Sinclair to produce and distribute segments promoting the research center's work that was "made to look like independently generated news coverage."

In a statement, Sinclair said the fine was unreasonable and that it plans to contest it.

"Sinclair proudly supports the Cancer Foundation and its educational mission," the statement said. "Any absence of sponsorship identification in these public service segments was unintended and a result of simple human error."

The proposed fine is the largest the FCC has ever put forward for violations of its sponsorship identification rules.

The fine comes as Sinclair is awaiting FCC approval of its $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media, a deal that would give the resulting company access to about 70 percent of the nation's television audience.

Democrats have opposed the deal and have accused Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai of helping push the merger through by clearing out regulatory roadblocks.

Read more here.

 

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SENATORS COME AFTER DHS FACE SCANS: Two senators slammed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a letter Thursday, accusing the agency of using unauthorized facial scans and potentially violating federal law.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHead of miners union calls Green New Deal's main goal 'almost impossible' Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Warren reintroduces bill mandating climate disclosures by companies MORE (D-Mass.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act exposes Silicon Valley's hollow diversity slogans Overnight Defense: Senate rejects effort to restrict Trump on Iran | Democrats at debate vow to shore up NATO | Senate confirms chief of Space Command MORE (R-Utah), members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, asked that DHS halt its use of facial recognition technology in airports in the sharply worded letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele Nielsen Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Four heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' MORE

"We are concerned that the use of the program on U.S. citizens remains facially unauthorized," the two wrote.

DHS is currently testing a program to scan the faces of American citizens and foreign nationals in nine cities across the country, including Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. The program has been carried out voluntarily with airlines.

Read more here.

 

UNION SUES OVER FACEBOOK JOB ADS: A union sued multiple companies in the United States over Facebook ads targeted toward young people, alleging that the ads amount to age discrimination against older job-seekers.

Reuters reported Wednesday that the Communications Workers of America union filed the lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court.

The complaint alleged that Amazon, T-Mobile and Cox Communications have put age limits on individuals who are able to see ads meant for job recruitment. Facebook is not a defendant in the suit filed by Communications Workers of America, but the complaint alleges that Facebook also uses this tool when it recruits for jobs at the social media company.

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK TO GET RID OF 'DISPUTED' TAGS FOR NEWS STORIES: Facebook will get rid of its "disputed article" tag for news articles that users have flagged as likely hoax stories.

The company rolled out the flagging tool in December of 2016 as a part of its larger campaign to keep fake news stories off its platform; however, in a post on Thursday, Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons said that the feature wasn't working as hoped.

"Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs -- the opposite effect to what we intended," Lyons wrote.

Read more here.

 

DETROIT OFFERING MASSIVE TAX BREAKS FOR AMAZON: State and local officials from Michigan, as well as Canada, have offered Amazon enormous tax breaks to lure the tech giant's second headquarters to Detroit, according to confidential documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

The documents reportedly show that state and local officials are willing to forego decades of tax receipts for the potential economic gain they anticipate will come if Amazon decides to bring its new headquarters, referred to as HQ2, to the Detroit and Windsor, Canada, area.

The paper found that city officials were willing to give Amazon the entirety of 10 years worth of state income tax earnings from many of Amazon's new Detroit employees and then 50 percent of their state income tax for the next 10 years.

Read more here.

 

ICED TEA COMPANY TRIPLES STOCK WITH DIGITAL CURRENCY MOVE: An iced tea company is the latest business to capitalize off the new hype around cryptocurrency.

The Long Island Iced Tea Corp., which sells beverages, changed its name to the Long Blockchain Corp. and announced that it was looking at partnerships with companies that invest in blockchain, the technology digital currency bitcoin is built on.

Shares of its stock initially rose by roughly 500 percent on Thursday after the name change. Its share price has since gone down but is still more than three times the pre-announcement level.

Read more here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Goldman Sachs to establish digital currency trading desk: report

Gizmodo: Uber says drivers not earning advertised salaries are their own fault

Fortune's cover story on bitcoin

The Guardian: Facebook signs deal with Universal to give users access to licensed music

CNET: Reddit was a misinformation hotspot in 2016 election, study says

Motherboard: The FCC's next stunt: Reclassifying cell phone data service as 'broadband internet'

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