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Telecom Daily

Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant.

Friday, May 24... 

Senators Propose New Bill to Protect Citizens' Data at Border Crossings
A new bill sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) would offer significantly enhanced privacy protections for US citizens passing through US border checkpoints with digital devices. Currently, US border agents have relatively unlimited authority to search the contents of laptops, smartphones, and tablets when their owner passes through a border facility. The aptly named "Protecting Data at the Border Act" would change that by requiring agents to obtain a warrant or written consent from the device's owner to legally search any digital device. The bill would also offer protection from being denied access to the country for any US citizen trying to gain re-entry while refusing to have their devices searched. While the proposed law would greatly increase protections, it still leaves room for exceptions if the agent believes the search is pertinent to an immediate danger, national security threats, or organized crime. While the amount of interpretation this could result in might cause concern, the bill's firm protections would likely come as a welcome change for consumer protection groups that have been clamoring for limitations to border agents' search powers for years.

Google Expands Google Pay, Google Assistant Functionality for Public Transit
Google announced a massive expansion to the number of metro areas now supporting its Google Pay mobile wallet for their public transit systems. The company noted a total of 30 municipalities now accepting Google Pay, including the introduction of support for OMNY, a new contactless payment program from New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). This program allows commuters to tap either their mobile device or their payment card to ride all Staten Island buses and subway stations along the 4-5-6 lines between Grand Central and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. As an added feature of the new alliance between Google and the MTA, smartphone and smart speaker owners with access to the Google Assistant can now also ask the AI when the next train is arriving at a given station, receiving real-time estimates in response. Other cities gaining expanded support for Google Pay and the Google Assistant include Melbourne, London, Moscow, and many others.

LG Adds Amazon's Alexa to All 2019 ThinQ AI TVs
LG announced that Amazon's Alexa will be coming to its televisions beginning with the company's 2019 lineup. Starting this year, all LG TVs equipped with the ThinQ AI platform will also receive access to the Alexa App. According to the device maker, the app will allow users to employ their voice to "ask questions, control smart home products, access over 90,000 Alexa Skills and more, all without the need for a separate external device." Additionally, all 2019 LG NanoCell TVs will receive AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, allowing them to play media from compatible iOS and MacOS devices, while also interacting with smart home electronics designed for use with Apple's platform. These two new additions join the 2018 introduction of the Google Assistant to LG TVs, greatly expanding the possible AI and streaming media options available to customers. LG noted that the Alexa App will begin rolling out to customers in North America this month, with plans to reach those in Europe and Asia in the "weeks to come."

.... Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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