November 30, 2021

Lab notes: November 2021

Ben Moskowitz

Director, Digital Lab at Consumer Reports

CR applauds bipartisan investment in America’s broadband future

  • The President has signed  the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes several measures aimed at improving broadband internet access, affordability and transparency. CR worked closely with lawmakers on these measures, which include a requirement that ISPs implement a consumer broadband label that will serve as a standardized, easy-to-read label that will include pricing information, additional fees, promotional discounts and length, and performance information (i.e., expected speeds). This historic investment in broadband will help bridge the digital divide and introduce new rules to improve the broadband marketplace.

Facebook eliminates use of controversial facial recognition technology

  • Facebook announced plans to shut down its facial recognition system that is used to automatically tag users. A 2019 investigation by CR found that Facebook misrepresented steps that certain consumers needed to take to control facial recognition technology. CR filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which cited CR’s findings in its historic $5 billion settlement with Facebook in 2019. CR commended Facebook for its decision to end use of the controversial technology, but noted that Congress should take action in passing federal privacy protections to truly protect the privacy of all Americans. Read the CR story and check out the coverage of CR’s comments and our past investigation by USA Today and Variety.

Apple changes course on right to repair; extends some rights to consumers for certain products

  • In an encouraging step forward for the right to repair, Apple announced that it will provide customers with access to parts, tools, and manuals necessary to repair their own devices. Initially this access will apply only to the iPhone 12 and 13 models, but according to the announcement, Apple plans to expand repair access for other products as well. CR has long advocated for the right to repair and developed model legislation with allies to advance this effort. Right to repair legislation has gained support at the state and federal level, as manufacturers have made it difficult to take care of what should be simple repairs on their expensive devices. Read more about our perspective on the impact this announcement will have on consumers in the Associated Press.

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