Congressional Republicans Sell Data Privacy to the Highest Bidders

data privacy

The bill to roll back regulations that require internet providers and companies, such as Facebook and Google, to ensure data privacy for internet users has just passed in the House of Representatives. Once signed President Trump, it will become effective legislation—and it’s expected that he will sign.

With the Obama administration’s internet privacy laws repealed, internet companies and service providers will no longer have to get consumer consent before selling or sharing internet usage, geolocation, or other internet browsing data to the advertisers and marketers that typically want this data.

House Democrats voted against the repeal. The data privacy issue is split along political party lines. Republicans traditionally have been for little regulation and on the side of service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T. Democrats have been more in favor of consumer rights, in this matter.

Digital rights groups and privacy advocates are in an uproar. One group, Fight for the Future, is raising funds in an online campaign to erect billboards with the names of every member of Congress that voted in favor of the rollback.

“Congress should know by now that, when you come for the internet, the internet comes for you,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, in a press release.

“These billboards are just the beginning. People from across the political spectrum are outraged, and every lawmaker who votes to take away our privacy will regret it come election day.”

According to Greer and his group, without the consumer protections, internet service providers and telecoms can:

  1. “Monitor and sell customer’s location data, search history, app usage, and browsing habits to advertisers without permission.
  2. Hijack customer’s search results, redirecting their traffic to paying third-parties.
  3. Insert ads into webpages that would otherwise not have them.”

Even the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is divided on the issue. Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a released statement, “Last year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed through, on a party-line vote, privacy regulations designed to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies. Appropriately, Congress has passed a resolution to reject this approach of picking winners and losers before it takes effect.”

“It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today.”

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the first African American women to serve as an FCC Commissioner, was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2009. She is opposed to the repeal and tweeted:






Huddle Ventures Sends 100 Students to SXSW

Huddle Ventures

SXSW is traditionally known as a flourishing playground for techies, full of nonstop action where even your most experienced tech enthusiast can feel overwhelmed. So what happens when 100 students from HBCUs across America descend on the city of Austin? Greatness!

Huddle Ventures founders Rodney Sampson, Derrick Morgan, and Michael Peterson brought a massive group of bright-eyed students from historically black colleges and universities to see what all the fuss was about and boy were they excited. Some of them had never been out of their immediate cities before.

“This is the second year that we’ve done HBCU@SXSW,” said Peterson. “Rodney brought a smaller cohort last year with him and his wife as Opportunity Hub. The main reason why we will do HBCU@SXSW annually is to bring exposure to young, diverse college students who are underrepresented in tech. We brought over 100 students from 41 different schools represented and they were black and Latino.”

“The reason why we chose HBCUs is because it’s historic to our own personal history. I didn’t attend an HBCU but a lot of my family members did. Historically, I’ve seen these images of ecosystem builders and entrepreneurs so there is an affinity there and I think that’s really where our opportunity lies in terms of connecting and getting involved in the community,” said Peterson.


Loyall Hart Photography/Rodney Sampson, John McElligott (Image: Loyall Hart Photography/Rodney Sampson, Steve Case)



“It goes into our thesis of identifying and giving opportunities to the underrepresented talent,” said Morgan. “HBCUs are notoriously overlooked by recruiters. If I’m a recruiter from Google, I might hit a Howard or a Morehouse but who’s to say I’m going to hit a Huston-Tillotson or a university of that scale; so we’re here to extend the opportunity. Out of the thesis, it’s one of our early exposure initiatives. A lot of students that were in attendance never heard of SXSW before this opportunity. It opened up a whole new world for them and exposed them to a lot of things that they weren’t aware of.”


Video: Osahon Tongo and Genie Deez


“We’ve created the opportunity ecosystem, which is based around four products: early exposure, which includes HBCU@SXSW; education and training, where we are building an entrepreneurship curriculum; ecosystem building, which are hubs that we will be launching in other spaces around the country; and the fourth is capital formation, which we will be launching an equity crowdfunding portal,” said Sampson. “Huddle Ventures is the parent company of Opportunity Ecosystem and Huddle Fund.”

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done to increase awareness on both sides and from the looks of it, Huddle Ventures has rolled up their sleeves to get to it. They sent 100 students to SXSW this year. Their goal is to get that number to 500 students.


Sequoia BlodgettSequoia Blodgett is the Technology Editor for Black Enterprise, Silicon Valley. She is also the founder of 7AM, a lifestyle, media platform, focused on personal development, guided by informed, pop culture.

Shooting for the Stars – 10 Inspiring Women of NASA


Christmas 2016 gave us a very special cinematic gift: the film Hidden Figures, based on the real-life story of three black women who worked at NASA during a time when women – especially black women – were rarely hired for even menial positions. The achievements of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, along with many of their colleagues, shattered racial and gender barriers and revolutionized career opportunities for women.


Katherine Johnson


During her time at NASA, Johnson conducted trajectory analysis for the first human spaceflight in U.S. history in 1961. The following year, shortly before famed astronaut John Glenn was set to board the Friendship 7 – the first orbital mission in which a human would be on board – the astronaut himself told engineers to “get the girl” to do the calculations for the mission by hand.

Engineers weren’t confident in machine calculations. Thanks to her efforts, Glenn’s mission turned out to be a success. Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Honor at age 97 for her 33 years of service at Langley.


Mary Jackson


NASA speculates that Mary Jackson may have been the only black female engineer in aeronautics during the 1950s. While at NASA, she worked on dozens of scientific literature projects, specifically regarding aerodynamics. She pursued management positions well into the 1970s before deciding to leave engineering altogether.

In fact, she was demoted in 1979 and took on the role of Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager. During her six years as the Women’s Program Manager, she worked tirelessly to ensure women secured careers as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers at NASA.


Dorothy Vaughan


Though she was the head of NASA’s West Area Computing Unit for nearly ten years, her department consisting entirely of black women was segregated from the other computing units at NASA’s Langley laboratory. Vaughan became the first black female supervisor ever employed at NASA, and she was often personally consulted by engineers to handle particularly difficult projects. In 1958, when segregation officially ended, Vaughan joined her caucasian coworkers and became an expert programmer.


Kathryn Peddrew


Peddrew worked as part of Vaughan’s team, where she was hired after graduating from Storer College’s Chemistry program in 1943. She spent almost half a century working at NASA, first for the West Area Computing Unit, and then as a researcher on balance, aeronautics, and aerospace.


Sue Wilder


Wilder worked as a data analyst during her 35 years at NASA. She was one of NASA’s “human computers.” When she died in 2009, her family encouraged mourners to make donations to her church, where she served her community, or to the American Cancer Society instead of sending flowers.


Huy Tran


Tran is currently an employee at NASA as an engineer and tester of space shuttle heat shields, but she grew up in Vietnam during the war and was later a refugee in Indonesia. As a child, before she fled the country to come to Indonesia and eventually the U.S., Tran was able to watch TV for a few hours during the weekends at a neighbor’s house. It was during one of these viewings that Tran first watched the moon landing, which inspired her to pursue a career at NASA. You can read more about her incredible story on her official NASA page.


Sally Ride


Almost everyone knows Sally Ride was America’s first woman to be sent into space. The astronaut boarded the space shuttle not just once, but twice before deciding to teach at the University of California, San Diego.

She was also the first female to serve on investigation committees following two shuttle crashes. Ride went on to establish Sally Ride Science, an organization dedicated to motivating girls to pursue career opportunities in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.


Jennifer Heldmann


When Heldmann was in third grade, she visited a science museum. Little did she know this field trip would change the course of her life forever and inspire her to earn her doctorate in Planetary Science. She works at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she spends her time researching water on Mars, as well as analyzing spacecraft data and fieldwork.

Her research has played a big role in new space missions. Through public outreach programs, she hopes to get the next generation as excited as she was about space in the third grade.


Sharmila Bhattacharya


Bhattacharya grew up close to her father, a dedicated pilot. At a young age, Bhattacharya voiced concern that mostly men were pilots, and asked her father if she would be allowed to become a pilot since she was a girl. Her father responded by telling her she could become anything she wanted to be – so she became a life scientist at NASA Ames.

Her work mostly focuses on changes in the human body, particularly the immune system, during spaceflight as well as the biological effects of radiation and zero gravity. She’s watched her own experiments fly into space, which she considers one of her life’s greatest accomplishments.


Tarrie Hood


Hood says her path to the stars was not easy. She lost her mother and closest friend at the age of 14 and became a single mother herself at the age of 16. She says, aside from her career as an information technology specialist at NASA, her greatest achievement was graduating high school while caring for her daughter.

When she was 19, Hood participated in NASA’s Cooperative Education program at the Marshall Space Flight Center as an administrative assistant. Two years later, she was hired after receiving an Associate’s degree in Business Administration. Her promotion influenced her to pursue her Bachelor’s.


Hidden Figures


Hidden Figures, based on a book with the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly, reveals the astounding and little-known legacy of some of these intelligent and groundbreaking women. Their perseverance and dedication paved the way for women like Huy Tran and Sharmila Bhattacharya, who are working hard within their own niches to reveal the secrets of our universe.

NASA is not just for astronauts. There are some truly incredible ladies working hard behind the scenes to ensure missions are successful. Whether they’re studying water on Mars, researching biological changes spaceflight brings, or just making sure astronauts get paid for their hard work, these ladies’ contributions are incredibly important for exploring our solar system and the universe.

This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.

Jennifer Grant is an American History Scholar. Studying our Country’s past makes her feel more connected to its rich history and bright future. Blogging for allows Jen to create inspiring and inclusive content that she’s proud of. Jen is obsessed with coffee, aromatherapy candles, and reading historical fiction.

Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.


What Does Black Excellence Look Like?

Jotaka Eaddy

Recently, the Black Professional Network (BPN)—which includes Adjetey Clarence Lassey, Bryan Goodson, Charles Pridgen, Joshua Dawson, Terrell Jones, and Jason Thurman—partnered with Ruben Harris, co-founder of Breaking Into Startups, and Black Enterprise, to celebrate black excellence and achievement—and excellent, it was.


Celebrating Black Excellence and Achievement (Image: Michael Tembu Ndah – Steadfaster Media)


The evening was moderated by former Black Girls Code team member and current Thoughtworks IT consultant and social justice lead, Idalin Bobé, who gave us a direct account of her experience as not only a black woman in tech, but also shared snippets of her life as someone from northern Philadelphia.

“I feel as though starting with yourself—pointing out your flaws and who you are—breaks down barriers,” said Bobé. “When people normally go to networking events, they go with a professional lens. It’s all about your resume, and who you can connect with on a business level, but never on a humanitarian level. I feel as though opening up leads to a much deeper conversation and well-rounded experience for everyone there.”



This level of depth didn’t stop with Bobé; other speakers included Pastor Michael McBride, an MSNBC/CNN activist and the national director Live Free Campaign and PICO Network; Jotaka Eaddy, former NAACP senior advisor, and head of government affairs at LendUp; Tamika D. Mallory, civil rights leader and the co-chair of the Women’s March; and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO and board member of Green for All, chief care officer at Honor, and a former music executive that has even worked with Prince.

“I believe that the work that I do is really a tribute to all of the homies in the neighborhood that didn’t make it out,” said McBride. “In the [1980s and] 1990s, we all know the crack epidemic really tore our communities up. Many of my loved ones, who got caught up in the streets, are serving life sentences for killings. I don’t know exactly why I made it up, but I thank God for good changes.”

McBride then posed the question, “Will you be a chaplain of the empire or a prophet of the resistance? At the end of the day, we really have a choice.”



His statements were followed up by Eaddy, who said, “More than anything, I’m just really excited to be among so many change agents, innovators, and real movement builders.”

Eaddy further elaborated on an infamous quote from Gil Scott Heron, “The revolution will not be televised.”

He was right,” Eaddy said. “The revolution will not be televised—it will be livestreamed; it will be tweeted; it will be [posted on] Instagram; it will be [snapped on] Snapchat; and it will be other things that we are probably building right now, or that we have not even thought of [yet]. I say this to [underscore] that the intersection of technology, movement building, and activism is real. We are at such a pivotal moment in our country where the work that we do, every single day, could not be more important.”


This Is Why More Black Women Are Not Attending Engineering School

Ignored Potential (Cover of Ignored Potential: A Collaborative Roadmap for Increasing African American Women in Engineering, a study by Purdue University Engineering Education graduate students and faculty: Trina Fletcher, Monique Ross DeLean, Tolbert James, Holly Monica Cardella, Allison Godwin, Jennifer DeBoer)


For every “hidden figure,” there is ignored potential. Ignored Potential: A Collaborative Roadmap for Increasing African American Women in Engineering is a study written by a group of engineers, which scrutinizes the roadblocks and opportunities for black women in the engineering disciplines. The study was commissioned by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

This study starts off with some sobering numbers. By 2020, there will be 600,000 unfulfilled engineering jobs. There are already a scant amount of African American engineering degree holders, but the number is minuscule for African American women; they account for about 25% of engineering school graduates.

Additionally, the report delves into why it is that more black women are not attending engineering school, and how the option could be made more attractive to them. It also looks into the ways black women can contribute to the engineering field based on their perspectives and life experiences.

Some key takeaways from the study:

  • “Programs for people of color and programs for women exist under the assumption that they include women of color, but African American women are often lost between the two.”
  • “The lack of visible role models in engineering, stereotype threat, biculturalism, tokenism, feelings of isolation, and pay inequities in the engineering workforce are all factors at play.”
  • “Many efforts to provide support for African American women focus on improving ‘deficits’ in students, rather than focusing on issues within the education system.”
  • “Intervention research often covers a lack of family support, poor academic preparation, and low test scores; suggestions focus on fixing what is broken about students rather than the systems in which they operate.”
  • “To truly enhance contributions from women of color, we as stakeholders must invest in them at all stages in their academic and professional careers. We must also invest in systems that value African American women and their contributions.”

You can read this insightful paper in its entirety by clicking here.

Black Engineers Recruit Powerful Ally

black engineers (Image: iStock/Volhah)


In its ongoing effort to increase the number of black engineers by 2025, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has partnered with the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

The two organizations are collaborating in outreach programs including NSBE’s Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) as well as some BMES events.

Additionally, both will focus on recruiting members, providing engineering education and professional advice, continued education for black engineers already in the field, and research and networking opportunities.

“BMES recognizes that to achieve its own goal to grow a diverse community of engineers, we need a strategy and an experienced and knowledgeable partner,” said BMES president Lori A. Setton via a press release.

She added that BMES is “delighted to work alongside influential professional organizations in engineering, to collectively engage, educate and graduate black engineers towards the 2025 goal.”

Currently, African Americans account for only 5.5 % of the nation’s engineers. Only a sliver of black engineers—2.71%—holds degrees in bioengineering.

The U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that bioengineering jobs will grow 23% from 2014 to 2024, at a much faster rate than other jobs. The need for bioengineers will increase due to advances in healthcare technology and a growing aging population. The average median wage for biomedical engineers was $86, 220 in 2015.

“NSBE is excited to have BMES as a partner to help reach our goal of graduating 10,000 black engineers annually starting in 2025,” said NSBE National Vice Chair Kristopher Rawls, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia and a longtime member of BMES in a press release. “Particularly, we are excited to work together to increase BME representation within NSBE, which has been a personal goal of mine since I joined NSBE back in 2007. NSBE is also excited to work with BMES on engineering exposure outreach activities through avenues such as NSBE’s Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) as well as activities led by BMES.”


Capital One Hosts Discussion on How to Really Diversify Tech

Diversify TechDiversify Tech (Image: iStock/Yuri_Arcurs)


Capital One took over Austin’s famous blues nightclub Antone’s, and turned it into the Capital One House at SXSW. The company held a series of events including interactive sessions and meet-ups.

One session, “Preparing Our Communities for the Future,” gathered business and social impact leaders to discuss diversity in tech. Everyone knows this stubbornly remains an issue, but these leaders were gathered to offer concrete solutions.

The session’s panelists included Dan Restuccia, chief analytics officer, Burning Glass Technologies; Julie Elberfeld, SVP, shared technology and executive sponsor of diversity and inclusion for technology, Capital One; Tom Ogletree, director of social impact, General Assembly; and Garrett Moran, president, Year Up. The panel was moderated by Catherine Foca, President, Capital One Foundation; Sr. Director, Capital One.

Here are some great takeaways from the engaging discussion.




Some of the issues that are contributing to the lack of diversity in the tech sector:

  • With only 30% of Americans with four-year degrees, we need to understand what are good jobs for Americans without degrees, especially young Americans. There is a significant decline in middle-skilled jobs (trades, manufacturing, clerical, and so on).
  • Employers may not know where to look for the people who have the skills they want, so they may resort to traditional hiring pools that do not lend to diversity.




  • Good hires don’t always come through traditional channels. Human Resources divisions need to go outside traditional screening practices, such as college degrees or previous places of work
  • Eighty percent of middle-skilled jobs require digital skills. Building these skills is key to unlocking access to twenty-first century jobs. The problem is that training programs have not caught up to the job market. “Digital skills change fast, training programs typically don’t,” said Restuccia.
  • Companies need ways to reduce risks within the hiring process, so that it is easier to hire individuals from outside traditional pools. The often easiest way to derisk hiring is to promote rather than hire. Train employees in new skills, and then move them to more tech-focused positions. This also fosters a sense of loyalty in the employees, who also already know the company’s goals and understand its culture.
  • Internal company training programs can start with basic productivity software, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and so on. Studies show that doing so can result in approximately a 20% pay raise. Add in more advanced digital skills—such as video skills, basic computer programming, basic computer networking, and social media—and you start to see people without four-year degrees reach the top of the fourth-tier income level.
  • The corporate sector and small startups can build coalitions with organizations that train youth and adults in tech skills, like Black Girls Code, Per Scholas, Lesbians Who Tech, Year Up, Girls Who Code, and so on. Employees at companies can be advocates and champions for bringing in talent from these groups.


This Week in Tech Racism, March 25, 2017


In the mix of racism and technology this week: Advertisers are getting fed up with hateful content on YouTube; social media flogs artist for tone-deaf painting; little kids are racially taunted after becoming champs at a robotics competition; and more.


Black and Latino Kids Win Robotics Competition; Subjected to Racist Jeers


A group of black and Latino 9 and 10-year-olds were taunted and told to “go back to Mexico” after winning a robotics competition, reports USA Today. The group, kids from the Pleasant Run Elementary school in Indianapolis remained undaunted by the racist remarks and were excited about their victory. “”When you have a really good team, people will treat you this way,” said one of the kids.


There Were No Africans at the African Global Economic and Development Summit


The Guardian featured a story on last week’s African Global Economic and Development Summit held in California. The article noted the stunning lack of African people at the conference. The reason cited was that all of the African citizens who had requested visas had been denied.


Social Media Goes after White Artist’s Emmett Till Painting


Twitter was on fire after a white artist, Dana Schutz, had her painting of Emmett Till on display at the Whitney Biennial. The artwork, called “Open Casket,” was a rendering of the boy’s remains in his casket based on the famous picture taken at his funeral. “”She has nothing to say to the black community about black trauma,” read one of the many Twitter posts criticizing the artist and her work. Many across social media felt that she was exploiting African American suffering.


Big Companies Continue to Pull Ads from Racist and Hateful YouTube Videos


Google’s YouTube service stands to lose a significant amount of advertising revenue. Companies including AT&T and Verizon are concerned with their ads appearing on YouTube videos with racist and other inflammatory content, reports Recode.


Senate Republicans Kill Internet Privacy Requirements

Internet Privacy

Senate Republicans just passed the Broadband Privacy CRA (Congressional Review Act) bill. This repeals data privacy requirements put in place by the FCC during the Obama administration.

According to Reuters, if the bill goes on to pass in the House of Representatives, internet providers including companies such as Google and Facebook no longer have to “obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.”

The issue is highly contested and split down party lines. Republicans and conservatives at the FCC including Chairman Pai, have been critical of regulations over the broadband and internet provider industries.

Democrats and more progressive members of the FCC, as well as consumer advocates, are traditionally for regulations that protect consumers.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (Image: FCC)


In the Reuters story, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the privacy regulation “”makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny released statements criticizing the Senate’s passage of Broadband Privacy CRA:

“Today the Senate voted along party lines to dismantle the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said Commissioners Clyburn and McSweeny.

Clyburn and McSweeny, continued: “This legislation will frustrate the FCC’s future efforts to protect the privacy of voice and broadband customers.  It also creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements.  This is the antithesis of putting #ConsumersFirst. The House must still consider this legislation. We hope they recognize the importance of consumer privacy and not undermine the ability of Americans to exercise control over their sensitive data.”

A Week in Tech Racism

tech racismtech racism (Image: iStock/400tmax)


In this week’s edition: Why are chatbots turning racist? Plus, the SXSW festival features shocking crowdfunded documentary about the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson; more black women drone pilots, please; and more news at the corner of tech, science, and race.


When Chatbots Lack Diversity, This Is What Happens


Black Enterprise’s Digital Managing Editor Maryann Reid takes a look at how the lack of diversity can lead even chatbots—those automated algorithms that allow humans to naturally communicate with systems—to become racist and biased.


Discussing Racism and Opportunity at SXSW


This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival was the typical exciting mix of cool tech, music, and avant-garde films. Yet, one meet up involved a serious and lively discussion about being black in America and how to turn around the inner cities.


SXSW Documentary Shocks with Different Account of Michael Brown Case


The biggest news to come out of this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference is the showing of the documentary Stranger Fruit, which alleges to reveal the truth about what took place in Ferguson. The film was made through crowdfunding.


Gizmodo Throws Shade at Mark Zuckerberg’s Visit to HBCU


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke at North Carolina A&T State University, answering students questions about a variety of topics. One student asked about his thoughts on diversity and tech, and, according to Silicon Valley blog Gizmodo, Zuckerberg’s response was an “embarrassingly longwinded, rambling non-answer riddled with misinformation.” Well, at least Zuckerberg showed up.


You Can’t Sound the Alarm Too Much on Diversity in Tech


Diverse, a site dedicated to issues in higher education, reiterates just how imperative it is for students to have diverse role models and teachers almost as soon as they begin schooling, especially for success in STEM learning.


A 21st Century Bessie Coleman; We Need More of These Women


DNAInfo has a profile piece on Carmaine Means, a photojournalist who uses drones to take images. According to DNAInfo, “Means is one of the few African American women licensed to pilot drones in the United States—just 4% are women, and Means knows of only three others who are black.” Means seems to channel the spirit of the first black woman aviator Bessie Coleman, and hopefully more men and woman of color will get into the exciting world of drone operation.