by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 26, 2013
The percentage of Americans with high-speed Internet connections at home has reached 70 percent, while just three percent still use dial-up to go online, a study showed Monday.
The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project said the percentage of high-speed users represented a small but statistically significant rise from the 66 percent of adults who said they had home broadband in April 2012.
The percentage using dial-up as of May 2013 has held steady at three percent for the past two years, Pew found, but is down sharply from a peak of 41 percent in 2001.
Overall, 85 percent of Americans use the Internet, the report said. Of those who lack a high-speed connection at home, 10 percent have smartphones that can access the Web.
As previous research has found, those with the highest rates of home broadband use continue to be college graduates, adults under age 50, and adults living in households earning at least $50,000 per year. Whites and adults living in urban or suburban areas also had above-average rates.
"We've consistently found that age, education, and household income are among the strongest factors associated with home broadband adoption," said Kathryn Zickuhr, research associate for Pew and lead author of the report.
"Many dial-up users cite cost and access as the main reasons they don't have broadband, but for adults who don't use the Internet at all, a lack of interest is often the main issue."
The survey notes that more than half of all American adults own a smartphone, but it did not determine whether this constitutes "broadband" speed.
"Broadband users can consume and create many types of content in ways that dial-up users cannot, and our research has long shown major differences in these two groups' online behavior," said Pew's Aaron Smith, a co-author of the report.
"Smartphones may offer an additional avenue for Internet access that surpasses the dial-up experience in many ways, but those who rely on them for home Internet use may face limitations that are not shared by those with traditional broadband connections."
US judge approves $20 mn settlement in Facebook suit
The pot of money is to be divvied up among attorneys, Internet privacy rights groups, and Facebook users who filed claims in the class-action lawsuit.
US District Judge Richard Seeborg reasoned that the sum, a small fraction of the billions being sought in the case, was fair given the challenges of proving Facebook members were financially harmed or that signaling "likes" for products didn't imply some form of consent.
Facebook's Sponsored Stories program used members' names or likenesses to endorse ads without getting their permission, according to the legal filing.
Seeborg estimated the size of the class represented in the suit as 150 million people, but noted that so few had filed claims that there was ample money in the settlement fund.
"The settlement as a whole provides fair, reasonable, and adequate relief to the class, in light of all the circumstances, including the low probability that a substantially better result would be obtained through continued litigation," the judge wrote in a ruling endorsing the deal.
The settlement calls for Facebook to modify its rules to give members greater control when it comes to how their information is used regarding Sponsored Stories.
"Sponsored Stories, in Facebook's view, does nothing more than take information users have already voluntarily disclosed to their "friends," and sometimes redisplays it to the same persons, in a column that also contains more traditional paid advertising," the judge wrote while detailing his decision.
"Plaintiffs faced a substantial burden in showing they were injured by the Sponsored Stories."
So few Facebook members have filed claims that those negotiating the settlement proposed paying out $15 to each person and having enough cash left over for attorneys fees and routing funds to Internet privacy groups, according to the ruling.
An original settlement rejected by the judge recommended the same pool of money, but allocated none of it to Facebook members.
The lawsuit was filed in early 2011 after Facebook launched its Sponsored Stories advertising program.
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