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Explaining Arkansas' Changed Barriers to Community Broadband | community broadband networks

Explaining Arkansas' Changed Barriers to Community Broadband | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A little less than a year ago, the 88th Arkansas General Assembly created HB 2033, later known as Act 1050 [pdf]. The law made a few changes to the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform Act of 1997 and, while “a few changes” may not sound like much, they don’t need to be much in order to have a significant effect on the prospect of municipal broadband in Arkansas. The language gets specific about municipal broadband, related services, and alters the possibilities in Arkansas.

 

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Cuba: ETECSA set to launch new Wi-Fi service? | TeleGeography.com

Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) plans to begin offering public Wi-Fi internet access from next month, company employee Wilfredo Guanche told CubaNet.


The service will enable Cuban citizens to access the internet at ETECSA offices and outlets at a cost of around CUC4.50 (USD4.50) per hour.


TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes the government took a small step towards increasing availability of the internet to Cuban citizens last year with the announcement that it would begin offering access at a number of ETECSA outlets around the island from 4 June 2013, while in early March this year the state-owned telco launched a mobile e-mail service under the brand name Nauta.cu.

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Information on Connecticut Municipal RFQ Seeking Partners to Develop Gigabit Internet Networks in Their Communities | CT.gov

CTGig - Municipal Fiber Network Project

On September 15, 2014, a collaboration of Connecticut municipalities issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting information and partnerships with potential providers to create Gig networks in their communities.


Forty-six municipalities have joined the RFQ with the aim of soliciting information from potential providers of financing, fiber network construction and management, and Internet service providers of retail services.


It is hoped that this effort could lead to the issuance of RFPs to create public-private partnerships resulting in open-access fiber networks in many Connecticut municipalities providing a variety of competitive Internet-based services to residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.


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Video Of The Week: A History Lesson On Why We Need Neutral Networks | AVC.com

My partner Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures in NYC went down to Chattanooga, TN where they have a gigabit fiber network around the city and attended an event about connectivity and what it does for society.

In this short (~10mins) talk he gives a history lesson on how we got permissionless innovation on the Internet and why we could lose it.


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Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News

Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Engaged universities – those that see engaging with the wider community as part and parcel of their mission – can use these activities to contribute to economic development too. Around the globe, universities are doing this in various ways, some in ways you might expect, others in ways that might surprise you.

But there is plenty more for them to do. Academics and civic engagement activists grappled with the question of the best ways to do it at the Talloires Network Leaders Conference in Cape Town this month, where economic development was one of three main themes.

The most obvious way in which universities contribute to economic development, particularly locally, is as employers and purchasers of goods and services.

Ira Harkavy, director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, is an advocate of the idea of universities as anchor institutions. These are non-profit organisations that never move and are therefore highly motivated to invest in their geographic location.

A university attracts businesses and highly skilled people to a city and may offer cultural amenities such as museums, theatres and extension courses for the city’s people and those of the surrounding area. As a consumer of large tracts of land, it can have a significant impact on local builders.

Harkavy argues that, together with medical institutions, universities act as powerful economic engines in cities. “In the city of Philadelphia, eight out of 10 of the largest employers are meds and eds,” he says, and this pattern is to be found in big cities across the US.

So far so good. But what does this have to do with civic engagement you may ask? The answer lies in the how as much as the what.

If a university makes meeting civic goals part of its economic decisions, by deciding to buy locally or employ more women or people from ethnic minorities for instance, the economic impact becomes civic too.

“So even traditional activities can be transformed through the aims, goals and the process of how the university works,” says Harkavy. “If they are designed to benefit both the community and the university, you can take standard activities, like teaching, research, technology and business development and transform them into a civic activity.”


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Interactive report on Kansas City's downtown development boom | The Kansas City Star

Interactive report on Kansas City's downtown development boom | The Kansas City Star | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Want to keep track of Kansas City’s downtown renaissance?

Today, The Kansas City Star unveils an interactive report on KansasCity.com that displays about 70 downtown projects totaling more than $1.7 billion that either have been announced, are in progress, or have been completed since the start of 2012, with the exception of some major civic projects. Readers can access the project on their desktop computer and any mobile device, and it will be updated as projects progress.

You might be surprised by the scope of the development that dots all areas of greater downtown — an area that includes Crown Center, the Crossroads Arts District, the Downtown Loop and River Market. It also happens to be the geography linked by the new 2.2-mile streetcar line expected to be completed next year.

The latest makeover of downtown began 10 years ago, with the construction of H&R Block’s new headquarters serving as one of the catalysts. That was followed by a bevy of big public-private projects that included the Power & Light District, the Sprint Center, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the new grand ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Downtown’s rejuvenation is now rolling into a new era, with the start of the $100 million streetcar line on Main Street.

When you go to the Star project, you’ll see an outline of the streetcar line and its stops, and a brief description of each project, including the cost, the developer, status and completion timetable, plus the history of the building.

There also are links to previous stories on the project, photos with each building, and video in some cases.

The map is also a vivid reminder of the largely unsung but critical role played by state and federal historic tax credits in reviving downtown. More than $545 million in preservation projects are either underway or in the works.

Among the projects highlighted on the map:


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EFF: Feds can’t get around Fourth Amendment via automated data capture | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica

EFF: Feds can’t get around Fourth Amendment via automated data capture | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal judge spent over four hours on Friday questioning lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and from the Department of Justice in an ongoing digital surveillance-related lawsuit that has dragged on for more than six years.

During the hearing, US District Judge Jeffrey White heard arguments from both sides in his attempt to wrestle with the plaintiffs’ July 2014 motion for partial summary judgment. He went back and forth between the two sides, hearing answers to his list of 12 questions that were published earlier this week in a court filing.

That July 2014 motion asks the court to find that the government is "violating the Fourth Amendment by their ongoing seizures and searches of plaintiffs’ Internet communications." The motion specifically doesn’t deal with allegations of past government wrongdoing, nor other issues in the broader case.

The case, known as Jewel v. National Security Agency (NSA), was originally brought by the EFF on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a romance novelist who lives in Petaluma, California, north of San Francisco. For years, the case stalled in the court system, but it gained new life after the Edward Snowden disclosures last summer.

In the 2008 original complaint (PDF), Jewel and the other plaintiffs alleged that the government and AT&T were engaged in an "illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency and other Defendants in concert with major telecommunications companies." The evidence stemmed from materials leaked by former San Francisco AT&T technician Mark Klein in 2006. As Jewel was and remains an AT&T customer, her communications were intercepted by the company on behalf of the NSA, her attorneys argue.


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Why Canada's Internet Keeps Getting More Expensive | Christopher Malmo | Motherboard

Why Canada's Internet Keeps Getting More Expensive | Christopher Malmo | Motherboard | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A Canadian reddit poster claiming to be a Shaw employee—one of Canada’s premier telcos—with news about new internet rates created a stir online this week by posting what looked like advance details of upcoming rate plans.

The rate plans appeared to change the pricing schemes so that new customers would pay equal money for slower service. Existing customers, whose rates will be going up anyway, would be grandfathered on their old plans—with updated prices showing an obvious path for upsell to the new rate tiers.

Shaw Communications spokesman and VP External Affairs Chethan Lakshman denied that customers would be getting a bad deal, but did confirm the existence of new rate packages. He insisted that Shaw was upgrading all their plans, but couldn’t speak to pricing details or comment about the accuracy of the leaked figures.

Some customers immediately took to rage-posting on the company’s community forums, pointing to a fuckshaw.com domain, which has been the subject of a DMCA complaint by—you guessed it—Shaw.


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Time Warner Cable hikes customer fees for sports channels, Internet modems | Jon McFadden | Charlotte Observer

Time Warner Cable hikes customer fees for sports channels, Internet modems | Jon McFadden | Charlotte Observer | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable will soon charge its 15 million customers for watching sports as the major cable provider tries compensating for the rising costs of broadcasting local channels and athletic programming.

Effective Jan. 1, the cable company – which has a major Charlotte administrative office and serves about 50 percent of local households – will charge subscribers a new $2.75-per-month fee for sports programming. Other changes include a 9-month-old broadcasting TV surcharge increasing from $2.25 to $2.75 per month, and an $8-per-month Internet modem lease, up from $5.99.

Subscribers who pay for HBO movie channels selectively on an “a la carte” basis will see those rates increase on their bills from $14.99 to $16.99. Customers who get those channels as part of a package deal will not be charged more.

Customers only with Time Warner’s Internet services will not have to pay the broadcasting TV or sports programming fees, and vice versa for customers only with TV services.

The rate hikes come after Time Warner, which earlier this year announced a proposed $45 billion merger with Comcast, invested millions into deploying new modems to support faster Internet speeds, said Scott Pryzwansky, company spokesman.

The higher leasing fee helps pay for the new equipment and for maintenance on modems that malfunction, he said. Subscribers can avoid the fee by purchasing their own modems.


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Update On Ten-Year Campaign To Give Copyright Industry Another Monopoly: WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Update On Ten-Year Campaign To Give Copyright Industry Another Monopoly: WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Say what you will about the copyright industry, but it certainly doesn't give up. No matter how many times a bad idea is fought off, sooner or later, it comes back again. The best example of this is probably WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty, which Techdirt has been covereing for a decade: in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2013. This campaign to give broadcasters yet more monopoly rights -- as if they didn't have enough already -- is still underway, and the EFF provides us with a timely update on the current state of play:

The latest draft of the treaty also attempts to control post-fixation uses of broadcast signals -- in other words, to provide broadcasters with rights to control uses of content that has been recorded from a broadcast.

Here's why that would be awful from many viewpoints:

Since these post-fixation rules would apply regardless of whether the content was in the public domain or whether a "fair use" argument applies, it could impact the work of journalists, archivists, and creators who could otherwise legally gain access to source content through broadcasts.

And that's not all:


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The Sony Pictures hack, explained | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The Sony Pictures hack, explained | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hackers broke into the computer systems of Sony Pictures entertainment in October. The attackers stole huge swaths of confidential documents from the Hollywood studio and posted them online in the following weeks -- exposing them to everyone from potential cybercriminals to journalists who have been poring through the documents and reporting everything from the details of recent film productions to the extent of the employee data laid vulnerable on the Internet.


The same day as the attack, the FBI released a flash memo warning about a destructive type of malware. As late as this week there are reports that that Sony employees are still unable to use their old computers due to concerns that code left by the hackers may not have been completely removed from the system.

Attribution is really hard when it comes to cyberattacks because it can be difficult to tie the digital forensics left behind to real-world actors, but the leading theory is that the attack is tied in some way to the North Korean government. On Wednesday The Washington Post, the New York Times and others reported that anonymous U.S. officials were pointing the finger at the secretive nation.

One official briefed on the investigation told The Post that intelligence officials believe with "99 percent certainty" that hackers working for the North Korean government were behind the attack. But the administration is reportedly unsure what to do with that information -- fearing no good outcome could come from pointing figures at the secretive state: North Korea is diplomatically isolated, and there are already significant sanctions in place.

North Korean officials have officially denied involvement in the attack, but did call it a "righteous" deed and suggested it may have been the work of supporters of the regime.

Because of the difficulty of positively identifying cyber actors, the United States rarely names nation-state actors it suspects of being behind cybersecurity incidents. An exception occurred earlier this year, when the Department of Justice announced indictments against several Chinese military employees it said were tied to cyberespionage activities against American companies. Officials are also said to be concerned about the diplomatic fallout for Japan -- Sony is based in Japan, and the nation is much closer to North Korea geographically than the United States.

The North Korean link was speculated early on, when tech news site re/Code reported that investigators were looking into the possibility of a link. After that report, messages purported to be from the hackers alluded to "The Interview" -- first saying that Sony needed to stop "the movie of terrorism," and later explicitly mentioning the film while invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and threatening theaters that planned to show the film.

Technical details about the cyberattack are reported to bear similarities to previous attacks on South Korean media institutions that some cybersecurity experts attributed to North Korea. But some remain skeptical about the connection, noting that much of the publicized evidence linking the attacks is circumstantial.


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GOP goes on K Street hiring spree | Anna Palmer | POLITICO.com

GOP goes on K Street hiring spree | Anna Palmer | POLITICO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Lobbyists can come home again.

As Republicans take control of Congress, they are bringing in veteran influence peddlers to help them run the show. Nearly a dozen veteran K Streeters have been named as top staffers to GOP leaders or on key committees as lawmakers prepare to take the gavel in January.

For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named Hazen Marshall policy director earlier this week. Marshall, a former staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, has spent the last 10 years as a lobbyist at the Nickles Group representing dozens of clients like AT&T, Comcast and energy company Exelon.

The trend is in part because Republicans are taking control of the Senate next year, opening up attractive jobs once held by Democrats.

And while former staffers-turned lobbyists often end up back in public service — the revolving door has been swinging for years — there is a notable increase in the pace of K Streeters making the move back to Congress this month.

“I think it’s to be expected, especially when you have a change in leadership in the Senate. The upper House has a little more glamour for a lot of people” said Ivan Adler, a headhunter with the McCormick Group. “There’s a lot of people who are looking to enhance their credentials… Going back to the Hill in a senior level position with lots of responsibility and visibility is just like people moving in the entertainment or sports industry in LA or New York.”

Marshall in McConnell’s office is hardly alone. Mark Isakowitz, who has been downtown since the mid-1990s first at the National Federation of Independent Business and then at the boutique firm Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, is also making the transition to Capitol Hill. The Ohio native will be chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Appropriations guru Jeff Shockey is taking another swing through the revolving door — he has done two previous stints working in the House — will this time be leaving S3 Group to become staff director to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on the House Intelligence Committee.

In an email announcing his departure from the Nickles Group, Marshall wrote friends and clients that after working for former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) for nearly three decades he was looking forward to his next challenge as Republicans return to power.

“I am very excited about returning to the Senate to work for Leader McConnell and will do my best to help him and his talented team succeed,” Marshall wrote in an email announcing his move. “I love the Senate and I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to work with a great Leader who will restore the glory of that institution.”

Although lobbyists are sure to take a pay cut to return to the public sector — former long-time staffers can also use the time to increase their pensions and reach the next level of compensation.

Democrats are hardly immune from bringing in old political hands and lobbyists as staffers. Lobbyists like Luke Albee returned to become chief of staff for Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. And, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has relied heavily on former Comcast exec David Krone as a confidant and political adviser.

But over the past several years there has been little turnover in leadership roles or at the committee. Additionally, the President Barack Obama’s slamming of the influence industry and implementation of rules that tried to limit the number of registered lobbyists from joining his administration also put a slight freeze on the practice.

“The ‘Scarlet L’ is fading and it is fading rapidly,” Adler said of the increasing number of lobbyists returning to the Hill.


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NY: Time Warner fights to keep plans secret | Larry Rulison | Times Union

NY: Time Warner fights to keep plans secret | Larry Rulison | Times Union | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Even as Time Warner Cable is urging state regulators to approve its $45 billion purchase by cable TV giant Comcast, the company is fighting efforts to make its rural broadband Internet expansion plans public.

On Friday, Time Warner Cable appealed a decision by an administrative law judge at the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to make public some of the company's plans for building new broadband Internet networks in rural areas of the state. A consumer advocacy group called New York's Utility Project had sought to make the plans public so that consumers would know how the Comcast merger would affect the availability of high-speed Internet service.

"As outlined in our appeal, disclosure of Time Warner Cable build-out plans, including details like completion dates and the areas and number of potential customers served, would clearly harm our competitive position," Time Warner Cable spokesman Scott Pryzwansky said Monday.

Broadband Internet service — its cost and availability — are hot-button issues with government regulators these days. Some consumer groups have argued that as large media companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge, there will be less competition. That will result in less investment in broadband service, they argue, which is extremely expensive to build in rural areas where there are fewer customers.

Although the Federal Communications Commission has the ultimate say on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, the deal also needs approval from the PSC, which regulates utilities in New York state. Although there have been several delays in its review, the PSC has promised to make a decision by the end of the year, although no vote has yet been scheduled.

As part of the PSC review, New York's Utility Project, run by Albany attorney Gerry Norlander, has sought to force Comcast and Time Warner Cable to make public some of the documents they have provided to the PSC that have been shielded from public view due to concerns over revealing trade secrets.

On Dec. 2, David Prestemon, an administrative law judge at the PSC, ruled that many of the documents that Norlander wanted made public should remain out of public view.

However, he did rule that one Time Warner Cable document, called "New York State Rural Builds," could be provided to Norlander. The document lists 225 Time Warner Cable broadband projects, nearly all of which were scheduled to be completed by October 2014. Prestemon ruled that Time Warner Cable could redact any information on any projects that hadn't been started yet, but the rest of the information had to be public.

"Once actual construction begins, however, the project is no longer secret; it is public," Prestemon wrote.

Norlander said Monday the document that the judge decided to release isn't as important as other documents that Time Warner and Comcast have been able to keep secret.

"The more interesting information is not what has been done or what is under way, but what will be deployed next," he said. "And will it significantly advance the state toward universal service goals of affordable access to high speed broadband?"


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Cellphones Replacing Landlines? Not Exactly | Christopher Baker | AARP.org

Cellphones Replacing Landlines? Not Exactly | Christopher Baker | AARP.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Is the landline “good as dead”? That’s what some media outlets would have you believe from their coverage earlier this year of a report on cellphone-only households. This sensational message makes for eye-catching headlines — but a closer look reveals a different story.

Many U.S. households have ditched their landlines and now rely solely on cellphones, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indeed, the data show that 4 out of 10 adults age 18 or older live in households with only wireless telephones.

But that means that 6 out of 10 adults — roughly 140 million people — continue to live in households with landline phones.

Nothing in the CDC data suggests that the end of the landline phone is imminent. However, it does provide insights on the needs of older Americans:


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Movistar Argentina to launch 4G next week | TeleGeography.com

Movistar Argentina will reportedly begin offering commercial LTE-based services next week, according to Reuters, which cites its parent company Telefonica of Spain.


Initially, however, it has been noted that the cellco’s 4G network will be used exclusively for data services, in a move which it has been claimed is designed to free up capacity on its third-generation infrastructure.


Commenting on the plans to introduce a commercial offering, Telefonica de Argentina president Luis Blasco was cited as saying: ‘We will launch 4G on Monday, far sooner than we had imagined … and so will begin the development of a new technology needed to ease pressure on the spectrum.’

As reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, Argentina’s Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) confirmed that Movistar had been awarded LTE-suitable frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands, all of which is available for use on a nationwide basis. The company reportedly agreed to pay USD209.14 million in return for the spectrum.

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CT: Ride high-speed Internet to success | Comptroller Kevin Lembo | CTPost.com

CT: Ride high-speed Internet to success | Comptroller Kevin Lembo | CTPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aesop's fable heralds the superiority of the steady tortoise in its race against the hare -- but the important teachings of ancient Greek literature do not apply to electronic data transmission.

In fact, the hare may be the winning answer to Connecticut's future, in the form of ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic Internet capability -- deployed for the first time anywhere statewide to every home and business.

Connecticut's economy desperately needs a man-on-the-moon moment -- and I believe that deploying a statewide ultrahigh-speed network is that moment.

The network would rapidly deliver information at one gigabit per second, serving as a superhighway for researchers, schools, businesses large and small, every household in the state and anyone in Connecticut who owns a vision for the future, yet lacks the tools to get there.

It would be the ultimate economic assistance and incentive program -- perhaps far more valuable than any tax credit or forgivable loan, because it would reward all business and industries with an infrastructure worthy of settling in Connecticut. It would be an open door to all businesses, including new ones and those already established here.

The good news is that a conversation was ignited just this month in the wells of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The state Office of the Consumer Counsel commendably brought together a perfect storm of brain power, including some of the brightest minds in telecommunications and genomic medicine.

What do telecommunications and genomic medicine have in common, you might ask? Apparently, they have everything in common.

Honored to be a part of this collaborative panel discussion with Senator Beth Bye and Commissioner Catherine Smith, I was troubled to learn that it recently took researchers at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine at UConn Health Center two weeks to electronically transmit research data from one facility to another.

With our fleet of advanced institutions of medicine and higher learning -- and as one of the top states in brain power per capita -- Connecticut has the potential to establish itself as one of the greatest hubs for research and development in the world.

It's on the verge of happening -- but we need to take immediate action for this to work.


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BitTorrent Wants to Distribute The Interview | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com

BitTorrent Wants to Distribute The Interview | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every day, the Sony Pictures hack gets weirder and weirder.

On Friday, Obama boldly announced that Sony had made "a mistake" in pulling the film but said it was the private company's right to do so. In an interview earlier this morning, the Commander in Chief clarified that he saw the attacks as an act of "cybervandalism" as opposed to terrorism, and that this was not an act of war.

That's all fine and good, but there is still one question that remains. What the hell is going to happen to The Interview? We are now 4 days away from the film's original Christmas debut, and Sony is still unsure on how it will eventually release the film. The studio has announced that they are actively pursuing "alternatives" to releasing the film on a "different platform." This sentiment was reiterated on Sunday when a Sony lawyer said the company would release the film. They just didn't know how yet. BitTorrent wants to be that platform.

In an interview with VentureBeat, BitTorrent Inc. says that Sony could set the price of the film using the BitTorrent Bundle service, similar to how Thom Yorke distributed his new album earlier this year. The company mentions that they're not encouraging that Sony post to illegal pirate sites using torrent technology but through a controlled manner through BitTorrent.


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Millions of Fake Instagram Users Disappear in Purge | Vindu Goel | NYTimes.com

Millions of Fake Instagram Users Disappear in Purge | Vindu Goel | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Social media services like Facebook and Twitter are always battling against spam or fake accounts that hijack hashtags, artificially pump up follower counts for celebrities and brands and inflate costs for advertisers that want to reach real customers, not automated bots.

This week, we got a look at just how many junk accounts there really are on Instagram, the four-year-old photo and video sharing service owned by Facebook. In what has been called the “Instagram Rapture,” the company is deleting all the accounts it had previously designated as “spammy” from the follower counts of its users. And for some high-profile accounts, a lot of users have been vaporized.

No account has lost more users than Instagram’s own main account. More than 29 percent of Instagram’s followers, or 18.9 million users, disappeared from Wednesday to Thursday, according to a graphic of the top 100 Instagram accounts compiled by Zach Allia, a software developer.

Celebrities also saw millions of followers vanish. The singer Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million fans, or 15 percent of his total, according to Mr. Allia’s calculations. Kim Kardashian lost 1.3 million followers, or 5.5 percent of her fan base on the service.

At stake isn’t just bragging rights, but real money. Social media users with big fan bases can snag lucrative promotional deals from companies eager for them to send out an endorsement to their fans. As my colleague Nick Bilton wrote earlier this year, there is a thriving black market in social media friendship, with a million Instagram followers going for the bargain price of $3,700 in April.

Both Twitter and Facebook have told investors that less than 5 percent of their accounts are fake or spam.

Gabe Madway, an Instagram spokesman, did not dispute Mr. Allia’s calculations of the sharp drop in followers for some popular Instagram accounts, including the company’s own.


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Socialize Uber | Mike Konezal & Bryce Covert | The Nation

In response to a wave of bad behavior by the popular ride-sharing service Uber—with one executive suggesting digging up dirt on journalists who write negative articles about the company—many advocated a switch to Uber’s competitor, Lyft. But this approach ignores the fact that Uber’s abuses are baked into how “sharing” companies operate, a way of doing business that is shared by its competitors. More important, it misses a way to transform these companies that is right there in front of us: by socializing ownership among their workers.

Cutting through the marketing BS of Silicon Valley is a good goal for everyone, but the left in particular should debunk its definition of a “sharing economy.” Sharing, in this case, doesn’t mean “lending someone the use of something for free.” It also doesn’t match the Silicon Valley description of creating a large number of small-scale entrepreneurs or independent business owners.

Instead, what we see is the creation of a low-wage workforce under the ownership of tech companies. At Uber, this arrangement means that drivers have to pay for their own cars, maintenance and gas, while management sets the rates and terms of their labor, taking a hefty cut in the process. A crucial first step for reform is to get these drivers recognized as actual workers, with proper rights and proper insurance.

Now think about what the capitalist managers at Uber are doing with their cut of the company’s money. They are fighting regulators and hiring lobbyists in order to bring down the incumbent taxi-medallion business. They are also spending money on advertising, in order to get customers interested in using a ride-sharing service. These are both expensive projects, and they open the door for competitors. Newer ride-share ventures can piggyback on Uber’s success and take advantage of these new terms, with Uber having already spent all that initial money. This is called the “second-mover advantage,” and it explains why Uber is such a vicious company.


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Aspirational sloganeering won't build last mile fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Aspirational sloganeering won't build last mile fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Half of Connecticut says it wants fiber-optic Internet —and soon - The Washington Post:


Although the state has fiber-optic cables connecting all 169 towns, that infrastructure typically ends in nodes serving the local town hall or police and fire stations. The next step will be to connect individual homes to that network. As many as 1.8 million Connecticut residents would get access to fiber if the public-private partnership plans move forward.

That figure also represents a significant opportunity for Internet providers. ISPs would not only be able to tap into a lucrative subscriber base for fiber-optic services, said Vallee — they'd be able to do so at little cost to themselves, thanks to the infrastructure that's already been built and state incentives to streamline the building process.

There are two big questions not addressed in this story: Who will build the residential fiber infrastructure and how will it be financed? Without those details, talk of Connecticut being "number one" for fiber connectivity is merely aspirational sloganeering.

It's also misleading to suggest that ISPs will be able to deploy that infrastructure "at little cost to themselves." Cost barriers to building last mile fiber infrastructure are significant and the primary reason why once anchor institutions are connected to fiber, homes and small businesses are left unconnected as is the case here. Connecticut and other states need realistic and well thought out plans to meet and overcome them.

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At the heart of Obama’s Cuba doctrine? The Internet | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

At the heart of Obama’s Cuba doctrine? The Internet | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How disconnected is Cuba, the land where a decades-old U.S. embargo has left many residents drive vintage automobiles from the 1950s and '60s? Only 5 percent of the island nation's 11 million residents have the ability to get onto the Internet.

So when President Obama announced major changes to the U.S. approach to Cuba on Wednesday, he emphasized the need to open up a nation "closed off from an interconnected world."


To do that, the White House is loosening restrictions on the export and sale of goods and services aimed at helping more Cubans communicate with both each other and the outside world, technologies that are likely to include everything from cell phones to laptops to wireless Internet routers to software capable of equipping computers with network connections to fiber-optic cables.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in an interview on CNBC Thursday that the Cuban government is supportive of increasing its citizens' access to the Internet.

Cuba isn't a particularly big country. Its population is roughly equal to that of Ohio. And with a low standard of living -- the average income per person is just $5,460 (USD) -- as a potential market for U.S. telecom goods and services it is more a symbolic than a profitable one.

But the possibility of helping its people connect to the outside world has captured the imagination of some in tech. In June, Google executives including chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen visited Cuba, according to the Cuban blog 14medio, operated by Cuban blogger and Internet advocate Yoani Sánchez.


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Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of New York's top financial regulators is laying out a new policy on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies after a flood of public feedback encouraged the agency to scale back its proposed rules.

New revisions to the proposal would trim some requirements on Bitcoin-related businesses, and clarify others. Among the key changes? Companies covered by the regulations will no longer be required to store the addresses of every person involved in a Bitcoin transaction — an idea privacy hawks have said would deter people from adopting virtual currencies. Now, companies regulated by New York's so-called BitLicense will only be required to gather transaction information from their own customers, said Ben Lawsky, New York's superintendent of financial services, at a Washington conference Thursday.

In addition, covered companies will only have to store that information for seven years, down from the 10 years Lawsky's agency, the department of financial services, was previously considering.

"Virtual currencies really sit at that crossroads of the much more lightly regulated tech sector and the more heavily regulated financial sector," said Lawsky, who added that all financial companies ought to be supervised to "ensure that consumers' money doesn't just disappear into a black hole."

That said, the new rules will be clarified to cover only those companies that actually engage in sending money from one place to another, said Lawsky. They won't apply to software companies that offer consumers Bitcoin "wallets" where they can store their digital cash. Nor will the rules apply to retailers that simply take bitcoins as payment for goods and services. Private individuals who "mine" or invest in bitcoins won't be required to apply for a license from the state government, either.


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The hackers are winning the media war | Haley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

The hackers are winning the media war | Haley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The hackers are winning.

Something has shifted. This year, they didn't only steal credit cards numbers. They clear-cut through retailers records and broke into highly sophisticated systems. They stole celebrity photos that paparazzo only dream about. And now, we have something new, again: a widescale breach and control of a media narrative aimed at destroying a major company based in the United States.

For years, hacks were mostly about committing robbery -- slipping in and out unnoticed, with maybe a dropped calling card as a small-scale brag. Now Sony has canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" -- the movie that apparently spurred the hacks into Sony Pictures Entertainment in the first place.

The tactics are similar to the renegade, total information freedom approach popularized by groups such as Wikileaks or Anonymous. Those leaks and attacks -- some serious, some just online vandalism -- were aimed specifically at getting publicity, but you can at least understand the pursuit of a higher motivation. When you take down the CIA Web site just "for the lulz," it may be goofy, but at least you're making a splash to prove a point.

But Sony is hardly the National Security Agency or a national government. These broad leaks aren't for a cause -- they're aimed at undermining the character of a company by exposing how it conducts its normal business. It's like "The Jungle," but for movies. And the threat of a violent, physical attack put Sony in the toughest position imaginable -- between losing a war of principles or putting lives in danger. Sony was set to lose either way.

The hacks of Home Depot, celebrity iCloud accounts and Sony were likely the work of different people. But taken together, they show a growing cockiness, ambition and media savvy within the hacker world.


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MN: Lake County broadband $1.5 million pulled back | Bill Hanna | Mesabi Daily News

MN: Lake County broadband  $1.5 million pulled back | Bill Hanna | Mesabi Daily News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board had planned to approve 40 public works projects totaling about $7.7 million when it met earlier this week.

But $1.5 million to the Town of White for a single project — a broadband expansion in Lake County — was pushed to the back burner when Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook objected.

He had heard from a Lake County commissioner that some in the service territory where the county planned to build out would be receiving IRRRB money to compete.

“The agency hasn’t been in broadband before ... we don’t know that much about it. Let’s take a little more time to understand,” Bakk said.

Bakk found support with fellow board member, Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township.

“Good idea ... take a deep breath and make sure we’re doing the right thing. Take a pause,” he said.

Bakk also said that there is a $200 million broadband proposal floating around in St. Paul that will be introduced when the 2015 legislative session begins on Jan. 6.

“We don’t need to be the first dollar in when there is a boatload of money coming. Private partners will be needed to leverage state funds,” he said.


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Lawsuits against Sony Pictures could test employer responsibility for data breaches | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Lawsuits against Sony Pictures could test employer responsibility for data breaches | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment is raising a potentially costly question for companies across the country:
How much responsibility do they have for protecting the most sensitive information about their employees?

Former employees have filed four lawsuits this week accusing Sony of not doing enough to protect their private data, including Social Security numbers, salaries, performance reviews and personal medical information. The latest suit, filed late Thursday on behalf of Michael Levine, a former technical director at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Felix Lionel, a former Sony Pictures director of technology, says the company's negligence led to the release of personal information about 47,000 current and former employees.

"For decades, [Sony] failed, and continues to fail, to take the reasonably necessary actions to provide a sufficient level of IT security to reasonably secure its employees' [personal information]," according to the class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in California by San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP.

The Sony attack, already one of the most damaging corporate cyber attacks in history, is sending chills through corporate executive suites. Companies accustomed to protecting customers' credit card data and their trade secrets, now face a more daunting task: Securing sensitive personnel data that until the attack on Sony was not considered valuable to hackers.

"This event is much more than a data breach in the traditional sense -- it represents a sea change in the world of cyber attacks," said Lisa Sotto, a cybersecurity lawyer at New York-based Hunton & Williams. "Companies need to be acutely focused on preventing these types of attacks because they are aimed at toppling a company."


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Dirty data: Why the ’4 million public comments’ on net neutrality might not be what they seem | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

Dirty data: Why the ’4 million public comments’ on net neutrality might not be what they seem | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When President Obama last month came out in favor of a far-reaching plan to ensure that all bits of content on the Internet are treated equally, he cited the unprecedented number of comments from the American public that had poured into the nation's main telecommunications agency in apparent support of that approach.

"I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call," Obama said in his debate-shifting statement, "of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality."

Now, more than a month later, there's a fight roiling telecom policy circles this week over whether there were, in fact, nearly 4 million comments sent into the FCC, and how many of them actually were in support of those "strongest possible" rules.

What's still reasonably certain is that President Obama indeed exists.

Sparking this dust-up was an analysis from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation of the FCC's release of that comment cache. Sunlight concluded that not only were there several hundred fewer comments in that collection than the FCC had announced, but the majority of those in the second, "reply comment," round it has now analyzed had weighed in against an Obama-style plan.

Those lined up against net neutrality regulation, particularly a group called American Commitment, took a victory lap. "We were engaging in the same sort of 'clicktivism' that we saw from the liberal advocacy groups," said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, "because the views of the American people weren't being reflected in the first round."

"It's clear that Phil and his organization weren't present in first round and showed up in the second round," acknowledged Tim Karr, senior director of strategy at Free Press, a group that has pushed aggressively for the sort of strict net neutrality rules advocated by Obama.

That said, some of the pro-regulation groups, including Karr's Free Press, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, cried foul on the specifics of Sunlight's analysis. Using the same data download that Sunlight had used, those organizations searched for some of the comments they knew their supporters had submitted, and noticed that some were missing.

The Sunlight Foundation responded late Wednesday with a clarification of its analysis, calling on the FCC to explain why there seemed to now be 1.1 million missing comments from the data download. The pro-net neutrality coalition responded by insisting that the Sunlight analysis has misinterpreted even the comments that actually were contained within the cache.

There are additional wrinkles to the story involving e-mail duplication, bounce-backs, signatures vs. comments, and data noise that will only drive you to search for a bottle of bourbon or soothing bar of chocolate.

The bigger question is how, exactly, does such a data mess happen in the year 2014?


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