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The FCC Scores a Hat Trick of Errors on Internet Regulation | Forbes

The FCC Scores a Hat Trick of Errors on Internet Regulation | Forbes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With Congress in recess and Washington largely abandoned last week, the FCC issued three major orders. Comprising some four hundred pages of dense text, the rulings addressed widely different topics: reporting the progress of broadband deployment by private networks, price regulation over middle mile Internet (what the agency calls “special access”), and the proposed sale to Verizon of wireless spectrum currently being warehoused by a consortium of cable companies.

 

The timing was no coincidence. In its last major overhaul of the agency in 1996, Congress left the FCC with almost no authority over the Internet, whether content, transmission or the devices and software that consumers use to enjoy it. All three of last week’s orders pushed well beyond the FCC’s legal authority. Issuing them in rapid succession was the act of a petulant teenager, loudly defying a parent he knows has already left the room.

 

Each decision in its own way reflected the fierce determination of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and his two Democratic colleagues to recast the agency whenever possible for a starring role in the Internet economy. They genuinely believe their “prophylactic” agenda will help consumers, despite a long history that demonstrates repeatedly the folly of slow-moving governments trying to micromanage the evolution of disruptive technologies.

 

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Community Foundations: A New Anchor Mission for a New Century | Democracy Collaboration

Community Foundations: A New Anchor Mission for a New Century | Democracy Collaboration | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It was in 2005 that the highly regarded Monitor Institute report declared that the field of community foundations was “On the Brink of New Promise,” and in the decade since, there have been countless working groups and initiatives to introduce innovative approaches to the field.


At the same time, largely beneath the radar, a small but growing group has begun pursuing the innovative path we explore here. Mostly in small steps—but sometimes in larger ways—they are adopting elements of what could emerge as a new anchor mission to deploy all resources to build community wealth.

Why are these community foundations moving in this direction? What exactly are they doing? To find the answer, we examined a representative group of 30 innovative community foundations, of varying sizes, in various stages of development.


For some, the shift involves a focus on catalyzing economic development. This generally involves a move beyond simply disbursing grants toward a leadership or catalytic role, proactively shaping initiatives, and using grantmaking in partnership with approaches like convening, piloting projects, and influencing policy.


Others are rethinking how they use their assets and are experimenting with impact investing, which we define here as making investments that seek both financial return and social impact. In the process, these foundations are sometimes engaging donors and other investors around how they make investments. Some foundations examined here are doing both economic development and impact investing.


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Why livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope will be a huge boon for cops | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope will be a huge boon for cops | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When a building in New York recently caught fire and partially collapsed, injuring 30, many people's first instinct was to turn to social media. On Periscope, Twitter's livestreaming video app, users could watch in real time as first-responders arrived on the scene and closed down the street.

It's easy to see why services like Periscope — and its slightly older rival, Meerkat — are taking off. They let us experience viscerally — and anonymously — what's happening to other people as though we're behind the camera ourselves. The last generation of social media could only hint at that kind of engagement through short snippets of text and pretty pictures.

But as empowering as these apps are, expect them to grant even greater capabilities to law enforcement — who, through watching live videos of people screwing up, will gain an unprecedented ability to catch criminals in the act and gather embarrassing evidence of wrongdoing.

"There'll be thieves showing off their goods" on these services, said Stephen Balkam, president of the Family Online Safety Institute. "That's as stupid as it gets."

If you think that's far-fetched, you clearly haven't been introduced to the wealth of crazy that's already pervasive on Periscope and Meerkat. Vice has an exhaustive rundown of users broadcasting themselves smoking pot, driving cars and showing skin (or promising to do so). One recent stream I watched was simply pointed at the TV, where an episode of "Family Guy" appeared to be playing.

Many of these behaviors might be considered illegal in some jurisdictions. Unless you're in Colorado, Alaska, the nation's capital or a couple other places, it's still against the law to use marijuana. Rebroadcasting a TV show you're watching? That's not much different from walking into a movie theater with Google Glass, a decision that can get you thrown out — or worse.


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Lobbyists for Spies Appointed To Oversee Spying for Congress | Lee Fang | The Intercept

Lobbyists for Spies Appointed To Oversee Spying for Congress | Lee Fang | The Intercept | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who’s keeping watch of the National Security Agency? In Congress, the answer in more and more cases is that the job is going to former lobbyists for NSA contractors and other intelligence community insiders.

A wave of recent appointments has placed intelligence industry insiders into key Congressional roles overseeing intelligence gathering. The influx of insiders is particularly alarming because lawmakers in Washington are set to take up a series of sensitive surveillance and intelligence issues this year, from reform of the Patriot Act to far-reaching “information sharing” legislation.

After the first revelations of domestic surveillance by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, President Obama defended the spying programs by claiming they were “subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate.” But as Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., and other members of Congress have pointed out, there is essentially a “two-tiered” system for oversight, with lawmakers and staff on specialized committees, such as the House and Senate committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security, controlling the flow of information and routinely excluding other Congress members, even those who have asked for specific information relating to pending legislation.

The Intercept reviewed the new gatekeepers in Congress, the leading staffers on the committees overseeing intelligence and surveillance matters, and found a large number of lobbyists and consultants passing through the revolving door between the intelligence community and the watchdogs who purportedly oversee the intelligence community. We reached out to each of them earlier this week and have yet to hear back:


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FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says | David Kravets | Ars Technica

FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says | David Kravets | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI's ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn't buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

"Permitting the government to create the need for the occupant to invite a third party into his or her home would effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residents and hotel rooms in America," Gordon wrote in throwing out evidence the agents collected. "Authorities would need only to disrupt phone, Internet, cable, or other 'non-essential' service and then pose as technicians to gain warrantless entry to the vast majority of homes, hotel rooms, and similarly protected premises across America."

The government had urged the court to uphold the search, arguing that it employs "ruses every day in its undercover operations." (PDF) The government noted that US judges have previously upheld government ruses to gain access into dwellings.


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After 50 years, Moore's Law teaches the power in a grain of rice | Drew Clark | DeseretNews.com

After 50 years, Moore's Law teaches the power in a grain of rice | Drew Clark | DeseretNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The world that we live in today is fundamentally different because of a four-page article published 50 years ago today in Electronics magazine. It is inspiring for me to try to quantify its impact.

The article, "Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits," was written by Gordon Moore, then director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor in what would later be called Silicon Valley. Three years later, in 1968, Moore teamed up with Robert Noyce to co-found Intel. That company’s name is an abbreviation for the integrated electronics on a silicon-based computer chip.

Moore's Law was Gordon Moore’s prediction that computing power would double every 18 months. Each new generation of microprocessor contains twice as many transistors as the last one. Each new hard drive, smartphone and smartwatch stores more bits of data than the last. Each new form of fiber-optic wires or radio transmission passes information faster.

The aspirational projection embedded in Moore's Law is the reason we now enjoy the benefits of the digital world in which we live. It has been bountiful for our economy, our culture and our society.

Consider what Moore's Law’s has wrought:


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Congress cannot be taken seriously on cybersecurity | Trevor Timm | The Guardian

Congress cannot be taken seriously on cybersecurity | Trevor Timm | The Guardian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Members of Congress - most of whom can’t secure their own websites, and some of whom don’t even use email - are trying to force a dangerous “cybersecurity” bill down the public’s throat. Everyone’s privacy is in the hands of people who, by all indications, have no idea what they’re talking about.

Leaders are expected to bring its much-maligned series of “cybersecurity” bills to the floor sometime in the next couple weeks - bills that we know will do little to help cybersecurity but a lot to help intelligence agencies like the NSA vacuum up even more of Americans’ personal information. The bills’ authors deny that privacy is even an issue, but why we’re trusting Congress at all on this legislation, given their lack of basic knowledge on the subject, is the question everyone should be asking.

Just look at Congress’ own cybersecurity practices. None of the members of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee - the most influential cybersecurity oversight body in Congress - have websites that use HTTPS encryption, which is increasingly becoming the standard for websites who want to provide basic security protections for the people who visit them (Google and others have had it for years).

It’s such a vital tool that the executive branch recently promised to move all its websites over to HTTPS within two years - many of its agencies, though not all, have already made the switch. But there’s not even a hint that Congress is attempting to do the same. (The website of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is in charge of cybersecurity oversight on the Senate side, also looks like it was designed in 1996.)

An overlooked but important Politico article published in January examined Congress’ own cybersecurity practices when it comes to defending their networks. Reporter Tal Kopan quoted several Congressional staffers saying Congress barely does anything to protect itself from cyberattacks, despite being a juicy target for foreign intelligence agencies. “Few could remember any kind of IT security training, and if they did, it wasn’t taken seriously”, Kopan reported

And how many Congressional staffers and their bosses protect their emails or phone calls with encryption? ACLU’s Chief technologist Chris Soghoian told me yesterday that using any sort of encryption tools “is the exception rather than the norm.” He said: “Most members of Congress and most congressional staff use unencrypted email and unencrypted telephones. Their communications are undoubtedly targeted by foreign intelligence services, just as the NSA targets the communications of foreign political leaders and their staff.” Not exactly encouraging.


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NWI: Leaving tech center a sign of success | Karen Caffarini | Post-Tribune.com

NWI: Leaving tech center a sign of success | Karen Caffarini | Post-Tribune.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In one room of the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana (NWI), phone IT professionals from as far away as France and Costa Rica are nearing the end of a two-week advanced class on the CISCO phone system.

In another, students learn how to become ultrasound technicians, using a machine to probe an actual heart. Elsewhere in the building, people are doing cancer research.

The modern 60,000-square-foot building, which is turning 10 in July, is almost 70 percent full with 40 tenants, about 95 percent of which are tech-related in one way or another, according to operations manager David LaMere.

LaMere said the center, part of the Purdue Research Park in Ameriplex at the Crossroads at 101st and Broadway, gets new tenants all the time, which in its case, is a positive.

An incubator designed to help start-up companies with the aid of conference rooms, videoconferencing capabilities and a receptionist and telephone answering service, the hope is that tenants grow and move on to their own, larger spaces.

"Tenants can stay here a year or forever," he said.

One success case has grown and decided to expand in the center.

IT hardware and software solutions firm CSO IT Procurement went from one small office to four, one of which houses its data center, vice president Ray Govert said.

"The Purdue Tech Center is a perfect fit for us. It's affiliated with Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, IN and we're involved in education. It's looking for upstart companies and has conference rooms for up to 50 to 60 people. We're just getting rolling and need some conference space," Govert said.


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KS: Jeff Fluhr to head new, broader Wichita economic development effort | Dan Voorhis | The Wichita Eagle

KS: Jeff Fluhr to head new, broader Wichita economic development effort | Dan Voorhis | The Wichita Eagle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Saying it’s time to speed up the area’s economic growth, senior Wichita business leaders went public with a plan Friday to reorganize and broaden the area’s economic development apparatus.

They also changed personnel: Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., will head a new economic development umbrella group, the Greater Wichita Partnership.

Tim Chase is out as head of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.

The Greater Wichita Partnership will oversee the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, Wichita Downtown Development Corp. and committees working on education and entrepreneurship – and the partnership could eventually extend to include other groups throughout the community and region.


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Can a happy, crunchy company like Etsy really survive on Wall Street? | Drew Harwell | WashPost.com

Can a happy, crunchy company like Etsy really survive on Wall Street? | Drew Harwell | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When American companies go public, most make a promise — that they will “maximize shareholder value” — without saying exactly what those three words mean. Does that include paying hard-working employees minimum wage? Jacking up prices? Or cutting jobs even when they make a profit?

Then there's Etsy, the online bazaar of often bizarre artisanal wares that set Thursday for its stock debut. When it announced its initial public offering last month, the Brooklyn-based craft marketplace made it clear that it valued social consciousness more than making sure stockholders made the most dough.

“For decades now, the conventional and dominant retail model has relentlessly focused on delivering goods at the lowest price, valuing products and profit over community,” Etsy chief executive Chad Dickerson wrote in securities filings. “I do not believe that this race to the bottom is a sustainable, successful model. ... If we succeed, then other companies might replicate our model. We think the world will be a better place for it.”

Etsy's share price roughly doubled on its first day on the market, ending Thursday at $30 and helping the firm raise about $300 million. Valuing the company at about $3 billion, investors made Etsy one of the largest initial public offerings for a tech company this year.

Etsy leaders said they hope the offering will give them more visibility in a crowded tech marketplace and leave them with cash they need to grow. But Etsy's long-term success on the stock market will be determined largely by just how much conscious capitalism Wall Street investors are willing to bet on.

If too many are turned off by all the hand-holding and altruism, Etsy's stock price could sink — or, as some Etsy regulars worry, the firm could give in, and become exactly the type of company they hoped to avoid.


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A crisis in telecommunications infrastructure as Moore's Law turns 50 | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

A crisis in telecommunications infrastructure as Moore's Law turns 50 | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Silicon Valley marks 50 years of Moore's Law - ContraCostaTimes.com: Thanks to Moore's Law, people carry smartphones in their pocket or purse that are more powerful than the biggest computers made in 1965 -- or 1995, for that matter. Without it, there would be no slender laptops, no computers powerful enough to chart a genome or design modern medicine's lifesaving drugs. Streaming video, social media, search, the cloud -- none of that would be possible on today's scale.

"It fueled the information age," said Craig Hampel, chief scientist at Rambus, a Sunnyvale semiconductor company. "As you drive around Silicon Valley, 99 percent of the companies you see wouldn't be here" without cheap computer memory due to Moore's Law.

As I've blogged in this space before, Moore's Law is directly affecting and redefining Internet telecommunications where bandwidth demand is growing at a pace comparable to microprocessor capacity.

That's creating a crisis because the fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure serving homes, businesses and institutions that's needed to accommodate this growth isn't in place in most areas or plans drawn up for its construction and financing.


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - April 17 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - April 17 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week, Christopher Mitchell of the ILSR traveled to Austin, Texas for the Broadband Communities Conference. It was great to connect with so many people doing great work and build on the energy we are seeing across the country. Onward!

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Pokes Finger in Eye of Telecom Incumbents at Broadband Communities in Austin by Drew Clark, BroadbandBreakfast.com

Wheeler Talks Up Pre-emption Says There Are Serious Questions About ISP Competition by John Eggerton, MultiChannel

Just to reiterate:

"The Commission respects the important role of state governments in our federal system," he said, "and we do not take the matter of preempting state laws lightly. But it is a well-established principle that state laws that inhibit the exercise of federal policy may be subject to preemption in appropriate circumstances. My position on this matter was shaped by a few irrefutable broadband truths:

  • You can't say you're for broadband - but endorse limits on who can offer it,
  • You can't follow Congress' explicit instruction to 'remove barriers' to infrastructure investment - but endorse barriers to infrastructure investment,
  • And you can't say you're for competition - but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices."


National broadband summit aims to 'Gigafy America' WRAL TechWire


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The FTC wants to talk about the ‘sharing economy’ | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The FTC wants to talk about the ‘sharing economy’ | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet and mobile apps have made it easier than ever to convert underused assets into extra cash via the so-called "sharing economy." And tech companies that provide the infrastructure for these markets including Airbnb and Uber have expanded dramatically in recent years.

And now the Federal Trade Commission wants to talk about what it means for consumers. The agency announced Friday it will host a public workshop to "examine competition, consumer protection, and economic issues raised by the proliferation of online and mobile peer-to peer business platforms" in June.

“We are seeing a dramatic growth in products and services that are built on peer-to-peer platforms, such as ride-sharing and property rentals, as more entrepreneurs harness the power of technology to reach more consumers,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. “Through our workshop, we want to better understand the competitive impact of these new business models, as well as their interactions with existing regulatory frameworks.”

A recent report from PwC estimated that five key "sharing-sectors" -- travel, car sharing, finance, staffing, and music and video streaming -- have global revenues of roughly $15 billion dollars and could increase to around $335 billion by 2025. But with that economic growth comes questions about how to regulate new services that are disrupting established markets.


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CenturyLink appeals net neutrality decision | Fierce Telecom

CenturyLink appeals net neutrality decision | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink, Inc. today filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality order on the grounds that it is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and a violation of federal law.

"CenturyLink invests hundreds of millions of dollars a year to build, maintain and update an open Internet network and does not block or degrade lawful content. However, the FCC has chosen to subjugate the Internet to government-controlled public utility regulations from the 1930s. These regulations not only have no place in the 21st century economy, but will chill innovation and investment. We are challenging the FCC's misguided net neutrality order for these reasons and because we believe it could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers."

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NY pledges $200 million for photonics center in Rochester | Matthew Daneman | Democrat & Chronicle

NY pledges $200 million for photonics center in Rochester | Matthew Daneman | Democrat & Chronicle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New York state is promising to pony up $200 million toward a photonics prototyping and testing facility in Rochester if Uncle Sam also kicks in.

The SUNY Research Foundation, the University of Central Florida and the University of Southern California all are vying for $110 million from the U.S. Defense Department for a high-tech Institute for Manufacturing Innovation focused on photonics. That Institute has to be matched with at least $110 million in non-federal funding.

The SUNY Research Foundation pitch revolves around numerous educational institutions and companies partnering up, including the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona, as well as Corning Inc. and IBM.

The SUNY Research proposal is significantly Rochester-centric and points out the significant number of optics and photonics companies locally. Its ultimate aim is cutting the cost of photonics-related technology as well as making an easier path for turning those technologies into products.

In a letter released Thursday by the office of U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, state Department of Economic Development Commissioner Howard Zemsky wrote the Air Force — the lead agency in the Defense Department project — saying that if the New York-centric application is chosen, the Empire State would chip in $250 million over the next five years.


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How Google Is Trying to Make Its Employees Less Prejudiced | Joe Pinsker | The Atlantic

How Google Is Trying to Make Its Employees Less Prejudiced | Joe Pinsker | The Atlantic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Self-driving cars, balloons that beam Internet service to previously unconnected citizens below, immortality—these are the farsighted, high-risk pursuits that Google calls its "moonshots." But another one of its wildly ambitious projects isn't classified as such, and falls a lot closer to campus: curbing workplace discrimination. The company, which has roughly two male employees for every female employee, has spent three years making data-based revisions to its hiring and promotion processes.

No company—and certainly no tech company—has figured out how to dissolve the unconscious biases that govern human-resources decisions. And even if Google found a proven fix for its diversity problem, change would still come slowly. “At our rate of hiring, if we wanted to move to 50-50, we'd have to hire only women for something like the next four, five, or six years,” says Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google. “To have a meaningful change in the numbers and representation is actually going to take a while because it turns out it's illegal to only hire women or only hire African Americans. So it's going more slowly than I'd like, and more slowly than we'd like."


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Justice Department Nearing Decision to Block Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Justice Department Nearing Decision to Block Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Staff attorneys that have reviewed details of the Time Warner Cable/Comcast merger proposal are prepared to make a recommendation as early as next week that the Department of Justice should block the deal because it is anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

The staff in the Justice Department’s antitrust division have spent more than a year reviewing documents submitted by both cable companies to determine what impact the merger would have on the cable television and broadband landscape.

Bloomberg News today reported the attorneys did not like what they saw and believe the merger would harm consumers. For the first time, a cable company merger deal was reviewed not so much for its impact on cable television programming, but on broadband.

When the Federal Communications Commission redefined broadband as an Internet connection of at least 25Mbps, Comcast suddenly found itself the largest broadband provider in the country. If the merger with Time Warner Cable is approved, Comcast will have a 56.8 percent market share of U.S. broadband customers, far exceeding any other provider.

In upstate New York, Comcast would have more than a 75% market share — nearly 9o% if you just consider non-Verizon FiOS areas. In California, Comcast would control more than 80% of the market, not only picking up Time Warner Cable customers, but Charter customers in Southern California as well.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable have argued competition is not affected because the two companies never compete with each other. But a de facto broadband monopoly could allow Comcast to raise rates at will and bring a return to usage-related billing. It would also discourage new competitors from entering the market – particularly those relying on broadband to deliver video services, and hand Comcast more leverage to force compensation from online content companies like Netflix.

Under consideration by the Justice Department:


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The NSA wants tech companies to give it 'front door' access to encrypted data | Lizzie Plaugic | The Verge

The National Security Agency (NSA) is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA's bulk collection of metadata. The NSA, on the other hand, continues to parade the idea that the government needs access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices to track and prevent criminal activity. Now, NSA director Michael S. Rogers says he might have a solution.

During a recent speech at Princeton University, Rogers suggested tech companies could create a master multi-part encryption key capable of unlocking any device, The Washington Post reports. That way, if the key were broken into pieces, no single person would have the ability to use it.

"I don’t want a back door," Rogers said. "I want a front door. And I want the front door to have multiple locks. Big locks."

The suggestion comes as Congress considers a new framework for handling encrypted data. Government and law enforcement officials say total encryption could stand in the way of national security operations, while leaders in the tech industry and advocacy groups say the government shouldn't have complete, unobstructed access to citizens' private communications.


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Hollywood Collectively Loses Its Mind About Latest Set Of Livestreaming Apps | | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Hollywood Collectively Loses Its Mind About Latest Set Of Livestreaming Apps | | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you (lucky you!) don't pay attention to the latest craze among the internet media, you may have missed the mid-to-late-March hype cycle around two livestreaming apps that are available via Twitter.


The initial darling was Meerkat, which became this year's annual darling-for-a-week at SXSW. Soon after, it was eclipsed by Periscope, a startup that Twitter bought, just about the same time it pulled Meerkat's ability to push notifications out to users.


Both offer the same basic idea: enabling Twitter users to easily livestream video to their followers. Of course, livestreaming is not a new concept. It's been around for ages, and things like Ustream and JustinTV are well-known.


Even BitTorrent has tried to get into the livestreaming game. Not surprisingly, livestreaming technology has been particularly useful for newsworthy situations -- and have been used extensively in violent clashes around the globe or at protests like in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.

But, of course, Hollywood absolutely hates such things. For years, they've argued that Ustream and JustinTV were destroying their businesses because some people would turn on a television and set up their phone or computer to livestream whatever they were seeing.


So it should come as little shock that right after the media hype cycle around Periscope and Meerkat, a whole series of silly articles started appearing about the copyright consequences of livestreaming.


The Guardian warned that these new livestreaming apps "could cost unwary brands dear." Billboard warned that these two new apps created a "legal minefield" because a song playing in the background might (*gasp*) infringe on someone's copyrights. The Atlantic warned that these apps were enabling "a new kind of internet pirate."


And, CBS really went the distance with a fearmongering headline about how Periscope and Meerkat "threatened" the "multi-billion dollar sports broadcast copyrights," even though they do no such thing (and, in fact, that article speaks to no actual sports officials, whereas when Major League baseball was asked, it noted that it sees no real threat).

And, rather than admit that (1) livestreaming has been around for ages and hasn't really been a serious drag on revenue, and (2) it's not a particularly good user experience for watching broadcast content anyway, various folks in Hollywood lost their minds about these two new services.


The main culprit? HBO. After there were a few scattered reports of various Game of Thrones fans using Periscope to broadcast the latest episode of the popular show, HBO decided that it's all Twitter's fault, and who cares about DMCA safe harbors, something must be done, and Twitter has to do it:

"We are aware of Periscope and have sent takedown notices," an HBO spokeswoman said in a statement. "In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications."

There are two issues there.


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Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. | Lindsey Kaufman | WashPost.com

Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. | Lindsey Kaufman | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A year ago, my boss announced that our large New York ad agency would be moving to an open office. After nine years as a senior writer, I was forced to trade in my private office for a seat at a long, shared table. It felt like my boss had ripped off my clothes and left me standing in my skivvies.

Our new, modern Tribeca office was beautifully airy, and yet remarkably oppressive. Nothing was private. On the first day, I took my seat at the table assigned to our creative department, next to a nice woman who I suspect was an air horn in a former life. All day, there was constant shuffling, yelling, and laughing, along with loud music piped through a PA system. As an excessive water drinker, I feared my co-workers were tallying my frequent bathroom trips. At day’s end, I bid adieu to the 12 pairs of eyes I felt judging my 5:04 p.m. departure time. I beelined to the Beats store to purchase their best noise-cancelling headphones in an unmistakably visible neon blue.

Despite its obvious problems, the open-office model has continued to encroach on workers across the country. Now, about 70 percent of U.S. offices have no or low partitions, according to the International Facility Management Association. Silicon Valley has been the leader in bringing down the dividers. Google, Yahoo, eBay, Goldman Sachs and American Express are all adherents. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enlisted famed architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open floor plan in the world, housing nearly 3,000 engineers. And as a businessman, Michael Bloomberg was an early adopter of the open-space trend, saying it promoted transparency and fairness. He famously carried the model into city hall when he became mayor of New York, making “the Bullpen” a symbol of open communication and accessibility to the city’s chief.

These new floor plans are ideal for maximizing a company’s space while minimizing costs. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours. But employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity. A 2013 study found that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. Meanwhile, “ease of interaction” with colleagues — the problem that open offices profess to fix — was cited as a problem by fewer than 10 percent of workers in any type of office setting. In fact, those with private offices were least likely to identify their ability to communicate with colleagues as an issue. In a previous study, researchers concluded that “the loss of productivity due to noise distraction … was doubled in open-plan offices compared to private offices.”

The New Yorker, in a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance. While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Furthermore, a sense of privacy boosts job performance, while the opposite can cause feelings of helplessness. In addition to the distractions, my colleagues and I have been more vulnerable to illness. Last flu season took down a succession of my co-workers like dominoes.


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Iowa's role growing as Internet industry backbone | Matthew Patane | The Des Moines Register

Iowa's role growing as Internet industry backbone | Matthew Patane | The Des Moines Register | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Iowa's increasing role in America's mushrooming Internet industry received another boost Friday when Google confirmed it would invest an additional $1 billion to expand its Council Bluffs data farm.

The additional money, which will finance construction of a four-story data center building, will bring the tech giant's total investment to $2.5 billion — cementing the Council Bluffs project as one of the largest, if not the largest, economic development projects in Iowa.

The announcement comes as Iowa sees more data centers locate in the state as the need for more data storage and Internet services continues to climb. Microsoft and Facebook are also spending billions to build data centers in Iowa, because the state has cheap land, a low natural disaster risk and access to renewable energy, such as wind, experts say.

"Google has the issue that the Internet is growing fast, so they have to grow fast. ... Everything we do says we have to have more data," said Doug Jacobson, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Iowa State University.

Chris Russell, manager of the Council Bluffs data center, said Google saw the need for additional data centers to support its cloud data storage systems and other services, such as Google search, YouTube and Android smartphone operating systems.


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NYC: Jukay Hsu is Making Queens a More Tech-Savvy Place | Terence Cullen | Commercial Observer

NYC: Jukay Hsu is Making Queens a More Tech-Savvy Place | Terence Cullen | Commercial Observer | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Jukay Hsu couldn’t seem to remember the school he attended in Flushing, Queens.

He half-laughed, half-moaned that he’s 30 (in his 30s, as he puts it) and forgetting things. But a “senior” moment is forgivable for Mr. Hsu who has a lot on his plate as he tries training the next wave of tech employees and figuring out where their companies will be based.

Mr. Hsu is running a nonprofit focused on advancing technology companies in Queens—organizing conferences that draw the likes of Google, BuzzFeed and Reddit. Mr. Hsu wants Queens to be the leader in tech development with more companies coming to the city thanks to a massive campus at Roosevelt Island, a stone’s throw away from his Long Island City office.


An Iraq War veteran, the Queens native was the youngest member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team and one of the youngest on the board of the Queens Library and tourism-promotion agency NYC & Company (he’s headed to the White House this week, too, for a meeting with the chief technology officer).

His group, the Coalition for Queens, or C4Q, has been trying to figure out what technology companies need to expand their already growing foothold in LIC. So far it has found that it needs to best utilize the physical space in the bustling neighborhood, and that diversity is crucial in the process. C4Q has been training people of all backgrounds for free in how to code software with the ultimate goal of bringing them to a higher pay grade.

“Bringing the digital economy to the boroughs outside Manhattan is obviously critical to our overall city economy,” said Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit focused on Gotham’s economy. “And Jukay has been the leader of that effort in Queens. He really has become a citywide force in extending the benefits of the innovation economy into all the communities of the city—the communities of color, lower-income communities and the outer boroughs.”


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Tech hubs in D.C. and Arlington combine with 1776 acquisition of Disruption Corp. | Jonathan O'Connell | WashPost.com

Tech hubs in D.C. and Arlington combine with 1776 acquisition of Disruption Corp. | Jonathan O'Connell | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Two of the Washington area’s top hubs of tech networking and venture capital are combining, as District-based incubator and seed fund 1776 is acquiring Crystal City’s Disruption Corp, launched more than a year ago by venture capitalist Paul Singh.

Co-founders Donna Harris and Evan Burfield said they envision 1776 as a center of information, networking and data with deep connections in the Washington area that could benefit start-ups and investors from around the world.

The deal gives 1776 ownership of Disruption Corp.’s software products and management of Singh’s venture fund.

Harris said the expansion to Northern Virginia should deepen 1776’s links to government agencies and companies that purchase, invest in and regulate start-ups.

“Much as we say we’re only a few blocks from the White House, now we’ll be within a couple blocks of the Pentagon,” Harris said.

Neither company disclosed terms of the transaction, which was scheduled to close Thursday.

Two years after launching with the help of a $200,000 grant from the D.C. government, 1776 has more than 270 start-up members, many of them based locally and focused on energy, health or transportation.

Its 15th Street offices draw top government officials — including President Obama — and industry experts as speakers. Its Challenge Cup attracts hundreds of competing start-ups, and big-name corporations including Microsoft, Comcast and MedStar Health have signed on as partners.


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Mesh Networks: They Are Out There | community broadband networks

Mesh Networks: They Are Out There | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There are probably more mesh Wi-Fi networks operating in the U.S. than most of us realize. They require only one hard-wired connection to the Internet and there are many industrious, tech minded people out there who have the skills to set up this self-healing technology, though they are still working out the kinks.

A mesh network allows devices to engage each other without going through a central point. If I want to use my cell phone to call the cell phone of someone standing 10 feet away from me, the signal may travel thousands of times farther than it would have to because a cell phone company wants to track minutes, collect data, and more. In a mesh network, the two devices would just talk to each other without intermediation.

A recent Technical.ly article, explores a dozen communities that are using the technology to serve local residents.

The article provides some basic info on these local mesh networks:


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Windstream Introduces Kinetic IPTV Triple Play in Lincoln, Neb.; Includes Wireless Set-Top Boxes, Whole House DVR | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Windstream Introduces Kinetic IPTV Triple Play in Lincoln, Neb.; Includes Wireless Set-Top Boxes, Whole House DVR | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Windstream this week introduced its fiber to the neighborhood service Kinetic – its attempt to bring a competitive triple-play package of broadband, home phone, and television service to about 50,000 homes initially in Lincoln, Neb.

“We’re extremely excited to launch Kinetic in Lincoln,” said David Redmond, president of small business and consumer at Windstream. “Over the last year, we have heard loudly and clearly that this community is excited and eager for an alternative TV service. Windstream is confident that residents that sign up for Kinetic will find a highly interactive experience and a smarter way to watch TV than cable or satellite.”

The project in Lincoln will test consumer reaction and help the company plan if or how it plans to expand the service across many of its other service areas across the country.

Powered by the Ericsson Mediaroom platform, Kinetic is Windstream’s effort to squeeze about as much use of its existing copper wire infrastructure as possible. Like AT&T U-verse, Kinetic requires a fiber connection part of the way to customers, but continues to rely on existing copper telephone wiring already in the subscriber’s neighborhood. In effect, it’s an enhanced DSL platform that will split available bandwidth between television, Internet access and home phone service.


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Verizon breaks up its bundle to give consumers more choice | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com

Verizon breaks up its bundle to give consumers more choice | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon FiOs is moving closer to unraveling the cable bundle with new skinny packages of channels that can be designed based on a customer's interests, a significant departure from the traditional model of selling consumers hundreds of channels at once.

FiOs, which serves 5 million customers nationwide, will begin Sunday to offer its new Custom TV service, which includes basic channels and seven small add-on packages grouped by genres including sports, kids, news, entertainment, pop culture and lifestyle.

In the basic plan, which will cost $54 per month, customers will get 35 basic channels including all local broadcast networks, CNN, HGTV, AMC and the Food Network. The package includes two genre packs. Consumers can add additional genre packs for $10 each.

But sports fans won't be able to watch ESPN or ESPN2 as part of the new bundles, which will turn off many cable customers who hang on to their subscriptions largely to watch sports events that aren't easily available online.

“Media reports about Verizon’s new contemplated bundles describe packages that would not be authorized by our existing agreements. Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package," ESPN said in a statement late Friday.

Verizon FiOs President Tami Erwin told CNBC in an interview that the decision to shake up their offers was in response to new consumer demands. Subscriptions to cable and telecom television services have steadily declined in recent years. Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and HBO have become fixtures in American homes. Four out of ten homes subscribe to Netflix.

The decision also shows an acknowledgement by cable companies that as video migrates more to the Internet, the focus of their businesses will increasingly be on broadband, rather than cable.

"Customers want choice and increasingly customers have choice on video, and we've said very clearly we expect to be the preeminent broadband provider in the market, but we want to give customers choice on how they acquire and how they buy video," Erwin said.


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

Its really too bad reporters continue to spread Incumbent Provider disinformation which can be found in this article. There is no difference between cable and broadband services, both are a digital bit stream service made up of 1s and 0s that is delivered through the same infrastructure using the same Public Rights of Way. The difference is the regulatory silos used to define these services. It's time to update these classifications!

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