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Senator Leahy Brings Back Bill That Would Require Warrants When Gov't Snoops Through Servers For Your Info | Techdirt

Senator Leahy Brings Back Bill That Would Require Warrants When Gov't Snoops Through Servers For Your Info | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is ridiculously outdated. It was passed in 1986, and to this day provides the (incredibly inconsistent and difficult to apply) rules for what sort of privacy electronic communications have, even though the technology has changed drastically.

 

This has created some wacky consequences, including that (for example) emails have different privacy protections when an email is being written compared to when it's being sent compared to when it's been received compared to when it's been read compared to when it's been archived. As an example, since most messages did not stay on servers for very long (they were downloaded and deleted), the law decided that messages stored on a server for more than 180 days were considered "abandoned" and subject to even lower standards of privacy protections. Think about that the next time you open your Gmail account...

 

ECPA has lots of problems, but the basics are this: it certainly didn't anticipate an era where most of the things we do were in the so-called "cloud," and it takes almost no account of the expectation of privacy.

 

Last year, Senator Pat Leahy introduced an ECPA reform bill that was mostly good. It basically said that if the government wants to get access to your data on a server, it first needs to obtain a warrant -- something that is sorely missing today. There were some loopholes that concerned us, but for the most part, it was a very big improvement. And it went nowhere. Now, many folks around here will remember Senator Leahy for being the driving force in the Senate behind PIPA -- and you may be quick to want to dismiss his actions here. But just because he's (strongly) supported that bad bill, it doesn't mean that everything he introduces has been similarly problematic.

 

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Former Top NSA Exec Claims He Challenged The Bulk Phone Records Program... And Was Rebuffed | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Former Top NSA Exec Claims He Challenged The Bulk Phone Records Program... And Was Rebuffed | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The AP has a big story out claiming that, back in 2009, a "now-retired" but "senior NSA official" found out about the Section 215 program collecting bulk phone records from the telcos and argued that it went too far and should be stopped:

Years before Edward Snowden sparked a public outcry with the disclosure that the National Security Agency had been secretly collecting American telephone records, some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program, current and former intelligence officials say. The program exceeded the agency's mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots, the executives argued.

The 2009 dissent, led by a senior NSA official and embraced by others at the agency, prompted the Obama administration to consider, but ultimately abandon, a plan to stop gathering the records.

The "former official" apparently found the whole program to be problematic and correctly predicted that if it ever became public it would be a problem:

The former official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he didn't have permission to discuss a classified matter, said he knows of no evidence the program was used for anything other than its stated purpose — to hunt for terrorism plots in the U.S. But he said he and others made the case that the collection of American records in bulk crossed a line that he and his colleagues had been taught was sacrosanct.

He said he also warned of a scandal if it should be disclosed that the NSA was storing records of private calls by Americans — to psychiatrists, lovers and suicide hotlines, among other contacts.

The article notes that these concerns did lead the Justice Department, Congress and the White House to take a closer look at the program -- and then choose to keep it going. This contradicts the narrative that some have suggested that the White House didn't fully understand the program in the past because it was preoccupied with other issues. Now it seems clear that not only were officials well aware of the program, they chose not to rein in the program when they had the chance.


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Gigabit grab-bag: a number of US telcos unveil 1Gbps plans | TeleGeography.com

Midcontinent Communications, a regional cable operator based in the Midwest, has become the latest US service provider to enter the 1Gbps fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) game, with plans to offer the service in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks (all North Dakota), along with Sioux Falls and Rapid City (South Dakota). Under its ‘Midcontinent Gigabit Frontier Initiative’ banner, the telco will make 1Gbps speeds available to about 600,000 homes and 55,000 businesses along a high-capacity fibre network that covers more than 7,600 miles. The service is expected to launch in late 2017.

Meanwhile, Consolidated Communications has responded to Google Fiber’s recently disclosed Kansas City fibre announcement by unveiling its own 1Gbps internet package for residential customers in the area. According to Fierce Telecom, the telco is leveraging the 2007-built network infrastructure belonging to Everest Broadband, one of Consolidated’s predecessor companies.

Elsewhere, TDS Telecom is extending its 1Gbps FTTP network product to Monroe, Wisconsin, the latest town in its home state to get the new service. As in other towns and cities where it has launched the 1Gbps service, TDS Telecom is offering the advanced transmission speeds as part of a bundle, along with its TDS TV product.

Finally, according to a story in The Seattle Times, Wave Broadband’s CondoInternet subsidiary will start deploying 1Gbps services in Seattle’s Eastlake neighbourhood in December before extending its footprint. According to Fierce, CondoInternet, which was acquired by Wave last year, has been wiring condos and apartments with ultrafast service since 2008 and now reaches around 20,000 residents, 75% of whom can grab Gigabit speeds.

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Why I am not deleting my Uber app | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

Why I am not deleting my Uber app | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The big trend in tech blogging this week is deleting the Uber mobile app and then blogging about it. Look around and you’ll find dozens of bloggers declaring that they've joined the boycott, or finding some other way to capitalize on the company's ongoing PR disaster.

If you’re not caught up on it yet, the latest controversy with Uber involves its apparent abuse of user data for no legitimate reason. When Buzzfeed News reporter Johana Bhuiyan showed up at Uber’s New York headquarters for a meeting, Uber’s New York general manager Josh Mohrer reportedly met her outside and told her he had been tracking her Uber ride to the office. This was two months after Mohrer had emailed Bhuiyan records of her previous Uber activity, which Bhuiyan never requested nor authorized him to access.
See also: Uber and Google are abusing user data for fun

This tipped Buzzfeed off to both the amount of data that Uber can access and the lack of discretion with which the company treats it. Subsequent interviews with former Uber employees led Buzzfeed News to the company’s unfortunately named "God View" tool that allows them to track any Uber ride at will. All of this came just days after an Uber executive (apparently as a joke) threatened to hire private investigators to "dig up dirt" on journalists who were critical of the company, namely PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy, while Buzzfeed News' editor-in-chief was in the room. It’s been quite the week for Uber.

Anyone who has followed Uber since its inception shouldn’t be too surprised, however. The earliest notable controversy for Uber that I remember came in early 2012, after New York users first reacted to the company’s surge pricing practices on New Year’s Eve, sometimes charging "more than $100 for a ride that should have cost $20," according to the New York Times.


Uber CEO Travis Kalanick defended the practice, which he would do in increasingly arrogant fashion every time customers complained from then on. Last December, he posted another user’s angry email complaining about surge pricing in New York during a blizzard to his Facebook page, advising his friends to "get some popcorn and scroll down." With such a dismissive attitude toward customers even in its early stages, it was only a matter of time until users would turn against it.


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Comcast wants to let you track when your cable technician will arrive | Jacob Kastrenakes | The Verge

Comcast is trying to make waiting for the cable technician to arrive a less unbearable experience than what you're used to. It's beginning to start trials on a system that will allow technicians to update customers on their estimated arrival time through Comcast's MyAccount app. The system is only going to be so useful, however.


Comcast says that it already gives customers about a two-hour range for when their technician might arrive, and the app will only start updating customers on their technician's ETA once they're 30 minutes away. Technicians will also be able to inform customers if they're running late, which may be even more helpful.


The time estimates are beginning to be tested this week outside of Boston, and Comcast says that it's hoping to roll it out widely next year.


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Jesse Jackson Insists He's Lobbying For Weaker Net Neutrality Rules To Help Protect The Poor | Karl Bode | Techdirt.com

Jesse Jackson Insists He's Lobbying For Weaker Net Neutrality Rules To Help Protect The Poor | Karl Bode | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've talked more than a few times about the telecom industry's favored tactic of paying minority groups to parrot bad telecom policies, even if said policies actually harm these groups' constituents.


Whether it's AT&T paying the The Hispanic Institute to support AT&T's failed bid for T-Mobile (a deal that would have raised rates for wireless users) or Comcast paying The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to support their acquisition of Time Warner Cable (a deal that will likely only make bad customer service at both companies worse), combining these groups with the existing payroll of fauxcademics, consultants, think tankers and other sockpuppets helps create the illusion of broad support for anti-consumer policies.

It's a parlor trick that has seen endless implementation in the net neutrality debate. The latest example is the Minority Media and Telecom Council (pdf), which alongside a laundry list of diversity and minority groups (pdf) has been lobbying the FCC with net neutrality talking points that (surely coincidentally) mirror the broadband industry's. Namely, that weaker Section 706 rules are the best path forward (ignoring they do nothing and likely won't survive another legal challenge) and that tougher rules under Title II will kill network investment (which, as we've noted repeatedly, is also bunk).

At the front of this disingenuous diversity army appears to be Jesse Jackson, who, the Washington Post states, spent some time recently lobbying the FCC for weaker net neutrality protections. Why? Apparently Jackson believes that carrying the water for lumbering duopolies somehow will magically create jobs:

"Jackson "was unequivocal in voicing his opposition to Title II because of its effects on investment in broadband and because of the ultimate impact on minority communities and job creation," said Berin Szoka, another participant in the meeting with Wheeler who has also argued for Section 706."

Szoka is the same individual who has repeatedly tried to argue that killing off net neutrality will be a great thing for startups, so if anything, this latest FCC meeting must have at least had great entertainment value. As for the claim that Title II will kill investment (and therefore jobs), this has been debunked time and time and time again.


When parts of Verizon's FiOS network were classified under Title II (mostly to net tax breaks for Verizon), you'll be pleased to learn that the sky didn't fall. Meanwhile, after a decade of deregulation companies like AT&T and Verizon have made it clear they're never going to upgrade many poor areas. In fact, they intend to back away from many of the communities they do serve.

Shockingly, neither Jackson nor any of the lobbying groups listed in "united" support seem aware of these realities in the slightest:


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MN: Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind Recap | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind Recap | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The 2014 Minnesota Broadband Conference is done. Whew! It was great to see some faces I hadn’t seen in years – and a few new folks. It’s a bittersweet example of how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.


We’re still asking “What is Broadband” but we’re also talking about how to get a gig. The digital divide is still there and it’s getting exacerbated by the increasing chasm. We need to continue to work for broadband expansion – deployment and adoption. But we’re getting closer – and I left the conference inspired.

Bernadine Joselyn offers her parting remarks – I think she always does a good job framing the work for the future…


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Facebook's privacy blunders may trip up potential enterprise push | Sharon Gaudin | ComputerWorld.com

Facebook's privacy blunders may trip up potential enterprise push | Sharon Gaudin | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If Facebook launches a social network for the workplace, CIOs will have to decide whether they can get past Facebook's history of privacy issues.

"That is something that has to be addressed," said Angela Yochem, global CIO of Philadelphia-based BDP International, a company that specializes in shipping sensitive materials. "We're extremely concerned about privacy… That's something that could shut this thing down before the start."

Earlier this week, a report in the Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, said Facebook is working on launching a business-oriented network.

Though the new network would have a newsfeed and the familiar Facebook look and feel, the focus would be on the enterprise and on connecting users with their work colleagues, sharing work documents and communicating on the network.

Facebook wouldn't comment on the report but, if it's accurate, the so-called "Facebook at Work," would be a combination of social network and enterprise-level collaboration tool.

With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is the world's largest social network. If it enters the enterprise market, Facebook would likely have a large base of potential users who already know how to use its features because they are already signed up. That would mean minimal training for a workplace-version of what they already use at to keep up with their friends and family.

While many would already be familiar with how to use Facebook, business executives may be equally familiar with the privacy issues the social network has faced – repeatedly – in the past.

Over the years, Facebook has been involved in several privacy uproars, including a software bug that enabled spammers to steal users' names and photos, and its offering of a set of tools that allowed third-party web sites to grab user data off Facebook.

The company also was called out for running a weeklong experiment that manipulated users' News Feeds to conduct a psychological study on about 700,000 people.

Late last year, Facebook was sued for allegedly intercepting users' private messages. Last summer, privacy groups criticized the company for its plans to gather iusers' Internet browsing histories while they surfed other websites.

Despite these instances, Facebook has shown signs of learning its lesson on users' privacy concerns.


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Pallone Elected Ranking Member of E&C | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Pallone Elected Ranking Member of E&C | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has been elected ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, making him the top Democrat on the committee that shares oversight of communications.

He is succeeding Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who is retiring at the end of the current congressional session.

Pallone had the seniority, but ranking Communications Subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) had also been in the running. Eshoo had been endorsed by House minority leader and fellow Californian Nancy Pelosi. Both Eshoo and Pallone were said to have been confident coming into Wednesday's vote. Palone had seniority, but Eshoo had been endorsed by the Steering and Policy Committee (Pelosi is chair) 30 to 19.

The chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Pallone will be starting his 14th term in January. He has been mostly focused on environmental and healthcare issues, rather than communications, while Eshoo has been a prominent voice in network neutrality, retrans and media consolidation issues, not to mention championing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM).


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CLIC Warmly Welcomes Charles Benton to Board of Advisors | LocalNetChoice.org

CLIC Warmly Welcomes Charles Benton to Board of Advisors | LocalNetChoice.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) is proud to announce that on November 18, 2014, Charles Benton officially joined CLIC’s Board of Advisors.


Since 1981, Charles Benton has served as Chairman of the Benton Foundation, whose mission is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications by solving social problems.

Charles has enjoyed a nationally renowned career in the media education and entertainment industries, including being appointed by President Carter as Chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, by President Clinton as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, and by President Obama to the board of the Institute for Museum and Library Services. He is a graduate of Yale University, and did post graduate work at Northwestern University.

The Benton Foundation is widely known for its current focus on Universal Broadband/Universal Service, Community Media/Community Development, and Digital Media Access/Inclusion. The Foundation has been strong and consistent supporter of local internet choice.

CLIC extends a warm welcome to Charles Benton. We look forward to the outstanding contributions he will bring to our Board.

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How Do You Spell Community Broadband Success? Hint: Constituents hold the answer | Gigabit Nation on BlogTalk Radio

How Do You Spell Community Broadband Success? Hint: Constituents hold the answer | Gigabit Nation on BlogTalk Radio | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A large majority of municipal and public utility broadband networks are successes. Next Century Cities lays out several paths to help your community to reach this winner's circle.

NCC Executive Director Deb Socia describes for listeners a range of business and funding models for community broadband that are creating success stories around the country. Communities such as Santa Monica, CA and Mount Vernon, WA built success by using their networks for replace T1 lines and other old communications infrastructure. Others such as Monticello, MN formed public private partnerships. Jackson, TN and Cedar Falls, IA sell services direct to subscribers.

Socia's organization has assembled quite the brain trust of communities and she is happy to share some of that knowledge. Listeners will get insights into:

  • preventing critics from defining your success;
  • defining parameters and goals for success based on constituents' broadband needs;
  • helping non-technical people understand and become excited about how the network will impact them; and
  • promoting your successes.


Next Century Cities is a membership organization providing knowledge and peer- support for communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.


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NBCUniversal Hackathon: Fresh Eyes Tackle Industry Challenges | Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net

NBCUniversal Hackathon: Fresh Eyes Tackle Industry Challenges | Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The challenges are familiar to everyone in the entertainment business: How do you create buzz for a new film release? How do you help movie buffs discover what film to watch next? And how can you keep audiences talking about a show during the off season?

Comcast’s NBCUniversal* group chose an unusual way to bring fresh eyes to these problems: It asked nerds.

The studio invited about 300 developers, marketers and designers to tackle seven challenges over the course of a weekend hackathon, offering the lures of free food, caffeinated beverages and $25,000 in cash prizes. Some who showed up at the Sheraton Universal City in Los Angeles on a gray Saturday morning said they were just as intrigued by the opportunity to lay their hands on tools for building software applications.

“This is my chance to get them to help me. It’s like having a private tutor,” said Matt Tyndall, founder and chief executive of the San Francisco startup Tinj, which is developing a new type of rating system for viewers. “That’s one of the reasons I came to the hackathon in the first place.”

Such gatherings of programmers, who meet over the weekend in crash collaborations, are commonplace in Silicon Valley or New York. In Hollywood, though, these marathon coding sessions double as a recruitment tool for media companies that struggle to compete for top talent with sexy startups like Snapchat and Whisper, or established technology players Google or Facebook.

Longtime media consultant Mike Vorhaus of Frank N. Magid Associates said the main draw for entertainment companies has been stability and a reliable paycheck. That’s no longer true at a time when major studios such as Sony Pictures Entertainment or Warner Bros. are undergoing layoffs.

“That’s a problem for a traditional media company,” Vorhaus said.

NBCUniversal Media Labs Chief Technical Officer Sanjay Macwan said the hackathon is part of a broader plan of fostering a culture of innovation, in part, through collaboration. He has solicited input from academic research groups such as the MIT Media Lab, and visited Los Angeles’s incubators and accelerators to identify the region’s top talent.


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The Government Just Found the Funds to Give Firefighters High-Speed Internet Everywhere | Brendan Sasso | National Journal

The Government Just Found the Funds to Give Firefighters High-Speed Internet Everywhere | Brendan Sasso | National Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The federal government has raised more than enough money to build a nationwide communications network for first responders.

The network will help police, firefighters, and other public-safety officials from different agencies communicate with each other during emergencies. It is intended to handle high-speed data, so officials should be able to send photos and videos to each other, helping them coordinate their responses.

The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it has raised at least $10 billion from auctioning the rights to a band of wireless frequencies to cellular carriers. That number is expected to rise as the auction continues.

The high-speed communications network, called FirstNet, is estimated to cost $7 billion. Any auction revenue not used for the network will go toward paying down the federal debt.

The network was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Report. During the 2001 terrorist attacks, many responders from different jurisdictions were using incompatible radios and were unable to talk to each other. Firefighters rushed into the World Trade Center not knowing that the towers were about to collapse.

It took years for Congress to address the problem. Finally, in 2012, Congress passed a law to set aside a block of frequencies for public-safety officials. But Congress told the FCC to raise the money to build the nationwide network of cell towers that will handle the data.

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State Policy Makers and Doers Preview Highlights of What’s Coming and What Could Be #MNBroadband Conference | Blandin on Broadband

It was good to hear about State Policy. The Office of the Broadband Development was a huge accomplishment by the MN Broadband Task Force and MN Legislature. And now it serves as infrastructure to get stuff done. Some of that stuff – certainly the focus on 2014 – is funding. The OBD received 40 applications from across the state looking for broadband funding.

Moving forward the ODB will do that and more. The goal now is to find ways to leverage policy, federal funding and public-private partnerships to support broadband expansion – deployment and adoption. The Republican force in Legislature will make things different – but there’s a big focus on rural and that means rural broadband.

The Task Force will continue to make recommendations (you can get a sneak peek) and the legislature will continue to find ways to help broadband prosper.

Speakers included:

o Representative Ron Kresha
o Danna MacKenzie, Office of Broadband Development
o Senator Matt Schmit
o Paul Weirtz, AT&T
o Moderated by Bill Hoffman, Connect Minnesota

Questions:


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Verizon FiOS Bows Cord-Cutter Plan With Netflix, HBO, Showtime | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Verizon FiOS Bows Cord-Cutter Plan With Netflix, HBO, Showtime | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the rush to lure cord-cutters, cord-nevers and millennials, Verizon Communications has rolled out a streamlined subscription plan that includes high-speed Internet, local FiOS TV, HBO, Showtime and a free year of Netflix for $59.99 a month.

With the average monthly cable TV bill projected to top $123 in 2015, according to The NPD Group, Verizon’s limited-time offer costs less than half — based on a two-year contract. Features include FiOS TV local access includes CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, Fox, The CW Telemundo and Univision, in addition to 50 Mbps Internet speed, HBO, Showtime and one year of Netflix.

Verizon had been teasing new FiOS triple-play customers (TV, Internet and phone) in New York with a free year of Netflix included in their subscriptions.

"We think this package looks extremely competitive and appears designed to re-capture cord cutters," Tim Horan, analyst with Oppenheimer, wrote in a note. "This could have a material impact to net [FiOS subscriber] adds in [the fourth quarter].”

Verizon’s mini-bundle offering comes as Sony prepares to launch an Internet TV service dubbed PlayStation Vue — reportedly priced from $60 to $70 dollars a month.


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Jonathan Kramer on the New FCC 6409(a) Rules: City of Calabasas, CA Video | CellTowerSites.com

Last night I presented at the City of Calabasas, California’s Communications and Technology Commission on the new FCC rules implementing Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. I also talked about a bunch of other stuff the FCC added in to the mix.


If you’re in to such things you may find the video (below) of my presentation and the Q&A that followed to be useful, or at least entertaining. Maybe even both.

To better understand some elements in my lecture, please understand that it followed immediately after planning item where Verizon Wireless came to the City to permit-in-arrears a site they modified without first securing City permits. This was the sixth time they had modified their cell sites in the City without benefit of first securing City permits.


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NSA director: No changes in telephone record collection coming | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

NSA director: No changes in telephone record collection coming | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. National Security Agency is planning no major changes in its domestic telephone records collection program after a bill to rein in those efforts failed in the Senate this week, the agency’s director said.

The NSA will continue to collect U.S. telephone records in bulk, while operating under some restrictions President Barack Obama put on the program back in January, Admiral Michael Rogers, the NSA’s director, said during a House of Representatives hearing on cybersecurity Thursday. The NSA would rather wait to see what specific changes to the program Congress will require before making major changes, he told the House Intelligence Committee.

The NSA had hoped to get direction from Congress in the short term, but the agency may have to re-evaluate the telephone records program “if we’re unable to gain consensus in the window that we thought,” Rogers said. “I don’t have an answer to that in my own mind.”

The NSA should take steps to end its bulk collection of U.S. phone records even though the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have left the data in the hands of telecom carriers, failed in the Senate this week, said Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat. “There’s nothing in statute that requires the government to gather bulk data, so you could move forward on your own with making the technological changes,” Schiff said. “You don’t have to wait for the USA Freedom Act.”


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Condemnation mounts against ISP that sabotaged users’ e-mail encryption | Dan Goodin | Ars Technica

Condemnation mounts against ISP that sabotaged users’ e-mail encryption | Dan Goodin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Digital rights advocates are doubling down on their criticism of a US-based ISP suspected of performing encryption downgrade attacks that caused customers' e-mail to remain in plaintext as it passed over the Internet.

The attacks, according to researchers, were carried out by AT&T subsidiary Cricket and prevented e-mail from being protected by STARTTLS, a technology that uses the secure sockets layer or transport layer security protocols to encrypt plaintext communications. The attacks worked by removing the STARTTLS flag that causes e-mail to be encrypted as it passes from the sending server to the receiving server. After the tampering came to light late last month it was reported by The Washington Post and TechDirt.

"It is important that ISPs immediately stop this unauthorized removal of their customers' security measures," wrote Electronic Frontier Foundation staff technologist Jacob Hoffman-Andrews in a blog post published Tuesday. "ISPs act as trusted gateways to the global Internet, and it is a violation of that trust to intercept or modify client traffic, regardless of what protocol their customers are using. It is a double violation when such modification disables security measures their customers use to protect themselves."

The EFF post came a week after a privacy service provider called Golden Frog published a petition it filed with the Federal Communications Commission opposing the practice. In an accompanying blog post that laid out the case against Cricket was sabotaging end users' e-mail encryption, company officials wrote:


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Yoo hoo!! The FCC Is About To Do Major Good Stuff on the Transition Of The Phone System!! | Harold Feld | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine

I know Net Neutrality is the defining issue of our times, etc. But given that about 96% of the country use some kind of telephone, I thought it was kind of important to notice that the FCC is finally, after many years of chugging along, getting the ball rolling on the whole “Shutting Off The Phone System” Thing. And — Good News! — The FCC is starting out in a very strong, pro-consumer way that actually asks all the good questions on competition and stuff.

So, do I have your attention yet? Good. The short version is that the FCC is holding an open meeting on Friday, November 21 (tomorrow!) On the agenda, we have two related items:

  • Emerging Wireline Networks and Services: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Declaratory Ruling, and Order to facilitate the transition to next generation networks by promoting and preserving the Commission’s public safety, consumer protection, and competition goals.


  • 911 Governance and Accountability: The Commission will consider a Policy Statement and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding its approach to 911 governance and proposing mechanisms to ensure continued accountability for reliable 911 services as technologies evolve.


As Chairman Wheeler outlines in this blog post, the goal of these items is to address the big questions that come from the fundamental shift away from traditional telephone technology to our next generation phone system. Wheeler also previewed a bunch of this in speeches last fall, not that anyone paid much attention.


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Enterprises Moving Big Data Workloads to Public Cloud | Thor Olavsrud | ComputerWorld.com

Enterprises Moving Big Data Workloads to Public Cloud | Thor Olavsrud | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's no secret that many IT professionals in large enterprises look down at public clouds — they don't consider them reliable, secure or safe. But that perception may be shifting, at least when it comes to big data workloads.

A new report released this week by Gigaom Research finds that 53 percent of large enterprises are either already leveraging public cloud resources for enterprise big data analytic needs (28 percent) or are planning to do so (25 percent). Only 13 percent of respondents say they would only use private data centers for all analytic processes.

"We expected many enterprises to be thinking about the cloud as a long-term thing," says Prat Moghe, founder and CEO of Cazena, a big data startup founded by former Netezza leaders, which commissioned the Gigaom report. "We found that a lot more enterprises are actively exploiting the cloud for their big data stack than the perception is."

"The cloud holds the keys to unlocking the next phase of big data, where analysis is completed on demand and immediately accessible to the primary users of this information — the C-suite and key decision makers," he adds. "Understanding enterprise drivers as well as concerns around the cloud is vital to be able to develop a roadmap of strategic transformation of all enterprises."

In September, Gigaom Research surveyed more than 300 senior management and leaders in the U.S. at medium (500+ employees) to large enterprises (2,000+ employees) across IT and business roles, and across verticals.


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Google Internet balloon drops in on South African farmer | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com

Google Internet balloon drops in on South African farmer | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Buyers of the earthly explanation for whatever fell from the sky in Roswell, N.M. back in 1947 are likely to appreciate the reaction of a South African farmer who recently came across what he assumed to be a crashed weather balloon.

In this case, however, the confusion proved only temporary.

From a Wall Street Journal account:

According to a report Thursday in the Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper, Urbanus Botha, who farms in the arid landscape of the Karoo south of Bloemfontein and Lesotho in the center of South Africa, came across the crashed balloon and initially thought it a weather balloon from the nearby weather station at De Aar. He called up the station’s office but nobody picked up, so he packed it into his pickup truck, thinking that its plastic could come in handy as he planned to repaint his shed.

“The huge piece of plastic filled my whole van,” Botha said.

Botha didn’t know what to make of the balloon, especially since it contained several electronic components. His 20-year-old daughter, Sarita, was just as intrigued, and took photos of the balloon on her smartphone, sending them to her brothers John, 30, and Benny, 27. The brothers identified the words “Made in the USA” and “Google X” on the pictures, and so Googled “Google X” and balloons.

“We realized the balloon was part of the Google Loon Project,” Sarita told Beeld.

Project Loon is a Google undertaking designed to provide Internet access to remote areas around the world that might otherwise be left wanting.

Here is Google’s website explaining the project?

So what exactly crashed onto this farmers land? From Wikipedia:


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Malone Would Pursue TWC Again If Comcast Deal Rejected | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Malone Would Pursue TWC Again If Comcast Deal Rejected | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Liberty Media chairman John Malone said he would pursue Time Warner Cable again if Its current deal with Comcast is rejected by regulators. However, he noted that his current arrangement with both companies is probably the best outcome.

"Oh yes," Malone said in an immediate response to a question in whether he would want Charter Communications to restart its pursuit of Time Warner Cable in the absence of a Comcast deal. "That said, we're happy with the deal that was negotiated. In many ways it's a better deal than going after 100% of Time Warner Cable."

Charter negotiated a series of swaps, sales and spins that would essentially double its footprint should the Comcast-TWC deal gain federal approvals.

Charter is expected to be an aggressive buyer of systems in the wake of Comcast-TWC and Malone said the criteria for new acquisitions is simple: buying systems that represent an incremental margin increase and a strong return on investment.


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UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford split $45M in cybersecurity policy research grants | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com

UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford split $45M in cybersecurity policy research grants | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Hewlett Foundation has granted $15M apiece to the University of California at Berkeley, MIT and Stanford University to conduct cybersecurity policy research, bringing to $65 the total that the foundation has committed to such research over the next 5 years.

According to the foundation, "The grants to MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley are intended to jump-start a new field of cyber policy analysis—generating a robust 'marketplace of ideas' about how best to enhance the trustworthiness of computer systems and appropriately balance rights of privacy, the need for data security, innovation, and the broader public interest."

MIT's Cybersecurity Policy Initiative will focus on establishing quantitative metrics and models to help inform policymakers, and will bring together researchers from the fields of engineering, management and social science. UC Berkeley's Center for Long-Term CyberSecurity will examine where cybersecurity might be headed in years to come. Stanford’s Cyber Initiative will target core themes of trustworthiness and governance of networks. (The Hewlett Foundation has been a huge donor to Stanford over the years.)

October was designated National Cybersecurity Awareness Month by the U.S. government.

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Amnesty launches Detekt tool to scan for state spyware on phones and PCs | Matthew Taylor | The Guardian

Amnesty launches Detekt tool to scan for state spyware on phones and PCs | Matthew Taylor | The Guardian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Human rights experts and technology groups have launched a new tool allowing members of the public to scan their computers and phones for surveillance spyware used by governments.

Amnesty says Detekt is the first tool freely available that will allow activists and journalists to find out if their electronic devices are being monitored without their knowledge.

Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty, said: “Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists’ and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities. They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed. Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action.”

Trade in communication surveillance technologies has grown massively in recent years, with private companies sell off-the-shelf equipment that allows governments to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls, according to an investigation by the Guardian last year. The Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports, of which Amnesty is a member, estimates the annual global trade in surveillance technologies is worth more than £3bn and growing.

Some surveillance technology is widely available on the internet, while other more sophisticated alternatives are developed by private companies and sold to state law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries that persistently commit human rights violations.

Detekt was developed by German-based security researcher Claudio Guarnieri after discussions with human rights activists. It will be launched on Thursday in partnership with Amnesty International, British charity Privacy International, German civil rights group Digitale Gesellschaft and US digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


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Netflix may soon hit U.S. subscriber ceiling… and that could limit profits | Samantha Bookman | Fierce Online Video

Netflix may soon hit U.S. subscriber ceiling… and that could limit profits | Samantha Bookman | Fierce Online Video | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With just under 40 million subscribers in the United States, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) "may be reaching the ceiling of what it can add," according to an article exploring the subscription video on demand (SVOD) provider's profit potential. Combined with ever-increasing prices for Hollywood content and stiff international competition, times could get pretty interesting for Netflix.

So says The Information's Martin Peers, who took a close look at Netflix's current value and its narrowing long-term prospects. The provider is currently "generating mediocre profits on paper but no actual cash," he wrote, as it continues its growth track.

Netflix has also committed to spend $8.9 billion over the next five years for content, he notes, with $3.9 billion of that due in the next year. With its revenues dependent on subscribers, the SVOD giant must keep growing that subscriber base to keep up with content costs. And even if its subscriber growth continues in line with projections--research firm Nomura predicts it will have 90 million subscribers globally, and 53 million U.S. subs, by 2017--Netflix will still operate at a much thinner margin, 15 percent, than HBO currently does (37 percent).

Relying on subscribers alone, in fact, could be problematic. Netflix missed forecasts in the third quarter, signing up less than 1 million new subs in the U.S. and less than 2 million internationally. It current has about 37.2 million U.S. subs, and about 15.8 million international subs, totaling around 53 million worldwide.

The company predicted it will sign up 4 million new members in the fourth quarter.

But Netflix is facing increasing competition internationally, from cable and IPTV providers that are prepared for its entry into their markets to smaller but established over-the-top services in various countries.

At home, content owners and distributors are finally moving more aggressively into the OTT space. While most will never have the reach and subscriber base of Netflix, entrants like HBO, Sony, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and CBS will try to steal eyeballs away.

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MN: Grasp Your Goal Before Your Feet Hit the Ground! From Jim Bensen | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Grasp Your Goal Before Your Feet Hit the Ground! From Jim Bensen | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tough to summarize Mr Bensen’s presentation. So I’m going to offer the description:

Dr. M. James Bensen, President Emeritus, Bemidji State University

Blandin Trustee Emeritus and Futurist Dr. M. James Bensen will inspire us with his vision of what a gigabit network – like the one Paul Bunyan Communications recently announced will soon be rolled out across northern Minnesota – can mean for rural Minnesota’s prosperity and quality of life. What could a connected future look like for rural Minnesota communities?


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