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One Step Closer To Sales Taxes On All Internet Purchases | Techdirt

One Step Closer To Sales Taxes On All Internet Purchases | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Friday, Congress came one step closer to imposing a federal "internet sales tax" on any internet purchases by agreeing to amendment that more or less indicates strong support for a more comprehensive internet sales tax down the road. This kind of tax has been pushed for years mainly by two key constituents: (1) big box offline retailers who think that the online guys are only beating them because they don't have to charge a sales tax for out of state purchases (2) local state governments who think they're being ripped off by not being able to collect such taxes.

 

There are still some hurdles in the way, but it's becoming clear that this kind of tax is inevitable. The amendment passed 75 to 24, so it's got plenty of support. Max Baucus, who heads the Senate Finance Committee which could kill such a bill if it had less support, has already noted that his state, Montana, has no sales tax at all, and he's a bit ticked off that Montana residents may need to start paying sales tax online. Still, as the article above notes, Baucus's ability to block the bill via the Finance Committee is limited due to the size of the support among other Senators. I've yet to see a compelling argument for why such a tax makes sense -- other than random state governments insisting they need the money -- but at this point it seems almost inevitable that it's going to happen.

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Dish, Like AT&T, Won't Pay Extra For Sports | Phillip Swann | TV Predictions

Over the weekend, Fox Sports 1 began blacking out certain sporting events on AT&T's U-Verse over a disagreement regarding programming fees.

Fox Sports 1 obtained the rights to the events after it signed its carriage deal with AT&T and therefore says the telco should now pay additional fees to air them. The skirmish has led to charges that what Fox Sports 1 is doing is unique and singularly punitive.

But the sports network is not the only programmer who has demanded extra fees from a TV provider after the two signed a carriage deal. As Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes today, Dish is going through the same thing in Atlanta with Fox Sports demanding more money to carry 51 extra weekend games; the dispute, which began in 2013 when Fox bought the game rights from Peachtree TV, is now entering its third year.

Other TV providers serving the Atlanta area, such as DIRECTV, Charter, Comcast and, ironically, AT&T, have played along and agreed to pay the extra money for the Braves. They apparently believe that going without the extra Braves games could trigger subscriber defections.

But not Dish.


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Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules | Carol Wilson | Light Reading

Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules | Carol Wilson | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A group of self-proclaimed Internet "elders," including early pioneers of voice-over-IP services and proponents of Internet freedoms, is now warning that the FCC's move to impose Title II regulations on the Internet will have toxic effects on investment and innovation.

The warnings were issued on a conference call arranged by Daniel Berninger, known primarily for his early work in VoIP, including as part of VocalTec Communications, and that also included Jeff Pulver, VoIP pioneer with Free World Dialup and later Pulver.com ; John Perry Barlow, who founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is still on its board; George Gilder, economist and author of Telecosm; and Bryan Martin, chairman of 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), a VoIP provider.

One over-arching goal of the teleconference was to lay to rest the notion that the technology industry universally backs what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done, Berninger noted. While there is general support for net neutrality, imposing Title II regulations is not the answer, he said.

"The US represents 70% to 80% of the [global] information technology economy -- why would you reverse your strategy that got us to this point?" Berninger said.

Gilder was probably the most agitated of the group in decrying the FCC move. He recalled the telecom crash of 2000, and said another crash could result from the new rules.


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Blackburn and Tillis Introduce Bill Aimed to Undo FCC Decision to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks

Blackburn and Tillis Introduce Bill Aimed to Undo FCC Decision to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, the FCC made history when it chose to restore local telecommunications authority by nullifying state barriers in Tennessee and North Carolina. Waiting in the wings were Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Senator Thom Tillis from Tennessee and North Carolina respectively, with their legislation to cut off the FCC at the knees. [A PDF of the draft legislation is available online.]

Readers will remember Blackburn from last year. She introduced a similar measure in the form of an amendment to an appropriations bill. Blackburn has repeatedly attributed her attempts to block local authority to her mission to preserve the rights of states. A Broadcasting and Cable article quoted her:

“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” Blackburn said. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures."

Thom Tillis, the other half of this Dystopian Duo, released a statement just hours after the FCC decision:

“Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”

Considering that networks in Chattanooga and Wilson are incredibly popular and an increasing number of communities across the country are approving municipal network initatives through the ballot, it is obvious that Tillis is rather confused about the expressed will of the American people. He needs to sign up for our once weekly newsletter!

No doubt the decision will be tied up in court proceedings for some time to come as state lawmakers attempt to control what municipalities do with their own connectivity decisions.

In keeping with the drama of the recent days, I have to say, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." If Blackburn and Tillis are so convinced the FCC is overstepping, why not let the matter be decided in the courts? They know the law is not on their side, that's why.


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China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com

China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama isn’t happy with new rules from China that would require U.S. tech companies to abide by strict cybersecurity measures, but on Tuesday the country was quick to defend the proposed regulations.

“All countries are paying attention to and taking measures to safeguard their own information security. This is beyond reproach,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying in a news briefing.

She made the statement after Obama criticized a proposed anti-terror law that he said could stifle U.S. tech business in China. The legislation would require companies to hand over encryption keys to the country’s government, and create “back doors” into their systems to give the Chinese government surveillance access.

“This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi,” Obama said in an interview with Reuters on Monday. “We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States.”

U.S. trade groups are also against another set of proposed regulations that would require vendors selling to China’s telecommunication and banking sector to hand over sensitive intellectual property to the country’s government.

Although China hasn’t approved the proposed regulations, the country has made cybersecurity a national priority over the past year. This came after leaks from U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden alleged that the U.S. had been secretly spying on Chinese companies and schools through cyber surveillance.

On Tuesday, China signaled that there was a clear need to protect the country from cyber espionage. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua pointed to recent reports alleging that the U.S. and the U.K. had hacked into a SIM card maker for surveillance purposes as an example.


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Why small ISPs support net neutrality | Fedric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

Why small ISPs support net neutrality | Fedric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the wake of the FCC's landmark decision last week to classify broadband internet access as a public utility, it was easy to see the battle over net neutrality as a conflict between Democrats and Republicans, between the companies that provide content over the internet and companies that supply the "pipes" that deliver that content.

But according to Dane Jasper, CEO and co-founder of California-based ISP Sonic, that would be far too simplistic an analysis. In reality, Jasper says, the warring principles behind net neutrality cut across those lines in surprising ways. As chief executive of a company competing with the big carriers, Jasper clearly has an agenda. But his viewpoint also makes it clear that the carrier industry is not uniformly opposed to net neutrality and Title II regulation.

Jasper says the FCC's existing rules (casting broadband as an information service instead of a regulated utility in the early 2000's to weaken the 1996 Telecommunications Act) seem to be based on the idea that there could be "too much competition" in broadband. The theory was that only "intermodal" competition—DSL vs. cable vs. powerline vs. wireless—was required, not competition within each technology. The reasoning was that having only a single player in each technology would encourage investment while competition from other technologies would be enough to keep prices in check and ensure good service.

As it turned out, of course, not all of these technologies turned into viable alternatives, creating what Jasper called "America's intentional broadband duopoly"—and leaving most consumers with just one or two internet options.

"I would argue that when you have failed competitive market, with just one or two choices, you have an effective monopoly," Jasper says.

That's the chief reason for the U.S. internet industry's high prices, privacy issues (too willingly sharing information with various agencies), and "shockingly bad customer service practices," Jasper says.

Outside the U.S., he notes, many regions have more vibrant service at lower prices than are available to domestic consumers. "We wouldn't have to deal with any of these issues if consumers had 30 choices," Jasper says.

"We need 50 companies like Sonic to step up and build networks," he adds. "Hopefully it will mean more competition and drive down prices."

That's the exact opposite of the argument that enforcing net neutrality will inhibit investment in internet infrastructure. The dominant carriers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and their supporters are correct that not being allowed to charge content providers extra for access to "fast lanes" will cost them an incremental revenue stream, Jasper says. But he notes that many smaller carriers like T-Mobile, Sprint, Time-Warner, Frontier, and, yes, Sonic, have clearly stated that they do not anticipate the order will impact their investments or their ability to serve customers. Critically, Jasper says, that's because only the biggest incumbent carriers have enough subscribers to force content providers to pay additional fees. Those revenue streams are simply not available to smaller players. In Jasper's view, that's why many of the smaller carriers and ISPs have ended up on the side of the content providers in support of net neutrality.

Interestingly, we haven't seen a similar split on the content side. It makes sense that smaller content providers who can't afford fast-lane payments would be all for net neutrality. But even the biggest bandwidth users like Google and Netflix, which could afford to pay for faster access to their customers, have been clear on their support for the concept.


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TiVo Buys Aereo Assets at Auction. Is a Legal Aereo Coming? | Bill Rosenblatt | Forbes.com

TiVo Buys Aereo Assets at Auction.  Is a Legal Aereo Coming? | Bill Rosenblatt | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aereo officially died last week. Eight months after losing its legal battle with television networks, the failed watch-TV-on-the-Internet startup held an auction for its assets. One of the notable purchases was its trademarks, domain names, and customer list, which went to TiVo for $1 Million. What could TiVo do with these assets? Here’s an intriguing possibility: TiVo could be looking into offering an Aereo-like service but one that’s licensed by TV networks.

TiVo is at risk of missing out on the growth of Internet television through devices such as Smart TVs and set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. TiVo’s core product is a digital video recorder (DVR). That means that unlike Roku, Apple, and Amazon, TiVo is ultimately dependent on users recording content that they receive in other ways. An Internet retransmission deal with broadcast networks would be a neat way for TiVo to expand its offerings and compete more effectively in the Internet TV market.


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Comcast-Time Warner Deal Critics Ramp Up Opposition | Amy Schatz | Re/Code.net

Comcast-Time Warner Deal Critics Ramp Up Opposition | Amy Schatz | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Critics of Comcast’s move to acquire Time Warner Cable renewed calls Monday for federal regulators to kill the deal, saying new net neutrality rules adopted last week wouldn’t protect consumers from harm.


“Higher prices. Fewer choices. Worse customer service. That’s what we’ll end up with if Comcast is allowed to take over Time Warner Cable,” Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, said in full-page ads that began running in Washington, D.C., newspapers Monday. The consumer group also launched a radio ad campaign with a 60-second spot on a D.C. local news radio station.


The campaign marks the start of a more concentrated effort on both sides of the deal to influence regulators, who are expected to begin focusing more intensely on reviewing both Comcast’s Time Warner Cable deal and AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV. Justice Department lawyers have been busy reviewing both deals for months, but senior Federal Communications Commission officials have been spending much of their time recently on net neutrality.

This isn’t the first time Consumers Union has tried to kill a telecom industry merger. It launched similar campaigns against AT&T’s (failed) bid to acquire T-Mobile USA as well as Comcast’s (successful) effort to acquire NBCUniversal a few years ago.

Another group of anti-Comcast critics told reporters Monday that the FCC’s decision last week to enact strict new net neutrality rules doesn’t alleviate the dangers of the proposed merger.


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Analyst Downgrades TWC On Title II Fears | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Analyst Downgrades TWC On Title II Fears | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Needham & Co. media analyst Laura Martin lowered her rating on Time Warner Cable to “underperform” Monday, adding in a note to clients that pressures from Title II regulations could affect its broadband business.

Martin wrote that Title II brings valuation risks including increased legal costs (TWC is likely to sue along with other cable companies to block the regulation); a higher discount rate for the stock price given the uncertainty of free cash flow streams as a result of higher taxes, price regulation or universal service fees; a lower terminal multiple given Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has said over time either new competition has to enter the market to drive down prices or the agency will intervene to assure all consumers have access to broadband.

“By implication, risk is rising that ROICs on broadband will be less profitable over the next 10 years than the past 10 years when only economics determined investment levels,” Martin wrote. “We calculate that the value of TWC falls 10-20% assuming Title II is upheld by the courts.”

Martin also warned that if the Comcast merger is not completed, Charter Communications, which had pursued TWC before Comcast trumped its $132.50 per share bid in February, will probably make a lower offer in the next go round.


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IL: Department of Information Technology offers broadband development grants | NIU Today

IL: Department of Information Technology offers broadband development grants | NIU Today | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Calling all aspiring app developers: Northern Illinois University (NIU)’s Division of Information Technology is offering up to $30,000 per year for three years to students, faculty and staff who can develop applications that help society using broadband connectivity.

The Broadband Innovation Grant Opportunity competition builds upon more than a decade of NIU work with community partners to establish what is now a 2,200-mile fiber optic network across the region and state.

“We’re primarily looking for applications that address the needs of vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed and the elderly,” explained project director Herb Kuryliw.

“We’ve developed this great network and have partnered with more than 500 community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, health care providers, public safety agencies, municipal governments and social service organizations), and now we want to encourage people to think of new ways to use it,” Kuryliw said.

The grants are intended to support innovative research and product development, and to accelerate the pace of innovation at NIU by placing technology into the hands of entrepreneurial individuals.

Two types of awards are eligible for funding: Planning/Early Stage awards and Implementation/Proof of Concept awards.


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Will Verizon Sue to Block FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules? Investors Hope Not | Open MIC

Investors in Verizon Communications Inc. today welcomed the Federal Communications Commission’s adoption of new network neutrality rules and urged Verizon to do the same by publicly committing not to initiate or support litigation that would undercut the rules.

A shareholder proposal asking Verizon’s board to report on the risks to the company posed by its continuing opposition to net neutrality is to be voted on at the company’s 2015 annual meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 7. A similar proposal last year won 26.4% of the shareholder vote, representing $30.6 billion of Verizon shares.

Verizon executive vice president and chief financial officer Francis J. Shammo in December advised securities analysts that the company anticipated “a very litigious environment” if, as anticipated, the FCC were to reclassify broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act. Verizon previously sued to block a prior set of net neutrality rules.

Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President at Trillium Asset Management, LLC, a co-sponsor of this year’s shareholder proposal, said:


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Battle over mobile payments is raging | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

Battle over mobile payments is raging | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mobile in-store payments could grow dramatically in the U.S. as the result of a battle brewing among tech giants Google, Samsung and Apple.

In the latest development, Samsung today revealed Samsung Pay, a new mobile payment strategy that's tied to its new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones. Samsung Pay relies on two technologies: a new magnetic transmission capability from startup LoopPay embedded as a copper ring inside the Galaxy S6, and the older Near Field Communications technology used in earlier Galaxy S smartphones.

The two phones will ship April 10 in 20 countries, including the U.S., but Samsung Pay will not go live until this summer, first in the U.S. and South Korea.

Having both mobile payment technologies embedded inside the Galaxy S6 will allow users to make purchases at up to 90% of the estimated 12 million payment locations at U.S. stores. That's because the lion's share of the older point-of-sale terminals in use in the U.S. still have magnetic stripe card readers that support the new Galaxy S6 technology.

In comparison, Apple Pay and Google Wallet rely on newer NFC-ready terminals, which are gradually being rolled out in the U.S. and should reach about 50% of point-of-sale locations by year's end, according to estimates by credit and debit card companies. While NFC grows, magnetic technology could help fill the mobile payment gap.


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Zero-day in Seagate NAS allows attacker to remotely get unauthorized root access | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Zero-day in Seagate NAS allows attacker to remotely get unauthorized root access | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Thousands of Seagate Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are defenseless against a zero-day remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability. Back in October, security researcher OJ Reeves attempted to responsibly disclose the hole in Seagate’s Business Storage 2-Bay NAS products, which ironically use a tagline of “deadlines happen. Be ready.” But Seagate still hasn’t issued a firmware fix, so Reeves has now publicly disclosed the bug.

“Products in this line that run firmware versions up to and including version 2014.00319 were found to be vulnerable to a number of issues that allow for remote code execution under the context of the root user,” Reeves wrote on Beyond Binary. “These vulnerabilities are exploitable without requiring any form of authorization on the device.” Reeves believes all previous firmware versions “are highly likely to contain the same vulnerabilities.”

“It’s basically a ‘push button, receive bacon’ situation,” Reeves told iDigitalTimes. By using Shodan, he found over 2,500 publicly exposed and vulnerable boxes on the web waiting to be popped.

Regarding responsible disclosure, Reeves said he tried starting on Oct. 7, but it was both time-consuming and unproductive; Seagate’s “front-line support team repeatedly failed to direct the query to the relevant point of contact.” He later bypassed the oxymoron "support" staff and dealt with a security contact who seemed concerned in the “early stages.” Yet Seagate still took no action and had no timeline for a fix. So today, March 1, Reeves went public with the zero-day.


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The White House’s draft of a consumer privacy bill is out — and even the FTC is worried | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The White House’s draft of a consumer privacy bill is out — and even the FTC is worried | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The White House on Friday released what it called a discussion draft of a bill aimed at giving consumers more control over how data about them is collected. But privacy advocates, including Democratic members of Congress, raised concerns that the legislation might actually make things worse.

Even the Federal Trade Commission, the agency at the heart of the proposal, appears to have reservations.

“We are pleased that the Administration has made consumer privacy a priority, and this legislative proposal provides a good starting point for further discussion," an agency spokesperson said in a statement. "However, we have concerns that the draft bill does not provide consumers with the strong and enforceable protections needed to safeguard their privacy. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to strengthen the proposal.”

The White House declined to comment on the growing criticism. The president announced the legislation during a speech at the Federal Trade Commission in January, saying it would be released within 45 days, but the core of the legislation dates back to a set of principles outlined by the administration in 2012.

"In this digital age, particularly as big data innovations drive advances across our economy, more and more data about Americans is being collected and stored," a fact sheet announcing the draft legislation said. "And, even though responsible companies provide us with tools to control privacy settings and decide how our personal information is used, too many Americans still feel they have lost control over their data."

The draft bill would allow industries to develop their own codes of conduct or privacy policies that would then be enforced by the FTC. "Based on that model, all current practices related to data collection, use, and sharing – even flawed practices – would be allowed to continue," Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in a joint statement, and the FTC's authority to prevent unfair acts or practices would be curtailed.

"Unfortunately, not only does this bill fail to move consumer protection forward, it may move it backward," their statement said.

Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, also criticized the draft bill. "It fails to give the FTC, the country’s key privacy regulator, 'rule-making' authority to craft reasonable safeguards, and actually empowers the companies that now harvest our mobile, social, location, financial, and health data, leaving them little to fear from regulators," he said in a statement.


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NAB to FCC: Localism Must Be Baked into OVD Item | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

NAB to FCC: Localism Must Be Baked into OVD Item | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Association of Broadcasters says that, to read the FCC's proposal to define some over-the-top providers as MVPDS, "it’s as if the Commission no longer views localism as one of its key policy objectives." It also says it wants the FCC to give broadcasters the ability not to negotiate retrans with an OVD if it cannot demonstrate it can protect that content from pirates.

That came in formal comments on that proposal. NAB says it agrees with the FCC that linear OVDs defined as MVPDs should be subject to retransmission consent/must carry rules, but challenges its silence on how the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would apply, which it says is essential to the concept of localism."

The FCC has signaled the main reason for the definitional change is to make sure those programmers have sufficient access to programming to become true competitors to traditional cable and satellite service, but NAB says responsibilities must go along with those rights.

NAB is concerned about not extending geographic signal limits to online TV station signal distribution. "The Commission must ensure that its expansion of the definition of MVPD does not inadvertently erode the ability of broadcasters to serve their local communities," NAB said.

That means that the FCC needs to insure there is a mechanism for insuring TV station signals online "are secured from potential piracy, are accessed by OVD subscribers within the broadcaster’s geographic market, and are not materially degraded." Broadcasters also want notification when an OVD is defined as an MVPD so they know with whom they need to negotiate.


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Crooks targeting call centers to further Apple Pay fraud | Steve Ragan | CSO Online

Crooks targeting call centers to further Apple Pay fraud | Steve Ragan | CSO Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to mobile payments expert Cherian Abraham, fraud on Apple's mobile payment platform – Apple Pay – is rampant. However, Apple's hardware and software security measures remain intact; the issue at the heart of most fraud cases is social engineering.

When getting started with Apple Pay, consumers can take an image of their card, allowing the app to scan the required credentials. However, they can also manually enter the details, which is where criminals have started focusing their attack.

The card details, along with other information related to the iTunes account (device name, current location, transaction history), are forwarded to the bank. At this point, the bank can choose to authorize the card for Apple Pay, or require additional information.

Since the technical security controls are tough to crack for the average crook, they've taken to targeting the weaker parts of the system, including the provisioning channel.

Cards that are automatically approved are listed under the green path. Cards on the red path are simply declined. However, Apple required banks and card issuers to develop a system of additional checks and fraud protection called the yellow path.

The yellow path was originally optional, but Apple made them mandatory a month prior to the Apple Pay release. Depending on the card issuer, the yellow path can include a number of different checks, including a conversation with someone at a call center, authentication with the bank's mobile app, or additional verification from two-factor authentication.

Yet, when the Apple Pay roll-out started, because the yellow path was optional, card issuers didn't give it much attention. After it became mandatory, there was a scramble to meet the requirements, leaving gaps for criminals to target.

Most card issuers have leveraged existing fraud checks and metrics, including the use of call centers for additional verification, and that's where the problem is.


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Opinion: The FCC's Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But | Geoffrey A. Manne | WIRED

Opinion: The FCC's Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But | Geoffrey A. Manne | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The day after the FCC’s net neutrality vote, Washington was downright frigid. I’d spoken at three events about the ruling, mentioning at each that the order could be overturned in court. I was tired and ready to go home.

I could see my Uber at the corner when I felt a hand on my arm. The woman’s face was anxious. “I heard your talk,” she said.“If net neutrality is overturned, will I still be able to Skype with my son in Turkey?”

The question reveals the problem with the supposed four million comments submitted in support of net neutrality. Almost no one really gets it. Fewer still understand Title II, the regulatory tool the FCC just invoked to impose its conception of net neutrality on the Internet.

Some internet engineers and innovators do get it. Mark Cuban rightly calls the uncertainty created by Title II a “Whac-a-Mole environment,” driven by political whims. And telecom lawyers? They love it: whatever happens, the inevitable litigation will mean a decade’s worth of job security.

As I’ve said in technically detailed comments, academic coalition letters, papers, and even here at Wired, while “net neutrality” sounds like a good idea, it isn’t. And reclassifying the internet under Title II, an antiquated set of laws repurposed in the 1930s for Ma Bell, is the worst way to regulate dynamic digital services.

On February 26, self-styled “consumer advocates” and a few self-interested corporate behemoths won the day with clever branding and passionate rhetoric. But as FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai warned in his dissent, net neutrality regulation enacted under Title II doesn’t deliver.

“Instead,” he wrote, “the order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have.”

Let’s take a look at those charges.


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Nokia CEO: We Have To Get Rid Of Net Neutrality, Otherwise Self-Driving Cars Will Keep On Crashing Into Each Other | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Nokia CEO: We Have To Get Rid Of Net Neutrality, Otherwise Self-Driving Cars Will Keep On Crashing Into Each Other | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It would be an understatement to say that net neutrality has been in the news quite a lot recently. One of the supposed arguments against it is that requiring all data packets to be treated equally within a connection will prevent companies from offering us a cornucopia of "specialized services." The main example cited is for medical applications -- the implication being that if net neutrality is required, people are going to die. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress that is currently underway, Nokia's CEO Rajeev Suri has come up with a novel variation on that theme, as reported by CNET (via @AdV007):

Suri emphasises that self-driving cars need to talk over wireless networks fast enough to make decisions with the split-second timing required on the roads. "You cannot prevent collisions if the data that can prevent them is still making its way through the network", said Suri, discussing Nokia's drive toward instantaneous low-latency communication across the network.

Yes, according to Suri, there are going to be terrible pile-ups on the roads unless we get rid of net neutrality. Leaving aside the fact that low-latency communications across the internet will come anyway -- if there's one thing that's certain in the world of digital technology, it's that everything gets faster and cheaper -- there's another problem with this argument.


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How to Fund an Open, Ubiquitous, Very Fast, Broadband Internet Utility | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

How to Fund an Open, Ubiquitous, Very Fast, Broadband Internet Utility | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While America searches for a way to fund fiber optic broadband to everyone, and cities have taken it upon themselves to 'go around' the incumbent phone and cable companies, let me give you a different point of view. Let's discuss how to take advantage and leverage the broadband and network infrastructure commitments of the incumbent phone and cable companies, as well as companies' financial and business practices.

And to put this into some context of current events, the FCC has just made some recent announcements about Net Neutrality and municipalities' rights to offer broadband.

Unfortunately, it looks like it is going to take years before anything is resolved. As we wrote:

"The count-down has started and by the end of next week, or once the entire Open Internet (Net Neutrality) rules are put out (we have only an outline as of this writing), you can expect a lawyers' banquet, a feeding frenzy where they will file and file and file."

Moreover, even if the Net Neutrality rules are applied, the FCC has taken opening the networks to deliver direct competition off the table, which would have allowed you to choose your cable, broadband or Internet provider over the wires coming into your home or office.

This means there is no way to lower the price of service as there's no competition -- no 'market forces' are in play except 'monopoly' or 'duopoly'. Worse, the FCC is placating the companies still further as there will be no 'price regulation'-- i.e., you are getting gouged and there's no competition to fix this -- so tough. The FCC is not going to say to the cable, phone or ISP companies -- There's no competition, so lower your rates.

And the current situation needs to be fixed as this marked up Time Warner Cable bill shows you what happens when there's no competition or oversight. The basic $89.99 Triple Play package in two years ended up costing a whopping $190.77 a month.

But it gets worse if you are in a rural area or one of those places that the companies want to forget about. Verizon announced it is 'shutting off the copper' wires as it is 'uneconomical' to maintain or upgrade and will force customers onto wireless. Verizon also announced it is no longer going to deploy its fiber optic FiOS product, and this leaves about 50% not upgraded with a wired service. (While Verizon will claim more FiOS coverage, truth is there are no audits of Verizon's deployments and reports by the unions and by those who can't get service in 'completed areas', even in New York City, tell a much different story.)

And while it is great that Net Neutrality principles, which means that they can't screw with your Internet service, may be put into effect, it belies the more pervasive problems -- you may not be able to afford (or want to pay for) that service or get that service or have a choice about who offers you that service.


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Verizon piles on Dish AWS-3 strategy, complains to FCC | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Verizon piles on Dish AWS-3 strategy, complains to FCC | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Communications late last week became the latest telecommunications company to publicly object to Dish Network's strategy for obtaining deep discounts on winning bids in the FCC's recently completed AWS-3 spectrum auction.

Verizon made a regulatory filing to the FCC on Feb. 27, accusing Dish of using several much smaller companies it invests in to trump up artificial demand and drive rival bidders away.

Dish's partners ended up winning $13.3 billion in bids, but ended up paying only 75 percent of that amount based on discounts aimed at small business. Dish's partners finished second only to AT&T in winning bids.

"The bidding data suggest that Dish and its [designated entities, or 'DEs'] engaged in concerted conduct that went beyond the activity that occurs during typical bidding agreements or bidding consortia, in which two or more small bidders pool their money and form a single entity to buy spectrum," wrote Tamara Preiss, VP of federal regulatory affairs for Verizon. "Instead, the auction data show that Dish and its DEs frequently submitted two or three bids for the same amount on the same licenses in the same round."

Preiss' letter follows a Feb. 20 blog post written by her peer at AT&T, VP of Federal Regulatory Joan Marsh, which accused Dish of the same misdeeds.


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Breaking: House Judiciary Committee Tells FCC It's Going To Block Net Neutrality Rules | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Breaking: House Judiciary Committee Tells FCC It's Going To Block Net Neutrality Rules | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the FCC may have buckled to public demand and voted to finally approve tougher net neutrality rules last week, if you thought that meant an end to the hysterical over-reaction to what appear to be some fairly basic consumer protections, you're going to be gravely disappointed. From editorials lamenting the FCC's attempt to "strangle startups in their cribs", to claims the agency is murdering "innovation angels", we're clearly entering an entirely new, bloody chapter when it comes to divorcing net neutrality reality from rhetoric.

At the vanguard of this assault are ISP-loyal politicians, who intend to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the FCC over the next few months in the hopes of if not destroying the rules -- at least delaying them -- while publicly flogging the FCC for good measure. That apparently starts with FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly lagging on providing their dissenting edits so the rules can't be released, followed by a gauntlet of at least five potential hearings over the next month aimed at shaming the FCC for destroying the Internet.

A letter from the House Judiciary Committee Members (pdf) to FCC boss Tom Wheeler complains that the FCC is pursuing the "most oppressive and backward regulatory option possible," which is odd since a growing list of companies that actually sell broadband -- like Cablevision, Frontier, Sprint and Sonic -- all say the rules won't impact their businesses in the slightest, since most of the heavier utility-components of Title II won't be applied. So why is the House Judiciary Committee fighting the rules? Because they're just super worried about the health of the Internet:


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Court Doesn't Buy Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's Argument: Puts His Google Demands On Hold | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Court Doesn't Buy Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's Argument: Puts His Google Demands On Hold | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in December, we noted that Google had gone to court to try to stop a ridiculously broad subpoena issued by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. For quite some time now, Hood has been publicly attacking Google, based on what appears to be near total ignorance of both the law and technology. Oh, and maybe it also has something to do with the MPAA directly funding his investigation and authoring the letters that Hood sent.

Either way, Google pointed out that the broad subpoena that Hood issued to Google clearly violated Section 230 of the CDA in looking to hold Google accountable for other's actions and speech. It pointed out other problems with the order as well -- and while Hood insisted that his subpoena was perfectly reasonable, it appears that a federal court isn't so sure. Today the court told Hood that he's granting a temporary injunction on the subpoena, noting that Google's argument is "stronger."


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Google sees success with balloon, airplane Internet | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Google sees success with balloon, airplane Internet | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google’s ambitious efforts to bring balloon and aircraft-borne connectivity to underserved areas of the globe are pushing past some key milestones and the company expects a public launch in a few years.

Both projects have captured the imagination of many for their ability to beam Internet signals from platforms high up in the sky to areas without cellular networks, but represent significant engineering challenges for Google—just the kind of thing the company likes, said Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The oldest and perhaps best known of the two projects, Project Loon, seeks to use balloons flying around 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth to deliver Internet signals. The company’s first experiments used a proprietary WiFi signal but that’s since changed to LTE cellular signals.

When Google first began launching the balloons two years ago, it couldn’t manage to keep them up for more than about 5 days at a time, but now they are in the sky for as long as six months, delivering LTE signals directly to handsets on the ground. The range it can achieve with each balloon has quadrupled, he said.

“We think the model is really beginning to work,” he said.

Google is working on tests of the technology with Vodafone in New Zealand, Telstra in Australia and Telefonica in Latin America.

A newer project called Titan is at the stage Loon was a couple of years ago, said Pichai.


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Google will announce its MVNO in the “coming months”: Sundar Pichai | Kif Leswing | GigaOM Tech News

Google will announce its MVNO in the “coming months”: Sundar Pichai | Kif Leswing | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google’s long rumored move to becoming a wireless carrier took one step closer to reality on Monday. At Mobile World Congress, Google’s second-in-command executive Sundar Pichai confirmed that Google is working on a becoming a mobile virtual network operator, and revealed that the Google will announce its MVNO in the coming months.

Although Pichai’s remarks on the subject were brief, he laid out Google’s aims and set expectations for the service. It’s not going to be taking on AT&T or Verizon head-on. Instead, it’s a “small scale” experiment of sorts, meant to push carriers to implement new Android features that Google’s been working on. One example Pichai provided is that when a call drops on one end, the Google MVNO will be able to automatically bring the call back.

In that way, Google’s MVNO seems like a sibling to its line of Nexus phones: It’s not meant to be a commercial force revenue- and sales-wise, but it’s intended to show Google’s long roster of partners what’s possible when they trust Google’s technology and leadership.

“It’s a very small-scale compared to the rest of the OEM industry, but it pushes the needle. I think we’re at the state where we need to think of hardware, software, and connectivity together,” Pichar said, according to the Verge. “We don’t intend to be a carrier at scale, and we’re working with existing partners.”


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Threats to cloud computing require a solution from the 18th century | Drew Clark | Deseret News

Threats to cloud computing require a solution from the 18th century | Drew Clark | Deseret News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As a medium of expression that blossomed in popular consciousness in the late 1990s, the Internet is beginning to reach its adolescent years.

We've evolved from static Web pages to social networking to "cloud computing," which means that personal documents aren't stored on our computers and smartphones but on servers throughout the world.

And yet citizens' security in their digital possessions has never been more threatened. Fortunately, there are two bills — one co-sponsored by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the other co-sponsored by Utah Sen. Mike Lee — that go a long way to restoring constitutional protections for Internet information.

It's important at the outset to dispense the shibboleth that the Internet changes everything. What the Internet needs is a strong dose of 18th century legal wisdom, not words about "freedom of expression in the 21st century," to quote the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during last Thursday's vote by the agency on network neutrality.

The Constitution says that we have the right to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers and effects." We have the right to speak free from regulation by the government. There are some who say that the Internet has rewritten the laws of supply and demand, or changed common decency and morality, or altered the possibility of being free from police surveillance. They are mistaken.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution articulates the right of Americans’ sources of private informational documents to be secure "against unreasonable searches and seizures." This doesn't prevent the government or the police from obtaining information upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion; it simply bars the issuance of general warrants.

On Feb. 4, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act of 2015. “The bill we are introducing today protects Americans’ digital privacy — in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who has long been seeking to update this law that first passed in 1986.

The language of that original ECPA law focused too specifically on technologies used in early electronic mail services. As a result, it didn’t protect the privacy of data when stored by another company in a cloud-based service.

Both this year and during last Congress, when he introduced a similar measure, the Democrat Leahy has been joined by the Republican Lee. When the bill was reintroduced last month, Lee said: "The prevalence of email and the low cost of electronic data storage have made what were once robust protections insufficient to ensure that citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights are adequately protected."


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The new GOP split on net neutrality | Kate Tummarello & Alex Byers | POLITICO.com

The new GOP split on net neutrality | Kate Tummarello & Alex Byers | POLITICO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Republicans have always insisted that the federal government keep its hands off the Internet.

But the FCC’s landmark vote Thursday to create net neutrality rules has left Republicans with a split over what to do next, with some conservatives wanting to use every tactic to fight the FCC, and more establishment GOP lawmakers trying to get Democrats to agree to an alternative, weaker set of rules.

Some House Republicans want to follow the same course they did back in 2011, after the FCC adopted its previous open Internet plan, and officially condemn the agency’s decision with a resolution of disapproval. Many conservatives oppose the very idea of net neutrality rules to ensure all Web traffic is treated equally, calling it government interference in the private sector.

But the party’s telecom leaders are trying to convince centrist Democrats to cooperate on net neutrality legislation they say represents a more acceptable and less heavy-handed approach than what the FCC has adopted. That’s made them hesitant to take part in a scorched-earth response to the agency’s rules — a move that would inflame partisan tensions.

“If we think that there’s any hope of trying to get a legislative solution that would present what we believe is a much better alternative to what the FCC is doing, we want to keep that door open,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said this week. “Right now, it’s just a function of playing this out and seeing if there are any Dems that are willing to play ball, and then we’ll go to plan B. But right now, plan A is still legislating on this.”


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