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CISPA Amendment Proves Everyone's Fears Were Justified While Failing To Assuage Them | Techdirt

CISPA Amendment Proves Everyone's Fears Were Justified While Failing To Assuage Them | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The single biggest criticism of CISPA is that it could be used by the federal government in a way that infringes on people's privacy, allowing government agencies, including the NSA, to sift through the private data of American citizens with little to no oversight. It's pretty obvious why that fear exists — just look at the relevant paragraph in what, until the recent and final round of markup, was the text of the bill:

 

(7) PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUAL INFORMATION—The Federal Government may, consistent with the need to protect Federal systems and critical information infrastructure from cybersecurity threats and to mitigate such threats, undertake reasonable efforts to limit the impact on privacy and civil liberties of the sharing of cyber threat information with the Federal Government pursuant to this subsection.


So, um, the feds may worry about privacy, if they want to and as long as it doesn't hinder their cybersecurity efforts. It's disconcerting that this even needed to be spelled out, and it certainly doesn't count as a safeguard. The response to criticism from the bill's authors has been the same since last year: they deny that this bill has anything to do with spying on people, and insist it's just about sharing technical threat data. Just this week, Rep. Rogers flatly stated this is not a surveillance bill. Still, in an attempt to placate the opposition, they backed an amendment (pdf and embedded below) from Rep. Hines replacing that paragraph, which passed in the markup phase. Here's the new text:

 

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IPv6 adoption starting to add up to real numbers: 0.6 percent | Ars Technica

IPv6 adoption starting to add up to real numbers: 0.6 percent | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a paper presented at the prestigious ACM SIGCOMM conference last week, researchers from the University of Michigan, the International Computer Science Institute, Arbor Networks, and Verisign Labs presented the paper "Measuring IPv6 Adoption." In it, the team does just that—in 12 different ways, no less. The results from these different measurements don't exactly agree, with the lowest and the highest being two orders of magnitude (close to a factor 100) apart. But the overall picture that emerges is one of a protocol that's quickly capturing its own place under the sun next to its big brother IPv4.


As a long-time Ars reader, you of course already know everything you need to know about IPv6. There's no Plan B, but you have survived World IPv6 Day and World IPv6 Launch. All of this drama occurs because existing IP(v4) addresses are too short and are thus running out, so we need to start using the new version of IP (IPv6) that has a much larger supply of much longer addresses.


The good news is that the engineers in charge knew we'd be running out of IPv4 addresses at some point two decades ago, so we've had a long time to standardize IPv6 and put the new protocol in routers, firewalls, operating systems, and applications. The not-so-good news is that IP is everywhere. The new protocol can only be used when the two computers (or other devices) communicating over the 'Net—as well as every router, firewall, and load balancer in between—have IPv6 enabled and configured. As such, getting IPv6 deployed has been an uphill struggle. But last week's paper shows us how far we've managed to struggle so far.


In an effort to be comprehensive, the paper (PDF) visits all corners of the Internet's foundation, from getting addresses to routing in the core of the network. The researchers also got their hands on as many as half of the packets flowing across the Internet at certain times, counting how many of those packets were IPv4 and how many were IPv6.


The authors focused on content providers, service providers, and content consumers. For each of these, the first step toward sending and receiving IPv6 packets is to get IPv6 addresses. Five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) give out both IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses. Looking at 10 years of IP address distribution records, it turns out that prior to 2007, only 30 IPv6 address blocks or address prefixes were given out each month. That figure is now 300; the running total is 18,000. IPv4, on the other hand, reached a peak of more than 800 prefixes a month in 2011 and is now at about 500. Although IPv6 is close on a monthly basis, IPv4 had a big head start and is currently at 136,000 prefixes given out.


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Top things to consider as you prepare for the transition to 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi | NetworkWorld.com

Top things to consider as you prepare for the transition to 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

his vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.


The move to 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi is picking up steam, seeing a 540% increase since 2013, for obvious reasons: 802.11ac is faster, more agile and more robust than any of its predecessors. Providing Wi-Fi at the speed of wired networks, 802.11ac is revolutionizing how enterprises support the large quantity of devices connecting to their corporate networks. With multiple product introduction waves expected in the coming years, adoption will only accelerate.


With all that 802.11ac has to offer, organizations need to make sure they are set up for success. Here are the top things to consider as you prepare for the transition:


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NY: Guns, butter and broadband: How technology has finally emerged as a viable campaign issue | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

NY: Guns, butter and broadband: How technology has finally emerged as a viable campaign issue | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The New York Times has endorsed Tim Wu, the progressive candidate for New York lieutenant governor, in its editorial pages. The newspaper argues that the Columbia University law professor deserves the job despite his lack of political experience — largely due to Wu's promise to fight for consumers on access to broadband and other tech issues.


"Mr. Wu has an impressive record in the legal field, particularly in Internet law and policy," the Times wrote. "Widely known for coining the phrase 'net neutrality,' he has been an adviser to the Federal Trade Commission as part of his efforts on behalf of consumers to keep the Internet from 'becoming too corporatized.'"


The endorsement is a sign that technology, long relegated to the fringes of political discussion, has finally become a dinner-table issue and the basis for a viable campaign platform. As the Web keeps taking over ever larger chunks of the economy, the policies that govern it have become increasingly relevant to the average consumer.


Large, public debates like the one involving SOPA and PIPA, or cellphone unlocking, or net neutrality, have a direct effect on what Americans can do with their connected devices and the services layered on top of them. And that's made tech a hot-button issue.


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Why US net neutrality debate matters globally | Danielle Kehl Blog | The Hill

Why US net neutrality debate matters globally | Danielle Kehl Blog | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting in Istanbul next week, a multi-stakeholder group of representatives from around the world will gather to discuss the most pressing Internet policy issues of the day. Net neutrality will be high on the agenda, with one of the plenary sessions devoted to developing a common understanding of the issue. From a continent away, the conversation will invariably turn to what's happening here in the U.S. at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and how it impacts the global policy conversation.


It's been a busy year for net neutrality around the world. This spring, the European Parliament passed rules that outlaw network discrimination and prevent anti-competitive commercial agreements. A few weeks later, the final version of Brazil's Marco Civil was codified with a section on network neutrality, despite a fierce campaign by telecom lobbyists to gut the provisions in the months prior to the bill's passage. In capitals all over the world, debates continue about the net neutrality implications of practices like zero-rating and finding the appropriate balance between competitive interests and consumer protections.


Against this backdrop, policymakers and advocates in the United States are currently embroiled in a heated battle over the future of the FCC's Open Internet rules. In January 2014, the District of Columbia Circuit Court vacated the no-blocking and nondiscrimination rules that the FCC had enacted in 2010. Now the commission is in the middle of a rulemaking proceeding to consider new net neutrality rules, pitting large broadband carriers and those who argue that new rules are unnecessary against major Internet companies and public interest advocates who have urged the FCC to put strong obligations in place. Over a million commentshave already been filed in the net neutrality docket this year.


Meanwhile, several of the major U.S. Internet service providers have suggested that if the FCC chooses the "wrong" path on net neutrality, it could undermine American international policy objectives. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon all claim in their initial comments to the FCC that reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service subject to common carriage regulations would encourage foreign governments to enact similarly "restrictive" regulations over the Internet. What's more, they argue, reclassification would undercut the Internet Freedom agenda, making it more difficult for the State Department to push back against Internet-censoring countries like China and Russia and preserve the current multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.


Verizon, for example, suggests that reclassification "would set a dangerous precedent at a time when the United States has needed to fight vigilantly against international bodies and even repressive regimes that seek greater control over the Internet." Comcast argues that the "United States' policy preference for competition over heavy-handed regulation has not been confined to domestic communications," adding that "imposing common-carrier regulation on broadband services could undermine the United States' resistance to greater oversight of the Internet by the UN's International Telecommunication Union." AT&T and Verizon made similar predictions during the first Open Internet proceeding in 2010.


The carriers are right that the path the FCC ultimately chooses matters beyond the domestic context — but for very different reasons. The global interest in the U.S. net neutrality debate is not borne out of fear that strong rules will enable a "U.N. takeover" of the Internet or bolster Chinese and Russian arguments for censorship and control. (They may try to use it in their rhetoric, but it won't convince anyone who does not already agree with them.) It's because the precedent we set here may influence whether and how governments in other countries choose to protect net neutrality on their own soil.


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Ecuador: President announces rural telecoms development fund | TeleGeography.com

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has confirmed plans to create a fund for the development of telecommunications in rural areas, indicating that funding will be linked to plans to increase the amount taken from mobile operators’ profits by the government.


In a presidential communication on Saturday quoted on the website of telecoms ministry Mintel, Correa said the planned fund will emphasise promoting rural communities’ access to telephony and developing the ongoing Community Info-centres programme and computer access schemes which provide internet access to all citizens especially those on low incomes.


The President affirmed that he has sent to the National Assembly a draft amendment to the Telecommunications Act which would give the state a direct 12% slice of the profits of mobile operators, while a 3% slice would be distributed to the telecoms companies’ workers and their families.

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The FCC’s next CTO is a net neutrality expert | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

The FCC’s next CTO is a net neutrality expert | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it has named a new chief technology officer: Scott Jordan, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Irving.


The FCC has a history of hiring CTOs that know their stuff, technologically speaking. Jordan is replacing Henning Schulzrinne, a once and future chair of the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University who started at the commission in 2011 and will stay on in an advisory capacity.


The role of CTOs in government can often be muddled, but at the FCC it is squarely a policy-making job. Schulzrinne, Chairman Tom Wheeler pointed out in announcing Jordan's appointment, played a major role in the commission's decision to require mobile carriers to support customers' abilities to contact 911 using text messages. Looking forward, Wheeler said in a statement, "Scott's engineering and technical expertise, particularly with respect to the Internet, will provide great assistance to the Commission as we consider decisions that will affect America's communications platforms."


Why that's particularly interesting in this case is that Jordan's "engineering and technical expertise" is, as Wheeler hints, a near-perfect overlap with many of the most complicated, most contentious issues facing the FCC today. In announcing Jordan, the commission highlight his work on "communications platforms, pricing, and differentiated services on the Internet," as well as the integration of "voice, data, and video on the Internet and on wireless networks." In short, much of the makings of the modern Internet.


And while it's generally dangerous to parse an academic's publishing record to deduce how he or she might make public policy, Jordan has done us the favor of actually filing comments with the FCC the last time the commission considered rulemaking on the open Internet question. It's a nuanced take, distilled in Jordan and a co-author's statements that "neither the extreme pro nor con net neutrality positions are consistent with the philosophy of Internet architecture" and "the net neutrality issue is the result of a fragmented communications policy unable to deal with technology convergence."


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TN: How big telecom smothers city-run broadband | Allan Holmes | The Center for Public Integrity

TN: How big telecom smothers city-run broadband | Allan Holmes | The Center for Public Integrity | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Janice Bowling, a 67-year-old grandmother and Republican state senator from rural Tennessee, thought it only made sense that the city of Tullahoma be able to offer its local high-speed Internet service to areas beyond the city limits.


After all, many of her rural constituents had slow service or did not have access to commercial providers, like AT&T Inc. and Charter Communications Inc.


But a 1999 Tennessee law prohibits cities that operate their own Internet networks from providing access outside the boundaries where they provide electrical service. Bowling wanted to change that and introduced a bill in February to allow them to expand.


She viewed the network, which offers speeds about 80 times faster than AT&T and 10 times faster than Charter in Tullahoma according to advertised services, as a utility, like electricity, that all Tennesseans need.


“We don’t quarrel with the fact that AT&T has shareholders that it has to answer to,” Bowling said with a drawl while sitting in the spacious wood-paneled den of her log-cabin-style home. “That’s fine, and I believe in capitalism and the free market. But when they won’t come in, then Tennesseans have an obligation to do it themselves.”


At a meeting three weeks after Bowling introduced Senate Bill 2562, the state’s three largest telecommunications companies — AT&T, Charter, and Comcast Corp. — tried to convince Republican leaders to relegate the measure to so-called “summer study,” a black hole that effectively kills a bill. Bowling, described as “feisty” by her constituents, initially beat back the effort and thought she’d get a vote. 


That’s when Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T’s Tennessee operations, leaned toward her across the table in a conference room next to the House caucus leader’s office and said tersely, “Well, I’d hate for this to end up in litigation,” Bowling recalls.


The threat surprised Bowling, and apparently AT&T’s ominous warning reached her colleagues as well. Days later, support in the Tennessee House for Bowling’s bill dissolved. AT&T had won.

“I had no idea the force that would come against this, because it’s just so reasonable and so necessary,” Bowling said.


AT&T and Phillips didn’t respond to emails asking for comment.


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State Broadcast Associations Diss 'Local Choice' | Broadcasting & Cable

State Broadcast Associations Diss 'Local Choice' | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

All 50 state broadcast associations have banded together to ask the Senate Commerce Committee not to include the "Local Choice" proposal in must-pass satellite television compulsory license legislation.


"If adopted, the proposal will unjustifiably eliminate television broadcasting’s longstanding statutory right of retransmission consent and unfairly single out the free, over-the-air, local television broadcast industry for mandatory 'a la carte' treatment," they wrote in a letter to Sen. Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) and ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.), who proposed Local Choice as a way to reduce cable bills and prevent retrans blackouts.


That proposal would essentially deep-six the retrans regime by allowing MVPD subs to choose whether they want to pay for stations who elect payment for retransmission consent. That also means the cable operators would not be required to deliver all retrans stations on the basic tier, since they would not have to deliver them at all to viewers who opted not to pay for them. The same choice is not offered for the cable channels, scores and sometimes hundreds, that make up the majority of cable bills.


The broadcast associations argue that the proposal will have "devastating" consequences for localism and viewers, and signaled they would be coming to Washington in the coming days and weeks before a decision is made on the proposa and visiting home offices to make their point.


It also says there are some unanswered questions, like how MVPD's would get ancillary rights, such as VOD or OVD, that are currently contemplated in the broadcast/cable retrans negotiations that would be replaced by a broadcaster/MVPD sub direct sale relationship.


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14 years ago, DOJ said letting one broadband company run half the country was a bad idea | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

14 years ago, DOJ said letting one broadband company run half the country was a bad idea | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Remember the year 2000? We'd just gotten through worrying about the Y2K bug. The dot-com bubble was in full swing. Tuvalu joined the United Nations. Heady times!


The year 2000 also happened to be when federal regulators approved a merger between two tech titans that some now say should be instructive for the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, as the two agencies review a current-day proposal by Comcast to acquire Time Warner Cable.


The 2000 merger, known as AT&T-MediaOne, offers a precedent. But it also raises further questions about certain rules we've established to ensure competition in the marketplace. As a matter of fact, as communications technologies have begun to blend and overlap, it's no longer clear that those rules adequately address the problems they were created to solve.


The obscure case we're talking about dates back to the early days of high-speed broadband. It keeps coming up in filing after filing to the FCC. Netflix brought it up, as did Dish Network. It's been cited by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) — an outspoken opponent of the Comcast merger — a handful of consumer groups, a D.C. suburb in Maryland, a group of antitrust lawyers and even by Comcast itself. What is everyone talking about, and why is a 14-year-old case that predates YouTube and Facebook still relevant?


You may not remember MediaOne, but back in 2000 it was one of the biggest Internet providers around. Comcast had initially planned to buy it before being outmaneuvered at the last minute by AT&T, which submitted a higher bid. So the merger became known as AT&T-MediaOne.


It so happened that through an ISP called Road Runner, MediaOne served a large chunk of America's broadband subscribers. AT&T, meanwhile, sold Internet through a Road Runner competitor called Excite@Home. A merger would've given AT&T control not only over MediaOne's operations, but also part ownership in Road Runner — and together with its stake in Excite@Home, AT&T would've controlled an estimated 40 percent of the country's access to broadband.


"Through its control of Excite@Home and its substantial influence or control of Road Runner," the Justice Department wrote in a complaint in 2000, "AT&T would substantially increase its leverage in dealing with broadband content providers, enabling it to extract more favorable terms for such services."


The Justice Department believed that if AT&T-MediaOne went through, AT&T's newfound position as a gatekeeper would let it dictate outcomes across a national market for broadband. While regulators have been wary of gatekeeping for decades, this marked the first time that the concept had been raised in the Internet industry, policy analysts say.


What does this have to do with the Comcast merger?


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Pivot Launches On College Campuses Via Philo | Kent Gibbons | Multichannel.com

Pivot Launches On College Campuses Via Philo | Kent Gibbons | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Pivot said it will launch on college campuses nationwide via the Philo live-TV streaming service. The Participant Media-owned programmer, which aims at millennial viewers, said the September launch will make Pivot available to more than a dozen universities as students are returning to school.


Philo has told Multichannel News it now has deals in place with "dozens" of universities, but has identified the following 10 schools on its Web site: Yale University, Fort Hays State University, University of Washington, Roanoke College, Harvard University, Lubbock Christian University, Stanford, Wesleyan University, Pepperdine University, and William Patterson University of New Jersey.

 

Stephanie Ruyle, Pivot’s EVP of Distribution, said in a release: “As a network for millennials, we are very excited to now be carried on Philo’s system, which is made for our core audience.”

 

Pivot’s programming includes the recent Emmy-winning series HITRECORD ON TV, created by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Please Like Me, created by and starring Josh Thomas (pictured), and news and entertainment talk show TakePart Live, hosted by Meghan McCain and Jacob Soboroff.

 

Philo, previously known as Tivli, uses a university’s existing IP network and existing contracts with satellite providers to securely stream television on a verified basis to student laptops, tablets, smartphones and TVs across participating campuses.

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WOW! Gets Down To Business In More Markets | Multichannel.com

WOW! Gets Down To Business In More Markets | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

WOW! Business, the commercial services arm of WideOpenWest, announced it has expanded and streamlined service delivery to support increasing demand for small/mid-sized business, enterprise and wholesale communications services in 19 U.S. markets.

 

WOW said its 60-member service delivery team has doubled over the past year and recently moved into a new WOW! Business national service delivery center in Huntsville, Ala.

 

WOW owns and operates more than 42,000 miles of local fiber-optic and coaxial networks in the Southeast and Midwest, along with data centers that provide customers with scalable, low-latency access to national carrier backbones.

 

“Our SMB, enterprise and wholesale customers expect us to meet their fast-growing and constantly changing IT and network requirements quickly and efficiently,” said Brad Cheedle, senior vice president of WOW! Business, in a statement.  “With demand for our commercial services on the rise, particularly among enterprises, our expanded service delivery team and centralized national facility allow us to specialize and focus a dedicated group of people on the activation of customer service.”

 

WOW noted that its business-focused  services have been rolled out this year to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Evansville and Tampa metropolitan areas.

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Time Warner Cable’s Nationwide Outage; Politicians Protest, Customers Can Get Service Credits | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable’s Nationwide Outage; Politicians Protest, Customers Can Get Service Credits | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable broadband and on-demand television services were unavailable for about three hours this morning after routine maintenance turned into a nationwide outage that affected early risers trying to go online.


Things began to go wrong at around 4:30am ET when Time Warner Cable Internet connections began dropping across the country. The problems also affected on-demand viewing for Time Warner Cable TV customers and brought down Time Warner Cable’s own website.


The company blamed a problem with their backbone connection during routine maintenance. The company said it schedules such work for the very early morning hours to minimize customer disruptions. But once alarm clocks on the east coast began ringing, customers discovered they had no Internet service.


The outage persisted until around 6am ET, although some customers were not back online until after 7am.


Although complaints about Time Warner Cable began flooding social media networks as the sun went up, customers also used the outage as an opportunity to oppose the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The outage demonstrates that a single technician making a mistake at one of the nation’s largest cable companies can disable services for millions.


Virtually every provider experiences a significant outage affecting many or most of their customers at least once a year:


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Your cell phone company says your location info is private. Think again. | Dana Liebelson | MotherJones.com

Your cell phone company says your location info is private. Think again. | Dana Liebelson | MotherJones.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Sunday, the Washington Post published an expose revealing that private companies are peddling surveillance systems to foreign governments that track the location of cell phone users in the US and abroad. The report raised a basic question: How can this be happening when cell phone companies generally promise not to disclose their customers' location information without their consent?


The main problem is that location information is available on a global network that can be accessed by thousands of companies. And in the wake of the Post story, US cell phone companies are refusing to discuss how this squares with their privacy policies, or say what they are doing to keep their customers' whereabouts confidential.


Here's what's going on: Carriers collect location information from cell phone towers and share it with each other through a global network called SS7. This allows a US carrier to find a customer even if she hops a plane to India. But according to the Post, surveillance systems makers have gained access to SS7 and are using it to grab location data, allowing these firms to pinpoint people within a few city blocks.


It's not clear how private surveillance companies have obtained access to the network. Major cell carriers sell SS7 access to other providers, as do third party companies. Karsten Nohl, a cryptographer and telecommunications researcher based in Berlin, says that these players, some of their business partners, and "anybody hacking any of the above" can send and receive SS7 messages. Albert Gidari Jr., an attorney at Perkins Cole who specializes in privacy and technology, says that it's likely that a surveillance company could get access by representing itself as a provider.


Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T each promise their customers that their location is protected (with exceptions for emergencies and complying with court orders). AT&T's privacy policy states, "We'll give you prior notice and ask for your consent when your location is used or shared." Verizon's reads, "Verizon Wireless services that use mobile device location data provide you with notice about the collection and use of this data." Sprint and T-Mobile make similar promises, although some of these companies include the caveat that they cannot protect data that is collected by third parties while a customer's phone is roaming.


Mother Jones asked each of these firms whether it has knowingly granted location data to surveillance companies and what it is doing to protect consumer location data to meet the promise of its privacy policies. Not one would comment.


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Australia: Google spreads its wings, moving into drone deliveries | CNET

Australia: Google spreads its wings, moving into drone deliveries | CNET | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google is working on a delivery system called Project Wing that will use what it's calling "self-flying" drones to bring goods to people.


The search giant has been working on the service for two years, and it is the latest project announced by Google X, the division of the company that works on Google's most ambitious projects. Other X initiatives include self-driving cars and the connected headset Google Glass.


Google has been testing the vehicles in Queensland, Australia, and has already made deliveries to locals -- including shipments of candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios. Similar to the company's self-driving car project, the drones will be able to fly a pre-programmed route at the push of a button. The company said that it will be a few more years before the system is ready for commercial use.


Google is not the only tech giant experimenting with drones. Facebook has been working with drones through an effort called Connectivity Lab, announced in March. In December, Amazon announced it is developing a drone system that will bring products to customers. But while Amazon's efforts seem to be more focused on consumers, Google's early development of the system has been around disaster relief. For example, one early mission for the project in 2012 was delivering defibrillators to heart attack victims.


"Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation," Astro Teller, head of Google X, told the BBC.


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Microsoft finally cracks down on deceptive Windows Store 'crap apps' | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft finally cracks down on deceptive Windows Store 'crap apps' | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So-called deceptive “crap apps” have always plagued the Windows Store. But now, Microsoft appears to be finally ready to do something about them.


In a blog post late Wednesday, Microsoft said that it had removed 1,500 deceptively named apps as part of a policy shift to crack down on developers “trying to game the system with misleading titles or descriptions,” the company said.


A year ago, Microsoft publicly said that the Windows Store has more than 100,000 apps, and it’s unlikely that that number has climbed higher than 200,000 apps by now. But as far back as Oct. 2012—before Windows 8 even launched—analysts were pointing out that the fate of the Windows 8 app store didn’t need a large number of apps to be successful. It needed quality, and that’s not what Microsoft delivered. Instead, consumers are faced with numerous clone apps and paid “alternatives” to freeware, both outcomes that give those users a bad taste in their mouths.


PCWorld first started looking at the problem more than a year ago, when the Windows Store was stocked with games of decent quality from developers looking to score with early Windows 8 adopters. But wander into the video apps section, and numerous YouTube clones started popping up.


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Canada: Rogers, Shaw Latest to Think They Can Build a Netflix Killer | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Canada: Rogers, Shaw Latest to Think They Can Build a Netflix Killer | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Add Canadian cable operators Rogers and Shaw to the latest in a long list of incumbent ISPs who believe they can offer a Netflix killer that will keep cord cutters in house. According to the companies' announcement, the service will be dubbed "shomi" and will emerge as a beta exclusively for Rogers and Shaw customers in November.


Shomi will include 11,000 hours of past seasons of the most popular TV shows for $9 a month. The press release is quick to point out that 30% of the content made available on shomi will be Canadian. Shaw and Rogers insist the service is tailored specifically to what consumers want.

"We've taken the time to talk with Canadians to find out what they want and to create an unbelievable user experience," said Keith Pelley, President, Rogers Media. "They told us loud and clear – they want all the past seasons of the most popular, current TV shows and they want it to be easy."

Historically, incumbent TV/ISP streaming movie services don't tend to make much of an impression. The companies' involved have a tendency to be unwilling to offer real innovation and pricing for fear of cannibalizing existing pay TV subscribers.


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Introducing Google’s exciting yet ambitious new Project called Loon | Technology-in-Biz.com

Introducing Google’s exciting yet ambitious new Project called Loon | Technology-in-Biz.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Loon is Internet access via a network of balloons traveling on the edge of Space.


Introducing the latest project from Google [x] called Project Loon.


Its where they intend to bring internet access to people in remote areas using network of balloons traveling on the edge of space.


To learn more, visit: http://google.com/loon.


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MI: Holland considers creating satellite SmartZone from Grand Rapids' Medical Mile | MLive.com

MI: Holland considers creating satellite SmartZone from Grand Rapids' Medical Mile | MLive.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the past decade, the area along Michigan Street NW in Grand Rapids has been transformed into a hotbed of medical and technology-based business startups.


The Medical Mile has benefitted from a SmartZone that brought together such entities as the Van Andel Research Institute, local colleges and economic development groups.

Now, Grand Rapids officials could work together with Lakeshore leaders in a similar SmartZone initiative that would center around Michigan State University’s Bioeconomy Institute in Holland Township.

Holland city, township and Ottawa County leaders Tuesday night heard a presentation on a proposal to create a satellite SmartZone that could spur the development of new high-tech businesses and potentially go as far as revitalizing Holland’s waterfront.

Lakeshore Advantage, the economic development organization for the Holland-Zeeland area, has jumped on board the initiative with MSU, and its new leader says it could spark the development of this generation’s G.W. Haworth or Edgar Prince.

“Our community grows great companies,” said Jennifer Owens, who took over three months ago as Lakeshore Advantage’s president. “What this SmartZone is really about is growing the entrepreneurial companies that will be the cornerstone of the future for this community.”

The state currently has 15 SmartZone districts, which allow local and state property tax dollars to be collected to be used toward projects to spur development and growth of tech-based businesses.


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Amazon UHD/4K Streams Hitting Samsung TVs In October | John Archer | Forbes.com

Amazon UHD/4K Streams Hitting Samsung TVs In October | John Archer | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Samsung has today announced a content deal with Amazon that will enable its 2014 smart TVs to deliver Amazon’s debut Ultra High Definition (UHD)/4K streams from October.


As revealed in a statement by Samsung ahead of the IFA technology show in Berlin next week, these first Amazon UHD streams will be available via a new app for Samsung’s 2014 Smart TV platform. This app is scheduled to roll out on a global basis in October, so hopefully we won’t be faced with that all-too-common UHD/4K situation where some services are only available in certain territories.


There are no precise details yet as to whether the Amazon UHD platform will come accompanied by some kind of premium price, or what exactly the first Amazon UHD Video On Demand (VOD) content will consist of. However, early indications are that as well as TV shows (Amazon declared earlier this year that all of its 2014 home-grown shows would be shot in UHD), the new Amazon UHD service will offer some movies. This would give it a definite edge over arch streaming rival Netflix , which at the time of writing still only offers two TV series in UHD, Breaking Bad and House Of Cards, despite launching its UHD service back in April.


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Why big data has some big problems when it comes to public policy | GigaOM Tech News

Why big data has some big problems when it comes to public policy | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this week, an annual conference on data mining, KDD 2014 for short, took place in New York with the stated goal of highlighting “data science for social good.” It’s a noble goal and, indeed, the event actually did highlight a lot of research and even some real-world examples of how data can help solve various problems in areas ranging from health care to urban planning. But the event also highlighted — to me, at least — some very real obstacles that stand in the way of using data science to solve society’s problems in any meaningful way at any meaningful scale.


Most of these obstacles have little to do with the data itself. It’s easier to gather and easier to analyze than ever before. Rather, the problem is that data scientists and researchers — even those who really care about tackling important issues — can often have a difficult time overcoming the much more powerful forces fighting against them.


We’ve covered all sorts of research projects over the past few years that looked into how data might be applied to various problems (bullying and HIV prevention are among the more interesting examples) and even a handful of projects that have actually been deployed in the real world.


But the reality appears to be that most of them remain as research, promising proofs of concept that are rarely applied to analyzing actual data or helping actual people. Save for a few exemplars and areas with a lot of easy money at stake — there are all sorts of startups and large vendors tackling health care and agriculture, for example — there’s just not a lot of action.


I think there are three big forces fighting against the successful implementation of these data science techniques: fear, politics and the law. And although they’re all distinct in some ways, they’re also very closely connected.


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NBC Affils Ask FCC to Extend Comcast/NBCU Conditions | Broadcasting & Cable

NBC Affils Ask FCC to Extend Comcast/NBCU Conditions | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

NBC affiliates want the FCC to extend the conditions it imposed in Comcast's purchase of NBCU as a condition of approving the Time Warner Cable merger by up to 10 years. Most of those are set to expire in 2018.


In comments at the FCC on the deal, the NBC TV Affiliates association said it had potential issues with the combined company's ability to favor the cable side over the free TV business and network-affiliate partnership, though it said it was in "constructive discussions" with Comcast to address those issues.


After similar discussions, the affiliates struck an agreement with Comcast in the NBCU deal on voluntary conditions to "protect the future of free, over-the-air TV," which the FCC made enforceable and buttressed with some conditions on its own.


Among the issues affiliates are concerned about are migration of sports to Comcast cable nets, Comcast's incentive to "interfere" with retrans negotiations and the impact on the ad market.


"It is clear that approval of the transaction should be conditioned on an extension of the expiring conditions that were imposed by the Commission in connection with the Comcast-NBCU merger to safeguard the NBC network-affiliation," they told the FCC.

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Security council blames breaches on poor PCI standard support | Ellen Messmer | NetworkWorld.com

Security council blames breaches on poor PCI standard support | Ellen Messmer | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The growing number of data breaches resulting in massive numbers of payment cards being stolen from retail stores and other businesses is occurring because they’re failing to keep up with the Payment Card Industry’s data security standard, according to the PCI Security Standards Council.


In its “best practices” guidance document published today, the PCI Council says although many businesses may be meeting the periodic compliance requirement of the PCI data-security standard (DSS) in an annual audit check, they are letting attention lapse and not keeping network security up to date.


The “best practices” guidance contains several suggestions on how to further PCI-required security as an ongoing process (see graphic, below). Despite the PCI standard being in place for several years, retailers and restaurants that have to follow it continue to be hit by a rash of massive card breaches.


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Rural Broadband Funding Webinar | community broadband networks

Rural Broadband Funding Webinar | community  broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC has made a $100 million fund available to organizations seeking to bring advanced telecommunications to rural America.


The National Rural Assembly is hosting a national webinar to explain the criteria and application process. If you or your organization have a stake in expanding broadband in rural areas, you may want to consider this resource.


From National Rural Assembly's Broadband Working Group press release:


"Recently, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Rural Broadband Experiments - a $100 million funding initiative seeking  proposals that bring advanced telecommunications services to Rural America. Deadline to apply is October 12th 2014. For the first time, cooperatives, municipalities, nonprofits, anchor institutions, and Tribal governments will be able to access federal funding to bring broadband service to rural areas. This is a historic opportunity for entities committed to rural communities.


On Thursday, August 28th at 1:00pm Eastern, join the Rural Broadband Policy Group and the National Rural Assembly on a webinar featuring Jonathan Chambers from the Office of Strategic Policy and Analysis and Carol Mattey from the Wireline Competition Bureau, to learn about the rules and process to apply for the Rural Broadband Experiments."


You can sign up for the webinar here.

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WI: AOL cofounder Steve Case and Google head to Madison to hunt for hot start-ups | Judy Newman | WSJ.com

WI: AOL cofounder Steve Case and Google head to Madison to hunt for hot start-ups | Judy Newman | WSJ.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Local entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch to a pioneer Internet entrepreneur and win a $100,000 investment when Steve Case and Google for Entrepreneurs come to Madison in October with their Rise of the Rest road trip.


Case co-founded America Online in 1985; 20 years later, in 2005, he co-founded Revolution, a Washington, D.C., investment firm, and since then chaired the Startup America Partnership, a White House push to support entrepreneurs. Case and his wife, Jean, also set up the philanthropic Case Foundation in 1997.


The Rise of the Rest Road Trip started in June, when Case met start-ups in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville and invested $100,000 in one company in each city.


Round two of “Rise of the Rest” bus tour starts in Madison on Oct. 6 and goes on to Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis.


“The idea behind Rise of the Rest is that entrepreneurship can happen anywhere and that you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley or New York City to turn a great idea into a high-growth start-up,” Case said in an email. “Madison embodies that mission. The combination of a first-rate talent pool and anchor institutions like (UW-Madison) and gener8tor give it a unique and enduring platform upon which to build a vibrant start-up community.”


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A newbie’s guide to why so many people are watching Twitch | Kyle Orland | Ars Technica

A newbie’s guide to why so many people are watching Twitch | Kyle Orland | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When I talk to people who don't follow gaming closely about the phenomenon that is Twitch, the response I get is usually along the lines of "Why do people spend so much time watching other people play a game they could just as easily play themselves?"


"Why do so many people watch the NFL when they could just as easily play a game of football in their yard?" I reply.


The analogy isn't perfect—you need good weather, a group of friends, a field, and decent physical fitness to play football, after all—but the basic relationship is the same. Twitch has become a phenomenon because watching the best players in the world is often more entertaining than participating as a relative novice.


The numbers bear this idea out. Twitch reported 55 million unique visitors in July, who watched 15 billion minutes of streaming content generated by one million unique streamers. The site is responsible for roughly two percent of peak US Internet traffic, according to a DeepField analysis, just ahead of heavyweights like Hulu, Facebook, and Valve. Last year's League of Legends finals drew 32 million total viewers on Twitch, and 8.5 million concurrent watchers at the same time, rivaling viewership for major sporting events like the NBA finals.


Those kinds of numbers help explain why Amazon thought Twitch was worth a $970 million acquisition. But for those who aren't yet familiar with the joys of watching live video game streams, it's hard to know why Twitch got so popular so quickly.


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