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Cybersecurity Legislation Must Not Violate Americans' Right to Privacy | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

Cybersecurity Legislation Must Not Violate Americans' Right to Privacy | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Thank you for speaking out on the important issue of how cybersecurity affects privacy. The President has been clear that the United States urgently needs to modernize our laws and practices relating to cybersecurity, both for national security and the security of our country's businesses -- but that shouldn't come at the expense of privacy.

 

The White House issued a veto threat for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 16, because the legislation did not fully address our core concerns (especially the protection of privacy). Even though a bill went on to pass the House of Representatives and includes some important improvements over previous versions, this legislation still doesn't adequately address our fundamental concerns.

 

But it's not good enough to just stop things: We've got to work together, with legislators on Capitol Hill, technology experts from the private sector, and engaged advocates like you to advance cybersecurity legislation without compromising privacy.

 

Both the government and private companies -- like individuals -- face the constant threat of cyber crime, espionage, and attacks. If a company discovers that a hacker has broken into its network and is stealing its customers' information (violating their privacy in the process), that company should be able to share what it learns about the intrusion efficiently -- how the hacker got in, what he did while inside, and what he looked for -- with the government and other companies. The government and other businesses would then be able to use this information from the hacker, not his victim, to help prevent future intrusions.

 

But you might ask, "Isn't this collaboration already happening?" The simple answer is yes, but inefficiently. When it comes to information sharing, we need clearer rules to promote collaboration and protect privacy. Right now, each company has to work out an individual arrangement with the government and other companies on what information to share about cyberthreats. This ambiguity can lead to harmful delays.

 

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Iowa: Broadband committee helping Branstad still sorting issues | Barbara Rodriguez | NewsObserver.com

Iowa: Broadband committee helping Branstad still sorting issues | Barbara Rodriguez | NewsObserver.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Gov. Terry Branstad prepares to introduce legislation aimed at expanding broadband Internet in Iowa, members of a committee tasked with giving him key recommendations for a bill say it's a complex issue that they're still sorting out.

Members of a broadband committee within the governor's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Advisory Council said they're still deciding what the state's overall goal should be with expanding high-speed Internet, also known as broadband. There are several factors to consider, including whether to focus on Iowa's roughly 20,000 households with no broadband or increasing current broadband speeds in already-connected communities.

Part of the challenge is the shifting national definition on what constitutes high-speed Internet, said John Carver, superintendent of the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in northeast Iowa and co-chair of the committee.

"We're in the infancy of all this stuff," he said.

The committee, which is scheduled to meet in early February to finalize its draft, doesn't have a budget recommendation, said Carver.

That concerns committee member Dave Duncan, also CEO of Iowa Communications Alliance. He noted neighboring states like Nebraska and Minnesota have more defined broadband budgets and time tables. In Nebraska, state officials released a plan last year designed to bring faster broadband to more areas by 2020; a Minnesota law signed last year sets aside $20 million for broadband expansion.

"I'm hopeful that our broadband committee will come together with a recommendation of a goal something like what some of those other states are doing," he said.

Carver said group members have different ideas.

"There will be a consensus on what goes forward, but I don't know if it'll be 100 percent supported by everybody," he said.

Committee members say they will recommend a robust fiber-optic network — a system of cables best placed underground — because it's the best option for a broadband infrastructure with room for higher speeds, said Sen. Steven Sodders, a Democrat from State Center who is also on the committee. He introduced legislation Friday aimed at general expansion plans for the state's fiber-optic network.

Sodders' bill is separate from Branstad's work. He said his bill is aimed at getting the conversation going, but he expects to amend it once the governor's bill is introduced.

Roughly 28 percent of Iowa residents have access to a fiber-optic network, according to 2013 data from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Sodders expects his proposal on fiber-optic network expansion to take at least three to four years to accomplish.


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The '90s Startup That Terrified Microsoft and Got Americans to Go Online | W. Joseph Campbell | WIRED.com

The '90s Startup That Terrified Microsoft and Got Americans to Go Online | W. Joseph Campbell | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nineteen ninety-five was the inaugural year of the 21st century, a clear starting point for contemporary life. It was, proclaimed an exuberant newspaper columnist at the time, “the year the Web started changing lives.”

It was the year when the Internet and the World Wide Web moved from the obscure realm of technophiles and academic researchers to become a household word, the year when the Web went from vague and distant curiosity to a phenomenon that would change the way people work, shop, learn, communicate, and interact.

By 1995, a majority of Americans were using computers at home, at work, or at school, the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press reported. The organization figured that 18 million American homes in 1995 had computers equipped with modems, an increase of 64 percent from 1994. The popularity of the computer and the prevalence of modems helped ignite dramatic growth in internet use in the years following 1995.


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FCC Says No Blocking of Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Period | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Says No Blocking of Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Period | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If the Federal Communications Commission's recent fine of Marriott for blocking guests' use of WiFi hot spots was not enough of a signal, the agency's Enforcement Bureau has put an exclamation point on it: No blocking, period!

That came in an Enforcement Advisory issued by the bureau: "WARNING: WiFi Blocking Is Prohibited: Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hot spots are subject to enforcement action," the advisory said.

The bureau pointed to its consent decree with Marriott, which admitted it had deliberately blocked consumers trying to use their on WiFi hot spots. Marriott said it was for security reasons, but the FCC saw it as trying to force those consumers to pay for the hotel's Wi-Fi service.

"No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network," the enforcement bureau said. "Such action is illegal, and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties."


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Microsoft throws down the gauntlet in business intelligence | Derrick Harris | GigaOM Tech News

Microsoft throws down the gauntlet in business intelligence | Derrick Harris | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft is not content to let Excel define the company’s reputation among the world’s data analysts. That’s the message the company sent on Tuesday when it announced that its PowerBI product is now free. According to a company executive, the move could expand Microsoft’s reach in the business intelligence space by 10 times.

If you’re familiar with PowerBI, you might understand why Microsoft is pitching this as such a big deal. It’s a self-service data analysis tool that’s based on natural language queries and advanced visualization options. It already offers live connections to a handful of popular cloud services, such as Salesforce.com, Marketo and GitHub. It’s delivered as a cloud service, although there’s a downloadable tool that lets users work with data on their laptops and publish the reports to a cloud dashboard.

James Phillips, Microsoft’s general manager for business intelligence, said the company has already had tens of thousands of organizations sign up for PowerBI since it became available in February 2014, and that CEO Satya Nadella opens up a PowerBI dashboard every morning to track certain metrics.


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Stunning Victory Within Reach For Net Neutrality Advocates | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com

Stunning Victory Within Reach For Net Neutrality Advocates | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Next month, a wonky government agency will rule on the fate of the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to grant a major victory to net neutrality advocates, a stunning turnaround following years of conventional wisdom to the contrary.


But advocates aren't celebrating yet. Instead, they're watching to see if the FCC will create rules that are strong and enforceable, or that leave gaping holes for telecom and cable companies to drive through. They are also eyeing a Republican-backed proposal that, they say, will undermine a free and open Internet.


For months, the battle over net neutrality has centered on whether the FCC will reclassify consumer broadband Internet as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Reclassification would empower the FCC to block Internet service providers, or ISPs, from charging content providers like Netflix more for reliable Internet access -- thereby hampering, for example, a person's ability to quickly and affordably stream "House of Cards." (ISPs maintain that they won't create a second network for faster service.)


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that he supports Title II -- a proposal backed by President Barack Obama -- and it's widely believed that Wheeler will go that route. Republicans contend that such a move would qualify as government overreach, and they have introduced legislation that would essentially gut the agency's authority. That bill's fate is unclear, given that it's unpopular among many Democrats but still makes big net neutrality concessions that telecom and cable companies might not favor.


Regardless, advocates say that Title II authority won't mean much unless the FCC creates enforceable rules and doesn't allow loopholes.


"Right now, the big carriers are simply looking for a loophole," said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advises major tech companies and supports net neutrality. He noted that there are multiple loopholes -- like writing exceptions for mobile or specialized services -- that could undermine the whole FCC rule. "They only need one," he said.


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The Irony of SVOD | Thomas Arnold | Home Media Magazine

The Irony of SVOD | Thomas Arnold | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On the surface, it appears more than a little counter-intuitive: The same studios that a few years ago got into a tangle with Netflix and Redbox over renting new releases, a practice they said cannibalizes sellthrough, are now creating content specifically for Netflix and other subscription streaming services, which many see as the biggest threat yet to home entertainment sellthrough.

Not only that, but now Netflix will be getting The Interview, the controversial film about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, three-and-a-half weeks before Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases the film on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Meanwhile, the subscription streaming juggernaut continues to snare consumer eyeballs. The latest numbers released by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group show that consumer spending on Netflix and other subscription streaming services rose an estimated 25.8% to $4.01 billion, while discs sales fell nearly 11% to $6.93 billion.

Is our industry feeding the monster that threatens to devour it? Will producing content for a $9 monthly all-you-can-stream service ultimately undermine all existing distribution channels, including home entertainment — physical as well as digital sellthrough?


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AT&T Buy Of DirecTV Makes U-verse Profitable | Wayne Friedman | Media Post

AT&T Buy Of DirecTV Makes U-verse Profitable | Wayne Friedman | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nearing a completed acquisition of its proposed $48.5 billion deal for DirecTV, AT&T says it is considering changing the brand name of the big satellite TV provider.

During an interview at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with The Wall Street Journal, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, says the company has been testing both “AT&T” and “DirecTV” for the name of a newly combined pay TV provider.

"We haven't decided yet how we are going to brand it," Stephenson said. "We're testing the DirecTV brand and the AT&T brand, so we're doing a lot of thinking."

For several years now, AT&T has operated its “U-verse” IPTV-delivered TV provider, which now has around 7 million subscribers. But Stephenson reveals that AT&T’s “U-verse” as a business continues to struggle.

"With 6 or 7 million video subscribers — growing at 24% — we still can't make money because of the programming costs," he said. With the DirecTV acquisition, AT&T total video subscribers would get to 27 million U.S. subscribers.


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Cable will begin to reclaim video share from satellite in 2015, analyst predicts | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Cable will begin to reclaim video share from satellite in 2015, analyst predicts | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Take that, cool, well-adjusted, normal-armed, DirecTV subscriber Rob Lowe: Media analyst Craig Moffett predicts that starting this year, cable will reverse a decade-long trend of losing video market share to satellite.


This reversal will begin this year, the analyst says, with the leading cable companies narrowing their video subscriber losses to a predicted 183,000 from 757,000 in 2014.

Concurrently, DirecTV and Dish Network, Moffett speculates, will see their subscriber losses grow from 53,000 in 2014 to 112,000 in 2015.

By 2018, the top MSOs will have gained 358,000 video subs for the year, while satellite will be in negative territory at 285,000, he predicts.

Don't, however, take Moffett's viewpoint as necessarily being bullish about the cable industry.


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Massachusetts Towns Consider WiredWest Opportunity | community broadband networks

Massachusetts Towns Consider WiredWest Opportunity | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Eleven Select boards in Franklin County are ready to take the next step with WiredWest Cooperative. According to the Recorder, the towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, New Salem, Rowe, Shutesbury, Warwick and Wendell have all approved nonbinding resolutions taking them into the financial planning phase.

Last fall, the organization and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) agreed to meet on a regular schedule. The two organizations began meeting with town Select Boards in order to update them on financial obligations to help them decide whether or not to participate.

WiredWest Cooperative has worked with The Western Massachusetts Legislative Delegation On The Last Mile Broadband Solution to create a strategy to improve connectivity statewide. In addition to WiredWest, the group included MBI, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), and the Mass TechCollaborative. Several state lawmakers, including Senator Stan Rosenberg, participated in the delegation.

The state will supply approximately $40 million in grant funding to MBI, that will disburse the funds, to defray the costs of deployment in hill towns. The Recorder reported:


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Are Americans really addicted to mobile banking? | Al Sacco | NetworkWorld.com

Are Americans really addicted to mobile banking? | Al Sacco | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As mobile devices become ubiquitous in the daily lives of Americans, the number of laptop, smartphone, tablet and phablet owners who regularly use their gadgets for mobile banking is rising rapidly, according to a new report from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group (CG), a business consultancy that focuses on the financial services industry.

CG queried 1,005 online respondents, all of whom live in the United States or are U.S. citizens 18 years or older. The company used an online research panel to recruit study participants, and the survey base was close to evenly split between female (52 percent) and male respondents (48 percent).


The new CG mobile banking lifestyle study, entitled "Mobile Banking: The New American Addiction," suggests that while mobile device owners plan to use all of their various gadgets for banking during the coming years, the laptop will remain the most common gateway to online banking services. However, the percentage of people who used laptops for banking last year (84 percent) will actually decrease during the next two years (to 81 percent), while more people plan to use their smartphones (a predicted increase of 10 percent, to 62 percent of respondents in 2016), tablets (increase of 12 percent, to 44 percent of respondents) and phablets (6 percent increase, to 11 percent of respondents) for banking, CG says.


Not surprisingly, the most common bank services are the mobile-banking features the respondents use the most. The most used mobile banking activities, according to CG, are looking at balances, paying bills, viewing statements and transferring funds. The least used features are applying for mortgages and applying for brokerages.


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Paulo Gervasio's curator insight, Today, 5:37 AM

Mobile is just one of many media for DIY banking.  I am comfortable confirming transactions over mobile but mobile is also handicapped as far as typing is concerned so unless there is a better voice and confirmation interface, I'd rather use the home PC to do the transaction .

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These four lucky cities are now officially getting Google Fiber | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

These four lucky cities are now officially getting Google Fiber | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After months of speculation, Google confirmed Tuesday that its ultra-fast Internet service will soon be coming to four more cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Those regions, along with more than a dozen cities in their immediate vicinity, will be the latest to benefit from high-speed Internet provided by the search giant.

Google Fiber already sells Internet service with download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — roughly 100 times faster than the national average — for $70 a month in other cities, such as Provo, Utah.

Google had been considering expanding to as many as nine metropolitan areas. In a blog post Tuesday, Google said it was still in talks with five of those cities — Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose and Portland, Ore. — and would decide whether to expand into those regions later this year.

Construction in Atlanta and the three other cities named Tuesday will begin in a few months, according to Google.

The announcement marks the latest salvo in a growing battle between Google and more traditional Internet providers for the next generation of Web users.


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FTC's unrealistic Internet of Things report calls for smaller data | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

FTC's unrealistic Internet of Things report calls for smaller data | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report today (pdf) with recommendations on how to reduce the security and privacy risks for consumers adopting the Internet of Things (IoT).

The report briefly touches on some of the well-known consumer benefits of the IoT – sharing personal health data with doctors, monitoring energy consumption of household appliances, etc. – but focuses primarily on the risks that could arise when more consumer devices are collecting data on their users (the FTC clarified that its report focuses solely on consumer uses for the IoT and not enterprise applications).

"First, larger data stores present a more attractive target for data thieves, both outside and inside a company – and increases the potential harm to consumers from such an event," the report reads. "Second, if a company collects and retains large amounts of data, there is an increased risk that the data will be used in a way that departs from consumers' reasonable expectations."

To remedy this trend, the FTC recommends "data minimization" practices to reverse the trend of data collection. Specifically, these companies "can decide not to collect data at all; collect only the fields of data necessary to the product or service being offered; collect data that is less sensitive; or deidentify the data they collect."

Failing that, the FTC recommended that businesses notify consumers if it is collecting data that is not considered typical for the device – a Nest thermostat, for example, could reasonably be expected to record data on temperature changes but not necessarily voice or video of the people near it (hypothetically speaking).

However, the FTC does not seem to have reached a consensus on how smart devices can realistically inform consumers of their data collection practices, nor how they can reduce their data collection without also limiting their potential.


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Google Fiber Sets 18-City Expansion | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Google Fiber Sets 18-City Expansion | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber confirmed earlier reports that it will bring its mix of 1-Gig and pay-TV services to 18 new cities across four metro areas in the Southeast U.S. – Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Depending on the market, that means Google Fiber will be crossing swords with incumbent providers such as AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast, while continuing to avoid any clashes with Verizon FiOS.

Google Fiber has already launched or started deployments in Kansas City; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas.

Here’s a list of metros and the individual cities that are now in line:


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Sen. Commerce Committee to Vet Internet of Things | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Sen. Commerce Committee to Vet Internet of Things | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Internet of Things (IoT), a hot topic in Washington, particularly after it was such a hot topic at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

“The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things" is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 10 a.m.

The Federal Trade Commission Monday released a staff report with recommendations on how to insure the safety and security of personal information in that interconnected Web of communicating devices.

Those included legislative solutions, which the Commerce Committee signaled in announcing the hearing that might not be the best approach.


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Alaska: GCI Tries New Twist On Usage-Based Broadband | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

Alaska: GCI Tries New Twist On Usage-Based Broadband | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

GCI of Alaska has booted up a new set of “No Worries” broadband plans that’s designed to eliminate surprise charges by enabling customers to manage their data consumption through a set of options that become available when they exceed their monthly allotments -- buy buckets of extra data for $10 based on their speed plans, upgrade to a faster tier, or temporarily move to a sub-broadband level of service.

While operators such as Comcast, Suddenlink Communiations and Mediacom Communications are testing or have rolled out usage-based policies that let subs buy a fixed amount of data when they surpass their monthly consumption thresholds (typically $10 for a bucket of 50 Gigabytes), GCI’s new plan lets customers purchase additional gobs of data that are adjusted (in the range of 5 Gigabytes to 30 GB) based on the speed of their current level of service.

By tier, here’s how GCI’s new plans stack up:


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FTC's Wright: IoT Report Lacks Cost-Benefit Analysis | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FTC's Wright: IoT Report Lacks Cost-Benefit Analysis | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission got plenty of input on its just-released staff report on the Internet of Things (IoT), starting off with Commissioner Joshua Wright; the vote was 4-1 to issue the report, with Wright issuing a dissenting statement..

Wright said his issue was that the staff report included a lengthy discussion of broad-based privacy legislation "without analytical support to establish the likelihood that those practices and recommendations, if adopted, would improve consumer welfare." He also wanted to see more cost-benefit analysis of the legislative recommendations, or best practices recommendations for that matter.

Cost-benefit analysis has been a theme in Washington when it comes to Republicans and proposals for new regulations. "Acknowledging in passing, as the Workshop Report does, that various courses of actions related to the Internet of Things may well have some potential costs and benefits does not come close to passing muster as cost-benefit analysis," Wright said.

The report recommended broad privacy and data security and breach notification legislation, but no specific Internet of Things bills, the latter of which was among the things that pleased the Future of Privacy Forum, though that group had issues with the report's recommendation on data minimization.


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Comcast pays back overdue franchise fees to get city’s merger approval | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Comcast pays back overdue franchise fees to get city’s merger approval | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has been going across the country seeking city-by-city support of its Time Warner Cable acquisition, giving local governments a chance to ask for favors in exchange for approving a franchise transfer.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the process turned up an unpaid bill of $40,000, so Comcast will have to pay the city money it already owed in order to get the franchise transfer. Comcast will also throw in $50,000 worth of free service and equipment.

"Thirty Minneapolis city buildings will get free basic cable for the next seven years as part of a package of concessions the city wrung out of Comcast in exchange for blessing its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Time Warner," Minnesota Public Radio reported. "Comcast has also agreed to pay Minneapolis $40,000 in overdue franchise fees after an audit found it underpaid the city for its use of the public right of way over the last three years."

Minneapolis cable customers will pay another 36 cents a month to support public access programming.

"The concessions Minneapolis won are relatively small compared to the $4.5 million it will get from Comcast this year in fees. But if you’ve ever tried to get a refund from the company, you know it probably wasn’t easy," the report noted.


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The missing data point from Uber’s driver analysis: How far they drive | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The missing data point from Uber’s driver analysis: How far they drive | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Uber released a massive study of its internal data Thursday that found its drivers make more money than traditional taxi drivers. But the study failed to account for one crucial thing: the cost of operating a car.

According to Uber's financial analysis, conducted by the company's in-house policy research lead Jonathan Hall and Princeton economist Alan Krueger, Uber drivers make about $6 an hour more than their traditional taxi-driving peers in many major U.S. markets. But that is the gross hourly rate earned by the drivers, which doesn't account for how much it costs drivers to maintain their cars.

The study acknowledges as much. "Of course, Uber’s driver-partners are not reimbursed for driving expenses, such as gasoline, depreciation, or insurance," it notes, while taxi and limo drivers may not have to cover those costs. The analysis also points out that drivers may be able to offset some of those costs by deducting work-related expenses from their income for tax purposes.

But not all drivers seem convinced.

"The whole analysis brushes off driver expenses and earnings per mile. Gross earnings really are not a fair comparison point," wrote one commenter going by the alias rckymtnrideshrdriver in a reddit section focused on Uber drivers. I would love to see the earnings per mile line graph -- probably looks like falling off a cliff."

Some Uber drivers were already nervous that Uber's plan to lower fares in 48 cities could hurt their pocketbooks -- a move Uber said was designed to entice more riders to use the service. (The company also introduced a guaranteed minimum fare per hour for drivers in these cities.)

The Internal Revenue Service can help us here because it sets standard mileage rates for tax purposes. For 2015, taxpayers can deduct 57.5 cents a mile for operating a car for business purposes. That rate is based on an annual study of the costs of vehicle operation -- those things like repairs, insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation that were not factored into Uber's study.


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2015 to be year of Ultra HD as channels drive uptake | Rapid TV News

2015 to be year of Ultra HD as channels drive uptake | Rapid TV News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A much wider ecosystem will act as a strong driver of 4K/Ultra HD services in 2015, leading to at least six new services in the year according to Fairmile West research.

The analyst says that to date the Ultra HD market has been driven predominantly by TV manufacturers and is now set to expand, providing opportunities for the entire value chain from technology manufacturers to content suppliers.

In its report UHD – Opportunities and Challenges Towards Mass Deployment, Fairmile adds that some operators are launching early to head-off the threat from over-the-top (OTT) players, and many are looking at combining the roll-out of more efficient HEVC compression with the launch of Ultra HD-capable devices. Fairmile notes that even though opinions around the timescale of mass deployment vary from 2016 to 2023, the challenges to commercialisation are consistently acknowledged as content, and that there would be at least six services launched around the globe by pay-TV operators.


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NPD: Streaming Device Household Penetration to Reach 40% by 2017 | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

NPD: Streaming Device Household Penetration to Reach 40% by 2017 | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With subscription streaming services adding millions of new subs each quarter, the number of households purchasing streaming media players linking broadband to the television in growing as well.

Household penetration of streaming players such as Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV is projected to reach 40% by 2017, according to new research from The NPD Group.

Streaming media player household penetration stood at 16% at the beginning of 2014. Ownership is on track to climb to 24% this quarter when taking into account holiday purchases.

The top five video apps used by streaming media devices include, in order, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Movies, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus and HBO Go.

While the device market has been driven by Apple and Roku, over the past year and a half Amazon and Google have made a significant impact on market share. In addition to media players, smart TVs, video game consoles and Blu-ray Disc players also offer streaming apps to connected TVs.


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MN's Governor Dayton proposes $30 Million for Broadband | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

According to a FACT SHEET on 21st Century Economic Development from the Governor’s office he is proposing a $30 million investment in broadband.

New Broadband Investments. Last year, Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $20 million in a new Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to help communities across Greater Minnesota gain access to high-quality broadband. This year, the Governor is proposing an additional $30 million to help further expand access

That is considerably less than the $200 million recommended by the Governor’s Broadband Task Force. But as I recall last year he started the session saying he wasn’t going to investment in broadband in 2014 – and the legislators and their teams got him to turn around. Hopefully the same will happen this year.


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Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream | Nathaniel Popper & Sydney Ember | NYTimes.com

Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream | Nathaniel Popper & Sydney Ember | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bitcoin, the virtual currency that was once the talk of the financial world, has been taking a beating over the last year with the price tumbling downward.

Now two of the biggest boosters of the virtual currency, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are trying to firm up support by creating the first regulated Bitcoin exchange for American customers — what they are calling the Nasdaq of Bitcoin.

The brothers, who received $65 million in Facebook shares and cash in 2008 after jousting with its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have hired engineers from top hedge funds, enlisted a bank and engaged regulators with the aim of opening their exchange — named Gemini, Latin for twins — in the coming months.

The exchange, which the twins have financed themselves, is a risky bet, given that the virtual currency industry has been a target of hackers and has faced existential questions about its legitimacy. But the brothers are betting that the currency will be able to rise again if it follows the same playbook as the more established financial industry.

“Right now we have to build the infrastructure,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “You have to walk before you run.”


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Java is the biggest vulnerability for US computers | Maria Korolov | NetworkWorld.com

Java is the biggest vulnerability for US computers | Maria Korolov | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Oracle's Java poses the single biggest security risk to US desktops, according to a new report from Copenhagen-based security vendor Secunia ApS, because of its penetration rate, number of vulnerabilities, and patch status.

According to the report, 48 percent of users aren't running the latest, patched versions.

"This is not because Java is more difficult to patch, but the program has a high market share and a lot of the users neglect to patch the program, even though a patch is available," said Kasper Lingaard, the company's director of research and security.

There were 119 new vulnerabilities identified in Java over the past year and the software is installed on 65 percent of computers, according to the report.

The report collects information from millions of users of Secunia's patch management software, so may actually be undercounting these vulnerabilities.

"Users who have sufficient security awareness to install a patch management program can reasonably be assumed to have high security standards, compared to the average PC user," said Lingaard.

Apple Quicktime 7.x was in second place, with 14 new vulnerabilities, 57 percent penetration on desktops, and 44 percent unpatched.

Other applications on the top-ten list included Adobe Reader 10.x and 11.x, Microsoft .NET framework 2.x, 3.x, and 4.x, VLC Media Player 2.x, Internet Explorer 11.x and Microsoft XML Core Services 3.x.

Internet Explorer had the most vulnerabilities, at 248, and this was an increase over last year, when it didn't even make the top ten list.


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Mass surveillance 'endangers fundamental human rights,' says study | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com

Mass surveillance 'endangers fundamental human rights,' says study | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mass Internet surveillance endangers fundamental human rights and has not helped to prevent terrorist attacks, a top European human rights body concluded after analyzing documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

The leaks detailing government mass surveillance programs have shown “compelling evidence” of “far-reaching, technologically advanced systems” put in place by U.S. intelligence services and their partners to collect, store and analyze communication data on a massive scale, which threaten fundamental privacy rights, a report by the legal affairs and human rights committee of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe found. States should do more to protect whistleblowers like Snowden, the report said.

The parliamentary assembly can’t create legislation, but has the right to hold the governments of Council of Europe member states to account over their human rights records. It can also press those states, including those in the European Union and some in the former Soviet Union, to achieve and maintain democratic standards.

Its legal affairs committee is “deeply concerned” about the mass surveillance practices and found that mass surveillance does not appear to have contributed to the prevention of terrorist attacks, contrary to earlier assertions made by senior intelligence officials. “Instead, resources that might prevent attacks are diverted to mass surveillance, leaving potentially dangerous persons free to act,” it said.

That conclusion puts the committee at odds with those who have called for more surveillance powers in the EU in the wake of the shootings at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator for instance has called on the European Commission to oblige Internet companies to share encryption keys with police and intelligence agencies to fight terrorism. That’s a remarkable suggestion given that Internet companies including Google and Facebook have just begun encrypting their traffic because of the Snowden revelations.

The committee’s report, released on Monday, instead calls on countries to promote wide use of encryption technology and to “resist any attempts to weaken encryption and other Internet safety standards.” That, it said, will help protect citizens’ privacy and also help countries defend national security from spying by rogue states, terrorists and ordinary criminals.


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Google Fiber Officially Announces Major New Expansion | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Google Fiber Officially Announces Major New Expansion | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Confirming rumors that began bubbling forth earlier this week, Google today confirmed that Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, Atlanta, and Nashville will be the next deployment locations for the company's speedy Google Fiber service. According to a Google blog post, the company is also still considering potential deployment to Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but you can be fairly certain it will be the same we've seen in Austin, Kansas City and Provo.

$70 a month nets you a symmetrical 1 Gbps connection, while $120 a month nets you a symmetrical 1 Gbps connection and TV service. Users also have the option of a free 5 Mbps tier if they're willing to pay a $300 installation fee (which can be paid in installments).

"Our next step is to work with cities to create a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit, and making sure to avoid things like gas and water lines," said Google.

From there, Google surveyors and engineers will hit the street to analyze these cities further, after which the company says it will design the network (something they say will take a few months) before beginning construction. As with other Google Fiber locations the company will hold "fiberhood" rallies to determine which ares will see construction first.


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