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What happens when the world turns into one giant brain | GigaOM Tech News

What happens when the world turns into one giant brain | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

These days, many of us in consumer and enterprise tech companies are working on predictive systems that provide modest but valuable augmentation of human intelligence and business processes. I think this scale of ambition is a good fit for the current state of the art in machine learning and probabilistic inference. Think personal assistants like Siri or Google Now, predictive analytics in the enterprise for churn detection and ad campaign targeting, and personalized news apps like Prismatic.

 

But I think that the long term story is much more exciting, and much further from our experience with synthetic intelligence to date. I believe that we are on the path to building the equivalent of global-scale nervous systems. I’m thinking Gaia’s brain: distributed but unified intelligences that gather data from sensors all over the world, and that synthesize those data streams to perceive the overall state of the planet as naturally as we perceive with our own sensory systems. This isn’t just big data–this is big inference.

 

To make this idea of a global intelligence more concrete, consider the startup Premise. As a first step toward the kind of perceptual systems that I am talking about, Premise is using various signals from the public internet as a set of massively distributed sensory organs, and then leveraging this information to develop more informative economic indexes.

 

Now consider what other problems such systems could solve in the coming decades. We could gain a true understanding of the climate system on a granular but global level. We could track and coordinate every vehicle on the planet, to improve energy efficiency and optimize scheduling to all but eliminate traffic jams. Or moving from vehicles to parts and materials, we could create and manage truly robust supply chains that maintain efficiency and resilience in the face of unexpected events. The possibilities go on, and are truly awesome.

 

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Peru: Govt provides USD346m funding for regional broadband programmes | TeleGeography.com

The Peruvian government has signed contracts to finance regional broadband development projects in four areas, namely Apurimac, Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Lambayeque. In total, the four programmes cover the deployment of fibre-optic infrastructure to 1,344 villages, connecting 1,607 schools, 812 health centres, 97 police stations and 93 other public entities and benefiting around 750,000 Peruvians.


Contracts for deployments in Apurimac, Ayacucho and Huancavelica were handed to the Gilat consortium, providing funding of USD82.66 million, USD97.27 million and USD106.41 million respectively, whilst Spanish-backed Telefonica del Peru – which operates under the Movistar brand – won the USD59.24 million contract for the development in Lambayeque.

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The Time Warner Cable deal will provide ‘lower prices for faster’ Internet, says Charter’s CEO | Ceilia Kang & Brian Fung | WashPost.com

The Time Warner Cable deal will provide ‘lower prices for faster’ Internet, says Charter’s CEO | Ceilia Kang & Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications said Tuesday that it was buying Time Warner Cable for $55 billion, just one month after Comcast withdrew its bid for the nation's second-largest cable company.


Charter chief executive Tom Rutledge spent a few minutes chatting with The Washington Post about the deal, his company's future and the fate of the cable industry.


The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.


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Cox’s Mark Greatrex Talks Gigabit Internet at NCTA | Julianne Twining | NCTA.com

Cox’s Mark Greatrex Talks Gigabit Internet at NCTA | Julianne Twining | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this month, NCTA and CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, hosted a discussion with Mark Greatrex, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at Cox Communications and Chairman of the Board at CTAM.


He shared with us new research on how their customers engage with cable and broadband and how Cox is building stronger customer service relationships. He also discussed how Cox’s gigabit broadband service, G1gablast, is changing how customers are using the Internet.


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In 5 years, 80 percent of the whole Internet will be online video | Brian Fung | WashPost

In 5 years, 80 percent of the whole Internet will be online video | Brian Fung | WashPost | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Video is eating the Web.

Already, we know that Netflix accounts for one-third of Internet traffic at peak hours. Toss in YouTube, and that figure rises to roughly half of all bandwidth consumed. But even that's small potatoes compared with what's coming. In five years, 80 percent of the entire world's Internet consumption will be dominated by video. That number will be even higher in the United States, approaching 85 percent.

That's according to the latest projections from Cisco, which publishes an annual study peering into the near future of the Web. The newest report, out Wednesday, predicts that by 2019, the Internet will have become more or less a big video pipe. Part of the growth will come from adding new people to the Internet — for the first time, over half the world's population will be digitally connected. But individual Internet users are also expected to consume more video over time, and at a higher quality, which will put tremendous new burdens on the world's Internet infrastructure.

"The cord-cutting household [consumes] more than twice as much data per month as non-cord-cutters," said Robert Pepper, Cisco's vice president of global technology policy.

When you see the Internet as a huge distribution channel for video, it puts virtually everything that tech and communications companies are doing into perspective. Telecom firms like Verizon are racing to expand their cellular networks so that they can deliver video over LTE. Cable companies are fleshing out their public WiFi hotspots so users can watch videos outside their homes. Content providers like HBO and CBS are putting their programming on the Internet so that customers don't have to be tethered to their television sets.


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F.C.C. Chief Seeks Broadband Plan to Aid the Poor | Rebecca Ruiz | NYTimes.com

F.C.C. Chief Seeks Broadband Plan to Aid the Poor | Rebecca Ruiz | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For 30 years, the federal government has helped millions of low-income Americans pay their phone bills, saying that telephone service is critical to summoning medical help, seeking work and, ultimately, climbing out of poverty. Now, the nation’s top communications regulator will propose offering those same people subsidized access to broadband Internet.

On Thursday, that regulator, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will circulate a plan to his fellow commissioners suggesting sweeping changes to a $1.7 billion subsidy program charged with ensuring that all Americans have affordable access to advanced telecommunications services, according to senior agency officials.

The effort is the F.C.C.’s strongest recognition yet that high-speed Internet access is as essential to economic well-being as good transportation and telephone service. Mr. Wheeler will propose potentially giving recipients a choice of phone service, Internet service or a mix of both, the officials said. He will also suggest new measures to curb fraud, a source of criticism in recent years.


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Smartphone location tracking via Wi-Fi signals, motion sensors | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Smartphone location tracking via Wi-Fi signals, motion sensors | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here are two research papers about tracking people via their smartphones that might momentarily make you want to toss your phone into a lake. Both show a 90% or above accuracy in tracking people via their phones' Wi-Fi connections or motion sensors.

Tracking Human Mobility using WiFi signals (pdf) makes the case for Wi-Fi scans to be considered "a highly sensitive type of data" that "should be considered location data."

Using just one GPS observation per day per person allows us to estimate the location of, and subsequently use, Wi-Fi access points to account for 80% of mobility across a population. These results reveal a great opportunity for using ubiquitous Wi-Fi routers for high-resolution outdoor positioning, but also significant privacy implications of such side-channel location tracking.

Researchers Piotr Sapiezynski, Arkadiusz Stopczynski, Radu Gatej and Sune Lehmann point out that "large companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Skyhook, combine Wi-Fi access points with GPS data to improve positioning, a practice known as 'wardriving'." The actual "how" is "proprietary to large companies." They added, "Predictability and stability of human mobility are also exploited by commercial applications such as intelligent assistants." They used Google Now as an example of an app "which learns users' habits to, among other services, conveniently provide directions to the next inferred location."

In the Android ecosystem, location permission is separate from the permission for "Wi-Fi connection information." Yet the researchers found that inferring location can be accomplished using only a small percentage of Wi-Fi access points (AP) seen by a device; it's one way an app can inexpensively convert the APs into users' locations. "The impact is amplified by the fact that apps may passively obtain results of scans routinely performed by Android system every 15-60 seconds. Such routine scans are even run when the user disables Wi-Fi."


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Google introduces Android Pay, a replacement for its Wallet app on mobile | Ben Popper | The Verge

Another year, another attempt by Google to get mobile payments right. Today, at its I/O developer conference, the company unveiled a new app, called Android Pay, that will take the place of Google Wallet on your phone.

Android Pay will power in-app and tap-to-pay purchases on mobile devices. Google Wallet will stick around, but it will power Play Store purchases outside Android, say on the web, and facilitate peer-to-peer payments you can make through the app and on services like Gmail. Confused? Let the new branding wash over you, and stop worrying so much.

The history of Google’s work on mobile payments has always embodied this frustrating mix of promising ambition and confusingly fraught execution. Android smartphones had near field communication (NFC) and card emulation years before the competition. But relationships with the carriers and manufacturers that distribute Android devices kept Google Wallet from realizing its full potential. Google also had a tough time getting major banks and credit cards to participate. That allowed Apple to swoop in late and capture a great deal of momentum in the market, with CEO Tim Cook claiming that it is now larger than all its major competitors combined.

Google is hopeful that this will change now that Softcard is dead. The carrier-backed payment effort folded earlier this year, with Google purchasing some of its technology. At the time, Softcard advised all its users to download Google Wallet as a replacement. Those carriers will now simply preinstall Android Pay instead. It remains to be seen if swapping the word "wallet" for "pay" will give Android users the awareness and confidence they need to actually start shopping with their phones in the wild. Google is planning to make merchant's reward programs work with Android Pay, a move it hopes will boost engagement.


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OTI's Alan Davidson Heads to Commerce Department | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

OTI's Alan Davidson Heads to Commerce Department | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Alan Davidson, director of New America's Open Technology Institute, is joining the Obama administration.

Davidson (pictured at left) has been tapped to be senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerceand will be working on Internet policy and digital economy issues, the institute said.

OTI has been supportive of the Obama Administration's backing of strong Title II-based Internet regulations. OTI and the Administration are also in sync on backing passage of the USA Freedom Act, which would limit bulk data collection of communications info.

"The Commerce Department will play a central role in some of the biggest Internet policy debates of the next few years, and I am honored by this chance to make a contribution there,” Davidson said. Commerce's role will include freeing up government spectrum for more wireless broadband and transitioning the Internet naming and numbering function oversight to a multistakeholder model.


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U.S. AG Lynch to Senate: Pass USA Freedom Act | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

U.S. AG Lynch to Senate: Pass USA Freedom Act | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Attorney General Loretta Lynch put in a plug for the USA Freedom Act Wednesday (May 27) on her way to announcing indictments against executives involved with FIFA.

Senators are currently trying to find some common ground on the bill, which would at least limit -- some say eliminate -- indiscriminate metadata collection by the NSA, a program revealed by agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The House passed the bill, but the Senate failed to bring it up for an up or down vote and has plans for one more try in a Sunday, May 31, session before the bulk collection authority -- under the Patriot Act -- expires June 1.

"I am deeply committed to ensuring that this nation protects the civil liberties of every American while also keeping our country safe and secure," she said. "Unfortunately, some of the vital and uncontroversial tools we use to combat terrorism and crime are scheduled to shut down on Sunday."

Privacy activists opposed to the bill and the collection would take issue with the term "uncontroversial.”


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Supremes: ‘Belief’ Not Defense Against Induced Infringement | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Supremes: ‘Belief’ Not Defense Against Induced Infringement | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a decision that bears on the "patent troll" issue, the Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant’s good-faith belief that a patent is not valid is not a defense against induced infringement if that belief turns out to be wrong.

The case involved Cisco Wi-Fi networks and Commil USA, which asserted that Cisco had infringed Commil's patent and induced others—the folks who bought and used the equipment—to infringe as well.

Cisco was found liable in lower courts for both direct infringement and induced infringement. Cisco defended the inducement charge by saying it had a "good faith" belief that Commil's patent was invalid, but a district court found that inadmissible. A federal appeals court ruled that the trial court had erred in excluding that argument, but the Supreme Court decided that a defendant's belief is not sufficient.

The court made it clear that lower courts have "the authority and responsibility to ensure that frivolous cases—brought by companies using patents as a sword to go after defendants for money—are dissuaded." Those are the so-called patent trolls Congress is currently trying to crack down on through legislation, though the court said there had been no suggestion Commil's claim in this case was frivolous.

But the court said there were sanctions for attorneys and ways for those accused of inducing to establish the validity of patents and that a belief defense would undermine the statutory presumption of a patent's validity. The majority said that belief might be a defense against liability, but not against infringement.

The decision was 6 to 2, with Justice Stephen Breyer not participating—they do not have to say why they recuse themselves—and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia dissenting from the finding that good faith belief is not a defense.


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Money Party: Tiny Investment Bank Reaps Up to $65 Million in Fees for a Week's Work on Cable Mergers | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Money Party: Tiny Investment Bank Reaps Up to $65 Million in Fees for a Week's Work on Cable Mergers | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A tiny Madison Avenue investment bank (so small its only web presence is a webpage displaying its logo) that spent one week advising Charter Communications on its merger deal with Time Warner Cable and Altice SA on its acquisition of Suddenlink Communications will earn as much as $65 million in fees if both deals close, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

LionTree Advisors has fewer than 50 employees, which adds up to more than $1 million per worker. Charter is expected to be billed as much as $25 million for the bank’s advice on the Time Warner acquisition and $40 million advising Altice on its buyout of Suddenlink. That represents about $1 from each Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customer and approximately $27 from each Suddenlink customer.

Aryeh Bourkoff and Ehren Stenzler, co-founders of the bank, were more than little thankful to “be a part of these transactions on behalf of our clients.”


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Charter Customers Warn: Don't Be Suckered By Their Promises of Better Service - "Charter Blows" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Charter Customers Warn: Don't Be Suckered By Their Promises of Better Service - "Charter Blows" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“I thought I was watching Comedy Central,” said Ralph Wilson, a longtime Charter customer in suburban Los Angeles. He was actually watching a Bloomberg News interview with the CEO of Charter Communications regarding yesterday’s formal merger announcement. “What cable company was Thomas Rutledge talking about when he said Charter would bring better service to Time Warner and Bright House? Charter blows.”

Wilson is just one of several unimpressed Charter customers responding to the news their cable company is about to grow more than four times larger with the acquisition of the larger Time Warner Cable and the smaller Bright House Networks.

“They promise you 60Mbps and you are lucky to see 40Mbps unless it is raining,” said Aaron Peters, a Charter customer in Texas. “Then you are lucky if you get anything. You sure won’t get anyone on their support line.”

“I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out than have to deal with Charter,” writes Betty, a 74-year old Stop the Cap! reader in Wyoming. “I’ve had cable out sometimes for five days and when the last time it was out, the slobs that showed up to fix it were shabbily dressed and one had his zipper down. It’s disgraceful.”

“Maybe it will go from F-minus to an F,” Terence Allen of Atlanta told the New York Times. Allen, among others, recited a litany of service problems familiar to many Charter customers around the country: Screen freeze and pixelation, unresponsive remote controls, uneven broadband speeds, slurring and skipping over dialogue, and problems getting a real person on the phone.

For Time Warner Cable customers in particular, it is unlikely that prayers for better service from a new owner are going to be answered.

“‘Not quite as bad’ may be about as good as they can get with this deal,” reflected the Times.

“Charter is not going to revolutionize Time Warner’s service quality, because Charter’s service quality is not that much better,” said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America.


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Motivated Seller: Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus Stands to Win $97 Million Golden Parachute on Latest Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Motivated Seller: Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus Stands to Win $97 Million Golden Parachute on Latest Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you were wondering what motivated Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus to move so quickly from a failed merger with Comcast to a new deal with Charter Communications, follow the money.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Marcus is set to receive a handsome payout:

The value of Mr. Marcus’s exit package should he leave within two years of a change in control will be around $97 million, according to an analysis of his employment agreement by Mark Reilly, head of executive compensation practice for Verisight Inc., a human resources consultancy. The analysis was conducted at the request of The Wall Street Journal. To be sure, the parties could reach a settlement with different terms than those laid out in his employment agreement.

If that amount is confirmed, it is equal to asking each of Time Warner’s 15.4 million customers to kick in $6.30 apiece to cover Marcus’ golden parachute.

Most of the rest of Time Warner Cable executives will also each likely receive a generous exit package, although not likely to approach the amount payable to Marcus if the deal wins regulator approval.


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America's Cable Cartel: The Scorecard of Two Decades of Mergers That Left You With a Bigger Bill | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

America's Cable Cartel: The Scorecard of Two Decades of Mergers That Left You With a Bigger Bill | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

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"The French Slasher" Patrick Drahi/Altice Likely to Target Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom Next for Quick Buyouts | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

"The French Slasher" Patrick Drahi/Altice Likely to Target Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom Next for Quick Buyouts | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Patrick Drahi and his Luxembourg-based Altice SA appears to be out of the running to buy Time Warner Cable, but are likely to quickly turn their attention to acquiring several of America’s remaining medium-sized cable companies: Cablevision, Cox, and Mediacom.

“While it is still possible that Altice counters on TWC, we do not believe that it can match Charter [and backer John Malone’s] funding firepower and will ultimately lose out,” wrote Macquarie Capital’s Kevin Smithen. “In our opinion, Altice is more likely to turn its attention to Cablevision or privately held Cox or Mediacom, in an effort to gain more fixed-line scale in order to compete against Charter and Comcast.”

Last week, cable analysts were surprised when Drahi swooped in to acquire Suddenlink, one of America’s medium-sized cable operators.

“Altice’s decision to buy Suddenlink (at an unsupportably high price) creates even more uncertainty in an industry where virtually every element of the story is now in flux,” said MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett.


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Comcast Raising Rates July 1st; Higher Cable TV Surcharges, $3 More for Double-Play Broadband/TV Package | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Comcast Raising Rates July 1st; Higher Cable TV Surcharges, $3 More for Double-Play Broadband/TV Package | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just in time for the summer fireworks, Comcast’s own rate explosion may be arriving in your mailbox. The cable company is boosting rates on cable television and broadband service in several regions, including higher Broadcast TV surcharges and, for some, the introduction of a new compulsory sports programming fee. Comcast customers shared their rate increase letter with Broadband Reports.

The original notification letter was littered with grammatical and spelling errors and obviously was never proofread. Maybe they are using the extra money to hire someone to help out with that. We’ve translated the text into the English language:


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The charts and maps you need to understand why Charter is buying Time Warner Cable | Zachary Seward | Quartz

The charts and maps you need to understand why Charter is buying Time Warner Cable | Zachary Seward | Quartz | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications is buying Time Warner Cable for $55.1 billion and Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion, in a major consolidation of the US cable industry. Here are the details:

  • If the deals are approved by regulators, they would combine the second- (TWC), fourth- (Charter), and tenth-largest (Bright House) cable companies in the US, with a combined 23 million customers.
  • But that’s a big if, because when Comcast tried to buy Time Warner Cable, it was blocked by two government agencies that worried the merger would be bad for consumers. (That combined company would have had about 35 million customers.)
  • Don’t forget that AT&T is also buying DirecTV, though that deal is also still pending regulatory review. They aren’t cable companies, but compete in many of the same businesses.


To understand this latest transaction, you first need to forget about television. Charter, TWC, and Bright House may be best known for providing Americans with TV service, but that business has been declining for many years. Instead, think of them as internet providers with a declining side business in television.


Cable companies still generate more revenue from television than internet service, but those lines are converging, too. In any event, broadband internet is a higher-margin business than cable TV, which requires hefty payments for programming licenses. Internet service providers are also less susceptible to competition.



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A Few Highlights From Mary Meeker's Internet Trends Report | Miguel Helft | Forbes.com

A Few Highlights From Mary Meeker's Internet Trends Report | Miguel Helft | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Listening to Mary Meeker present her annual Internet trends report is the closest humans get to being connected to a firehose of data: 197 information rich slides in something like 10 minutes. Don’t even try to drink it all, at least not in real time.

On Wednesday morning at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers barreled through her presentation, touching on everything from e-commerce as percentage of GDP in various geographies, to regulatory hurdles facing marketplaces. We’ve included the whole slide deck below. It is worth perusing at your own pace.

In the meantime, I’ve highlighted a few of Meeker’s trends which struck me as particularly interesting.


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Wi-Fi access point scans can betray a person's location | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

Wi-Fi access point scans can betray a person's location | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many Android applications collect information on Wi-Fi access points, which researchers contend can be used to figure out where a person is more than 90 percent of the time.
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The privacy implications of Wi-Fi access point scanning is often overlooked but presents a risk if the information is abused, according to the study, written by the Technical University of Denmark, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Copenhagen.

Wi-Fi information isn’t considered location data, and Android applications such as Candy Crush Saga, Pandora and Angry Birds routinely collect it.

“This makes it possible for third party developers to collect high-resolution mobility data under the radar, circumventing the policy and the privacy model of the Android ecosystem,” wrote Sune Lehmann, an associate professor at DTU Informatics at the Technical University of Denmark, in a blog post.

The study said it wasn’t suggesting that Candy Crush Saga, Pandora and Angry Birds collected Wi-Fi scans for location purposes but that they would, in theory, have the ability to do so.

Location data is seen as valuable for purposes such as advertising, where context-specific ads can be shown as a person moves into a certain area. But that sort of tracking has raised privacy concerns over how users are notified that the tracking is taking place and if they can opt out.


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Research community looks to SDN to help distribute data from the Large Hadron Collider | John Dix | NetworkWorld.com

Research community looks to SDN to help distribute data from the Large Hadron Collider | John Dix | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) starts back up in June, the data collected and distributed worldwide for research will surpass the 200 petabytes exchanged among LHC sites the last time the collider was operational.


Network challenges at this scale are different from what enterprises typically confront, but Harvey Newman, Professor of Physics at Caltech, who has been a leader in global scale networking and computing for the high energy physics community for the last 30 years, and Julian Bunn, Principal Computational Scientist at Caltech, hope to introduce a technology to this rarified environment that enterprises are also now contemplating:


Software Defined Networking (SDN). Network World Editor in Chief John Dix recently sat down with Newman and Bunn to get a glimpse inside the demanding world of research networks and the promise of SDN.


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Charter Communications Pushes for More Reserve Spectrum | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Charter Communications Pushes for More Reserve Spectrum | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications had more than the proposed Time Warner Cable deal on its mind Monday, urging the FCC to make plenty of low-band spectrum available in the broadcast incentive forward auction to competitors to AT&T and Verizon.

The FCC has proposed reserving 30 MHz of spectrum in the auction for competitive carriers, but Charter says it should be 40 MHz, which would allow for two potential competitors--20 MHz is needed for each of those.

Charter agrees that the FCC should put some of the best "category 1" spectrum -- the least impaired by potential interference from TV stations repacked in nearby spectrum -- in the reserve, but also argues the FCC should include some of the second-best, rather than have no reserve where there are no essentially unencumbered (category 1) licenses.


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Senator Franken Advises Close Look at Charter-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Senator Franken Advises Close Look at Charter-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Media consolidation critic Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote the FCC and Department of Justice Tuesday (May 26) on the news that Charter had made a $78.7 billion bid for Time Warner Cable, asking the FCC to keep its fine-tooth comb ready.

“I have long been concerned about the effects of consolidation in the telecommunications industry on American consumers,” wrote Sen. Franken. “Any deal of this size and scope warrants scrutiny. For my part, I will be examining this deal in the coming weeks, and I urge the [Federal Communications Commission] and the [U.S. Department of Justice] to look closely at the consequences for American consumers in terms of competition, pricing, and choice in telecommunications services.," he wrote.

Franken did not say he opposed the deal, a reluctance he did not show with Comcast's effort to by TWC, but did say he would be looking at it closely, and suggested it if were to get through, it should likely only be with strong, enforceable conditions.

The full text of his letter is below.


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How a Florida fender-bender could threaten Uber's business model | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

How a Florida fender-bender could threaten Uber's business model | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A March collision between a Mitsubishi Outlander and a scooter in the Miami area could have huge repercussions in Silicon Valley.

According to reports in Buzzfeed and elsewhere, the minor accident caused only a few thousand dollars in damages. But it could have a nationwide impact on the business models of ridesharing and other app-driven services.

Because the SUV was dropping off Uber passengers at the time, the driver asked the company's insurance to cover the costs. But Uber and the driver couldn't come to an agreement, so—unable to keep driving until the vehicle was fixed or replaced—Darrin McGillis ended up filing an unemployment insurance claim against Uber and a subsidiary. That forced the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to determine whether the driver was actually an employee of Uber, not an independent contractor, as the company claims. Last week, the Florida DEO's initial determination held that McGillis was indeed an employee, not a contractor.

If that determination holds up—Uber has 20 days to appeal and has said it will do so—it could set a precedent that might wreak havoc with the company's business model of subcontracting tasks rather than hiring employees.

According to the Miami Herald, the company claims to have "successfully overturned similar administrative actions in other states," but this latest incident seems pretty clear cut.


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Vox Media to acquire technology news site Re/code | Hayley Tsukayama & Drew Harwell | WashPost.com

Vox Media to acquire technology news site Re/code | Hayley Tsukayama & Drew Harwell | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Washington-based Vox Media is adding the well-respected but financially pressed technology news site Re/code to its growing portfolio of new media properties, the two companies said Tuesday.

Re/code founders Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg announced the news in an official blog post on their news site, which they launched in January 2014 after splitting from the Wall Street Journal at a time when many star journalists struck out to create their own start-up media sites.

Vox, which is led by former AOL executive Jim Bankoff, has been raising venture capital recently to fund an aggressive acquisition spree. Over the last two years, the company has purchased a number of niche sites to create an online publishing empire that covers sports, news, gaming, technology in a way that would be attractive to millennial readers.

Neither company disclosed the terms, but The New York Times, which was first to report the news, said the acquisition was an all-stock deal. Vox is privately held, but Bankoff has made no secret of his plans to take the company public.

Re/code is highly respected within technology circles for regularly breaking news out of Silicon Valley's top companies. But the site has struggled to win the kind of attention readers give to more established publications. Since its start, Re/code never broke 2.5 million monthly unique visitors, data from traffic-monitoring site Quantcast show.

Vox's own tech site, called The Verge, draws nearly 12 million readers, according to comScore, although in a press release from Vox, the company said The Verge has an audience of over 25 million.

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Sick of telemarketers and robocalls? The FCC is poised for a crackdown. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Sick of telemarketers and robocalls? The FCC is poised for a crackdown. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Twelve years ago, the federal government took aim at pesky telemarketers whose annoying phone calls interrupted dinnertime conversations everywhere. The result was the Do-Not-Call list — a national registry that, if you signed up, told telemarketers they couldn't contact you.

Now the Federal Communications Commission wants to roll out additional measures to meet a new flood of telemarketing complaints. The agency says it now gets thousands of angry letters and calls every month about abusive marketing, which last year added up to more than 215,000 complaints from the public.

Under the new rules, which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed to his fellow commissioners Wednesday, you'll be allowed to opt out of telemarketing calls with as little as a verbal order not to call again. That might sound like an obvious step. But many who've been hit by unwanted calls can't find relief without filling out complicated forms or jumping through other hoops, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Other steps are designed to thwart robocalls and automated dialing. One measure encourages phone carriers to adopt off-the-shelf products that can block robocalls automatically and offer them to consumers as a service. That proposal comes after phone companies and 39 attorneys general asked the FCC whether offering the technology was legal.


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