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Senator Leahy Calls Bulls**t On Claim That Metadata Collection Stopped Terrorist Attacks | Techdirt

Senator Leahy Calls Bulls**t On Claim That Metadata Collection Stopped Terrorist Attacks | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of the key claims that defenders of the NSA bulk data collection keep making is that the program was necessary to stop various terrorist "events" (note the careful choice of the word "events" rather than "attacks"). In fact, last week in arguing against the Amash Amendment, Rep. Mike Rogers directly claimed that "54 times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks." Of course, as we pointed out, he carefully added the "and the other program" to make it seem like the bulk data collection program being debated was necessary.


Amazingly, that claim of 54 terrorist "events" is significantly more than what intelligence officials have claimed. They say it's more like 13. Yet, yesterday, Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall both said that there was no evidence to support this, and at this morning's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings about the surveillance program, Senator Patrick Leahy was fairly direct in making it clear that what Rogers claimed last week was completely bogus:


"If this program is not effective, it has to end," Leahy said, noting that a classified list of uses of the phone record program "does not reflect dozens or even several terrorist plots that Section 215 helped thwart or prevent, let alone 54 as some have suggested."


Perhaps Rep. Mike Rogers' staffers -- rather than threatening me with bogus defamation claims -- should focus on having their own boss not mislead Congress and the American public. Wouldn't that be nice?


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EOBC Offers FCC 1% Solution | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

EOBC Offers FCC 1% Solution | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC) has told the FCC that its plan to drop its offering prices to stations in the reverse broadcast incentive auction by 5% in each of the initial rounds, is a bad idea any way you look at it, and one that could "destroy" broadcasters ability to get important information to help them decide what to do.

There are many options, including bidding, dropping out, and changing their election--say from selling out to sharing or moving to a lower channel assignment.

EOBC has suggested 1% drops is better for all concerned, and made that point in a filing to the commission Monday in which it said a 5% drop would result in "inefficient outcomes, compromise the ability of bidders to make rational decisions about participation, and likely hinder the ability of broadcasters to elect the option to move to VHF."

EOBC says that, by contrast, its proposal to drop prices by only 1% per round would "simplify the bidding process, increase opportunities for outcome discovery, result in more exact exit values, and allow bidders to prepare in advance, with full knowledge of the prices that will be offered in each round.”

EOBC concedes that the lesser decrements (the opposite of "increments") would extend the auction "by a couple of weeks," but said that seemed a small price to pay for simplicity and efficiency of the actual auction process.


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Report: Time Warner rebuffed Fox deal because AT&T and Verizon would soon become big customers | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Report: Time Warner rebuffed Fox deal because AT&T and Verizon would soon become big customers | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With both AT&T and Verizon ramping up mobile video services and making deals with programmers, it's no secret that the two wireless companies are going to become far more influential in the video programming business in the future.

But a new Bloomberg analysis illustrates just how influential. According to the news service, which cites unnamed sources, Time Warner Inc. rebuffed an $80 billion takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox last year, partly because it believed that AT&T and Verizon would soon emerge as aggressive buyers of its content.

Analysts say that top-shelf content is a means for AT&T and Verizon to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market for mobile data. "When you begin to lose pricing power over your pipes and you're national, how do you distinguish yourself? With proprietary content," noted Leo Hindery, managing partner at Intermedia Partners, to Bloomberg.


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Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle | David Kravets | Ars Technica

Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle | David Kravets | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google's appeal of the Google-Oracle API copyright dispute. The high court's move lets stand an appellate court's decision that application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protections.

Here is how we described the issue in our earlier coverage:

The dispute centers on Google copying names, declarations, and header lines of the Java APIs in Android. Oracle filed suit, and in 2012, a San Francisco federal judge sided with Google. The judge ruled that the code in question could not be copyrighted. Oracle prevailed on appeal, however. A federal appeals court ruled that the "declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection."

Google maintained that the code at issue is not entitled to copyright protection because it constitutes a "method of operation" or "system" that allows programs to communicate with one another.

The high court did not comment Monday about the case when announcing that it had decided against reviewing it. However, the court's announcement comes a month after the Justice Department sided with Oracle and told the justices that APIs are copyrightable (PDF).

Computer scientists had urged the Supreme Court to review the case, saying the appellate court's decision "poses a significant threat to the technology sector and to the public."

Despite the high court's inaction on the case, the Google-Oracle legal flap is far from resolved. That's because the appeals court sent the case back to the lower courts to determine whether Google's use of the code in Android—which it no longer uses—constitutes a "fair use." Oracle is seeking $1 billion in damages.


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Unlike Uber, sharing-economy companies are hiring workers as employees | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

Unlike Uber, sharing-economy companies are hiring workers as employees | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amidst the battles raging over whether sharing-economy workers should be considered contractors or employees, last week I called for a compromise that would combine the appropriate features of both independent contractors and employees to create a new way to deal with this new kind of business relationship.

I still believe that this is the best approach for coping with an emerging class of workers that doesn't fit neatly into either of the existing categories. But what happens until companies, workers, and regulators can strike such a compromise? And what if compromise proves impossible to achieve? Will forcing companies like Uber to actually "hire" its workforce really spell doom for the sharing economy?

If you listen to Uber and friends, the answer is obvious. But in the last week I've heard of several sharing-economy companies that treat their workers as part-time or even full-time employees.


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DirecTV: AT&T Merger Completed 'Shortly' | Mike Farrell | Multichannel

DirecTV: AT&T Merger Completed 'Shortly' | Mike Farrell | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

DirecTV and AT&T have agreed to a brief extension of the termination date of their merger, adding in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects the $48.5 billion deal to be consummated shortly.

In a brief statement filed June 30, the satellite giant said the parties had agreed to an unspecified extension to the deal. The merger was expected to receive approval on June 30, but sources have said that it could bleed into early July.

The deal, which will create a satellite TV and wireline communications powerhouse with more than 26 million video customers, was not expected to receive much pushback from the Federal Communications Commission (see "Sources: FCC Poised To OK AT&T-DirecTV Merger.")


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One thing this trade mag "Happy Talk" blurb fails to mention is that the FCC hasn't even restarted the clock on this merger deal. So, it a good thing this is "an unspecified extension to the deal".

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AT&T to invest USD3bn in Mexico by 2018; coverage of 100m expected | TeleGeography

AT&T Inc, the US telco that recently acquired Mexican carriers Iusacell and Nextel, has revealed plans to invest USD3 billion south of the border by 2018. Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and CEO, outlined the plans following a meeting with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City.


Stephenson commented: ‘We are building a network in Mexico that is capable of bringing innovation and economic vitality to the country, just as we have done in the US. We plan to deliver high-quality, high speed mobile internet service to Mexico, creating the first-ever ‘North American Mobile Service Area’ covering 400 million people and businesses in Mexico and the US. This seamless network will link together our two countries’ economies, people and cultures like never before.’

The first phase of the network deployment, which will reach 40 million Mexicans, is due for completion by end-2015, with coverage set to increase to 75 million people by end-2016 and 100 million by the end of 2018. However, AT&T remains coy as to the precise technology it intends to roll out, although a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network deployment seems likely.


According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Iusacell introduced HSPA+ coverage in November 2010, but has yet to inaugurate an LTE network. For its part, Nextel switched on its LTE network in October 2014, with initial coverage of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.


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FTC settles with developers of sneaky cryptocurrency mining app | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

FTC settles with developers of sneaky cryptocurrency mining app | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The developers of a mobile app called Prized that secretly mined cryptocurrencies on people’s mobile phones have settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after being accused of deceptive trade practices.

Equiliv Investments and Ryan Ramminger, both of Ohio, settled for US$50,000, of which $44,800 will be suspended upon payment of $5,200 to New Jersey regulators, the agency said in a news release Monday. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey last Wednesday.

The defendants were accused of violating the FTC Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. As part of the deal, the defendants admitted to none of the allegations.

The Prized mobile app was available on Google’s Play service and Amazon’s App Store among others starting around February 2014. It presented itself as an app that rewarded people with points for playing games. Those points could be redeemed for items such as clothes and gift cards, the FTC said.

Although Prized claim to be free of malware, it contained a malicious component that mined the virtual currencies DogeCoin, LiteCoin and QuarkCoin. Those virtual currencies are generated by solving mathematical problems, which were processed by phones.


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Broadband as a utility. What does that mean for rural areas? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Broadband as a utility. What does that mean for rural areas? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I had a few emails last week asking me about what it means to define broadband as a utility. So I thought I’d try to tackle the question, which came up after the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) meeting on broadband.

At the meeting, someone compared the drive for border to border broadband to the Rural Electrification Act, which provided federal loans for installation of electricity to rural areas, often through cooperative electric power companies. Someone else asked if that was really what the country needed.

Here’s the catch 22 – metro areas are often angling for competition while rural and remote places are hoping for one, good solution.


When visiting Minnesota last year, FCC Chairman Wheeler talked about competition being ingrained in the American psyche.


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Fiber broadband can drive up your home's value | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Fiber broadband can drive up your home's value | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The availability of really fast broadband in your neighborhood could increase your home’s value by more than 3 percent.

High-speed fiber broadband service, with 1 Gbps download speeds, can add more than $5,400 to the value of an average U.S. home, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH), an advocacy group made up of fiber equipment vendors and broadband providers.

That $5,400 figure is approximately equal to adding a new fireplace, half of a new bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University.

Speed matters, the study found. For homes where 1 Gbps broadband was available, sale prices were 7 percent higher than for homes in areas with broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or lower.

The study, possibly the first to look at the link between home values and fiber service, could help drive a new “fiber boom,” like late in the late 2000’s, said Kevin Morgan, FTTH’s board chairman and director of marketing communications at Adtran, a telecom equipment maker.

Several broadband providers have announced new deployments in recent months, and the study can help local governments push providers for new fiber deployments, added Heather Gold, FTTH’s president and CEO.


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How Smartphones are Improving the Cable Customer Service Experience | NCTA.com

How Smartphones are Improving the Cable Customer Service Experience | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In his recent LinkedIn column, “State of the Cable Industry: How We’re Changing the Stereotype of the Cable Guy,” NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell said that turning around the industry’s customer service reputation is a huge priority and one that companies are committed to, and investing in. We’ve all seen the stories and surveys which underline the challenges – certainly not something we enjoy reading – but it’s also important to highlight the improvements that are being made and the new techniques are being implemented. After all, the number of hours that American consumers watch TV and use the Internet is only increasing. When services have glitches, customers are looking for quick, helpful solutions.

Many cable companies, for example, are leveraging smartphones and tablets to not only provide better products that can be used far from the home, but to prevent technology problems before they even begin.

If you are a Time Warner Cable customer, you can now check on the status of the equipment in your home with a few swipes on a smartphone or tablet. Time Warner Cable in 2014 re-launched its mobile app for iOS and Android to, among other things, let customers troubleshoot their cable and Internet equipment.

“If your modem is off-kilter or your set-top box is acting up, the app lets you go in and look at diagnostics on your phone in real-time,” says Eric Burton, a Group VP at Time Warner Cable. From there, “You can determine whether it’s something you can fix yourself by initiating a re-set, which you can do with the mobile app, or if you need to talk to us.”


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CO: Longmont's NextLight Video: A Brief Look at the Network and the Community | community broadband networks

CO: Longmont's NextLight Video: A Brief Look at the Network and the Community | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When we talk to municipal network leaders about lessons learned, they often tell us that marketing is an area where they feel a particularly vulnerability.


Whenever we see a great piece of marketing from a municipal network, we like to share it.

When Longmont rebranded its FTTH network under the name NextLight, they released this awesome video. Check it out!


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FCC Commissioner Legally Tasked With Bringing Broadband To All Americans Doesn't Think Broadband's All That Important | Karl Bode | Techdirt

FCC Commissioner Legally Tasked With Bringing Broadband To All Americans Doesn't Think Broadband's All That Important | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nobody could ever accuse FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly of being a consumer advocate. As one of five agency commissioners, O'Rielly (alongside former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai) has voted down every single meaningful FCC effort to aid consumers and improve broadband market competition. Whether it's trying to protect net neutrality, or the FCC's attempt to stop ISPs from writing obnoxious protectionist state law, O'Rielly's sole function appears to be to oppose pretty much everything that could possibly help the American public, under the ingenious pretense of helping the American public.

More recently, the FCC has been considering revamping the $1.7 billion Lifeline program, which was created by the Reagan administration in 1985 and expanded by Bush in 2005 to help bring phone services to low-income Americans. Despite being a Republican proposal, it's frequently mocked (even by reporters) as being part of the "Obamaphone" program thanks to the nation's ongoing case of partisan nitwit disease. The FCC's initiative involves letting the program's 1.2 million participants use some of the whopping $9.25 monthly discount (per household) they receive each month on broadband instead of just voice. Really, it's not all that controversial, especially in the context of bigger budget government issues.

Yet while the contextually-more immense subject of military and intelligence funding is apparently immune to this type of criticism, the very notion of using taxpayer funds to aid the less fortunate fostered the usual amount of hand-wringing and assorted hysteria. Not all of it was without justification given the FCC's utterly shitty history of policing USF fraud. But after a fifteen year nap, more consumer-minded FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been cracking down on fraud, even if some of the fines being levied are relatively pathetic. Still, a big part of this new proposal involves cracking down on fraud further.

But even if you oppose subsidies to the poor (which I don't agree with but can understand), one still needs to answer the question of how we improve broadband competition, penetration, and deployment to the estimated 55 million Americans without broadband and the countless others stuck in uncompetitive markets. To illustrate the importance of this conversation, Wheeler several times has tried to argue that we're reaching the point where broadband needs to be thought of as a basic human right. This isn't that new or controversial either, really. Finland declared broadband a human right five years ago (and you'll note they lead many broadband performance metrics). The UN declared broadband a human right in 2011.

O'Rielly apparently takes deep offense at the use of such terminology:


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Pai, Fischer Team to Slam Net Neutrality Rules | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Pai, Fischer Team to Slam Net Neutrality Rules | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai and Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer teamed up for an op ed in the Omaha World-Herald Monday to criticize the FCC majority's new network neutrality rules in particular and FCC regulatory policies in general.

That came in advance of a planned press conference in Omaha where they will talk more about their alternative to what they call the federal government's open Internet rules (ever since President Obama publicly called for Title II-based rules, Pai has called it the Administration's new rules, rather than the FCC's).

In a line that would certainly surprise FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Pai and Fischer argue that "It is time to make Internet access and broadband deployment a national priority." That is essentially the mantra of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, as well as the goal of an Obama Administration wireless spectrum-clearing plan that includes broadcast incentive auctions.

But Pai and Fischer have a very different view of how that should be achieved, saying that the federal government's current course is bureaucratic micromanaging that will result in higher prices and delayed deployment, including hurting rural small businesses.


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Attorneys General Close Ranks Against Google | Wendy Davis | MediaPost.com

Attorneys General Close Ranks Against Google | Wendy Davis | MediaPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dozens of state law enforcement officials are backing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's request to resume his investigation into allegations that Google facilitates online piracy.

The officials contend in papers filed this week that U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in Mississippi prematurely blocked Hood from developing potential evidence against Google. “Upholding the District Court’s preliminary injunction order would have broad and unwelcome consequences,” attorneys general from 39 states and the District of Columbia write in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Obviously, it would thwart General Hood’s ability to investigate and enforce, as necessary, violations of Mississippi’s consumer protection laws,” the officials write. “Significantly, it also would invite federal-court challenges to scores of civil investigative demands issued every year by state Attorneys General across the county.”

The attorneys general are weighing in on Hood's two-year-old fight with Google over “illegal” content available through the search results and on YouTube. The battle took place in private until last December, when materials leaked in the Sony hack revealed Project Goliath -- a secret Hollywood-backed initiative to enlist attorneys general to target Google for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Days later, Google went to federal court, where the company sought an order banning Hood from attempting to enforce a subpoena for papers related to Web sites indexed in Google's search results. Google alleged that Hood had threatened to sue the company, or even prosecute it criminally, unless it agreed to block “objectionable” content. When it didn't agree to block material, Hood retaliated by issuing an “enormously burdensome” subpoena for millions of documents, the company said.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in Mississippi sided with Google and entered an order temporarily blocking Hood from attempting to enforce his subpoena. Hood is now appealing that order.


For their part, the attorneys general backing Hood argue that he is entitled to information needed to enforce the state's consumer protection law. “Google should not be allowed to bypass state subpoena review processes and derail a legitimate state consumer protection investigation by filing premature declaratory judgment lawsuits and obtaining sweeping preliminary injunctions in federal court,” the attorneys general write.


It isn't surprising that attorneys general would close ranks against a Web company. On the contrary, law enforcement officials in various states have long attempted to target Web companies that allegedly host illegal content.


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Federal Appeals Court sets schedule for net neutrality case | The Hill

Federal Appeals Court sets schedule for net neutrality case | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal court has set a schedule for the legal case over the Federal Communications Commission's controversial net neutrality rules.

The telecom companies, trade groups and individuals suing the FCC must submit briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by July 30. Their supporters have until August 6 to submit their own filings.

The FCC will then have until September 16 to respond, with its supporters chiming in by September 21.

Another round of briefs from the petitioners in the case will come on October 5 — and all final briefs will be due by October 13.

Oral arguments will follow. Observers expect the court to decide the case by early 2016.

Telecom firms have challenged the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility. That decision gives the FCC more authority over Internet providers, which they say they can use to keep the powerful companies in check.

As the case winds its way through the court, the FCC is expected to clarify some of its expectations under the net neutrality order. It will likely initiate a rulemaking procedure in the coming months to determine how Internet providers must meet new privacy requirements instituted under the rule.

Only one formal complaint under the order's three "bright line rules" has been filed since it went into effect on June 12.

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Big City Telecom Infrastructure is Often Ancient: Conduits 70+ Years Old, Wiring from 1960s-1980s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Big City Telecom Infrastructure is Often Ancient: Conduits 70+ Years Old, Wiring from 1960s-1980s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As late as the 1970s, New York Telephone (today Verizon) was still maintaining electromechanical panel switches in its telephone exchanges that were developed in the middle of World War I and installed in Manhattan between 1922-1930. Reliance on infrastructure 40-50 years old is nothing new for telephone companies across North America. A Verizon technician in New York City is just as likely to descend into tunnels constructed well before they were born as is a Bell technician in Toronto.

Slightly marring last week’s ambitious announcement Bell (Canada) was going to commence an upgrade to fiber to the home service across the Greater Toronto Area came word from a frank Bell technician in attendance who predicted Bell’s plans were likely to run into problems as workers deal with aging copper infrastructure originally installed by their fathers and grandfathers decades earlier.

The technician said some of the underground conduits he was working in just weeks earlier in Toronto’s downtown core were “easily 60-70 years old” and the existing optical fiber cables running through some of them were installed in the mid-1980s.

At least that conduit contained fiber. In many other cities, copper infrastructure from the 1960s-1980s is still in service, performing unevenly in some cases and not much at all in others.

Earlier this year, several hundred Verizon customers were without telephone service for weeks because of water intrusion into copper telephone cables, possibly amplified by the corrosive road salt dumped on New York streets to combat a severe winter. Verizon’s copper was down and out while its fiber optic network was unaffected. On the west coast, AT&T deals with similar outages caused by flooding. If that doesn’t affect service, copper theft might.

Telephone companies fight to get their money’s worth from infrastructure, no matter how old it is. Western Electric first envisioned the panel switches used in New York City telephone exchanges until the end of the Carter Administration back in 1916. It was all a part of AT&T’s revolutionary plan to move to subscriber-dialed calls, ending an era of asking an operator to connect you to another customer.

AT&T engineer W.G. Blauvelt wrote the plan that moved New York to fully automatic dialing. By 1930, every telephone exchange in Manhattan was served by a panel switch that allowed customers to dial numbers by themselves. But Blauvelt could not have envisioned that equipment would still be in use fifty years later.


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Americans' have a 'right to eavesdrop' on what our IoT devices say about us | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Americans' have a 'right to eavesdrop' on what our IoT devices say about us | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Somehow I never imagined writing about the “right to eavesdrop,” nevertheless supporting that right. But data privacy is a big deal so now I am because the group which should be empowered with the right to eavesdrop is us – you and me. And what are we eavesdropping on? The data being collected by our Internet of Things devices; data that is stored – perhaps forever – and shared or sold to the dreaded Third Party; data that – over time – paints an intricately detailed portrait of you.

The Internet of Things is “likely to touch every American personally,” wrote Politico's M. Scott Mahaskey. FitBit is a cool device that “tracks your calories burned, your heart rate, even how you sleep. Then it records the data and sends it … where?”

Mahaskey added:


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Benton Foundation Elects Leonard J. Schrager New Chairman | Benton Foundation

Benton Foundation Elects Leonard J. Schrager New Chairman | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On June 22, 2015, the Benton Foundation Board of Directors elected Leonard J. Schrager as the Foundation’s new chairman, succeeding founder Charles Benton who died earlier this year. Schrager has been a Benton Foundation trustee since its inception in 1981.

“I am honored that the Benton Foundation Board of Directors has selected me to oversee the legacy of my great friend, Charles Benton,” said Schrager. “I look forward to furthering Charles’ vision that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy.”

Schrager has been a leader in the Chicago legal community for more than 30 years. He is a founder and former senior managing partner in the Chicago law firm of Sachnoff, Schrager, Jones, Weaver and Rubenstein, Ltd., now known as Reed Smith LLP. He has served as a hearing panel member for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and most recently has chaired the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, evaluating judges running for retention. Schrager was a Professor and Dean at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School and is now Dean Emeritus.

Throughout his career, Schrager has served the legal community and received many awards for promoting public interest law, and the values of pro-bono and public service in the legal profession. He is a past president of the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Foundation, and the Center for Conflict Resolution, a past board member of the Lawyer’s Trust Fund, and has served on many other panels, commissions and committees, including the Special Commission to Study the Administration of Justice in the aftermath of the federal Greylord investigation. In 2011, he received the Ralph A. Gabric Lifetime Achievement Award from Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS). The honor was presented to Schrager for his outstanding legal career and his many contributions to public interest law, legal education and mediation.

The Chicago Bar Foundation presents annually the Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence, which recognizes exemplary attorneys in academia who have made significant and lasting contributions to improving access to justice for people who are challenged by poverty, abuse and discrimination.


Benton Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss welcomed Schrager’s new role with the Foundation. “Leonard’s long history with the Foundation and the Benton family makes him the ideal successor to my father, Charles. He has been a staunch supporter of the Foundation’s mission and agenda throughout his 34 years of service as Trustee.”

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CWA urges FCC to address Verizon abuses | SpeedMatters.org

CWA urges FCC to address Verizon abuses | SpeedMatters.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In meetings with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) urged the agency to move forward quickly to update its rules to protect consumers during this period of transition from copper to fiber networks. CWA and other consumer groups seek to prevent a repeat of the Voice Link controversy, when Verizon tried to replace storm-damaged phone lines with its inferior wireless product after Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

CWA is particularly concerned that companies are skirting FCC rules that require companies to seek permission before they “discontinue, impair, or reduce” service on their copper networks. through a practice of “de facto” discontinuance. CWA urged the FCC to adopt strong discontinuance rules to protect consumers when a company shuts down its copper lines, and to clarify a complaint process to protect against “de facto” discontinuance.

CWA previously provided the FCC with powerful evidence that Verizon Communications has been practicing de facto discontinuance by neglecting its copper network. When a customer reports trouble on the line or no dialtone, the company often sets up appointments a week or more away, and when technicians discover the problem is faulty cable, Verizon doesn’t authorize cable replacement. Instead, technicians are told to “jerry rig” a solution -- which results in repeat problems. When problems persist, Verizon often directs customers to substitute Voice Link for repair of the wireline service. Voice Link, a fixed wireless phone service, can’t support Internet connections, health and security monitors, fax machines and other data services

CWA provided the FCC with 21 pages of public complaints from Verizon’s own online forum, a company-moderated peer-to-peer site where “customers help other customers.” Together these complaints suggest that Verizon is neglecting proper maintenance, repair, and service to its copper customers – and demonstrates the urgent need for updated discontinuance rules and a clear complaint process.


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Puerto Rico joins Greece on the verge of a Massive Default | Michael Fletcher | Daily Kos

Puerto Rico joins Greece on the verge of a Massive Default | Michael Fletcher | Daily Kos | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Instead of Greece and the E.U. $73 Billion in bad loans made to Puerto Rico's government is threatening to cause chaos for the municipal bond market in the US.

Puerto Rico says it cannot pay its debt, setting off potential crisis in the U.S.

By Michael Fletcher

The governor of Puerto Rico has decided that the island cannot pay back more than $70 billion in debt, setting up an unprecedented financial crisis that could rock the municipal bond market and lead to higher borrowing costs for governments across the United States.

Puerto Rico’s move could roil financial markets already dealing with the turmoil of the renewed debt crisis in Greece. It also raises questions about the once-staid municipal bond market, which states and cities count on to pay upfront costs for public improvements such as roads, parks and hospitals.

For many years, those bonds were considered safe investments — but those assumptions have been shifting in recent years as a small but steady string of U.S. municipalities, including Detroit, as well as Stockton and Vallejo in California, have tumbled into bankruptcy.


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How Television Won the Internet | Michael Wolff | NYTimes.com

How Television Won the Internet | Michael Wolff | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

RUPERT MURDOCH recently appointed his son James chief executive of 21st Century Fox, prompting the obvious question: How can a guy whose main credential is a silver spoon compete with Silicon Valley’s meritocratic coders and entrepreneurs?

I suggested that disconnect in a testy interview with James several years ago, when he was running his father’s satellite broadcasting company, BSkyB. “You must be incredibly stupid,” he said with trademark Murdoch dismissiveness. “Look around you, man. It’s television!”

Supremely confident that the Murdochs were old-media toast, I looked around, and it was in fact perplexing that BSkyB had, despite the Internet, become a colossus — one of the biggest businesses in Europe.

Another most counterintuitive fact: No matter the skyrocket valuations of digital companies, and the hype and press — much of it coming from digital media itself — people still spent more time watching television than they did on the Internet, and more time on the Internet was spent watching television. Indeed, the period since my conversation with Mr. Murdoch — a period in which almost everyone in media has uttered the words “digital is the future” — has been one of the biggest growth periods in the history of television.

Online-media revolutionaries once figured they could eat TV’s lunch by stealing TV’s business model — more free content, more advertising. Online media is now drowning in free. Google and Facebook, the universal aggregators, control the traffic stream and effectively set advertising rates. Their phenomenal traffic growth has glutted the ad market, forcing down rates. Digital publishers, from The Guardian to BuzzFeed, can stay ahead only by chasing more traffic — not loyal readers, but millions of passing eyeballs, so fleeting that advertisers naturally pay less and less for them.

Meanwhile, the television industry has been steadily weaning itself off advertising — like an addict in recovery, starting a new life built on fees from cable providers and all those monthly credit-card debits from consumers. Today, half of broadcast and cable’s income is non-advertising based. And since adult household members pay the cable bills, TV content has to be grown-up content: “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” “The Good Wife.”

Looking for irony? Television, once maniacally driven by Nielsen ratings, has gone upscale as online media becomes an absurd traffic game. TV figured out how to monetize stature and influence. Nobody knows how many people saw “House of Cards,” and nobody cares. Mass-market TV upgraded to class, while digital media — listicles, saccharine viral videos — chased lowbrow mass.

So how did this tired, postwar technology seize back the crown?


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KC Fiber Innovates in North Kansas City - Community Broadband Bits Episode 157 | community broadband networks

KC Fiber Innovates in North Kansas City - Community Broadband Bits Episode 157 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every now and then, we stumble across something, read it twice, and then decide we need to verify it. In North Kansas City, a municipal fiber network operating in partnership with KC Fiber, is delivering a gig to residents at no ongoing charge after a reasonable one-time fee.

To get the story, our interview this week for Community Broadband Bits is with Brooks Brown, Managing Partner of KC Fiber. KC Fiber is now running the North Kansas City municipal fiber network, liNKCity.

The network delivers a free gigabit to the schools and after a one-time fee of $50-$300 (depending on desired connection capacity) residents can get a high quality fiber Internet connection with no additional charges for 10 years.

KC Fiber is not your ordinary ISP, coming from the data center world where it does business as Data Shack. We discuss how this background makes it easier for KC Fiber to offer the gigabit at no ongoing cost in our interview.

Read the rest of our coverage of North Kansas City.


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PayPal tweaks terms in wake of 'robocall' controversy | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld

PayPal tweaks terms in wake of 'robocall' controversy | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

PayPal is fine-tuning its policies after a recently announced plan to make unsolicited prerecorded calls and texts to users drew questions and concerns from customers, regulators and consumer advocates.

Earlier this month, PayPal generated controversy when it proposed amendments to its terms that would allow it make unsolicited calls for marketing and other purposes. The Federal Communications Commission told PayPal that the proposed terms, which would go into effect July 1, might violate federal laws because unsolicited robocalls are only legal if a company has obtained written or oral consent from consumers.

On Monday, PayPal said it was modifying the new terms. Under the new terms, customers will have to give the company express written consent before PayPal can place autodialed or prerecorded calls and texts for marketing purposes.
INSIDER: 5 ways to prepare for Internet of Things security threats

Customers may revoke consent to receive those sorts of calls by contacting PayPal customer support, PayPal said.


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Connecting Georgia's Munis - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 156 | community broadband networks

Connecting Georgia's Munis - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 156 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years, we have urged municipal networks to cooperate in various ways to lower costs. For instance, by building a shared middle mile network to aggregate their bandwidth and get a better deal due to the higher volume. So it came as a bit of a shock that Georgia Public Web has been helping many municipal networks in these ways for well over a decade.

David Muschamp, President and CEO of Georgia Public Web (GPW), joins us for episode 156 of Community Broadband Bits to discuss what the member-owned nonprofit organization does to improve Internet access across the state.

GPW operates over 3000 miles of fiber connecting businesses and even entire communities. They operate a 365-24-7 network operations center and provide consulting, focusing particularly on the needs of the nearly 30 local governments that own the company.

Read the transcript from this episode here.


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'Here Come the Videofreex': Film Review | Frank Scheck | The Hollywood Reporter

'Here Come the Videofreex': Film Review | Frank Scheck | The Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Jenny Raskin and Jon Nealon's documentary recounts the story of a pioneering collective of video journalists who were the forerunners of public access television and the modern internet news era.

Thanks to the ubiquitous presence of cell phones, the ability to shoot video footage anywhere and anytime is now taken for granted. But it wasn't always the case, as Jenny Raskin and Jon Nealon's fascinating documentary about a group of early video pioneers illustrates. Recently screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAMcinemaFest, "Here Come the Videofreex" should become mandatory viewing in journalism schools.

Largely composed of video footage shot more than four decades ago as well as contemporary interviews with such former members as David Cort, Nancy Cain, Skip Blumberg and others, the film relates how in 1969 several young people banded together to take advantage of Sony's recent invention of portable video cameras.


Dubbing themselves the "Videofreex," they began shooting impromptu news footage. They eventually attracted the attention of Don West, a young CBS news executive, who hired them to cover the counterculture that was largely being ignored by broadcast news organizations. Armed with cameras, the group traveled across the country in a CBS-provided RV.

"They treated us like rock stars," one of the members comments.

They snared the first-ever television interview with Abbie Hoffman during the trial of the Chicago 8, as well as one with Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton who was killed during a raid by the Chicago police just a few weeks later. They also covered the Woodstock music festival, interviewing attendees about such topics as the "bad acid" about which was warned against from the stage.

But their pilot episode was rejected by CBS and West left the network shortly thereafter, either as a result of being fired or resigning — even he's not exactly sure which. The collective managed to smuggle out their tapes and soon resumed their mission, covering such topics as the burgeoning women's movement, anti-war demonstrations and the 1972 Republican convention. They hosted well-attended weekly screenings in their Soho loft.


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