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DOJ Admits It's Still Destroying Evidence In NSA Case; Judge Orders Them (Again) To Stop; DOJ Flips Out | Techdirt.com

DOJ Admits It's Still Destroying Evidence In NSA Case; Judge Orders Them (Again) To Stop; DOJ Flips Out | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So, remember how we wrote about the big EFF filing in the Jewel v. NSA case, about how the NSA and DOJ had been knowingly destroying key evidence by pretending that they thought the preservation orders only applied to one kind of spying, and not the kind that was approved by the FISA Court (despite at other times admitting that the surveillance at issue in the case was approved by the FISA Court)?


Yeah, so, yesterday, the EFF realized that despite the big kerfuffle this whole thing had caused, the NSA and DOJ were still destroying that evidence, and sprinted over to the court to file for an emergency temporary restraining order on the government.


In its TRO, the Court ordered the government to refrain from any further destruction of evidence pending final resolution of the parties’ dispute over the government’s evidence preservation obligations: “Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all those in active concert or participation with them are prohibited, enjoined, and restrained from destroying any potential evidence relevant to the claims at issue in this action, including but not limited to prohibiting the destruction of any telephone metadata or ‘call detail’ records, pending further order of the Court.” ECF No. 189 at 2 (emphasis added). In its Amended Minute Order, the Court reiterated that the TRO’s prohibition on any evidence destruction remains in effect until the Court has finally decided the evidence preservation dispute: “The Court extends the temporary restraining order issued on March 10, 2014 until a final order resolving the matter is issued.” ECF No. 206 at 1.

In communications with the government this week, plaintiffs learned to their surprise that the government is continuing to destroy evidence relating to the mass interception of Internet communications it is conducting under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This would include evidence relating to its use of “splitters” to conduct bulk interceptions of the content of Internet communications from the Internet “backbone” network of AT&T, as described in multiple FISC opinions and in the evidence of Mark Klein and J. Scott Marcus....


Ridiculously, the DOJ claimed that it did not believe the original TRO covered internet content interceptions, and thus was still destroying such evidence. It just said it believed the court was still determining if the TRO applied to such evidence. It took very little time for the court to respond, telling the DOJ to file an immediate response and in the meantime to stop destroying the freaking evidence.


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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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Alan Turing's "hidden" maunscript heads to auction | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com

Alan Turing's "hidden" maunscript heads to auction | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Among his many achievements, British computer science pioneer Alan Turing created one of the first theoretical models of a general-purpose computer, helped develop the concept of artificial intelligence, and was in charge of breaking the German Enigma cypher during World War II.


With the recent release of the film The Imitation Game, he's now becoming known to a whole new generation. It's only fitting, therefore, that a rare collection of his scientific notes is about to head to auction.

The handwritten notes are contained within 56 pages of a notebook, which has never been seen by the public. Judging by its content, it dates from 1942, at which time Turing was working on cracking the Enigma code at Bletchley Park north of London.


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - January 23 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - January 23 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We continue to see reverberations from President Obama's speaking out in favor of municipal networks. The presidential nod sparked state lawmakers to propose bills, news organizations to write editorials, and to give communities a better sense of how they can take action locally.

As Claire Cain Miller with the New York Times wrote in her article for “The Upshot”:

“The goal is not to replace the big companies with small, locally run Internet providers. It is to give people more than one or two options for buying Internet – and spur everyone, including the incumbents, to offer more competitive service and pricing.”

Jeff Ward-Bailey reported on Obama’s interest in tech issues in the State of the Union, specifically the laws limiting local deployment of networks.

“Obama has said that he wants to end these laws, and the White House’s new broadband plan includes a program, BroadbandUSA, that will encourage communities to deploy their own high-speed networks. BroadbandUSA will offer guidance on planning, financing, and building municipal broadband networks, and even includes funding for “in-person technical assistance to communities.”

The always-worth-reading Harold Feld explained the significance of President Obama's short mention of Internet access in his address:


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DEA cameras tracking hundreds of millions of car journeys across the US | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

DEA cameras tracking hundreds of millions of car journeys across the US | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program to keep tabs on cars close to the U.S.-Mexican border has been gradually expanded nationwide and is regularly used by other law enforcement agencies in their hunt for suspects.

The extent of the system, which is said to contain hundreds of millions of records on motorists and their journeys, was disclosed in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. Much of the information disclosed to the ACLU was undated, making it difficult to understand the growth of the network, which is different from the cameras used to collect traffic tolls on expressways.

One of the undated documents said more than 100 cameras had been deployed in at least California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. The cameras snap each vehicle that passes, recording its license plate, the direction of travel and the time. Some cameras also snap a picture of the driver and passengers.

It was set up in 2008 and was opened to other law enforcement agencies in May 2009. Two years after it was launched, the system helped the DEA seize 98 kilograms of cocaine, 8,336 kilograms of marijuana and collect US$866,380. Its use was also expanded to the hunt for cars being driven by suspects in child abductions, rapes and other crimes.

But it’s unclear if there is any court oversight of the network. The ACLU said that any federal, state or local law enforcement agent that had been vetted by the DEA could conduct queries on the database.


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Why We Need More Lunchpail Liberals And Fewer Limousine Liberals | Joel Kotkin | The Daily Beast

Why We Need More Lunchpail Liberals And Fewer Limousine Liberals | Joel Kotkin | The Daily Beast | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Blue state tech and clean energy economies sound nice, but they don’t do much for manufacturing, construction, or farming, and the real losers are middle-class Americans.

The blue team may have lost the political battle last year, but with the rapid fall of oil and commodity prices, they have temporarily gained the upper hand economically.


Simultaneously, conditions have become more problematical for those interior states, notably Texas and North Dakota, that have benefited from the fossil fuel energy boom. And if the Obama administration gets its way, they are about to get tougher.

This can be seen in a series of actions, including new regulations from the EPA and the likely veto by the president of the Keystone pipeline, that will further slow the one sector of the economy that has been generating high-paid, blue collar employment. At the same time, housing continues to suffer, as incomes for the vast majority of the middle class have failed to recover from the 2008 crash.

Manufacturing, which had been gaining strength, also now faces its own challenges, in large part due to the soaring U.S. dollar, which makes exports more expensive. Amidst weakening demand in the rest of the world, many internationally-oriented firms such as United Technologies and IBM forecast slower sales.


Low prices for oil and other commodities also threatens the resurgence of mainstream manufacturers such as Caterpillar, for whom the energy and metals boom has produced a surge in demand for their products.

Left largely unscathed, for now, have been the other, less tangible sectors of the economy, notably information technology, including media, and the financial sector, as well as health services.


In sharp contrast to manufacturing, energy, and home-building, all of these sectors except health care are clustered in the high-cost, blue state economies along the West Coast and the Northeast.


As long as the Fed continues to keep interest rates very low, and maintains its bond-buying binge, these largely ephemeral industries seem poised to appear ever more ascendant.


No surprise then that one predictably Obama-friendly writer called the current economy “awesome” despite weak income growth and high levels of disengagement by the working class in the economy.


If Wall Street and Silicon Valley are booming, what else can be wrong?


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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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Jim Rockford Warned Us About Google And Facebook Back In 1978 | Charlie Jane Anders | io9.com

Jim Rockford Warned Us About Google And Facebook Back In 1978 | Charlie Jane Anders | io9.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Why didn't we listen? The fourth season of The Rockford Files, arguably the greatest television show of all time, features a "futuristic" storyline about a terrible threat.


What if a private corporation used computers to gather personal information on hundreds of millions of Americans? Could we trust them with that data?

I know, it's hard to imagine such a thing ever happening — a private company, collecting private and personal data on ordinary Americans and other people around the world. It sounds far-fetched, right?


But Jim Rockford, the toughest and most incorruptible P.I. ever to live in a trailer with his dad, teams up with a younger detective to investigate the suspicious death of an old friend, a private detective named Tooley, in the episode "The House on Willis Avenue." (This episode is written by the show's co-creator, Stephen J. Cannell, who also gave us The Greatest American Hero.)

And what Rockford finds in his investigation is baffling — a mysterious set of real estate developments, with lots of suspiciously huge air-conditioning units attached. What's going on?


Turns out that a corporate scumbag, amusingly played by Jackie Cooper, is creating a secret computer system to spy on ordinary Americans and sell the info — or ruin your reputation — for profit. It should be illegal for corporations to spy on ordinary Americans, Rockford protests.

It all leads up to this solemn cue card at the very end of the episode:


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Cops worry Waze speed trap warnings will be used by police killers | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Cops worry Waze speed trap warnings will be used by police killers | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to Waze: "Traffic is more than just red lines on the map. Get alerted before you approach police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams, all shared by other drivers in real-time. It's like a personal heads-up from a few million of your friends on the road."

Cops, however, are not worked up about Waze because users can warn other drivers about police speed traps, but also because the app allegedly "could put officers' lives in danger from would-be police killers who can find where their targets are parked."

If you click on the cop icon, it might say hidden police trap, visible police trap, or just police trap. The app’s tagline of "outsmarting traffic, together," might be viewed by cops as "outsmarting speed traps, together."


Of course police-reporting isn't the only thing marked by Waze’s 50 million users. The free service offers real-time traffic reports and allows users to report issues such as wrecks, potholes, weather hazards, traffic jams, road closures, construction zones and even traffic cameras.


On the social side, you can choose your mood, map chat or use the "share my drive" functionality to "let others follow your drive and ETA."


Varying reports claim that Google acquired Waze in 2013 for $966 million, but the price tag might have been as high as a reported $1.3 billion.


"Police stalker" is what Bedford County, Virginia, Sheriff Mike Brown dubbed the app since he claims it endangers law enforcement. Brown, chairman of the National Sheriffs Association technology committee, said:


"The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action."


Brown's not alone with that feeling, according to the Associated Press. At the 2015 National Sheriffs' Association Winter Conference, California reserve deputy sheriff Sergio Kopelev said it's "only a matter of time" before Waze is used as a stalking app to track down cops. Incidentally, he was unaware of the Waze app "until mid-December when he saw his wife using it."


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At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss the Digital Economy | Don Tapscott Blog | HuffPost.com

At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss the Digital Economy | Don Tapscott Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Davos: One of the most anticipated discussions at this year's meeting was the plenary session on The Digital Economy. Given that I wrote the book that coined that term 20 years ago, I attended with great interest.

On the panel were Google chairman Eric Schmidt, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Unfortunately, the group didn't really explore the state of the digital economy, but rather centered on all the great things technology is doing around the world. The discussion started on this bright note when the moderator asked whether each panelist was optimistic or pessimistic about the impact of technology on society. To this group the question was a rhetorical one, and predictably all panelists expressed great enthusiasm for what has been accomplished and the great strides the future holds in store.

They said that digital technologies used in areas from education to farming to healthcare have transformed communities and raised living standards around the world. As broadband capacity is rolled out to the four corners of the world, standards of living will increase even more.


During the session I frequently felt that that neither the optimistic statements of hope or anecdotes of those whose lives have improved adequately dealt with the challenge of the digital economy. I was tempted to quote Bill Clinton: "It's the economy, stupid."


The Digital Economy has become THE Economy. Yes, technology has created many wonders, but if we look at the macro level, the scorecard on economic results of technology are so far troublesome. Technology has unquestionably been at the heart of some negative developments including massive structural unemployment; growing social inequality where the benefits and wealth generated by technology have been asymmetrical; a fracturing of public discourse; and the loss of privacy and the rise of a surveillance society to name a few.


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