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Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream
Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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The Feds Lost on Net Neutrality, But Won Control of the Internet | Wired Opinion | Wired.com

The Feds Lost on Net Neutrality, But Won Control of the Internet | Wired Opinion | Wired.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

No matter what you think of network neutrality — for it, against it, it’s complicated, who cares — the fact that a federal court just struck down most of the FCC’s net neutrality rules is clearly cause for concern.


But not for the reasons you think. Others are saying that the FCC just lost the battle but “can finally win the war” — if the agency formally “reclassifies” broadband as a heavily regulated “common carrier” (like traditional telephone services). Actually, the FCC lost the battle, but it just won the war over regulating the internet. It no longer needs to bother with reclassification, a process so difficult and drawn-out it was always a political fantasy anyway.


The FCC’s broad new powers should worry everyone, whatever they think of net neutrality. Because beneath the clever rallying cries of “net neutrality!” lurks a wide range of potential issues. Most concerns are imaginary or simply misplaced. The real concerns would be better addressed through other approaches — like focusing on abuses of market power that harm competition.


But first, we need to look at the ruling in a more nuanced way.


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Wheeler: FCC Will Accept Court Invitation to Recraft Open Internet Order | Multichannel.com

Wheeler: FCC Will Accept Court Invitation to Recraft Open Internet Order | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday he intends to take the court up on its invitation to find new legal underpinnings for its Open Internet order.
 
Wheeler was not around when the FCC came up with its original legal arguments, which a federal appeals court this week found wanting, but he is a strong proponent of network neutrality protections.
 
At a Minority Media & Telecommunications Council conference Thursday, Wheeler also noted the many statements from ISPS that they would not block or degrade traffic regardless of the court decision. He said he would take them at the word, calling it the right thing to do.
 
Wheeler has said all options are on the table, including appealing the court decision—and reclassifying Internet Access as a Title II service as well as using Title I authority under the Telecommunications Act mandate to insure universal access,  power the court affirmed the FCC could use.
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Bright House Kicks Off All-Digital Transition In Central Florida | Multichannel.com

Bright House Kicks Off All-Digital Transition In Central Florida | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bright House has sparked a plan to all-digital in Central Florida, a strategy that will enable the operator to reclaim valuable analog spectrum and reuse it toward other services, including more high-definition television channels.


Using an approach initially championed by Comcast, and also in use at MSOs such as Mediacom and to a limited degree at Time Warner Cable, Bright House will fuel the transition with Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs), which are simple, downstream-only, digital-to-analog channel-zappers.


At this early stage in the deployment, Bright House is featuring Cisco Systems-made 170HD DTA models (pictured at left)  that are capable of decoding both standard- and high-definition digital video signals in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. In addition to an overall,  larger slate of channels, the DTAs will deliver a lineup of more than 40 HD channels, including ESPN, Disney Channel, Animal Planet, CNN, Discovery and A&E, the company said. 


According to web page dedicated to Bright House's all-digital project, the analog-to-digital transition in Central Florida will be well underway by February. The MSO is offering customers with two DTAs and two remote controls at no additional charge until January 2015. Bright House will lease out additional adapters for $2 per month.


Bright House’s initial all-digital plan is for Central Florida, which includes systems serving greater Orlando and Daytona. The operator expects to complete the transition there by the end of the summer, according to a Bright House spokeswoman.


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Net Neutrality and Privacy | FreePress.net

Net Neutrality and Privacy | FreePress.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week’s Net Neutrality-killing court decision has dark ramifications for the future of the Internet. As we’ve discussed herehere and elsewhere, the absence of Net Neutrality protections means that companies like AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are now legally allowed to block or degrade any website, application or online service they want. That’s an incredible blow to our freedom to access and distribute information and speak freely online.


But one thing is missing from the conversation: Privacy. We usually talk about Net Neutrality in terms of our rights to read, watch and do what we want online without any company or government interfering. But embedded within those rights is the right to do it all in private. And this ruling demolishes that, too.


The fact is, ISPs have something that companies like Google and Facebook (and even agencies like the NSA) don’t: direct control over your connections to the Internet and the devices you use to connect to it. Messing with Net Neutrality requires ISPs to monitor our online behavior — how else can they know what applications to block, or which videos to slow down? — and companies like Verizon are more than happy to sell our sensitive information to the highest bidder.


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Reining in the Cost of Connectivity | NewAmerica.org

Reining in the Cost of Connectivity | NewAmerica.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Below you will find the text of Reining in the Cost of Connectivity: Policies for Better Broadband in 2014, a policy paper from the Open Technology Institute that examines America's broadband challenges. This paper builds on data from The Cost of Connectivity 2013, a survey of high-speed Internet prices in 24 cities worldwide. Download a PDF of the full Reining in the Cost of Connectivity, which includes the entire data set, or an abridged version of the paper (without the appendices). The complete data set is available as an Excel file.


Americans in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, continue to pay higher prices for slower Internet service when compared to similar cities in other parts of the world. Clearly, the United States’ collective broadband experience does not measure up to that of other countries. In this paper, we examine America’s broadband challenges, analyzing a number of factors that impact speeds and prices. Our analysis is based on the data we collected for The Cost of Connectivity 2013, a survey of consumer broadband pricing data from 24 cities around the world. This paper identifies ways to promote more robust competition and provide consumers with better service at a more affordable price.
 
Acknowledging that no single solution or “magic bullet” can solve all of America’s broadband challenges, we offer recommendations aimed at improving the status quo. We argue that it is crucial to create better conditions for providers to enter the market, to compete more effectively, and to innovate on existing and new services. In particular, policymakers should improve data collection practices around pricing information, work to remove barriers to the development of local networks, encourage cooperation in broadband build outs, support pro-consumer and pro-competitive policies, and enforce competitive protections in upcoming spectrum auctions.


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Washington State Bill Proposes Criminalizing Help to NSA, Turning Off Resources to Yakima Facility | Truth-Out.org

Washington State Bill Proposes Criminalizing Help to NSA, Turning Off Resources to Yakima Facility | Truth-Out.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The state-level campaign to turn off power to the NSA got a big boost January 15, 2014, as Washington became the first state with a physical NSA location to consider a Fourth Amendment protection act designed to make life extremely difficult for the massive spy agency.


Bills introduced in California, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas seek to prevent the NSA from expanding further or sharing data and metadata in non-terror investigations. But Washington's House Bill 2272 (HB2272) takes things a step farther because the state is home to the secretive "Yakima listening post" documented by famous NSA researcher James Bamford in his 1982 book, The Puzzle Palace.


HB2272 was introduced by a bipartisan team of legislators, Rep. David Taylor, a Republican from Moxee, and Rep. Luis Moscoso, a former three-term secretary of the state Democratic Party from Mountlake Terrace.


If passed, the bill would make it the policy of the state "to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant."


Taylor, whose district houses the Yakima post, said he "cannot sit idly by while a secretive facility in his backyard violates the rights of people everywhere."


"We're running the bill to provide protection against the ever-increasing surveillance into the daily lives of our citizens," Taylor said. "Our founding fathers established a series of checks and balances in the Constitution. Given the federal government's utter failure to address the people's concerns, it's up to the states to stand for our citizens' constitutional rights."


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Telecoms, cable and the ‘Net neutrality’ fight Bruce Kushnick's 'Ask This' Series | NiemanWatchdog.org

Telecoms, cable and the ‘Net neutrality’ fight Bruce Kushnick's 'Ask This' Series | NiemanWatchdog.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who paid for, who owns the broadband ‘pipes?’

Customers largely paid for them; phone companies claim ownership.


Also: Open vs. closed networks. (Third in a series)


Q: What is the record of the companies entrusted with bringing broadband services to homes and businesses in the United States? How have mergers affected the deployment of new services?


Q: The United States is ranked 16th worldwide in broadband services. What, if any, are the plans to rectify this situation? How have current laws harmed our digital future?


Q: Are the main telecoms competing with each other?


Q: What are cable and telephone “franchises?” How did companies secure these exclusive rights?


The key to understanding the state of America’s telecommunications and broadband is infrastructure—who owns and controls the delivery wires into our homes and businesses, who restricts their use, who pays for upgrades on the “first mile” or the last hundred feet, who enforces the laws (or doesn't), and where new services are and are not deployed. Who regulates it (or not), who enforces the laws and regulations (or not) are also part of the infrastructure equation.


The biggest fight is over who owns the “pipes” (i.e., the wires) into homes, businesses, schools and libraries. Naturally, the phone companies argue that they own the pipes and can therefore control who accesses them. Ed Whitacre of SBC (now AT&T) has summed up this position:


“Now what [content providers] would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it . . . The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo!, or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!”


But in truth, customers have been a major funder of new networks. More to the point, the networks customers funded were meant to be open, not shuttered and not for the exclusive use of some. It should be stressed that phone companies are utilities: they control essential services but customers have rights, although the FCC has erased some of them through deregulation.


The phone companies even admit this, in a way. According to SBC, the money to build new services comes out of the budgets for local phone service.


"SBC now expects that three-year deployment costs for Project Lightspeed [see below] will be approximately $4 billion . . . Because a significant portion of capital expenditures for Project Lightspeed will replace and refocus ongoing spending for its current network, SBC expects incremental capital investment for this project to be relatively small." (emphasis added)


The phone companies have seriously cut their wireline construction budgets and never put into the ground the fiber they promised – that’s fiber to the home or office, not somewhere in the ether of the network. In truth, their “exclusive, proprietary” interstate information product is being directly funded by customers.


Based on recent history, America should not trust or rely on the phone companies’ fiber-optic deployment plans. Turning over the responsibility to build infrastructure to phone companies without enforceable commitments is poor public policy and will continue to harm America’s technological economy.


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

Yet another trip back in time using the WayBack Machine that might help us to understand the recent Appeals Court Net Neutrality decision and how we need to move forward to fight back in DC for what was lost by this decision.

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Public Knowledge Appoints Gene Kimmelman as New President and CEO | Public Knowledge

Today, Public Knowledge is pleased to announce the appointment of Gene Kimmelman as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Kimmelman brings a lifetime of experience as a public interest advocate, antitrust expert, and leader in the communications and technology advocacy community. After almost thirty years as a public interest advocate, Kimmelman joined the Department of Justice's antitrust division as Chief Counsel. Since leaving the Department of Justice, Kimmelman has been serving as the Director of the Internet Freedom and Human Rights project at the New America Foundation.    

Policy conversations in the world of copyright, Internet policy, patent reform, and telecommunications are at an all time high. As Public Knowledge goes into 2014 with a new president, it will continue its commitment to its fundamental policy issues. Public Knowledge will be a strong advocate and watchdog for the public interest as the nation’s largest service providers modernize the communications infrastructure. As the country nears crucial decisions on cellphone unlocking, fair use, and digital first sale, Public Knowledge will be there to serve as a voice for consumers. With major Senate decisions on the brink concerning patent reform, Public Knowledge will bring the voices and stories of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and consumers to Capitol Hill. And as new technologies are introduced and the net neutrality battle continues, Public Knowledge will stand for the rights and sentiments of the public interest.
   
When former President and CEO Gigi Sohn left Public Knowledge to join the FCC, Public Knowledge's Board of Directors were charged to find a replacement. Kathleen Wallman, Chair of Public Knowledge's Board of Directors, describes Kimmelman as a proven leader in the focus areas that Public Knowledge cares about most. "The Board of Public Knowledge is thrilled that Gene has accepted the call to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer. Gene is a statesman of public policy and an accomplished leader in the fields of technology, telecommunications, and intellectual property," Wallman said. "We look forward to working with him." 


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EU ups pressure on Google in antitrust case | WashPost.com

EU ups pressure on Google in antitrust case | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The European Union’s antitrust watchdog is increasing pressure on Google to swiftly provide better proposals to address allegations the firm is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches.


If the U.S. tech giant fails to present better proposals to reach a settlement, the EU will start the traditional antitrust procedure, the EU’s competition watchdog chief Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday. That more confrontational route could take years, but also result in fines worth billions of dollars.


Almunia said that feedback from competitors and other market players on Google’s latest proposed changes to its Internet searches was clearly negative.


“So let’s see if Google can improve their proposal or we go to the traditional route,” he told reporters in Brussels.


“We need more, not during the next year but during the next weeks,” Almunia said. Google’s pending reaction will be the “last opportunity” for reaching a settlement, he added.


Google’s Brussels office did not react to repeated emails and calls seeking comment.


The company has a market share of about 90 percent of Internet searches in Europe, compared with around 70 percent in the U.S.


Competitors in Europe have complained about the way Google gives preference to its own Google-branded services at the top of results pages, especially when consumers are likely to be searching for something to buy.


The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union, has been investigating Google since 2010. Almunia has said he hopes to resolve the case by spring this year.


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This Raspberry Pi Tablet is absolutely gorgeous | NetworkWorld.com

One of the things that I most love about the Linux community is that "do-it-yourself" spirit, that attitude that says "if it doesn't exist, make it yourself." (Or, often times, "even if it does exist, make something similar yourself... just because you can.")


When I first caught wind of the Raspberry Pi (what seems like decades ago now), my imagination went wild. A tiny, low-power, ARM-based computer that I could load Linux on and do whatever I want with? The possibilities were almost endless.


For me, I ended up building a case for my Pi out of LEGO and using it first as a desktop replacement (seriously, it worked fantastically well) and then as a retro gaming rig hooked up to my TV. Great uses for this beautiful little computer, to be sure...but I always felt like I could be doing more with my Pi.


Then I saw the PiPad.


It's a Raspberry Pi-based tablet computer, complete with a 10-inch capacitive touchscreen, Wi-Fi, and an absolutely gorgeous wooden and carbon fiber case.


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New Fujitsu Labs tech can do batch searches of encrypted data | NetworkWorld.com

New Fujitsu Labs tech can do batch searches of encrypted data | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency isn't enough to make you worry about your privacy, Japan's Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a fast method to perform secret searches of data that is encrypted.


The technology makes use of homomorphic encryption, which allows for operations to be performed on encrypted data without having to decrypt it.


Fujitsu developed a batch search method that can rifle through 16,000 characters per second using any search term without the need for pre-registering keywords.


The lab hopes to commercialize the technology by 2015, billing it as a useful analytical tool in an increasingly data-driven world. The researchers said it's one that will in fact protect privacy.


"Our technology is based on public-key encryption," said Jun Kogure, research manager at the Social Innovation Laboratories in the Secure Computing Lab of Fujitsu Laboratories.


"When acquiring a public key, one also obtains a secret key paired to that public key. Those who perform searches only need a public key, which is made public beforehand and is something anyone can obtain. As results of searches are also encrypted, only those who have the secret key can see the search results."


If thieves or spies tried to use the method, it would be fruitless.


"They may be able to make searches, but it will not mean anything without the secret key," Kogure said.


Forgoing registration of searchable keywords distinguishes Fujitsu's new approach from other ways of looking through encrypted data.


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Lawmaker addresses Internet problems in rural Minnesota | SCTimes.com

Lawmaker addresses Internet problems in rural Minnesota | SCTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Eric Helgeson is the sort of resident who small rural communities such as this want to attract.


Helgeson, a 31-year-old professional with a wife and two children, moved nearby two years ago, eager to raise his family in the sort of bucolic setting where he grew up in western Minnesota. Helgeson does information technology work for a Minneapolis company and commutes or works from home.


But Annandale city officials see a roadblock to attracting more residents like Helgeson: Internet service they say is balky and unreliable.


Helgeson and city leaders, business owners and residents gathered at Annandale City Hall on Thursday to discuss what role state government could play in addressing the problem. The meeting was convened by state Sen. Matt Schmit as part of his statewide tour to discuss expanding broadband Internet access.


Schmit, a first-term DFLer from Red Wing, says he expects to introduce legislation on the issue in the 2014 session of the Minnesota Legislature, which starts Feb. 25.


Schmit says he expects to propose changes to state telecommunications law. He says current laws make it unclear how local communities can partner with providers to upgrade broadband service or if they can borrow for certain broadband infrastructure upgrades.


Schmit says he also expects to propose new ways the state can fund broadband upgrades. He says that could come through state borrowing to fund upgrades or by creating a state program to issue grants or loans for broadband projects in local communities.


Stories of frustration shared by Annandale residents Thursday — which Schmit described as among the worst he’d heard in the 15 communities he’s visited — underscore the need to aid areas lacking quality broadband service, he said.


“This is just as important as roads and bridges or sewer and water,” Schmit said. “I don’t think there’s anything we could bond for in Minnesota that’s going to have a better return on investment.”


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Sen. Feinstein Comes Face To Face With A 'Drone,' Fails To Learn Anything From The Experience | Techdirt.com

Sen. Feinstein Comes Face To Face With A 'Drone,' Fails To Learn Anything From The Experience | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tireless NSA defender Dianne Feinstein apparently had a scary run-in with surveillance technology. Oddly, it bothered her.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she once found a drone peeking into the window of her home — the kind of cautionary tale she wants lawmakers to consider as they look at allowing commercial drone use.

The California Democrat offered few details about the incident when speaking about it Wednesday afternoon, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on drone policy at which she appeared as a special witness. But she used the episode to implore lawmakers to “proceed with caution.”


To be fair, the "drone" (explanation on the scare quotes in a moment) was hovering "inches from her face," right outside her window. To be even more fair, Feinstein likes her surveillance bulk and untargeted, not hovering outside her house. She's pushed for CBP drones to be used only within three miles of the border in California, so it can be said she's no friend of drone surveillance.

Feinstein didn't elaborate on the event during her statement, withholding details on when (recently/several months ago) and where (DC/California) it happened. If she had elaborated, it probably would have undercut the "scariness" of the drone invasion.

The Wire talked to Feinstein spokesman Brian Weiss, who offered some helpful background details.


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Huawei Aggressively Courts Rural US Telcos | Light Reading

Huawei Aggressively Courts Rural US Telcos | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rumors of Huawei's departure from the US service provider market have been greatly exaggerated, and Bill Gerski is perhaps the greatest proof of that.


Gerski, a former VP with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) who also represented Dish Network LLC in sales to rural telcos, is a veteran of the rural telco market and is now aggressively taking Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's story there, believing the time is right for rural resurgence. Named VP of sales for Huawei USA earlier this year, he sees a good fit for his company's broadband access products among the Tier 3 telcos that are trying to find a way forward in the post-Universal Service Fund era.


"What I am seeing is renewed interest out there," Gerski says. "Many companies have held off spending for a couple of years trying to figure out what was going to happen after the USF funding cuts, and some of those companies have held their cash pretty close to the vest. Now they are in a position to make a decision."


Gerski is not alone in thinking that rural telcos, after a period of hand-wringing, are trying to fight their way back. Other people including Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association , and a number of rural telco execs are not only urging action on the part of rural telcos but noting where it's happening. (See Rural Telcos Admit Major Changes Are Needed and NTCA CEO: US Needs 1 Rural Network Entity).


One of the more intriguing trends Gerski and others have observed is the move of rural telcos to consolidate in regional or even statewide groups -- at least to the extent of sharing management resources and buying equipment and services as a single entity -- to improve economies of scale.


"Going forward, they know they need to cut costs and add services," Gerski says. Through consolidation, they can share general management and administration costs to save up to 40% of operating costs, while buying in volume to improve purchasing power. Huawei is prepared to work with these new consolidated entities, which are just now in the making, he says.


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Comcast Dropping ‘AnyPlay’ | Multichannel.com

Comcast Dropping ‘AnyPlay’ | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast is discontinuing AnyPlay, a specialized video encoding device that delivers live TV to iOS and Android devices over the subscriber’s home network, on March 31.


Comcast developed the single-stream AnyPlay device in partnership with Motorola Home, a unit now part of Arris Group that had marketed the product under the Televation brand.


AnyPlay, which essentially amounted to a headless CableCARD set-top with on-board Wi-Fi and QAM-to-IP video transcoding capabilities, allowed Comcast customers to stream their full linear TV lineups to iOS and Android-powered tablets and smartphones over the home wireless network. AnyPlay did not support the Xfinity On Demand service, and limited access to the customer’s home network. Sources familiar with the project have said AnyPlay/Televation could enable out-of-home TV streaming with a firmware update, but that potential option apparently was not pursued.


The original concept behind the AnyPlay apparently became obsolete in the presence of other video streaming options available to Comcast customers.


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Target breach appears to be part of wider attack | WashPost.com

Target breach appears to be part of wider attack | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The malware that may have infected Target may also have affected a “large number” of other retail information systems, according to a report Thursday from security researchers and government officials.


A brief summary of the report, posted by the Dallas-based iSight partners security firm, said that a piece of malicious software known as KAPTOXA is targeting retailers’ point-of-sale systems. The company did not name specific retailers, but indicated that its investigation began on Dec. 18, the day before Target first announced that a breach had affected as many as 40 million customers. The company later broadened its estimate to say that the attack may have compromised the information of up to 110 million customers.


A copy of the report posted online by the Wall Street Journal indicates that the malware is designed to “hook” into payment application programs to spy on the information they store in certain parts of the systems’ memory. When payments are authorized, that information must be decrypted, and the malware is able to identify and take that information.


The malicious software used in this attack bears strong similarities to other malware, for sale on the Russian-language underground, specifically designed to attack retailer sale systems, the report said.


Parts of the attack on Target and other retailers — which the report did not identify by name — were technically sophisticated, the report said. What truly made the attack unique, however, was its level of coordination. Without offering too much detail, the researchers said that the perpetrators of this attack “leveraged a variety of other tools” to break into targeted networks.


“The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill in orchestrating the various components of the activity,” the report said.


The Department of Homeland Security has not made its report, which lays out what actions industry organizations can take to defend their networks, available to the public.


The department did, however, say that it continues to work closely with public- and private-sector partners to investigate this and other cyber threats.


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Aereo, the Supreme Court, and the Future of TV | The New Yorker

Aereo, the Supreme Court, and the Future of TV | The New Yorker | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by America’s largest broadcast television networks—CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS, and others—against Aereo, a startup backed by the media mogul Barry Diller that makes broadcast television available over the Internet for a low monthly fee. It sounds dramatic, but the case, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc., may determine the future of television.



Although it conjures images of rabbit-ear antennas sitting on a dusty, boxy TV, over-the-air broadcast television is no relic; millions of Americans still rely on it. Local television stations, like WNBC New York, are allowed to transmit programming over valuable public airwaves on the condition that the signals are free for the public to pick up with an antenna. Aereo has built large antenna arrays, comprising thousands of dime-sized, adorable antennae, in order to capture those signals. Each antenna receives, and transmits over the Internet, the signal for a single Aereo subscriber, who can then watch live over-the-air broadcast television—or record it with cloud storage, which Aereo provides, to view later—on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.



To carry network programming, cable and satellite companies normally pay what are known as “retransmission consent fees,” which have come to make up an ever-greater portion of the networks’ revenue. CBS, for instance, pulled its channels from Time Warner Cable last fall while negotiating higher fees. However, Aereo, using a novel interpretation of copyright law, argues that the complex mechanics of its service mean that it doesn’t have to pay. Under the Copyright Act, you need permission—typically an expensive license—from a copyright holder to show, say, a television program to a large number of people. But the act doesn‘t prohibit showing it “privately” to “a normal circle of family” or “social acquaintances.” This is why you can host a Super Bowl party in your living room without paying an additional fee to whichever network is broadcasting it, or worrying that a lawyer in a power suit will bust down your front door. Because each antenna is assigned to a single subscriber, Aereo claims that it is merely facilitating the sort of individual, private viewership that is allowed by the Copyright Act.


Aereo’s strategy is clever, but is it too clever?


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The Net Neutrality Decision And The IP Transition. What Happens When You Can’t Make Phone Service Work Like A Phone Service? | Public Knowledge

The Net Neutrality Decision And The IP Transition. What Happens When You Can’t Make Phone Service Work Like A Phone Service? | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As I noted in my first post-Verizon v. FCC blog post, the Net Neutrality decision both dramatically expanded and dramatically limited the FCC’s authority. This has a large number of immediate implications for the FCC’s ability to conduct its work. While this ripples across just about every area of FCC jurisdiction, it has its most immediate impact on the transition of the phone system to all IP.


At a glance, the biggest losers are cable operators (except Comcast), CLECs, and anyone else that wants mandatory interconnection or cares about call completion. That means resolving the rural call completion problem just became harder, since VOIP providers cannot, now, be subject to the duty to complete calls. The most recent FCC Order, which imposes reporting requirements is still OK. But the original declaratory ruling requiring IP-based providers to actually complete calls is probably a dead letter.


On the other hand, the decision potentially empowers the state Public Utility Commissions (“PUCs”), or gives the FCC power to delegate to state PUCs, the ability to override the laws passed in 27 states that prohibit any regulation of IP based services, and to override limits on municipal broadband.


As the Court explained in the Net Neutrality decision, when the FCC decides to put something in the “Title I” Information Services box, the one thing the FCC can absolutely never do is make it work like the phone system.


Problem: What if it is the phone system?


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Congressional Reps Ask Bruce Schneier To Explain To Them What The NSA Is Doing, Because The NSA Won't Tell Them | Techdirt.com

Congressional Reps Ask Bruce Schneier To Explain To Them What The NSA Is Doing, Because The NSA Won't Tell Them | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This is both depressing and good news at the same time. A group of Congressional Representatives (who are among the most critical of the NSA) apparently asked Bruce Schneier to come brief them on what the NSA is doing because the NSA won't tell them:


This morning I spent an hour in a closed room with six Members of Congress: Rep. Logfren, Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Scott, Rep. Goodlate, Rep Thompson, and Rep. Amash. No staffers, no public: just them. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn't forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me -- as someone with access to the Snowden documents -- to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I'm not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it's extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country.


There's really not much more to be said about that, other than it shows what a complete joke it is for anyone to claim that Congress has real oversight over the NSA. It's great that these Reps would reach out to someone with qualifications like Schneier to have this kind of conversation. It's depressing that such a thing was necessary.

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The FCC’s exercise in ‘net futility’ | Bruce Kushnick Commentary--January 10, 2011 | NiemanWatchDog.org

The FCC’s exercise in ‘net futility’ | Bruce Kushnick Commentary--January 10, 2011 | NiemanWatchDog.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC’s new 194-page order “Preserving the Free and Open Internet” has sparked an active debate over whether it helps or hurts the cause of “net neutrality”.


But missing from that debate is any recognition that this entire process is a distraction created to take America’s eye off what should be our primary goals for broadband: competition, low cost, innovation and economic growth.


Today, there is no serious competition for broadband and Internet. Period!  In fact, in most cases it is sold as a “vertically integrated” product, tied to other services in order to get the cheaper price, such as with buying a “triple-play” of cable, phone and internet/broadband.


The idea that the FCC refused to even address this lack of competition – or the lack of actual investment in critical infrastructure by the major incumbents, despite a decade’s-worth of rate increases -- should serve as a red flag to anyone that is nothing more than  a political spectacle, not a pragmatic plan.


"Net neutrality” wouldn’t be as big an issue if there was competition, because then if customers’ service was harmed or degraded, they could simply choose someone else. But because the FCC in 2005 closed the networks to competition, it is only the wire cable and phone companies who control broadband.


In 2005, the FCC rewrote entire sections of the Telecom Act of 1996. That act opened the “last mile” -- the connection from the customer’s home or office to the network. Doing so brought the largest gains in telecom history. Spurred on by the Internet and the World Wide Web, by 2000 there were over 9500 small Internet providers who had brought America to the Internet and who helped sell the incumbents’ services and drive innovation. By 2005, AT&T and MCI were the two largest competitors, with over 10 million local phone customers nationwide, and an estimated 35% of US households for long distance service.


And yet, in 2005, the FCC closed the networks, essentially putting 7000 ISPs out of business as they were blocked from offering higher-speed services (i.e. DSL) and AT&T and MCI were no longer allowed to offer local service using the phone networks. Those two companies were put up for sale and purchased by SBC (which took the AT&T name) and Verizon.  The cable networks were already closed, even though during mergers such as AOL-Time Warner, they were required to allow competitors on the networks.


The idea was to create competition between the telcom companies and the cable companies. But the record shows that as of 2010, Verizon and AT&T combined only have about 6 million upgraded cable-TV capable homes, and the cable companies only have 20% of residential voice customers.


They did, however, split the broadband market, which they gobbled up once they got rid of those pesky competitors. And when it comes to wireless, AT&T and Verizon have 180 million customers and dominate the market.


Way back in  2005, Ed Whitacre, then CEO of  AT&T  was asked: “How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google, MSN, Vonage, and others?” He replied:


"How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?”


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Some time it is important to look back so that we can understand how to got to where we are today and where we need to head tomorrow!

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Decoding “Network Neutrality”: A User-Friendly Explanation of Verizon v. FCC and Its Impact on Latinos | National Hispanic Media Coalition

Decoding “Network Neutrality”: A User-Friendly Explanation of Verizon v. FCC and Its Impact on Latinos | National Hispanic Media Coalition | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week a federal appeals court gutted a large portion of the Federal Communications Commission’s “network neutrality” rules. This blog post will explain what the network neutrality rules accomplished, and what the court  decision means for those of us that care about the well-being of Latinos and other people of color.


After five years of advocating for network neutrality, I realize that many people have never heard of the concept. Even among folks that are familiar with the term, there is quite a bit of confusion about the details. Really the concept is quite simple, though it does require a basic understanding of how the Internet works. So here goes.


We, as consumers, pay broadband Internet providers such Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon, to provide us with connections to the Internet. Most of us have only one or two choices when it comes to home broadband Internet service providers. And usually these Internet connections are very expensive. In fact, broadband in the U.S. is exponentially more expensive (and slower) than in many other countries across the globe.


These broadband providers are distinct from Internet content and application providers, such as Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and any host of blogs, etc., that we enjoy over our broadband connections. These content and application providers, commonly referred to as “edge-providers,” also pay broadband providers for their Internet connections.


The FCC’s network neutrality rules accomplished three critical goals. First, they ensured that once we had paid the hefty price for our connections, that our broadband providers could not block our access to any lawful edge-providers. Second, they ensured that our broadband providers could not discriminate against any edge-providers. This prohibited them from cutting special deals with wealthy corporations to speed up connections to entrenched corporate edge-providers, and slow down or degrade the quality of our connections to edge-providers that cannot pay extra to go faster.  Third, it required our broadband providers to disclose how they manage online traffic.


Let’s explore the implications of the first two rules.


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President Obama Locking In Cosmetic NSA 'Reforms' Before Key Privacy Board Can Even Weigh In | Techdirt.com

President Obama Locking In Cosmetic NSA 'Reforms' Before Key Privacy Board Can Even Weigh In | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While so much attention has been paid to the special White House task force that was set up to look at the NSA situation, and the fact that President Obama is planning to announce his almost entirely cosmetic "reforms" for the NSA tomorrow, it seems that almost everyone has forgotten that there is an official Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) that is planning to give its own recommendations concerning the NSA's programs... only, it's after the President will have already announced his plans. Admittedly, it must be easy to forget about or ignore the PCLOB. As we discussed a year and a half ago, the federal government (under both Presidents Bush and Obama) left it entirely unstaffed for nearly five years. However, it does now exist and has also been investigating the NSA's programs and their impact on privacy and civil liberties.

Earlier this month, the PCLOB announced that it will be releasing its findings... in late January or after February. In other words, the recommendations will be after the President has already announced his plans. It does sound like the PCLOB report will be fairly thorough -- there will be one focused on Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (the bulk metadata collection), a report on how FISC works, and a final report on Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Basically, three separate looks at the most controversial aspects of the NSA's activities. And all of them coming after the President has already made up his mind.


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NSA Collecting Hundreds Of Millions Of Text Messages Daily, Looking At 'Untargeted' Messages & Data | Techdirt.com

NSA Collecting Hundreds Of Millions Of Text Messages Daily, Looking At 'Untargeted' Messages & Data | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The latest in the ongoing revelations for the Ed Snowden leaks is that the NSA and GCHQ are collecting what appears to be hundreds of millions of text messages every day.


While it does try to "minimize" messages involving Americans, it appears to allow access to the rest of the database to the GCHQ in the UK, who does use it to spy on UK phone numbers. GCHQ staff are told to avoid viewing actual content of UK text messages, but it's unclear if that's enforced. As the NSA notes, this database, called DISHFIRE, is "a goldmine to exploit."


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Why even ISPs will regret the end of net neutrality | NetworkWorld.com

On Tuesday, the The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia Circuit said the FCC doen't doesn't have the authority to enforce its net neutrality rules. The ISPs and carriers typically maintain that net neutrality is a government plot to stifle networking investment.


ISPs want to crush net neutrality so they can wring a few more dollars out of sweetheart deals with rich content and service providers (or give a boost to their own content and services). They claim they need to do this to make their network investments worthwhile.


That's hogwash. It's also shortsighted -- even for the carriers.


There's plenty of money to be made selling network access as it is. (I personally contribute well over $100 per month for wired and wireless Internet access.) How much does your company pay for your workers' Internet access and to make your websites and apps available online? Even if you're not a Web company, I'm guessing it's not a trivial amount.


We spend that cash because the Internet gives everyone access to a cornucopia of content and services and apps -- all just a click or a swipe away. Critically, that swipe or click or tap doesn't usually come with a mental hesitation over "how much is this going to cost me?" Sure, we may have bandwidth caps, especially on mobile broadband, but they're generic and usually high enough that we don't have to weigh the costs of every little thing we do online. Even if we do think about the cost, the only question is whether or not to do something, not the details of how we do it.


But if net neutrality goes the way of floppy disks, using the Internet will eventually become a lot more complex and anxiety-inducing for many people:


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CBP 'Discovers' An Additional 200 Drone Flights It Didn't Originally Include In Its FOIA Response | Techdirt.com

CBP 'Discovers' An Additional 200 Drone Flights It Didn't Originally Include In Its FOIA Response | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The EFF is still uncovering more usage of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) drones by other agencies and far away from what anyone would consider to be the "border." The CBP apparently "forgot" to list several other flights on the tally sheet forced out of its hands by the EFF's FOIA lawsuit.


Customs & Border Protection recently “discovered” additional daily flight logs that show the agency has flown its drones on behalf of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on 200 more occasions more than previously released records indicated.

Last July we reported, based on daily flight log records CBP made available to us in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, that CBP logged an eight-fold increase in the drone surveillance it conducts for other agencies. These agencies included a diverse group of local, state, and federal law enforcement—ranging from the FBI, ICE, the US Marshals, and the Coast Guard to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Army National Guard, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.


The new data brings the number of flights up from 500 to 700 over a two-year period and adds several new names to the list of patrons of the CBP's drone lending library. Unfortunately, lawsuit or not, the CBP still refuses to release the names of some of the law enforcement agencies which have borrowed its drones, claiming (of course) that doing so would "jeopardize ongoing investigations." In some cases, this may be true, but as the EFF points out, there are others where naming names wouldn't do much to narrow down when and where the drones were used.


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