Techno Bits & Bytes

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Proposal: Lower the Standard for Broadband So We Can Say Everyone Has Access.

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  • The Federal Trade Commission can challenge harmful non-neutral practices on a case-by-case basis under its antitrust authority and under its consumer protection authority.

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  • On March 7, a dozen US senators wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai with “serious reservations” about his decision to “set aside, rescind, and retract” the FCC’s E-rate Modernization Progress Report. On March 22 Chairman Pai replied.

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  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai Ajit wants people to believe that he’s a champion for more open and affordable broadband. The actions he’s taken since becoming chairman last month show he’s anything but.

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  • “For the reasons set forth is this opinion, we deny the petitions for review.” Those were the sweetest words I’ve heard in a long while, as the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned down the ridiculous efforts of the big telecom companies to derail the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet — or “net neutrality” — rules.

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  • Just this week, an early-August speech by Jennifer Granick, the Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, came across my desk, the kind of thought-provoking piece that makes you ignore everthing else you need to get to in your In Box. The speech was delivered at Black Hat 2015, a network security meeting in Las Vegas. Granick’s dire warning: the dream of Internet freedom -- a free, open, reliable, interoperable Internet, a place where anyone can say anything, and anyone who wants to hear it can listen and respond, a place where everyone could be a publisher and a creator, a global medium that had everything on the shelves – that dream is dying. Gulp. And although there’s plenty of blame to go around for this loss, Granick puts the bulk of it on you, me, herself… all of us who use the Internet. Double gulp.

  • The FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California's San Francisco Bay Area dating back to 2014, including one early on June 30.

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  • A broad group of 61 interest groups has sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler advocating for the FCC to adopt a Lifeline low-income program for broadband in 2015.

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  • A combination of T-Mobile and Dish Network would merge two companies rooted in different industries. For consumers, it would merge some of the fastest-growing bills in their budgets.

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  • On October 16, the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report, Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet, which finds that over the last five years, the total number of Americans 16 and older that accessed the Internet on any device grew by 18 percent from 151 million in 2007 to 187 million in 2012 after adjusting for population growth. Broadband adoption at home increased to 72 percent of households in 2012 from 69 percent in 2011. Despite the progress in home broadband adoption, the report also identifies persistent gaps in home Internet use. In 2012, a significant portion -- 28 percent -- of American households did not use broadband at home. A lack of interest or need (48 percent) and affordability (29 percent) are the top two reasons for non-adoption. The NTIA stresses that Americans are rapidly embracing mobile Internet devices such as smart phones and tablet computers for a wide range of activities beyond just voice communications (such as checking e-mail and using social networks) and concludes that mobile phones appear to be helping to narrow the digital divide among traditionally disadvantaged groups. In this summary of the NTIA report, we focus on the reasons for non-adoption cited in the survey. As the report's authors write, “The ... discussion of the main reasons why some households declined to access the Internet at home, in order of their prevalence among 2012 [Current Population Survey] respondents, may assist policymakers as they pursue universal broadband adoption and affordable connectivity in every community in the nation.”

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  • The Federal Communications Commission, without statutory authority, is proposing to expand its taxation and regulation of the Internet.

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  • September 15 concluded the second round of comments for the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Proceeding. During the last four months, the FCC has received a large number of comments from a wide range of constituents via three methods.

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  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC) has signed two bills that improve government transparency.

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  • Internet giants may be on the forefront of green innovation compared to behemoths in other industries like manufacturing. But what’s their motivation?

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  • The National Security Agency has said for years that its global surveillance apparatus is only aimed at foreigners, and that ordinary Americans are only captured by accident. There's only one problem with this long-standing contention, people who've worked within the system say: it's more-or-less technically impossible to keep average Americans out of the surveillance driftnet.

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  • The National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency's activities. People familiar with the NSA's operations said the initiative also encompasses phone-call data from AT&T and Sprint Nextel, records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers.

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  • After years of collecting photos and personal data from its billion-plus members, Facebook unveiled a search tool that sifts through people's profiles—and pushes the social network deeper into Google's home turf.

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  • China's population of Internet users rose 10 percent last year to 564 million even as communist authorities tightened controls on content. Driven by a surge in mobile Web surfing, the country added 51 million new Internet users, a number bigger than the population of Spain, the China Internet Network Information Center reported.

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  • Sponsored stories are a potentially lucrative tool that turns a Facebook user’s affinity for something into an ad delivered to his friends. With heightened pressure to step up profits and live up to the promise of its gigantic public offering, Facebook is increasingly banking on this approach to generate more ad revenue.

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  • Native Americans have long experienced disconnection from the rest of the country -- their reservations are generally placed on remote lands with little economic potential, separated from modern-day markets for goods, as well as higher education and health care. The dawn of the Internet was supposed to bridge this gap, according to the promises of prominent public officials.

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  • Should Internet access be seen as a fundamental human right, in the same category as the right to free speech or clean drinking water? The United Nations says it should, but in a New York Times op-ed, Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, argues it shouldn’t.

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  • A total of 62 percent of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared with 59 percent in 2009. Sixty-five percent of farms have access to a computer in 2011, up 1 percentage point from 2009. The proportion of U.S. farms owning or leasing a computer in 2011, at 63 percent, was up 2 percentage points from 2009. Farms using computers for their farm business remained virtually stable at 37 percent in 2011 compared to 36 percent in 2009.

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  • Google's YouTube division said it is in talks with all major mobile operators on an agreement to pool efforts to reduce the impact of video content on telecommunications networks.

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  • Wi-Fi devices will for the first time use more bandwidth than wired devices in 2015, according to Cisco’s new Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global IP Traffic Forecast.

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  • AT&T and T-Mobile claim that AT&T's purchase will result in an $8 billion net increase in AT&T’s investment in its domestic wireless infrastructure over seven years. Given Economic Policy Institute's job impact analysis, a plausible range of impact would be between 55,000 and 96,000 job-years.

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