Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Don’t Let the FCC Break the Internet!

December 12, 2017

This Thursday, December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to replace current rules enforcing net neutrality. Who thinks that’s a good idea? The gatekeepers who will become toll collectors: Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Who thinks that’s awful? The guys who built the Internet and the people and companies who actually use it.

What can you do? Answers here.

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If Net Neutrality Goes, the Web Will Be Full of Tollbooths

July 12, 2017

If Net Neutrality Goes, the Web Will Be Full of Tollbooths

The Internet is a utility, a vital public asset in a free society. Who could disagree with that? The Trump Administration. Learn more here:

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Ethiopia Shuts Down the Internet Over School Exam

June 3, 2017

Ethiopia Shuts Down the Internet Over School Exam

“Ethiopia shut down the internet on Tuesday (May 30) ahead of a scheduled national examination that was due to take place in the country on Wednesday.

Social media users noted that the internet service was interrupted from around 7 pm on Tuesday—reportedly to prevent exam leaks. About 1.2 million students are taking the grade 10 national exams, with another 288,000 preparing for the grade 12 university entrance exams that will take place next week.”

— “Ethiopia shut down the country’s internet to beat exam cheats,” Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz

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Trump Golf: Hole-in-One for Hackers

May 19, 2017

Trump Golf: Hole-in-One for Hackers

“We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.

A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation.

We have also visited two of President Donald Trump’s other family-run retreats, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.

The risks posed by the lax security, experts say, go well beyond simple digital snooping. Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smart phones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises.

“Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica,” said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., a digital security company, when we told him what we found.”

— “Any Half-Decent Hacker Could Break Into Mar-a-Lago,”  Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin, with Surya Mattu of Gizmodo, ProPublica.com

While the president travels with secure communication equipment, he tweets on an older model Android phone. And members and their guests could have their phones hacked to record conversations at the clubs.

Related:

“Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is heaven — for spies,” Darren Samuelsohn, Politico

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Net Neutrality Neutered?

May 3, 2017

Net Neutrality Neutered?

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to roll back government oversight of high-speed internet providers and pretend internet service is not a public utility. His plan would end “net neutrality” and enable broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast to give special treatment to their own streaming videos and news sites, throttling competing content to slower upload speeds unless those content providers pay a premium to enter the “fast lane.”

Of course, as 73-year-old Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI, 5) says,  “Nobody’s got to use the Internet,” right? Right?

More:

“F.C.C. Chairman Pushes Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules,”Cecilia Kang, New York Times

“The Worst Lies From Yesterday’s Anti-Net Neutrality Speech,” Libby Watson, Gizmodo

“Here’s What Comes Next in the Fight to Save Net Neutrality,” Klint Finley, Wired

“Why the FCC’s Plans to Gut Net Neutrality Just Might Fail,” Klint Finley, Wired

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Why GOP Congressman Killed Web Privacy: ‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’

April 28, 2017

Why GOP Congressman Killed Web Privacy: 'Nobody's got to use the Internet'

At at recent Town Hall, 73-year-old Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI, 5) explained why he and his fellow Republicans voted to allow your Internet Service Provider to sell your browsing history:

“Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. … Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. … That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”

You may recall that the Internet (and the Web as we know it) was developed by government, with your federal tax dollars.

More:

“‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy,” Kristine Phillips, Washington Post

“Why one Republican voted to kill privacy rules: ‘Nobody has to use the Internet,’” Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

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Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

March 30, 2017

Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

The Internet was already a surveillance state, but now Congress has removed your last vestige of Web privacy by passing a bill to allow your Internet service provider (ISP) — AT&T, Comcast, Verizon,  Spectrum (Time Warner Cable) — to gather your browsing history data and sell it. You won’t be able to opt out. Under the last administration, the FCC had ruled that ISPs are public utilities like electricity and telephone companies, and subscribers are entitled to privacy protections. After all, your phone company can’t eavesdrop on your conversations, and even the government needs a warrant to find out who you called.

But Republicans in both houses passed legislation that allows Comcast and the like to sell your browsing history, and the current president says he’ll sign it. ISPs will be able to sell data about your shopping, video streaming, medical needs, political views, and personal life.

There may be new business opportunities here. Maybe ISPs will blackmail you into preserving your privacy by paying more for a premium private service tier.

More:

“The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them,” T.C. Sottek, The Verge

“House Dems launch pro-broadband privacy petition,” Ali Breland, The Hill

“Protesters raise more than $200,000 to buy Congress’s browsing histories,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“The Conservative Case Against Trashing Online Privacy Rules,” Klint Finley, Wired

“Dems urge Trump to veto bill blocking online privacy rule,” Associated Press

Update:

“Lawmakers Who Championed Repeal of Web Browsing Privacy Protections Raked in Telecom Campaign Cash,” Lee Fang, The Intercept

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Trump Campaign Info Hub: Macedonia

November 8, 2016

Trump Campaign Info Hub: Macedonia

“Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US.

The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don’t care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives: As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of US display advertising — a declining market for American publishers — goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook — and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters.”

— “How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News,” Craig Silverman and Lawrence Alexander, BuzzFeed

More:

“How Facebook powers money machines for obscure political ‘news’ sites,” Dan Tynan, The Guardian

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UK: Drink Tea, for the Love of God!

October 14, 2016

Mark Rittman of Hove, East Sussex, spent 11 hours trying to make his morning cuppa with a Wi-Fi tea kettle, live-tweeting his ordeal because of course he would. As an Englishman, he required his morning tea; as a 21st-century man, he wanted to brew it by voice command through his Amazon Echo and iPhone.

Mr. Rittman is a data specialist and not unfamiliar with things digital, but the “Internet of Things” needs work. The connection between the kettle and the Wi-fi base station was problematic; a“mandatory recalibration” caused the iWifi base-station to reset; the Hadoop cluster in the garage went barmy, saturating the network and blocking MQTT integration with the Amazon Echo. Or something. He finally boiled water in a saucepan and made tea by hand before writing code to integrate and debug the system.

Video: “Drink Tea (for the Love of God!)” by  Kula Shaker, 2008. George Orwell narrates. Animation by Model Robot.

Kula Shaker website

Related:

Tea Making Tips,” 1941 (i.e. wartime) film by the Empire Tea Bureau (10:00).

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Court Upholds Net Neutrality

June 15, 2016

Court Upholds Net Neutrality

In a 2-to-1 ruling,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has upheld new FCC rules prohibiting Internet service providers from selectively blocking or slowing some sites and services and speeding up favored ones, observing:

“Given the tremendous impact third-party internet content has had on our society, it would be hard to deny its dominance in the broadband experience. Over the past two decades, this content has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, from profound actions like choosing a leader, building a career, and falling in love to more quotidian ones like hailing a cab and watching a movie.”

ISPs had argued that they provide luxury “information services” and should be lightly regulated, but the court upheld the FCC’s new rules classifying them as “telecommunications services” or utilities, which are more strictly regulated. Expect this matter to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

More:

“Cable and telecom companies just lost a huge court battle on net neutrality,” Brian Fung, Washington Post

“Tom Wheeler defeats the broadband industry: Net neutrality wins in court,” Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

“Net Neutrality Ruling Finally Rights a Terrible Wrong,” Micharl Copps, BillMoyer.com

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