Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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

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

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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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Cats.

August 13, 2015

Cats

“’For some reason, cats took off, and then it’s this avalanche that just sort of keeps piling up,’ said Jason Eppink, the curator of ‘How Cats Took Over the Internet,‘ an exhibition that opens on Friday at the Museum of the Moving Image. ‘People on the web are more likely to post a cat than another animal, because it sort of perpetuates itself. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.’

The exhibition — which may well be the first mainstream museum installation entirely dedicated to cats online — is made up mostly of images, videos and GIFs of cats and is meant to be a cultural deconstruction of their enduring popularity. The show takes a high-minded look at anthropomorphism and what it calls the ‘aesthetics of cuteness‘ as well as a low-brow wallow through cheesy trends — like the LOLcats who demand cheezburger — and bad puns, like Caturday, a fad that had people posting cat pictures on Saturdays.”

” ‘How Cats Took Over the Internet’ at the Museum of the Moving Image,” Jennifer A. Kingson, New York Times

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Mobile is Murdering the Cyber Café

June 10, 2015

Mobile is Murdering the Cyber Café

Internet Cafés are an endangered species. Why? Because everyone has a smartphone now, even in RwandaBangladeshChina, India and Nigeria. In the USA, some cyber cafés are staying solvent by offering an extra amenity: Illegal gambling.

More:

“Internet cafes in the developing world find out what happens when everyone gets a smartphone,” Newley Purnell, Quartz

“No takers: After the smartphone boom, cybercafés dying a slow death in Mumbai,” Debasish Panigrahi, Hindustan Times

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Image (“Au Cyber Cafe, after Jean Béraud”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Internet Neutrality

February 27, 2015

Internet Neutrality

“The internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” —  FCC Chair Tom Wheeler

The FCC voted to adopt stronger Network Neutrality rules on Thursday. Network Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all internet traffic equally, that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade access to certain websites or services or set aside a “fast lane” to allow ISP-favored content to load more quickly. Broadband providers will now be regulated as public utilities, and it is this “Title II reclassification” move that will give the agency broader authority to establish network neutrality rules.  Expect resistance from ISPs, in the form of PR campaigns and lawsuits.

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Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

February 25, 2015

Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

From the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

“The federal court of appeals based in Washington, DC has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may withhold from the public a secret procedure for shutting down cell phone service. EPIC pursued the DHS policy after government officials in San Francisco disabled cell phone service during a peaceful protest in 2011. EPIC sued DHS when the agency failed to release the criteria for network shutdowns. A federal judge ruled in EPIC’s favor. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held for the DHS but said that the agency might still be required to disclose some portions of the protocol.”

— “In EPIC v. DHS, DC Circuit Backs Agency Secrecy on ‘Internet Kill Switch,'” EPIC.org

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You May Have Just Lost Broadband

February 3, 2015

You May Have Just Lost Broadband
If you’re in the USA, it could be you’ve just lost your broadband connection. Why? The FCC just changed the definition of “broadband” by raising the minimum download speed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. Anything slower isn’t considered broadband anymore. 4% of US Internet users have connections slower than 4Mbps, and the new definition adds another 13% of users with sub-broadband speeds. That’s 55 million Americans without broadband.

How does the US compare with other countries when it comes to average broadband speed? We’re tied with Bulgaria at number 25, way slower than superpowers like Moldova, Andorra and Estonia.

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