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Senator John Thune and Representative Fred Upton are spearheading a new attempt to pass weak net neutrality rules before the FCC can vote to craft tougher, Title II based rules on February 26. The press is being incredibly polite about this effort, often painting it
as an honest, bipartisan solution to net neutrality from two gentlemen that have changed their tune. It's simply not.
The goal is to crush meaningful Title II based net neutrality rules by basically passing into law many of the weaker provisions already overturned. Reading the actual proposal
(pdf), you'll find that it's filled with the kind of ambiguous loophole language that pretty much allows any and all types of anti-competitive behavior.
Terms like "reasonable network management" are left too vague, it actually reduces the FCC's ability and flexibility to protect consumers, and it's mired with language that leaves the door open to a litany of ongoing abuses. In short, the proposal sets the neutrality discussion back years
, and it's an effort to effectively codify into law a total lack of net neutrality
Still, ISPs, Thune, Upton, and the broadband industry's army of hired flacks are trying to put on a show to convince the press, public, and regulators this is an honest effort.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation last week filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand six different exemptions to the DMCA, covering everything from the right to bypass car DRM -- to the right to continue tinkering with games no longer supported by the developers. In a blog post
the EFF notes the group also urged the Librarian of Congress “to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to ‘jailbreak’ your phone from those restrictions, without running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).”
In January of last year unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list.
Consumer Reports, who you'll recall was all over Apple for the company's flawed antenna design of the iPhone 4
, has issued a report stating that the bending issues related to the new iPhone 6 Plus have been overblown. The organization conducted a series of exhaustive stress tests
on the device to ultimately conclude that the phone is "not as bendy as believed." The accompanying video
illustrates they used a "three-point flexural test," to test the device's integrity, and found that it was on par with other leading devices including the HTC One (M8).
In the midst of bendgate
comes the news that Apple's latest iOS 8 patch came with numerous bugs, including one that caused problems with the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, and another that disrupted cellular functionality. After Apple's forums filled with complaints
and users struggled to roll back the update
, Apple wound up pulling the patch entirely. "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update," Apple said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal
. "We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”
and the company's new iOS 8 operating system.
After months of speculation bordering on the nauseating, we appear to have a somewhat hard date for the release of the new iPhone(s) and Apple's long-awaited iWatch: September 9. ReCode had already discovered that the two different-sized iPhones would be revealed on that date
, and now states the iWatch will be unveiled as well at the same media event
. The iWatch is expected to have significant integration with Apple’s HealthKit health and fitness platform, as well as with Apple's home device integration platform HomeKit
back in 2011
both AT&T and Apple were sued for pitching a $30 unlimited data plan for the 3G-enabled iPad, then withdrawing the unlimited data plan option one month after Apple began selling the device. Last year AT&T and Apple settled the lawsuit, and those impacted users are now receiving checks for $40
. Don't spend it all in one place, kids!
Last month Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
(pdf), which aims to make unlocking one's cell phone technically legal again, even if it doesn't fully address the myriad of problems with the DMCA. In January of last year unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list.
Following on the heels of similar and controversial interconnection deals
between Netflix, Comcast and Verizon, rumors have emerged that Apple is striking similar deals with the largest ISPs. According to a blog post by Dan Rayburn
, Apple's negotiating paid interconnection deals with "some of the largest ISPs in the US" in order to deliver Apple content more efficiently to consumers, bypassing some of the traditional transit partners like Level3 and Akamai.
Back in June of 2010
, you might recall that a security hole in AT&T's website allowed two individuals to gain access to the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of 3G Apple iPads, including "dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians." A group calling itself Goatse Security at the time claimed responsibility for the "hack," which in addition to e-mail addresses resulted the group obtaining user ICC-IDs -- used to identify their specific iPad on the AT&T network.
One of those two individuals responsible for obtaining the data was Andrew Auernheimer (aka "Weev") an Internet-famous troll who was recently convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.
Apple has hired Cable industry veteran and long-time CableLabs exec Jean-François Mulé to work on "something big" over at the Cuppertino giant. MultiChannel News
notes that Mulé posted to LinkedIn, stating he's going to be "challenged, inspired and part of something big." Rumors of both an Apple television and an Apple subscription TV service have long been around, though just like every other company (Google, Intel, Sony, Microsoft) Apple has found it impossible to get the cable and broadcast industry to sign off on licensing deals for technologies that could potentially disrupt the legacy TV market.
As countless leaks already predicted, Apple today announced that they're offering a few new iPhones
: a slight flagship iPhone refresh called the iPhone 5S, and a new line of cheaper, brightly-colored iPhones with the A6 chipset known as the 5C.
The 64 bit A7-powered iPhone 5S comes in gold, silver and black and features improved battery life, a better camera, and fingerprint security.
While we're still some way away from the Internet video revolution truly taking off, we're starting to see some cracks in the licensing wall the legacy TV industry has created to prevent disruption. Viacom recently agreed to licence TV content to Sony
for their planned subscription live TV service, and reports suggest Disney has been in talks with several companies to license ESPN content for similar efforts.
According to a new study by the NPD Group
and Connected Intelligence, 80% of the 60.8 million tablets currently estimated to be in use are Wi-Fi only. Of those tablets that do have an embedded 3G or 4G radio, only about half of them have an active data plan. Meanwhile, 83% of video viewing on tablets is done in the home. You'll recall that wireless carriers first got terribly excited about selling netbooks, then got terribly excited about selling tablets, but data continues to show that people aren't interested in shelling out the extra money for a device-specific data plan. However, shared data plans
that allow users to add a tablet to a plan for just an additional $10 each month could slowly change these numbers slightly.
AT&T recently annoyed users by blocking Google Hangouts video chat
, just a year after taking heat for blocking Facetime
. AT&T pretended the move was about network logistics, but they were actually using the blockade to force grandfathered unlimited users on to metered plans (the Facetime block was ultimately removed for metered users).
A Florida woman has filed a $5 million class action lawsuit against Apple because the power button on her iPhone 4 broke. According to the lawsuit
, Apple knew about a defect in a flex cable that controls the on-off button, but refused to acknowledge the flaw in order to sell more phones. The plaintiff's lawyers are claiming Apple colluded with AT&T to violate federal RICO racketeering laws -- while also claiming that Apple has violated California consumer protection laws. Apple just got done sending out $15 checks
after settling a lawsuit over the faulty antenna design in the iPhone 4, which resulted in users in low signal areas losing connectivity if they held the phone in a certain way.
We've noted repeatedly how privacy technology discussions often have a bizarre and amusing lack of context, the press getting borderline hysterical about every NebuAD
scandal, while all-but ignoring that carriers and the government buy, sell and trade all user information daily with a total disregard (and often disdain) for law. Your iPhone tells Apple you went to Costco? Unified outrage.
As you might recall, the initial iPhone 4 suffered from a design flaw wherein if users held the phone in a certain way, the phone would lose cellular connection. Given the flaw only reared its head in areas with weak signal, it wasn't a problem noticed by many iPhone 4 users, allowing Apple to brush aside the design flaw as imaginary, irrelevant and/or common to all smartphones
. While the flaw was fixed in the design of the iPhone 4S, eighteen different lawsuits related to the iPhone 4 continued, and were settled in February of last year. As part of that settlement, impacted users were slated to get $15 checks they're only just now starting to receive
. Don't spend it all in one place!
Venture capitalist and former cable and
wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler remains the top candidate to replace departing FCC boss Julius Genachowski, according to analysis from Medley Global Advisors
. According to the report, Wheeler has seen a flurry of coordinated support from the Democratic party ahead of what could be announcement in the next week or two.
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