Back in April, wireless carriers and the government announced
that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
The move came after AT&T was sued for doing little to track or stop theft
, the lawsuit alleging it was more profitable to do nothing and cash in on stolen phone re-activations. The lawsuit (and government prodding) spurred AT&T to develop new anti-theft tools
, and carriers in general have been working hard to try and prove they care about cell phone theft.
Still, law enforcement has complained the database has proven ineffective because many phones wind up overseas. New York and San Francisco lawmakers have been eyeing the idea of a "kill switch" that would automatically render a phone useless once its owner has reported it stolen. However, according to the New York Times
, city DAs say carriers are fighting the proposals because they'll lose money on stolen device re-activations:
Mr. Gascón said he is evaluating what action to take regarding the carriers’ refusal to allow Samsung to pre-load a kill switch on its phones. "We have repeatedly requested that the carriers take steps to protect their customers. We are now evaluating what course of action will be necessary to force them to prioritize the safety of their customers over additional money in their pockets," he said.
Carriers are justifying their opposition to a kill switch by claiming they're concerned that hackers could abuse the function to disable devices used by consumers or law enforcement.
The NSA has used the Internet data collected from their myriad of sources to track porn consumption among individuals in order to discredit "radicalizers," according to the latest leaked documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to the Huffington Post
, an NSA program was designed to specifically target the "personal vulnerabilities" of specific targets, including the “viewing of sexually explicit material online" and "using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls."
The government notes that such activities are standard intelligence procedure to shame or even turn potential targets:
Stewart Baker, a one-time general counsel for the NSA and a top Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, said that the idea of using potentially embarrassing information to undermine targets is a sound one. "If people are engaged in trying to recruit folks to kill Americans and we can discredit them, we ought to," said Baker. "On the whole, it's fairer and maybe more humane" than bombing a target, he said, describing the tactic as "dropping the truth on them."
Others, however, note that many of the targets were simply activists not involved in terrorist plots, and groups like the ACLU worry that the broad collection of American citizen browsing habits allows for the potential for the broader abuse of such tactics against peaceful activists.
Some years ago Verizon froze FiOS expansion to focus on making more money off of FiOS users (rate hikes), improving uptake rates in existing FiOS areas, and converting stubborn DSL users in those areas to FiOS. Speaking recently at an investor conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo estimated that the 300,000 DSL to FiOS migrations Verizon performed this year saved the company about 600,000 truck rolls and $100 million
in repairs and maintenance in 2013 alone.
Security research firm Renesys has authored an interesting blog post
noting how they're seeing a significant uptick in the number of large-scale man in the middle attacks. What's more, insists the firm, these attacks are increasingly gobbling up a larger and larger share of overall Internet traffic without most people bothering to notice.
I've talked a lot about how AT&T and Verizon are going state
gutting regulations that cover copper networks so they can back away from unwanted POTS and DSL customers they refuse to upgrade. Both companies have framed this largely cost-savings decision as an "evolutionary step toward the IP age," even if the real-world impact for many may involve losing DSL as a competitive option
, losing reliable POTS lines, and higher prices and less competition for everyone.
Wikileaks this week released a copy
of the latest version of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that has been under construction behind closed doors for years. As we've long noted
, the TPP attempts to take some of the worst aspects of U.S.
One of the most notable bits in Sandvine's recent study on bandwidth and Internet traffic
is that the doomsday bandwidth apocalypse scenarios breathlessly predicted by numerous analysts, lobbyists, and ISPs never materialized. While peak bandwidth usage is still healthy and growing at 40%, overall bandwidth growth continues to slow substantially, continuing to be manageable with only modest network investment.
Opinion story continues..
: Whether it's their treatment of Google Wallet
, the Nexus 7
or the Nexus 5
, Verizon Wireless is increasingly making it clear that they're using their position as gatekeeper to engage in anti-competitive behavior -- with few properly calling them out for it. In all of the above instances, Verizon is using network safety and faux-technical explanations to justify why they can't offer a pure Google product -- but can instead offer you one of their own, usually inferior, bloatware-riddled products and services.
Apparently not satisfied with the more formal PRISM data collection arrangement
the NSA had with many websites and service providers, new Snowden leaks reveal that the NSA has been secretly tapping into the data centers of companies like Yahoo and Google to collect yet more information on subscriber activity. A Washington Post
report offers detail on the NSA effort, code-named "MUSCULAR," which includes collection of metadata -- and everything else.
On the heels of growing outrage from last week that the NSA has been spying on numerous world leaders
(which isn't much of a revelation since it's clear now the NSA is spying on effectively everything, everywhere). Media reports had previously claimed Obama was briefed on the spying on foreign leaders in 2010 but allowed it to continue.
AT&T has announced that the company will expand their Digital Life
home automation and security services to another seven markets. According to the AT&T statement
, AT&T users in Birmingham, Las Vegas, Louisville, Nashville, Raleigh, Richmond and Tucson can now sign up for the option.
Almost two thirds of UK homes can now access "superfast" broadband, according to Ofcom's annual infrastructure report, which was released today
. The UK communications regulator also found an increase in public Wi-fi availability and in the number of regular users.
Verizon this morning released the company's third quarter earnings
, which note that the company posted third quarter revenues of $30 billion and a third-quarter profit of $2.2 billion, up from $1.59 billion one year earlier. As is traditionally the case, the lion's share of that money came via wireless; Verizon added 1.1 million net retail connections, including 927,000 contract postpaid customers.
Those numbers were slightly below Wall Street expectations, and Verizon also saw a slight uptick in the company's churn (customer defection) rate. The possible reason? T-Mobile's recent resurgence and "uncarrier" pricing disruption strategy.
On the fixed line front, Verizon added 173,000 FiOS Internet and 135,000 FiOS TV customers, but only saw a net gain in fixed line broadband subscribers of 56,000 due to continued (and quite intentional
) DSL user departures.
A few months ago Verizon performed a complete 180 and proudly announced they'd be bringing FiOS to the 600-person community of Fire Island, New York
, after previously telling the Sandy-ravaged locals (with no other communications options) they'd never have DSL lines repaired. Verizon had tried to argue that the Verizon Voice Link wireless service they foisted upon residents was good enough, despite the fact the service was less reliable and functional than a fixed line, and didn't include data connectivity.
Updates to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) approved by the FCC last year will make it tougher on robocall and SMS spammers starting on October 16
. The updated rules will require that businesses obtain "prior express written consent" before using pre-recorded voice messages, automated voice technology, or SMS to push product or services. "We do not require prior written consent for calls made to a wireless customer by his or her wireless carrier if the customer is not charged," the FCC order clarifies.
Just before the government shut down and the FCC website went dark
, the agency announced (Google cache) that it was fining five wireless carriers for abusing the Lifeline program. Lifeline, which provides subsidized phone service for the poor, was created by the Reagan administration in 1985 and expanded by Bush in 2005.
Back in 2009, you'll recall that former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio headed to prison
to serve a six-year prison sentence for cooking the books and insider trading. You might also recall that Nacchio claimed he was being punished
in part because Qwest (now CenturyLink) was the only US telco to refuse to participate in the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
by whamel 02:33PM Thursday Sep 26 2013
Broadband delivers everything at the touch of a key or click of a mouse. Broadband delivers healthcare, security, education, entertainment. story continues..
Early last year AT&T, the company that really started the network neutrality debate to begin with
, came up with yet another controversial new idea: charging app makers a fee if they wanted to send data to consumers without impacting their usage caps.
While AT&T presented the idea as akin to a 1-800 number for data or "free shipping," consumer advocates argued AT&T was simply imposing arbitrary caps, charging customers who crossed it, then charging the biggest companies yet more money so their content received special treatment.
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