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by Revcb Friday 31-May-2013
Here in the States, any attempt to impose meaningful net neutrality rules for consumers effectively died back in 2010
in a puff of partisan bickering and disinformation. Even the feeble rules the FCC did muster the stomach to pass are facing obliteration by lawsuit courtesy of Verizon
Barring veto by Austin Governor Rick Perry, Texas is poised to pass one of the toughest e-mail privacy protection laws in the nation. HB2268
would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), requiring that state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant for all e-mails regardless of the age of the e-mail. That protection however wouldn't extend to federal investigations
. After passing both houses of the Texas legislature earlier this year without a single "nay" vote, the bill now sits on the desk of Governor Perry, who has until June 16 to veto it, or it passes automatically this fall.
As I've been discussing a lot lately
(because it's the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines -- and by proxy DSL -- to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist that they're simply interested in "modernizing regulations" and ushering us into an "all IP age." In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they're unwilling to upgrade.
CISPA last week passed the House by a vote of 288 to 187
courtesy of oodles of lobbying cash from the likes of Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, and Intel, who all desire the protections the bill gives them for privacy violations. However, Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the chairman of the U.S.
Last week CISPA passed the house
courtesy of oodles of lobbying cash from companies like AT&T, Verizon, Google, Intel and Cisco. Those companies are thrilled that the bill protects them from privacy violations, as are security firms eager to net billions in government contracts to fight an endless parade of phantom "cybersecurity" menaces.
As a private company, Cox Communications is one of the few companies that refused to participate in the entertainment industry's "six strikes" anti-piracy initiative. However, the company has taken things into their own hands, telling Torrent Freak
that they're running an anti-piracy program of their own.
California Assembly Member and Los Angeles representative Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced a bill called "The Right to Know Act of 2013
" (pdf). Her bill would require all California provide consumers, upon request, a list of all user data collected and precisely who that data is being shared with or sold to. "By modernizing the requirements, consumers have a right to know not just how their basic information may have been used for junk mail, but also how it's collected and shared with data brokers, advertisers, and others," Lowenthal says in a statement on her website
. You can expect oh -- a wee bit of opposition from the government and the myriad of companies busily tracking and selling anything that isn't nailed down.
Last month I noted
how CISPA was likely returning for a second try, despite complaints that the bill would significantly erode consumer privacy and expand Internet activity surveillance under the guise of "cybersecurity." Sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger insisted he was working on fixing the bill so it addressed the concerns of privacy advocates, then immediately proceeded in re-introducing a completely unchanged version of the original. Now the bill is heading to Congress for a closed door debate
so that the public can't point out how awful the bill is -- again. About that whole Congress supposedly working for the people thing...
Streaming OTA video provider Aereo this week saw another major win in their fight against broadcasters looking to shut the service down. Fox network founder Barry Diller started Aereo
trials last year in New York City, the service offering users a $12 a month option for local broadcast television services -- adding an interesting and inexpensive option for those eager to cut the cord.
Despite the fact that Google Glass isn't even launched yet, West Virginia lawmakers are getting ready to pass a law banning people from using Glass while driving
. State lawmakers have already been working on new laws that ban texting while driving, so Gary Howell (R-Mineral) is updating the law so that it also covers "a computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer." Google, for its part, is trying to argue that Google Glass could make drivers safer:
"We are putting a lot of thought into the design of Glass because new technologies always raise new issues," a Google spokesperson wrote to Ars. "We actually believe there is tremendous potential to improve safety on our roads and reduce accidents. As always, feedback is welcome."
While the potential for driver distraction might be significant, West Virginia probably has more important things to worry about than passing regulations governing a niche product few people will actually be able to afford at $1,500 a pop. This is the state currently investigating its own incompetence and corruption
after state leaders wasted $126.3-million in broadband funding on un-used, overpriced routers and redundant, overpaid consultants, in the process lining Cisco and Verizon's pockets with no-bid contracts.
by Revcb Thursday 14-Mar-2013
A petition on the White House website
urging the Obama administration to stop CISPA has received the 100,000 signatures necessary to get a White House response. CISPA "creates broad legal exemptions that allow the government to share "cyber threat intelligence" with private companies, and companies to share "cyber threat information" with the government, for the purposes of enhancing cybersecurity," argues the petition. "The problems arise from the definitions of these terms, especially when it comes to companies sharing data with the feds." The last CISPA crumbled in the aftershocks of SOPA, but with many companies (like Verizon and AT&T
) supporting this bill, the second attempt may be more successful.
While investing some money into broadband infrastructure (especially given the amount we spend on war) is not a bad idea, implementation in many states has been problematic. West Virginia has probably been the poster child for corruption and incompetence
when it comes to broadband stimulus funds, the state (with Verizon's help) spending millions on over-power, unused routers and expensive consultants who apparently don't actually do anything
As we noted last month
, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been working on an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that would have strengthened consumer e-mail privacy protections, requiring that the government obtain a warrant before snooping user e-mail or remotely stored data (like cloud storage). It was a surprising direction for a government that has relentless pushed to eliminate all citizen privacy protections, so not too surprisingly the Amendment has been killed without explanation
Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud). The Senate was set to approve the video privacy bill along with the email amendment, which would have applied to a different law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But then senators decided for reasons unknown to drop the amendment.
Current law allows the government to sift through emails and other cloud data without a warrant provided the data has been stored for 180 days or more. However, with wiretaps installed at most large carriers
providing the government user communications in real time, it's believed that those laws are generally laughed at by intelligence services.
Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a new bill taking taking aim at broadband usage caps. According to a description of the bill on Wyden's website
, the The Data Cap Integrity Act would attempt to impose industry wide standards not only ensuring that usage meters are accurate, but that caps and overages are actually being used to manage network congestion, not, as a recent NY Times
editorial proclaimed, as just "a way for Internet providers to extract monopoly rents."
"Internet use is central to our lives and to our economy," said Wyden in a statement.
While the oft-criticized Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to bypass DRM, when the law was based back in 1998 a provision allowed the Librarian of Congress to grant certain exemptions. As Ars Technica
notes, the latest triennial review of DMCA exemptions
(pdf) again highlights how arbitrary and bizarre the DMCA can be.
by Revcb Thursday 30-Aug-2012
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