Posts Tagged ‘Regulation

28
Jun
10

Gov’t plans to double available wireless spectrum

NEWS
Gov’t plans to double available wireless spectrum

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Obama administration says it intends to nearly double the available amount of wireless communications spectrum over the next 10 years in an effort to keep up with the ever-growing demand for high-speed video and data transmission to cell phones, laptops and other mobile devices.

The White House said President Barack Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Monday committing the federal government to auctioning off 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum.

Revenue from the auctions would be spent on public safety, infrastructure investments and deficit reduction.

National Economic Council director Lawrence H Summers will explain the new policy in a speech on Monday at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

In an excerpt released by the White House, Summers said, ‘This initiative will catalyse private sector investment, contribute to economic growth and help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.’

The administration said it hopes to encourage the spread of wireless broadband across the country, including rural areas.

The auction is intended, in part, to counter fears of a potential ‘spectrum crunch’ as smart phones and laptop computers become more popular and new wireless devices hit the market.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
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27
May
10

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools

NEWS
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools
Your privacy is important to us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook on Wednesday overhauled its privacy controls to fend off mounting criticism that it is betraying the trust that has made it the world’s biggest online social-networking service.

‘It’s been a pretty intense few weeks for us, listening to all the feedback coming in from all the changes we’ve made,’ Facebook’s 26-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg said as he unveiled simplified privacy controls.

‘Our teams internally have been cranking for the last couple of weeks.’

Facebook unveiled a redesigned privacy settings page to provide a single control for content and ‘significantly reduce’ the amount of information that is always visible to everyone.

Facebook also said it is giving users more control over how outside applications or websites access information at the service.

‘This is a pretty big overhaul to the system we already have,’ Zuckerberg said while outlining the changes during a press briefing at the social network’s headquarters in the California city of Palo Alto.

‘Now we are making it so there is less information that has to be public. People want a simple way to control the way information is shared with third parties, so that is what we are doing.’

The revamped privacy controls will roll out in the coming days, according to Zuckerberg.

Facebook last month sparked criticism from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union by adding the ability for partner websites to incorporate data regarding members of the social-networking service.

Zuckerberg was adamant that Facebook does not give advertisers access to members’ personal information.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc.
Facebook Blog
Privacy Settings
Mark Zuckerberg on ‘Making Control Simple’

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22
May
10

Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

NEWS
Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

‘We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California; Washington, DC, and around the world,’ Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in response to an AFP inquiry.

‘The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.’

Facebook contended that members like new programs rolled out at the California-based internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

‘We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly,’ Noyes said.

Facebook has been under fire from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

The features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the internet.
Four U.S. senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said they were worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators also expressed concerns that ‘Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private’.

Sharing personal information should be an ‘opt-in’ procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, privacy advocates argue.

Coming Facebook refinements are not expected to include a shift to an opt-in model.

Facebook vice president of global communications Elliot Schrage has been adamant that online privacy is taken very seriously at the company.

‘These new products and features are designed to enhance personalisation and promote social activity across the internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom,’ Schrage said.

MySpace on May 17 announced plans to simplify its privacy settings as it seeks to differentiate itself from social network rival Facebook, which has eclipsed the News Corp-owned social networking service.

‘The last few weeks have been fraught with discussion around user privacy on social networks,’ MySpace co-president Mike Jones said in a blog post without directly mentioning Facebook by name.

‘While MySpace at its core is about discovery, self expression and sharing, we understand people might want the option of limiting the sharing of their information to a select group of friends,’ Jones said.
Jones said MySpace, which was bought by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million, is ‘planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles.

‘While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now,’ he said.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc. and MySpace / Digital Media Group / News Corporation
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12
Apr
10

Will Bloomberg Run for President?

NEWS
Will Bloomberg Run for President?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg had a public lunch last week with a bunch of fellow billionaires – the kind of people who will pay more taxes under President Obama’s health reforms and are wary of Democrats writing new Wall Street regulations.

He was introduced by hedge funder Donald Marron, who joked they may need Bloomberg as President by 2013.

“I’m not running,” Bloomberg said later. “Don’t worry about that.”

Except that his closest advisers never stopped thinking about it.

The mayor is mired in his usual work of balancing the budget and dealing with Albany. He keeps himself busy by expanding his foundation and watching his growing business.

None of that is the sort of Next Big Thing that captures Bloomberg’s imagination.

Running for President? That’s different. He had a taste of it in 2008. He liked the flavor.

“That’s the impression everyone has,” said someone plugged into Bloomberg’s thinking. “Otherwise [former Deputy Mayor Kevin] Sheekey wouldn’t have gone to Bloomberg L.P.”

A third-party campaign by a divorced New York Jew was a long shot in 2008, and it would be an even longer shot in 2012. But still, Sheekey has left City Hall for the mayor’s company, where the bosses would be lenient if he needed some time to play politics.

Sheekey was replaced by Howard Wolfson, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The mayor’s campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, is now a political consultant for hire.

They are watching and waiting, doing their day jobs but paying attention to the prevailing winds.

“There’s no way in April 2010 to know what the climate is going to be in November 2012,” said a Bloomberg veteran.

Bloomberg’s last presidential flirtation was predicated on the hope that Democrats and Republicans would nominate hard-edged ideologues who would rub the broad middle of America the wrong way. Hillary Clinton on the left and Rudy Giuliani on the right, his team figured, would leave an opening for a pragmatic independent like Bloomberg who could finance his own campaign without worrying about party infrastructure.

It didn’t work out that way. Obama ran as a reasonable moderate who could end partisanship and bring the country together – taking up the space Bloomberg needed.

Now look forward. If Obama can recover his honeymoon image as a responsible centrist – and if the economy starts humming again – it’s tough to imagine Bloomberg taking on a strong incumbent. If not? If Obama is seen as a doctrinaire Democrat and Tea Partyers take over the GOP?

Bloomberg would love to be President. His confidants would love to help him. Consultants would love to jump on his payroll.

In the meantime, Bloomberg offers measured praise for Obama. “I think he’s doing a good job,” Bloomberg said last week. “You want the President to succeed. If you disagree with him, in the last year, that’s the time to campaign against him. Throw him out and put somebody else in.”

Perhaps Bloomberg was being hypothetical. Perhaps not.

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07
Apr
10

Federal court curbs FCC authority on Web traffic

NEWS
Federal court curbs FCC authority on Web traffic

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to force Internet service providers to keep their networks open to all forms of content, throwing into doubt the agency’s status as the government guardian of the Web.
The FCC has long sought to impose rules requiring Internet providers to offer equal access to all Web sites, a concept known as network neutrality. But in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the agency lacked the power to stop cable giant Comcast from limiting traffic to a popular file-sharing site called BitTorrent.

While the Comcast case centered on the issue of network neutrality, the court’s ruling could hamper other agency initiatives, including an ambitious plan to expand high-speed Internet service nationwide and enforce new rules that hold carriers to promises of certain speeds for consumers.

The decision could spur the FCC or Congress to rewrite rules or laws to more concretely make the agency a regulator of Internet services.

The agency had intentionally kept its authority over broadband services vague, in hopes of spurring growth by keeping the market for Internet services largely deregulated. A reversal of that framework — which consumer groups have urged — would be strongly opposed by companies that operate Internet networks.

“Comcast swung an ax at the FCC to protest the BitTorrent order and they sliced right through the FCC’s arm and plunged the ax into their own back,” said Ben Scott, police director for public interest group Free Press.
The FCC’s predicament stems from Comcast’s challenge of sanctions the FCC issued against it in 2008.

In a 3-2 vote, the agency found that Comcast had violated open-Internet guidelines by slowing traffic to the BitTorrent file-sharing site. Those guidelines were meant to force broadband providers to treat all traffic equally on their networks, so as not to put any application at a disadvantage.

Comcast appealed the FCC sanction, saying the agency’s order was outside its scope. The court on Tuesday agreed.

Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman, said the company was “gratified” by the decision.

“Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation,” she said.

As a practical matter, the court ruling will not have any immediate impact on Internet users because Comcast and other large Internet providers are not currently restricting specific types of Web content and have no plans to do so.

The decision came as Comcast is pursuing agency approval of its proposed $30 billion merger with NBC Universal.

The cable giant has opposed FCC efforts to impose rules requiring that Internet providers offer equal access to all Web sites. The company argues, as it did in the BitTorrent case, that it needs to be able to limit some users from activities that could slow network operation for many customers, such as downloading massive movie files.

But in hearings on the merger, some lawmakers have said net neutrality rules would ensure that the combined company would not unfairly use its weight against competing Web sites.

Other companies such as Google and Facebook have supported government efforts to push net neutrality. Tuesday’s ruling may encourage the FCC to respond with what Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett calls the “nuclear option” — moving broadband providers into the same category as phone providers, which would subject them to many more rules.

That “would have sweeping implications far, far beyond net neutrality … and would bring back a raft of regulatory obligations from the days of monopoly telecommunications regulation,” Moffett said.

The decision puts in doubt dozens of policies the FCC hopes to roll out as part of the national broadband plan it released last month. It may complicate some reallocation of $8 billion in phone subsidies to build new broadband networks and hinder creation of a wireless public safety network for first responders, public advocacy groups say.

The FCC did not say specifically how it plans to respond to the court’s decision. Agency spokeswoman Jen Howard said it was important that the FCC’s broadband agenda rest on a “solid legal foundation.”

Michael Copps, a Democratic FCC commissioner, said in a statement: “It is time we stop doing the ‘ancillary authority’ dance and instead rely on the statute Congress gave us to stand on solid legal ground in safeguarding the benefits of the Internet for American consumers.”
• Source(s): Federal Communications Commission and Cisco Systems, Inc.

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17
Mar
10

Bill seeks closer public-private cybersecurity cooperation

NEWS
Bill seeks closer public-private cybersecurity cooperation

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

••• Two US senators introduced legislation Wednesday seeking a closer partnership between the government and the private sector on cybersecurity.

“Private companies and the government must work together to protect our nation, our networks and our way of life from the growing cyber threat,” said Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, a sponsor of the bill.

“The networks that American families and businesses rely on for basic day-to-day activities are being hacked and attacked every day,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

“At this very moment, sophisticated cyber enemies are trying to steal our identities, our money, our business innovations, and our national security secrets,” he said. “This 21st century threat calls for a robust 21st century response from our government, our private sector and our citizens.”

The Cybersecurity Act is a new draft of a bill introduced last year and was revised to take into account the views of more cybersecurity experts in the private sector, government and civil liberties community.

The bill would not allow the president to shut down the Internet unilaterally — a revision to address critics of the prior bill who claimed it would provide that authority.

The proposal would require collaboration with the private sector in responding to a “cybersecurity emergency.”

A “cybersecurity emergency” is defined as “a cyber event that is equivalent to an act of war, a terrorist attack, or a major natural disaster.”

Another new provision in the bill would allow the president to provide security clearances to private sector officials to allow for the sharing of classified information.

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, the cosponsor, said the bill “seeks to bring new high-level governmental attention to developing a fully integrated, thoroughly coordinated public-private partnership.”

A companion bill to the Cybersecurity Act calls for the creation of a post of National Cybersecurity Adviser at the White House which would require Senate confirmation.

President Barack Obama has cited cybersecurity as a national priority and named Howard Schmidt, a former Microsoft executive, as his cybsersecurity coordinator in December.

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