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T-Mobile And Dish Networks Score Most In FCC’s Wireless Spectrum Bids

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc bid $8 billion and Dish Network Corp $6.2 billion to acquirethe bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction, according to a statement from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The two carriers accounted for most of the $19.8 billion in winning bids, the FCC said. Comcast Corp agreed to acquire $1.7 billion in spectrum, AT&T Inc bid $910 million and investment firm Columbia Capital offered $1 billion.

The FCC said 175 broadcast stations were selling airwaves to 50 wireless and other telecommunications companies. Companies plan to use the spectrum to build new networks or improve existing coverage.

The spectrum auction’s end is widely expected to kick off a wave of deal-making in the telecom industry. Until now, companies participating in the auction have been restrained by a quiet period, but that will end after April 27, when down payments are due from auction winners.

T-Mobile said its $8 billion winning bid would enable it “to compete in every single corner of he country.” The company, controlled by Deutsche Telekom AG , said the investment will quadruple its low-band holdings.

Verizon Communications Inc and Sprint Corp opted not to bid.

“What is most interesting to us was (Verizon) was nowhere to be found,” Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a research note, adding that “we continue to believe Verizon’s interests lay in the higher band spectrum assets.”

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in an email that there were three surprises in the results: “Comcast bought less than expected, Dish Network bought more, and Verizon bought nothing at all.”

Moffett said Dish’s spectrum spending underscored “the growing importance of the company’s valuation as it relates to their spectrum holdings.”

Comcast sold spectrum from three of its NBCUniversal owned stations in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago for $481.6 million.

The FCC also announced new channel assignments for 957 non-winning stations that must change channels to clear the new wireless airwaves for use.

Of the $19.8 billion bid, more than $7 billion will go to reduce the U.S. deficit and $10.05 billion to broadcasters relinquishing spectrum. Up to $1.75 billion will go to broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels.

Sellers had initially sought $86.4 billion for 126 megahertz. Many analysts had expected broadcasters to earn more and sell more spectrum.

3D Printed Parts Cuts Cost For Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

April 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Boeing plans to use at least four 3D-printed titanium parts to construct its 787 Dreamliner aircraft and may some day rely on as many as 1,000 parts created via  additive manufacturing.

Boeing has hired Oslo, Norway-based Norsk Titanium AS to print the parts. It marks the first time that FAA-approved, 3D-printed titanium parts will be used as structural components on a commercial aircraft, according to the company.

The parts will be used near the rear of the Dreamliner, a mid-sized, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner. Boeing builds about 144 Dreamliners each year.

Printing 3D parts for Boeing will allow the aircraft manufacturer to eventually reduce the production costs for each 787 Dreamliner by as much as $3 million, Norsk Titanium said.

“We are providing Boeing with an initial quantity of four parts per 787 airplane and are actively working to expand this order to possibly more than 1,000 parts per airplane, which if we achieve, could save Boeing $2 million to $3 million per airplane some years from now,” a Norsk Titanium spokesman said via email to Computerworld. “If we achieve our goal of selling over 1,000 parts per 787, they would be located in a wide variety of structural applications.”

The use of 3D printing technology is growing at an exponential rate, Boeing said, and interest in using it “has increased dramatically during the past few years.”

“3D printing offers great potential to reduce the cost and weight of aircraft structures and improve the ability of engineers to design parts purely for their eventual function in a vehicle system,” a Boeing spokesperson said in an email. “3D printing enables the design and production of integral structures. This means converting an assembly and several structures into one piece.”

Boeing’s use of Norsk Titanium’s parts is not the company’s first foray into the use 3D printing technology.

Last year, Boeing said it was testing an industrial 3D printer from Stratasys that can build objects of virtually any size using materials such as carbon fiber for lighter weight and stronger parts. The printers were designed to address the requirements of aerospace, automotive and other industries by being able to build completed parts with repeatable mechanical properties.

U.S. Labor Department Alleges Google Underpays Female Workers

April 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Department of Labor says Google discriminates against women workers in pay at a level that’s even worse than the tech industry as a whole.

The department has found “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Labor Department Regional Director Janette Wipper testified in a court in San Francisco on Friday, according to a report by The Guardian. Janet Herold, the department’s regional solicitor, told the Guardian that pay discrimination against women was extreme.

Wipper said that the Labor Department found pay disparities in a snapshot of salaries from 2015, according to the Guardian.

Wipper’s testimony was part of a hearing about a lawsuit that the Labor Department brought against Google to force the company to hand over salary information. The department is authorized to conduct audits of Google’s employment practices because the company gets government contracts. It says Google hasn’t been cooperating.

The agency has asked the Office of Administrative Law Judges, a special court for Labor Department programs, to cancel all of Google’s government contracts and keep it from getting future contracts if it doesn’t comply with the request for data.

Google vehemently disagrees with the department’s assertion, the company said in an emailed statement.

“Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap,” the statement read. “Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the DoL hasn’t provided any data, or shared its methodology.”

At the time it filed the lawsuit, the Labor Department characterized the request for information as routine, but Google says the agency has cast too wide a net. (In a statement earlier this year, the company said it provided “hundreds of thousands of records” to the DoL as part of the audit.)

That argument appears to hold some water for Steven Berlin, the administrative law judge overseeing the case.

Last month, Berlin denied the Labor Department’s motion for summary judgment, which would have immediately concluded the case in its favor. He said the department’s request for the data was “unreasonably burdensome, given its extremely limited relevance.”

The reported testimony on Friday came three days after Google said in a tweet that it had “closed the gender pay gap globally.” The company also published a guide to doing the same at other companies.

 

Amazon To Refund Parents Over Kid’s In-app Purchases

April 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Parents with children who racked up bills, sometimes huge, through in-app purchases will receive some or all of that money back. Amazon could have to refund more than $70 million to affected consumers, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC and Amazon have agreed to end their legal battle over whether the U.S. company unlawfully charged its customers for the purchases.

A year ago, a court found that Amazon had.

The company’s app store can be downloaded to Android devices and it runs on certain Kindle tablets. However, parents had complained that Amazon’s system had made it all too easy for their children to buy virtual items in the apps, without their consent.

Both the FTC and Amazon had filed appeals related to the case, but on Tuesday, they dropped them. That opens the way for the refund process to begin shortly, according to the FTC.

More than $70 million in in-app charges made from 2011 to 2016 may be eligible for refunds, the U.S. regulator said.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, so it’s unclear how the company will reimburse its customers. Amazon had taken a 30 percent cut from the in-app purchases, according to the FTC.

In 2014, Apple and Google settled similar cases over in-app purchases with the FTC, which resulted in a combined $51 million in refunds to customers.

In Apple’s case, the company emailed and sent postcards to every customer who might have been affected. Apple eventually received 37,000 claims, and made refunds to them all.

WhatsApp Exploring Digital Payments Service

April 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Instant messaging app WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, is exploring a foray into digital payment services in India, its first such offering globally, and has advertised to hire a digital transactions lead in the country.

A WhatsApp move into digital payments in India, its biggest market that is home to 200 million of its billion plus global users, would replicate similar moves by messaging apps like Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat in China.

WhatsApp is working to launch person-to-person payments in India in the next six months, news website The Ken reported earlier on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

A job advertisement on WhatsApp’s website said it was looking for a candidate with a technical and financial background – who understands India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the BHIM payments app that enable money transfers and merchant payments using mobile numbers – to be its digital transactions lead for the country.

“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India,” a WhatsApp spokesman said, referring to a flagship government program that aims to boost the use of Internet-based services in the country.

“We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users,” the spokesman said, declining to elaborate further.

Digital transactions in India have surged after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock ban of certain high-value bank notes in November that accounted for more than 80 percent of the country’s currency in circulation at the time.

In February, WhatsApp’s co-founder, Brian Acton, had told local media that the app was in early stages of investigating digital payments in the country and that he had talked to the Indian government about the matter.

Just last week, Swedish communications app Truecaller, which has a large user base in India, started a mobile payment service in the country based on the UPI platform.

U.S. Commerce Department Removes ZTE From Trade Blacklist

March 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Department of Commerce has agreed to remove Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp  from a trade blacklist after the company pleaded guilty to violating sanctions on Iran and agreed to pay nearly $900 million, the agency said in a notice.

Removal from the list marks the end of a tense period for ZTE, which faced trade restrictions that could have severed its ties to critical U.S. suppliers.

“By acknowledging the mistakes we made, taking responsibility for them … we are committed to a ZTE that is fully compliant, healthy and trustworthy,” said ZTE Chief Executive Zhao Xianming said in an emailed statement.

Last year, the U.S. Commerce Department placed export restrictions on ZTE as punishment for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The restrictions would have prevented restricted suppliers from providing ZTE any U.S.-made equipment, potentially freezing the Chinese handset maker’s supply chain.

Over the past 12 months, as ZTE cooperated with U.S. authorities, the U.S. Commerce Department temporarily suspended the trade restrictions with a series of three-month reprieves, allowing the company to maintain ties to U.S. suppliers.

Earlier this month, ZTE agreed to pay a total of $892.4 million and pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions by sending American-made technology to Iran and lying to investigators.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday it would impose severe restrictions on former ZTE CEO Shi Lirong, whom the agency accused of approving efforts to skirt sanctions and ship equipment to Iran.

The Commerce Department said Shi approved a systematic, written business plan to use shell companies to secretly export U.S. technology to Iran. Reuters could not immediately reach Shi for comment.

The U.S. investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that ZTE had signed contracts with Iran to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of America’s best-known technology companies.

U.S. authorities have said the size of the financial penalty against ZTE also reflects the fact that the company lied to investigators when executives were approached about the allegations.

As part of the deal, ZTE will be under probation for three years and agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation.

Uber Calls It Quit In Another Market

March 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ride-hailing group Uber Technologies will discontinue offering services in Denmark next month due to a taxi law that puts into effect new requirements for drivers such as mandatory fare meters, the company said on Tuesday.

Uber has faced headwinds since its app went online in Denmark in 2014 as local taxi driver unions, companies and politicians complained that Uber posed unfair competition by not meeting legal standards required for established taxi firms.

Uber, which says about 2,000 Danish drivers and 300,000 riders use its app, said in a statement that it would shut down its services in Denmark on April 18 due to the new law.

Despite the minority liberal government’s ambitions to deregulate the taxi business and accommodate new operations like Uber, the taxi law presented in February introduced measures such as mandatory fare meters and seat sensors.

“For us to operate in Denmark again the proposed regulations need to change. We will continue to work with the government in the hope that they will update their proposed regulations and enable Danes to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber,” Uber said.

Two Danish Uber driver were fined in November for violating taxi laws and in December Uber’s European division was indicted by Danish public prosecutors on charges of assisting those drivers in violating taxi laws.

Uber said it would allocate resources to help Danish Uber drivers through the shutdown process.

Is The U.S. Losing The Supercomputer Race?

March 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are worried that that China is “extremely likely” to take the leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020.

A report with the catchy title “U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing” has been penned by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and several other agencies.

It said that China’s supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also US leadership in high-tech manufacturing.

If China succeeds, it may “undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy,” the report warns. Of course, it does not matter – the US government is going to start investing in private coal companies soon and that will sort the whole mess out. Nothing says high-tech like a coal powered factory. We are sure Isambard Kingdom Brunel could come up with a steam powered supercomputer, if he were alive, and American.

Of course the report will be dismissed by the current US government as it is written by scientists and no one believes them any more – after all they think the world is older than 6,000 years and that God is going to wipe us out with another flood, which he promised not to do.

The report said that it is easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean — without considering China’s motivations.

“These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centres showed a mind-set where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made by China’”.

Courtesy-Fud

Research Shows Cobol Is Not As Hacker-proof As Initially Thought

March 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

New research is dispelling the idea that legacy systems — such as Cobol and Fortran — are more secure because hackers are unfamiliar with the technology.

New research found that these outdated systems, which may not be encrypted or even documented, were more susceptible to threats.

By analyzing publicly available federal spending and security breach data, the researchers found that a 1% increase in the share of new IT development spending is associated with a 5% decrease in security breaches.

“In other words, federal agencies that spend more in maintenance of legacy systems experience more frequent security incidents, a result that contradicts a widespread notion that legacy systems are more secure,” the paper found. The research paper was written by Min-Seok Pang, an assistant professor of management information systems at Temple University, and Huseyin Tanriverdi, an associate professor in the Information, Risk and Operations Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Maybe the conventional wisdom that legacy systems are secure could be right,” said Pang, in an interview. But the integration of these systems “make the whole enterprise architecture too complex, too messy” and less secure, he said.

Federal agencies have seen a rapid increase in security incidents, the paper points out, citing federal data assembled by the Government Accountability Office. From 2006 through 2014, the number of reported security incidents increased by more than 1,100 percent, or from 5,503 to 67,168. An incident can cover a range of activities, such as a denial of service, successfully executed malicious code, and breaches that give intruders access.

One of the largest federal system breaches occurred in 2015, when hackers gained access to some 18 million records at the Office of Personnel Management.

Tony Scott, the former federal CIO under President Barack Obama, told lawmakers at a hearing last year that nearly three quarters of IT budgets are spent maintaining legacy systems.

“These systems often pose significant security risks, such as the inability to utilize current security best practices, including data encryption and multi-factor authentication, which make them particularly vulnerable to malicious cyber activity,” Scott said.

The U.S., overall, has more than 3,400 IT professionals employed to maintain legacy programming languages, a U.S. House committee was told after the OPM breach.

If the federal government doesn’t modernize its systems, Pang said it may see more large breaches similar to the OPM hack.

In the absence of modernization, Pang said that effective IT governance “mitigates security risks of the legacy systems.” It also recommended moving systems to the cloud.

Pang said the government needs to pass the Modernizing Government Technology Act. That legislation, which was approved by the House last year, would have boosted IT spending by about $9 billion from 2017 to 2021 had it reached the president’s desk.

Facebook Bans Surveillance Tools Creation From Own Massive Data

March 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is forbidding software developers from using the massive social network’s data to create surveillance tools, closing off a process that had been exploited by U.S. police departments to track protesters

Facebook, its Instagram unit and rival Twitter Inc came under fire last year from privacy advocates after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a report that police were using location data and other user information to spy on protesters in places such as Ferguson, Missouri.

In response to the ACLU report, the companies shut off the data access of Geofeedia, a Chicago-based data vendor that said it works with organizations to “leverage social media,” but Facebook policy had not explicitly barred such use of data in the future.

“Our goal is to make our policy explicit,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in a post on the social network on Monday. He was not immediately available for an interview.

The change would help build “a community where people can feel safe making their voices heard,” Sherman said.

Racially charged protests broke out in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in the aftermath of the August 2014 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.

In a 2015 email message, a Geofeedia employee touted its “great success” covering the protests, according to the ACLU report based on government records.

Representatives of Geofeedia could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. The company has worked with more than 500 law enforcement agencies, the ACLU said.

Geofeedia Chief Executive Officer Phil Harris said in October that the company was committed to privacy and would work to build on civil rights protections.

Major social media platforms including Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube have taken action or implemented policies similar to Facebook’s, said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of Northern California.

Ozer praised the companies’ action but said they should have stopped such use of data earlier. “It shouldn’t take a public records request from the ACLU for these companies to know what their developers are doing,” she said.

It was also unclear how the companies would enforce their policies, said Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, a nonprofit that opposes government use of social media for surveillance.

Inside corporations, “is the will there, without constant activist pressure, to enforce these rules?” Cyril said.

Consumer Reports Plans To Rate Products On Data Security And Privacy

March 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Consumer Reports, a major source for gadget and appliance reviews in the U.S.,will begin to rate products on data security and privacy.

The nonprofit publication has unveiled a set of new testing standards it hopes will push the tech industry to create safer products.

“The goal is to help consumers understand which digital products do the most to protect their privacy and security, and give them the most control over their personal data,” the publication said.

Already, cybersecurity  experts are finding new tech products, whether they are cars or smart teddy bears, that are often poorly secured and easy to hack.

Other tech products have been found collecting data on their users, without their knowledge.

Government agencies and private groups have tried to address the problem by designing new guidelines for the industry to follow. However, none of them has received widespread support, Consumer Reports said.

But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. “Consumer pressure and choices can change the marketplace,” the publication said.

Although Consumer Reports didn’t give a date, it will “eventually” use the new standards to test and rate products. In doing so, the publication can expose which vendors are failing to protect their consumers, and the information can help inform the public about the products they should buy.

“When consumers vote with their wallets and their clicks, we’ve seen that companies pay attention,” the publication said.

To develop the standards, the publication collaborated with three digital consumer protection groups including one led by a well-known cybersecurity expert Peiter “Mudge” Zatko.

Zatko is the director at the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, a nonprofit that has come up with a rating system to test software for security problems.

“You cannot tell people everything’s on fire and then not have anything positive for consumers to do,” Zatko said in a statement.

Consumer Reports has already made its testing standard available on GitHub, and it’s looking for feedback. The publication is also hoping that industry vendors will use the standard when developing new tech products.

“We think these standards address a real gap in the marketplace,” Consumer Reports said.

Although the publication is mainly focused on the U.S. market, it’s also part of Consumers International, a federation of consumer groups that’s working to protect people’s digital privacy across the world.

Self-driving Bus With No Human Backup To Hit California Streets

March 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A pair of $250,000 autonomous buses began driving around an empty San Francisco Bay Area parking lot on Monday, gearing up to move onto a local public road in California’s first pilot program for a self-driving vehicle without steering wheel or human operator.

California and other states are weighing the opportunities of becoming a hub of testing a technology that is seen as the future of transportation and the risks from giving up active control of a large, potentially dangerous vehicle.

In most tests of self-driving cars there is still a person seated at the steering wheel, ready to take over, although Alphabet Inc’s Waymo tested a car with no steering wheel or pedals in Austin, Texas, as early as 2015.

The bus project in San Ramon, at the Bishop Ranch office park complex, involves two 12-passenger shuttle buses from French private company EasyMile.

The project is backed by a combination of private companies and public transit and air quality authorities, with the intention of turning it into a permanent, expanded operation, said Habib Shamskhou, a program manager who strolled in front of a moving bus to show that the vehicle would notice him and react. It stopped.

In a test for reporters, one bus cruised a block-long circuit so consistently that it created a dirt track on the tarmac.

California legislators late last year passed a law to allow slow-speed testing of fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels or pedals on public roads, with the Bishop Ranch test in mind.

The shuttle buses will test for a few months in the parking lots before operators apply for Department of Motor Vehicles approval under the new law. The vehicles are expected to swing onto the local street late this year or early in 2018.

Imposter Scams Passes Identity theft, Says Federal Trade Commission

March 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

More U.S. consumers filed complaints about imposter scams than identity theft for the first time in 2016, as fraudsters relied more on the phone and less on email to find victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Impostor scams accounted for 406,578 of the 3,050,374 consumer complaints received in 2016 by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network, just above the 399,225 received for identity theft, the agency said.

Debt collection generated 859,090, or 28 percent, of all complaints, more than any other category. Complaints overall fell 3 percent from the record 3,140,803 set a year earlier.

The FTC attributed the rise in impostor scam complaints to more fraudsters pretending to be trustworthy government officials, like from the Internal Revenue Service demanding payment of taxes.

Impostor scams topped the list of complaints from military personnel, accounting for 32 percent of the 115,984 received.

The 19 percent drop in identity theft complaints, meanwhile, came as authorities try to educate consumers about protecting personal data and reporting suspicious activity quickly.

Of the consumers reporting fraud, 77 percent said scammers contacted them first by phone, up from 54 percent just two years earlier.

Only 8 percent reported being first contacted by email, and just 6 percent through the Internet.

A total of 662,209 consumers reported losing $744.5 million through fraud in 2016, for an average $1,124 each, the FTC said.

Fifty-eight percent of reported fraudulent payments were made by wire transfers, and most of the rest by credit cards, debits from bank accounts, or prepaid cards, the FTC said.

The database includes complaints made directly to the FTC, various state and federal law enforcement agencies, and other groups including the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Bitcoin Continues Gaining Value, Hits New High

March 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Digital currency bitcoin hit a record high this past Friday as optimism about the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin exchange-traded fund by the Securities and Exchange Commission grows.

“There’s one catalyst at the moment and that is the expectation that the Winklevoss Trust will be approved on the 11th of March. That’s the only game in town,” said Daniel Masters, portfolio manager of Jersey-based Global Advisors Bitcoin Investment Program.

Investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have a pending application with the SEC for a bitcoin ETF, which was filed nearly four years ago. On March 11, the twins are expected to receive a final decision from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on whether they can list their ETF.

If approved by the SEC, this would be the first bitcoin ETF issued by a U.S. entity.

On Friday, bitcoin climbed to a record $1,298 on the BitStamp platform. Bitcoin last traded at $1,263.01, up nearly 5 percent on the day. So far this year, bitcoin has surged more than 30 percent.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to move money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority.

Darin Stanchfield, founder and chief executive officer of bitcoin wallet KeepKey, said the approval of the Winklevoss ETF would be a big boost to the market. “It should add a fair amount of liquidity to the bitcoin market,” added.

To date, there are two other bitcoin ETF applications with the SEC. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, backed by early bitcoin advocate Barry Silbert and his Digital Currency Group, filed its application with the SEC in March last year.

SolidX Partners Inc, a U.S. technology company that provides blockchain services, also filed its ETF application in July of last year.

Bitcoin relies on so-called “mining” computers that validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles every 10 minutes. In return, the first to solve the puzzle and clear the transaction is rewarded with new bitcoins.

Analysts said the groundwork for bitcoin gains was laid in July last year in a process called “halving,” where rewards offered to bitcoin miners shrink. That has constrained the supply of the digital currency.

Dan Morehead, chief executive officer at hedge fund Pantera Capital, said in his recent letter to investors that the bitcoin price moves in line with the currency’s use in transactions and both have risen sharply.

He sees the bitcoin price possibly rising to $2,288 by the end of the year.

FCC To Seeks To Halt ISP Privacy Rules It Passed In October

February 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The new chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans on  requesting a stay on privacy rules for broadband providers that the agency just passed in October.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will ask for either a full commission vote on the stay before parts of the rules take effect next Thursday or he will instruct FCC staff to delay part of the rules pending a commission vote, a spokesman said Friday.

The rules, passed when the FCC had a Democratic majority, require broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details, with third parties. Without the stay, the opt-in requirements were scheduled to take effect next week.

But critics have complained that the rules only apply to ISPs, and not to giant online companies, like Google and Facebook, that collect huge amounts of personal data. And the FCC rules hold ISPs to a higher privacy standard than the case-by-case privacy enforcement that the Federal Trade Commission uses when investigating other companies, critics say.

Supporters of the strong ISP privacy rules say broadband providers have huge opportunities to collect customers’ personal information. And U.S. law gives the FCC little authority to regulate the privacy practices of companies that aren’t network service providers.

“Chairman Pai believes that the best way to protect the online privacy of American consumers is through a comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework,” an FCC spokesman said by email.  “All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another.”

Republican Pai has promised to roll back many of the regulations passed while Democrat Tom Wheeler served as FCC chairman. This week, the FCC voted to roll back some net neutrality regulations that require broadband providers to inform customers about their network management practices.

Pai’s decision to stay the privacy rules goes against U.S. law requiring the agency to protect customers of telecom networks, said Matt Wood, policy director at digital rights group Free Press.

Pai’s decision, however, earned praise from former Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat who has criticized FCC regulations in recent years.

The stay is “a smart first step toward rolling back asymmetrical regulation that is at odds with consumers’ privacy expectations, deters innovation and causes marketplace distortion,” said Boucher, now honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, a broadband advocacy group.

 

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