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.
While research groups like IDC and Gartner have shown an overall 15.6 decrease in worldwide tablet shipments in 2016, the market has not gone entirely belly-up, as Amazon continues to pull ahead with a phenomenal 99.4 percent increase in annual tablet growth during the same period.
According to a report by the folks at TrendForce, Amazon managed to ship 11 million Fire-series tablets over the course of 2016 even as global tablet shipments fell by 6.6 percent from the previous year. While the sales numbers were impressive, the company still fell behind Apple at 27 percent of the market and Samsung at 17.2 percent, yet managed to beat expectations as a result of strong year-end holiday sales.
Apple also pulled ahead with strong tablet sales last year and retained its top spot, selling 42 million devices to Samsung’s 27 million. A few weeks ago, we wrote that IDC may have regretted telling the media to rely on expectations that the fruit-themed device company would allegedly oversee the decline of traditional PC sales by 2015. While traditional PC sales dropped 5.7 percent to 260.2 million in 2016, they still remain an impressive part of the overall device market and have not fallen as quickly as tablets have over the past year.
TrendForce expects tablet sales to continue declining from 157.4 million units in 2016 to around 147.8 million units 2017. While Amazon nearly doubled its annual shipments and Apple enjoyed strong iPad sales over the holiday season, other brands such as Microsoft are expected to fall into 7th place as the company experiences panel shortages for its Surface Pro series.
For a limited time, Amazon will occasionally offer its 7-inch 8GB Fire Essentials bundle and its 16GB Fire Essentials Bundle at discounted prices. For instance, the former had been available for $33.33 in November and $49.99 until earlier this month, along with free Prime shipping. The company is expected to offer similar deals throughout the year in an effort to strengthen its sales base from loyal Prime customers.
If you were hoping to get your paws onIntel’s delayed Optane non-volatile memory devices you might need to also invest in a Kaby Lake system.
While Intel first unveiled Optane in 2015, it told us that the tech would appear in 2016. The tech is a an implementation of 3D Xpoint technology and is designed to bridge the gap between fast-but-small volatile DRAM and the slower non-volatile mass storage which can store more.
Intel claimed Optane would offer performance similar to dynamic RAM (DRAM) but with the benefit of keeping its data when the system is powered off, like a traditional solid-state drive (SSD).
Intel was the first to promise a product range that would benefit not only the server market but also desktop users. At the time Intel said that a Optane-equipped desktop PC could run on a sixth-generation Skylake processor.
But according to Bit-Tech now Intel is getting closer to launching the devices, Skylake support appears to have been dropped.
It looks like Optane will require a seventh-generation Kaby Lake processor at minimum. So you will need a 200-series chipset motherboard with an M.2 type 2280-S1-B-M or 2242-S1-B-M storage connector linked to a PCH Remapped PCIe controller with two or four lanes and B-M keys meeting Non Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) v1.1 standards.
The motherboard will also need to have a BIOS supporting Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver version 15.5 or above.
Still we have no idea how much the technology will cost.
Researchers in Israel have come up with an innovative hack that turns a computer’s LED light into a signaling system that shows passwords and other sensitive data.
The researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev demonstrated the hack in a YouTube video posted Wednesday. It shows a hacked computer broadcasting the data through a computer’s LED light, with a drone flying nearby reading the pattern.
The researchers designed the scheme to underscore vulnerabilities of air-gapped systems, or computers that have been intentionally disconnected from the internet.
Air-gapped systems generally carry highly confidential information or operate critical infrastructure. But the researchers have been coming up with sneaky ways to extract data from these computers, like using the noise from the PC’s fan or hard drive to secretly broadcast the information to a nearby smartphone.
Their latest hack leverages the LED activity light for the hard disk drive, which can be found on many servers and desktop PCs and is used to indicate when memory is read or written.
The researchers found that with malware, they could control the LED light to emit binary signals by flashing on and off. That flickering could send out a maximum of 4,000 bits per second, or enough to leak out passwords, encryption keys and files, according to their paper. It’s likely no one would notice anything wrong.
“The hard drive LED flickers frequently, and therefore the user won’t be suspicious about changes in its activity,” said Mordechai Guri, who led the research, in a statement.
To read the signals from the LED light, all that’s needed is a camera or an optical sensor to record the patterns. The researchers found they could read the signal from 20 meters away from outside a building. With an optical zoom lens, that range could be even longer.
It wouldn’t be easy for hackers to pull off this trick. They’d have to design malware to control the LED light and then somehow place it on an air-gapped system, which typically is heavily protected.
They’d also need to find a way to read the signals from the LED light. To do so, a bad actor might hijack a security camera inside the building or fly a drone to spy through a window at night.
However, the danger of an LED light being hijacked can be easy to solve. The researchers recommend placing a piece of tape over the light, or disconnecting it from the computer.
Verizon will begin pilot testing 5G “pre-commercial services” in cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The company had said last July that it laid out plans to conduct trials for its 5G network this year.
New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and up to maybe 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, with the potential to connect at least 100 billion devices with download speeds that can reach 10 gigabits per second.
AT&T Inc said in January that it planned to test its high-speed wireless 5G network for customers of its online streaming television service, DirecTv Now, in Austin, Texas.
The top modem providers are Intel and Qualcomm, whose cellular chips are used in the iPhone. Both have announced modems that will push LTE connections to speeds well over those of regular home internet connections.
Qualcomm unveiled the X20 LTE chipset, which can transfer data at speeds of up to 1.2Gbps. Intel announced the XMM 7560 LTE modem, which can download data at speeds of up to 1Gbps.
However, cellular networks aren’t yet designed to handle such fast speeds. One exception is Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company, which has launched a gigabit LTE service for commercial use in that country.
Gigabit LTE will slowly start appearing in mobile devices and networks this year, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
“This is making 4G what it was intended to be — a true wireless broadband solution,” McGregor said.
These performance bumps are important as users handle more data, McGregor said.
“We’ve seen this with microprocessors for years,” McGregor said.
Qualcomm said its Snapdragon X20 modem will become available next year, and McGregor estimated it will be in devices soon after. Intel said its XMM 7560 is ready, but couldn’t say when handsets would come out.
Most users may not need LTE speeds of 1.2Gbps, especially when using apps like Uber, Snapchat and WhatsApp. But more PCs are getting LTE connectivity, and could use the speed for high-end applications.
Qualcomm, a modem pioneer, is trying to stay a step ahead of Intel in the rat race to rev up LTE modems. Intel is speeding up modem development as wireless connectivity becomes an essential part of computing, said Aicha Evans, senior vice president and general manager of the Communication and Devices Group at Intel.
he new modems are also a stepping stone to 5G, the next-generation cellular network technology that Evans estimated could deliver speeds of more than 45Gbps. Beyond mobile devices, 5G will be used for machine-to-machine communications and will be a standard feature in a wide range of devices including PCs, robots, drones and internet of things devices.
The Snapdragon X20 LTE chipset is a CAT 18 modem and supports a wide range of cellular technologies that could make it work in most countries worldwide. The chip supports carrier aggregation and data transfers over multiple streams. It works with 40 cellular frequency bands and supports technologies like Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and LTE broadcast.
Intel’s XMM 7560 is a CAT 16 modem and supports carrier aggregation across multiple spectrums. The chip maker has already readied its first 5G modem, and the company now says it has silicon ready for that chip.
Facebook Inc is currently negotiating with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants.
For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one of the few types of content that people still watch live.
“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”
The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to comment.
By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young audience at a massive scale, consultants said.
The size of Facebook’s reach was a big reason Univision Communications Inc decided to use Facebook Live to live stream Mexican soccer matches in English, said Tonia O’Connor, chief commercial officer and president of content distribution at Univision.
Under that deal, Facebook will live stream 46 matches by Mexican soccer league Liga MX in 2017. Terms were not disclosed.
Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.
Japan’s Toshiba Corp wished to receive at least 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) by selling most of its flash memory chip business, seeking to create a buffer for any fresh financial problems, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The beleaguered conglomerate was pressured to abandon an initial plan to sell just under 20 percent by its main creditor banks which are worried about potential writedowns that may come on top of $6.3 billion hit to its U.S. nuclear unit, financial sources also said.
Toshiba said last week it is now prepared to sell a majority stake or even all of its chip business, the world’s biggest NAND chip producer after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, also rocked by the emergence of fresh problems at its Westinghouse unit that have delayed the release of earnings.
The company has not decided on the size of the stake to be sold, preferring to focus on the amount that can be raised but would like to retain a one-third holding as that would give it a degree of control over the business, the source with direct knowledge said.
Its willingness to relinquish so much of the unit underscores not only the depths of its financial woes but also resignation on the part of management to becoming a much smaller company.
The sale “is the best and the only way Toshiba can raise a large amount of funds and wipe out concerns about its credit risk,” said the source, adding that the sale should be completed by the end of March next year.
It wants to restart the sale process as soon as possible and may sell to multiple buyers rather than one bidder with interest already received from investment funds, other chipmakers and client companies, he also said.
A separate person with knowledge of the matter said Toshiba will outline terms of the sale by the end of February, conduct a first round of bids in March and aim to have chosen a preferred bidder or bidders by the end of May. The person also said Toshiba valued the chips business at around 1.5 trillion yen.
A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on the specifics of the sale process. Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
European Union data protection watchdogs are indicating they are still concerned about the privacy settings of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system despite the U.S. company announcing changes to the installation process.
The watchdogs, a group made up of the EU’s 28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law, wrote to Microsoft last year expressing concerns about the default installation settings of Windows 10 and users’ apparent lack of control over the company’s processing of their data.
The group – referred to as the Article 29 Working Party -asked for more explanation of Microsoft’s processing of personal data for various purposes, including advertising.
“In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” the group said in a statement which also acknowledged Microsoft’s willingness to cooperate.
Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.
A number of national authorities have already begun enquiries into Windows 10, including France which in July ordered Microsoft to stop collecting excessive user data.
The EU privacy group said that despite a new installation screen presenting users with five options to limit or switch off Microsoft’s processing of their data, it was not clear to what extent users would be informed about the specific data being collected.
Microsoft uses data collected through Windows 10 for different purposes, including advertising, the group said in its statement said.
“Microsoft should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes. Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid.”
A shortage of DRAM, SSDs, batteries, and LCDs have conspired to drive up PC prices, Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo, said during an earnings call last Thursday. It’s difficult to pin a number on the price increase because of the number of PC configurations available.
The cost of purchasing these components is going up, which is triggering PC prices to also rise, said Lanci, a PC industry veteran. The shortage of components like memory will continue, Lanci said.
As component supplies shrink, PC prices will rise, said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner. Moreover, PC makers are raising prices to squeeze more profits out of the shrinking PC market, Kitagawa said.
The PC buyer profile is also changing, with gamers and millennials willing to spend more money on PCs.
That’s changing the mix of laptops, desktops, and 2-in-1s being shipped by PC makers, who are focused on selling higher-priced products that can deliver better margins.
But low-cost PCs won’t go away, Kitagawa said. There will always be cheap laptops available, though those markets aren’t growing and not attractive to PC makers.
Basic configurations of PCs remain affordable, but some PC makers are limiting customization, forcing users to buy additional components in certain configurations.
A chart shown at an Intel investor conference last week showed PC selling prices reaching its highest since 2011, when a decline in PC shipments started.
Intel is also selling chips at higher prices, which is adding to PC costs. Intel PC chip prices went up by 7 percent in 2016, but the company also sold more Core i7 chips as sales of gaming and VR systems increased.
Analyst firm TrendForce predicted SSD prices would go up in the first quarter of this year, continuing a trend from the previous quarters. SSD adoption, as a replacement for hard drives, is growing, but the supply of NAND flash has tightened, which is driving up prices.
The price of DRAM is also going up because of shortages. Memory is a boom-or-bust market and extremely volatile with prices falling drastically when DRAM floods the market.
PC DRAM prices went up by 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the third quarter, TrendForce said in a statement this week.
TrendForce is predicting that DRAM prices may increase by up to 40 percent in the first quarter, due to undersupply. The news isn’t any better looking forward.
“Rising prices are expected for the second quarter as well,” said Avril Wu, research director of DRAMeXchange, which is a part of TrendForce and tracks component pricing.
While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices. It’s called a single-event upset or SEU.
During an SEU, particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip’s memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet.
An SEU was also blamed for an electronic voting error in Schaerbeekm, Belgium, back in 2003. A bit flip in the electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The issue was noticed only because the machine gave the candidate more votes than were possible.
“This is a really big problem, but it is mostly invisible to the public,” said Bharat Bhuva. Bhuva is a member of Vanderbilt University’s Radiation Effects Research Group, established in 1987 to study the effects of radiation on electronic systems. The group initially focused on military and space applications, but since 2001 has expanded to studying radiation’s effect on consumer electronics.
Bhuva, a professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt, gave a presentation on SEUs Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.
Despite some serious examples, SEUs are still fairly rare events. But as the number of transistors being used in new electronic systems increases, so does the probability of an SEU failure on the device level.
Semiconductor manufacturers seem to have caught on to the trend and are working to diminish the interference of cosmic rays. For instance, in 2008, Fujitsu engineers climbed a Hawaiian volcano to better understand how comic rays cause computer errors.
Verizon Communications Inc is close to an updated deal to purchase Yahoo Inc’s core internet business for $250 million to $350 million less than the original agreed price of $4.83 billion, according to a source briefed on the matter.
Since last year, Verizon had been trying to persuade Yahoo to amend the terms of the acquisition agreement to reflect the economic damage from two cyber attacks. A source told Reuters that the deal, which could come as soon as this week, will entail Verizon and Yahoo sharing the liability from potential lawsuits related to the data breaches.
Another person familiar with the situation said the price cut was likely to be around $250 million, a figure that Bloomberg reported earlier on Wednesday.
A representative from Verizon declined to comment. Yahoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Maybe this isn’t quite as much of a discount as initially thought, but it’s at least something,” said Dave Heger, senior equity analyst at Edward Jones.
Verizon hopes to combine Yahoo’s search, email and messenger assets, as well as advertising technology tools, with its AOL unit, which Verizon bought in 2015 for $4.4 billion. Verizon has been looking to mobile video and advertising for new sources of revenue outside an oversaturated wireless market.
But Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo has been under scrutiny by federal investigators and lawmakers since disclosing the largest known data breach in history in December, months after disclosing a separate hack.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a probe into whether Yahoo should have disclosed the breaches, which occurred in 2013 and 2014, sooner, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal last month.
On Wednesday, Yahoo sent a warning to users whose accounts may have been accessed by intruders between 2015 and 2016, as part of a data security issue related to the breach it disclosed in December. A person familiar with the matter said notifications have gone out to a mostly final list of users.
Samsung sold 76.8 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, giving it a market share of 17.8 percent, but it was just beaten by Apple, which sold 77 million iPhones for a 17.9 percent share, according to figures from market research firm Gartner.
The fourth quarter is usually a strong one for Apple, boosted by holiday sales of the new generation of iPhones it releases each September, said Anshul Gupta, a research director at Gartner.
For Samsung, though, 2016 ended particularly badly, dominated by the fiasco around the recall of its incendiary Galaxy Note7.
Super-phones like the Note7 could have accounted for 10 to 15 percent of Samsung’s smartphone sales in the period before its recall, said Gupta, but Samsung lost more than that: There was also the damage to its brand.
It could bounce back sooner rather than later, though, as it has a new flagship phone coming out at the end of March.
Apple, meanwhile, is expected to wait until September before unveiling new iPhones. This year will mark the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, and the next model is widely expected to be something special, so Apple fans may delay replacing phones until then, said Gupta. That would leave the way clear for Samsung to move back into the lead from this quarter.
That pattern showed up last year too: Although it dominated the fourth quarter, Apple was a distant second over the full year, with market share of just 14.4 percent over the year, far behind Samsung’s 20.5 percent, and the situation was similar the previous year.
The carrier said Tuesday it will have nationwide LTE-M coverage in the U.S. by the middle of this year, six months ahead of schedule. Previously, AT&T had said LTE-M would cover the U.S. by year’s end.
That means everywhere in the country that AT&T has an LTE network, it will also offer LTE-M. By the end of the year, it will have LTE-M across Mexico too, creating a broad coverage area for businesses that operate on both sides of the border.
LTE-M is one of several LPWANs (low-power, wide-area networks) that are emerging to link sensors and other devices to the internet of things. It’s not as fast as the LTE that smartphones use, but it’s designed to allow for longer battery life, lower cost, smaller parts and better coverage. LTE-M has a top speed of around 1Mbps (bits per second) upstream and downstream and a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), including better penetration through walls.
AT&T is part of a wave of mobile operators considering or rolling out LTE-M. Others include Orange in France and SoftBank in Japan. AT&T launched its first commercial trial of LTE-M last October in San Ramon, California, and has since opened another in Columbus, Ohio.
Several companies are already using the network for enterprise and consumer applications, AT&T said. They include Capstone Metering, a supplier of wireless water meters; RM2, which makes storage pallets with sensors for monitoring inventory; and PepsiCo, which is using LTE-M to collect usage data from soda fountains. Consumers can dispense their own blends of soda from these fountains, and PepsiCo uses sensors to keep the fountains stocked and learn what blends are popular.
There are already several emerging LPWAN systems from mobile operators and other service providers. The growing LoRaWAN, Sigfox and Ingenu technologies come from outside the traditional mobile industry.
LTE-M and another technology, NB-IoT, are based on LTE and are designed to run over carriers’ licensed spectrum. They may be the best options for enterprises concerned about interference and security, Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar said.
The app will roll out soon from app stores for Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and Amazon Fire TV, the company said in a blogpost on Tuesday.
The blogpost also said users can scroll through their news feed and simultaneously watch videos on their timeline.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook was creating an app for TV set-top boxes that would bring the company closer to live video and video advertisements.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during a post-earnings call said this month that the company expected a major ramp-up in hiring and other spending during 2017 as it invests in video and other priorities.
The company last year expanded its live video product, Facebook Live – a potential threat to broadcast television.