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Paul Merrell

Rural America and the 5G Digital Divide. Telecoms Expanding Their "Toxic Infrastructure... - 0 views

  • While there is considerable telecom hubris regarding the 5G rollout and increasing speculation that the next generation of wireless is not yet ready for Prime Time, the industry continues to make promises to Rural America that it has no intention of fulfilling. Decades-long promises to deliver digital Utopia to rural America by T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T have never materialized.  
  • In 2017, the USDA reported that 29% of American farms had no internet access. The FCC says that 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans living on tribal lands do not have 4G LTE on their phones, and that 30 million rural residents do not have broadband service compared to 2% of urban residents.  It’s beginning to sound like a Third World country. Despite an FCC $4.5 billion annual subsidy to carriers to provide broadband service in rural areas, the FCC reports that ‘over 24 million Americans do not have access to high-speed internet service, the bulk of them in rural area”while a  Microsoft Study found that  “162 million people across the US do not have internet service at broadband speeds.” At the same time, only three cable companies have access to 70% of the market in a sweetheart deal to hike rates as they avoid competition and the FCC looks the other way.  The FCC believes that it would cost $40 billion to bring broadband access to 98% of the country with expansion in rural America even more expensive.  While the FCC has pledged a $2 billion, ten year plan to identify rural wireless locations, only 4 million rural American businesses and homes will be targeted, a mere drop in the bucket. Which brings us to rural mapping: Since the advent of the digital age, there have been no accurate maps identifying where broadband service is available in rural America and where it is not available.  The FCC has a long history of promulgating unreliable and unverified carrier-provided numbers as the Commission has repeatedly ‘bungled efforts to produce accurate broadband maps” that would have facilitated rural coverage. During the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on April 10th regarding broadband mapping, critical testimony questioned whether the FCC and/or the telecom industry have either the commitment or the proficiency to provide 5G to rural America.  Members of the Committee shared concerns that 5G might put rural America further behind the curve so as to never catch up with the rest of the country
Paul Merrell

PressTV-'Bespoke Android' to cut US out of Iran apps: Minister - 0 views

  • Iran’s minister of telecommunications says that the country is planning to equip mobile devices in the country with a special operating system that would prevent the United States government from banning Iran-made mobile applications. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said on Thursday that the new operating system would be a bespoke version of Android, a Google-owned system which is installed on over two billion mobile devices around the world.
  • The minister also rejected claims that Aria Mini would restrict the choices for Iranian users of Android when they want to install major global applications. “All international applications can be installed on that while there would be no chance for removal of the Iranian applications,” said the minister. Millions of Iranian owners of mobile devices manufactured by Apple are currently facing similar restrictions imposed by the American technology firm as it seeks to fully implement the illegal sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran’s nuclear program.  
Paul Merrell

Huawei Will Launch Android Alternative OS In August; Reports Surprise Revenue Increase ... - 1 views

  • Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier, is set to launch its HongMeng operating system (OS) as a potential alternative to Google's Android OS, on August 9 at Huawei's Developer Conference, industry insiders told the Global Times Wednesday. According to media reports, the user experience (UX) design features a brand new ringtone and notification panel, a cleaner interface for the camera, more animation and faster speed. Users can also add widgets and personalize the locked screen. Citing industry experts (most likely of Chinese origin), the Global Times reported that "it is possible for Huawei to build a sustainable smartphone ecosystem on the HongMeng OS and reshape the current market dominated by Android and Apple's iOS", although the new system is primarily designed for industrial automation and applications in the Internet of Things (IoT). "Given the design features of the HongMeng OS, it can be a game changer in IoT-related areas, such as driverless cars and smart homes," Fu Liang, a Beijing-based independent industry analyst, told the Global Times. According to Huawei's website, the HongMeng OS is built with a processing latency of less than 5 milliseconds, which is especially required in circumstances involving IoT applications that often need to transfer large amount of data simultaneously.
Paul Merrell

Networked Dream Worlds - Real Life - 0 views

  • Perhaps it goes without saying that 5G promises to be highly profitable for wireless and tech companies. Some industry analysts have predicted that 5G could generate up to $12.3 trillion in goods and services by 2035, and add 22 million jobs in the U.S. alone. This helps explain why the carriers are so eager for us to share their vision for a better tomorrow — a world in which bandwidth, speed, and growth are virtues in and of themselves. Those “key performance indicators” are then sold to the consumer in the form of efficiency, inclusion, reliability, and convenience. And while these 5G speculations suggest a world of possibility and profit, they elide lots of potential risks and alternative futures. They also, unsurprisingly, fail to ask about the wisdom of entrusting the telecom industry (which has a long history of unscrupulous, monopolistic business practices) and the tech industry (newly under fire for similar reasons) to build what is purportedly the critical infrastructure for a planned global transformation.
Paul Merrell

The Internet May Be Underwater in 15 Years - 1 views

  • When the internet goes down, life as the modern American knows it grinds to a halt. Gone are the cute kitten photos and the Facebook status updates—but also gone are the signals telling stoplights to change from green to red, and doctors’ access to online patient records. A vast web of physical infrastructure undergirds the internet connections that touch nearly every aspect of modern life. Delicate fiber optic cables, massive data transfer stations, and power stations create a patchwork of literal nuts and bolts that facilitates the flow of zeros and ones. Now, research shows that a whole lot of that infrastructure sits squarely in the path of rising seas. (See what the planet would look like if all the ice melted.) Scientists mapped out the threads and knots of internet infrastructure in the U.S. and layered that on top of maps showing future sea level rise. What they found was ominous: Within 15 years, thousands of miles of fiber optic cable—and hundreds of pieces of other key infrastructure—are likely to be swamped by the encroaching ocean. And while some of that infrastructure may be water resistant, little of it was designed to live fully underwater. “So much of the infrastructure that's been deployed is right next to the coast, so it doesn't take much more than a few inches or a foot of sea level rise for it to be underwater,” says study coauthor Paul Barford, a computer scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “It was all was deployed 20ish years ago, when no one was thinking about the fact that sea levels might come up.”
  • “This will be a big problem,” says Rae Zimmerman, an expert on urban adaptation to climate change at NYU. Large parts of internet infrastructure soon “will be underwater, unless they're moved back pretty quickly.”
Paul Merrell

Banning end-to-end encryption being considered by Trump team- 9to5Mac - 0 views

  • The Trump administration is considering the possibility of banning end-to-end encryption, as used by services like Apple’s Messages and FaceTime, as well as competing platforms like WhatsApp and Signal. The topic was reportedly the main topic of a previously-unreported meeting of a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday … NordVPN Politico cites three sources for the story. Senior Trump administration officials met on Wednesday to discuss whether to seek legislation prohibiting tech companies from using forms of encryption that law enforcement can’t break — a provocative step that would reopen a long-running feud between federal authorities and Silicon Valley. The encryption challenge, which the government calls “going dark,” was the focus of a National Security Council meeting Wednesday morning that included the No. 2 officials from several key agencies, according to three people familiar with the matter. The meeting reportedly discussed two options. Senior officials debated whether to ask Congress to effectively outlaw end-to-end encryption, which scrambles data so that only its sender and recipient can read it […] “The two paths were to either put out a statement or a general position on encryption, and [say] that they would continue to work on a solution, or to ask Congress for legislation,” said one of the people. No decision was reached given strongly opposing views within the government.
Paul Merrell

Google will lose up to 800 million users if Huawei ditches Android - Huawei CEO - 0 views

  • If one of the world’s leading smartphone makers, Huawei, turns away from Google’s Android operating system (OS), the US tech giant risks losing a huge number of users, Huawei’s CEO has warned. “[Huawei] will always be on the same line of interest, and if we don’t load Google’s system, Google will lose 700-800 million users in the future,” Ren Zhengfei said in an interview to CNBC.The Chinese telecommunications major was blacklisted last month by the Trump administration after Washington accused the company of spying for Beijing. Google, whose Android OS is used in many of Huawei’s phones, was among the American tech companies prohibited from dealing with Huawei.
  • Huawei said earlier that it is working on its own mobile operating system called Hongmeng and has already filed a trademark. In his interview, the CEO stressed that Hongmeng will allow the company to protect its growth if it is forced to replace Android, which Huawei does not want to do.
Paul Merrell

Can Dweb Save The Internet? 06/03/2019 - 0 views

  • On a mysterious farm just above the Pacific Ocean, the group who built the internet is inviting a small number of friends to a semi-secret gathering. They describe it as a camp "where diverse people can freely exchange ideas about the technologies, laws, markets, and agreements we need to move forward.” Forward indeed.It wasn’t that long ago that the internet was an open network of computers, blogs, sites, and posts.But then something happened -- and the open web was taken over by private, for-profit, closed networks. Facebook isn’t the web. YouTube isn’t the web. Google isn’t the web. They’re for-profit businesses that are looking to sell audiences to advertisers.Brewster Kahle is one of the early web innovators who built the Internet Archive as a public storehouse to protect the web’s history. Along with web luminaries such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf, he is working to protect and rebuild the open nature of the web.advertisementadvertisement“We demonstrated that the web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done,” Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair. The web has “ended up producing -- [through] no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform -- a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.”
  • o, they’re out to fix it, working on what they call the Dweb. The “d” in Dweb stands for distributed. In distributed systems, no one entity has control over the participation of any other entity.Berners-Lee is building a platform called Solid, designed to give people control over their own data. Other global projects also have the goal of taking take back the public web. Mastodon is decentralized Twitter. Peertube is a decentralized alternative to YouTube.This July 18 - 21, web activists plan to convene at the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco. Back in 2016, Kahle convened an early group of builders, archivists, policymaker, and journalists. He issued a challenge to  use decentralized technologies to “Lock the Web Open.” It’s hard to imagine he knew then how quickly the web would become a closed network.Last year's Dweb gathering convened more than 900 developers, activists, artists, researchers, lawyers, and students. Kahle opened the gathering by reminding attendees that the web used to be a place where everyone could play. "Today, I no longer feel like a player, I feel like I’m being played. Let’s build a decentralized web, let’s build a system we can depend on, a system that doesn’t feel creepy” he said, according to IEEE Spectrum.With the rising tide of concerns about how social networks have hacked our democracy, Kahle and his Dweb community will gather with increasing urgency around their mission.The internet began with an idealist mission to connect people and information for good. Today's web has yet to achieve that goal, but just maybe Dweb will build an internet more robust and open than the current infrastructure allows. That’s a mission worth fighting for.
Paul Merrell

Facebook's Cryptocurrency: Stop It Before It Starts - Lawfare - 0 views

  • On Tuesday, Facebook announced its forthcoming cryptocurrency, Libra. The company says it intends to integrate it into Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp products. Although Facebook says it’s created an “independent” subsidiary, Calibra, and purports that the currency itself will be controlled by an independent Libra Foundation, the coin really a Facebook project. It is not live yet, giving governments the opportunity to kill this project before it actually gets off the ground and gives rise to cybercriminals that couldn’t capitalize on existing cryptocurrencies. In particular, the IRS and FinCEN should take action now.
Paul Merrell

Facebook unveils cryptocurrency Libra | Time - 0 views

  • As it continues to explore new business models that may work in a world focused on privacy rather than broadly sharing data online, Facebook on Tuesday revealed plans for its own global digital currency, Libra, which aims to allow users to make purchases or send money with close to zero transaction fees. Facebook said it hopes Libra will make it easier for the estimated 1.7 billion unbanked adults worldwide to access banking services and transfer money electronically. “Just as people can use their phones to message friends anywhere in the world today, with Libra, the same can be done with money — instantly, securely and at a low cost,” Facebook said in a Libra white paper.
  • Users will be able to make transactions with Libra by 2020, Facebook says, both through a standalone app called Calibra as well as with Facebook’s own family of apps. Unlike bitcoin and some similar offerings, the price of Libra is tied to low-risk assets, which should prevent the speculative behavior and wild price swings plaguing other digital currencies. The currency will be overseen by the Libra Association, a Switzerland-based collective of more than a dozen companies, including Visa, Uber and Mastercard, each of whom have invested at least $10 million in the technology. Users of Libra will pay $1 to use Libra which will sit in a bank account and earn interest which will pay the Libra Association.
Paul Merrell

Chinese military to replace Windows OS amid fears of US hacking | ZDNet - 0 views

  • Amidst an escalating trade war and political tensions with the US, Beijing officials have decided to develop a custom operating system that will replace the Windows OS on computers used by the Chinese military.
  • Beijing officials are well aware of the US' hefty arsenal of hacking tools, available for anything from smart TVs to Linux servers, and from routers to common desktop operating systems, such as Windows and Mac.Since these leaks have revealed that the US can hack into almost anything, the Chinese government's plan is to adopt a "security by obscurity" approach and run a custom operating system that will make it harder for foreign threat actors -- mainly the US -- to spy on Chinese military operations.
Paul Merrell

Asia Times | Say hello to the Russia-China operating system | Article - 0 views

  • Google cuts Huawei off Android; so Huawei may migrate to Aurora. Call it mobile Eurasia integration; the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership may be on the verge of spawning its own operating system – and that is not a metaphor. Aurora is a mobile operating system currently developed by Russian Open Mobile Platform, based in Moscow. It is based on the Sailfish operating system, designed by Finnish technology company Jolla, which featured a batch of Russians in the development team. Quite a few top coders at Google and Apple also come from the former USSR – exponents of a brilliant scientific academy tradition.
  • No Google? Who cares? Tencent, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are already testing the HongMeng operating system, as part of a batch of one million devices already distributed. HongMeng’s launch is still a closely guarded secret by Huawei, but according to CEO Richard Yu, it could happen even before the end of 2019 for the Chinese market, running on smartphones, computers, TVs and cars. HongMeng is rumored to be 60% faster than Android.
  • Aurora could be regarded as part of Huawei’s fast-evolving Plan B. Huawei is now turbo-charging the development and implementation of its own operating system, HongMeng, a process that started no less than seven years ago. Most of the work on an operating system is writing drivers and APIs (application programming interfaces). Huawei would be able to integrate their code to the Russian system in no time.
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  • The HongMeng system may also harbor functions dedicated to security and protection of users’ data. That’s what’s scaring Google the most; Huawei developing a software impenetrable to hacking attempts. Google is actively lobbying the Trump administration to add another reprieve – or even abandon the Huawei ban altogether. By now it’s clear Team Trump has decided to wield a trade war as a geopolitical and geoeconomic weapon. They may have not calculated that other Chinese producers have the power to swing markets. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, for instance, are not (yet) banned in the US market, and combined they sell more than Samsung. They could decide to move to Huawei’s operating system in no time.
  • The existence of Lineage operating system is proof that Huawei is not facing a lot of hurdles developing HongMeng – which will be compatible with all Android apps. There would be no problem to adopt Aurora as well. Huawei will certainly open is own app store to compete with Google Play.
Paul Merrell

Gov. Mills signs nation's strictest internet privacy protection bill - Portland Press H... - 0 views

  • Maine internet service providers will face the strictest consumer privacy protections in the nation under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Janet Mills, but the new law will almost certainly be challenged in court. Several technology and communication trade groups warned in testimony before the Legislature that the measure may be in conflict with federal law and would likely be the subject of legal action.
  • The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, would require providers to ask for permission before they sell or share any of their customers’ data to a third party. The law would also apply to telecommunications companies that provide access to the internet via their cellular networks.
  • The law is modeled on a Federal Communications Commission rule, adopted under the administration of President Obama but overturned by the administration of President Trump in 2017. The rule blocked an ISP from selling a customer’s personal data, which is not prohibited under federal law.
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  • The law is unlike any in the nation, as it requires an ISP to obtain consent from a consumer before sharing any data. Only California has a similar law on the books, but it requires consumers to “opt out”  by asking their ISP to protect their data. Maine’s new law does not allow an ISP to offer a discounted rate to customers who agree to share or sell their data.
Paul Merrell

Google confirms that advanced backdoor came preinstalled on Android devices | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Criminals in 2017 managed to get an advanced backdoor preinstalled on Android devices before they left the factories of manufacturers, Google researchers confirmed on Thursday. Triada first came to light in 2016 in articles published by Kaspersky here and here, the first of which said the malware was "one of the most advanced mobile Trojans" the security firm's analysts had ever encountered. Once installed, Triada's chief purpose was to install apps that could be used to send spam and display ads. It employed an impressive kit of tools, including rooting exploits that bypassed security protections built into Android and the means to modify the Android OS' all-powerful Zygote process. That meant the malware could directly tamper with every installed app. Triada also connected to no fewer than 17 command and control servers. In July 2017, security firm Dr. Web reported that its researchers had found Triada built into the firmware of several Android devices, including the Leagoo M5 Plus, Leagoo M8, Nomu S10, and Nomu S20. The attackers used the backdoor to surreptitiously download and install modules. Because the backdoor was embedded into one of the OS libraries and located in the system section, it couldn't be deleted using standard methods, the report said. On Thursday, Google confirmed the Dr. Web report, although it stopped short of naming the manufacturers. Thursday's report also said the supply chain attack was pulled off by one or more partners the manufacturers used in preparing the final firmware image used in the affected devices.
Paul Merrell

Trump Declares War On Silicon Valley: DoJ Launches Google Anti-Monopoly Probe | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • Just before midnight on Friday, at the close of what was a hectic month for markets, WSJ dropped a bombshell of a story: The paper reported that the DoJ has opened an anti-trust investigation of Alphabet Inc., which could "present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter." The report was sourced to "people familiar with the matter," but was swiftly corroborated by the New York Times, Bloomberg and others. For months now, the FTC has appeared to be gearing up for a showdown with big tech. The agency - which shares anti-trust authority with the DoJ - has created a new commission that could help undo big-tech tie-ups like Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, and hired lawyers who have advanced new anti-monopoly theories that would help justify the breakup of companies like Amazon. But as it turns out, the Trump administration's first salvo against big tech didn't come from the FTC; instead, this responsibility has been delegated to the DoJ, which has reportedly been tasked with supervising the investigation into Google. That's not super surprising, since the FTC already had its chance to nail Google with an anti-monopoly probe back in 2013. But the agency came up short. From what we can tell, it appears the administration will divvy up responsibility for any future anti-trust investigations between the two agencies, which means the FTC - which is already reportedly preparing to levy a massive fine against Facebook - could end up taking the lead in those cases.
  • Though WSJ didn't specify which aspects of Google's business might come under the microscope, a string of multi-billion-euro fines recently levied by the EU might offer some guidance. The bloc's anti-trust authority, which has been far more eager to take on American tech giants than its American counterpart (for reasons that should be obvious to all), has fined Google over its practice of bundling software with its standard Android license, the way its search engine rankings favor its own product listings, and ways it has harmed competition in the digital advertising market. During the height of the controversy over big tech's abuses of sensitive user data last year, the Verge published a story speculating about how the monopolistic tendencies of each of the dominant Silicon Valley tech giants could be remedied. For Google, the Verge argued, the best remedy would be a ban on acquisitions - a strategy that has been bandied about in Congress.
Paul Merrell

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes calls for the company to be broken up - 0 views

  • show chapters Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes calls for the company to be broken up    15 Hours Ago Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes issued a forceful call for regulators to break up the company he helped build in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday. Hughes, who left Facebook to work for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, said that from his own experience building and working inside the company, Facebook now has more power than a private sector entity is due. While emphasizing his belief that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has good intentions overall, he said the executive has far too much unchecked power, aided by his majority voting stake in the company.
Paul Merrell

Google IO 2019: New privacy options coming to Google Maps, search - Axios - 0 views

  • Alongside new products and features, Google Tuesday announced a series of moves designed to offer users more privacy. The move builds on an announcement last week that it would allow users to automatically delete their location and activity history. Why it matters: The changes come as Google, along with other tech giants including Facebook, is under pressure to give people more control over what personal information online platforms collect and store.
Paul Merrell

Facebook Setting Aside Up To $5 Billion For Privacy Violations : NPR - 1 views

  • Facebook expects to pay a fine of up to $5 billion in a settlement with federal regulators. The tech giant disclosed that figure in its first-quarter 2019 financial results. Facebook has been in negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission following concerns that the company violated a 2011 consent decree. Back then, company leaders promised to give consumers "clear and prominent notice" when sharing their data with others and to get "express consent."
  • But, experts say, Facebook broke its promise. Just one example: giving user data to Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that did work for the 2016 Trump campaign. Facebook estimates the fine will be in the $3 billion to $5 billion range and has set aside $3 billion for payment. "The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome," the company's statement says.
Paul Merrell

U.S. looking at ways to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook's problems - 0 views

  • Federal regulators are discussing whether and how to hold Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company's history of mismanaging users' private data, two sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Thursday.The sources wouldn't elaborate on what measures are specifically under consideration. The Washington Post, which first reported the development, reported that regulators were exploring increased oversight of Zuckerberg's leadership.While Facebook has come under scrutiny for its privacy practices for years, both of the Democratic members of the FTC have said the agency should target individual executives when appropriate.Justin Brookman, a former policy director for technology research at the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, said Thursday night that while the FTC can name individual company leaders if they directed, controlled and knew about any wrongdoing, "they typically only use that authority in fraud-like cases, so far as I can tell."
Paul Merrell

Facebook Quietly Notifies Public That Millions Of Instagram Users Had Passwords Exposed... - 0 views

  • While everyone was focused on the release of the Mueller report Thursday, Facebook quietly notified the public that the passwords of "millions of Instagram users" were stored in an unencrypted format on an internal server, and searchable by any employee.
  • In March, security expert Brian Krebs of KrebsonSecurity noted:  The Facebook source said the investigation so far indicates between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The source said Facebook is still trying to determine how many passwords were exposed and for how long, but so far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012. My Facebook insider said access logs showed some 2,000 engineers or developers made approximately nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plain text user passwords. -KrebsonSecurity In short, if you believe Facebook that the passwords were not improperly accessed, rest well. If you don't believe them, and you use your Instagram password for other things, perhaps it's time to think of a new one.  
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