345 Jan 20, 2014 Net Neutrality Dies in Court

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This week’s headline story: Net Neutrality Dies in Court

600px-NetNeutrality_logo.svg_Back in 2010, the Federal Communications Commission released a set of rules intended to enforce net neutrality forcing companies like Verizon and Comcast to treat all similar content on their networks equally, whether it was a YouTube video or a home video posted on a personal website.

Last Tuesday, in a case brought by Verizon against the FCC, the judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the agency lacked the authority to impose antidiscrimination and antiblocking rules on providers of Internet broadband services. While the court ruled that broadband providers may discriminate based on content, it also ruled that regulations making operations by broadband providers more transparent were appropriate, and it upheld the FCC’s power to impose rules on those providers.

Many network neutrality supporters believe this latest court ruling opens the door to abuse by Internet service providers. “It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory,” said Tim Wu, the Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.

Striking down the antiblocking and antidiscrimination rules could be harmful to consumer interests, said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for the Consumers Union. “It makes it more possible for Internet Service Providers to block access to new services simply because those services compete with the provider’s own offerings,” she said. “Instead of promoting choice for consumers, it promotes online content when the owner of that content has paid additional fees to providers.”

However, the telecom industry says just the opposite. “The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet,” said Verizon General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Public Policy Randal Milch. National Cable and Telecommunications Association President and CEO Michael Powell stated that “the cable industry has always embraced the principles of an open Internet and the court decision will not change that.”

Only time will determine whether the decision of the court will inhibit or encourage innovation. One thing is certain. The ruling opens the door for telecom companies to make a whole lot more money.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers [NYTimes]Report: NSA Maps Pathway into Computers [NewsFactor]

    It’s been revealed that the National Security Agency has implanted spyware in nearly 100,000 computers around the world outside the U.S. Beyond simple spyware, the NSA utilizes secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in compromised computers even when they are not connected to the Internet. The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.

  • Obama Limits NSA Access to Phone Metadata [NewsFactor]President Obama has announced reforms to the NSA’s mission which will completely overhaul the phone metadata collection program that has caused so much controversy around the world. Data that has already been collected will be transferred to a third party and the NSA will have to seek permission from the Federal Surveillance Court before searching the database.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Security Firm Reports First Spam Attack Using a Refrigerator [NewsFactor]As more appliances go online, it is only a matter of time before they are exploited for evil. A security firm has uncovered a global cyberattack that harnessed over 100,000 connected household devices, including at least one refrigerator, to secretly deliver spamming e-mails numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

and in Tech Industry news…

and finally…

  • Printed Eye Cells Could Help Treat Blindness [Technology Review]Researchers at the University of Cambridge are using a standard ink-jet printer to print layers of retinal cells. The group hopes to develop the technology into a tool for generating new tissues that can be grown outside the eye and implanted in patients with retinal damage, such as macular degeneration.

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