#399 Feb 02 2015 – FCC Sides with Consumers

This week’s headline story: FCC Sides with Consumers in Latest Round of Internet Policies

FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler

The FCC and FTC have been taking sides with consumers rather than tech companies lately, as is evidenced by several new policies released.

  • First, the FTC has made a clear statement that “unlimited data” should mean “unlimited and unthrottled” when it fined TracFone $40 million for throttling customers with unlimited data plans.
  • The FCC fought with cellular providers to redefine “broadband” as speeds faster than 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. The old definition of 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, made it possible for companies to advertise slower connection packages as broadband.
  • The FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots in its resorts forcing customers to pay for wi-fi service provided by Marriott rather than tethering to their cellular service.
  • The FCC approved new rules that require carriers to, start using technology that’s able to provide the location of a 911 caller within 50 meters in at least 40% of cases.
  • The FCC gave approval for Gogo, a company that provides Wi-Fi service on airplanes, to install a new satellite-based service on 1,000 aircraft that provides significantly faster Internet speeds to passengers.

To further protect consumers, the FCC launched a new website where consumers can complain about their cable, broadband and wireless service providers.

in other tech news…

  • Recent alarms over artificial intelligence research raise eyebrows at AI conference [Computerworld]
    Not surprisingly, Artificial Intelligence experts have taken offence to a statement made by Stephen Hawking warning that the development of “full artificial intelligence” could bring an end to the human race. “People who are alarmed are thinking way ahead,” said Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. “The thing I would say is AI will empower us not exterminate us… It could set AI back if people took what some are saying literally and seriously.”
  • White House Drone Crash Described as a U.S. Worker’s Drunken Lark
    Drone maker to add no-fly firmware to prevent future White House buzzing [ars technica]
    A drone aircraft flew into the restricted airspace around the whitehouse and then crashed into the ground. Was it a terrorist attack on the president? No, according to the NY Times, it was the work of an inebriated off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency who decided to try out his buddy’s “quadcopter” toy at an apartment a couple blocks south of the whitehouse. The toy escaped his control and ended up on the Whitehouse lawn. The mishap has shed light on a vulnerability in the protective shield that the Secret Service erects around the White House complex. The Secret Service and the maker of the quadcopter are taking steps to insure that it doesn’t happen again.
  • Google to Announce Fiber Expansion In Four Metro Areas [Wall Street Journal]
    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google Fiber – the incredibly fast and inexpensive Internet service, will soon be coming to Atlanta, GA, Charlotte, NC, Raleigh-Durham, NC, and Nashville, Tennessee.

in Information Security News…

  • Verizon Users Can Opt Out of Supercookies [NewsFactor]
    After news of Verizon’s so called “supercookies” hit the media in recent weeks, Verizon is now allowing customers to opt-out of supercookies which reportedly track online activities for advertisers. AT&T was experimenting with a similar program, but said in November that it was dropping the supercookie.

and in Tech Industry news…

and finally,

  • Microsoft Reportedly Investing in Android Startup Cyanogen [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft is buying into Cyanogen, a company famous for providing a derivation of the Android system called CyanogenMod. Microsoft’s control of Cyanogen would give Microsoft the ability to more easily get its software features on Android-based smartphones.

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