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Posts tagged ‘Telecommunications’

Internet Privacy & The Senate

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In a party-line 50-48 vote Thursday, senators approved a resolution to undo sweeping privacy rules adopted by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission. If it becomes law, it would also prevent the FCC from setting similar rules again.

The rules have not gone into effect, however ISPs must tell consumers what information is being collected and how it is being used or shared. The rules require ISPs in some cases to get users’ explicit consent, for example to sell information such as geo location or browsing history for advertising.

Republicans in Congress and at the FCC have objected to these rules, passed by the Democratic majority at the FCC in October. They have argued with major cable and telcom companies,that the rules put ISPs on unequal footing with other major data-collecting companies like Google or Facebook, which are overseen instead by the Federal Trade Commission.

Vizio TV Manufacturer Agreed To Pay $2.2 million

 

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The California-based TV manufacturer agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the charges and  disclose when and how it collects user information. Since February 2014, software installed on the televisions allowed Vizio to continuously collect customer’s viewing history through software called “ACR,” or automated content recognition. This software captures a selection of pixels displayed on Vizio smart TV screens and sends that data to the company’s servers, where those pixels are compared to a database of different TV shows, movies, and commercials. ACR can also collect information like your Wi-Fi signal strength, nearby Wi-Fi access points, and IP addresses.

The complaint alleges that over 100 billion data points per day (information like what content you’re watching and how long you’re watching it) from more than 10 million Vizio televisions have been collected, and the company planned to store this data on their servers indefinitely. A stipulated federal court order requires that Vizio delete all data collected before March 1, 2016. An anonymized version of the data omitting customers’ name or contact information was sold to third parties for advertising and audience measurement purposes.

 FTC’s complaint said Vizio did not make it clear to customers that they intended to collect their TV viewing history, and the collection was turned on by default, which did not give customers a chance to opt out. A key part of the complaint is that Vizio promised customers recommendations based on the data collected, but never provided them to owners of older Vizio TVs

If you own a Vizio TV, you can disable data collection by going to your TV’s Menu > Settings > Smart Interactivity, or any option with Automated Content Recognition, and turning it off.

Survivalist Apps

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The Following survivalist Apps are said to get you out of serious situations. These are the apps you should keep installed in case of emergency.

Red Panic Button

You hit the panic button and a message goes out to the emergency contacts you’ve specified in advance, together with a link to your current location. The paid upgrade also enables emergency services calling capability.

Red Panic Button (freemium) for Android and iOS

First Aid by American Red Cross

This First Aid app can help, giving detailed guidance for all kinds of problems, from asthma to a heart attack, and you can also call up the address of the closest medical center from inside the app itself.You can call 911 from inside the app as well and access various other handy resources.

SafeTrek

You hold down the blue button if you feel vulnerable, then let go and enter a PIN when you’ve reached safety. If the PIN isn’t entered when the software button is released, then the app sends out an alert.The alert is sent to the local police who will be on their way using the location info provided by your phone—you don’t need to do anything else. The only downside is there’s a monthly subscription fee of $2.99 (or $29.99/year), but you can try it for free for 30 days.

SafeTrek ($2.99/month) for Android and iOS

FEMA

Life360 Family Locator

There’s a Panic Alert feature built into the app that will take care of messaging the friends and family you choose via voicemail, email and notifications if you should get into trouble. The people you alert will also be able to see your last known location on a map.

Life360 Family Locator (free) for Android and iOS

SAS Survival Guide

No matter what life throws at you, this app can help. Adapted from the book written by a British SAS instructor, it covers just about every scenario imaginable when it comes to survival, from the berries you can eat to the knots you need to tie to the dangers to look out for.

SAS Survival Guide ($5.99) for Android and iOS

 

 

AT&T and Time Warner

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October 2016, AT&T announced that they had reached a deal to buy Time Warner for $85.4 million, a move that could create one of the most powerful media companies in the world. This would mean that AT&T (a telecommunications provider) would merge with a content provider in Time Warner, and creating the possibility for conflict to net neutrality if AT&T were to provide faster than normal access to Time Warner content. The merger would represent another step towards mass media consolidation over the past few decades

AT&T and Time Warner

(Image Source: WSJ.com)

2016 has brought with it a number of media consolidations and acquisitions that have included Comcast’s (CMCSA) acquisition of DreamWorks Animation (DWA) for $3.8 billion, and AT&T’s 4-year deal with DirecTV.

This deal has gained opposition from all sides of the political spectrum, from the far left and the alt right. Bernie Sanders has come out in opposition to the deal, warning, in a letter to the Justice Department, that the deal could lead to “gross concentration of power” in news media, and that preventing the deal would help “preserve our democratic discourse and open competitive markets for speech and commerce”.

From the right, President Elect Donald Trump is highly critical of the deal.

AT&T declared that it would create a “new company with complementary strengths to lead the next wave of innovation in converging media and communications industry“.

These huge content and service providing monoliths are a serious fear for those who value the idea of net neutrality; the more consolidation there is between content and provider the more the lines will become blurred, and net neutrality will be the victim.

AT&T and The Scammers

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Here’s what the FCC had to say

The Future Of Tech

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New ways of sending data are top of the agenda, and new technology is being developed to speed up the process. Advancements will include the transferring of data between a device and a light source, as well as via audio frequencies that cannot be heard by the human ear, but can be read by a smartphone speaker.Devices will soon be able to deliver data at a quicker rate, while more everyday items will be connected to the Internet. Investors are jumping all over the opportunities abound when it comes to the Internet of Things and Big Data.

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