June 29, 2007
Apple Has A Product Launch Today
Something about a phone and an mp3 player combined. Anyway, here's the obligatory notice that the iPhone is publicly available at 6 PM today. Go to an Apple or AT&T store if you want one. Run in the other direction if you don't.
Brazilian Supermodel Loses Case Against YouTube
Remember the case where a Brazilian supermodel and her boyfriend were videotaped having sex on a public beach, and the video was uploaded to YouTube? Remember that the couple sued YouTube and, for a while, YouTube was blocked in Brazil because YouTube couldn't unload it fast enough to counter all the uploads? Oh the drama, oh the outrage, oh the implications for Internet governance, etc.
Another judge, presumably of a higher rank than the first, ruled against them saying their privacy complaints were unfounded. Something about doing something in public isn't private. Credit Brazil with abiding by the same logic that most of the world follows in these situations. They also have to pay costs to the defendants, about $5,000 in Yankee dollars. The law is no carnival sometimes.
Whte House Orders One Security Setting To Rule Them All
The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued a memorandum that requires all agencies in the federal government to standardize their security against one configuration by February 1, 2008. This should make it easier to defend all agencies against hacker attacks, or alternatively, it should make a hacker's work somewhat easier since he or she has to work against only one configuration.
June 28, 2007
FTC Says No to Net Neutrality Regulation
The Federal Trade Commission issued a report yesterday that cautions regulators from embracing net neutrality principles. The Commission believes that it is premature to put regulations in place without first having experience in how the market develops. Some net transport discrimination could have benefit to consumers according to the report.
From the press release:
As the report notes, certain conduct and business arrangements that broadband providers may pursue, including data prioritization, exclusive deals, and vertical integration into online content and applications, can benefit consumers. “The primary reason for caution is simply that we do not know what the net effects of potential conduct by broadband providers will be on all consumers, including, among other things, the prices that consumers may pay for Internet access, the quality of Internet access and other services that will be offered, and the choices of content and applications that may be available to consumers in the marketplace.”
The Commission is still committed to enforcing the antitrust laws and promoting competition according to its statement. Commissioner Jon Leibowitz issued a concurring statement regarding the staff report. The telecoms are thrilled at this development. They say that they are not planning on downgrading services for public web sites, but will upgrade some delivery speeds to accommodate movies and other bandwidth intensive applications.
Critics complain that there is no real competition between the telecom and cable network operators. Once the market moves in this direction, they say, it will be impossible to put things back to how they are now. That's undoubtedly true. Congress has failed to enact any measures adopting net neutrality principles, while the DOJ, the FCC, and now the FTC are willing to wait and see what happens. Who knows, maybe Microsoft and/or Google and Yahoo will build their own nationwide networks. These companies have the money to ensure their content gets to their customers without anyone else dictating terms. That would be something.
June 27, 2007
More iPhone Chatter
As the frenzy builds for the iPhone release (two more days now), there are two interesting articles out of the millions of references that take a different view on what this all means. One is on CNET, which relates an interview with Neel Mehta, a security expert at IBM's Internet Security Systems. Mehta answers questions about iPhone security, and how it differs from other smart phones. CNET is running a great series of articles that peeps at how Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft handle web security. Worthwhile as these are the big three visited sites and models for web security efforts.
The other is on Time Magazine's site, which examines the shortcomings of AT&T as the carrier that can't do complete justice to the iPhone's capabilities. The AT&T iPhone FAQ has just been posted, and a copy is here. Learn new things, such as an owner won't be able to insure the phone through AT&T.
Judge To Google: Take it to the DOJ
Judge Kollar-Kotelly basically told Google that they are not a party to the Microsoft antitrust case and if they have problems, they can take their concerns to the Justice Department or the states who are parties to the case. This issue arose over desktop search. Google had complained, and Microsoft agreed to changes in Vista to accommodate Google's product.
Google wanted more oversight of Microsoft and that it be extended past November. The judge said if there was going to be an extension, it was up to the DOJ and the states to ask for it. The judge said they stand in the shoes of the consumer. Is this outcome really a surprise?
AMA Seeks More Study of Game Addiction Diagnosis
The American Medical Association has backed off from declaring that excessive video game playing is an addiction. While there is plenty o empirical data out there suggesting that games can be addictive, there hasn't been enough scientific study to make the case. At least not yet. The AMA noted that excessive game playing could be problematic for some individuals. They urged the American Psychiatric Association to consider their view and any research to be conducted as to whether this addiction should be listed in the next edition of the diagnostic manual. That volume is not expected for 5 years.
See the story in the Washington Post for more details.
June 25, 2007
Web Radio Day of Silence Today
Web radio broadcasters are shutting down on Tuesday to protest the impending rise in royalty rates scheduled to take effect on July 15th. Congress is considering action to overturn royalty rates established by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal that stations say would drive them out of the market. The "Day of Silence" is to give listeners a taste of what would happen if the new rates stand. Oh, and to drum up support as well.
Hello darkness my old friend.... The story is in the Washington Post, and the Globe and Mail, whose story reminds us that the Internet is international and domestic U.S. laws don't always apply when web sites are driven out of the country.
Google Would Shut Down German Gmail Than Compromise User Privacy
Google is threatening to shut down Gmail in Germany due to a proposed law that probably makes our own Attorney General Alberto Gonzales salivate. The law would require telecoms to keep connection data on all German citizens including Internet trails, phone call information, and text messages for 6 months. Anonymity would not be possible under the law. Google offers anonymous email accounts. There is no vote scheduled as of yet in the German Parliament.
Google is concerned that complying with the law would affect their reputation with their customers. They would rather turn off the email product than submit to the law's conditions. It's a pretty drastic step to leave a major European market to competitors. Yahoo and Microsoft are sure to trot out the same lines about complying with the laws of a country to do business there. Yes, even Google resorted to that one with the China market. While Google and its competitors bow to China's censorship demands, Google has not been linked with turning over user data to the Chinese government. It would be interesting to see how Google would handle that situation.
The closure, if it happens, could be to Google's advantage, however. That, with its stand against turning data over to the U.S. government in the COPA trial could convince skeptical users that it's serious about protecting user privacy. We'll see how this plays out.
Four More Days to iPhone Debut
Mark your calendars. Salivate over the commercials showing YouTube videos playing on the device. They come out this Friday. I understand the iPhone makes phone calls as well.
DVD CCA Proposes Amendment to Limit Ripping
There's an interesting story in Ars Technica about a proposed amendment to the DVD CCA licensing agreement. It would effectively ban ripping DVDs under any circumstances. The proposal came about because of a case between the DVD CCA and Kaleidescape. The latter makes home servers for DVD content when ripped from the discs. The DVD CCA said that the licensing agreement required the disc to be in the drive when played. The judge said no because the CSS spec was not part of the license. Now the Association is trying to amend the rules. Kaleidescape is warning of antitrust actions if the amendment is adopted. Moreover, all ripping except that allowed by law would be prohibited.
Google Files Antitrust Documents Against Microsoft
Google is not satisfied with Microsoft's changes to desktop search in the Vista operating system. Even though Microsoft and the Justice Department agreed to certain changes in how Vista performs, Google has filed documents with the court overseeing the antitrust compliance asking for additional changes and clarifications. Google complains that the changes don't go far enough, and the Microsoft intends to manage search in some circumstances. Google feels it is still at a disadvantage compared to built in search.
Details are in the Seattle Times, with comments by MS General Counsel Brad Smith reacting to the Google filing (they are...negative). A copy of the status report detailing the initial changes that Microsoft will make to Vista is here.