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Bill Would Study Impact of Violent Video Games on Children -- Rockefeller introduces proposal as a response to Sandy Hook tragedy The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has triggered calls for more than just gun regulation, putting violent video games and programming again in the spotlight. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill today that calls for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children.
As chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, Rockefeller has some pull in getting his bill before it. This bill could see immediate action because he is "hot lining" it, meaning that if no one objects it goes up for a vote on the floor. (Ad Week)
Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files. - A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.
Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week. (CNet News)
Obama gives himself control of all communication systems in America US President Barack Obama quietly signed his name to an Executive Order on Friday, allowing the White House to control all private communications in the country in the name of national security.
President Obama released his latest Executive Order on Friday, July 6, a 2,205-word statement offered as the “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” And although the president chose not to commemorate the signing with much fanfare, the powers he provides to himself and the federal government under the latest order are among the most far-reaching yet of any of his executive decisions. (Russia Today)
Rupert Murdoch's Greatest Moments in Ethics and Integrity Are we still talking about this whole phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.? That's such old news.
Tapping into the voicemails of major political figures and murder victims? Everybody did it. Top executives at one of the world's largest media companies arrested? A few bad apples. A cover-up that reaches the highest levels of the British government and law enforcement? Trumped-up charges from jealous rivals. Pie throwing in Parliament? OK, that guy must be a terrorist. Good thing Wendi clocked him.
You want Congress to investigate what News Corp. might have done in the United States? Are you some kind of Marxist?
Let's get back to what really matters. Profits are up at News Corp. And, as Rupert Murdoch assured investors yesterday, "There can be no doubt about our commitment to ethics and integrity." (Huffington Post)
What is a 'Presidential Alert'? "This is a test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test..."
You've heard that warning before, but it may soon come directly from the White House.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved plans to hold the first test of a "Presidential Alert," or a broadcast warning that might be issued in the event of a serious natural disaster or terrorism threat.
It may seem like a scene out of George Orwell's "1984" or some other apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, but government officials have wanted for years to establish a way for the White House to quickly, directly alert Americans of impending danger.
Commissioners voted last week to require television and radio stations, cable systems and satellite TV providers to participate in a test that would have them receive and transmit a live code that includes an alert message issued by the president. No date has been set for the test. (Washington Post)
FCC Adopts Its Fighting Stance: Net Neutrality Is the Future We've been waiting for this, given many teasing leaks this week, but now it's here: The FCC, via its chairman Julius Genachowsky, has officially staked its claim on the future of the Webs. Net Neutrality all the way.
Genachowski made a speech concerning the matter, and it's a lengthy high-minded affair. We've boiled it down to its simplest essence to make the word cloud up there (more on this later) but Genachowski also thoughtfully released a blog posting clarifying the FCC's position. In it he simplifies the arguments about Net Neutrality down to three key points:
1. "Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination." Meaning "no one should be able to tell you what you can or can't do" from a company right up to government level, as long as what you're doing is legal.
2. "You have a right to basic information about your broadband service." The FCC shows by this that it's going to get strict with ISPs about making it clear to consumers exactly what they're paying for, which makes it easier to choose between competitors.
3. "The Internet will remain a level playing field." People must be able to exercise free speech, shop, sell products or services and innovate "without permission from a corporation" or a corporate gatekeeper "prioritizing access to one person's content over another."
That's pretty damn straightforward. Say what you will about who has a right to make decisions like this, and listen if you will to the arguments of ISPs that say traffic-shaping is an absolute must if the Net is to continue to grow, placing a strain on their resources: Genachowski has simplified the debate right down to its core principles here. (Fast Company)
The Chamber of Commerce's Agenda: Killing Net Neutrality and Censoring the Internet The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's attempt to throw next week's elections is cause for widespread alarm -- their agenda includes privatizing social security, undoing worker and consumer rights, blocking environmental protections, keeping banking regulations loose, and stymieing important health care reforms.
You can help Demand Progress fight back by signing on to our campaign that calls on local chambers of commerce to disaffiliate from the U.S. Chamber. The movement's already begun, with one New Hampshire chapter breaking off, and several others publicly distancing themselves from the national's shenanigans. - 2. The Chamber supports the Internet Blacklist bill that we told you about last month -- the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). COICA vastly expands the government's ability to block access to certain websites -- in ways that run roughshod over due process rights and violate the First Amendment. (Huffington Post)
Anti-Net Neutrality Bill Gets Leaked From Waxman’s Office Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the committe that oversees telecommunications was leaked on yesterday. Now we have a copy of Waxman’s plan to subvert Net Neutrality. Copy of the leaked Bill (in legalese) not yet submitted to congress. Leak Source is techdailydose.nationaljournal.com
Let’s say the internet is made of tubes. This bill gives the tube companies license to start selling premium tubes. Big shiny tubes. However anyone with the misfortune not to partner with the tube company will find themselves stuck in the smaller, collapsing tube system.
For example, Google partnered with the Verizon tube company to use it’s new tubes. Anyone trying to compete with Google, simply won’t be able to.
Waxman, is teaching Republicans a thing or two about whoring for Telecom money. Waxman’s bill would prevent the FCC from enforcing the most important part of net neutrality, that is, standard tube size. The corporate johns, pumping Waxman up with corporate cash, know that there is money to be made here. (Fire Dog Lake)
FCC order on airwaves is victory for tech giants The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved the use of unlicensed airwaves in what it hopes will be a new market for high-speed Internet connections for smartphones, tablets and computers.
The order, approved unanimously by the five-member commission, is a win for high-tech giants Dell, Microsoft and Google, which have lobbied for the use of the airwaves known as "white spaces." Those are parts of the broadcast spectrum that sit between television channels, and are valued as a potential home for amped-up versions of WiFi networks with longer ranges and stronger connections that can penetrate walls.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski touted the decision as part of his effort to significantly extend broadband connections in the United States. The order was introduced and passed under then-Chairman Kevin J. Martin two years ago but got hung up with a lawsuit brought by broadcasters, church ministers and Nashville's Dolly Parton, who argued that those airwaves could interfere with wireless microphones and nearby television channels. (Washington Post)
Vacant TV wavelengths opened for broadband in US US regulators have paved the way for new high-speed web connection devices by releasing unused television frequencies for use by mobile broadband.
The decision, reached in a unanimous vote by the Federal Communications Commission, was hailed by the regulator as its first major release of unlicensed spectrum in 25 years. It will open the way for Google, Microsoft and start-ups to market devices that communicate using spectrum that had been left vacant as a buffer zone for broadcast TV stations. (Financial Times)
Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It The Federal Communication Commission should act swiftly to protect free access to the Internet and prevent media giants from co-opting the future of the most powerful new medium since the printing press.
Incredibly, the FCC asked the corporations who stand to profit most to write rules on how bandwidth will be divvied up. Google and Verizon floated a plan that most observers view as a roadmap to a multi-tiered system. AT&T has endorsed the Google/Verizon plan.
What's at stake is control over whose data gets transmitted, and how quickly. A wide-open field let's everyone compete. A tiered system like the one proposed by the big shots would inevitably favor them and their preferred media; some web purveyors would be relegated to second- and third-class status.
What's also at stake is freedom of speech and freedom of the press, because so many people get their news and information from the net today. Not to mention free and open access to intellectual and commercial media that power education, development and entrepreneurship.
Basically, the corporatists want to install a meter on your Internet. They whine that if they aren't allowed to nickel-and-dime us, innovation will wither. (Huffington Post)
Watchdog group wants federal investigation of Google Street View flap A prominent civil liberties watchdog has added its voice to those calling for a federal investigation of Google following the company's recent admission of privacy violations related to its "Street View" product.
The nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski last week requesting an investigation of privacy issues arising from "Street View," which provides "360 degree street level imagery" of U.S. cities.
"The company routinely and secretly downloaded user communications data and the company routinely and secretly mapped private communication hotspots. Moreover, they said not a word about the Wi-Fi data collection during the three-year privacy debate over Street View," wrote Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. "This is why the FCC must undertake an investigation." (The Hill)
Netroots to Obama FCC: Inaction Is Not an Option Bloggers were joined by online advocacy groups including MoveOn, CredoAction, ColorofChange.org, SavetheInternet.com, Care2 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which are urging the FCC chair not to abdicate his responsibility to stop corporations from picking and choosing how users access information over the Internet. (Huffington Post)
Internet attack defense: License and registration please... This past Tuesday (Jan. 26) I posted the story about China’s view of the attack and break-in that occurred at Google. The attack was widespread, similar to Ghostnet. I had indicated this was the beginning of a new Arms race, which has been underway for several years. The events which occurred in China affected Google, Adobe and others, has created the final catalyst needed to build the next defensive hardware and applications required and be used on computers and smart devices connected to the internet.
The tools used to attack any target, whether it be an individual or organization, an activist or military institution are sophisticated, difficult to detect and clearly with several goals in mind. Some attacks will be focused, others will attempt to collect as much data as possible for real-time or long term digestion to prepare its agenda subscribers. With this in mind, the programmers and designers will have very unique sets of challenges to overcome and be an intense creative process in which several intelligence techniques need to be understood or its ability to be used as a defense is weakened. This is in a league where the goal is beyond just a science fiction writer’s novel or blogger’s commentary, it’s going to affect every internet user with real consequences. Adobe’s reputation is vulnerable and will recover - this time. What the future holds for the company will demand new thinking and approaches to how it designs its products. (ZDNet)
Two Million Strong for Net Neutrality (Petition)
This is a crucial time in the fight for Net Neutrality. The FCC is pursuing new Net Neutrality rules; Congress is weighing legislation; and President Obama wants Net Neutrality to become the law of the land.
More than 1.9 million people have already urged Congress and the FCC to stand with the public and pass strong Net Neutrality protections. If we can reach 2 million people, we will send a resounding message that Washington can't ignore.
Urge Congress and the FCC to support Net Neutrality. (SaveTheInternet.com)
In All Fairness: Screening Obama One wouldn't know it from reading the Washington Post or New York Times, but some inside the White House don't think that President Barack Obama hit a home run with his first national press conference last week. - Senior FCC staff working for acting Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps held meetings last week with policy and legislative advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways the committee can create openings for the FCC to put in place a form of the "Fairness Doctrine" without actually calling it such.
Waxman is also interested, say sources, in looking at how the Internet is being used for content and free speech purposes. "It's all about diversity in media," says a House Energy staffer, familiar with the meetings. "Does one radio station or one station group control four of the five most powerful outlets in one community? Do four stations in one region carry Rush Limbaugh, and nothing else during the same time slot? Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue and not link to sites that present alternative views? These are some of the questions the chairman is thinking about right now, and we are going to have an FCC that will finally have the people in place to answer them." (American Spectator)
Talk radio: The return of 'fairness'? For five days, Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s face has greeted visitors of Hannity.com.
It may seem like an unlikely venue for a Michigan Democrat, but conservative television and radio host Sean Hannity has made Stabenow public enemy No. 1 in the conservative talk radio world. Hannity has plastered Stabenow’s face and office number on his site following comments she made last week about the Fairness Doctrine, telling liberal radio host Bill Press it may be “time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.”
And then she mentioned the possibility of hearings, which sparked a make-my-day moment with Hannity, who said, “You want this microphone? Come and get it!”
Stabenow press secretary Brad Carroll has since backed off, telling Politico, “Sen. Stabenow is not calling for hearings.”
Indeed, no member of Congress has scheduled hearings, there is no Fairness Doctrine legislation being introduced, and the long-dormant broadcast law is likely to stay that way. (Politico)
NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.
The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks. (Wall Street Journal)
Judges challenge Internet wiretap rules: 'Your argument makes no sense,' appeals judge tells FCC lawyer A U.S. appeals panel sharply challenged the Bush administration Friday over new rules making it easier for police and the FBI to wiretap Internet phone calls. A judge said the government’s courtroom arguments were “gobbledygook.”
The skepticism expressed so openly toward the administration’s case encouraged civil liberties and education groups that argued that the U.S. is improperly applying telephone-era rules to a new generation of Internet services.
“Your argument makes no sense,” U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards told the lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission, Jacob Lewis. “When you go back to the office, have a big chuckle. I’m not missing this. This is ridiculous. Counsel!” (Associated Press)
Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping: It didn't take long for the idea of forcing Internet providers to retain records of their users' activities to gain traction in the U.S. Congress Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an "issue that must be addressed." Child pornography investigations have been "hampered" because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.
Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.
Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed. (CNet News)
The End of the Internet? The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.
Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.
Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from content providers to individual users--would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received. (The Nation)
The new technology at the root of the NSA wiretap scandal When the NSA wiretapping story first hit the pages of the NYT a few days ago, there were clearly a huge number of unanswered questions. Is the wiretapping that the President has authorized illegal under the FISA act? Is it unconstitutional? If it's illegal, does the President have the authority to violate the law if he's acting in the best interests of the republic? And then there's the question of why the NYT sat on this story for over a year before going public with it.
I'm not really going to make any attempt to answer questions of legality and constitutionality, because the Internet is full of armchair constitutional scholars right now who're fighting tooth and nail over these questions, generating much heat but very little light. Instead, I'd like to point your attention to some later developments in this case that clearly indicate that there's much more going on here than we initially assumed. When the truth comes out (if it ever does), this NSA wiretapping story will almost certainly be a story not just about the Constitutional concept of the separation of powers, but about high technology. (Ars Technica)
In-flight cell phones 'worked great' in test The race is on to enable airline passengers to make and receive cell phone calls in flight.
Cell phone company Qualcomm (QCOM) has teamed with American Airlines (AMR) to develop satellite-based air-to-ground cellular service. Several smaller companies are working on rival systems. In-flight cell service could be introduced within two years and become commonplace within four, developers believe.
Last week, American and Qualcomm officials circled over West Texas in a jetliner making calls from their cell phones. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission authorized the flight to test the technology's safety and transmission quality. (USA Today)
Corporatism "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power" -Benito Mussolini - The decision by the FCC this morning to remove the last restrictions on Big Media to the control of the Public Airwaves is but one more sign that we are entering the Age of Corporatism, a world where the interests of the Fortune 500 and the Bush Administration have merged perfectly. (Dissident Voice)
Final Contact Will rules change concerning wireless calls on planes?
Early Sept. 11, airline passengers all over the country boarded their flights like any other day. Many chatted on their wireless phones. As the doors closed and the pilots prepared the planes for take-off, flight attendants asked passengers to turn off their wireless phones until the planes had landed at their destinations.
But on four flights, these phones would offer the last contact passengers would have with their loved ones. They would be using their wireless phones to say goodbye. - “On land, we have antenna sectors that point in three directions — say north, southwest, and southeast,” she explained. “Those signals are radiating across the land, and those signals do go up, too, due to leakage.”
From high altitudes, the call quality is not very good, and most callers will experience drops. Although calls are not reliable, callers can pick up and hold calls for a little while below a certain altitude, she added.
Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless spokesperson, said that RF signals actually can broadcast fairly high. On Sept. 11, the planes were flying low when people started using their phones. And, each call lasted 60 seconds or less.
“They also were digital phones, and there's a little bit more leeway on those digital phones, so it worked,” she said. (Telephony Online)
F.C.C. to Waive Rules for Acquisition by Murdoch The Federal Communications Commission has decided to approve the News Corporation 's purchase of Chris-Craft Industries and waive rules that would have forced the combined company to sell either The New York Post, WNYW-TV or WWOR-TV, according to senior government officials (New York Times)
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