Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam redefined "net neutrality" earlier this week when he claimed the phrase meant that companies like his should charge people more money to access the Internet, which was built with government funds.
In reality, "net neutrality" means an open web where Internet service providers (such as Verizon) treat all web traffic and web sites equally without favor or penalty.
“We make our money by carrying traffic," McAdam said in a conference call with investors on Monday, noted The Huffington Post. "I think it is only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the web healthy. That is the most important concept about net neutrality."
McAdam may have been referring to charging users who watch films on services such as Netflix, but according to Motherboard.com, 26 million Americans currently cannot afford basic Internet access.
According to a report in 2013 by the New America Foundation, Americans already pay more for slower Internet services than many developed nations.
While McAdam wants others to pay, he did not mention that Verizon has not paid federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012, thanks to corporate welfare and special tax breaks, according to a recent report by Citizens for Tax Justice, noted Reuters.
Mozilla recently angered many of its users by announcing that it would start placing ads on its popular Internet browser, Firefox.
According to TechDirt.com, the nonprofit organization kept banging away on that sour note by announcing its new "Directory Tiles" that will feature ads and recommended or popular websites on a new tabs page on Firefox (sample pictured).
"Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users," Mozilla's VP Darren Herman said in a statement. "Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy."
While speaking to AdAge.com, Herman even slammed the present Firefox, which users have loved for years, as being a "dumb window."
"Mozilla is moving from a dumb window to the internet to a smart agent on behalf of the user, putting the user first," said Herman.
Mozilla's general counsel and head of the business affairs group Denelle Dixon-Thayer also slammed Firefox for being a "window into the web."
"We wanted to get away from being this window into the web that doesn't bring value," Dixon-Thayer told CNET. "We looked at it from the perspective of how much value are we bringing to the user? We're not focused on bringing the most revenue into Mozilla."
Sources: CNET, AdAge.com, Mozilla.org, TechDirt.com
While Comcast plans to buy Time-Warner Cable and takeover the cable/Internet market, the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has its own plan: to provide free Internet for the whole planet.
MDIF hopes to launch hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites into low Earth orbit (pictured), notes the Daily Mail.
MDIF is going to use datacasting, which sends data via radio waves and will theoretically broadcast the web around the world in what they call the "Outernet."
But MDIF first needs to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations, which they accept on their website.
"We have a very solid understand of the costs involved, as well as experience working on numerous spacecraft," MDIF's Syed Karim stated on the social media site Reddit.
"There isn't a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments. There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this," added Karim.
Facebook is trying to accommodate people who self-identify their gender with 50 new terms.
Many of these new Facebook gender choices don't exist in medical textbooks, but include, "cisgender, intersex and gender fluid."
For those who do not want to identify their gender, Facebook will still allow them to keep it private, notes CNN.
“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who is undergoing a gender transformation from male to female, told the Associated Press.
“All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it’s kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are,” added Harrison. “This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is.”
Facebook users can also choose the pronoun they want to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her, or they/their.
Facebook states on its Diversity page, "When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self."
The National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK government's spy agency GCHQ are hacking into various smartphone apps, including the game "Angry Birds" and Google Maps, to get users' private information.
The Guardian reports that top secret documents, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that some apps may share such private information as sexual orientation.
However, most smartphone owners are unaware that this private info is being shared across web by the NSA and GCHQ.
Rovio, the company that created Angry Birds, denied knowing that the NSA or GCHQ were hacking its apps.
"Rovio doesn't have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks," Saara Bergstrom, Rovio's VP of marketing and communications, told The Guardian. "Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned [NSA and GCHQ]."
Pro-Publica.org notes that one NSA document from May 2010 is titled "Golden Nugget!" and states "Target uploading photo to a social media site taken with a mobile device. What can we get?"
The NSA answers its own question by listing: image, email, phone, buddy lists, home country, age, gender, zip code, martial status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.
An user's global location can be found by the NSA and GCHQ by intercepting Google Maps queries made on cell phones.
In response to the story, the NSA released a statement to The New York Times:
NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission. Because some data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA's lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process.
Sources: The New York Times, Pro-Publica.org, The Guardian
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler was giving a speech on Jan. 9 in Silicon Valley when protesters interrupted him numerous times.
The protesters from StopSmartMeters.org claimed there is a strong link between cancer and cell phones (video below).
They spaced their interruptions throughout Wheeler's speech and asked why the FCC had not warned people about cell phones causing cancerous tumors, notes Storyleak.com.
“How many people have to die from brain cancer before the federal government puts warning labels on cell phones?” yelled one protester.
After the first protester was taken out, Wheeler joked, “John, it’s great to be here!” bringing laughter from the crowd.
“Thanks for my husband's brain tumor and many others, Tom,” another protester yelled during Wheeler's speech.
The connection between cell phones and cancer is widely debated.
According to US News & World Report, a study published in 2013 compared 20 heavy cell phone users to 20 deaf people who do not use cell phones. The study found that the heavy cell phone users had far more cell damage, which can lead to cancer.
But the National Cancer Institute website states, "Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly."
The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly intercepted computer deliveries for Americans, placed hacking devices inside the operating systems and sent the computers to customers — all without their knowledge or a warrant.
The German news site Der Spiegel reports that the NSA's hacker group, Tailored Access Operations (TAO), performed the secret bugging.
The sources for the story include internal NSA documents and an unidentified intelligence official who said the TAO gathered "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen."
The TAO would track a target ordering a new computer or tech accessories, intercept the hardware with help from the CIA and FBI, and take the computer to a secret workshop where spying software would be placed inside, noted the Associated Press.
One NSA document said that secretly intercepting computers is one of the NSA's "most productive operations."
The TAO also spied on people via Microsoft crash reports, which are meant to help Microsoft engineers improve their programming.
The TAO would go through the crash reports to help it's hackers break into Americans' PC computers using Windows.
One NSA document reportedly joked: "This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine."
Der Spiegel did not say where its NSA documents came from, but it has previously published documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Some of the TAO's high tech devices spying included computer monitor cables that recorded words typed by the user across the screen, USB sticks with radio transmitters that broadcasted stolen information and fake base stations that intercepted cell phone signals.
The TAO took advantage of weaknesses in hardware and software manufactured by Cisco Systems, Huawei Technologies, Western Digital Corp, Microsoft and Dell computers.
Older teenagers, 16-18, are fleeing Facebook because their beloved parents are on the social media site, according to a new European Union (EU) study.
The teens are now flocking to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp to escape their elders, says the Global Social Media Impact study, which includes nine ongoing 15-month studies in eight countries in the EU.
"Mostly [the teens] feel embarrassed even to be associated with [Facebook]," Daniel Miller, the head of the research team, wrote on the academic news website The Conversation.
"Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives," added Miller, who is also a professor of Material Culture at University College London. "Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things."
According to the study, close teen friends use Snapchat, while WhatsApp is mainly used for acquaintances and Twitter is used to communicate with larger groups of teens.
Earlier this month, Snapchat's CEO and Co-founder Evan Spiegel turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook, notes the International Business Times, even though Snapchat was valued at $800 million just a few months ago.
For the uninitiated, Snapchat is a photo messaging app that sends pictures and videos that self-destruct after a few seconds. The app is especially popular for sending X-rated pictures. Snapchat reportedly processes over 400 million pictures per day.
"What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request. You just can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion," Miller noted. "Facebook is simply not cool anymore."
A high-tech police car is cruising the streets of Brooklyn as the NYPD tests out a prototype of a “supersmart” Fort Hybrid, which can scan license plates and digitally record everything it “sees” from its windshields.
NYPD Project Management Office Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo told the New York Daily News that the hyper-intelligent vehicle is being taken for a spin in the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO neighborhoods.
“It’s inevitable that police cars will be bringing more and more technology to the street,” del Pozo told the paper. “This car features the best technology currently available. It will be able to take information from the street and send it back to the commanders in headquarters so they can make correct, on-the-spot decisions.”
The Ford Hybrid cop car is as quick as they come for scanning license plates in search of a stolen vehicle, or testing the air for radiation. But the car’s suped-up crime fighting powers are paired with a green mission.
“Police cars in general are getting smaller as the NYPD and the city are becoming more fuel-conscious,” said del Pozo.
The car’s testing is part of an NYPD2020 strategic plan, in which the department brought on a consulting firm to suggest various possible improvements, both technological and administrative. The Wall Street Journal reported that 500 officers have already received smartphones that deliver real-time crime data, and that new guidelines have been instated for recruiting officers.
The car gathers a lot of intelligence. Data about license plates— including the owners' unpaid tickets and other infractions— are stored in the police department’s system.
"It reads any set of numbers," Del Pozo said. "If it doesn't get a hit, it gets stored. We don't look at [the results] unless an investigation points to them.”
The car may also be equipped with fingerprint scanners and facial recognition sensors.
The next police commissioner, William Bratton, will decide if the smart car, and the other initiatives, will move forward.
Time magazine Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer recently got a phone call from a young woman offering him a deal on health insurance, but her voice sounded a little too perfect.
When Scherer asked the female voice if she was a human or a robot, she replied with a perfectly charming laugh and said she was real (audio below).
However, each time she was asked to say, "I'm not a robot," she refused, notes Time.
She cheerfully claimed there was a bad connection when Scherer asked her multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday.
More Time reporters called the female voice and got a pitch perfect repetition of the same answers and her name, "Samantha West." The female robot was trying to find out if each reporter was on Medicare and then transferred the call to a live salesperson (which may be worse than a robot).
There were also reports of a 'female voice" doing sales calls on 800Notes.com:
Woman on other end falsely claimed we requested health insurance quote, then had the nerve to request I answer five minutes worth of questions...Really? Telemarketer or scam.
They say she is a robot. ask her about it.they say, that if you ask her about' 'what's in the tomato soup'' she will say she doesn't understands the question. it is a scam. don't fall for it.
Received 2 calls today from this number and 1 last week. Both times, a friendly sounded woman on the other end claimed I requested health insurance information. She doggedly refused to deviate from her script. Twice I hung up on her after trying to engage her in conversation. The 2nd call today, she hung up on me. After she asked how I was doing, I said, "Not well." ;-)
One Time reporter spoke to a real salesperson, who said the company was PremierHealthAgency.com.
When the reporter called the company, Premier Health Plans Inc., directly he was curtly told, “We don’t use robot calls, sir.”
The reporter called again and spoke to another human who identified himself as "Bruce Martin."
“First of all, we use TV, we use radio, we use Internet,” claimed Martin, who wanted info about his company included in the Time article. “If you are going to publish this in the magazine, I’d like to get something out of it."
On Dec. 11, the website PremierHealthAgency.com was taken offline and now redirects to MyPremierHealthPlans.com, which has no content.