Technology

The cost of the Internet: Our freedom

Last week I visited the U.S. capital and had the pleasure of meeting so many people – members of Congress, leaders of technology corporations and associations, concerned citizens - who understand the Internet risks of today.

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21st century technology requires 21st century diplomacy

Taymour Karim, a 31-year-old doctor from Damascus, learned the hard way that the Internet can be both a great force for democracy and a powerful weapon to suppress it. Last year, forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad abducted the protest leader, brutally beating him and demanding information about rebel activity while his betrayer sat silently on his desk. That betrayer was his computer, the easy source of personal information for governments around the world.

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The need for speed at 30,000 feet

Competition for air travelers is intense, and airlines are looking beyond complimentary peanuts and soda, and towards fast Wi-Fi to provide the most value to their customers.  A recent Wall Street Journal article provided some insight into this in-air race for connectivity to reveal a truth that we know well. People want the option to access super-fast Internet at all times, even at 30,000 feet. A recent Honeywell International, Inc. survey found, “Almost nine of 10 U.S. fliers said they think every flight should offer Wi-Fi.”

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A case for a national prepaid cellphone registry

We live in extraordinary times, in the age of the social media, smart phones and portable tablet computers. Unfortunately, those same platforms, which are designed to improve our quality of life, are also being employed by criminal elements to perpetrate ever more sophisticated fraudulent schemes. One particular type of crime, telephone fraud, is on the rise in our country thanks to the lack of recordkeeping.

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High-speed broadband networks with a safety net

It is hard to believe that next month marks one year since Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, flooding streets, tunnels and cutting power in many towns. Beyond causing $65 billion in damage, the storm highlighted the vulnerabilities of our aging telephone network and the broader need to modernize and upgrade our nation’s communications infrastructure to bring 21st Century services and capabilities to all Americans.

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Looking to the past to combat cyberthreats

It’s so obviously true as to be a cliché, that the Internet has revolutionized life as we know it. While it’s brought us conveniences that we would be hard-pressed to give up, cyberattacks are becoming an increasing problem for governments and corporations. Yet ironically, in spite of the novelty of these types of threats, experts are finding that old legal and policy tools are some of the best ways to fight cyberattacks.

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Disclosure’s unintended consequences

Pity Holly Paz, the senior IRS official who has become embroiled in the controversy over her agency’s targeting of conservative non-profits. According to her attorney, Paz and her family have been subject to threatening phone calls and in-person visits, and her son was even followed home after being dropped off by the school bus.

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Crafting a fact-based spectrum auction structure that benefits consumers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering ways to structure its upcoming “incentive auctions” for a new block of low-frequency spectrum to be re-allocated from broadcast to wireless use.  At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Greg Walden (R-ore.) noted that “The U.S. wireless industry is facing a spectrum shortage…Such auctions can help make spectrum available to meet the growing demand from mobile broadband services.”

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Modernizing America’s communications lifeline

Late last month, the Pew Research Center released a major report on broadband adoption. The results were mixed. On the plus side, 70 percent of U.S. adults have now adopted wireline broadband in the home, which marks a statistically significant rise over the past year. When you factor in smartphone adoption, 80 percent of U.S. households are now connected to the Internet and more than 90 percent of adults under the age of 49 are online at home. That’s all good news. The problem is that means one in five Americans is not connected at home and low-income Americans remain disproportionately on the wrong side of this digital divide. Among families earning less than $30,000/year, one in three is completely offline, and barely half are connected if you remove smartphones from the equation.

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