Drones Banned From Flying While Obama Visits London

People love drones, from their ability to race around the skies to capturing the most picture perfect moments you just don’t feel safe taking yourself. Sadly if you were looking at grabbing a quick picture of President Obama during his visit to London in a couple of week’s you will have to shelve your drone thanks to plans to ban drones from flying around London during the president’s visit.

The bulletin was released by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will restrict all types of aircraft on Thursday, April 21st (The Queens birthday) and Sunday, April 24th. The restrictions will be in place on all aircraft, including drones like the one that crashed at the muses content, banning any craft from flying below 762 metres (2,500 feet).

The restrictions are in place over three separate areas, with each area having specific times and dates, with the most restrictive being in Area 2 who find a lack of air traffic all the way from 8PM on the 21st till 9.30AM on the 24th.

With this becoming a common measure for high-profile events, you should be weary of flying your drones when big events are happening as you can often end up with large fines and a ban on using any type of drone.

Journalist Files FOIA Request for Obama’s Game of Thrones Screeners

The US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was designed to facilitate transparency in matters of government, allowing members of the public to access to Federal agency records in order to hold the ruling classes accountable. An American journalist, though, is seeking to push the boundaries of the FOIA (or exploit them, depending on your perspective) to get her hands on episodes of the new season of Game of Thrones, set to premiere this Sunday (24th April).

Last week, Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss let slip that President Barack Obama was in possession of a number of episode screeners for new season, the only person outside of HBO allowed to see them. “He’s the leader of the free world,” Weiss revealed. “When the commander-in-chief says, ‘I want to see advanced episodes,’ what are you gonna do?”

Armed with this knowledge, Refinery29 writer Vanessa Golembewski decided to “test the limits of the Freedom of Information Act.” As she puts it, “If the president — and by extension, our government — is in possession of a file, surely that file is subject to my request to see it as a U.S. citizen.”

While Golembewski admits that she “know[s] it’s a stretch,” acknowledging that she’s “not entirely sure where the Game of Thrones screeners fall in the grey area that is personal property of a government figure,” she thinks that “there’s a lot of evidence that makes me think Obama […] will be delighted to help a girl out.”

When asked what fee she would be willing to pay for the FOIA request, Golembewski told the government to stick it on her student loans tab:

Obama Would Veto ‘Anti-Net Neutrality Bill”

The power to veto something is a strong one, and many governments have the power in place for specific reasons. Though rarely used it can often be what makes or breaks a law or new piece of legislation. In this case, the White House has stated that it would veto the ‘No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act’ on the grounds that it is very anti-net neutrality.

H.R. 2666 would appear at first glance to support the concept of net neutrality, with its author Adam Kinzinger, the republican representative for Illinois, saying that regulating broadband rates would create “significant uncertainty for ISPs” while also discouraging “investment and unique pricing structures or service plans”.

The sly part of the new bill, which the Electronic frontier foundation spotted, was that the FCC would have to stop summoning companies to explain a new trend of data exception schemes. These schemes like the T-mobile binge service, see companies making deals with certain providers and then not counting their content towards your data usage. Unlimited videos from certain sites? Sure, but videos on every site will be throttled.

In the White Houses letter, they state that the bill “would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints.” The White House then continues to say that the bill would also cause issues in the future as it ” could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace”.

The letter finishes by saying that “if the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”.

Obama to Appoint Execs From Uber, Mastercard & Microsoft to Cybersecurity Panel

Cybersecurity is a big issue this year, with people becoming more and more aware of the steps that both governments and companies are making to gain access to or stop others accessing their data. After its recent attempt to get Apple to help bypass the security features on an iPhone, the FBI rather embarrassingly revealed that government systems had been accessed by an unknown party since 2011. In a move to help combat cybersecurity issues, President Obama intends to appoint executives from several major technology companies to a new cybersecurity panel to help act on these matters.

As part of a $19 billion proposal, the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity will see people who are described by President Obama as being “dedicated individuals [who will] bring a wealth of experience and talent to this important role, and I look forward to receiving the Commission’s recommendations.”.

Among the names appear the likes of General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA from 2005 till 2014; Ubers Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan; the CEO of MasterCard Ajay Banga and corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, Peter Lee. With these being just a few of the names listed, the list seems to be focused on gathering the support of those who have experience within the industry, and while the released statement may be an announcement of his intent, any of the members on the list could provide valuable insight into cybersecurity.

Obama Weighs In On Apple Vs FBI

Recently the news has been flooded by the events of Apple and the FBI, both of whom are arguing in regards to encryption and companies being made to remove or bypass security features on government orders. Each side has arguments that are fair and it doesn’t look like the discussions will end anytime soon as each side makes point after point, for now though it would seem that President Obama weighs in with the FBI.

Answering a question in his keynote speech at the South by Southwest conference, President Obama started with “I can’t comment on that specific case” only to then follow-up by reminding people that law enforcement agencies can obtain a warrant then “rifle through your underwear to see if there’s evidence of wrongdoing”.

Obama carried on by saying that “we don’t want [the] government looking through phones willy-nilly”, a core concept at the heart of the Apple FBI argument, but re-enforced that we are looking at future where we will need “strong encryption” but in some cases, we may need to bypass that encryption. Raising the question around what would happen if we created technology that was so strongly encrypted, how would we catch people who are acting illegally.

Obama seems to be a fan of the master key scenario, in which a special key (or series of keys) could be used to gain access through robust encryption. In order to reduce the risk in this scenario though he would have the key “accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important.”

Obama did accept that “how we design [such a system] is not something I have the expertise to do”, effectively stating that he wants to get support and backing from the companies that use this technology to help negotiate an acceptable answer for all to this solution.

White House Pledges $4b to Developing Self-Driving Cars

The Obama Administration has pledged to invest nearly $4 billion to accelerate the development of self-driving cars, and related infrastructure, in the US. The White House plans to support the burgeoning automated vehicle industry – which includes Google’s own endeavour (pictured above) –  over the next ten years, according to NBC News.

“Automated vehicles open up possibilities for saving lives, saving time and saving fuel,” Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said at a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

President Obama will formally reveal the plan on Tuesday, during his State of the Union address, as part of a program to build a “21st century transportation system.” The federal government hopes to present a “model state policy” on self-driving cars within the next six months to offer “a path to consistent national policy,” a White House press release says.

The $3.9 billion investment from the government will be used to develop pilot programs to test “connected vehicle systems” across the United States, with the hope that it will make travelling a safer and more efficient experience.

“We know that 83 percent of car accidents are due to human error,” Foxx added. “What happens if human error could be eliminated? That’s a powerful possibility, and that’s a possibility worth pursuing.”

Obama Signs Into Law Controverisal CISA Bill

The controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act Bill hit the desk of US President Obama yesterday, and he promptly signed off on it. The move is hardly a surprise since CISA was bundled with vital Federal funding legislation as part of an ‘omnibus’ bill that, if denied, would rob the Federal government of its $1.1 trillion budget.

“There’s some things in there that I don’t like, but that’s the nature of legislation and compromise, and I think the system worked,” President Obama said at his year-end news conference, as reported by The Associated Press (via WHDH). “It was a good win.”

The “compromise” that Obama is referring to seems to be the protection of immigration laws, Planned Parenthood, and ObamaCare – all challenged by Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers across 2015 – in exchange for his support of CISA. Following Obama’s enactment, the bill will sent back to Congress, which will reconvene in January 2016.

While CISA is being championed primarily by Republicans, two of the GOP’s Presidential candidates, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against CISA.

Democrat Senator Ron Wyden, a vocal opponent of CISA, lamented the bill’s approval, saying in a press release:

“These unacceptable surveillance provisions are a black mark on a worthy package that contacts the biggest tax cut for working families in decades, an accomplishment I fought for in weeks of negotiations.”

“Unfortunately, this misguided cyber legislation does little to protect Americans’ security, and a great deal more to threaten our privacy than the flawed Senate version. Americans demand real solutions that will protect them from foreign hackers, not knee-jerk responses that allow companies to fork over huge amounts of their customers’ private data with only cursory review.”

The Intercept Leaks Huge Cache of Documents on the USA Drone Strike Program

Leaks of classified information have been part of the fabric of social interactions and also modern-day communications that includes the Internet, from hacked celeb pics to the now infamous Edward Snowdon cache of documents that detailed the extensive surveillance states and operations around the world. This leak is no different, yet if genuine, (I have to put this caveat in just in case someone is lying here and it comes back to bite me firmly on the posterior), is a huge trove of secret documents which have been published by The Intercept, detailing the Obama administration’s secretive and controversial drone-based assassination program.

If you’re not familiar with this program then let me elaborate, The US military and figures including the Obama administration have implemented a program that sort to track and kill high-value enemy targets throughout Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Now onto the documents which have been classed as being leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, this information covers an extensive array of subjects which includes kill chains, operations and also the standard intelligence flaws.

Skimming through this information reveals some extremely sensitive documents, for example “One top-secret document shows how the terror watchlist appears in the terminals of personnel conducting drone operations, linking unique codes associated with cellphone SIM cards and handsets to specific individuals in order to geolocate them”.

Another document reveals a case of a British citizen, Bilal el-Berjawi, who was stripped of his citizenship before being killed in a U.S drone strike in 2012. “British and American intelligence had Berjawi under surveillance for several years as he travelled back and forth between the U.K. and East Africa yet did not capture him. Instead, the U.S. hunted him down” and eventually used a drone strike to kill him in Somalia.

The “Kill Chain” sounds like a title to a film, yet this purported leak is very compelling, interesting, informative and also fascinating. It details the steps required to authorize a drone strike on a target in Yemen and the people who it passes through. It also shows that according to a Pentagon study, president Obama signed off on a 60 day authorizations to kill suspected terrorists, but he did not sign off on individual strikes.

According to the documents, there are two steps. Step 1 is choosing the target and step 2 is taking a strike. Step 1 starts from a JSOC task force before going through officials including Leon Panetta who is the Secretary of Defence, a principals committee which includes Hillary Clinton all the way to President Obama. Step 2, in the case of strikes in Yemen, ranges from a JSOC task force all the way to the president of Yemen.

Well yes, this is indeed big, am I surprised? No, the US is addicted to the Find Fix Finish mantra which has made drone strikes popular for the administration. The cache is extensive and it is far too much information to detail here, otherwise this article would be 5000 words long, and few want that.

It will be fascinating to see further developments in the coming days, weeks and also months.

Thank you theintercept for providing us with this information.

‘Handful of Senators’ Blocking Patriot Act Extension

US President Barack Obama has blamed a “handful of senators” for blocking the USA Freedom Act, designed to extend the mass surveillance legislated by section 215 of the infamous Patriot Act, which expires on 1st June. Obama has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he expects senators who are standing in the way of the extension to fall in line before May comes to an end.

Last week, the Senate voted against The USA Freedom Act (57/42 votes) and a 60-day emergency extension to the existing Patriot Act (54/45 votes).

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we are dark,” Obama said. “And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”

McConnell is expected to call the Senate into session on Sunday in an effort to push through the extension before it expires at midnight “to make every effort to provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs to combat terror,” according to his spokesman, Don Stewart.

“The only thing that is standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms despite law enforcement and the (intelligence community) saying ‘let’s go ahead and get this done,'” Obama added, putting the blame of any failure to extend the act squarely on the Senate.

If only they’d called it the Stars and Stripes and Apple Pie Act, it would have been a dead rubber.

Thank you Yahoo! Tech for providing us with this information.

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Email

According to the New York Times, Russian hackers may have gotten access to Obama’s White House email. While the White House itself has been silent on the issue, the emails were likely accessed during a hack related to the recent power outage. Sources with knowledge of the previous hack noted that Russians, likely connected to the Kremlin, were the perpetrators of the hack, a claim echoed again. Email at the White House was disrupted for about a month while the last vestiges of the hack were purged.

Despite being able to read Obama’s email, the hack is not as grievous as it could have been as it only breached the unclassified network. This means only unclassified emails sent to and from the system were accessed. Officials were quick to stress that no classified system was breached nor was classified information lost. The New York Times’s source suggests that the hack originated with a breach of the State Department’s unclassified network and found its way to the White House. That hack was so widespread, that to quote the New York Times:

“The disruptions were so severe during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.”

Since the hack, Obama has reduced the frequency of his emails. Obama has been known for fighting against the Secret Service to keep access to his BlackBerry and email, unlike his predecessor, Geoge W. Bush, who completely eschewed email.  Given the recent revelations that the Pentagon unclassified networks were also hacked, it raises the issue as to how much these systems can be trusted and whether or not they are more of a liability than an asset.

Thank you New York Times for the information

Google Said to Have Regular Meetings with White House Officials

The Wall Street Journal apparently got their hands on some visitor logs and emails linking high-ranking Google employees, including Eric Schmidt, meeting with White House officials 230 times across two terms, adding up to once a week meet-ups in the last four years.

Some of the meetings also look to have taken place during the final weeks before the commission settled with Google. The documents apparently help show how Google has become a lobbying powerhouse in recent years, such that it was able to defeat a major antitrust investigation.

It looks like Comcast has a similar kind of power in the government, having it be the only company to outspend Google’s $16.8 million in lobbying dollars last year. However, Comcast apparently met just 20 times in the last few years.

Also, it is reported that Google employees have moved over to roles in the White House in the past, having Obama naming former VP Megan Smith as his new chief technology officer last year.

Thank you Yahoo! Tech for providing us with this information

Donating to Snowden Now Illegal in the US; Guilty Parties Can Have Assets Seized

The White House has issued an emergency executive order that effectively prevents US citizens from donating money to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for fear of having their assets seized. The order is designed to choke funds for “malicious cyber-enabled activities” launched by persons outside of the United States.

Though the executive order – issued under the declaration of “a national emergency” by President Barack Obama – doesn’t mention Snowden by name, he is the highest profile figure affected by the ruling. Snowden, after revealing the extent of the indiscriminate mass surveillance undertaken by US intelligence and security services, was forced into exile in Russia, where he currently resides.

Section 2 of the order effectively states that by donating to parties considered to be involved in “malicious cyber-related activates” would impair the President’s ability to deal with this “national emergency”. It reads:

Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

While section 7 warns anyone that does make such donations is at risk of having their assets seized by the US government:

Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

The order is so vaguely worded and free of due process as to be open to abuse. If a US citizen gives money to someone that, in the opinion of the US Government, is considered guilty of “malicious cyber-enabled activities”, it can take that person’s possessions, with no prior warning and with no recourse, bypassing the judicial system entirely. Ironic, since it is this kind of abuse of power that Snowden felt he had to stand against.

Source: The White House

Data Sharing between Major Video Game Companies and US Government Coming

In the wake of the recent hacks, President Obama is doing his best to increase data sharing between all major companies and the federal government. He is doing this using the controversial new Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act.

As sighted by an email fact sheet from the White House, the president issued a cybersecurity executive order that creates new framework for “expanded information sharing designed to help companies work together and work with the federal government, to quickly identify and protect against cyber threats.” Many politicians took a much stronger stance toward cybersecurity after the Sony hack last year, and led Obama to spend much of the last two months focusing on the importance of expanded cooperation between government and private companies.

Some leading names in companies who are on board for this change include Apple, Intel, Bank of America, US Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, AIG, QVC, Walgreens, and Kaiser Permanente. According to the White House, they all use a new cybersecurity framework that could facilitate future data sharing, but doesn’t fully do so now.

Operating separate of the government, some companies are already signing up for full data sharing, including those that are part of the Cyber Threat Alliance, which includes Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, Intel Security, and Fortinet. Sony and Microsoft’s video game divisions, as well as many other major game developers have formed the Entertainment Software Association. Rounding out some other companies that are out there offering cybersecurity services are Crowdstrike, Box, and FireEye.

One hindrance to all this coming to fruition, is that CISPA has been passed by the House of Representatives twice, but died in the Senate due to severe privacy concerns. Once fully passed, CISPA will allow for the creation of “information sharing and analysis organizations” to be made up of one or more companies working under the newly created National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to funnel information to the Department of Homeland Security. Oddly though, this new executive order is not CISPA.

Not to create confusion, but this isn’t Obama circumventing Congress to enable all this to happen. He himself doesn’t have the power to give companies “immunity clause”, a liability protection, which is a major factor in CISPA. Basically, it gives companies the ability to remove all non-pertinent identifying information from what they share, all while granting legal immunity should they fail to do this, thus not holding them accountable when it does happen. This explains how the new cybersecurity frame-work intends to work under Obama’s clause.

Another big difference between the executive order and CISPA itself, is that the order shares information with DHS, a civil organization, rather than the NSA, a military organization. That fact has been used by experts in trying to reduce CISPA’s impact in the past.

Despite the support of some big name partners, Obama’s new framework also has strong opposition from various powerful sectors that are less agreeable to the idea. At an event held in Palo Alto where Obama announced the project, which was attended by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Bloomberg Business reported that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt declined their invitations. Instead they sent other employees to do some further reconnaissance. This suggested that those companies “are trying to assure their users or customers that their products are secure and that they don’t willingly turn over data to the government” per Bloomberg.

Until CISPA and any other such acts pass through Congress, full information sharing doesn’t seem likely yet, but it has become a major focus for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain more access to private information.

Source: Vice


WhiteHouse.gov SSL Certificate Expires – Chrome Issues Embarrassing Warning

Apparently you couldn’t trust the White House yesterday. Well, while some may say that everyday, you really shouldn’t have yesterday, according to Google that is.

In an embarrassing blunder, the US government-owned site forgot to update its SSL certificate, resulting in insecure connections to the site, as well as the above warning message showing up on Chrome. It couldn’t have came at a worse time than yesterday, considering President Obama was speaking at the Cybersecurity Summit at Stanford University.

That summit was attended by a number of industry figures, including Apple’s Tim Cook, who spoke at the event. You can watch it in its entirety below.

Source: The Verge

President Obama Writes His First Ever Line of Code

Barack Obama just finished his first ever line of code. The “Coder-in-Chief” wrote a line of Javascript with 20 middle school students as part of the Hour Of Code programme by Code.org.

Code.org and The Hour of Code was set up with the intention of teaching as many people as possible, especially children, how to write code. Code.org has the backing of a host of Silicon Valley luminaries, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. The website features game-like apps that allow kids (and adults) to experience coding visually, before moving onto more challenging tasks.

The site and project is certainly a great initiative – it’s terrible how the use of computers and technology has grown so rapidly, but that so few of us know how to write software. It’s bizarre how computers and computer education was focused more on programming in the 70s and 80s, while today ICT lessons consist of how to use Microsoft Office and little else.

Source: readwrite 

22 People Vetted Mitt Romney’s Tweets During 2012 Election

We all know how social media has become the go to form of marketing for many organisations, including politics of course. But we also know how this can go completely wrong, when something goes out that shouldn’t have for instance.

There are many examples of this, with a most recent one being the case of the British Labour politician who felt compelled to resign over her Tweet mocking a white van and England flag outside someone’s property. A simple quip that cost that politician her job. So it’s no surprise that in the race for the White House, some politicians feel compelled to ensure nothing goes wrong. In Mitt Romney’s case, that meant a team of 22 people approving every single tweet that was posted to his account during the 2012 election.

In a paper called Seizing the Moment, by Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill, analysis of both Obama and Romney’s social media accounts revealed that every single tweet posted from Romney’s personal account had to be vetted by all of those people.

“Romney’s digital team had to go through an extensive vetting process for all of its public communications, meaning that the temporal workflow of the campaign did not match the speed of social media,”.

It’s no surprise that this had a negative effect on his Twitter output. Social media is often all about being spontaneous, something traditional media outlets are not.

Source: The Verge

No More FCC Labels on Your Devices

Today President Obama signed into US law the E-Label Act, an act introduced by two Senators earlier in 2015, ending the mandatory requirement for physical FCC labels on devices.

The law allows manufacturers to include the FCC labels in their software rather than having to etch them onto the device’s exterior. It’s said that this will save manufactures money, which can then be passed on to consumers.

This isn’t entirely new, as the FCC already loosened its rules on labelling earlier this year, but today’s ruling brings the changes into law. The labels will be included in software like as can be seen above, on an iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, a lot won’t change, most devices will still have the labels of the European Commission on them, that’s if they don’t change their status on the subject too.

Regardless, we all know who’ll be happy whatever happens, even if it is just one more tiny logo he can remove from his designs – Apple’s Jony Ive.

Source: MacRumors

‘This Is Net Neutrality’ Coalition Fights for Global Internet Rights

In the wake of US President Barack Obama supporting a free and open internet, ISPs threatening to sue over potential restrictive legislation, and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) stuck in the middle, trying to keep both sides happy, a coalition of diverse groups from all over the world, including Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Digitale Gesellschaft, has formed to voice its support for net neutrality, on a global scale. The coalition is called This is Net Neutrality, and they issued the following statement, in eleven different languages, on their website on Thursday:

“The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Today, this open Internet is endangered by powerful service providers seeking to become gatekeepers who decide how users can access parts of the Internet. We don’t want to prevent these companies from using reasonable and necessary methods to manage their networks, but these acts cannot be a pretext to eliminate openness nor to police content.

The fundamental openness of this crucial technology must be preserved, and to this end we offer the resources on this site for activists, academics, policy makers and technologists who share our vision.”

The group also outlined their definition of ‘net neutrality’, which informs their use of the word throughout their campaign:

“Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.”

Deji Olukotun, Senior Advocacy Manager at Access, one of the members of This is Net Neutrailty, summed up the coalition’s all-encompassing view of the issue: “Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.”

Source: Common Dreams

FCC Warn: ISPs Will Sue Over Net Neutrality, Regardless

America’s ISPs will behave litigiously no matter what net neutrality laws are introduced, warns FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler told reporters that lawsuits are unavoidable, explaining why the FCC have been so cautious in their net neutrality contemplations.

He explained, “Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out. We need to make sure we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised.”

He added, “I want to move forward on open-internet rules with dispatch. I also want to have open internet rules that are sustained. And that’s the process we’re going through.”

Earlier this month, President Obama implored the FCC to implement the “strongest possible rules” to protect a free and open internet, suggesting that broadband be reclassified as a utility. In the wake of that, AT&T made outright threats of legal action against such a move, saying the same day, “if the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”. The FCC’s response was bullish, reminding the President that they were an independent body that makes its own decisions.

Source: The Guardian

President Obama Still Uses a BlackBerry

CNN reports that US President Barack Obama still uses his trusty old BlackBerry.

Surprising, considering he’s probably one of the few people left who actually does use a BlackBerry these days. Supposedly, the Secret Service and the NSA spent a great deal of time working on Obama’s BlackBerry, to make it secure enough for the president to be able to get his email fix without worrying about his communications being intercepted. The news that he still has one came after he yelled to reporters outside the White House that he forgot something before boarding Marine One, the Presidential helicopter.

“Do you guys ever forget something?” the President asked the group.

With a grin on his face Obama reached under his jacket to reveal the forgotten item. “Blackberry!”

Looking at BlackBerry’s financial situation, even having the leader of the free world as a a proud user probably isn’t enough to make things better.

Source: CNN

FCC Rejects Obama’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Following President Obama’s support for net neutrality, suggesting that the FCC invoke Title II legislation to protect broadband as a utility, Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the FCC, has issued a defiant response: “I am an independent agency.”

Obama proposed that Title II of the 1934 Communications Act be applied to the internet in order to protect services from anti-consumer measures. As part of the regulation, ISPs would be monitored by independent ombudsmen to ensure their fair practice. The proposal has met opposition from ISPs – Verizon and AT&T have already make threats of legal action if Title II is implemented – and Republicans, citing the potential restriction of trade as damaging to the free market. But the FCC’s reply has undermined Obama’s proposition before it could gain traction.

The White House issued a brief statement, agreeing, “ultimately this decision is theirs alone.”

Source: electronista

AT&T Halt Fibre Investment Until Net Neutrality is Resolved

First, President Obama voiced his support for net neutrality, asking the FCC to apply Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to protect broadband as a utility. The ISPs responded by threatening to sue if the regulation was implemented. Then, the FCC puffed out its chest, asserting its autonomy as an independent body, one that makes its own decisions. Now, the latest move in the net neutrality row sees AT&T putting a hold on any further fibre network development until the issue of net neutrality is resolved.

AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, said at a conference today, “We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed.” He added, “We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like.”

Source: Mashable

Obama Chimes in on Net Neutrality

US President Barack Obama has come out in support of net neutrality by suggesting that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) reclassifies the internet as a utility.

“To put these protections in place, I’m asking the FCC to reclassify internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act,” Obama said in a statement. He added, “In plain English, I’m asking [the FCC] to recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.” The changes would mean that internet service would need to be treated in the same way as water or gas, meaning that ISPs would act as the ‘dumb pipe’ providing unfettered internet access, without any control as to what they sell and without being able to favour certain companies or services to benefit their business.

Obama outlined 4 major points in his statement, saying that ISPs would be restricted from blocking sites delivering legal content, they’d be banned from intentionally slowing down or speeding up certain sites or services and perhaps most importantly, they wouldn’t be able to offer paid-for ‘fast lane’ provisions for certain companies willing to pay for them at the detriment of other internet traffic. Interestingly, Obama also asks that these rules be applied to mobile internet providers as well. This would be significant in itself, as mobile providers have not at all been subject to the same restrictions as wired providers.

Source: The Verge

ISPs Threaten to Sue the FCC if they Enforce Net Neutrality

In response to US President Barack Obama’s statement supporting net neutrality, and asking the FCC to reclassify internet service as a utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, American ISPs have come out fighting, threatening to take legal action against the FCC if they agree to Obama’s plan.

Verizon, who has previously threatened litigation over net neutrality proposals, released a statement claiming the Title II proposal is “a mistake that will do tremendous harm to the Internet and to U.S. national interests.” AT&T also weighed in, calling net neutrality a “hypothetical problem posed by certain political groups whose objective all along has been to bring about government control of the Internet.,” followed by the threat, “if the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”

Though many ISPs remained silent, their representative trade group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, criticised the proposal, stating, “this tectonic shift in national policy, should it be adopted, would create devastating results.” The FCC’s official statement is so far non-committal, saying only, “we will incorporate the President’s submission into the record.”

Source: Consumerist

Angry Birds On NSA’s ‘Most Wanted’, Privacy Snoops Revealed

Latest news puts NSA and British counterpart GCHQ in the spotlight for spying on people using mobile games, such as the popular Angry Birds mobile game. It is reported that the agencies have used this tactic since 2007, as recent information from NSA’s former contractor Edward Snowden reveals. The scope of the ‘snooping’ is to determine key factors about a person, such as age, sex, location, and other sensitive information. The documents were published by three news organisations, namely New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica.

“The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.” as The Guardian reports on the story at hand.

However, the reports don’t disclose the exact numbers and type of data collected and stored, though it was stated that the ‘perfect scenario’ for the agencies is when a user uploads a photo from a mobile device to a social media site. The documents point out that they can cross-reference information gathered from apps with another project called XKeyscore, which basically ‘knows’ everything you do online. Afterwards, with the help of the two sets of information gathered, NSA agents without prior authorization can search a huge database of information spanning from browser history, to e-mails and online chats.

When president Obama gave his speech about the reforms looking to be done inside NSA, he failed to address other ‘bulk data collection’ projects. Are we to expect more to surface? Only time will tell.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information

Do We All Need To Know How To Code In A World Full Of Tech?

We can’t deny it being a necessity to have your smartphone in your pocket, your laptop in your backpack and possibly your tablet in one of your hands. Technology is all around us today, from the traffic light at the intersection, to the way you get your coffee served at a shop. Everything is automated nowadays. But the actual question is, do we all know how it works?

Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, said that “becoming literate in code is as essential to being literate in language and math”, a “necessary tool of the century”. President Obama seems to agree that “computers are going to be a big part of your future” as he stated it. But is coding really for everyone? Is it a necessity for tomorrow’s society?

Looking at an event called CodeDay in Santa Monica, California, we see some examples of how coding impacts our lives. CodeDay is just one event supported by StudentRND, who organises such events all over the US, and it attracts more and more coding enthusiasts. The event is about pairing up in teams and coding an app in 24 hours.

It usually takes place in the weekend, from noon Saturday until noon Sunday as it is described, in which contestants need to release an app which is planned and coded within those 24 hours. It is an interesting idea to make your weekend productive, having the alternative to go at a party and get ‘wasted’. This way, you also learn new things and improve your teamwork as well as your coding knowledge, while having something to put on your resume.

Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor, has even tweeted last year that his new year’s resolution would be to learn how to code. Some other thoughts about coding comes from Jacob Sharf, a junior at UCLA, where he predicts that “It’ll be something that everyone knows, just like everyone knows how to read or write, it’ll be taught in middle school or elementary school, and so everyone will be familiar with the basics of it.”.

Moreover, last December, the president announced a Computer Science Education Week through YouTube. In addition to that, Tony Cárdenas has also introduced a bill called ‘416D65726963612043616E20436F646520’, which states in hexadecimal ‘America can code’, hoping to classify computer programming as a foreign language, and allocate grants for schools to start teaching coding as early as kindergarten.

Examples such as these go on and on, and the truth is that you do not have to be a genius to ‘code’. However, you are not required to know how to code to use technology now, and probably even in the future. Tech devices, operating systems and so on are made extremely easy and very intuitive, not as they were back in the 80’s where you would get a pointer on-screen waiting for commands to be inserted every second for each and every computing operation.

Although, coding is extremely beneficial and can really help you understand and probably invent new things. And you can start to code on almost everything nowadays. From PCs, to laptops, netbooks, even tablets and smartphones. Coding and ‘code’ altogether is everywhere, so why not give it a try?

Thank you NPR for providing us with this information

Barack Obama Redesigns The Way Private Information Is Collected

US president Barack Obama has made a decision to remake how NSA will spy on phones in the future. He said in a press statement that the NSA will now need court permission to get stored data from mobile phones, this including calls, text, sensitive information, etc. and they will not be able to store the information themselves.

Instead, the metadata will reportedly be collected by a third-party organization. Who that organization is or will be has yet to be determined. Obama’s NSA review group came up with the idea after Edward Snowden revealed details of how the NSA is spying on regular people. This initiative will, theoretically, lead to a way of guarding the collected information against government abuse.

“It is not enough for leaders to say, ‘Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect,'” Obama said during the speech, “for history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends upon the law to constrain those in power.”

Spying on US allies, namely on heads of state, has been terminated as well, having set a deadline up to the end of March to cease all surveillance activity. Obama has also requested input from the Congress in order to make some possible modifications in the legislation regarding such actions. Also, a public advocacy panel has been created to handle privacy concerns which can be aired before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Obama is truly attempting to make things more transparent in what government agencies do with people’s private information, as well as offer them a way to defend themselves against misuse of their private data. But given all of what Snowden has uncovered, will it be enough?

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet