India Defends Net Neutrality against Facebook’s Free Basics

by Matt Klassen on February 12, 2016

0106_facebook2_650x4552It was never hard to see through Facebook’s ploy, an involved plot to establish the social network as the onramp for the unconnected billions to finally drive on the information superhighway. In fact, more than that, by offering its Free Basics service, Facebook has been attempting to establish itself not only as the online gateway, but as the Internet itself, hoping that people find enough within Facebook’s closed ecosystem that they never need to leave.

Further, in true American fashion it seems that Facebook assumed the world would be grateful for such efforts; an altruistic company led by a benevolent leader who thought only of how much greater the world would be if everyone was connected. I’m glad India didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

According to reports, India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority ruled in favour of its current Net Neutrality standards earlier this week, effectively banning Facebook’s initiative and its associated Free Basics online access app. While Facebook is understandably disappointed (and continues to defend its altruism) consider this a win for Net Neutrality, one that shows just what strong open Internet standards can do (and just how weak the FCC is at defending ours here at home).

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How Popular Opinion will win the Zero-Rating Controversy

by Jeff Wiener on February 12, 2016

public-opinionIt wasn’t that long ago that most municipalities across North America were resisting the arrival of revolutionary ride-sharing service Uber, with many arguing that it violated public transportation laws, disrupted the taxi industry, and was generally unsafe (all of which I still believe are true). But despite the fact that Uber ran afoul of all current transportation legislation and regardless of the generally sound arguments opposed to putting public transportation in the hands of anyone with a car, Uber has thrived, almost exclusively thanks to public opinion. Simply put, people want Uber, all the rest is noise.

So enter the zero-rating controversy, the ongoing efforts of wireless carriers to provide certain video feeds at no data cost, and with full deference to the sound arguments put forth by researchers at Stanford, by analysts across the continent, and by the FCC’s own Net Neutrality standards, we may see the entire open Internet imitative toppled not by lawsuits or legislation, but by popular opinion.

The fact of the matter is that from everything I’ve seen, through the practice zero-rating certain video streams (ostensibly penalizing certain content providers) and “optimizing” such video traffic, carriers are clearly violating various aspects of the Net Neutrality regulations (a controversy currently being played out in India), but more to the point, it likely won’t matter given that people actually want what the carriers are offering.

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Cyber Attacks Up, but Only 37% Canadian Companies Ready: Study

by Istvan Fekete on February 11, 2016

201602101312280y5sool45j0mfrfu2vclove3dMore than half of Canadian respondents to a cybersecurity study have experienced an incident involving the loss or exposure of sensitive information within the past year, Toronto-based Scalar Decisions has found.

The research, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, was commissioned by Scalar and involved a survey of 654 IT and IT security practitioners in Canada from a wide variety of industries. Nearly two-thirds worked at companies with between 251 and 5,000 employees in Canada, said Scalar.

The study entitled “The Cyber Security Readiness of Canadian Organizations”, found an average of 40 cyberattacks per year, an increase of 17% over last year. 70% of respondents said their organizations had experienced situations where exploits and malware had evaded their intrusion detection systems, and 82% said that cyberattacks had evaded their antivirus solutions.
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Does Verizon’s new Zero-Rated Video Service run afoul of Net Neutrality?

by Matt Klassen on February 11, 2016

Verizon-FreeBeeVerizon has decided to wade into the unsettled waters of Net Neutrality vs. Zero-Rating Video Services by announcing that all videos streamed through its Go90 mobile video content service will not count against one’s data cap. However, if customers stream videos from other sources, it will still chew up their monthly quota.

The move comes as a response to T-Mobile’s controversial Binge On service, one that in addition to zero-rating certain streaming video feeds (those who have partnered with T-Mobile), it also “optimizes” (hear: throttles) all mobile video streams to ensure better streaming service on mobile devices.

What’s interesting about Verizon’s decision to enter the zero-rating game is that it comes at a time when the practice is under intense scrutiny, as the Federal Communications Commission is embroiled in a debate over the legality of such offerings, investigating complaints about throttling, discrimination, and anti-competitive practices.

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Bell and IBM Team Up to Bring Hybrid Cloud Services to Canadian Businesses

by Istvan Fekete on February 10, 2016

bell-officeBell Canada and IBM have announced a new partnership to expand the cloud computing services available through Bell Business Cloud. Businesses across Canada will have access to the IBM Cloud through a secure, high-speed connection provided by Bell, which, according to the carrier’s projection, will simplify the way customers adopt and build out their hybrid clouds.

Bell recognizes that organizations and business are looking for a solution that doesn’t rely on sending data over the public Internet but instead accesses a broad range of services through a secure and reliable connection.

Bell’s solution is its Business Cloud service, which allows business customers to plug into the IBM Cloud and gives them direct access to a wide range of on-demand computing and storage options.
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France Cracks Down on Facebook’s Data Collection

by Matt Klassen on February 10, 2016

facebookFacebook has been put on notice by France’s data collection authority that things are about to change, and that the social network will no longer be able to mine user data the way it has always done. That means that whatever house of cards Facebook has built in regards to data collection, advertising, and ultimately revenues, it’s about to all come crashing down.

For years companies like Facebook have relied on an international data collection agreement called “Safe Harbour” to avoid all the red tape usually associated with transatlantic data sharing between the European Union and the United States. Last year, amid the growing privacy scandal involving the American intelligence sector, that agreement was ruled illegal and companies were given 3 months to establish alternative legal arrangements for data transfers.

Now that those three months have come and gone, Facebook stands as the largest target who has yet to make these alternative arrangement’s, and its apparent refusal to abide by these rules has prompted France to take the opportunity to stem the tide of data collection, informing the social network that it has three months to stop tracking users online activity without their consent, and to cease sending any data back to the U.S.

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Verizon Is Interested in Acquiring Yahoo’s Assets, CEO Confirms

by Istvan FeketeFebruary 9, 2016

Speaking on CNBC’s Mad Money, Verizon CEO Lowel McAdam confirmed the carrier’s interest in acquiring at least some of Yahoo’s Internet assets, as it plans to move further into digital media. “We said on this show a month ago in December we would look at it. I think their board is being very responsible in […]

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Dissension Brews in the Android World over Ad-Blockers

by Matt KlassenFebruary 9, 2016

It seems there is some dissent in the Android world over the presence of ad blocking software, as Samsung’s decision last week to open up its mobile web browser to ad-blockers was met this week with Google’s decision to begin removing select ad-blockers from the Google Play store altogether. There’s an interesting dynamic at play […]

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BlackBerry to Lay Off 200 Employees in Canada and the US

by Istvan FeketeFebruary 8, 2016

BlackBerry will lay off 200 employees from its Waterloo headquarters and a manufacturing facility based in Florida, US. The cuts are part of the company’s turnaround plan plotted by CEO John Chen. The layoff is smaller than initially reported by Canadiantech blog MobileSyrup, whose sources had talked about the possibility of a major, 1000 job […]

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Sprint Hopes Less Customer Service Staff is the Right Way Forward

by Matt KlassenFebruary 5, 2016

When Sprint announced earlier this month that it was taking a unique approach to cost-cutting, transforming its network infrastructure by pursuing more cost-effective tower locations and deploying cheaper, more efficient small cell technologies, you just knew that the carrier’s money-saving measures would have to include more familiar means of increasing cash flow, and so with that, the […]

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