FCC Net Neutrality Rollback Filled with Fake Comments



New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a report based on an investigation into the 2017 net neutrality rollback. It revealed that 18 million fake comments were filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The full report included the following information:

…In the course of the investigation, the OAG obtained and analyzed tens of thousands of internal emails, planning documents, bank records, invoices, and data comprising of hundreds of millions of records. Our investigation confirmed that many contemporaneous reports of fraud that dogged that rulemaking process. The OAG found that millions of fake comments were submitted through a secret campaign, funded by the country’s broadband companies, to manufacture support for the repeal of existing net neutrality rules using leads generators….

The report found millions more fake comments were submitted by a 19-year-old college student who used automated software to create fake identities. Those fake identities were in favor of net neutrality.

The broadband companies used commercial lead generators that used prizes – like gift cards and sweepstakes entries – to lure consumers to their websites and to join the campaign. Nearly every lead generator that was hired for the campaign “fabricated consumers’ responses.” Those fake responses were against the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

At the time the FCC was seeking comments about the rollback of Obama-era net neutrality rules, reporters noticed that hundreds of thousands of the comments shared identical language. When contacted by reporters, individuals said they never signed it, or never heard of net neutrality. Some who supposedly signed it had died before the comment was signed.

Personally, I think the broadband companies who hired the lead generators should be held accountable for the fraud they helped perpetrate. It is absolutely disgusting to see the lengths they went to in order to thwart the will of the people.


Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump’s Suspension



Facebook created an Oversight Board to make the decision on whether or not overturn Trump’s indefinite suspension. Later on, the Oversight Board chose to delay its decision and extended the public comments deadline for this case.

Today, Facebook posted information in their Newsroom titled: “Oversight Board Upholds Facebook’s Decision to Suspend Donald Trump’s Accounts”. It was written by Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications.

Today, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. As we stated in January, we believe our decision was necessary and right, and we’re pleased the board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took.

In the post, Nick Clegg stated that the Oversight Board has not required Facebook to immediately restore Mr. Trump’s accounts. It also has not specified the appropriate duration of the penalty. The Oversight Board called the open-ended nature of the suspension an “indeterminate and standardless penalty”. As a result, Facebook will now consider the Oversight Board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.

It is worth pointing out that the Oversight Board’s determination is not binding, which leaves room for Facebook to either chose to follow it – or to ignore it completely. The Oversight Board included a list of recommendations for Facebook to consider, but the company doesn’t have to adhere to any of them.

One of the recommendations stated that Facebook should “provide users with accessible information on how many violations, strikes, and penalties have been assessed against them, and the consequences that will follow future violations.” Personally, I think that would be a good thing for Facebook to implement. It could make people think twice before posting something that breaks Facebook’s terms of service.


SpaceX Approved for 3 Test Flights #1525



SpaceX has been approved for an additional 3 test flights by the FAA for its Boca Chica flight facility. This is a big deal in that they got all three approved at once. We will see if SpaceX can land one upright.

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Samsung unpacks the Galaxy Book range



At today’s Samsung Unpacked event, the South Korean firm unveiled its vision for the future of PCs. A range of high spec ultrabooks with the characteristics of smartphones – mobility, connectivity and continuity. Not once was the word laptop mentioned in the whole presentation, but instead they’re portable PCs. Look like laptops to me…

Regardless, Samsung announced two new high-end Galaxy Books with the thickness of a smartphone and the power of a PC – the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360. The laptops are amazingly thin: the Book Pro is 11.2 mm and the Pro 360 is 11.5 mm. Available in two screen sizes – 13.3″ and 15.6″ – and three colours, the Galaxy Books have the thinnest hinges ever. The screens themselves are just crazy thin – check out the promo pic on the left.

While the Book Pro is a standard clamshell laptop, the Book Pro 360 is a convertible with the screen folding all the way back into a tablet. Talking about the display, it’s a touchscreen AMOLED display with S-Pen support (included in the box). Given the video conferencing world we’re in at the moment, the Galaxy Books come with dual array mics and intelligent noise cancelling. Disappointingly, the camera is only 720p. 5G’s built-in too, just as you’d expect with a mobile phone, though it seems to be only available on the smaller 13″ models.

Partnering with both Intel and Microsoft, the Galaxy Book Pros are the first in a portfolio of collaboratively-produced devices where Samsung has attempted to create deep integration between the hardware and the Windows software. It’s definitely the way to go.

Inside the Galaxy Book is an 11th Gen Intel Core processor (i3, i5, i7) with an Iris X GPU on the higher-end CPUs. It’s powered by a slim custom battery giving 20 hours of video playback or around 16 hours of standard use. The 65W charger (made from recycled materials) will give 8 hours of power in 30 minutes. Where have we heard charging stats like that? Mobile phones, of course. Port-wise, the Book is up-to-date with USB C and Thunderbolt 4.

Samsung is working hard to bring multiple products into a “Galaxy Ecosystem”. For example, the Galaxy Book series brings Samsung SmartThings Dashboard to the PC for the first time. There’s connectivity with the Galaxy smartphones too with apps you’d see on the phone also available on the Book and seamless syncing between the two devices. Android phone apps can be controlled from the Book so there’s no need to switch between laptop and smartphone. And for a second screen, the Galaxy Book can use a Galaxy S7 tablet. It’s all getting very integrated around here.

Of course, the Galaxy Book Pro isn’t going to be cheap. Prices appear to start at US$999/GB£1099 for the Pro and US$1199/GB£1199 for the Pro 360. Preorders are open now with delivery in mid-May.

For those with less deep pockets, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Book, a 15″ laptop that will fold flat. It starts at a much more reasonable price of US$549/GB£699 though it looks like folk in the UK are getting ripped off unless there’s a spec difference. And in news for gamers, Samsung announced the Galaxy Book Odyssey. It comes with a Tiger Lake H CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3050Ti GPU for all those high-performance games. Priced at US$1399.

If you want to review the launch event yourself, it’s here but skip through to about an hour in for the start of the presentation.

 

 


CES Announces Return to Las Vegas for CES 2022



The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced CES 2022, the world’s most influential technology event, will return to Las Vegas next year. Following a successful all-digital CES 2021, CTA will convene the tech industry in-person and digitally, giving a global audience access to major brands and startups, as well as the world’s most-influential leaders and industry advocates. CES heads back to Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022, with Media Days taking place Jan. 3-4, 2022.

Some 1000 companies have committed to showcasing their most innovative technologies in Las Vegas and companies are continuing sign up. Attendees can expect to see global brands including Amazon, AMD, AT&T, Daimler AG, Dell, Google, Hyundai, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, and Sony. Companies including Caterpillar, Indy Autonomous Challenge, and Sierra Space are planning to make a Las Vegas debut in 2022. Eureka Park will return with startups representing countries around the world, including large delegations from France, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

“We’re thrilled to return to Las Vegas – home to CES for more than 40 years – and look forward to seeing many new and returning faces,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Hundreds of executives have told us how much they need CES to meet new and existing customers, find partners, reach media and discover innovation.”

Digital audiences will also experience the spirit of the live event in Las Vegas. The CES anchor desk, which debuted at CES 2021, will travel to Las Vegas and connect the digital audience with exhibitors, conference sessions, keynotes, and product announcements from the live event. New content will also be added once CES departs Las Vegas, enabling attendees and exhibitors to continue connecting and exploring.

“Our customers are enthusiastic about returning to a live event in Las Vegas,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, CTA. “Global brands and startups have shared that plans are already underway and are committed to sharing the magic of an in-person CES with even more people from around the world.”

CTA will be reviewing guidelines for coronavirus safety measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to state and local guidelines. CTA will be following applicable federal, state, and local laws, adapting CES plans accordingly and sharing updates with its audiences.


Do you own Media Purchased at Apple? #1524



Do you really own media you buy at Apple or is it more like long-term rental with them having the option to recall or remove the rental from your media library? That is a question being asked in a lawsuit that has been filed after several individuals have called into question the BUY option and losing what they have purchased when Apple canceled their Apple ID.

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German Advertising Companies Accuse Apple of Antitrust Abuse



A group of Germany’s largest media, tech, and advertising companies have accused Apple of antitrust abuse as it introduces changes to the privacy settings of iPhones that they say will harm the ads market, Financial Times reported.

According to Financial Times, nine industry associations, representing companies including Facebook and Axel Springer, the owner of Bild, Die Welt and Insider, filed a complaint on Monday with Germany’s competition regulator.

The New York Times has a detailed article about some of the changes coming when Apple releases iOS 14.5. The thing that is causing advertising companies (and the platforms and games that rely on them for data) to be so angry with Apple is a feature that is absolutely fantastic for users who value their privacy.

The new App Tracking Transparency feature will show a pop-up notification that iPhone users will see when an app wants to track them. It says: Allow [name of app] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites? There is a space on the notification for the company that wants to track the user to attempt to explain itself.

The best part is that the App Tracking Transparency feature gives the user control over whether or not they want a specific app to track them (and potentially create financial gain off the user’s data). To prevent that from happening, all the user has to do is tap the text that says: Ask App not to Track.

There is a common refrain from advertising companies, and the platforms who rely on them, who desperately need to track users in order for the ad company and platform to make money. In December of 2020, Facebook purchased a series of full-page newspaper ads to complain about Apple. At the time, Facebook claimed that not allowing Facebook to track users data would be “devastating to small businesses.”

The German advertising complaint against Apple is also ridiculous. They are predicting that the change will result in “a 60 percent fall in advertising revenues for app developers, as the changes make it harder for third parties to gather the data they need,”

Personally, I am on Apple’s side in this argument. Companies that never bothered to ask people for permission to not only track them across websites and apps, but also to scoop up their data and give it to third parties, are predators. The sneaky way they did this clearly shows that they knew people would not say “yes” to those requests.

Next, they stupidly based the majority of their income on the erroneous concept that people would either never know what was happening, or that they would never be given the opportunity to opt-out. Since then certain countries, and some U.S. states, have created privacy restrictions that prevent greedy companies from grabbing user’s data. Apple’s iOS 14.5 is one more tool towards making the internet safer for people to use.