The United States House of Representatives has voted to pass the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), talk of which has swept the Internet over the past few weeks. The House vote was moved up to Thursday night, and CISPA passed as 248 members of Congress voted for the bill and 168 voted against. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), and it now faces further modifications in the Senate if it is to avoid being vetoed by the White House. President Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk, noting that as it is written now, the legislation would allow “broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information.” The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement following the vote. “Cybersecurity does not have to mean abdication of Americans’ online privacy,” said ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson. “As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back. We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity.” More →
The United States Senate on Thursday voted 52-46 in opposition of a Republican bill that sought to block the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules. Here’s one small example of how a society without net neutrality might work: Say you’re an avid fan of Netflix or Hulu but, since you’re using those services instead of your cable company’s on-demand movie rental platform, your cable company decides to block all access to Netflix and Hulu. Under the FCC’s net neutrality rules, that move by your cable company would be illegal. Instead, cable companies must allow access to all legal content crossing their networks. However, cable and internet companies fear that net neutrality is giving the government too much control over their networks. Verizon moved to appeal the net neutrality rules in January when it said it was “deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the internet itself.” The FCC has since filed a motion to toss Verizon’s suit. The rules are set to go into effect on November 20th, Reuters said. More →
The city of San Francisco has approved an ordinance that will require cell phone retailers to warn customers about the dangers of cell phone radiation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. The ordinance, which was passed in a 10-1 vote, asks that phone retailers “post general warnings” about risks. It’s unclear what exactly will be required of the retailers, and researchers have flip-flopped on whether or not there are any real risks associated with mobile wireless devices. On May 31st, the World Health Organization published a report that said cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic,” but The Economist fired back shortly after and said there’s no way the devices cause cancer. A second group wrote published a separate report in an issue of Environmental Health Perspectives and argued there is evidence “increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.” A similar law was passed last year that required cell phone makers to publish specific absorption rate (SAR) figures on boxes of cell phones, but the CTIA sued before the law took effect. More →
Reuters reported on Friday that Northern and Ethical Investments, an investor in Research In Motion, has called for a shareholder vote to decide if co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie should remain both co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the company’s board. Northern and Ethical Investments reportedly wants the Waterloo based company to have an independent board member. However, Reuters said RIM has already asked its shareholders to shoot down the vote, arguing that John Richardson is an independent member that “already acts as the de facto leader” of RIM’s board. If you’ll excuse us, we’re about to grab lunch with a co-sandwich, and co-french fries. More →
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor of a new set of rules that will force larger cellular carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T to provide roaming access to their data networks at prices set by the FCC. The move will allow smaller regional carriers to take advantage of the large investments made by national carriers at a mere fraction of the cost of building out their own data networks. Immediately following the FCC’s vote, Verizon Wireless’ executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications Tom Tauke issued a statement. “Today’s action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention in the wireless marketplace,” Tauke said. “By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, today’s order discourages network investment in less profitable areas. That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and the development of facilities-based competition and potential job creation. Therefore, it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition.” Hit the jump for Tauke’s full statement. More →
In a short but sweet press release, Nintendo announced that sales of its Wii gaming console have topped 30 million units in the United States. The feat took only 45 months to accomplish which Nintendo claims makes it the fastest selling console ever. USA Today writes, “More than 73 million Wiis have been scooped up worldwide, which puts the console on pace to becoming the best-selling video game device ever. That title is held by Sony’s PlayStation 2, which has notched about 140 million in sales.” Not bad Nintendo, not bad at all. More →
The FCC has announced that it has canceled its upcoming December 18th meeting. As part of that meeting, the FCC had planned to vote on the proposed auction of portions of the white space spectrum which would be used for free, nationwide wireless broadband. The white space initiative generated a firestorm of controversy that pitted T-Mobile, the National Association of Broadcasters and celebrities like Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, and the Dixie Chicks against technology companies such as Google, Dell, Microsoft and Motorola. With the upcoming meeting now scuttled and a vote delayed indefinitely, the white space spectrum issue is dead in the water for the time being. It will now be in the hands of the incoming Obama administration to revive the issue or let it slowly drift away.
First it was the White House that voiced its opposition earlier this week to the FCC’s plan for free wireless broadband using the white space spectrum, now it is Congress’s turn to weigh in on the matter. In a letter to the FCC, the incoming chairmen for the Senate and House Commerce committees, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), urged the FCC to focus on the upcoming digital TV transition and to stay away from “complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new administration will have an interest in reviewing” during the FCC’s next and final meeting for 2008. The FCC responded by saying that it is reviewing the letter and will reach out to the other offices before making a final decision on the vote. This request for a delay is in direct opposition to the request made by M2Z networks, a potential licensee of this white space spectrum and one of the driving forces behind the free wireless broadband proposal, which claimed that “any further delay from the FCC on this matter would result in the violation of a self-imposed Congressional deadline and would constitute a violation of the Communications Act.” With increasing pressure from both sides and the December 18th meeting drawing closer, the FCC only has a few short days to render a decision. The only thing we can be sure of is that the decision, regardless of which way it falls, will surely generate yet another round of controversy.
In two big election day victories, the FCC approved both the usage of the white space spectrum for mobile broadband access and the Sprint Clearwire joint venture to expand WiMAX coverage. w00t, w00t! The decision for the white space spectrum was unanimous with one partial dissent from Commissioner Deborah Tate. This is a big blow to the National Association of Broadcasters et al. who have been vehemently fighting the use of this spectrum and a big win for the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Dell who have rallied behind FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in his support of the usage of this spectrum. ln the Sprint-Clearwire vote, the FCC also unanimously gave the go ahead to the merger of Sprint’s XOHM division with Clearwire in a move that will jumpstart WiMAX deployment. So there you have it folks, two flavors of wireless broadband access got a giant boost from the FCC on Tuesday.
Sorry for straying from our regular content, but we felt compelled to remind readers that today is November 4. The official Bold launch is hardly the only interesting news – today also happens to be the day we will elect our 44th President. If you are registered to do so, please, do us and yourself a favor. Take a break at some point today, head down to the polls and vote. Obama/Biden, McCain/Palin, BG/Jibi, whatever. Just vote. This election will already go down in history for a variety of reasons and it will likely be the most important election of our lifetime. Do your part. If making history isn’t enough incentive, hit the jump and listen to our friends over at Cornell University. They want you to vote so badly, well, you’ll see.