Archive for the ‘communications’ Tag

Google lets users search for Internet blockers

Google lets users search for Internet blockers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Google Inc on Wednesday unveiled a plan aimed at eventually letting computer users determine whether providers like Comcast Corp are inappropriately blocking or slowing their work online.

The scheme is the latest bid in the debate over network neutrality, which pits content companies like Google against some Internet service providers.

The ISPs say they need to take reasonable steps to manage ever-growing traffic on their networks for the good of all users. Content and applications companies fear the providers have the power to discriminate, favoring some traffic over others.

Google will provide academic researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the United States and Europe to analyze data, said its chief Internet guru, Vint Cerf, known as the “father of the Internet.”

“When an Internet application doesn’t work as expected or your connection seems flaky, how can you tell whether there is a problem caused by your broadband ISP (Internet service provider), the application, your PC (personal computer), or something else?” Cerf wrote in a blog post.

Israel hacks Arab TV station

Israel hacks Arab TV station

Israeli military forces have reportedly hacked into a Hamas-run TV station to broadcast propaganda.

The hijack of the Al-Aqsa television station last weekend represents the latest phase in a war in cyberspace that has accompanied the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Al-Aqsa is known for featuring allegedly antisemitic childrens’ cartoons as part of its broadcast schedule last year.

Instead of the controversial Farfour character, audiences were treated to propaganda clips featuring the gunning down of Hamas’ leadership, accompanied by a message in Arabic that “Time is running out,” Israel’s Channel 10 (via Wired) reports. The cyberattack on Sunday followed earlier propaganda broadcasts and the bombing of Al-Aqsa’s main studio by IDF planes last month.

On Saturday an Al-Aqsa broadcast was interrupted by the image of a ringing phone that was left unanswered, accompanied by an Arabic voiceover that stated “Hamas leaders are hiding and they are leaving you on the front line”. Al-Aqsa radio has also been disrupted by propaganda broadcasts, Wired adds.

Culture Secretary: censor the internet

Internet sites could be given ‘cinema-style age ratings’, Culture Secretary says

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

The Cabinet minister describes the internet as “quite a dangerous place” and says he wants internet-service providers (ISPs) to offer parents “child-safe” web services.

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Mr Burnham replies: “Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.”

ISPs, such as BT, Tiscali, AOL or Sky could also be forced to offer internet services where the only websites accessible are those deemed suitable for children.

And later in the article:

However, Mr Burnham said: “If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.”

One word, Mr. Burnham: Tor.

Fail.

Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

A senior Vodafone network architecture specialist has been appointed by Jacqui Smith to draw up proposals for a multibillion pound central silo of communications data, amid a Whitehall row about the future of the project, The Register has learned.

The Home Office team responsible for the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) have been told to make the case for the expansion of state surveillance it would involve again, according to insiders.

The plans were originally put forward by intelligence chiefs to “maintain capability” to intercept communications as use of internet-based technology – such as BT’s new 21CN backbone – grows. Opponents have labelled such claims the “keep running to stand still” strategy, a satirical reference to Alice Through the Looking Glass.

In response to the civil service controversy over IMP, Jacqui Smith announced in October that the Communications Data Bill – the legislation that would mandate the project – would not come before Parliament during the current session. It began on December 3 and runs until the end of October 2009. Instead she said there will be a public consultation beginning in January.

Sources said the several dozen officials working on IMP recently moved away from the “hot house” atmosphere surrounding it in the Home Office to occupy government offices at Great George Street (known as GOGGS), off Parliament Square. The Home Office also recently created a director-level position to take charge of the project and installed the Vodafone man.

Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users

Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users

Exclusive The UK’s second largest ISP, Virgin Media, will next year introduce network monitoring technology to specifically target and restrict BitTorrent traffic, its boss has told The Register.

The move will represent a major policy shift for the cable monopoly and is likely to anger advocates of “net neutrality”, who say all internet traffic should be treated equally. Virgin Media currently temporarily throttles the bandwidth of its heaviest downloaders across all applications at peak times, rather than targeting and “shaping” specific types of traffic.

The firm argues that its current “traffic management” policy allows it to ensure service quality at peak times for 95 per cent of customers while still allowing peer-to-peer filesharers to download large amounts of data.

The details and timing of the new application-based restrictions are still being developed, Virgin Media’s Kiwi CEO Neil Berkett said in an interview on Monday following the launch of his firm’s new 50Mbit/s service. They will come into force around the middle of next year, he added.

Meanwhile, Google have been revealed to be selling itself on non-neutral services while at the same time claiming to support Net Neutrality.

Postal workers in 24-hour strike

Postal workers in 24-hour strike

Postal workers from seven sorting offices are to take part in a 24-hour strike over the merger of some depots.

Mick Kavanagh, from the Communication Workers Union, said they would strike on 19 December as 500 jobs may be lost.

Workers from centres at Coventry, Crewe, Liverpool, Stockport, Bolton, Oldham and Oxford are set to take part.

Mr Kavanagh said there could be further action at the end of December and early January but the door was “still open” for talks with Royal Mail.

“It really is in Royal Mail’s hands to get this sorted out,” he said.

This comes in the wake of claims that Royal Mail is requiring its workers to walk at a speed of around 4 miles per hour in accordance with a new monitoring system.

Mandelson’s dept mulls UK internet power grab

Mandelson’s dept mulls UK internet power grab

Exclusive Ministers led by Peter Mandelson are considering a power grab at the independent company at the centre of UK’s internet infrastructure, The Register can reveal.

Mandelson’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has asked Nominet, which is in charge of the .co.uk registry, to justify its independence from Whitehall.

In a letter dated October 15, senior civil servant David Hendon, BERR’s Director of Business Relations, asked Nominet chairman Bob Gilbert: “What arguments would you employ to convince my Ministers that the present relationship between government and the and the company is appropriate in ensuring that public policy objectives in relation to the management of the domain name system and the standing of the UK in the internet community are understood and taken into account?”

Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.

Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society.

A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database to combat terrorism and crime. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say.

The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain’s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals and terrorists because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private.