Government

Tue
23
Mar
John Lister's picture

Robocallers Fined $225M; May be Blocked by Carriers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined two telemarketers a record $225 million for unlawful automated "robocalls." The offenders, who used names including JSquared Telecom and Rising Eagle, made around a billion such calls in a ... five-month period. The fine isn't just a record for robocalls, but is also the largest ever issued by the FCC for any reason. (Source: cnbc.com ) The calls claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known legitimate providers. In fact the calls were made on behalf of several companies, at least one of which has already been sued for its own ... (view more)

Fri
12
Mar
John Lister's picture

Report Details Government Internet Shutdowns

29 countries intentionally disrupted Internet access for their citizens at some point in 2020 according to a new report. Of a total 155 shutdowns, 28 were "full Internet blackouts." While many were authoritative states, the most disruptions by far ... came in India, which is officially at least a democracy. It used more than 100 Internet shutdowns to prevent communication by protestors against a controversial law. Those shutdowns have now been judged illegal by the country's Supreme Court. Mobile Speeds Slowed The report, from Access Now, found the overall number of shutdowns around the world was ... (view more)

Thu
25
Feb
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Proposed Law Would Bar State-Run Broadband

A proposed US law would ban states and local governments from offering broadband services. Supporters of the bill say "municipal broadband" crowds out commercial providers, while critics say such services only exist to fill the gap left by the ... commercial market. If passed, the bill would become law as the CONNECT (Communities Overregulating Networks Need Economic Competition Today) Act. It would ban any state or political subdivision (such as a city) from starting to provide "retail or wholesale broadband Internet access service." (Source: house.gov ) This would apply whether it was provided ... (view more)

Wed
16
Dec
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Websites Face Major Fines for 'Illegal Content'

Tech giants such as Facebook could face eye watering fines or even be blocked if they don't do enough to remove "illegal content." The proposals in the United Kingdom highlight the difficultly every government faces in balancing online freedoms and ... responsibilities. The measures, set out in the Online Harms Bill, would affect websites and services around the world. If it becomes law, it raises the question of whether the UK is a significant enough market that websites change their practices worldwide to avoid headaches, similar to the way many US business decided it was better to ... (view more)

Tue
08
Dec
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Feds Snooped IP Addresses Using Website Logs

The Director of National Intelligence has confirmed the government collected visitor information from a US webpage using powers stemming from the PATRIOT Act. It's reawakened political debate about whether search and browsing history should be part ... of these powers. The argument centers on Section 215 of the act which gives the government the authority to collect "tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information." In the past that's been interpreted to include electronic records such as phone logs. ... (view more)

Tue
28
Jan
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State Could Ban Gov't Ransomware Payments

New York state senators want a legal ban on local governments paying ransomware demands. The bipartisanship move is based on the idea that paying up simply incentivises the attacks. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on a hard ... drive so that they become unusable. Cyber criminals then demand a hefty ransom to unlock the files. Two state senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have each proposed broadly similar bills. They are currently in the committee stage and its likely that one will go ahead to a full vote of the New York State Senate. Both bills are based on similar ... (view more)

Wed
22
Jan
John Lister's picture

Apple Drops Plan to Tighten iCloud Encryption

Reports suggest that Apple has been pressured by the FBI to drop plans to improve the security of its customer backups. The plan was to better encrypt backups on the iCloud service. iCloud serves two purposes: it's a way for Apple users to store ... data and documents online and access them from anywhere (from any Apple device) with a password; it's also a way to automatically backup the contents of iPads and iPhones. Data from the iCloud is stored on Apple servers in an encrypted format, which means that if somebody gained access to the files (either through a remote hack, or a physical breach ... (view more)

Wed
11
Dec
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House Passes Robocall Bill (Finally)

A bill to tackle unwanted "robocalls" looks likely to become law in the US. It would use a range of approaches to tackle misleading or annoying automated calls. Robocalls are automatically-dialed marketing (or scam) phone calls - the same calls made ... by Indian tech support scammers . Using computers to place the call greatly increases the number of homes a company (or scammer) can attempt to phone - and in turn the number of calls the average home is likely to receive. The House of Representatives has now passed the proposed Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and ... (view more)

Wed
07
Aug
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Tech Giants Could Face Massive Fines

A proposed law would dramatically increase maximum fines that can be imposed on companies that break monopoly rules. Tech firms would be among the most likely to be affected in the admittedly unlikely event the law was enacted. The proposed bill ... would be known as the Monopolization Deterrence Act of 2019. It's designed to change the current system by which the maximum penalty for violating the main US antitrust law, the Sherman Act, is $10 million. That applies regardless of the size of the company or companies involved. Critics say such penalties are little deterrent to major companies, ... (view more)

Thu
15
Mar
John Lister's picture

Trump Blocks Broadcom, Qualcomm Tech Deal

President Trump has blocked a Singapore-based company from taking over a major American tech firm. He says the proposed Broadcom buyout of Qualcomm posed a credible national security risk. The deal would have been the biggest in tech history. ... Qualcomm makes a wide range of computer and gadget components with a particular emphasis on those used in communications devices such as phones. It helped develop key systems used to carry data over cellphone networks, allowing smartphones and tablets to get Internet access without relying on WiFi. Broadcom had offered $140 million to buyout Qualcomm. ... (view more)

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