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What will we do with all this "white space"?

Posted: 09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

Comments | Filed Under: policy government science

Google and competition

 By Larissa Anderson // Posted: 09/17/10 02:40 PM

On Thursday, a House subcommittee heard testimony about Google and the issues of competition and dominance in the digital marketplace.

One witness, Scott Cleland - a noted Google critic - said “Google is a vastly more serious antitrust threat than Microsoft ever was.”

But it doesn’t sound like the folks in Congress are convinced.  Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said at the hearing “Just because competitors complain about a practice does not mean it is anti-competitive.”

For an in-depth look at competition in the Internet age, check out this podcast by the good people at the Berkman Center.  It’s a conversation between Jonathan Zittrain, law professor at Harvard Law School and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society  and Lawrence Lessig, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and law professor at Harvard Law School. 

The two talk about the 12-year old battle between Microsoft and the Department of Justice as well as Google, Facebook and other tech giants.

Comments | Filed Under: law government business

Microsoft and political repression in Russia

Posted: 09/15/10 06:00 AM

The New York Times recently reported that Russian authorities were raiding the offices of protest groups under the premise of checking for unlicensed Windows software. They’d seize computers, haul them away, attempting to silence those groups.

Microsoft has been fighting software piracy for some time. They say 41 percent of software worldwide is pirated, resulting in 750 Billion dollars of lost revenue for the software industry.

But Microsoft was quick to issue a response to these Russian raids, announcing Monday that non-governmental organizations or NGOs in Russia would be issued a blanket license, making all the software they run legal. It’s a variation of their software donation program.

Microsoft’s move raises some new questions. If a dissident group in Russia can stake a claim to free software, can a group in France or Libya or Mexico or the United States do the same? And more broadly, what kind of political position taking might Microsoft be forced to take going forward?

We talk to Sharon Pian Chan, who covers the northwest-based Microsoft for the Seattle Times. And we check in with James Lewis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

We contacted Microsoft for this story. They declined to be interviewed but they pointed us to a blog post from their chief counsel outlining their position and their plans.

Plus, comedian Paul F. Tompkins joins us to talk about a new way to cheat in Angry Birds. He’s angry about it. He is not a bird.

Comments | Filed Under: law government policy business microsoft

Your car and your concentration are at issue in Washington

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/14/10 06:00 AM

The U.S. Department of Transportation will hold a Distracted Driving Summit next week. Tomorrow, OnStar is expected to announce new connectivity features for its service. And today, Representatives from Ford and a tech company called Nuance are in DC urging congress to be cautious in crafting new distracted driving laws. They say narrow legislation could stifle new technology that could make cars safer.

But while congress debates law, technology marches on and the car of tomorrow will be able to do things the car of today can only dream of. As connectivity becomes easier and more ubiquitous, our cars will be able to talk to each other and avoid accidents. That’s according to Raja Sengupta, a professor at UC Berkeley, with whom we speak today. We also check in with Marketplace reporter Alissa Roth who fills us in on the lack of legislation presently covering this issue.

Comments | Filed Under: transportation mobile phones law government science

White space spectrum to be made available by FCC

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 05:31 PM

It’s a complicated issue to explain but in short: when the switch to digital television happened, there were parts of the spectrum that were no longer in use. The FCC plans to make them available. What it means for you: bigger stronger wi-fi networks.

Comments | Filed Under: law government science sad time at the station

US government plans Perfect Citizen

 by John Moe // Posted: 07/08/10 11:17 AM

The Wall Street Journal reports on a project to build a program to detect cyber attacks on utilities, infrastructure, and corporations. Headed by the NSA, it’s being estimated as a $100 million project with Raytheon having won the contract. No one’s confirming it on the public record but the Wall Street Journal has the story. The project, called Perfect Citizen for some reason, would employ a series of sensors to detect when a cyber attack may be taking place. It’s not intended to thwart the attack, just to sound an alert. It also wouldn’t constantly monitor everything, just make regular patrols. Think of it as a watch dog that patrols the yard and barks when it sees something suspicious.

Comments | Filed Under: government security

Cyber Command

 By Larissa Anderson // Posted: 06/04/10 11:01 AM

U.S. Cyber Command wants to “operate freely” to protect and defend computer resources

On Thursday, General Keith Alexander who heads the U.S. Cyber Command spoke out for the first time since the agency was activated in late May.  He warned that the U.S. Defense Department has to have the ability to “operate freely and defend its resources in cyberspace.” He said that right now, unauthorized users probe Defense Department systems about 250,000 an hour – more than 6 million times a day.

Congress is already weighing this issue – Sen. Lieberman this week introduced a bill that would give the Dept. of Homeland Security the authority to make sure “critical infrastructure” doesn’t get cut in the event of a cyber attack.


 

Comments | Filed Under: security government

Tech News In Brief - 5/25/10

 by John Moe // Posted: 05/25/10 11:43 AM

Twitter wants money from businesses and media companies. Those Fail Whale ropes aren’t cheap.

Wal-Mart cuts price of iPhone 3GS to $97 Comes with a built in app for kicking yourself for not waiting for the new iPhone coming out next month.

Engadget looks at the tweets of some actors and decides the new iPhone will definitely have video chat. Which, okay.

Facebook being used by birth parents to track down adopted children. Public profiles being public and all.

AT&T makes Wi-Fi free in Times Square

Firefox add-on lets you remove all mention of Justin Bieber from your internet experience. At last, technology has matured.

Another suicide at Foxconn . Ninth suicide this year.

Facebook privacy controls change tomorrow .

Congress will review Communications Law. Current legislation was established way before the computer was invented.

Stoplights stop your engine. Sure, let’s give the robots control of our cars. What’s the worst that could happen?

Comments | Filed Under: twitter apple iphone facebook firefox china government

today's show

What will we do with all this "white space"?

09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

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