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27 июня, 15:01

Is Sprint Mulling Over Wireless Talks with Comcast-Charter?

Sprint (S) might be eyeing a merger or network-resale agreement with two major U.S. cable companies, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Charter Communications (CHTR).

24 июня, 14:45

BECAUSE HANGING WAS TOO GOOD FOR HIM? Scammer who made 96 million robocalls should pay $120M fine, F…

BECAUSE HANGING WAS TOO GOOD FOR HIM? Scammer who made 96 million robocalls should pay $120M fine, FCC says.

23 июня, 21:45

5 things Trump did while you weren't looking: Week 3

Including a little-noticed executive order on immigration.

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23 июня, 19:36

REGULATORY COSTS, PART DEUX: Axios’ Kim Hart reporting that payphones (remember them?) are so few an…

REGULATORY COSTS, PART DEUX: Axios’ Kim Hart reporting that payphones (remember them?) are so few and far between that the cost of regulation outweighs revenue: “Cincinnati Bell asked the FCC last month for a waiver to exempt it from filing the annual audits tracking pay phone transactions. According to FCC filings, the cost of Cincinnati […]

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23 июня, 16:30

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: T-Mobile US, CenturyLink, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: T-Mobile US, CenturyLink, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications

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23 июня, 07:23

Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report Reveals Massive Financial Cross-Subsidies. State Investigation Heats Up; FCC’s Deformed Accounting Rules To Blame

At the core of this, Verizon NY is still the state-based telecommunications utility serving the majority of New York State

23 июня, 07:23

Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report Reveals Massive Financial Cross-Subsidies. State Investigation Heats Up; FCC’s Deformed Accounting Rules To Blame

The Verizon NY 2016 Annual Report was released at the end of May, 2017 and the IRREGULATORS just put out an analysis: “Follow the Money: Financial Analysis and Implications.” (It part of our ongoing series, Fixing Telecom.) At the core of this, Verizon NY is still the state-based telecommunications utility serving the majority of New York State. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company, Verizon Communications. Meanwhile, AT&T California or AT&T Illinois, (controlled by AT&T) or Verizon Massachusetts or Verizon Pennsylvania are also state-based utilities. Alongside this, there was an ‘evidentiary hearing’ planned for June 26th, 2017 as part of an investigation of the quality of service of Verizon New York’s wireline networks, but also of its business practices. However, as of this writing it appears Verizon has decided it might be time to discuss a settlement. One would suspect the plan is to shut down these proceedings before they get out of hand and to stop further ‘discovery’. Click to read the documents filed. (Some of the issues brought up in this investigation stem from one of our earlier reports published in 2012.) Based on what we uncovered over the last five years, every state and every city in the US should be demanding answers and calling for investigations of the Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink incumbent state utilities that control the copper and fiber optic wires (even the wires to the cell sites). Moreover, the FCC needs to be taken to court as its accounting rules are the cause of massive financial cross-subsidies that have been going on for over a decade, and the FCC’s plans are to erase the rules instead of fix them. Follow the Money: The Primary Findings Verizon NY’s financials have been manipulated to make local service/the copper wires look unprofitable. Verizon customers received multiple rate increases based on “massive deployment of fiber optics” and ‘losses’. The ‘losses’ were not caused by the local service/wireline business, but through various means. Local Service is paying the majority of all expenses. For example, Local Service is paying 60% of the Corporate Operations expenses. At the same time, Verizon subsidiaries, like Verizon Wireless, are only paying a fraction of the expenses to use the networks. Instead of upgrading the cities or even maintaining the existing infrastructure, in NY a large part of the utility capex was diverted to build out the wireless business. At the same time, “Special Access” services (renamed “Business Data Services”) have a 50+ profit margin, even though they are using the exact same wires as Local Service. Local phone customers in New York, especially low income families and rural areas, all paid extra—about $1,500 and counting, for these cross-subsidies. At issue is not just the ‘landlines’ or the wired network but the impacts on all services and companies that use the wires, from competitors offering service to the cost of wireless service. And, let us stress that while these companies have tried very hard to remove or deny the fact that they are utilities, (like water or electricity), the truth is that these companies control the wires—not only the copper wires but also the fiber optic wires that are used for FiOS or are the wires that go to the cell sites to offer cell phone service or are used for ‘hot spots’. And these are also the wires used for services that are supposed to offer competition to the cable provider or to make sure that there is phone service available so that someone can call E911 in an emergency. Putting this in Perspective The Verizon NY 2016 Annual Report is part of and must be seen in light of what is happening throughout the US and at the FCC. First, New York is the only state we found that requires the incumbents to do an annual report, though some states keep the info and require a FOIA request to obtain it. The FCC has never audited these financial books, even though they are making rules that directly impact customers, cities, etc. FCC’s Corrupted Cost Accounting Rules are to Blame for the Cross-Subsidies. Worse, the FCC’s accounting rules have caused much of this overcharging as they are set to reflect the expenses based on the year 2000, 17 years ago. In 2001, the FCC ‘froze’ the allocation of costs so that every year, regardless of the revenues, the expenses would be applied as if it was the year 2000. This has made Local Service look unprofitable on paper and has placed the majority of expenses into Local Service. Local Service was 65% of the revenues in 2000 and paid 65% of the expense; in 2016 it is only 23% of the revenues but pays 56% of the expenses. This also had the effect of cross-subsidizing all of the other lines of business in multiple ways as Local Service customers are paying the expenses that should be paid by the other Verizon subsidiaries. For the excruciating details of this accounting boondoggle see our reports: “The Hartman Memorandum” and “The History & Rules of Setting Phone Rates in America”. FCC Actions This current FCC is oblivious to the actual markets, financial data or the public interest, it would seem. In fact, the FCC has multiple proceedings underway or recently decided. The FCC’s plan includes: “Shut Off the Copper” — The FCC has a group of proceedings to remove all obligations or regulations and is planning on giving the incumbent phone companies, including Verizon New York, the right to ‘shut off the copper’ as a federal law, preempting state laws. “Business Data Services” (also known as “Special Access”) Deregulation — These services use the same wires that are used for phone service. The FCC has ruled that the incumbents can shut off various classes of these services or not have to rent them at reasonable rates to competitors including the wireless companies. (Sprint and Windstream have already filed an appeal.) Erasing the FCC’s Accounting Rules — The FCC has multiple current proceedings, some already decided, to erase all obligations, such requiring the use of the Uniform System of Accounting (USOA). The FCC has also extended the ‘freeze’ on how the expenses are allocated until 2018 so it can finish removing all rules instead of fixing them, thus immortalizing the harms. “IP Transition” — Rarely mentioned anymore, this is actually a plan to shut off the copper and claim that the ‘old’, “Title II” services should be replaced with new services, even though they use the exact same wires. The other part of the plan is to force customers onto wireless. Net Neutrality, Title II, Privacy — The FCC has decided to kill off Net Neutrality and restrict privacy by letting these few companies control the wires as they see fit, public be damned. The IRREGULATORS filed in some of these current FCC proceedings. State Actions: Besides the current investigation in New York: The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission just required Verizon to fix parts of the copper infrastructure in some areas where the company has not deployed FiOS, fiber to the home. The Illinois State legislature voted to remove the obligations of the incumbent telephone companies to offer service or repair the existing service. With all of these activities one thing is abundantly clear; most of the regulators and politicians have no idea about the actual revenues, expenses and cross-subsidies that are in play. And it is clear that the FCC has never examined the actual impacts of their own distorted accounting rules, but is removing the rules and obligations without basic facts, with the outcome—help the phone companies and harm customers. In fact, the FCC’s ‘shut off the copper’ proceeding never uses the word “utility” in context to the access lines in service, or even mentions how many total lines are in service. Examining the Financials Here are two exhibits detailing the revenues and expenses taken directly from the Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report. (Read “Follow the Money” report for details and caveats.) Verizon New York Revenues and Losses, 2016 (Note: The exhibits are excerpts and not the full accounting.) $5.2 billion in revenues for wireline telecom services in just New York — The wires are still in use and the utility company is still enormous. NOTE: These are not all of the revenues of Verizon in New York; it leaves out revenues from Verizon Online, Verizon Business, Verizon Long Distance or Verizon Wireless, among other Verizon affiliates that use the wireline networks. $1.2 billion of revenue, 23%, are from Local Service. $2.5 billion of revenue (47%), are from “Access” services (83% are “Business Data Services”). 50% EBITDA for Access services. Using the exact same wires for Local Service, somehow Access services had a whopping 50% profit margin in New York, while Local Service lost money. $1.1 billion in losses are shown in the 2016 financial report. The report shows that $2.1 billion dollars was claimed as losses for just Local Service. $1 billion of annual losses for years. Verizon NY claims it keeps losing money (not counting accounting changes) and has been hemorrhaging one billion+ a year since at least 2009. Not paying most taxes. Verizon New York uses these losses for multiple benefits, including not paying many taxes, which also helps the holding company. Breakout of the Revenues and Expenses as a Percentage of the Total But something is seriously amiss. If you examine the percentages of the expenses being charged to Local Service, somehow Local Service is paying the majority of expenses. Local Service was charged 56% of all expenses, including Corporate Operations, Marketing and Construction and Maintenance (Plant). Local Service was charged 60% of Corporate Operations, which can include the corporate jets, or the lawyers to defend rate increases or getting rid of Net Neutrality. Local Service paid 44% of Construction and Maintenance (“Plant”) even though it only generated 23% of revenues. Even the Number of Access Lines has been Manipulated. 2.2 million “POTS”, plain old telephone service, copper-based Verizon NY lines are in service. These are only a fraction of the total lines, copper or fiber, in place. “0” Access lines for $4 billion in revenue. The financial report supplies zero lines for either the Access services or the Nonregulated services, which include revenues from part of the FIOS services. How can $4 billion dollars in revenue have no access lines listed? 7-8 million lines are potentially missing from the “landline”/access line accounting. All of the “interstate” services, like special access or FiOS, all lines rented to competitors and all ‘IP-based’ lines are not included in the NY State or FCC or Verizon accounting. I.e., the majority of Verizon NY access lines in use in 2016 have been hidden from view. Construction Budgets Diverted to Wireless Much of the construction budgets have been diverted to pay for the wireless networks – which has meant that the cities were not properly upgraded and maintained by the utilities. 5,515 cell sites were built from 2010-2013 at a cost estimated to be $2.8 billion and charged to Verizon New York. According to Verizon’s own press statements, this came out of the wireline construction budgets. $6.5-$7.5 billion in revenue was generated by Verizon Wireless, we estimate, in just New York State. Only $69 million was paid to Verizon New York from “Cellco Partners” (Verizon Wireless is a D/B/A) for use of the networks and any construction – which now includes the fiber that was supposed to be used for FiOS, the Fiber to the Home service, but are now wires to the wireless antennas. Verizon NY Estimated Overcharging and Underbilling $1.4 billion was overcharged to Local Service based on revenues, in just 2016. Local Service is profitable if the actual costs were properly assigned. $1.2 billion of expense was not properly allocated to Access services, based on costs. $1,500 per line was overcharged to local phone customers through multiple rate increases due to ‘losses’ and “massive deployment of fiber optics” (from 2006-2015). Prices should have been in steep decline because of major staff cuts and cutbacks in Local Service construction expenses. However, we are told by Verizon, the FCC and State that there is plenty of competition. Isn’t competition supposed to lower prices? Implications By claiming Local Service loses money and that the wires are not being used, or that the networks are not profitable enough to even upgrade and maintain, Verizon has manipulated every aspect of public policy. National Issue; Federal and State Issue This financial shell game is a state-by-state as well as a national and federal issue as it has been happening in every state and it impacts every city, and it is based on the FCC’s deformed federal accounting rules. This next exhibit supplies the “Corporate Operations” expense from the FCC’s 2007 “ARMIS” reports which covered the state-based telecom utilities, and it is the last available data. In this exhibit we sorted this group to detail the range of Corporation Operations expense added to the Local Service expenses. Throughout America, on average, in 2007, 70+% of Corporate Operations expense had been dumped into Local Service. We note that Access paid only 30% of this expense. Though it varies by phone company and location, the Verizon California territory (added as part of the GTE merger, which was then sold off to Frontier) dumped a whopping 78% of the Corporate Operations expense into Local Service (intrastate) category, as did AT&T in Illinois. Conclusion The Verizon NY 2016 Annual Report reveals a massive cross-subsidy scheme that has been in play for over a decade. It also reveals that there are massive holes in the FCC’s current and proposed plans to erase the accounting rules, shut off the copper, or deregulate special access. Instead, the FCC should be investigating these issues, not attempting to cover them up by erasing the accounting rules. This will only immortalize the cross-subsidies. The current investigation in New York has been underway for over a year, and it is being spearheaded by the Communications Workers of America, CWA. We applaud their efforts but for us the examination of the cross-subsidies and financial hanky panky was first documented in our report in 2012, which was filed with the NY State PSC and ignored, as were the multiple updates to that research. This new Verizon NY 2016 Annual Report shows that while a settlement in New York may curtail some egregious acts, it is not a cure, especially with the FCC’s current plans. It is time that every state and every city call for and start investigations and use this as a roadmap for change. And it is time to take the FCC to court over their current and proposed plans. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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22 июня, 20:11

ICYMI: FCC’s Pai: “How The U.S. Can Win The Digital Future”

“Thanks in part to the administration’s pro-growth policies, there is reason to be optimistic about the state of our economy. Unemployment is at a 16-year low. The stock market is hitting record highs. And, just last week, the Federal Reserve upgraded its forecast for economic growth for 2017.” Tech Week: How the U.S. can win the digital future By Ajit Pai New Hampshire Union Leader June 22, 2017 This week, the White House is hosting a series of meetings between leaders of our economy’s technology sector and administration officials. Dubbed “Tech Week,” these events provide a forum to focus on a critical question: What public sector policies will best spur private sector innovation? Getting the answer right is vital for our nation’s economic future. Technological innovation opens the door to new industries and platforms, creating jobs and economic growth. The sharing economy, for example, has already given rise to more than a dozen billion-dollar companies, like Airbnb and Lyft. Technology firms currently account for America’s (and the world’s) five most valuable companies. In order for us to expand prosperity and extend economic opportunity to more Americans, we must remain on the cutting edge. This means that government at all levels must focus on removing barriers to innovation and ensuring that technological advances aren’t strangled by bureaucratic red tape. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing at the Federal Communications Commission this year. … Thanks in part to the administration’s pro-growth policies, there is reason to be optimistic about the state of our economy. Unemployment is at a 16-year low. The stock market is hitting record highs. And, just last week, the Federal Reserve upgraded its forecast for economic growth for 2017. But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. To continue creating jobs and growing our economy, we must ensure that regulation and inertia don’t stand in the way of innovation. We’re doing our part at the FCC to make sure that government promotes, rather than inhibits, the technologies of the future. Read the full op-ed here.

22 июня, 17:01

Telecom Stock Roundup: T-Mobile US to Rollout 600 MHz Spectrum, CenturyLink May Face $12 Billion Lawsuit

The U.S. telecom industry remained rather subdued over the last week. Nevertheless, a few developments were worth noting.

22 июня, 05:49

Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue en route Cedar Rapids, IA | June 21, 2017

Aboard Air Force One En Route Cedar Rapids, Iowa 5:12 P.M. CDT MS. WALTERS:  Good evening, everybody.  As you all know, we're on our way to Cedar Rapids, where the President will highlight precision agriculture and discuss trade.  Lots of people associate technology with only Silicon Valley, but, actually, there are many other sectors of our economy that are taking advantage of technological advances, including agriculture. We're going to be visiting Kirkwood Community College, which is one of the first programs to have an associate's degree is precision agriculture.  The President, along with Secretary Perdue, Secretary Ross, and Ambassador Branstad will be engaging with some of the people who are bringing cutting-edge technology to the ag sector.  With me today I have Secretary Perdue.  I'm going to walk you through the rest of the evening, take a few questions, and then I will hand it over to the Secretary to give you more in-depth details on how technology plays an active role in the agriculture sector and the importance of us being in Iowa. Today, while we're in Iowa, you're going to hear the President talk about this precision agriculture and what it means for the agricultural community to be advancing to the technological age of tomorrow, and how this is going to help farmers ensure the highest yield of crop production each year. This is not only about the equipment, it's also about the data that they're going to be able to collect.  And with this data, one component is Internet access availability -- you know, Internet connectivity -- are you able to take this data that you're collecting and then be able to do something with it. And so you're going to hear in the President's speech later today not only the discussion around the importance of advancing agriculture, but also this broadband connectivity in rural communities so that they have the access to modern-day technology both in the equipment and when it comes to cellular usage and data.  And so what he's going to be doing is reinforcing his commitment to working with Congress to do what's needed to be able to help bring you this Internet connectivity to rural communities, as well as, as you all know, we are sending off the favored son of Iowa, former Governor Branstad.   And so the President is going to be bidding him farewell while we are at the event at Kirkwood College.  While there, he will highlight the fact that, as Senator Grassley said, Branstad has been an ambassador for the people of Iowa.  And now going to China as a skilled negotiator, he will be an ambassador for all American people as he looks at trade.  And that's an important thing -- the President has spoken to the importance that trade holds for the American people and that relationship -- to have an ambassador with such skills over in China, advocating for all American people. So with that, I will take your questions.  Q    Has the President given up on trying to get China to help out with North Korea? MS. WALTERS:  I'm not going to project what -- the President is not going to project his strategy.  And tweets speak for themselves.  Q    Is he going to announce some sort of a new program or policy today in his speeches, either at Kirkwood or at the rally? MS. WALTERS:  I'm not going to get ahead of what the President's speeches are going to be at the rally or Kirkwood.  What I can tell you is that, at Kirkwood Community College, he is going to highlight precision agriculture, as well as this commitment to work with Congress on increasing broadband connectivity for rural communities in order to bring them up to the current and the day and age of tomorrow in terms of technology. Q    How did the President's tweet about giving up on China affect the Secretary of State's meeting with the Chinese? MS. WALTERS:  I'm not going to weigh into the impact of tweets.  What I can tell you is we're not going to project the President's strategy publicly. Q    A number of Democrats have called for Jared Kushner's security clearance to be suspended in the midst of this investigation.  Does the White House have any plans to do that or turn over the documents they've requested? MS. WALTERS:  That's something I'll have to get back to you on. Q    Does the President think that the special election in Georgia was a personal victory? MS. WALTERS:  The President is obviously happy with both of the wins.  This just shows that the American people are resonating with the President's agenda and that they want to advance the President's agenda -- that the American people care about having a better healthcare system that works for all Americans; for bringing jobs back to America; growing our economy; and making sure that our nation is safe.  So both wins in Georgia and South Carolina show that the American people want the President's agenda enacted and they want the people of Washington to work with the President. Q    Lindsay, we have a few issues outstanding.  Do you have any updates on the Comey tapes, whether the President has seen the Senate healthcare bill, or his views on climate change? MS. WALTERS:  In terms of the Comey tapes, I don’t have anything further than what Sean had, other than I can tell you there will be something this week.   As for the Senate -- the healthcare bill, the appropriate individuals have seen the bill.  The President had 13 senators over last week for dinner.  The Vice President has been going weekly to the Senate lunches where the focus of conversation has largely been on healthcare, as well as the presentations.  And the President's legislative team has been working with the Senate leadership's team as well as the members over on the Senate side.  And the President has received a full brief from his legislative team. Q    And the other one was climate change. MS. WALTERS:  What about climate change? Q    If he still believes it's a hoax. MS. WALTERS:  I have nothing further than what's been said on that before, that the President believes that climate does affect things -- some good, some bad.  Q    Lindsay, the President was briefed before we left on the incident in Flint, Michigan.  Do you have any specifics about what he was briefed on?  Does the President believe it's terrorist-related?  Anything specific? MS. WALTERS:  The President was briefed on the situation.  As for any further details, I'll need to get back to you on that. Q    The Congressional Black Caucus voted to decline an invitation to have a follow-up meeting with the President.  Does the White House have a response to that? MS. WALTERS:  I saw that come in slightly before walking back here.  I'll need to look into our official response.  But I do know that the President had the leadership, and there was an invitation extended to all the membership.  And I will get back to you on our response. Q    Is the President going to meet Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit coming up in two weeks? MS. WALTERS:  I don’t have an announcement at this time.  When we do, I will let you know. Q    I'm not sure if this was the Flynn question, but is there any response to the fact -- the reports that Flynn did not report a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia, possibly about building nuclear reactors? MS. WALTERS:  I'm going to need to refer you to Kasowitz for anything Russia-related. Q    On the Russian probe, has staff been given any guidance on whether they should hire their own personal attorneys?  Do you know if Reince or Sean have -- or Bannon have their own attorneys yet? MS. WALTERS:  I'm not going to comment on what individuals inside the White House have decided to do.  You're going to need to ask those individuals.  And even furthermore, I would recommend you reach out to Marc Kasowitz. Q    We know that he talked to King Salman.  Has he talked to the Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia yet -- the new Crown Prince?  Do you know? MS. WALTERS:  I'll look into that.  You know, he has obviously spoken (inaudible) but I'll look into the further details. All right?  With that, I’m going to hand it over to Secretary Perdue, who can walk you through a few updates at the Department of Agriculture, as well as talk a little bit more about the importance of us being in Iowa and how this impacts rural communities. SECRETARY PERDUE:  Lindsay has given you so good a briefing on ag technology, there's nothing else for me to say.  (Laughter.)  You did a great job.  Oftentimes, when we think of technology and science being in other fields, you're going to amazed that you see some of the products here in Iowa, in this community college, over self-driving combines and the kind of data that's collected through these combines go through the fields.  So science and technology have played a huge part in the productive capacity of American agriculture over the last several years, whether it's genetic engineering or actually the connectivity through the Internet usage that's so needed.   And as Lindsay said, that's why the President is so involved in the rural connectivity of broadband because most of our farms are obviously in rural areas, and they need this connectivity to feed into big data that helps them to make better decisions over precision agriculture. What is precision agriculture?  It's using less resources, less inputs, less water, less fertilizer, less insecticides, less pesticides in order to produce a better, healthier, more wholesome crop.  And that's why it's so important, as we learn how to produce better crops with less inputs, making a less carbon imprint, less resources there for the world.  So that's why it's important there.  The trade aspect is also important.  I just left yesterday -- actually, this morning -- from a meeting with my counterparts in Mexico and Canada, Minister MacAulay of Canada and Secretary Calzada of Mexico.  We had a very good relationship.  It was just kind of a personal trust-building relationship as we begin the NAFTA negotiations.  We began to talk, really, as a neighborhood would, as a neighborhood of North America.  And we laid out -- their wives were there and my wife was there. So it was a great building relationship to develop the basis for discussions when maybe some of the discussions are not as comfortable as that -- when we have to discuss issues that we need to have very candid and direct family conversations about.  We laid that background this past two days. We took them to Savannah, Georgia to show them the fastest-growing container port in the United States and how ag products, both inbound and outbound -- it's a very balanced port -- about 50 percent imports, 50 percent exports.  And we showed them the coal storage that the products coming in from Mexico do.  We even transshipped some things, railed down from Canada out to the Southeast Asia and that area as well.   So it was very productive.  We went inland and they saw actual farm technology, some of which we'll see today, of direct farm -- field-to-table aspects of farmers growing and processing greens and Vidalia onions and those types of things; sweet potatoes right there in a safe environment.  Food safety with FSMA laws and regulations, and showing how they comply was a very interesting thing for our friends.   We talked about the standardization of food safety and food modernization regulations to make sure that, if we're going to trade trilaterally with free trade, each of us has to be sure that food safety is a zero tolerance issue, and to standardize our standards with animal, plant, health and safety, and our food safety inspection systems with the equivalency in Mexico and Canada.   So they were very productive discussions.  We laid a great groundwork, I think, to begin a relationship of maybe issues that may not be as comfortable in the future. Q    For Internet in rural areas, would you like to see more federal spending to make that happen? SECRETARY PERDUE:  As we know, the productivity or the profitability in less-dense areas is very difficult.  But we also know that this country created the Rural Electrification Association years ago in an obligation to serve.  We know most everyone in the country can get a dial tone today.  We think we ought to have the same push to have broadband connectivity all over the country, because in the 21st century, it's just as important as a telephone, just as important as water, sewer, or roads.  It has become an infrastructure of necessity in rural areas as we've described how technology is driving agriculture. Does that mean that it's going to be -- I think government will have to help, whether it's local government, states government, or the federal government.  But we want partnerships.  We want people that have skin in the game.  These are going to be revenue streams coming in.  People are going to pay for these services, but we've got to help ignite that and kick-start that in order to make sure it gets where it need to be. Q    How much would it cost, do you think, to get it started? SECRETARY PERDUE:  I'm sorry? Q    How much would it cost? SECRETARY PERDUE:  We don't know yet.  We're actually developing proposals now with our rural broadband connectivity, independent telephone systems, rural cooperatives there.  We gave a loan for about $46 million, I think, two weeks ago to some of our rural cooperatives in order to get that started.  So we haven't calculated how much.  It's a big price tag, but who shares what part of that will probably differ from place to place. Q    So there's not a plan yet for rural broadband?  In other words, you're in the beginning stages of trying to figure out how you're going to do it, or -- SECRETARY PERDUE:  I don't think you're going to see a national plan, per se, because each area is different.  Each area has different services now.  Some are served by independent telephone companies that are already providing some of these services.  How we help them extend that in the more rural areas will be different in every area.   So there's not going to be a national footprint.  We're going to take every area.  That's what our department at the Rural Development USDA will do in working with the resources that we have, the assets out in every area of the country in order to make broadband -- rural broadband as ubiquitous as we can. Q    But ag takes the lead on rural broadband.  Is that the idea? SECRETARY PERDUE:  (Inaudible), along with Chairman Ajit Pai of FCC, we're in communication.  He was part of our rural taskforce last week along with 21 other agencies that came together to talk about rural prosperity and the barriers for rural prosperity to catch up with the urban areas regarding their livelihoods. Q    Secretary Perdue, just a quick -- can you give us your assessment of the wins in both Georgia and South Carolina?  I know you were down there and you know that area well.  What is your assessment of them? SECRETARY PERDUE:  I think -- again, I think it was an affirmation from the base of people, of the majority of people affirming President Trump's agenda.  As you know, the Democrats wanted to make this a referendum on President Trump's agenda, and we agreed with that.  And I think when you see the vote totals of 53-47, I think the majority of people indicate they want him to move forward.  They want Congress to move forward with his agenda.  I think that's exactly what the vote was.  There was no doubt about it.   They began making it a referendum.  You know, make Trump furious was their first comments.  And then I think it made Republicans furious.  But they want to see President Trump's agenda carried out not only nationally but certainly within the congressional action as well. Q    And then quickly -- MS. WALTERS:  I think we have to head back.  We're about to land. END 5:27 P.M. CDT  

22 июня, 01:01

Kalanick's departure gives Uber a chance for a reset

The resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick offers the embattled ride-hailing giant a chance to reset its often-poisonous relationship with regulators across the country and the world — and make a fresh start with Washington as it considers rules for Uber's next big thing: self-driving cars.Kalanick's decision to step down under pressure from Uber's shareholders marks a turning point for the company after months of turbulence under the brash CEO. His aggressive tactics upended local transportation markets and won early praise as an example of the so-called emerging economy. But the tenor changed around Uber as complaints piled up over everything from the company's treatment of its drivers to sexual harassment within the company.Despite Uber's efforts to smooth out its political troubles — by temporarily hiring Obama 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, for example — the toxic culture embodied by Kalanick proved hard to erase. And now that Kalanick, who was so closely associated with Uber's brand, is gone, the company may look to rethink its lobbying and policy operation — and the way it attacks obstacles in communities where it's trying to expand. “We hope it makes a difference," said Jason Stanford, a spokesman for Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler, who has done battle with Uber. "The mayor’s always said that if Uber returns to Austin he hopes they operate in a way that’s aligned with Austin’s values. And if this is a step in the right direction, then great.”Uber spent millions of dollars on a bruising lobbying campaign against rules in Austin that would have imposed background-check requirements for drivers — and the company followed through on a threat to withdraw from the city last year after it lost. Uber is returning to Austin only now, after the Texas Legislature passed a bill saying the state, not municipalities, is responsible for regulating ride-on-demand companies. The bitter fight was one of dozens Uber has in places like Portland, Ore., New York City and the state of Nevada. In Washington, too, Uber has much to gain from keeping on the good side of regulators. DOT has issued voluntary guidelines for driverless cars — a key priority for Uber — with an update promised soon. House members are working up a draft package of bills on autonomous vehicles, and the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee just released a set of principles to inform future legislation — a sign that Congress is starting to engage on this issue. Uber has a deep interest in molding such nascent regulation to its advantage.Kevin Werbach, an associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, said it's unrealistic to expect that a company still aiming to make a profit would do a complete flip-flop and become totally deferential to regulators. But if investors' move to get rid of Kalanick has something to do with a desire to eventually take Uber public, "the company would want to put its house in order first before going and doing an IPO, which would definitely include a willingness to resolve some of its disputes with localities," said Werbach, who's also a former FCC official.It wasn't so long ago that Republicans and some Democrats clung to Uber as a breakthrough in an otherwise stagnant U.S. economy. Sen. Marco Rubio, as he contemplated a run for the White House in 2016, visited Uber's D.C. headquarters and, citing the company's legal battles in places like Miami, said that "one of the things that's holding back innovation in America is regulations." The Florida Republican titled one of the chapters of his pre-campaign book "Making America Safe for Uber."One of Rubio's GOP competitors for the White House, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, once made a point of summoning an Uber in front of about a dozen reporters in a demonstration of what The New York Times described as an example of "the unfettered market leading to economic prosperity."That kind of overt fawning has died down in recent months, as Uber grappled with scores of sexual harassment claims; a trade secrets lawsuit with Waymo, a unit of Google parent company Alphabet; and a DOJ review of its reported use of Greyball software to evade law enforcement. But the company still has friends in D.C. An Uber-backed bill that allows thousands of federal workers to expense ride-hailing services passed Congress and was signed by President Donald Trump in May.Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who recently led a hearing on testing and deployment of self-driving cars, said he's not concerned about Uber's internal drama.“It’s been a good relationship. We’ve met with folks from the company,” Peters said in an interview Wednesday. “I’ve spent time in California with some of their thought leaders as well, so they’ve been very helpful throughout the whole process.”Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who has sought to downplay Uber's political skirmishes with elected leaders in Pittsburgh, said people in his district still value the company's role there. (Uber has been running a pilot project with self-driving cars in the city.)“We’re happy Uber is in Pittsburgh,” Doyle said. “We’ve got good jobs there, it’s a good project, and we want Uber there. Shareholders spoke and they want new leadership in the company, and given some of the problems that they’ve had, that’s probably a good thing for Uber. So we just hope it just means that good things are on the way and the new leadership will take a fresh look at the corporate culture there.”But Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) took a harsher view. "For the tech industry to retain broad public support, it's essential that they walk the talk. That means being fair to employees and having leadership that looks like America," he said. Already, there are signs of movement in Uber's Washington operation, with Niki Christoff, the head of Uber's D.C. policy shop and a former aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), leaving for a position at Salesforce. She's part of a wave of executives, including senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal and senior vice president of communications Rachel Whetstone, heading for the exits in recent months.Uber has also shown signs it's rethinking some of the policy choices that have earned it such ire. Shortly before Kalanick's departure, two company leaders — head of product Aaron Schildkrout and Rachel Holt, head of the company's North America operations — announced that Uber would start offering drivers greater protections, like helping to cover the costs of their injury-protection insurance coverage."Why now?" the two Uber executives wrote in a blog post. "Because it's the right thing to do, it's long overdue, and there's no time like the present." In Pittsburgh, which welcomed Uber's self-driving car initiative only to sour on the company's sharp-elbowed tactics, Mayor Bill Peduto said he's been in contact with Uber over the last 24 hours and hopes new leadership can bring about some of the cultural changes he’s called for at the company.Uber "has a strong interest in working with us, to not only build autonomous vehicles, but to make sure they’ll be able to benefit cities," Peduto said. "So we will sit down in the middle of July and conversations will continue.”

21 июня, 18:16

Wireless Carriers' Conflicting Views on Copper Retirement

U.S. wireless carriers ??? CenturyLink Inc. (CTL), Windstream Holdings Inc. (WIN), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) ??? having conflicting opinions on the time period for copper retirement set by the FCC.

21 июня, 10:00

Самый большой и самый дорогой телевизор

Производителям телевизоров сегодня нелегко чем-то удивить пользователей. Зачастую такие устройства покупаются на года и меняются крайне редко. Поэтому компаниям приходится привлекать потребителей новыми технологиями, качеством изображения и размерами. Одни делают ставку на толщину, а другие - на диагональ.К примеру, австрийская компания C Seed специализируется на выпуске самых больших в мире телевизоров. Её последним достижением стал C Seed 262 - самый большой в мире широкоэкранный 4K-телевизор. Цена деликатеса не оставит равнодушным.Диагональ экрана C Seed 262 составляет 6,5 метра или 262 дюйма. 4K-матрица выполнена по технологии LED с высокой контрастностью для достижения глубокого чёрного цвета.Телевизор оснащается десятью встроенными высококачественными динамиками с объёмным звучанием формата 7.1 или 9.1.Когда телевизор не используется, то экран скрывается под картиной из ткани с помощью автоматического механизма.Технические характеристики C Seed 262:диагональ: 262 дюйма;разрешение: 4K;тип матрица: LED;яркость: 800 нит;контраст: 50000:1;углы обзора: до 160 градусов по вертикали и горизонтали;разъёмы: 2 х HDMI (вход), 1 x 4K HDMI, (вход), 1 х HDMI (выход), 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x RS232, 1 x RJ45, 3 x XLR, 1 x BNC;размеры экрана: 6144 х 2574 мм.Вес: 800 кг.Разрешение: 4096 х 1716 пикселейСтоимость 4K-телевизора C Seed 262 составляет $549000. Установка  стоит дополнительные $35000.Компания-производитель предлагает в пресс-релизе «насладиться впечатлениями от просмотра, которые до сих пор были недоступны за пределами частного кинотеатра в отдаленном уголке вашего особняка».Очевидно, что прежде, чем покупать такой телевизор, сначала придется обзавестись особняком или огромной квартирой.Интересно кто первый из россиян купит самый большой и дорогой телевизор C Seed 262.Но был, и не менее знаменитый предшественник, о котором нужно обязательно упомянуть - C Seed 201В середине 2011 года инженеры C SEED Entertainment Systems представила 201-дюймовый светодиодный телевизор (511 см) C SEED 201 разработанный в сотрудничестве с Porsche Design Studio. На разработку ушло порядка, четырёх лет.Панель состоит из 787760 отдельных светодиодов (LED), по 262586 на каждый цвет RGB – технология напоминает рекламные дисплеи на зданиях или цветные табло на стадионах. Логично, что эта модель предназначена для установки на улице. Тут начинается самое интересное.Примерно за 15 секунд водонепроницаемый и погодоустойчивый «телевизор» выезжает из специальной подземной шахты в сложенном виде, а затем в течение 25 секунд экран из 7 массивных светодиодных фрагментов раскладывается в полный размер. Звуковая система насчитывает 12 широкополосных динамиков (12x250 Вт) и 3 сабвуфера (3x700 Вт).Дисплей оснащен элементами защиты от неблагоприятных погодных факторов с сенсорами ветра и дождя. Управление всеми функциями производится с помощью медиасервера на основе Windows 7. Сигнал видео высокого разрешения транслируется на дисплей с беспроводного передатчика.Изощренная моторизованная система и стилистические решения от Porsche Design Studios обеспечили телевизору престижную дизайнерскую награду Red Dot “Best of the Best 2012”. По цене это чудо техники начинается приблизительно от £400000.Дизайном изделия занималась компания Porshe Design. Особенностью устройства является то, что в пульт управления встроена программа распознавания отпечатков пальцев, так что воспользоваться техникой сможет только ограниченный круг людей. Дополнительными достоинствами модели служит водонепроницаемость.Из особенностей: возможность использования отпечатков пальцев для защиты от несанкционированного доступа, защита от влаги, конструкция и современный дизайн, ресурс светодиодного дисплея C SEED 201 составляет более 10000 часов.Технические характеристики C Seed 201:201 дюймовый дисплей с 725,000 светодиодовВысокое разрешение светодиодного дисплея в соотношении 16: 9 сторонПередача видео высокой четкостиВысококачественный 3-полосная открытый аудиосистема с 15 динамикамиВодонепроницаемыйВращающийся на 270 градусовБеспроводной 2,4 ГГц пульт дистанционного управленияТип дисплея: High Resolution Retina LED SMDРазмеры экрана: Диагональ 5,11 м; 4,5 х 2,4 мКол. пикселей: 787760Яркость: 5000 Кд/м2Частота обновления полей: 100 кГцВходы: 2 xHDMI, 1 xWHDI, 2 xUSB, 1 xRS-232, 2 CS/UPC(связь с медиасервером по оптическому каналу)Выходы: 1 x HDMI, 2 x USB, 1 x RS-232, 2 CS/UPCМаксимальная высота дисплея: 4,6 мУгол поворота: ± 135°Размеры основания: 0,64 х 0,712 х 2 мВес дисплея: 1,4 тЭлектропитание: 400 в (перем.), 63 АПотребляемая мощность: 5,7 кВтВходы: (2) HDMI, (1) компонентный, (1) RGB (HD15), (1) S-Video,                                  (1)композитный, RS-232Триггерные выходы: 1 х 12 В (пост.), программируемыйЭлектропитание: 100-240 В (перем.), 50/60Гц, 350 ВтРазмеры (Ш х Г х В), мм: 450 x 523 x 194Условия эксплуатации: 10º - 40ºС, влажность 0 - 85%, отсутствие конденсатаСтандарты безопасности: FCC Part 15 Class B, CE Class B, UL, cUL, CB, RoHS, WEEEНемного истории C SEED Entertainment SystemsКомпания C SEED Entertainment Systems основанна в 2009 году двумя знаменитыми личностями. Это Alexander Swatek и Jakob Odgaard бывший менеджер, компании B&O.Bang & Olufsen (B&O) — датская компания, специализирующаяся на разработке и производстве дорогостоящих аудио-, видеосистем и телефонов класса Hi-End. Штаб-квартира и основные производственные мощности расположены в Струере, Дания. В 2004 году открыто производственное подразделение в Чехии, в котором работают более 250 сотрудников. Общее количество сотрудников компании по состоянию на 2010 год — 2 046.B&O основана в 1925 году Петером Бангом (дат. Peter Bang) и Свеном Олуфсеном (дат. Svend Olufsen). Первым выпущенным прибором стал радиоприёмник Eliminator: он подключался в сеть переменного тока, при том, что в то время большинство подобных приборов работали на батарейках.Штаб-квартира C SEED Entertainment Systems располагается в Австрийской столице, Вене. Филиал в Лос-Анджелесе, штат Калифорния, СШАC SEED Entertainment Systems специализируется на ультра-сложных технологических решениях, развлекательного характера. Это бескомпромиссные по своим размерам и цене, роскошные, теле и аудиосистемы.В своё время их сверхбольшой LED телевизор модели «C SEED 201» достиг культового статуса. Больше информации о компании C SEED Entertainment Systems, нет даже на официальном сайте.Модели акустики и телевизоров они маркируют простым сочетание цифр. Своим телевизорам дают номер модели соответствующий диагонали экрана.Источники:http://www.cseed.tvhttp://topkin.ru/best/tekhnika/samyiy-dorogoy-televizor-v-mire/https://hi-tech.mail.ru/review/5_Largest_TV/

20 июня, 17:07

Qualcomm (QCOM) Down on Stiff Competition, Lawsuits & Fines

Competitive mobile phone chipset market , lawsuits and fines on anti-competitive and unfair business practices might have driven down Qualcomm (QCOM).

20 июня, 14:26

Former Commish Michael Copps: 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen'

In just a few short months, the Trump wrecking ball has pounded away at rules and regulations in virtually every government agency. The men and women the president has appointed to the Cabinet and to head those agencies are so far in sycophantic lockstep, engaged in dismantling years of protections in order to make real what White House strategist Steve Bannon infamously described as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” The Federal Communications Commission is not immune. Its new chair, Republican Ajit Pai, embraces the Trump doctrine of regulatory devastation. “It’s basic economics,” he declared in an April 26 speech at Washington’s Newseum. “The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.” His goal is to stem the tide of media reform that in recent years has made significant progress for American citizens. Even as we rely more than ever on digital media for information, education and entertainment, Pai and his GOP colleagues at the FCC seek to turn back the clock and increase even more the corporate control of cyberspace. Net neutrality, the guarantee of an internet open to all, rich or poor, without preferential treatment, was codified by the FCC in 2015. Pai — a former lawyer for Verizon — wants net neutrality reversed and has taken the first steps toward its elimination. He has abandoned media ownership rules and attacked such FCC innovations as the Lifeline program that subsidizes broadband access for low income Americans. Among other rollbacks, he also has opposed rules capping the exorbitant cost of prison phone calls (that cap was overturned on June 13 by the US Court of Appeals). A veteran of the FCC, Michael Copps vehemently opposes Pai’s master plan to strengthen the grip of big business on our media. Copps served two terms as a commissioner, including a brief period as interim chair. He also has taught history, worked as chief of staff to former South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings and was an assistant secretary of commerce. Today, Copps is special adviser for the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at the nonpartisan grassroots organization Common Cause. He “just may be,” Bill Moyers once said, “the most knowledgeable fellow in Washington on how communications policy affects you and me.” Recently, I spoke with Copps to get his assessment of how the election of Donald Trump and Ajit Pai’s FCC chairmanship are affecting Americans and the media landscape. “I remain convinced that the last presidential election we had was of, by, and for, big media,” he said. “It made billions of dollars for these big media companies. We’re entering into a period where there likely will be more mergers than we’ve ever had before. The political and marketplace atmosphere that we have in this country right now favors them.” The transcript that follows has been edited for length and clarity. Michael Copps: [CBS CEO Les] Moonves said it best: “I don’t know if Donald Trump is good for the country. but he’s damn good for CBS.” The election was just a glorified reality show and I do not think it was an aberration. Until we get that big picture straightened out and we get a civic dialogue that’s worthy of the American people and that actually advances citizens’ ability to practice the art of self-government — that informs citizens so they can cast intelligent votes and we stop making such damn-fool decisions — we’re in serious trouble. To me, that remains the problem of problems, it remains at the top of the list. Journalism continues to go south, thanks to big media and its strangulation of news, and there’s not much left in the way of community or local media. Add to that an internet that has not even started thinking seriously about how it supports journalism. You have these big companies like Google and Facebook who run the news and sell all the ads next to it, but what do they put back into journalism? It isn’t much. I don’t think right now that commercial media is going to fix itself or even that we can save it with any policy that’s likely in the near-term, so we have to start looking at other alternatives. We have to talk about public media — public media probably has to get its act together somewhat, too. It’s not everything that Lyndon Johnson had in mind back in 1967 [when the Public Broadcasting Act was signed], but it’s still the jewel of our media ecosystem. So I’m more worried than ever about the state of our media — not just fake news but the lack of real news. That’s priority No. 1; I don’t think you solve anything until you find some ways to repair our commercial media. That’s not coming from inside the fabled Beltway anytime soon. It’ll require major input from the grass roots. Big media won’t cover its own shortcomings, so we have to have a national conversation and make some democracy-encouraging decisions. We just have to find a way. Michael Winship: What about “fake news?” MC: The fake news thing is a challenging phenomenon. No one has a viable solution yet that I know of. Again, don’t look to Washington for much input under the present management. Maybe reinvigorating real news, the fact-based investigative journalism that big media has done so much to eliminate, would be the best solution. True journalism can do more than anything else to push aside fake news. MW: So how do you characterize the Trump administration’s attitude toward communications issues? MC: This is not populism; this is a plutocracy. Trump has surrounded himself with millionaires and billionaires, plus some ideologues who believe in, basically, no government. And the Trump FCC already has been very successful in dismantling lots of things — not just the net neutrality that they’re after now, but privacy, and Lifeline, which is subsidized broadband for those who can’t afford it. And just all sorts of things up and down the line. The whole panoply of regulation and public interest oversight — if they could get rid of it all, they would; if they can, they will. I think the April 26 speech that Ajit Pai gave at the Newseum, which was partially funded, I think, by conservative activist causes, was probably the worst speech I’ve ever heard a commissioner or a chairman of the FCC give. It was replete with distorted history and a twisted interpretation of judicial decisions. And then, about two-thirds of the way through, it became intensely political and ideological, and he was spouting all this Ronald Reagan nonsense — if the government is big enough to do what you want, it’s big enough to take away everything you have, and all that garbage. It was awful. It’s maybe the worst FCC I’ve ever seen or read about. MW: How much of all this do you think is just simply the idea of destroying anything supported by the Obama White House? Is it that simple? MC: Well, I think that some of it is the ego problem, but I think it goes beyond that. I think there is that right wing, pro-business, invisible hand ideology, and then there’s just the unabashed and unprecedented and disgusting level of money in politics. I don’t blame just the Republicans; the Democrats are just about as beholden to it, too. MW: You mentioned Pai’s speech at the Newseum; does he have any real philosophy? MC: Yes, I think he believes this stuff, I think he’s a true believer. He was in the Office of General Counsel when I was in there — very articulate, very bright, very pleasant. He is an attractive personality, but he has this Weltanschauung or whatever you want to call it that is so out of step with modern politics and where we should be in the history of this country that it’s potentially extremely destructive. And Michael O’Rielly, the other Republican commissioner, is about the same. He’s an ideologue, too. It’s all about the ideology, the world of big money, the access that the big guys have and continue to have. It’s not that the FCC outright refuses to let public interest groups through the door or anything like that; it’s just the lack of resources citizens and public interest groups have compared to what the big guys have. The public interest groups don’t have much of a chance, but I think they’ve done a pretty good job given the lack of resources. MW: Did you expect Pai to move so fast against net neutrality? MC: It doesn’t surprise me, but it’s so dangerous. Net neutrality is the sine qua non of an open internet — “You can’t have one without the other,” as the old song goes. We’ll need to hope for a good court outcome if the FCC succeeds in eliminating the rules. But I really don’t see how big telecom or the commission can make a credible case to overturn what the court approved just two years ago, and then go back to what the court overturned before that. It’s downright surreal. But citizens should not limit their pro-net neutrality messages to just the FCC; Congress needs to understand how popular these rules are, so they keep their hands off it, which they may be more inclined to do as the 2018 elections come closer. MW: There’s so much of an X factor to everything. MC: There really is. I just hope we can get the media covering it better. I think if we get a couple of really big mergers, and of course we have AT&T and Time Warner out there now, which Trump said he was going to oppose. I don’t think he really will, but that itself should be an issue. And then, if we can join that to the net neutrality issue, then I think we can get some media attention. If we can do that with Time Warner and AT&T or whatever other mergers come along, certainly including Sinclair-Tribune, then we can actually make some progress. I sure hope so. MW: There still seems to be a lot public support for net neutrality. MC: No question about it, but there would be an avalanche if more people were informed about the issue by the media. Many Trump voters, I am convinced, are not consumers who support $232 a year for a set-top box or who like constantly rising bills for cable and internet service, or who want a closed internet. That’s not why they voted for him. MW: Have the net neutrality rules passed in 2015 had a chance to work? Have they had a chance to be effective? MC: Yes, I think so. Some say they are a solution in search of a problem, but that’s not true. I think the companies have been on their good behavior over the last few years, by and large — but there have been numerous abuses, too. But once you throw out the rules we have now, it’ll be "Katy bar the door," and by the time we get another administration in, either the FCC or the Congress, it’ll probably be too late to reverse the tide. MW: What are the implications for free speech? MC: They are huge. If you have an internet service provider [ISP] that’s capable of slowing down other sites, or putting other sites out of business, or favoring their own friends and affiliates and customers who can pay for fast lanes, that’s a horrible infringement on free speech. It’s censorship by media monopolies. It’s tragic: here we have a technology, the internet, that’s capable really of being the town square of democracy, paved with broadband bricks, and we are letting it be taken over by a few gatekeepers. This is a first amendment issue; it’s free speech versus corporate censorship. MW: I want to talk to you about privacy, about protecting consumer information that’s on the net. MC: If the huge internet service providers are going to glean all manner of personal information about us and share it with others or sell it to others, we ought to have a right to say, “Yes, count me in, I don’t mind that,” or “No, I don’t want any part of that.” And I think the vast majority would say, “No, thank you, I don’t want any part of that.” So privacy is a huge issue. We’ve talked about it some in national security terms, but it’s a much bigger issue in citizen terms and what it does to the average person. MW: You mentioned Lifeline; I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that… MC: Lifeline is directed toward those who cannot afford to be connected to broadband. How do they find a job when most corporations don’t accept paper resumes or don’t want to interview you in person? Nowadays you have to email something to potential employers. How do you and your kids educate yourselves? How do kids do their homework when they don’t have broadband, and the kid in the next town or even in the next block has high-speed broadband? How do you care for your health — especially that now we’re getting seriously into tele-health and tele-medicine? You cannot be a fully functioning 21st-century citizen in this country unless you have access to high-speed broadband. It’s as simple as that. We shouldn’t settle for less. I don’t know that the FCC can do this by itself, and we need a national mission to do this. And we need everybody pushing for it. I hope it’s going to be included in Trump’s infrastructure plan, but I’ll be surprised if it’s in such a meaningful way that it’s going to get coverage for all the people in the inner cities and rural America. And, you know, we’re way, way down in the rankings in broadband penetration, adoption and affordability. And without competition, even when you have broadband, without competition people are paying through the ceiling for inferior service. They’ve got to feed families and find shelter, but broadband is also essential to them. MW: I think another issue that a lot of people aren’t aware of is the whole prison telephone problem. MC: Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has done a fantastic job on that. We have such a high percentage of our population in the United States incarcerated and for their families to communicate with them or vice versa has become just very, very expensive. It’s an industry that has made a lot of money off of other people’s distress, and if you have a son in prison, and you can’t afford to communicate with them, that doesn’t help anybody, including the person who’s in prison. Commissioner Clyburn made some good progress on interstate calling in this regard, but then you’ve got to go state by state, and now the court has just thrown some obstacles in the way of the intrastate calls. So, there’s work to be done, and we’ll see how far it goes. But we were on the track of making good progress under the previous commission. MW: Do you think there’s any interest in consumer service remaining among the Republicans on the FCC or in Congress? MC: It’s mighty hard to find if you look at all the party-line votes and partisanship at work. I think there will be some cooperation for infrastructure if broadband is included. It depends on how much. Some Republicans will vote for that, but you can’t find a Republican for net neutrality, and you can’t find a Republican for doing anything to counteract the outrageous influence of money in the political bloodstreams. MW: With so many of these American Enterprise Institute types and various other conservative groups and people wielding influence, would they lobby to eliminate the FCC completely? MC: Oh, yes indeed. There were reports during the transition that some of those people were actually saying, “Do we even need an FCC? Why don’t we just get rid of it?” MW: So what can we all do at this point? MC: Figure out how you really make this a grass-roots effort — and not just people writing, in but people doing more than that. In July, we will have a day devoted to internet action, so stay tuned on that. In addition, as Bill Moyers says, “If you can sing, sing. If you can write a poem, write a poem.” Different initiatives attract different audiences, so whatever you can do, do. John Oliver made a huge difference in getting us to net neutrality and now he’s helping again. If you went up to the Hill right after that first John Oliver show on net neutrality [in 2014], you saw immediately that it made a difference with the members and the staff. There’s no one silver bullet, no “do this” and it suddenly happens. You just have to do whatever you can do to get people excited and organized. It’s as simple as that. MW: So that’s where the hope is? MC: Well, that’s where my hope is. I don’t see anything else unless we get a change in power in Washington, and not just the name of the party in control but candidates who really are ready for a change and ready to do something to make it more reflective of what, I think, is the popular will. MW: Which of the Democrats are good on these issues? MC: There are a lot of them. I hesitate to get into names for fear of missing some. The problem is that Republicans inside the Beltway are joined in lockstep opposition on almost all these issues, and the level of partisanship, lobbying, big money, and ideology have thus far been insurmountable obstacles. But I believe if members of Congress spent more time at home, holding more town hall meetings, they would quickly learn that many, many of their constituents are on the pro-consumer, pro-citizen side of these issues. It’s just such a formative time, and in many respects the future is now. I don’t know how long you can let this go on. How long can you open the bazaar to all this consolidation, how much can you encourage all this commercialization, how much can you ignore public media until you get to the point of no return where you can’t really fix it anymore? And I also think that the national discourse on the future of the internet has really suffered while we play ping pong with net neutrality; one group comes in, does this, the other group, comes in and reverses it, boom, boom, boom. And net neutrality is not the salvation or the solution to all of the problems of the internet. As you know, it’s kind of the opening thing you have to have, it lays a foundation where we can build a truly open internet. But net neutrality alone doesn’t solve consolidation, it doesn’t solve commercialization, it doesn’t solve, really, the big questions of the future of the internet. Add to the list issues of artificial intelligence and is AI going to put us out of work? These aren’t strictly communication issues, but they are internet issues. What does AI mean for the future of work in our society? Are we even going to be working? Or, can we say the internet is throwing people out of work without sounding Luddite, because that’s been said throughout history and it’s been proven wrong, but I think now it looks like a lot of people already have been thrown out of work by it. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, I would have gone down and talked with her and suggested a White House conference on the future of the internet. You can’t answer all these questions that I just posed but you can ask the questions and you can get the best minds in the country talking about them. Give the conference a mandate and get them to come back with a report and some recommendations and at least put people on it with enough visibility that the media has to cover it. If we could win net neutrality, which is a stretch, there will be a lot of people who say, “Well, that takes care of the internet, everything’s fine and dandy right now.” But that’s not true at all. It’s just not true. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

20 июня, 14:26

Former Commish Michael Copps: 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen'

In just a few short months, the Trump wrecking ball has pounded away at rules and regulations in virtually every government agency. The men and women the president has appointed to the Cabinet and to head those agencies are so far in sycophantic lockstep, engaged in dismantling years of protections in order to make real what White House strategist Steve Bannon infamously described as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” The Federal Communications Commission is not immune. Its new chair, Republican Ajit Pai, embraces the Trump doctrine of regulatory devastation. “It’s basic economics,” he declared in an April 26 speech at Washington’s Newseum. “The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.” His goal is to stem the tide of media reform that in recent years has made significant progress for American citizens. Even as we rely more than ever on digital media for information, education and entertainment, Pai and his GOP colleagues at the FCC seek to turn back the clock and increase even more the corporate control of cyberspace. Net neutrality, the guarantee of an internet open to all, rich or poor, without preferential treatment, was codified by the FCC in 2015. Pai — a former lawyer for Verizon — wants net neutrality reversed and has taken the first steps toward its elimination. He has abandoned media ownership rules and attacked such FCC innovations as the Lifeline program that subsidizes broadband access for low income Americans. Among other rollbacks, he also has opposed rules capping the exorbitant cost of prison phone calls (that cap was overturned on June 13 by the US Court of Appeals). A veteran of the FCC, Michael Copps vehemently opposes Pai’s master plan to strengthen the grip of big business on our media. Copps served two terms as a commissioner, including a brief period as interim chair. He also has taught history, worked as chief of staff to former South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings and was an assistant secretary of commerce. Today, Copps is special adviser for the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at the nonpartisan grassroots organization Common Cause. He “just may be,” Bill Moyers once said, “the most knowledgeable fellow in Washington on how communications policy affects you and me.” Recently, I spoke with Copps to get his assessment of how the election of Donald Trump and Ajit Pai’s FCC chairmanship are affecting Americans and the media landscape. “I remain convinced that the last presidential election we had was of, by, and for, big media,” he said. “It made billions of dollars for these big media companies. We’re entering into a period where there likely will be more mergers than we’ve ever had before. The political and marketplace atmosphere that we have in this country right now favors them.” The transcript that follows has been edited for length and clarity. Michael Copps: [CBS CEO Les] Moonves said it best: “I don’t know if Donald Trump is good for the country. but he’s damn good for CBS.” The election was just a glorified reality show and I do not think it was an aberration. Until we get that big picture straightened out and we get a civic dialogue that’s worthy of the American people and that actually advances citizens’ ability to practice the art of self-government — that informs citizens so they can cast intelligent votes and we stop making such damn-fool decisions — we’re in serious trouble. To me, that remains the problem of problems, it remains at the top of the list. Journalism continues to go south, thanks to big media and its strangulation of news, and there’s not much left in the way of community or local media. Add to that an internet that has not even started thinking seriously about how it supports journalism. You have these big companies like Google and Facebook who run the news and sell all the ads next to it, but what do they put back into journalism? It isn’t much. I don’t think right now that commercial media is going to fix itself or even that we can save it with any policy that’s likely in the near-term, so we have to start looking at other alternatives. We have to talk about public media — public media probably has to get its act together somewhat, too. It’s not everything that Lyndon Johnson had in mind back in 1967 [when the Public Broadcasting Act was signed], but it’s still the jewel of our media ecosystem. So I’m more worried than ever about the state of our media — not just fake news but the lack of real news. That’s priority No. 1; I don’t think you solve anything until you find some ways to repair our commercial media. That’s not coming from inside the fabled Beltway anytime soon. It’ll require major input from the grass roots. Big media won’t cover its own shortcomings, so we have to have a national conversation and make some democracy-encouraging decisions. We just have to find a way. Michael Winship: What about “fake news?” MC: The fake news thing is a challenging phenomenon. No one has a viable solution yet that I know of. Again, don’t look to Washington for much input under the present management. Maybe reinvigorating real news, the fact-based investigative journalism that big media has done so much to eliminate, would be the best solution. True journalism can do more than anything else to push aside fake news. MW: So how do you characterize the Trump administration’s attitude toward communications issues? MC: This is not populism; this is a plutocracy. Trump has surrounded himself with millionaires and billionaires, plus some ideologues who believe in, basically, no government. And the Trump FCC already has been very successful in dismantling lots of things — not just the net neutrality that they’re after now, but privacy, and Lifeline, which is subsidized broadband for those who can’t afford it. And just all sorts of things up and down the line. The whole panoply of regulation and public interest oversight — if they could get rid of it all, they would; if they can, they will. I think the April 26 speech that Ajit Pai gave at the Newseum, which was partially funded, I think, by conservative activist causes, was probably the worst speech I’ve ever heard a commissioner or a chairman of the FCC give. It was replete with distorted history and a twisted interpretation of judicial decisions. And then, about two-thirds of the way through, it became intensely political and ideological, and he was spouting all this Ronald Reagan nonsense — if the government is big enough to do what you want, it’s big enough to take away everything you have, and all that garbage. It was awful. It’s maybe the worst FCC I’ve ever seen or read about. MW: How much of all this do you think is just simply the idea of destroying anything supported by the Obama White House? Is it that simple? MC: Well, I think that some of it is the ego problem, but I think it goes beyond that. I think there is that right wing, pro-business, invisible hand ideology, and then there’s just the unabashed and unprecedented and disgusting level of money in politics. I don’t blame just the Republicans; the Democrats are just about as beholden to it, too. MW: You mentioned Pai’s speech at the Newseum; does he have any real philosophy? MC: Yes, I think he believes this stuff, I think he’s a true believer. He was in the Office of General Counsel when I was in there — very articulate, very bright, very pleasant. He is an attractive personality, but he has this Weltanschauung or whatever you want to call it that is so out of step with modern politics and where we should be in the history of this country that it’s potentially extremely destructive. And Michael O’Rielly, the other Republican commissioner, is about the same. He’s an ideologue, too. It’s all about the ideology, the world of big money, the access that the big guys have and continue to have. It’s not that the FCC outright refuses to let public interest groups through the door or anything like that; it’s just the lack of resources citizens and public interest groups have compared to what the big guys have. The public interest groups don’t have much of a chance, but I think they’ve done a pretty good job given the lack of resources. MW: Did you expect Pai to move so fast against net neutrality? MC: It doesn’t surprise me, but it’s so dangerous. Net neutrality is the sine qua non of an open internet — “You can’t have one without the other,” as the old song goes. We’ll need to hope for a good court outcome if the FCC succeeds in eliminating the rules. But I really don’t see how big telecom or the commission can make a credible case to overturn what the court approved just two years ago, and then go back to what the court overturned before that. It’s downright surreal. But citizens should not limit their pro-net neutrality messages to just the FCC; Congress needs to understand how popular these rules are, so they keep their hands off it, which they may be more inclined to do as the 2018 elections come closer. MW: There’s so much of an X factor to everything. MC: There really is. I just hope we can get the media covering it better. I think if we get a couple of really big mergers, and of course we have AT&T and Time Warner out there now, which Trump said he was going to oppose. I don’t think he really will, but that itself should be an issue. And then, if we can join that to the net neutrality issue, then I think we can get some media attention. If we can do that with Time Warner and AT&T or whatever other mergers come along, certainly including Sinclair-Tribune, then we can actually make some progress. I sure hope so. MW: There still seems to be a lot public support for net neutrality. MC: No question about it, but there would be an avalanche if more people were informed about the issue by the media. Many Trump voters, I am convinced, are not consumers who support $232 a year for a set-top box or who like constantly rising bills for cable and internet service, or who want a closed internet. That’s not why they voted for him. MW: Have the net neutrality rules passed in 2015 had a chance to work? Have they had a chance to be effective? MC: Yes, I think so. Some say they are a solution in search of a problem, but that’s not true. I think the companies have been on their good behavior over the last few years, by and large — but there have been numerous abuses, too. But once you throw out the rules we have now, it’ll be "Katy bar the door," and by the time we get another administration in, either the FCC or the Congress, it’ll probably be too late to reverse the tide. MW: What are the implications for free speech? MC: They are huge. If you have an internet service provider [ISP] that’s capable of slowing down other sites, or putting other sites out of business, or favoring their own friends and affiliates and customers who can pay for fast lanes, that’s a horrible infringement on free speech. It’s censorship by media monopolies. It’s tragic: here we have a technology, the internet, that’s capable really of being the town square of democracy, paved with broadband bricks, and we are letting it be taken over by a few gatekeepers. This is a first amendment issue; it’s free speech versus corporate censorship. MW: I want to talk to you about privacy, about protecting consumer information that’s on the net. MC: If the huge internet service providers are going to glean all manner of personal information about us and share it with others or sell it to others, we ought to have a right to say, “Yes, count me in, I don’t mind that,” or “No, I don’t want any part of that.” And I think the vast majority would say, “No, thank you, I don’t want any part of that.” So privacy is a huge issue. We’ve talked about it some in national security terms, but it’s a much bigger issue in citizen terms and what it does to the average person. MW: You mentioned Lifeline; I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that… MC: Lifeline is directed toward those who cannot afford to be connected to broadband. How do they find a job when most corporations don’t accept paper resumes or don’t want to interview you in person? Nowadays you have to email something to potential employers. How do you and your kids educate yourselves? How do kids do their homework when they don’t have broadband, and the kid in the next town or even in the next block has high-speed broadband? How do you care for your health — especially that now we’re getting seriously into tele-health and tele-medicine? You cannot be a fully functioning 21st-century citizen in this country unless you have access to high-speed broadband. It’s as simple as that. We shouldn’t settle for less. I don’t know that the FCC can do this by itself, and we need a national mission to do this. And we need everybody pushing for it. I hope it’s going to be included in Trump’s infrastructure plan, but I’ll be surprised if it’s in such a meaningful way that it’s going to get coverage for all the people in the inner cities and rural America. And, you know, we’re way, way down in the rankings in broadband penetration, adoption and affordability. And without competition, even when you have broadband, without competition people are paying through the ceiling for inferior service. They’ve got to feed families and find shelter, but broadband is also essential to them. MW: I think another issue that a lot of people aren’t aware of is the whole prison telephone problem. MC: Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has done a fantastic job on that. We have such a high percentage of our population in the United States incarcerated and for their families to communicate with them or vice versa has become just very, very expensive. It’s an industry that has made a lot of money off of other people’s distress, and if you have a son in prison, and you can’t afford to communicate with them, that doesn’t help anybody, including the person who’s in prison. Commissioner Clyburn made some good progress on interstate calling in this regard, but then you’ve got to go state by state, and now the court has just thrown some obstacles in the way of the intrastate calls. So, there’s work to be done, and we’ll see how far it goes. But we were on the track of making good progress under the previous commission. MW: Do you think there’s any interest in consumer service remaining among the Republicans on the FCC or in Congress? MC: It’s mighty hard to find if you look at all the party-line votes and partisanship at work. I think there will be some cooperation for infrastructure if broadband is included. It depends on how much. Some Republicans will vote for that, but you can’t find a Republican for net neutrality, and you can’t find a Republican for doing anything to counteract the outrageous influence of money in the political bloodstreams. MW: With so many of these American Enterprise Institute types and various other conservative groups and people wielding influence, would they lobby to eliminate the FCC completely? MC: Oh, yes indeed. There were reports during the transition that some of those people were actually saying, “Do we even need an FCC? Why don’t we just get rid of it?” MW: So what can we all do at this point? MC: Figure out how you really make this a grass-roots effort — and not just people writing, in but people doing more than that. In July, we will have a day devoted to internet action, so stay tuned on that. In addition, as Bill Moyers says, “If you can sing, sing. If you can write a poem, write a poem.” Different initiatives attract different audiences, so whatever you can do, do. John Oliver made a huge difference in getting us to net neutrality and now he’s helping again. If you went up to the Hill right after that first John Oliver show on net neutrality [in 2014], you saw immediately that it made a difference with the members and the staff. There’s no one silver bullet, no “do this” and it suddenly happens. You just have to do whatever you can do to get people excited and organized. It’s as simple as that. MW: So that’s where the hope is? MC: Well, that’s where my hope is. I don’t see anything else unless we get a change in power in Washington, and not just the name of the party in control but candidates who really are ready for a change and ready to do something to make it more reflective of what, I think, is the popular will. MW: Which of the Democrats are good on these issues? MC: There are a lot of them. I hesitate to get into names for fear of missing some. The problem is that Republicans inside the Beltway are joined in lockstep opposition on almost all these issues, and the level of partisanship, lobbying, big money, and ideology have thus far been insurmountable obstacles. But I believe if members of Congress spent more time at home, holding more town hall meetings, they would quickly learn that many, many of their constituents are on the pro-consumer, pro-citizen side of these issues. It’s just such a formative time, and in many respects the future is now. I don’t know how long you can let this go on. How long can you open the bazaar to all this consolidation, how much can you encourage all this commercialization, how much can you ignore public media until you get to the point of no return where you can’t really fix it anymore? And I also think that the national discourse on the future of the internet has really suffered while we play ping pong with net neutrality; one group comes in, does this, the other group, comes in and reverses it, boom, boom, boom. And net neutrality is not the salvation or the solution to all of the problems of the internet. As you know, it’s kind of the opening thing you have to have, it lays a foundation where we can build a truly open internet. But net neutrality alone doesn’t solve consolidation, it doesn’t solve commercialization, it doesn’t solve, really, the big questions of the future of the internet. Add to the list issues of artificial intelligence and is AI going to put us out of work? These aren’t strictly communication issues, but they are internet issues. What does AI mean for the future of work in our society? Are we even going to be working? Or, can we say the internet is throwing people out of work without sounding Luddite, because that’s been said throughout history and it’s been proven wrong, but I think now it looks like a lot of people already have been thrown out of work by it. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, I would have gone down and talked with her and suggested a White House conference on the future of the internet. You can’t answer all these questions that I just posed but you can ask the questions and you can get the best minds in the country talking about them. Give the conference a mandate and get them to come back with a report and some recommendations and at least put people on it with enough visibility that the media has to cover it. If we could win net neutrality, which is a stretch, there will be a lot of people who say, “Well, that takes care of the internet, everything’s fine and dandy right now.” But that’s not true at all. It’s just not true. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

20 июня, 11:23

Для желающих пополнить Википедию

В плане пополнения Русской Википедии очень рекомендовал бы желающим перевести на русский заметку про операции военных и разведывательных ведомств США по астротурфингу -- формирования общественного мнения путем размещения многочисленных заказных публикаций, оформленных как совершенно независимые мнения частных лиц.Применяется для вытеснения мнения реальных людей на веб-форумах, для организации поддельных кампаний в Интернете, которые создают впечатление, что большое количество людей требуют чего-то конкретного, либо выступают против чего-либо.Например, для продвижения товаров или идей и организации споров с теми, кто выступает против, для имитации общественной поддержки.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Earnest_Voice==========В качестве примера астротурфинга можно привести различные информационные акции, общественное вниманием к которым /неважно как сформированное... метод тут уходит на второй план/ предполагает возможность и необходимость реакции властиОксфордский университет изучил опыт девяти стран (Россия, Бразилия, Канада, Украина, США, Польша, Германия, Китай, Тайвань) и подготовил исследования на тему использования соцсетей в качестве манипуляторов общественного мнения.http://comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk/2017/06/19/computational-propaganda-worldwide-executive-summary/Несколько цитат:1. 45% российских аккаунтов в Twitter — управляемые боты.2. Китайские власти использовали тысячи аккаунтов во время дискредитационной кампании против президента Тайваня.3. Одним из главных трендов пропаганды в соцсетях США эксперты назвали «создание иллюзии популярности и поддержки в интернете». Например, мы помним, что почти половина подписчиков Дональда Трампа в Twitter — фейковые аккаунты или боты.4. Россию авторы исследования назвали главным кейсом о том, как «авторитарный режим использует соцсети, чтобы контролировать население».5. В Украине, по словам исследователей, тестируют российскую модель пропаганды. Исследователи считают, что через 5 лет в Украине будет с соцсетями ситуация аналогичная российской.Дополнительные ссылкиThe Guardian: British army creates team of Facebook warriorsUS military studied how to influence Twitter [and Reddit] users in Darpa-funded researchVice: Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your BeliefsCBC News- Canadian government monitors online forumsNew York Times: The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz (Cambridge Analytica)NY Times- From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.The Nation: US Officials Won’t Say if a New Anti–Russian Propaganda Project (shilling on social media) Is Targeting Americans. The newly created Global Engagement Center’s “focus and intent” is foreign audiences, but officials won’t rule out propagandizing Americans and funding American journalists.Times of Israel: Israeli government paying bilingual students to spread propaganda online primarily to international communities without having to identify themselves as working for the government. "The [student] union will operate computer rooms for the project...it was decided to establish a permanent structure of activity on the Internet through the students at academic institutions in the country."The Intercept: Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies." TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.WashingtonPost: Obama pick for NSA review panel wanted paid, pro-government shills in chat rooms (Thread with source paper.)Massive British PR firm caught on video: "We've got all sorts of dark arts...The ambition is to drown that negative content and make sure that you have positive content online." They discuss techniques for managing reputations online and creating/maintaining 3rd-party blogs that seem independent.The Guardian: US spy operation to manipulate social mediaVietnam admits deploying bloggers to support the Communist Party's policies, operates a network of nearly 1,000 "public opinion shapers".Glenn Greenwald: How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy ReputationsBehavioural Science Support for JTRIG’S Effects and Online HUMINT OperationsUSA Today: The co-owner of a major Pentagon propaganda contractor publicly admitted that he was behind a series of websites used in an attempt to discredit two USA TODAY journalists who had reported on the contractor.Glenn Greenwald: Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the InternetChinese officials flood the Chinese internet with positive social media posts to distract their populationPentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown - Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements. "Minerva"-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the "study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements," he said, including how "to counteract grassroots movements."Wired: Clinton Staff and Volunteers Busted for Astroturfing [in 2007]Bloomberg: How to Hack an Election [and influence voters with fake social media accounts]USA Today: Businesses and organizations may refer to it as a tool for competitive advantage and marketing; but make no mistake, they are using the massive reach of social media and the Internet as a weapon. One U.S. 3-letter special agent said, "You could influence an election with this."Times of Israel - The internet: Israel’s new PR battlefieldGCHQ’s menu of tools spreads disinformation across Internet- “Effects capabilities” allow analysts to twist truth subtly or spam relentlessly.The Guardian: Internet AstroturfingBBC News: US plans to 'fight the net' revealedIsrael is paying internet workers to manipulate online content such as Wikipedia (2 minute video)Buzzfeed: Documents Show How Russia’s Troll Army Hit AmericaNY Times: Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious RetaliationCENTCOM engages bloggersWIRED: Air Force Releases ‘Counter-Blog’ Marching OrdersMilitary Report: Secretly ‘Recruit or Hire Bloggers’The Guardian: Israel ups the stakes in the propaganda warBBC News: China's Internet spin doctorsAir Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual peopleHBGary: Automated social media managementHuffington Post- Exposing Cyber Shills and Social Media's UnderworldTurkey's Government Forms 6,000-Member Social Media TeamThe Bush and Gore campaigns of 2000 used methods similar to the Chinese government for conducting “guided discussions” in chatrooms designed to influence citizensWhy Reddit moderators are censoring Glenn Greenwald’s latest news story on shillsYahoo News: Last month the FTC issued warnings to celebrities who plugged products on their Instagram accounts without clearly identifying their relationships with brands. The letters were meant to educate the celebrities on posting without violating the organization’s disclosure guidelines.PBS Frontline Documentary - Generation LikeUSA Today: Lord & Taylor settles FTC charges over paid Instagram postsWired: Microsoft, through an outside agency, paid Machinima to produce positive videos about the Xbox One game machine, and many of the YouTube stars who accepted the deal failed to properly disclose that they were producing paid, sponsored content, not independent analysis.The Verge: Anti-net neutrality spammers are impersonating real people to flood FCC commentsVice: Trolls Paid by a Telecom Lobbying Firm Keep Commenting on My Net Neutrality ArticlesIn a New York investigation dubbed "Operation Clean Turf," dentists, lawyers, an ultra-sound clinic, Staten Island bus company US Coachways, a charter bus operator, a teeth-whitening service, a laser hair-removal chain and an adult entertainment club were caught buying fake reviews. The fake review companies posted on sites like Citysearch, Google, Yahoo and Yelp.New York Times: When a Company's Product Is Under Fire, One Option is to Plant a Defender in the Chat RoomTime: Social Media Manipulation? When “Indie” Bloggers and Businesses Get CozyNew York Times: Give Yourself 5 Stars? Online, It Might Cost YouChicago Tribune: Nutrition for sale: How Kellogg worked with 'independent experts' to tout cerealKim Kardashian was paid to post a selfie on Instagram and Twitter advertising a pharmaceutical product. Sent to 42 million followers on Instagram and 32 million on Twitter, this illegal advertisement did not contain any risk information or language specifying that it was a paid endorsement.Warner Brothers fined for paying YouTube celebs to promote game without properly disclosing that the videos were paid endorsements.Gamers promote gaming-gambling site on youtube by pretending to hit jackpot without disclosing that they own the site. They tried to retroactively write a disclosure covering their tracks, but were caught."Internet Reputation Management," founded by three partners in the New York area, recruits bloggers to write about clients on third-party sites, without necessarily disclosing that they're paidSlate: Want to Get Paid For TV Criticism? Shill for DISH.Sony viral marketing campaign exposed (2006). The company admits they ran the shady advertising campaign.ADWEEK: Marketing on Reddit Is Scary, But These Success Stories Show Big PotentialBBC news: Amazon targets 1,114 'fake reviewers' in Seattle lawsuitNew York Times: Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company, reached a settlement with the State of New York over its attempts to fake positive consumer reviews on the Web. The company had ordered employees to pretend they were satisfied customers and write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure on Web sitesSamsung Electronics Fined for Fake Online Comments [in Taiwan]BBC- How online chatbots are already tricking you- Intelligent machines that can pass for humans have long been dreamed of, but as Chris Baraniuk argues, they’re already among us. The ramifications of astroturfing are in fact so serious that the US Department of Defense funded research to detect chatbots.Wired: Powered by rapid advances in artificial intelligence, propaganda bots will soon run on genetic algorithms that let their ideas and messaging evolve, based on the resonance and effectiveness of previous messages. We are likely to see versions of these bots deployed on US audiences as part of the 2016 presidential election campaigns.BBC: More than four times as many tweets were made by automated accounts in favour of Donald Trump around the first US presidential debate as by those backing Hillary Clinton, a study says.Discover Magazine: Researchers Uncover Twitter Bot Army That’s 350,000 StrongThe Rise of Social BotsForbes: From Tinder Bots To 'Cuban Twitter', Welcome To 'Cognitive Hacking'Wired: Pro-Government Twitter Bots Try to Hush Mexican ActivistsSCIENCENew Scientist: Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and postResearcher's algorithm weeds out people using multiple online accounts to spread propaganda - Based on word choice, punctuation and context, the method is able to detect whether one person or multiple people are responsible for the samples.Fake product reviews may be pervasive, study findsWhen grassroots activism becomes a commodity - UCLA sociologist investigates 'astroturf' campaignsContent-Driven Detection of Campaigns in Social Media [PDF]ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONShill Confessions and Additional Information (most confessions are unverifiable due to NDA's and possible trolling.)Meme Warfare Center (PDF. Proposal written in 2006)WAR.COM: THE INTERNET AND PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS (Proposal written in 2001 by Angela Maria Lungu - Major, US Army.)The Gentleman's Guide To Forum Spies wikiCorporate and governmental manipulation of Wikipedia articlesTEDx Astroturf and manipulation of media messages (Sharyl Attkisson)"Changing the hive mind -- How social media manipulation affects everything" by Tim Weninger at TEDxUND