Here is your recap of cable and Internet service industry news from around the US this week:
Justice Department Hopes to Find Wrongdoing in Broad Search Warrant of Website’s Users
Justice Department is seeking over 1 million IP addresses and other information of people who visited an anti-Trump website before his inauguration earlier this year. Dream Host, the hosting company for the website disruptj20.org, a site that helped organize protests of the event is challenging the warrant on grounds that the “unfocused search” is “a clear abuse of government authority.” The warrant, Dream Hosts says, asks for contact information, photos, and emails of thousands of site visitors just before Trump’s inauguration. Critics are saying the justice department hopes to find evidence of criminal activity when sorting through data.
Facebook Fights Back
Facebook is fighting the government over an order blocking the social media company from telling users that the government is asking for their personal information. Facebook’s position is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat, Google, Apple, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Citizen Litigation Group, Much of the information about the case is sealed but it is believed to concern rioting during President Trump’s inauguration. A spokesperson for the ACLU said “This violates the Fourth Amendment, which requires that warrants must ‘particularly describ[e] ... the things to be seized’ – a requirement that was designed to prohibit just such ‘general warrants.’”
FCC Creates Corporate Advisory Panel to Benefit Corporations
Apparently, Ajit Pai wasn’t satisfied with how well the FCC was working to make the ISPs richer so he created an “advisory group” of business leaders to give him his marching orders. To fend off any accusations of being biased toward the corporations he included a member or two who wasn’t an obvious representative of corporate interests. Representatives from AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., Sprint Corp. and other corporations make up the overwhelming majority of the panel. It shouldn’t be a surprise as the purpose of the commission was to “accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or "broadband," by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers.” Notice how it is to accelerate deployment by reducing barriers, not say by holding ISPs accountable, encouraging competition, or anything like that.
Just in Time For the Death of Net Neutrality – a Formal Net Neutrality Complaint
Did you know it costs $225.00 to file a formal Net Neutrality violation complaint? Maybe that is why there has been only one such complaint ever filed. And wouldn’t you know it, it was filed against Ajit Pai’s former employer, Verizon by a customer named Alex Nguyen. It was actually filed last year but has been being batted back and forth between Verizon and Nguyen for about a year. Now the complaint has freed itself from red tape and sits on a desk at the FCC. If Pai gets his way Net Neutrality may be a thing of the past before the FCC actually has to rule on it. That would make it easier to brush it under the rug.
Smart Locks Get Wrong Updates and Lock Airbnb Customers Out Of Rooms
Certain LockState smart locks accidentally received an update for a different model and got fatal error making them inoperable. When LockState model 6000i tried to update with an update for model 7000i they just shut down, affecting around 500 customers including 200 Airbnb customers. The affected locks can not be fixed remotely and must, therefore, be sent back to the manufacturer for repair. In the meantime, it’s back to the old fashioned key in the lock to lock or unlock the doors. This will probably be more common as the Internet of Things becomes bigger.
No One Wants to Register Hate Group’s Web Domain
First GoDaddy gave the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer 24 hours to find another domain registrant. When the owners moved the site to Google, Google also gave them the boot. Since then several other domain companies refused to provide service to the site. It was briefly registered at a firm in Russia before being booted off of that one too. The site is now rumored to be on the Dark Web. In addition to being without a surface web domain, Cloudfare, the company that provided security for the site, also dropped them, making them more susceptible to cyber attack. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites have also suspended accounts belonging to the Daily Stormer and other hate groups. Rumor has it now that they have retreated to the Dark Web. That is a good place for them.
Charter Gets Sued For Using Spectrum Name
A Tampa Bay based video production company named Spectrum Video has filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications for trademark infringement. They want Charter to pay damages and cease using the word “Spectrum.” Spectrum Video has been doing business under that name for 28 years. Charter started using the name Spectrum after it acquired Time Warner Cable and the Bright House Networks in 2016. The video production company has offices in Florida and California and has done work for BBC, ABC, Nat Geo, the Travel Channel, and the Weather Channel.
Cox Introduces More Ways to Charge Customers More Money
Cox Communications came out with some new usage plans that include additional pricing tiers for those customers that exceed Cox’s 1 term byte data cap. Cox customers can opt for the $50.00 unlimited data plan or the $30.00 Data plan that includes an additional 500 GB of data. Both plans are in addition to customer’s normal monthly bill. All Cox Internet packages have a 1 TB data Cap so if you want to use more than a TB, say for watching HD movies, then it will cost you.
Security Firms Discover Massive Vulnerability in Internet Connected Cars
In the past, there have been a few issues discovered with some connected cars. These are usually fixed fairly quickly and only affect a few models. This week a major flaw has been identified that is vendor neutral, that is it affects all brands of connected automobiles. Security experts warn that this security issue may not be simple to fix. In fact, it may be nearly impossible and the issue may not completely disappear until the next generation of automobiles has taken over the roadways.
Google Strikes a Blow For More Competition With “One Touch Make Ready” Law in Louisville
For what ever reason (crony capitalism) there are a lot of laws that seem to protect big business and incumbent providers and stifle competition. One such law is that no one else can touch the wires on a telephone pole except the owner. If you want to put your wire on the pole you might have to wait months for the owner to come out and do the job. Google talked the town of Louisville into changing that law so that Google could bring Google Fiber to Louisville easier and quicker. The new law was called “One Touch Make Ready” Law. AT&T didn’t like that so they sued the city. AT&T lost. Google is now building a sales team for the Louisville area.