White House Report Says No Evidence of Huawei Spying

 White House Report Says No Evidence of Huawei Spying

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks back a US House of Representatives intelligence panel report basically accused two Chinese technology companies – ZTE and Huawei – as being threats to the US’ security. The allegations were made because of these two companies’ ties with the Chinese government. The report further stated that US companies should refrain from doing business with these two firms. [Read more...]

House Report Alleges Huawei, ZTE Collaborating with Chinese Gov’t, Pose a Security Threat

3798636930 83aa7a7cef m House Report Alleges Huawei, ZTE Collaborating with Chinese Govt, Pose a Security Threat

 (Photo credit: kevindean)

Is paranoia starting to set in the American political landscape?

According to a report made by the House of Representatives’ intelligence panel that is reportedly going to be released this coming Friday, concern has been raised regarding the Huawei and ZTE, two of the largest telecommunications manufacturers in the world.  The concern is with regards to the two companies’ alleged ties to the Chinese military and government. The report states that China can use telecommunication companies for “malicious purposes.” [Read more...]

New York Payphones To Be Replaced With Touchscreens

smartpayphone 460x295 New York Payphones To Be Replaced With TouchscreensWhen was the last time you called someone from a phone booth? If it takes you more than five seconds to remember it’s been THAT LONG. Payphones and phone booths are holdovers from a time when mobile phones were not yet widely available (yes, there was such a time, kids). But despite phone booths and payphones being practically obsolete, you still find them in many places all over cities around the world. [Read more...]

T-Mobile sends “Presidential Alert” message to select customers

mobile phones 300x225 T Mobile sends Presidential Alert message to select customersAfter the terrorist attack that happened in September 11, 2001, The United sStates has become more conscious about what would happen in case a scenario similar that day occurs. It has led to a concerted effort to put in place measures to make sure that it never happens again or if it does, it is more prepared to handle the situation. One immediate result of this was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. And now another step has been taken to further protect the American people – the Personal Localized Alert Network. [Read more...]

Google, Facebook Crying Foul Over California Bill?

facebook google Google, Facebook Crying Foul Over California Bill?

Despite being bitter enemies, it looks like the search engine giant and the social networking king may have to form a temporary alliance in order to squash a California bill that can hinder both their businesses.

Web giants Facebook, Google, Twitter and Skype have banded together to oppose an online social networking privacy bill in California that would require users’ permission to display personal information such as home addresses and phone numbers. [...]

The bill would also allow parents to request any personal identifying information about their children under the age of 18 be removed within 48 hours of asking. Violations of the bill would result in fines of up to $10,000 for each violation. (Washington Post)

While the bill seems like a great idea in theory, it would probably not help parents govern the digital lives of their kids (who would respond by simply lying about their age in order to avoid having their posts removed).

Even though I can not speak from personal experience, many of my friends who are parents with kids on Facebook, Google, etc. already have the ability to remove their children’s content due to the fact that they know their kids password (which they use as a prerequisite in order to use the internet).

Although the California government has good intentions, they should let the parents be parents in the lives of their kids, instead of trying to force companies to bend over backwards when simpler solutions are available.

Image via Sluggin.com

Google Vs DOJ: Who’s Lying About Google Apps?

Google Apps Google Vs DOJ: Whos Lying About Google Apps?The rhetoric between Google and the Department of Justice is heating up after the DOJ accused the search engine giant publicaly lying about Google Apps receiving FISMA (or Federal Information Security Management Act) certification.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has joined the fray by declaring that their nemesis is evil, and portraying their foe as untrustworthy by linking to documents (from the DOJ) proving that Google did not in fact receive FISMA certification.

Google has not yet responded to the accusations via press release or their corporate blogs, but they are maintaining the fact that they did receive FISMA certification and its the DOJ who’s in error.

So who is right? Not surprisingly the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

According to the GSA, Google’s Google Apps Premier received FISMA certification on July 21, 2010. However, Google intends to offer Google Apps for Government as a more restrictive version of its product and, Google is currently in the process of finishing its application for FISMA certification for itsGoogle Apps for Government. See Attachment 3. To be clear, in the view of GSA, the agencythat certified Google‟s Google Apps Premier, Google does not have FISMA certification for its Google Apps for Government. (DOJ Brief, pg. 13, note: PDF document)

Apparently Google did receive FISMA certification for a Google Apps Premier, then decided to create a more secure version which is not FISMA certified.

Although I do sympathize with Google here (who has become the Feds favorite whipping boy as of late), the DOJ and Microsoft is (for now) correct that Google is misleading the public by claiming something it doesn’t have.

Google needs to either pull all references regarding FISMA or offer more evidence, as the last thing the company wants is to be seen as “evil” in the public eye.

Wikileaks Documents Now 100% Accessible

wikileaks 130x300 Wikileaks Documents Now 100% Accessible Despite all the controversy surrounding Wikileaks, the whistle blowing organization has only released a fraction of the files available to them to the public, creating an on going nightmare for the US State department who thus far has been unable to shut down the site.

Unfortunately for the US government, it looks like a Norwegian newspaper has secured access to all 250,000 cables minus the encryption, which means that world may soon hear more embarrassing secrets contained in the documents.

In cooperation with Svenska Dagbladet, Aftenposten has so far had access to about 2000 documents, which until now has been the background for the issues Aftenposten published. Ole Erik Almlid, news editor of Aftenposten, says it has worked a long time to access the documents to the newspaper.

- We have worked long to get the documents, but it would be wrong of me to tell who is the source. We have not paid for the material, which we have gained access to no conditions. It is we who decide what to publish and how we should handle it, “he said. (Aftenposten)

While other news organizations have received access to the files, most of those were encrypted, giving Wikileaks control over the speed (and sometimes type) of information leaked to the public.

Despite their eyes being able to view all of the cables unrestricted, the news organization is promising to not release information that can endanger individuals lives or expose private information about specific individuals.

They will however report on news deemed interesting to the public, which could spell more embarrassment for the US State Department.

(Hat Tip: RWW)

FCC Joins Google, Caves In On Net Neutrality

fcclogo 297x300 FCC Joins Google, Caves In On Net NeutralityFor those of you in America hoping that the FCC would defy pressure from Congress and implement net neutrality without Google’s help may need a shoulder to cry upon as it looks like the government is officially giving up.

Mr. Genachowski said Wednesday his proposal would forbid major Internet broadband providers from secretly blocking or interfering with “lawful Internet traffic.”

But in a concession to broadband providers, the chairman’s new proposal, which will go before the rest of the commission on Dec. 21, would allow the industry to continue to charge higher rates for higher levels of access and gives the companies the right to continue to limit access as needed to better manage the demands on their networks.

The proposed new regulations also backed away from earlier plans to extend control over the mobile phone industry. (Washington Times)

Although Genachowski is attempting to spin this as some sort of positive development, truth be told it’s unlikely that event he watered down version of the bill will survive as it pleases no one (and will face attack from conservatives and progressives ensuring its death).

With even the mighty Google giving up on net neutrality, it looks like folks in the US will continue to be at the mercy of their carriers (assuming they have more than two choices available), which may lead to a more costly internet in the future instead of a more affordable one.

FCC Getting Serious About Net Neutrality?

fcclogo 297x300 FCC Getting Serious About Net Neutrality?After Google stabbed the government in the back by advocating Verizon’s approach to wireless internet, it looks like the FCC is scheduling a meeting to discuss how it will be able to keep the internet free of corporate interference for consumers.

Unfortunately for net neutrality advocates, it looks like the FCC is once again pushing back the meeting which is making some people nervous.

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission pushed back its December meeting by one week — from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21 — which means the agency doesn’t have to publish the meeting agenda until next week. That means the public won’t know if new rules will be taken up or what form they will take until next week. [...]
That means more uncertainty for both the public and the broadband industry over the government’s plans to regulate the internet. It’s just the latest delay by the government on the issue of network neutrality, the principle that broadband companies should shouldn’t block or degrade rival web content, services or applications. The delay also pushes the FCC’s meeting to the week of Christmas, typically a slow news week. (Wired.com)

Ironically there are  a few ISP’s (aka Internet Service Providers) who support the idea of net neutrality, although truth be told the FCC will have to convince congress (especially Republicans) on why greater government oversight is good for the internet (lest the party responds by defunding the agency).

Unfortunately for the FCC, they have an uphill battle convincing the public as well, especially in light of their sister agency’s attempt to regulate the political blogosphere (which not surprisingly backfired).

Although America needs to come up with a solution to ensure that everyone is treated equal on the internet without having to pay a premium tier fee, it might be wiser for the FCC to partner with companies instead, lest we hear another outcry of “government takeover” online.

WhiteHouse.gov Switches to Drupal

whitehouse drupal WhiteHouse.gov Switches to Drupal

Score one more for open source — and by extension, open governance. WhiteHouse.gov has ditched its previous Bush-era proprietary content management system, and now runs on the open-source Drupal.

The great Drupal switch came about after the Obama new media team, with a few months of executive branch service (and tweaking of WhiteHouse.gov) under their belts, decided they needed a more malleable development environment for the White House web presence. They wanted to be able to more quickly, easily, and gracefully build out their vision of interactive government. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the Virginia-based government contractor who had executed the Bush-era White House CMS contract, was tasked by the Obama Administration with finding a more flexible alternative. The ideal new platform would be one where dynamic features like question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools could work more fluidly together with the site’s infrastructure. The solution, says the White House, turned out to be Drupal. That’s something of a victory for the Drupal (not to mention open-source) community.

Thanks to developer communities, open-source content management systems often feature more plugins, many of which are tuned towards reader participation. Such plugins should further empower the Obama administration’s push for participative governance through technology.