Monday, September 04, 2006

The net neutrality debate continues...


Good article from silicon.com updating where things have got to, with some interesting quotes. From the "pro" camp:

"They're pushing for enactment of the Snowe-Dorgan measure because it includes rules explicitly barring broadband operators from brokering deals with content providers to shuttle their goods at faster speeds or to give them more prominent placement. An absence of such regulations, supporters claim, would interfere with users' ability to view all content on a level playing field, indirectly raise their surfing costs, and keep garage innovators from getting their ideas off the ground."

And the case for the opposition:

"Stevens' relatively hands-off approach to net neutrality regulations continues to receive backing from the powerful cable and telecommunications industries, which have admitted they would prefer to see no new legislation in the area at all. Brushing off concerns raised by net neutrality fans, lobbyists from those sectors say they have no intention to block or degrade any internet content and are merely seeking new revenue sources to offset investments in new offerings, particularly IP-based video. Some have voiced confidence that their leanings will prevail among politicians."

And I can't work this one out:

"A spokeswoman for the US Telecom Association, which lobbies for large and small phone companies, said in an email interview: "The longer this debate goes on, the more lawmakers realise that without any evidence of a problem, there is no good reason to start regulating the internet. The so-called net neutrality proponents have tried to hijack this debate to bolster their business models, all to the detriment of American consumers."

...so why and how, if there's no good reason to start regulating the internet, have the net neutrality proponents hijacked the debate? Surely what they campaigning for will benefit consumers?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More on social networking


Article from news.com that provides a different spin on the social networking controversy - the fact that Web 2.0 developers may not be paying as much attention to security issues and risks as they should:

"People are buying into this hype and throwing together ideas for Web applications, but they are not thinking about security, and they are not realizing how badly they are exposing their users."

"The end-user ends up getting screwed, but the Web application really has the vulnerability in it...The only people who can fix the problem are the actual people who run the Web applications."

I guess this is an additional issue to flag re use of social networking sites, above and beyond advice re the "known" risks of inappropriate contact, releasing personal information etc?

Update: a similar article from The Register this week:

"According to an analysis of more than 5bn web requests in July, ScanSafe found that, on average, up to one in 600 profile pages on social networking sites hosted some form of malware."

Probably needs to be treated with a degree of caution, this, as the research was conducted by a web security firm, but an additional consideration all the same. Social networking sites would appear to be excellent delivery vehicles for adware and spyware.

Another interesting finding re identity verification:

"Social networking sites like Facebook, which typically use a university or college email address to verify a user's identity, and LinkedIn, a site used for business networking, tended to be more secure than "open" social networking sites, according to ScanSafe."

Finally, another worrying finding:

"The research also revealed the presence of referrals to adult-themed dating sites on social network sites popular with teens."


VoIP call quality getting worse


Another article from silicon.com, this time reporting that "VoIP call quality has declined by about five per cent in the past 18 months":

"...the decline in voice quality is happening because voice services are increasingly competing for resources on the same IP network as other services such as video, music downloads and interactive gaming. IP telephony calls ride over the same network that is also delivering internet access and in some cases IP-based video. While the speed of broadband networks has increased, consumers are doing more on the net, which affects call quality..."

And now the scary bit:

"Many internet companies offering voice services, such as EarthLink, Google, Vonage and Yahoo!, are opposed to allowing phone companies or cable operators, which own the underlying broadband networks, to prioritise traffic in order to improve call quality. They fear network operators will abuse their power by charging unreasonably high fees and eventually squeeze out competing traffic...But some analysts say the time is quickly approaching when network operators will have to prioritise delay-sensitive traffic such as voice or video."

The other side of the net neutrality issue I guess...will the net develop suffciently to support services like VoIP without controls being imposed by the telcos? The ideal would be for open standards to be developed and adopted to allow this to happen, but if the telcos get there first with proprietary protocols...?

Google warns on "unsafe" websites


Article on BBC News about a new feature from Google, to flag pages and sites that are nown to host spyware or other malicious programs:

"The warnings will be seen by anyone using the search engine who clicks on a link to a site identified as harmful by the Stop Badware coalition...initially the warnings seen via the search site will be generic and simply alert people to the fact that a site has been flagged as dangerous. Eventually the warnings will become more detailed as Stop Badware researchers visit harmful sites and analyse how they try to subvert users' machines."

A good idea, but will the Stop Badware coalition be able to keep up as sites move location and new ones appear? Essentially the same problem that filtering software developers have in keeping their software up-to-date?

More on net neutrality


Peter Cochrane in his regular column for silicon.com flags the risks to the future of the net arising from the recent US legislation...a "very dangerous precipice" indeed...

"The telcos et al see an opportunity to regulate the whole net and control the packet flow so they can extract more revenues by creating tiers of usage for individuals and websites by volume and speed. This would create, at least, two classes - one faster internet for those with lots of money and one slower one for those without. And I have to say, this also means goodbye to the freedom and uniform utility we currently enjoy."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sky joins Carphone Warehouse & Orange with "free" broadband


The "free broadband" battle hots up as Sky enter the fray, news items from the BBC and silicon.com

Thought these quotes were particularly interesting, definitely a longer term strategy thing as it looks like there won't be any significant returns for some time:

"Shares in the group fell on the news amid analyst fears that the decision may mean expensive initial outlays - partly down to the cost of installing Sky equipment in BT telephone exchanges to access the local loop."

"The broadcaster expects its ISP business to become profitable in the 2009 or 2010 financial year."

...also interesting from the "net neutrality" perspective too of course.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Google is watching you?


Bit of a scary one this...detailed analysis of the rising influence of Google from PC Pro, particularly the information Google gathers and retains on your search habits. GoogleWatch is also worth a look too.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Net neutrality


Interesting to see the coverage the net neutrality issue has received in the media. Net neutrality can be broadly defined as the principle of treating all Internet traffic as being equal. Attempts to enshrine this principle in legislation in the US have failed, leading to concerns that ISPs and telcos could start restricting which sites users are able to access...more compelling evidence to help build the case for a dedicated network for education? Silicon.com have published a useful cheat sheet on the issue.

Myspace & internet safety


Loads of coverage of Myspace & other social networking sites in the media at the moment, with much (very repetitive) analysis of "web 2.0" technologies. Who comes up with these terms? Honestly...anyway, I thought this article on the US FindLaw site was much more interesting and thought provoking. It's an objective overview of US legislation relating to the much publicised suit that's been brought against Myspace (by a 14-year old who was sexually assaulted by someone she met via the site). Is the law an ass in this case? Not sure...