As tech companies regulate speech, will they lose their safe harbor?

Source: Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns – The Washington Post

Tech companies have long argued they are not responsible for the content posted by others on their platforms. Under this view, a tech company is not responsible if someone posts threats to kill others or instructions for building a bomb or details on how to hack into government computers.

Companies have stood behind this principle, especially in regards to users posting defamatory content to online forums. They have argued that they are not responsible for the content and that it would be impossible for them to police the content of their forums.

Now however, the tech companies, including social media companies, are arguing that they can and do police all speech on their platforms. This implies that they do, in fact, control and have responsibility for the speech on their platform. These actions are likely to emerge in future anti-defamation suits filed against online tech firms and they could find themselves liable for all types of infringing speech conducted on their platforms.

Tech companies can certainly condemn offensive speech[1]. But censoring offensive speech puts tech companies into a area that may have legal ramifications.

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T-Mobile’s Imaginary Coverage Maps

T-Mobile has announced that over the past two years it has greatly expanded coverage. And it has. But many users will not have access to that coverage. Worse, the newest coverage, shown on the maps, is not actually usable until 2018 and then, only if your are willing to buy a brand new phone!

T-Mobile makes it rather difficult to discern actual coverage on their web site. If you click through their prominent “Coverage” link, you’ll see a map like this one (for my area in the PNW):

Lots of Magenta coverage shown everywhere. Except this is their coverage at the end of 2017 using their 700 and 600 Mhz spectrum allocations. The 600 Mhz spectrum will not have phones available to use it until sometime in 2018! (Well, may be one by the end of 2017.)

A better representation is this map, which includes their 700 Mhz spectrum allocations – good coverage but less than the above. Plus, you need a recent model phone, typically high end and expensive, to access LTE Band 12 (700 Mhz) that supports VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to work on the 700 Mhz spectrum.

If you have the kind of phone that most customers typically have in 2017 – which does not support LTE Band 12 and VoLTE, then this is your coverage map – with a lot of “no coverage zones”.

This news report has a very nice map showing the entire U.S. with 700 Mhz versus the future 600 Mhz network.

As you can see, the generic customer thinking of switching to T-Mobile, perhaps from AT&T or a mobile virtual network operator like Tracfone, is likely to have a phone that does not support the newer 700 Mhz band and will only get the most limited coverage. Unfortunately, its tedious to dig this information out of the T-Mobile web site, likely leading to customers switching to T-Mobile only to find they have inadequate coverage unless they also buy a new phone.

T-Mobile is correct that they have built out their network aggressively and will eventually provide access over a much wider area than their older network. However, the reality is that most of this expansion uses new frequencies and technologies that many consumers do not have (and may not realize when they sign up for service), or uses the newest 600 Mhz frequencies which are not yet supported on any phone.

If you are switching to T-Mobile to take advantage of their “expanded” coverage you need a phone that supports LTE Band 12 and VoLTE. If you do not have that, you’ll have to factor in the multi-hundred dollar cost of purchasing a new phone! And if you are in the area covered only by the new 600 MHz network, you’ll have to buy your new phone in 2018!

T-Mobile is doing a lot of “right” things with their network expansion and attractive, competitively priced service offerings. Unfortunately, their marketing is off target and is misleading – unless you plan to buy a new LTE Band 12 compatible phone today that will be obsolete in 2018 when you’ll need a still newer phone to use the 600 Mhz band.

 

San Diego’s minimum wage experiment accelerating adoption of automation

San Diego raised its minimum wage very rapidly. Data suggests that while the wage hike benefits those with minimum wage jobs, it is also rapidly eliminating low wage jobs all together. Read the entire (and long) story for the details.

This blog has long noted that while automation is going to happen regardless, rapid minimum wage hikes accelerate the adoption of automated systems, eliminating jobs more rapidly:

And California’s decision to speed Darwinian selection also encourages automation. McDonald’s is rolling out ordering kiosks, Starbucks is testing robotic baristas, and hamburger-making machines are nearing production.

One local restaurant owner told me that all his future locations will allow customers to buy and pour their own beers.

A 50-handle system costs $1,800 per handle. That’s well above $1,000 per handle for the bartender-based system, but it pays off in a year by eliminating one or two workers per shift. Presumably someday robots will listen to our problems, too.

Rising productivity is good for the bulk of consumers, because fewer workers equate to lower bills.

Source: Is San Diego’s new minimum wage already hurting its poor? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Eliminating jobs through automation is not necessarily a bad thing. ATM machines, self service gas, self service check outs are all examples of recent semi-automated services that we take for granted. Throughout history, many jobs have gone away – elevator operators and telephone “manual switch” operators all went away.

If automation frees up labor to be put to more productive uses, this is a good outcome. However, there will be some who are not able to transition to higher value added work and may be come unemployable.

Merely having Tor software may be used against you in Court?

In other words, Tor:

Solari said Winner’s laptop also contained software that could enable her to access online black-markets and buy items — such as a fake ID or passport — without revealing her identity or location.

Source: Accused NSA leaker wanted to ‘burn the White House down’ | New York Post

They can make the same allegation about encryption. Attempting to protect your medical, financial and educational records is a sign of nefarious intent?

Every journalist in existence, if they are any good at all, has Tor on their computer. So do private industry analysts reviewing competitor’s products and government policy plans. Tor is a browser that assists with anonymous browsing and accessing web sites as it hides one’s true IP address from the destination web server. There are numerous and valid reasons to use Tor to access publicly available information.

#Microsoft releases #WindowsXP, 8 and Windows Server 2003 patches for #WannaCrype

“WannaCrypt” is the malware that attacked and encrypted computer contents, globally, and then wormed its way through networks to other unpatched Windows computers.

The threat was so large and damaging, that Microsoft has released patches for no longer supported operating systems Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8. Of interest, according to Microsoft, the WannaCrypt malware exploited a previously patched vulnerability in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 and did not have any impact on systems running Windows 10.

For information see the Microsoft blog.

Security and privacy concerns for #IoT #InternetOfThings

In light of the global ransomware attack that took place the past couple of days, this is more true than ever:

  • Securing sensitive data generated by IoT devices is already the top concern of most security professionals (36%).

  • This is followed closely by privacy violations related to data generated by IoT devices (30%).

  • Cyber attacks are also a growing threat as more connected devices join the IoT ecosystem.

Source: IoT Security – Combining Innovation with Protection

Surveys suggest consumers are not that concerned about #IoT security and privacy threats – they should be very concerned!