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Comcast Stream TV.Comcast Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge has asked regulators to stop Comcast from exempting its own streaming video service from Internet data caps, saying that selective enforcement of caps violates a merger condition from when Comcast purchased NBCUniversal and may violate a net neutrality rule. Public Knowledge filed its petition with the Federal Communications Commission yesterday.
It relates to "Stream TV," a service for Comcast's Internet-only customers that streams live TV channels to computers, tablets, and phones.
Stream TV doesn't require a set-top box, but Comcast says it "is an in-home cable service delivered over Comcast's cable system, not over the Internet." Stream TV offers some video outside the home, but live TV channels can only be watched on Comcast customers' home Internet connections. Public Knowledge points out that when Comcast won government approval to buy NBCUniversal in 2011, the FCC and Department of Justice "prohibited Comcast from excluding its own services from data caps or metering and required it to count traffic from competing online video services the same as its own." Public Knowledge also says the data cap exemption for Stream TV should be stopped by the FCC's net neutrality order; though the net neutrality rules don't specifically ban zero-rating, the FCC imposed a "general conduct" rule to be applied on a case-by-case basis.

That rule is meant to stop practices that limit consumers' access to content or the ability of online service providers to reach consumers. Comcast argues that Stream TV's data cap exemption doesn't violate the merger condition or net neutrality because it is a cable service and not an Internet one. Public Knowledge is trying to convince the FCC that Comcast is wrong. The merger condition's exact phrasing was that Comcast "shall not measure, count, or otherwise treat Defendant’s affiliated network traffic differently from unaffiliated network traffic." "Stream TV is 'network traffic' for the purpose of this [merger] restriction, no different than traffic from video services like Youtube and Netflix," Public Knowledge's petition said. "Customers access Stream TV via their broadband Internet access subscriptions.
It is not available on a standalone basis without a broadband connection, as MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] services such as cable TV are.
Stream TV data travels over the same path as other broadband data, from Comcast’s network, and through the cable modem in customers’ homes.

Additionally, viewers watch Stream TV on the same devices (such as personal computers and mobile devices) they use to watch other online video services." Public Knowledge further argued that "Comcast appears to believe that it need do nothing more than physically locate the servers which offer a given broadband service on its own property for that service to be categorically immune from various consumer protection policies." Comcast: “Public Knowledge doesn't have the facts straight” Comcast, which has instituted 300GB monthly data caps and overage charges in parts of its territory, won't be backing down.

The company provided Ars a statement, saying that "Public Knowledge doesn’t have the facts straight." "Our Stream TV cable package does not go over the Internet, so it can’t possibly violate a condition which only applies to Internet content... Stream TV is delivered as a cable service on the same private, managed network that delivers all our other cable television services in the home and is subject to all the regulations that apply to our other cable TV services such as franchise fees, PEG requirements, closed-captioning, and emergency alerts.

Those regulations don’t apply to content that goes over the Internet, just another demonstration how different Stream TV is than Internet delivered services." Comcast also said the FCC declined to take any action on a similar complaint Public Knowledge filed a few years ago about Comcast zero-rating an Xbox streaming application. FCC staff will review Public Knowledge's petition and decide how to proceed, but an FCC spokesperson declined to comment on the merits of the petition. The consumer group asked the FCC to require that Comcast either "eliminate its data caps to the extent they discourage the consumption of online video" or count Stream TV against data caps and take any enforcement action necessary to deter future, similar arrangements. The Comcast/NBCUniversal merger conditions had a time limit and expire in 2018.

The net neutrality rules that apply to the whole broadband are permanent (unless they're overturned in court), but it's not clear how strong a stance the FCC is ready to take against zero-rating. The FCC is examining zero-rating implementations from Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile, but it hasn't said whether it will put a stop to any of them. The FCC's net neutrality order only vaguely outlines circumstances in which zero-rating or other practices might violate its so-called "general conduct rule." ISP practices that give end users control over how they access the Internet "and empower meaningful consumer choice" are not likely to violate the rule, the order says. Practices that have anti-comeptitive effects or discourage innovation or investment in online services would be more likely to be deemed violations. Public Knowledge argues that these factors should weigh heavily against Comcast. "By employing data caps and selectively zero-rating its own services, Comcast is reducing the likelihood that increased subscriber demand for unaffiliated online services will drive broadband investment," the group wrote. "It is harming innovation in the edge services market, since Stream TV is not competing through the quality of the overall offering or through a novel business model, but through employing billing practices that are not available to unaffiliated services." A Comcast FAQ indicates that Stream TV may soon be available to people without Comcast Internet service. "If you're not an Xfinity Internet customer, we are working hard to make the required equipment available in 2016," Comcast says.

But it would still only be available inside Comcast's cable footprint, because the company wouldn't have programming rights to sell the service elsewhere, a company spokesperson told Ars.
AmyApple's encryption battle Apple CEO Tim Cook: Complying with court order is “too dangerous to do” If FBI busts into seized iPhone, it could get non-iCloud data, like Telegram chats Apple: We tried to help FBI terror probe, but someone changed iCloud password Trump urges supporters to boycott Apple in wake of encryption brouhaha Feds to court: Apple must be forced to help us unlock seized iPhone View all…A key justification for last week's court order compelling Apple to provide software the FBI can use to crack an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters is that there's no other way for government investigators to extract potentially crucial evidence from the device. Technically speaking, there are ways for people to physically pry the data out of the seized iPhone, but the cost and expertise required and the failure rate are so great that the techniques aren't practical. In an article published Sunday, ABC News lays out two of the best-known techniques.

The first one is known as decapping.
It involves removing the phone’s memory chip and dissecting some of its innards so investigators can read data stored in its circuitry. With the help of Andrew Zonenberg, a researcher with security firm IOActive, here's how ABC News described the process: In the simplest terms, Zonenberg said the idea is to take the chip from the iPhone, use a strong acid to remove the chip’s encapsulation, and then physically, very carefully drill down into the chip itself using a focused ion beam.

Assuming that the hacker has already poured months and tens of thousands of dollars into research and development to know ahead of time exactly where to look on the chip for the target data -- in this case the iPhone's unique ID (UID) -- the hacker would, micron by micron, attempt to expose the portion of the chip containing exactly that data. The hacker would then place infinitesimally small "probes" at the target spot on the chip and read out, literally bit by bit, the UID data.

The same process would then be used to extract data for the algorithm that the phone normally uses to "tangle" the UID and the user's passkey to create the key that actually unlocks the phone. From there the hacker would load the UID, the algorithm and some of the iPhone's encrypted data onto a supercomputer and let it "brute force" attack the missing user passkey by simply trying all possible combinations until one decrypts the iPhone data. Since the guessing is being done outside the iPhone's operating system, there's no 10-try limit or self-destruct mechanism that would otherwise wipe the phone. But that’s if everything goes exactly right.
If at any point there's even a slight accident in the de-capping or attack process, the chip could be destroyed and all access to the phone's memory lost forever. A separate researcher told ABC News it was unlikely the decapping technique would succeed against an iPhone.
Instead, it would likely cause the data to be lost forever.

A slightly less risky alternative is to use infrared laser glitching.

That technique involves using a microscopic drill bit to pierce the chip and then use an infrared laser to access UID-related data stored on it. While the process may sound like it was borrowed from a science fiction thriller, variations of it have been used in the real world.
In 2010, for instance, hardware hacker Chris Tarnovsky developed an attack that completely cracked the microcontroller used to lock down the Xbox 360 game console. His technique used an electron microscope called a focused ion beam workstation (then priced at $250,000 for a used model) that allowed him to view the chip in the nanometer scale. He could then manipulate its individual wires using microscopic needles. While such techniques are technically possible against the iPhone, in this case, their practicality is severely lacking.

For one thing, the chances of permanently destroying the hardware are unacceptably high.

And for another, the long and extremely costly hacks would have to be carried out from scratch on any additional iPhones government investigators wanted to probe. By contrast, the software a federal magistrate judge has ordered Apple to produce would work against virtually all older iPhones with almost no modifications. Yes, Apple would have to alter the digital signature to make the software run on different devices, but that would require very little investment. More importantly, the software Apple provided in the current case would all but guarantee the expectation that Apple produce similar assistance in future cases.

And even when a suspect's iPhone used "secure enclave" protections not available on the 5C model in this case, the firmware running on the underlying chips can be updated.

Given the precedent that would be set in the current case, it wouldn't be much of a stretch for a court to require Apple to augment the software with functions for bypassing Secure Enclave protections. The process laid out in Sunday's article is interesting, and technically it shows that it may be possible for the FBI to extract the data stored on the seized iPhone without Apple's assistance.

But for the reasons laid out, it will never be seriously considered, let alone used.
US president Barack Obama’s last budget proposals include $19bn for cyber security, but critics say this is still not proportionate to the threat. Although the US cyber security budget allocation for 2017 represents a 35% increase on the previous budget, it is still a small fraction of the overall US defence budget. Jeff Hill, channel marketing manager at security firm STEALTHbits Technologies, said that in absolute terms, the $19bn is encouraging and “nothing to sneeze at”. But he pointed out that the federal government spends about $700bn on defence, intelligence and homeland security, so the spending on cyber security represents only 2.7% of the total defence budget, up from 2% previously. “This budget priority reality begs the question: do cyber attacks – from organised state actors to well-heeled crime syndicates, to independent hackers looking to make a name for themselves – represent a mere 2% or 3% of the risk to the US economy and the safety of its citizens?” he said. “A 2.7% priority might be progress – but we’ve got a long way to go.” The budget proposals come just days after a data breach at the US Department of Justice again put the spotlight on the cyber security of US government systems, which has been under increased scrutiny since the massive data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management in 2014 and 2015. The budget plans coincide with Obama’s announcement of a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that is aimed at helping the US to stay ahead of rapidly evolving cyber threats. The CNAP’s top priority is to improve cyber security across the government and it includes a proposal for a $3bn fund to kick-start an overhaul of federal computer systems. “It is no secret that, too often, government IT is like an Atari game in an Xbox world,” Obama wrote in an article published in the Wall Street Journal. “The Social Security Administration uses systems and code from the 1960s. No successful business could operate this way,” he said. The CNAP requires federal agencies to increase protection for their most valued information and make it easier for them to update their networks. Obama said he was creating a new federal position of chief information security officer to drive these changes across government. The CNAP proposes a $62m fund to increase US efforts to build a corps of cyber professionals across government to promote best practices at every level. Obama has proposed offering scholarships and forgiving student loans to recruit the best talent from Silicon Valley and across the private sector. The CNAP aims to strengthen US government partnerships with the private sector to deter, detect and disrupt threats, including to the nation’s critical infrastructure. Cutting-edge technologies Obama said the newly-established cyber security Center of Excellence will bring together industry and government experts to research and develop new cutting-edge cyber technologies. Other related initiatives include setting up a national testing lab, where companies can test their systems’ security under simulated attacks, and offering cyber security training to more than 1.4 million small businesses and their staff. The CNAP is also aimed at helping US citizens to protect themselves online. Obama said that in partnership with industry, the government is launching a new national awareness campaign to raise awareness of cyber threats. Finally, the CNAP includes establishing a bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cyber Security to focus on long-term solutions. “Working together, my administration and congressional leaders will appoint top business, strategic and technology thinkers from outside government to provide specific recommendations for bolstering cyber security awareness and protections across the public and private sectors over the next decade,” said Obama.
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