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Want privacy? Congress says you’ll have to pay for it

When Congress voted down broadband privacy regulations this week, it threw data security under the bus as well.
Internet users who want to protect their data can expect to pay a "privacy tax" as a result.The House voted 215-205 to repeal rules that, among other things, required broadband providers to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information.

The rules also would have mandated that telecoms notify customers within 30 days "after reasonable determination of [a data] breach." And if a breach affected at least 5,000 customers, they would have had to notify the FBI, the Secret Service, and the FCC within seven business days.

The privacy rules regarding notifications were slated to take effect in June.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

enet enters UK market for first time with SSE Enterprise Telecoms...

Dublin, Ireland – 2nd March 2017: enet, Ireland’s largest open-access network operator, has made its first entry into the UK market with a ground-breaking, strategic network partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, the UK’s leading provider of network infrastructure services and part of the SSE Group.Under the terms of the deal, enet will utilise SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ full range of dark fibre, Carrier Ethernet and optical networking services across 13,700km of national network.

Additionally, under the... Source: RealWire

Hampleton Partners Report Shows IoT M&A Values Boosted by Telecoms Buyers

Race to dominate internet of things sector amid strong competition from tech firmsLondon, February 28th, 2017: The latest market report from technology M&A advisory firm, Hampleton Partners, reveals soaring deal values in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector bolstered by strong interest from telecoms investors fighting to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing market.

The IoT M&A report, which covers mergers and acquisitions in the period between July 2014 and December 2016, shows that... Source: RealWire

Proximus Selects Neustar to Maximise its Sales and Marketing Campaigns

Leading Belgian Telecoms Operator Uses Advanced Analytics to Maximise Marketing ROI13 February, 2017 – London, UK – Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR), a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information services, today announced it has been selected by Belgian telecoms operator Proximus to help understand and optimise its marketing campaigns across the country. Opting for the Neustar MarketShare DecisionCloud service, Proximus is now able to get a complete picture of its sales and marketing investments to understand... Source: RealWire

Telecoms Industry Body Small Cell Forum Launches Hospitality Sector Initiative to...

SCF publishes materials focused on connectivity for the hospitality sector as the Marriott International and Grange Hotel Chains join as founding members of the Enterprise Advisory CouncilLondon, UK – 9th February 2017 – Small Cell Forum (SCF), the telecoms organisation driving universal cellular coverage, has today announced that it is engaging with the hospitality sector to support the deployment of small cells in order to boost mobile connectivity. The Forum, whose members include leading operators,... Source: RealWire

Facebook, Google face strict EU privacy rules that could hit ad...

EnlargeGetty Images/Urich Baumgartgen reader comments 4 Share this story Online messaging services such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Gmail face a crackdown on a "void of protection" that allows them to routinely track the data of EU citizens without regulatory scrutiny—and it could be bad news for ad sales. On Tuesday, officials in Brussels proposed new measures to curb Silicon Valley players who—up until now—have been largely immune from the ePrivacy Directive, which  requires telecoms operators to adhere to the rules on the confidentiality of communications and the protection of personal data. As part of its planned overhaul, the European Commission, the executive wing of the European Union, said that it planned to beef up the measures by switching from a directive to a "directly applicable regulation" to ensure that the bloc's 500 million citizens "enjoy the same level of protection for their electronic communications." It claimed that businesses would also benefit from "one single set of rules." Over-The-Top services such as Facebook's WhatsApp and Google's Gmail can all but ignore the EU's existing rules.

The commission said that this needed to change: Important technological and economic developments took place in the market since the last revision of the ePrivacy Directive in 2009.

Consumers and businesses increasingly rely on new Internet-based services enabling inter-personal communications such as Voice over IP, instant messaging, and Web-based e-mail services, instead of traditional communications services... Accordingly, the Directive has not kept pace with technological developments, resulting in a void of protection of communications conveyed through new services. The EC is also planning to kill the heavily ridiculed cookies consent pop-up system.
It said, in an embarrassing—if long overdue—climbdown that users would be given more control to allow or prevent websites from tracking them depending on "privacy risks." Last summer, a big coalition of tech firms lobbied for the cookie law to be scrapped. Under the new proposal, the commission said: "no consent is needed for non-privacy intrusive cookies improving Internet experience (e.g. to remember shopping cart history).

Cookies set by a visited website counting the number of visitors to that website will no longer require consent." But it could also hit the bottom line of Facebook, Google, and chums because tracking consent may be harder to obtain if lots of users reject third party cookies.

The commission said that, following public consultation on the issue, 81.2 percent of citizens agreed that obligations should be imposed on "manufacturers of terminal equipment to market products with privacy-by-default settings activated." It also warned that "additional costs" could hit some Web browser makers because they would be required to develop software with privacy settings built in. The new proposals also call on consent to process electronic communications metadata, such as device location data to allow for the "purposes of granting and maintaining access and connection to the service," the commission said.
It means that telcos "will have more opportunities to use data and provide additional services." Translation: new ways to make more cash. Companies that flout confidentiality of communications rules face fines of up to four percent of their global annual turnover, under the commission's planned e-privacy measures—the same penalty that will be dished out to firms that violate the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into action in April 2018. "The European data protection legislation adopted last year sets high standards for the benefit of both EU citizens and companies," said EC justice chief Věra Jourová. "Today we are also setting out our strategy to facilitate international data exchanges in the global digital economy and promote high data protection standards worldwide." But the latest proposals cannot become law until the bloc's 28 member states and the European Parliament agree to wave them through—leaving plenty of wiggle room for industry lobbying. Separately, the commission is seeking views from the public on how to best tackle data mining as part of its Digital Single Market strategy. This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Canada sets universal broadband goal of 50Mbps and unlimited data for...

Enlargereader comments 77 Share this story Canada's telecom regulator yesterday declared that broadband Internet must be considered "a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians" and created a fund to connect rural and remote communities. With this decision, high-speed broadband is now treated as an essential technology similar to voice service. All Canadians should be able to purchase home Internet with 50Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps uploads, and they should have the option of purchasing unlimited data, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announcement said.

A new fund will make $750 million available over the next five years to support projects in areas where that level of broadband isn't available. Money will be distributed to applicants based upon a competitive process.

Funding can be used either for fixed broadband service or to upgrade mobile networks, but the goals of 50Mbps/10Mbps and unlimited data for all is specifically for home Internet service.

About 10 percent will be allocated to communities that are dependent on satellite access. Currently, about 18 percent of Canadians, representing 2 million households, don't have access to 50Mbps/10Mbps service. "The CRTC's goal is to reduce that to 10 per cent by 2021 and down to zero in the next 10 to 15 years," a CBC article said. The fund was created by shifting current subsidies for voice service to broadband.

Telecoms "used to pay 0.53 percent of their revenues, excluding broadband, into that fund. Now they'll pay the same rate on all revenues, including broadband," the CBC reported. The CRTC's decision does not set any targets for affordability, as the agency is hoping to make service affordable through market forces. (But as some readers noted in the comments on this story, the CRTC already requires wholesale access for competitors and sets wholesale access rates, which has the effect of boosting competition and keeping retail prices lower than they would otherwise be.) Rogers Communications, a large Canadian telco, told the CBC that it already offers unlimited data and speeds 20 times faster than the CRTC's target in its whole service area. "While there are still many details to be worked out, we are encouraged by this reasonable plan to help increase access to Canadians in hard to reach areas of our country," said Rogers Senior VP of Regulatory Affairs David Watt. Bell Canada said only that it is "reviewing the decision," according to CTV News. OpenMedia, a nonprofit advocacy group, hailed the decision, calling it "a game-changer for rural and underserved communities across Canada where Internet access is either unavailable or unaffordable." The CRTC decision comes in addition to a federal government plan to spend $500 million over five years improving backbone infrastructure, mostly to boost access for schools and hospitals. OpenMedia Campaign Director Josh Tabish pointed out that the United States faces similar challenges in bringing broadband to rural and remote communities. "These challenges can be surmounted, but it will take real political will to do so," Tabish said in a press release, asking whether President-elect Donald Trump "really want[s] to see the US fall behind its neighbor to the north."

Hackers actively stealing Wi-Fi keys from vulnerable routers

Still using the password from the back of the router? Oops! Hackers have graduated from planting malware on the vulnerable routers supplied to consumers by various ISPs towards stealing Wi-Fi keys. Andrew Tierney, a security researcher at UK consultancy Pen Test Partners, noticed the switch-up in tactics in attacks against its honeypot network over the weekend. Customers of UK ISP TalkTalk are among those at the most immediate risk of having their Wi-Fi credentials stolen.

The TalkTalk router firmware fix fails to solve this problem because it reverts customers back to a default password hackers might already have snatched, Pen Test Partners warns. TalkTalk published a fix to the TR-064 / Annie issue. What this does is disable the TR-064 interface and reset the router.
It resets the passwords, back to the ones written on the back of the router. [But] nearly all customers never change their Wi-Fi key from that written on the router.
So, the Annie worm and hackers have already stolen their Wi-Fi keys, and the TalkTalk fix simply resets the router, to the exact same keys that have already been stolen! The TR-064 vulnerability<sup1 means that hackers can access or alter the device's LAN configuration from the WAN-side using TR-064 protocol. “Attackers appear to have cottoned on to the fact that the TR-064 vulnerability can be used for more than just recruiting the router into a botnet,” Pen Test Partners explain. “We run a TR-064 / Annie honeypot and saw requests last night, which alerted us to the issue. Here you can see someone trying to steal our Wi-Fi network key using the ‘GetSecurityKeys’ command.” The hacker has to be physically close to the router to compromise the Wi-Fi, a major mitigating factor. However, if you know the SSID (also stolen using the Annie worm) they can use databases such as https://wigle.net to find your victim’s house. TalkTalk and other ISP customers that use similar routers are likely to have had their Wi-Fi keys stolen, opening them up to hackers, Pen Test Partners concludes.

The security consultancy recommends that TalkTalk take the radical step of replacing customer routers in all cases where it’s impossible to rule out compromise. Users in the short term can act themselves by resetting their router (follow the TalkTalk advice) and then changing their Wi-Fi password.

TalkTalk supplies its customers with routers manufactured by D-Link, as previously reported. Other ISPs using kit from other manufacturers may be affected since the TR-064 / Annie issue is not restricted to D-Link. Pen Test Partners’ honey pot shows hacker activity targeting UK in particular, which means that TalkTalk’s customers may be at greater risk than most. El Reg ran this response past TalkTalk, which said that the situation was under control and that kit replacement was needed and offered the following statement. As is widely known, the Mirai worm is an industry issue, affecting many ISPs around the world.

A small number of TalkTalk customers have been affected, but we can reassure customers that no personal information is at risk.
If customers have an issue connecting to the internet, they should visit our help site where they can find a guide that will show them how to reset their router.

There is no need for customers to reset their wifi password. “I think TalkTalk haven’t realised that the Wi-Fi keys and related TR-064 issues are different consequences of the same bug last week,” Pen Test Partners Ken Munro told El Reg. “Whilst they’re fixing the bug and also blocking TCP port 7547 [maintenance interface] which it uses, it’s too late in the case of stolen Wi-Fi keys, as most users have never changed them from the default values.” “The fix resets the Wi-Fi key to the same value that has already been exposed,” he concluded. Lee Munson, security researcher at Comparitech.com, added: “If TalkTalk routers have, as one expert claims, been compromised following the theft of Wi-Fi passwords, customers of the telecoms company could potentially be in for a whole lot more pain following the well-publicised massive data breach and recent connectivity issues experienced by the firm." Bugnote 1Mirai and the TR-064 issue are different, but there are many similarities.

The Mirai malware uses default credential, TR-064 exploits a vulnerability.

The TR-064 bug started to be referred to as "Annie" though it’s also referred to as TR-06FAIL. Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

Certus Appoints Richard Summerfield As Non-Executive Director

Press Release Oracle Platinum Partner Certus Solutions [www.certus-solutions.com] has appointed Richard Summerfield as a Non-Executive Director. Richard is currently the Group HR Director at global telecoms provider JT [Jersey Telecom], an Oracle HCM customer of Certus-Solutions since 2015. JT is also currently using Certus-Solutions’ 'engage® Business Support Services’. Richard has over 20 years of corporate HR leadership experience, the last six as a member of JT's management board. Previously, he has worked at Ogier, Standard Bank, Zurich and Barclays. He was also a guest speaker at Oracle Openworld 2015 where he gave a customer view of the implementation of cloud HR products through Certus-Solutions. Richard Summerfield In his Non-Executive capacity, he will be ensuring that the company’s strategic business plans are robust, giving independent advice on senior recruitment and remuneration, and providing the personal ‘insight’ of an HR Cloud implementation customer. Commenting on his appointment, Tim Warner, Chairman (designate) and Chief Operating Officer of Certus Solutions says, “Richard brings with him both huge professional experience along with the unique insight of an Oracle HCM Cloud user. We like to think that the relationship we have built with him and his HR team over the last 18 months, and the quality of the Oracle HCM implementation, were key factors in him taking this new role. Adding Richard to the Board is a key step in defining the next chapter of our growth plans, where having stronger governance, independent advice and healthy challenge to the senior managers is crucial to our future success.” Building on Tim's words, Richard commented, “Certus-Solutions has grown rapidly through its ability to deliver leading edge Cloud solutions to major public and private sector clients alike, myself included.

To protect and nurture future growth, there is a requirement for greater investment in governance, best practice, and independent oversight.
I am delighted to join the Board at such an exciting time to help Certus realise its big ambitions to be a disruptor in the Oracle Cloud technology sector on a global basis”. About Certus SolutionsCertus Solutions is an Oracle® Platinum Partner and Oracle Education Partner.

A leading provider of implementation and business support services for Oracle Cloud based software for ERP, HCM and Payroll.

For more information regarding this press release and Certus Central Government activities please contact Mark Sweeny, Chief Executive Officer at Certus Solutions at mark.sweeny@certus-solutions.com +44 (0) 1483 610 220.

Trump’s latest FCC advisor opposes Title II, supports data cap exemptions

Enlarge / President-elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail.Getty Images | Joe Raedle reader comments 95 Share this story President-elect Donald Trump yesterday announced a third advisor to oversee the Federal Communications Commission's transition from Democratic to Republican control. Roslyn Layton, Trump's new addition, joins Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison on the FCC transition team.

All three are outspoken opponents of the FCC's Title II net neutrality rules and are affiliated with the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Enlarge / Trump advisor Roslyn Layton. Roslyn Layton Current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's signature move was the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act and imposition of net neutrality rules.

The move was supported by Democrats and consumer advocates who say ISPs shouldn't be able to favor or disfavor online content by blocking, throttling, or charging for prioritization. Wheeler's Title II net neutrality rules survived a court challenge from ISPs but could be eliminated under Trump either with Congressional legislation or FCC action. Layton argued on the AEI blog that government regulations aren't necessary to protect net neutrality. "Regulation proponents argue that without such rules your Internet provider would speed up or slow down websites," she wrote. "There have never been rules against this, but Internet providers don’t do it anyway.
Simply put, the business opportunity to deliver an open Internet is far greater.

Failing that, antitrust laws deter discriminatory behavior, already ensuring net neutrality." Layton opposed proposed rules intended to provide alternatives to set-top boxes that must be rented from cable TV companies and customer privacy rules for Internet providers.
She also supports ISPs' right to accept money in exchange for exempting some services from data caps. "Free data programs from mobile service providers have the potential to disrupt the traditional online advertising space as the programs offer businesses and entrepreneurs a third way, a path that doesn’t involve Google or Facebook, to reach consumers," Layton wrote. "A free data program could shift ad dollars away from those incumbents and create competition in the online advertising space by providing an alternative for entrepreneurs and advertisers to reach mobile subscribers." The Wheeler-led FCC has allowed data cap exemptions to proliferate despite objections from Democratic senators, but recently criticized AT&T for exempting its own DirecTV video from mobile data caps while charging other companies for the same "zero-rating" privilege. Opponents of zero-rating say the practice helps ISPs favor their own content at the expense of competitors, and lets big-pocketed companies pay for advantages that many startups can't afford. In addition to being a visiting fellow at AEI, Layton does telecom research at Aalborg University in Denmark.

The Trump transition team position is a part-time volunteer role with no compensation, she told Ars today. We asked Layton for an interview about her plans for the FCC, but she said she is not yet authorized to speak publicly about the transition. "I am not a member of any political party," Layton says on her website. "I don’t own stock in any Internet or telecom company.  My compensation comes partly from a program in the Danish government and partly from Strand Consult." Trump's previously announced FCC advisors have ties to the telecom industry. Eisenach formerly worked on behalf of Verizon and other telecoms as a consultant, and Jamison used to manage regulatory policy at Sprint.

Both opposed many of Wheeler's major initiatives, and Jamison wants to eliminate most of the FCC. Consumer advocacy group Free Press argued last week that Trump's FCC advisors have "habitually opposed the communications rights of real people, prioritizing instead the monopoly-minded views of companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon."

Trump hires two net neutrality opponents to oversee FCC transition

Enlarge / President-elect Donald Trump.Getty Images | Drew Angerer reader comments 115 Share this story President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two outspoken opponents of net neutrality rules to oversee the Federal Communications Commission's transition from Democratic to Republican control. The appointees announced yesterday are Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison. Eisenach is director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), while Jamison is a visiting fellow at the same institution.

Eisenach previously worked on behalf of Verizon and other telecoms as a consultant, and Jamison used to manage regulatory policy at Sprint. Eisenach and Jamison aren't necessarily candidates for FCC chairman, but they will help set the commission's direction and could help Trump choose FCC leadership.

Their views on net neutrality match those of Trump, who opposed the net neutrality rules passed under current Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Those rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. Jamison recently described net neutrality rules as "economics-free regulations for the Internet," saying that such rules should only be adopted "if there is actual evidence of monopoly." "Net neutrality in the US is backfiring," Jamison wrote. "There are two basic reasons for the failure. One is that net neutrality policy has lost its focus and is now a growing miscellany of ex ante regulations that frequently work against the entrepreneurs and consumers the rules are intended to help.

The second reason is that the net neutrality mindset is locked into a fading paradigm in which networks are distinct from computing and content.

Facebook, Netflix, and Google are investing in customized networks and, in doing so, demonstrating that next-generation breakthroughs will leap beyond the old mindset." Jamison also opposed Wheeler's proposal to free consumers from renting set-top boxes by requiring cable companies to make video applications for third-party devices. Eisenach testified against net neutrality rules in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2014, before the FCC passed its regulations. "Net neutrality regulation cannot be justified on grounds of enhancing consumer welfare or protecting the public interest," Eisenach said. "Rather, it is best understood as an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another—a classic example of what economists term 'rent seeking.'" Concerns about ISPs using market power to harm competitors or consumers are best addressed through existing antitrust and consumer protection laws, he argued. Eisenach made FCC submissions on behalf of Verizon as recently as 2013 but said this month that he's no longer working for Verizon. "[T]he facts are: [I'm] Not a lobbyist; not consulting for Verizon; no consulting business before the FCC at all," Eisenach tweeted. In addition to their AEI roles, Eisenach is a managing director at NERA Economic Consulting while Jamison is a professor and director of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida. While Jamison wasn't previously linked to the Trump transition, Eisenach's appointment is no surprise, as he was advising Trump during the presidential election. Trump vowed during his campaign to oppose AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, the owner of CNN and HBO, but his appointments of Eisenach and Jamison may be good news for AT&T.

A Recode article notes that both Eisenach and Jamison supported AT&T's attempted purchase of T-Mobile USA in 2011, even though the FCC's Democratic leadership blocked the deal.