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Prysmian Group Launches New Corporate Website

Created with Softec, it focuses on storytelling and branded content to be the voice of the industryMilan, 18 May 2017 - Prysmian Group, world leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry, is launching the new corporate website www.prysmiangroup.com, featuring a new design and content created in a restyling project carried out as part of the Grouprsquo;s more extensive digital transformation strategy.The new website, which brings with it a legacy of approximately six million... Source: RealWire

The Google Assistant comes to iOS

The Google app gets updated with Google's newest voice command interface.

Confirmit progresses to UK National Innovation Awards 2017 final

Confirmit selected as one of four finalists in the Voice of the Customer Innovation categoryLONDON, UK and NEW YORK, USA and OSLO, Norway, 10 May, 2017 — Confirmit announced today that it has been shortlisted in the Voice of the Customer (VoC) Innovation category of the UK National Innovation Awards 2017.

The UK National Innovation Awards (the Nationals) have been designed by the Directors’ Club United Kingdom to recognise business technology innovations and their impact... Source: RealWire

Snapchat lines up media companies to produce original shows for Snap...

Could your next favorite show be a Snapchat exclusive?

LexisNexis report Amplifying the voice of the client, finds a significant...

Research conducted in partnership with Judge Business School finds signs of disruption in the business of established law firmsLONDON, 11 April 2017 – LexisNexis UK (www.lexisnexis.co.uk), a leading provider of content and technology solutions, today announced that its latest report Amplifying the voice of the client finds evidence of a significant disconnect between law firms and their clients. While both lawyers and clients seem to be aware of the disconnect, their interpretations of the magnitude... Source: RealWire

Need booze or bandages immediately? Alexa can get it for you...

When you're in desperate need but can't be bothered to leave the house.

Did Alexa hear a murder? We may finally find out

However, novel and vexing legal questions about IoT data privacy won't be answered.

Amazon refusing to hand over data on whether Alexa overheard a...

Amazon: Alexa and its users have a First Amendment right of protected speech.

Trump voters need fast broadband and net neutrality too, Tom Wheeler...

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in his Washington, DC, office in February 2016.Jon Brodkin reader comments 13 Share this story Donald Trump's election has put Republicans in position to eliminate net neutrality rules and gut the Federal Communications Commission's authority to regulate broadband providers. But Trump voters need the consumer protections provided by the FCC as much or more than anyone, said Tom Wheeler, whose resignation as FCC chairman takes effect today. Wheeler, a Democrat appointed to the FCC by President Barack Obama, isn't happy about Trump's victory.

But in making the case for continued net neutrality rules and consumer protections, he pointed out that Trump voters in rural areas are vulnerable to the actions of major broadband providers. "The Trump administration campaigned that they are the voice of the forgotten," Wheeler said in a phone interview with Ars yesterday. "Well you know, the half-dozen major carriers [lobbying against FCC regulations] are hardly forgotten." The people who are forgotten are the "two-thirds of consumers in America who have one or fewer broadband choices," Wheeler said. "Where are those choices most limited? In the areas where Donald Trump got the strongest response, in rural areas, outside of major cities.
If indeed this is an administration that is speaking for those that feel disenfranchised, that representation has to start with saying, 'we need to make sure you have a fast, fair, and open Internet because otherwise you will not be able to connect to the 21st century.'" Wheeler brought up Trump voters again when asked about his own Internet service. Wheeler once noted that he is "a happy Comcast subscriber" but has generally avoided describing his own experiences as an Internet customer. "I’m a privileged consumer, you know? I live in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC.

The problem is what do you do about the non-privileged?" Wheeler said. "Let's talk about Trump voters.

The Trump voters are people who don’t have choices in Internet providers, the Trump voters are folks that don’t have the resources to pay the ever escalating bills for either cable or broadband." Wheeler: Gutting consumer protection is “tragic” But so far, signs point to the Trump-era FCC dismantling consumer protections opposed by Internet service providers. Republicans at the FCC and Congress say they intend to repeal or replace net neutrality rules.

Trump's transition team is also reportedly pushing a proposal to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its role in overseeing competition and consumer protection and to move those functions to the Federal Trade Commission.
Such a major change would require Congressional approval and thus may not happen, but it's worrying to Wheeler nonetheless. "I think it would be tragic," Wheeler said of taking away the FCC's competition and consumer protection authority. "This is tragic for the American consumer and the competitive marketplace." Upon my @FCC departure, I would like to sign off with 3 words of wisdom that guided me well: competition, competition, competition — Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) January 20, 2017 The FTC is "a great agency" that does excellent work but has more narrow authority over communications providers than the FCC, Wheeler said.

The FTC "has enforcement authority, not rulemaking authority," he said. "They can say, 'we think this is an unfair and deceptive act or practice,' but they can't say, 'here’s how networks have to operate so they're fast, fair, and open.'" The only companies that would benefit from a weaker FCC and the repeal of net neutrality are the major ISPs, Wheeler said. (That would include Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint.) "We’re talking about a handful of companies who are lobbying for their own self-interest, and trying to say to the new commission, 'you need to listen to us, not to consumers, not to a competitive marketplace, not to those who could be affected by a network where we act as gatekeepers,'" Wheeler said. "And if they are successful, that will put in jeopardy tens of thousands of other companies that rely on open networks and millions of consumers." FTC could be powerless to stop ISP abuses As evidence of the dangers of shifting FCC functions to the FTC, Wheeler pointed to a recent US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision that could dramatically limit the FTC's ability to regulate ISPs. The FTC is statutorily forbidden from regulating "common carriers," a designation the FCC has long applied to phone companies like AT&T and Verizon and more recently to all ISPs.

The FTC attempted to punish AT&T for throttling the Internet connections of customers with unlimited data plans before the FCC reclassified broadband as a common carrier service.

The FTC assumed it could punish AT&T for activity that at the time was unrelated to its common carrier services, but judges ruled in favor of AT&T, saying that the carrier is exempt from FTC oversight entirely. ISPs have been pushing the idea of moving FCC authority to the FTC for years, Wheeler said. "The surprise is that they continue with this mantra despite the fact that AT&T sued the FTC alleging that they did not have authority over common carriers," he said. The idea of removing FCC authority has also been pushed by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), "and lo and behold AEI comes in as the principal force in the Trump transition," Wheeler said.

Three of the advisors Trump appointed to make recommendations about the FCC transition are affiliated with the AEI, and one of them has proposed eliminating most of the FCC. ISPs, competition, and Google Fiber Under Wheeler, the FCC pushed for more competition in part by requiring further broadband construction as a condition for granting the AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/Time Warner Cable mergers.
In May 2015, Wheeler challenged cable companies to compete directly against each other. "I thought [calling for competition] was a conservative message," Wheeler said. "I thought Republicans would be responsive to the idea that a competitive economy is the basic bulwark of how the American economy works and that there ought to be competitive alternatives.
I went to the cable association and I said, 'hey, the costs of building are going down, you guys have to start thinking about competing with each other and not just having an exclusive franchise.'" Cable companies have continued avoiding each other's territory for the most part, but the emergence of Google Fiber was important for boosting competition, Wheeler said.

Though Google Fiber recently downsized, Wheeler said, "I’m thrilled at what Google Fiber did because every time they built something, wasn’t it amazing that the incumbent suddenly decided that it was time for them to build fast fiber as well?" The FCC tried to encourage municipal broadband by preempting state laws that limit the rights of cities and towns to offer Internet service, but it lost in court.

Going forward, Wheeler said local policies should encourage competition by providing easier access to poles, conduits, and rights-of-way. He'd also like to see new ISPs get more affordable access to video programming so they can offer competitive TV-and-Internet bundles. Chairman leaves unfinished business Wheeler regrets not finishing certain initiatives, such as a rulemaking that would have required pay-TV operators to make free TV applications, giving customers an option besides rented set-top boxes.

Also unfinished was a proposed $100 million fine of AT&T for allegedly misleading customers about unlimited data throttling, as well as price cap decreases for business data services. Wheeler told Ars that he didn't have enough Democratic votes to push final versions of those items through.

Though Democrats had a 3-2 majority led by Wheeler, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel didn't support a final version of the set-top box rules because of concerns over how cable company applications would be licensed to third-party device makers. "We lost. We got outmuscled" on the cable app rules, Wheeler said. "I call it Cablewood: it’s cable and Hollywood in this incestuous relationship... they did an excellent job lobbying the issue both here at the commission and in the Congress." Regarding that $100 million fine, the FCC never was able to negotiate a settlement with AT&T.

Given that, the FCC could have issued a final ruling requiring AT&T to pay the fine, waited for AT&T to sue, and then let a court decide.

But Wheeler said he didn't have enough votes to support that approach, either. Wheeler also ran out of time while challenging major wireless carriers over paid data cap exemptions. Just last week, Wheeler accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules by letting their own video stream without counting against mobile data caps while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions (aka "zero-rating"). Wheeler's statement and a related report by FCC staff won't have any impact in the short term because the FCC's Republicans vowed to ignore the findings and they want to overturn the net neutrality rules altogether. Wheeler said the FCC's net neutrality rules didn't ban zero-rating entirely because free data services can benefit consumers. "Free is good, OK?" he said. "But the problem is that when a carrier decides to favor its non-carrier activity by placing that for free on the network, but anybody who competes with that non-carrier activity has to pay full freight, that is a blatantly anti-competitive activity." This is the sort of behavior that shows "why you have to have an open Internet," Wheeler said. "Unfortunately, we’re not going to be around to do something about it, so we thought it was important to make sure the record was clear." Wheeler won’t be a lobbyist again Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless phone industries, surprised some observers by pushing for more extensive regulation of ISPs during his 39 months as chairman.

As he leaves the FCC, he said, "I’m proud of what we accomplished.
I wish there were other circumstances but the American people had other thoughts about that and I respect that decision." When asked if he might become a lobbyist again, Wheeler answered with an emphatic "no." For now, Wheeler is joining the Aspen Institute as a senior fellow, becoming the sixth consecutive FCC chairman to do so upon leaving the commission.

The nonpartisan policy forum has become "the home for recovering chairmen," Wheeler joked. "What it allows you to do is, while you are chairman, not worry about what you do next, and therefore not have to lose focus, not have to start recusing yourself" from matters that might affect a potential future employer, Wheeler said. That'll be a temporary job for the 70-year-old Wheeler, who said he plans to "decompress" and spend more time with his wife. "I hope to write and teach and maybe do some consulting, but we’ll just see how things develop," he said. "I don't think I'm going to have a 'job' job, if you will."

ISPs seek end of privacy rules just in time for Trump’s...

EnlargeGetty Images | Yuri_Arcurs reader comments 27 Share this story New privacy rules that protect the Web browsing data of broadband subscribers went into effect just two weeks ago, but they could be overturned shortly after Republicans gain a majority at the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC voted on the rules on October 27, and they partially took effect on January 3.

Also on January 3, trade groups representing ISPs filed petitions asking the FCC to reconsider the rulemaking, said an FCC public notice issued today. Normally, these petitions for reconsideration would be rejected by the FCC, and ISPs' next option would be to sue.

But in this case, the privacy rules were passed 3-2, with three Democrats voting for the rules and two Republicans voting against them.

Those two Republicans, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, will enjoy a 2-1 majority after President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration Friday because Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler said he will resign, and Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel had to leave the FCC when the Republican-controlled Senate refused to reconfirm her for another term. After Trump won the presidential election on November 8, Republicans in Congress asked the FCC to halt any controversial rulemakings until the inauguration and warned that any action taken in the final days of the administration could be more easily overturned.

But that's also true of the privacy order, even though it was passed nearly two weeks before the election. Opponents of new rules are given 30 days to petition for reconsideration, but the clock doesn't start until the rules are published in the Federal Register, which never happens instantaneously.

The privacy rules were published in the Federal Register the first week of December, which gave opponents until January 3 to file petitions. The process for considering the petitions will extend past Wheeler's resignation. Once today's public notice is published in the Federal Register, supporters of the privacy rules will have 15 days to file oppositions to the petitions for reconsideration.

After that, there will be another 10 days allotted for replies to oppositions. Pai and O'Rielly will presumably then get the process for overturning the rules moving. We contacted Pai and O'Rielly today but haven't heard back yet. Even if the FCC does eliminate the privacy rules in response to the petition for reconsideration, that action could be appealed in court by supporters of the privacy rules. Opt-in consent required—for now The new privacy rules require fixed and mobile ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other third parties. (This customer approval provision isn't scheduled to take effect until at least December 2017.) Most of the petitions to reconsider the rules were filed by ISP lobby groups, namely the United States Telecom Association, CTIA, the American Cable Association, the Competitive Carriers Association, ITTA-The Voice of Mid-Size Communications Companies, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association.

There were also petitions from Oracle, the Association of National Advertisers, the Consumer Technology Association, and Level 3. Wheeler argued when the rules were passed that ISPs are uniquely capable of collecting consumers' Internet traffic because they can monitor everything that goes over the connection and because it is difficult for customers to switch ISPs. "What this item does is to say that the consumer has the right to make a decision about how her or his information is used," Wheeler said. O'Rielly argued at the time that the commission doesn't have the "statutory authority to adopt broadband privacy rules" and that the rules would prevent ISPs from offering "innovative services" and competing against Internet companies in the online advertising market. Pai argued that ISPs shouldn't face stricter rules than companies like Google and Twitter that are regulated separately by the Federal Trade Commission. "Due to the FCC’s action today, those who have more insight into consumer behavior (edge providers) will be subject to more lenient regulation than those who have less insight (ISPs)," Pai said. "This doesn’t make sense... Nothing in these rules will stop edge providers from harvesting and monetizing your data, whether it’s the websites you visit or the YouTube videos you watch or the e-mails you send or the search terms you enter on any of your devices." Pai, who reportedly met with Trump yesterday, seems likely to be appointed the FCC's interim chairman.
In a speech last month, Pai made it clear that he is intent on rolling back some of Wheeler's major initiatives.

The net neutrality rules' "days are numbered," and "during the Trump Administration, we will shift from playing defense at the FCC to going on offense," he said.

The FCC "need[s] to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations" and "fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation," Pai also said.

Playtime’s over: Internet-connected kids toys ‘fail miserably’ at privacy

Won't someone think of the children, literally? The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) are calling for US and EU data protection authorities to take action against insecure networked toys. Declaring that "My Friend Cayla," a Bluetooth-enabled doll released in 2014, and "i-Que," a connected robot released last year, "fail miserably when it comes to safeguarding basic consumer rights, security, and privacy," the BEUC on Tuesday presented findings about the device's shortcomings, based on an investigation by the Norwegian Consumer Council, a BEUC member. The BEUC argues that the toys violate the EU Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the EU Data Protection Directive. EPIC, also on Tuesday, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that the toys violate US privacy law. The toys, manufactured by Genesis Toys and supported by speech recognition software from Nuance Communications, are designed to talk to children and to capture their speech, in conjunction with Android or iOS mobile apps. EPIC and BEUC contend the companies use collected data for purposes beyond interaction, specifically hidden marketing.

The BEUC says that the toys spout pre-programmed phrases that endorse commercial products. "For example, Cayla will happily talk about how much she loves different Disney movies, meanwhile, the app-provider also has a commercial relationship with Disney," the BEUC said. The BEUC also objects to the transference of speech data from EU-based children to Nuance, a US-based company. Moreover, it asserts the terms of service presented to customers are illegal because customers must agree that the terms can be changed without notice, that personal data can be used for advertising, and that information may be shared with undisclosed third parties. Finally, BEUC says the toys lack adequate security measures because, without much effort, they can be hijacked using a mobile phone. The EPIC complaint echoes those concerns: "The failure to employ basic security measures to protect children’s private conversations from covert eavesdropping by unauthorized parties and strangers creates a substantial risk of harm because children may be subject to predatory stalking or physical danger." Pen Test Partners, a UK-based security research group, came to the same conclusion last year when it published details about several security problems affecting "My Friend Cayla" and hacked the doll to make it swear. Genesis Toys, incorporated in Hong Kong and based in Los Angeles, was not immediately reachable for comment. A spokesperson for Nuance, in response to a query from The Register, pointed to a post by Richard Mack, VP of corporate marketing. "Nuance takes data privacy seriously," Mack said, omitting the "very" present in variants of the phrase offered by Facebook and Google in the past. Mack says Nuance has not received in inquiry from the FTC or other privacy authority. He stresses that the company's policy is that it doesn't use or sell voice data for marketing purposes and that it doesn't share voice data collected from one customer with another. "Upon learning of the consumer advocacy groups' concerns through media, we validated that we have adhered to our policy with respect to the voice data collected through the toys referred to in the complaint," he said. ® Sponsored: Want to know more about PAM? Visit The Register's hub

Trump, our next president, promised to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

Enlarge / AT&T will own a bunch of new media properties if it is allowed to buy Time Warner.Aurich Lawson reader comments 86 Share this story Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election might be big trouble for AT&T’s attempt to buy Time Warner, and it could even threaten Comcast’s 5-year-old acquisition of NBCUniversal. We can’t be certain that Trump will follow through on statements he made during his campaign or whether the people he appoints as regulators will achieve Trump’s desired outcomes. But we do know that just a few weeks ago, Trump said he intends to block the AT&T/Time Warner deal and wants the government to consider breaking up Comcast and NBC. In a speech in October, Trump declared his opposition to both mergers while discussing his dislike of how media organizations covered the election. News organizations were trying to “suppress my vote and the voice of the American people,” Trump said. “As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said. Shortly after, Trump declared that Comcast shouldn’t be allowed to own NBC. “Comcast's purchase of NBC concentrated far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do,” Trump said. “Deals like this destroy democracy and we'll look at breaking that deal up and other deals like that. That should never, ever have been approved in the first place, they're trying to poison the mind of the American voter." But now that Trump has won, it isn't clear that his administration will follow through. “It’s just impossible to know,” Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Ars today. “Trump has said a lot of contradictory things. There are things that he says that he may not have the capacity to do, but it's impossible to know at this point how real his populist rhetoric is going to be in terms of policy.” The conservative wing of the Republican party that would be expected to approve AT&T/Time Warner "lost very thoroughly in the primaries," Feld noted. But the Republicans serving on the FCC today, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, don't seem likely to lead opposition to the merger. "The ideal FCC chairman or commissioner for Trump would have to be somebody who is pro-regulatory in a lot of ways and anti-regulatory in a lot of ways," Feld said. At this point, the merger's fate in Washington is "a big maybe," he said. Doug Brake, a telecommunications policy analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, agreed that Trump's campaign statement isn't necessarily a guarantee that he will try to stop the merger. "Part of Trump’s election strategy was staying unpredictable—it was hard to pin him down on even some of his most prominent policy positions," Brake told Ars. "So it is unclear how strongly he feels about an AT&T/Time Warner tie-up or really any other telecommunications issue. That said, he was quite clear in his distaste for the merger, and no doubt the odds of its successful completion are lower this morning than yesterday." AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner—a company that is completely separate from the similarly named Time Warner Cable—will be reviewed by the Department of Justice and likely by the Federal Communications Commission. Even if the DOJ doesn't have a strong legal case against the merger, after Trump nominates an attorney general he could issue “instructions to try to pursue something anyway,” Feld said. But there is a big difference between Trump opposing a merger and actually blocking it. "A president cannot simply block a merger by fiat," Brake said. "The Department of Justice would have to bring suit and win in court, or if it does end up in front of the FCC, a Trump chairman could potentially send it to an administrative law judge or propose such onerous conditions that the parties abandon the deal. Either way, this will not be an immediate process." When contacted by Ars about Trump’s opposition to the merger, AT&T pointed to comments made this morning by AT&T CFO John Stephens. “From a company perspective, we really look forward to working with President-elect Trump and his transition team,” Stephens said. “His policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development, and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T's goals.” The AT&T/Time Warner deal “is all about innovation and economic development, consumer choice, and investment in infrastructure with regard to providing a great 5G mobile broadband experience,” Stephens said. Forcing Comcast and NBC to split is a tall order Breaking up Comcast/NBC would be more complicated than stopping AT&T/Time Warner because the companies already merged in 2011 after a lengthy review by the DOJ and FCC, which imposed conditions to mitigate the merger’s potential effects on competitors. The most famous government-initiated telecom breakup in the US, of course, was the breakup of the AT&T Bell System during President Ronald Reagan’s first term. The Bell System breakup was initiated by the DOJ, which could theoretically take the same role against Comcast/NBC under Trump. “AT&T is the classic breakup case,” economist Hal Singer, a senior fellow at George Washington Institute of Public Policy, told Ars. “You could go after [Comcast/NBC]. But what's weird is [Trump] would have to appoint folks who kind of fit in that populist framework and it doesn’t seem to me that he’s going there.” For example, Trump hired Jeffrey Eisenach of the American Enterprise Institute to help him develop a telecom plan during his campaign. Eisenach is described by Politico as "a crusader against regulation," and he's a staunch opponent of net neutrality rules. “He's been appointing people who are fairly traditional conservatives, but he's been running on this populist notion of going after big companies and concentration of media,” Singer said. The fate of AT&T/Time Warner will also depend heavily on Trump's appointments, he said. It's not just the DOJ that could take aim at Comcast/NBC, Feld said. The FCC could break the company up by imposing rules that limit telecom and media consolidation, he said. “There are a number of means through which the FCC could, by rulemakings, force open the programming contracts, limit the size of the cable operators, go after the bundle of services with rules about cross-ownership of broadcast stations and cable and programming networks and broadband,” Feld said. But Trump is also a declared opponent of net neutrality rules who has promised to issue a temporary moratorium on federal regulations in general. In the telecom policy world, regulators who oppose net neutrality and increased regulation of ISPs aren’t usually the ones trying to stop big telecom mergers. To break up Comcast and NBC, “you’d have to have an FCC that was much more activist than the [Tom] Wheeler FCC," Feld said. Comcast declined comment when contacted by Ars. Populist rhetoric from Trump could end up giving way to a more traditional antitrust review that weighs the competitive effects of a merger. Singer pointed out in a recent article on AT&T/Time Warner that “in the world inhabited by regulators, antitrust lawyers, and economists… merger policy is based on the strict application of rules and precedent to the specific facts of the case.” But it’s still possible that Trump could appoint a DOJ chief who is willing to pursue Trump’s “personal vendetta” against certain media organizations, Singer said. In the same speech in which Trump criticized telecom mergers, he took aim at Amazon’s relationship with The Washington Post. “Amazon, which through its ownership controls The Washington Post, should be paying massive taxes it’s not paying," Trump said. "It’s a very unfair playing field and you see what that's doing to department stores all over the country." Amazon does not own the Post, but the paper is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. In any case, Trump’s criticism about Amazon and the Post “is not a traditional antitrust concern. It sounds like more of a personal vendetta,” Singer said. FCC Chairman Wheeler, a Democrat, is likely to step down from his chairmanship after Trump is inaugurated. Trump would then appoint a successor, giving Republicans a majority on the FCC. We’ll have more coverage of the upcoming transition in the near future.