Aereo, a recent internet start-up that rents roof space on local buildings to place small antenna’s to capture and stream local TV broadcasts to your device’s over the internet has come under attack by major broadcast corporations. Time reports that the major companies such as NBC are angry that Aereo pays nothing for retransmission fees for the public broadcasts but charges their users $8-12 a month for the service.
According to Time, retransmission fees are a huge business for over-the-air broadcasters. About $4 billion a year are spent by cable companies to rebroadcast the streams over their networks in order to offer the services to their customers. Aereo argues that they don’t rebroadcast in the same way, they just provide an antenna for users to stream shows from over the internet when they don’t have easy access to them. TV providers argue that they discourage company’s from broadcasting content such as sports on their networks and could hurt business.
While over-the-air broadcasting isn’t as popular as it once was, for people cutting the cable, it is an essential source for news and several popular TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory. Aereo’s remote DVR service for the streams should be protected, but Time quotes that “The Aereo case puts the cloud at risk because when broadcasters have complained about Aereo, their complaints also describe cloud computing,” (Matt Schruers, Vice President for Law & Policy at the Computer & Communications Industry Association).
Internet watchdogs TekSyndicate broke news on Saturday of a new accusation posted to the Comcast Corporate Blog on by Senior Vice President Jennifer Khoury. The post accused Netflix of double dipping, and throttling their own bandwidth to be able to accuse Comcast. According to Comcast’s logic, Netflix would then be “forced” to pay Comcast for higher bandwidth, turn off the throttling, and then stick all the blame on Comcast. As they say in their post: “Netflix’s decision to reroute its Internet traffic was all about improving Netflix’s business model.” They go on to defend their position saying, “Comcast has a multiplicity of other agreements just like the one Netflix approached us to negotiate….”
The article went over recent news posted by the group about Comcast’s confirmed throttling of Netflix’s bandwidth by the company (including a insider source that emailed them with information about the throttling). Making Comcast’s accusations much less likely. The Huffington Post also confirmed, adding that this is just the latest in the war of words between these two.
This all comes on the heels of a recent FCC announcement that has basically reversed their earlier attempts to fight the cable companies on net neutrality. According to the Huffington Post, “then the battle between Netflix and Comcast is set up to only grow more contentious”.
Reuters, famed hard news aggregation group much like the Associated Press, reported a surprisingly interesting story last Thursday. Vladamir Putin, Russian President and ex-KGB director took several direct questions during a call-in news program in Russia, one of which being a pre-recorded question from Edward Snowden, prominent NSA leaker, and currently in refuge in Russia facing espionage charges.
According to Reuters, Snowden’s question was a fairly simple one:
“Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”
Reuter’s reports: “Putin said Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but ‘on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it.'” And further that, not only does Russia’s laws not allow such an action but that “…we have neither the technical means nor the money at the United States has…”. An expected response, but one that seems very unlikely coming from a state that was known for surveillance and terrorizing it’s citizenry during the Cold War.
Of course the political puditry in the US was quick to respond. CNBC reporters were quick to debate and bring up that this question was very likely set up to make Russia look very good in comparison to the US. And that in addition they were told in Sochi that the Russian authorities could look at any content on your phone at any time.
Very protecting of it’s citizen’s privacy indeed.
Samsung, the Android phone giant, is suing Korean newspaper ETNews for falsely publishing incorrect information related to the upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone. According to the news article, Samsung was apparently having trouble with the manufacture of cameras for the S5. This would mean a push back on the April 11 launch date for the phone (a big prompt for investors to get angry). This prompted a response from Samsung for the news corporation to retract the statement, which it refused.
Samsung is now suing for $284,000 USD (or 300 million KRW) from the newspaper. Of course, as pointed out by BGR, we don’t know a lot of details since the site’s translation is horrible. It released a statement to internet news site TechCrunch to clarify it’s actions related to this case:
“Samsung Electronics sought a correction from ET News following the publication of false claims that can hugely damage our business and brand value. In the interests of providing consumers with accurate information, we made a number of requests for the information to be corrected. Unfortunately this was ignored and we are now taking legal action as a last resort.”
While Samsung’s position on this is understandable, especially on the heels of investor outrage over the low sales figures of the Galaxy S4. Apple Insider has pointed out that similar happenings have gone on at the launch of every major Apple phone and the company has yet to sue any news outlet for incorrect information.
Recently BGR reported that the United States is now on the official “Enemies of the Internet” list by watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. This annual report generally details countries that inhibit the freedoms of it’s citizens from posting or viewing content on the internet the country deems undesirable. The report named several alphabet agencies of both the US and the UK like the NSA and GCHQ as major reasons why a variety of new changes have been made to a list that regularly calls out countries like China and it’s great firewall.
The report specifically mentioned that we should not consider the United States government as a whole responsible for the listing, but the practices of many of it’s intelligence agencies. Practices that massively collect data are new targets of the report, along with specifics such as the NSA’s Quantum Insert program and exposing the numerous times and people hacked for information by the NSA and GCHQ.
For the more visual learner WhoIsHostingThis.com created two infographics for BGR that include a detailed map of the world’s internet censorship and a related graphic about the 6 companies that secretly run the internet. Check both of these out for some interesting information.
Samsung owns the vast majority of the market share for Android, 29.6% in fact. That may not seem like a big number, but it dominates the competitors: in Q4 2013 alone Samsung shipped 86 million phones. That’s on top of a platform that already owns the vast majority of smartphone OS market share at a good 81%. This puts Samsung in a very good position to dictate what the current state of Android is….and it’s very far removed from creator Google’s vision.
It starts with Touchwiz as pointed out in a recent Forbes article. A Samsung technology to provide a new user experience and frontend to Android that replaces or adds many different features to the Android smartphone. Some good, some bad….while many critics argue that Touchwiz is a terrible and bloated interface, you can’t argue with sales numbers and hardware. This extended to other Samsung products including it’s popular television sets and a new OS in development at Samsung to replace Android: Tizen. But that hides the core of the “Android experience” as it’s been dubbed in the media. And Google wants Samsung to sit down, shut-up and keep licensing Google technology.
This is where Motorola came into play.
Acquiring Motorola for 12.5 billion dollars and then selling it for 2.91 billion on the surface seems like a bad business decision. And surely enough there were many pundits that made that call. But what the majority are forgetting are the numerous patents acquired from the sale for mobile technology (around 17,000 to be precise). This sale occurred in 2011. A few years later, Google decided to use Motorola to teach Samsung a lesson.
Enter the Motorola Droid RAZR, X and G. Three popular phones that run almost bare stock Android. The purpose of these phones were simple, show users what fast, simple Android could do on it’s own. Google also began focusing more effort on the Nexus line, dropping Samsung as the manufacturer and taking on LG to release the Nexus 4.
Clearly the growing popularity of these phones and the market share of Motorola under Google was threatening to Samsung. So they decided to cut a deal in which they would license Google technology for 10 years. Effectively cutting off Tizen and with promises that Samsung would stop cutting out stock Android apps for it’s own Touchwiz interface.
The next day, Lenovo bought Motorola from Google for 2.91 billion dollars.