The Obama presidential campaign is again pushing the bounds of technology in politics by using Square mobile payments in its fundraising efforts. Square’s mobile payment device is a secure magnetic stripe credit card reader that can be attached to the headphone jack of iPhones, iPads, and Android devices to accept payments.
After hemming and hawing (and probably a heck of a lot of backroom dealings), the FCC finally passed a basic – if very limited – version of net neutrality late last December. As could be expected, net neutrality opponents began frothing at the mouth and threatening to sue the day the law went into effect (which happens in 12 days, actually). This week, Senators are voting on S.J. Res. 6, a simply worded resolution that aims to defang the new net neutrality rules. Today, the White House released a statement saying, basically, “Don’t even try it.”
In a rare example of bipartisanship, the US Congress passed a patent reform bill, and President Obama has just signed it into law. The America Invents Act is the most significant revamp of the patent system in decades. It aims to speed the review process, weed out bad patents, and ensure the right party gets the patent.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday made the trip to snow-covered Northern Michigan University to unveil a wireless Internet expansion plan intended to create more economic opportunities, The Washington Post reports. Obama's plan calls for $18 billion in federal funds to expand high-speed wireless Internet access to 98 percent of Americans over the next five years.
Even at the risk of political party mud slinging that typically accompany these kinds of stories, there's definitely something here worth discussing, and that's what kind of punishment should be levied for abusive emails. Let's back up a moment.
Luke Angel, a 17-year-old British teenager, is now permanently banned from ever setting foot on U.S. soil. What did he do to warrant such a punishment? He fired off an inebriated email to the White House in which he called President Barack Obama the "P" word (and he wasn't talking about felines), among other things, Sky News Online reports.
The FBI intercepted the message and then contacted U.K. police.
"The police who came around took my picture and told me I was banned from America forever," Angel said.
According to the local police, "the individual sent an email to the White House full of abusive and threatening language. We were informed by the Metropolitan Police and went to see him. he said, 'Oh dear, it was me.'"
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wasn't willing to discusses specifics in this particular case, but did say that there are about 60 reasons a person can be banned from the U.S.
So what do you think, was the punishment too harsh or right on the money?
“I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook,” Obama told a group of 40 ninth graders. “Because in the YouTube age, whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life. And when you’re young, you make mistakes and you do some stupid stuff. ”
Recent studies have shown that an increasing number of hiring managers closely examine the social networking profiles of job candidates. So, a bit of caution on the part of these kids will at least ensure that they don’t remain unemployed because of social networking gaffes.
Back in April we reported on new legislation which, if passed, would give the president the authority to take control of the Internet. Over four months later it appears that not only has this bill continued to be worked on, but it is now closer to fruition than ever before. Revisions to the legislation made by the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, remains “vague” according to Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.
The legislation which is now up to 55 pages in length isn’t all controversial, in fact the only section that is being hotly debated at the moment is Section 201. In this section the President is permitted to “direct the nations response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.” This would allow the White House to engage in “periodic mapping” of private networks that are determined to be critical, and those companies will “share” requested information with the federal government. In plain English, this simply means that if your company is deemed “critical”, regulations determine who you can hire, what information you can disclose, and under what conditions the government can take control over your companies computers or network.
“The language has changed but it doesn’t contain any real additional limits,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous version. The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process”.
Want to read the official White House response to all the controversy? Click the jump to read the statement made to CNET’s Declan McCullagh.
President Obama on Friday announced plans to develop a cybersecurity office in the White House to combat against cyber threats. As part of the plan, the President said he would himself name a "cyber czar" to head up the operation.
"A lot of the things that were discussed [Friday] morning have been said before, but it is a very big deal when the President says them," said President Larry Clinton of the Internet Security Alliance.
Citing a recent survey, President Obama said that cyber crime has cost Americans more than $8 billion over the past years, with the worldwide cost of stolen intellectual property estimated to be in the vicinity of $1 trillion. He also talked about hackers gaining access to campaign computers when he was running for President.
"It's not clear this cyber threat is one of hte most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," Obama said. "We're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country."
You can view the 16 minute video of what President Obama had to say right here.
We have spent a lot of time speculating about who would be the US’s first CTO. Heck, even Intel’s CTO has chimed in on the issue. But when all the smoke cleared, Obama had chosen Aneesh Chopra, currently Virginia’s secretary of technology to fill the new and very high profile national position. Working side by side with chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, Chopra will be responsible for setting technology policy within government, and help to find ways to improve security while lowering costs.
Vivek Kundra was widely speculated to be a strong contender for the position, but so were several other Silicon Valley hopefuls. The announcement of Chopra as CTO puts to rest months of speculation, and will allow him to get down to business. As always, critics of the decision are lining up, but for the most part many respected industry leaders are coming out in favor of Obama’s decision.
According to Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, “He is an excellent selection”. “He served proficiently in Virginia as Secretary of Technology and also has a strong background in the private sector advising the health care industry on technology management issues," he said in a statement. "He will bring to the position real world technology and public policy experience."
Does this mean Obama is going to hand over the Internet off switch? What do you think of the new CTO?
New legislation proposed on April 1st will give a whole new meaning to geeks who like to joke that the President has his finger on the button. If the proposed legislation comes to pass, the president will have the ability to shut down public and private networks, including internet traffic should the need arise. This power is part of a new cybersecurity emergency plan that is designed to help protect the US against attack, but also gives the government unprecedented control over our networks.
The critics of this bill however are lining up, and are voicing their concerns over how this power could be abused. According to Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology, “This is pretty sweeping legislation. Seems the President could turn off the Internet completely or tell someone like Verizon to limit or block certain traffic. There is a lot to worry about in this bill.”
Since the bill is still in its early stages, it is unclear what amendments will be made, or if it will even be passed at all. West Virginia Democratic Senitor John Rockefeller made it clear to the media that this is the first draft of the proposal, and that they will be in close contact with internet-centric companies who obviously have a lot more at stake here than the average user.
Obama may soon have the power to nuke the real world, and World of Warcraft. Are you comfortable with this?