The Circuit: Pentagon approves Apple devices for employee use
Pentagon approves iOS 6 devices: The Department of Defense said Friday that it has approved Apple iPhones and iPads running iOS 6 for use on its networks, meaning that the department can now issue those devices to its employees.
In a release Friday, Pentagon said that Apple would join BlackBerry and Samsung on the short list of commercial smartphone makers whose devices have met its security standards.
FCC chair nominee will sell holdings in AT&T, Verizon: Tom Wheeler, who has been nominated to become the next Federal Communciations Commission chairman, will sell his holdings in AT&T and Verizon, as well as numerous other technology companies to avoid a conflict of interest.Continue reading this post »
The Circuit: Consumer groups raise competition concerns over unlimited app streaming
Unlimited app streaming: Wireless companies are warming to the idea of letting some apps stream unlimited video with subsidies from content providers, but as The Washington Post reported, consumer groups have raised concerns that this kind of streaming model could harm competition.
“Allowing a few deep-pocketed partners to pay for preferred treatment will stifle innovation, hinder competition, raise prices over time and give mobile phone companies the power to pick and choose the content you can access,” said Matt Wood, policy director for the public interest group Free Press, in an interview with The Post.
LulzSec hackers sentenced: A British court Thursday sentenced four hackers involved in the LulzSec group to prison terms for cyber attacks aimed at companies including Sony, Electronic Arts and News International, the BBC reported.
The report said that each of the men played a own role in the attacks such as picking targets, getting software to attack company systems, publicizing the efforts and posting the information online.
Windows overtakes BlackBerry: Windows Phone 8 has taken the third-place maketshare spot from BlackBerry in the global smartphone operating system race— though the company still trails far behind Apple and Google, who together comprise 92.3 percent of the market.
According to a Thursday report from the analysis firm IDC, Windows Phone posted the largest gain of any smartphone operating system in the past year by increasing its share from 2 percent of the market to 3.2 percent. BlackBerry, Microsoft’s main rival for the number-three spot ,fell to 3.2 percent from 6.4 percent in the same period.
Immigration: The Senate Judiciary Committee opted Thursday to postpone action on proposals regarding H1B visas for high-skilled workers, The Hill reported. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked to delay the vote on the measures until next week, as he and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) try to reach an agreement on how to reform the visa program, which is aimed at highly skilled workers such as those in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Several top technology firms, such as Facebook, have been lobbying on this issue, saying that they cannot find enough qualified U.S. workers in these fields to fill the positions at their companies.
Google’s Page says legislation can’t keep up with tech: Google chief executive Larry Page not only took the stage at the company’s annual developers conference on Wednesday — just one day after he announced that he has a vocal cord condition — he also took the unorthodox step of answering open questions from the audience.
Noting that laws have trouble catching up with technological change, Page said the technology industry can’t be governed by older laws that went into effect decades before the Internet took off.
But he also said that companies should also be “humble” when they make mistakes.
“We need to honest, and we don’t always know the impact of changes,” Page told a crowd of developers.
The Circuit: Federal judges to discuss patent system at National Press Club
Judges to discuss patents at National Press Club: Four federal judges will discuss the U.S. patent system Tuesday at a National Press Club event hosted by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.
Panelists include Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit and as three former federal judges: Arthur J. Gajarsa, Paul R. Michel and moderator Douglas H. Ginsberg. The men will discuss whether the U.S. patent system is truly “broken” and will debate whether the current system helps or hurts innovation.
Those interested in seeing the discussion, which begins at 12:30, can watch here.
AP records secretly obtained by DOJ: The Associated Press said Monday that the Justice Department obtained two months’ worth of the news service’s phone records, The Washington Post reported, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of classified information about an al-Qaeda plot.
In a letter, AP president and chief executive Gary B. Pruitt told U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that there could “be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection” of his reporters.
As The Post reported, its believed that the investigation is not aimed at AP reporters but rather at U.S. officials who may have disclosed classified information.
BlackBerry releases new phone: BlackBerry announced Monday that it will release a new, cheaper smartphone to emerging markets in July, a move that could help the company bolster its position in the larger smartphone market.
The new phone will not go on sale in the United States at launch, but will be available in fast-growing smartphone markets such as the Middle East and Latin America.
BlackBerry also announced that it will make its BlackBerry Messaging system available on devices running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems this summer.
Zuckerberg group faces more pressure: CREDO Mobile, a mobile service provider that lobbies on progressive issues, has gathered about 40,000 signatures on a petition asking prominent members of Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration reform lobbying group, FWD.us, to drop out over ads the group funded that support conservative politicians.
Some environmental groups are complaining that FWD.us has funded television ads supporting politicians who back construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The ads do not mention immigration reform but support politicians who may be able to help ease immigration proposals through the Senate.
Tesla and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Yammer chief executive David Sacks withdrew support from the group Friday, and CREDO mobile is asking others, such as Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, to also withdraw from the group.
The Circuit: Amazon introduces its own currency, Amazon Coins
Amazon creates its own virtual currency: Amazon announced Monday that it’s giving a starter set of “Amazon Coins” to all Kindle Fire users, which will let users buy apps, games and make in-app payments within the company’s own ecosystem.
Amazon is kicking its program off by dropping 500 coins — or roughly $5 — into the accounts of all Kindle Fire users. Users can also get “discounts” if they buy the coins in bulk, Amazon said, and save up to 10 percent on their purchases.
The move may help Amazon increase sales within its own ecosystem and make it easier for developers to make more money off of apps on its mobile store, which in turns makes its platform more attractive for developers.
ABC said to be adding live streaming to apps: ABC is set to launch a local, live-streaming feature in its mobile apps that will let cable subscribers watch ABC programming from anywhere within a station’s local market, the New York Times reported, .
According to the report, the app function is expected to debut this week when network officials meet with advertisers.
Because the feature requires users to sign into their cable subscription accounts, it doesn’t compete head-on with the TV startup Aereo, which lets users watch broadcast television over the Web without a cable subscription for a low monthly fee.. But it does address consumer calls for more flexibility when watching television and for access to live broadcasts, such as sports, over the Web.
Calif. state senator proposes 3D printer regulations: California State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has said he would like to see regulation to track guns made by 3D printers with access to blueprints for plastic guns, CBS’ Sacramento affiliate reported. Yee said that he’s concerned that those with access to 3D printers are able to make their own weapons, and said while he finds the 3D printing technology impressive, he believes that there must be some regulation.
Last week, a company called Defense Distributed had to take down blueprints for a fully functioning 3D-printed weapon from the Internet at the behest of the U.S. government. According to The Washington Post, the blueprint had been downloaded around 10,000 times.
Musk, Sacks pull out of Fwd.us: The names of Tesla and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Yammer chief executive David Sacks have been removed from the “supporters” list on the Web site of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us group. The news was first reported by Reuters. The group, founded last month, is meant to promote immigration reform but has come under fire recently for its perceived political leanings on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The group, in an effort to garner support for its vision on immigration reform, has run ads in support of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Liberal and progressive groups took particular issue with the group’s support of candidates who favor the Keystone pipeline. Those ads prompted several progressive groups, including MoveOn.org, to say they will pull their ads from Facebook.
The Circuit: Hackers took $45 million in ATM heist
ATM heist: Thieves took over $45 million from automated teller machines in a massive heist over a seven-month period ending last month, The Washington Post reported.
The money was taken from ATMs in Manhattan and more than 20 other locations around the world, the report said. Eight men have been accused of helping to orchestrate the attack, which officials have described as a “21st-century bank heist.”
Banks, not ATM users, were the target of the thefts, but officials told The Post that this kind of attack could have implications for individual consumers down the line.
State Dept. demands 3D gun plans be taken off the Web: Defense Distributed has removed posted design plans for a 3D-printed gun that has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, after being contacted by the federal government.
As The Washington Post reported, Defense Distributed said that it had removed the guns plans from public access “until further notice” at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. The State Department confirmed that it had been in communication with the company, but would not provide further details.
Data caps: Rep Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has asked the Government Accountability Office for a study on usage caps for broadband networks, saying that she has many “questions about how consumers and innovation may be impacted” after reading a report on the topic from the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Advisory Committee. Eshoo asked specifically for information on how companies impose data caps and how price and data limits vary based on changes in the market.
Bill allowing cellphone unlocking has wider DMCA implications: The bill introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to permanently legalize cellphone unlocking could have wider implications for other communities who take issue with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The bill would make it legal for consumers to bypass digital rights management measures and unlock their phones — allowing them to switch to different carriers -- as long as they do not do so with the intent to infringe on copyrighted material.
“Legal uses of copyrighted works shouldn't become illegal through a technicality,” said Public Knowledge vice president of legal affairs Sherwin Siy. “Fixing this flaw in the law prevents manufacturers from locking consumers into particular products and service plans, as well as giving people the freedom to use their own media and devices in commonsense ways.”