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Blogging Goes Mainstream

Insert 1984 Headline Here

As part of the Bush Administration's report "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace" due in early 2003, official are planning to propose that Internet service providers be required to help construct a centralized system to allow monitoring of the Internet -- and potentially monitor the surfing of individual Web users, the New York Times reports today, citing sources who have been briefed on the report. In September, the administration unveiled its blueprint for cybersecurity, but the official report is still being hammered out. "While the proposal is meant to gauge the overall state of the worldwide network, some officials of Internet companies who have been briefed on the proposal say they worry that such a system could be used to cross the indistinct border between broad monitoring and wiretap," the newspaper wrote.
The New York Times: White House to Propose System For Wide Monitoring of Internet (Registration required)
SiliconValley.com: Bush To Propose Requiring ISPs to Monitor Net
Draft: National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (PDF)

Ditch That Cable Box

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Wired for Security (washingtonpost.com, Jan 20, 2005)
For Techs, Are Happy Days Here Again? (washingtonpost.com, Jan 19, 2005)
Video Game Dream Team (washingtonpost.com, Jan 18, 2005)
A Failing Upgrade for the FBI (washingtonpost.com, Jan 14, 2005)
New Year's Hacks (washingtonpost.com, Jan 13, 2005)
More Past Issues
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The days of needing a clunky television-top box to get fancy channels on your home TV may soon be over. Break out the microwave-popcorn -- the cable industry has actually agreed that digital television should be easier to figure out and watch, which should ease the hassle a bit for consumers faced with the impending nationwide transition to digital broadcasting. Fourteen consumer electronics manufacturers and seven mega-cable companies -- including Cox, AOL Time Warner and Comcast -- yesterday endorsed a proposal that would nix each company's practice of renting a digital-cable box to customers and replace it with devices that people could just plug into the wall and start watching. The FCC says it will expedite its review of the plan. So what will you do with the extra space freed up in your entertainment center?
The Washington Post: Companies Reach Agreement on Digital TV
Electronic News: Industry-Wide Agreement Reached On DTV 'Plug-And-Play'
Multichannel News: Deal Sets Stage For Plug-And-Play TVs (Subscription required).

Wall Street's Pay Out

In a deal expected to be outlined today, an A-list of investment banks and brokerage firms will pay $1 billion to settle a handful of state, federal and industry probes into conflicts of interest that have racked Wall Street over the past year, sources familiar with the deal told The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other major news outlets. So the days of the tail wagging the dog (or is it the other way around?) on Wall Street may be numbered. The settlement will require the firms to pay out another $500 million to $1 billion over five years to scoop up independent research for investors (what a novel concept) in addition to their own research to avoid conflicts of interest. And firms won't be able to dole out IPO shares to curry favor with top investment-banking clients either, a practice that was apparently already forbidden but turned out was quite rampant in the halcyon days of the 1990s tech boom.

"This settlement will be as significant as any major reform we've seen since 1933-'34," Samuel L. Hayes, a professor of finance at the Harvard Business School, told The Washington Post. "If it does what it says it's going to do, it will be a fundamental change in the way securities firms do business. It will mean more reliable research for individual investors and higher costs for the firms." The biggest losers in the settlement? Both Citigroup, part of Salomon Smith Barney, and Credit Suisse First Boston Group will have to pay $300 million and $150 million, respectively, in fines, the newspapers reported.
The Washington Post: Wall Street Firms to Pay $1 Billion To End Probes
The Wall Street Journal: Regulators and Research Firms Hammer Out Reform Proposal (Subscription required)
The New York Times: Wall Street Firms Are Ready To Pay $1 Billion in Fines (Registration required)
The Associated Press (via Newsday): Wall Street Firms Near Deal With Regulators To End Conflicts of Interest

From Cuff Links to Handcuffs

C. Gregory Earls, the chairman and chief executive of beleaguered U.S. Technologies Inc., yesterday was charged with 10 counts of securities, wire and mail fraud after an investigation. Authorities allege that Earls, known as a networker extraordinaire in Washington circles, raised $20 million for a partnership to invest in U.S. Technologies, but redirected nearly $14 million to family and other failed investment partnerships. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21. Earls was not available for comment yesterday, according to The Washington Post, but his attorney said prosecutor's actions were "deplorable." In a feature the newspaper ran on Dec. 9, Earl would not comment on his business woes. He did say: "I am not happy with the turn of events right now, and I feel like a failure. .. But I think I developed a good track record."

Earls isn't just another run-of-the-mill tech scandal. Recall, it was former CIA and FBI chief William Webster's ties to U.S. Technologies that led to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt resigning his post.
The Washington Post: CEO Charged With Fraud
The Washington Post: A Smooth Operator Unveiled (Dec. 9, 2002)
Reuters: U.S. Technologies CEO Charged With Fraud
The Associated Press (via The Boston Globe): U.S. Technologies Chairman Charged With Technologies Fraud


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