March 9, 2015 |
The Internet exploded recently over a dress, and my first thought was, who cares? Until I figured out that I did, very much. We begin sometime last week, when somebody on the Internet circulated a photo of a cocktail dress with horizontal stripes. The caption to the dress photo asked, "What color is this dress?" I thought they were kidding, because the stripes were obviously black and blue. So what? I didn't really get it, and I certainly didn't share it, because it wasn't very interesting.
February 28, 2015 |
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved regulating the Internet as a utility in a 3-2 partisan vote, handing a big victory to Net neutrality proponents who lobbied for a decade for tough rules to protect consumers. The FCC's action forbids telecom companies from blocking websites, and slowing or speeding up some Internet traffic. This means that all Internet streams should be treated the same, or neutrally, without preferences. The FCC also voted to make it easier for municipally run Internet providers to expand and compete with Comcast and other private telecom companies, a move lauded by activist groups.
February 27, 2015 |
Michael Copps objected strongly a dozen years ago when then-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell took what he considered a big wrong turn: classifying cable companies' broadband Internet business as a lightly regulated "information service. " Copps will be back Thursday, watching from the audience as the FCC comes full circle and embraces the logic of his 2002 dissent. If Powell's successor, Tom Wheeler, draws the expected votes of his two fellow Democrats, the agency will reclassify all types of broadband as "Title II" telecommunications services - a move Wheeler and Copps both call necessary to keep the Internet functioning as it mostly does today and, more important, as nearly everybody says it should.
February 27, 2015 |
Pennsylvania State Rep. John Payne, the new chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, is taking an activist approach to helping the casino industry stay competitive. One day after scheduling a series of hearings to explore ways to expand gambling and examine regulations, Payne (R., Dauphin) introduced a bill Wednesday to legalize Internet gaming. "We looked at the fact that Jersey has it, Delaware has it, Las Vegas has it," Payne said. "It would be a mistake for Pennsylvania to sit here and wait until Ohio has it, Maryland has it, New York has it, and we're the last ones coming to the game.
February 26, 2015
WHEN FEDERAL Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Feb. 4 that he would propose rules to ensure that the Internet remains open for all users, advocates of net neutrality were ecstatic. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all Web traffic the same and not block or slow certain data streams. (Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are among the biggest ISPs.) The five-member FCC is poised to formally adopt new rules tomorrow in Washington, and Wheeler likely has the votes to pass his plan.
February 19, 2015
F ELICITE MOORMAN, 41, of East Falls, is CEO of BuLogics, which calls itself an "Internet of Things" engineering firm. Founded in 2003, the East Falls company certifies, designs and builds wireless systems connecting everyday objects for Fortune 500 clients and individuals. Q: What's BuLogics do? A: If you have a light switch or door lock or safe or smoke alarm, and you want to make it connect to the Internet in a way it never has before, we make the stuff that does that. You want a door lock to talk to your smartphone?
February 9, 2015 |
One of the small privileges of writing a consumer column - along with an endless supply of "You've got to hear this" tales - is occasionally witnessing something that doesn't fit the script. Sometimes a company will actually come clean about persistent screw-ups, or a competitor will dime out bad behaviors and impose a little market discipline. Once in a while, I've even seen government reverse course to fix an old error. That's what happened a few years back when the Fed cracked down on credit-card practices piling extra misery onto financially stressed borrowers.
February 6, 2015 |
Tom Wheeler, head of the Federal Communications Commission, proposed unambiguous rules Wednesday that would dictate how Internet providers manage their networks for consumers, but stopped short of saying the agency would also regulate the rates telecom companies charge consumers. The stakes are high - for big content providers such as Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., and for a public that has become hugely dependent on the Internet. Supporters, who for years lobbied for the rules online and at the agency, say Wheeler's tough stance will preserve the freewheeling and open nature of the Internet by preventing telecom companies from blocking consumers from websites or slowing Internet speeds for competitive purposes.
January 14, 2015 |
Beware: Don't use the same user name and password on multiple accounts across the Internet, whether it is for Apple iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, a credit card, or a bank. You could fall prey to crooks who last month latched on to user names and passwords from some unknown website and tried them out on American Airlines and United Airlines customers' frequent-flier mileage accounts - to cash in on free travel. Thieves obtained user names and passwords and used them to log into American's AAdvantage and United's MileagePlus, guessing that the log-in information might be the same.
December 28, 2014 |
Fans of the Philadelphia rapper Beanie Sigel received a scare this week when rumors of his death from a gunshot wound he sustained three weeks ago swirled online. But it was all just a hoax. "He's not dead," Pleasantville, N.J., Police Capt. Sean Riggin said Friday, repeating it more than once. Detectives, he said, interviewed Sigel on Christmas Eve, the first time they had spoken to him since the Dec. 5 shooting. Riggin declined to say what was discussed. The rumors of Sigel's death appear to have started on a website called NahaDaily.com.