Tech News Today 256

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Tech News Today
Episode 256

Tech News Today 256: We Can Dream

Internet shutdown in Syria, Get ready for Xbox Live Diamond, Will Amazon collect sales tax soon?, and more!


Top Stories

  • Syrian Internet Shutdown
  • Internet Access in Syria Goes Down Amidst Protests
    • Reported by security firm Renesys, Starting at 3:35 UTC today (6:35am local time), approximately two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet.
    • Syrian Internet access is primarily controlled by the state-owned SyriaTel.
    • The 1/3 of the network that is online belongs to the government- The Web site for the country's Oil Ministry is online, as is Syrian Telecom's official page, but the Ministry of Education, the Damascus city government page, and the Syrian Customs Web site are all down.
    • No details on how the shut down was accomplished
    • On Friday afternoon, Google confirmed on Twitter that "Google services currently blocked in Syria."
    • Syrian citizens have been protesting over the conditions in their country for almost three months, demanded reforms, then ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
    • On Wednesday, about 300 Assad opponents gathered at a hotel to "give structure and voice to a movement that has been leaderless and disparate."
  • White House: Government Email Not Compromised Via Gmail Hack
  • Hotmail and Yahoo Users Also Victims of Targeted Attacks
    • White House press briefing: no US govt email accounts were accessed in recent hack of Gmail accounts of govt officials, activists and journalists
    • FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security are still investigating with Google.
    • Govt workers are not to discuss official matters using personal email accounts, however it is believed that some do to avoid those messages from released under the Freedom of Information Act.
    • US won't discuss this with China until the facts are clear
    • Web mail users at Yahoo and Hotmail have been hit with the same kind of targeted attacks that were disclosed earlier this week by Google, according to security software vendor Trend Micro.
    • Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Hong Lei told reporters that "allegations that the Chinese government supports hacking activities are completely unfounded and made with ulterior motives."
  • Amazon May Soon Need to Collect Sales Tax
    • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he plans to introduce a bill, called the Main Street Fairness Act, mandating that all businesses collect the sales tax in the state where the consumer resides.
    • Amazon argued that state laws requiring Amazon to collect sales tax would violate Supreme Court rulings regarding jurisdiction
    • A federal law like the ""Main Street Fairness Act"" shouldn't have the same SC issues
    • Jeff Bezos in a Consumer Reports interview said he supports federal legislation that rationalizes all the different sales tax schemes on the local and state level.
    • A Univ. of Tenn. study estimated that states have lost over $10.1 billion in uncollected online sales tax this year. 11.3B next year.
    • In Texas, when the legislature passed a bill that would force online retailers with distribution facilities in the state to collect sales tax, Amazon announced it would close its shipping center outside Dallas, fire hundreds of local workers, and scrap plans to build other facilities in the state. On May 30, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed the bill.

Discussion Stories

  • UN: Disconnecting File-Sharers Breaches Human Rights
    • A report written by Frank La Rue and called "The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression" is set to be adopted today by the UN’s Human Rights Council. It says anti-filesharing provisions such as those outlined in the UK’s Digital Economy Act and France's Hadopi (or 3 strikes) law are disproportionate and should be repealed. In short, disconnecting Internet users for violating the rights of the music and movie industries breaches human rights.
    • Governments need to to maintain Internet access “during times of political unrest”, plus the report urges States to change copyright laws, not in favor of the music and movie industries, but in favor of citizens’ rights.
    • so what does this mean? Nothing, unless governments want to listen. the Open Rights Group (ORG) are keeping up the pressure on UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. they want his reaction to this report and his recommendation that the Digital Economy Act’s disconnection provisions should be repealed.
  • Motorola blames crappy apps for poor performance says blur can save the day
    • Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha says that lousy apps are responsible for poor performance of processors and battery life
    • He claimed 70% of Android devices are returned for that reason
    • Motorola plans to tweak performance using Blur (its Android skin) by collecting stats on app usage and their impact on performance. The eventual idea is to turn what info Blur collects into a database, warning users when they try to install or run an app that has a reputation for slowing phones down, overheating, etc., etc.
  • With Facebook deal and more, OnLive shows off impressive momentum
    • With the Facebook launch, you can play a game and then share your favorite scene — called a brag clip — instantly on Facebook.
    • Friends can click on that link when they see it on your Facebook page, and it takes them directly into the OnLive service, where they can sign up or just log in.
    • They can then instantly see that brag clip. They can also instantly join a game that you are playing or watch a game that you are playing — all with just a single click. The reaction is instantaneous.
    • Steve Perlman, chief exec at OnLive says this could be a big deal, because users will be able to access the highest-quality console-like games from within the social network
    • Onlive won't say how many users it has, but they do have 100 titles, with Red Faction Armaggedon launching on Onlive the same day it launches in stores
    • OnLive is a games-on-demand service. Debuted in June, 2010. Users log into OnLive and play games stored in OnLive’s data centers. Users don’t download anything and don’t need a high-end computer. Users can rent or buy games, or subscribe to a Netflix-like game service for $9.99 a month that gets them access to older games.
    • THERE'S MORE: OnLive says service will work with all Intel-based consumer TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes, & TV sets made by Vizio - accessible by 25 million tv sets by the end of the year"
    • OnLive also is launching in the UK in the fall

News Fuse




"Sorry, you guys have been taking this extreme (EFF) view of all things digital crime related (even hacking) -

Please don't sensationalize saying this law will have people in the same house arrested for streaming netflix - netflix gives you express permission to stream to up to 4 devices in your household. They cant prosecute you until you share beyond your contract.

And whats with this about online crime not deserving the same punishment as real life crime. For example, You go to a all you can eat buffet - you will go to jail if you skip on your $10 bill. As for sharing, you cant pay for one buffet and feed the person on the next table. And about it being the responsibility of the provider to stop the sharing - what if the restaurant finds you are leeching until after you have finished eating - should they just let you out and not offer service anymore. Criminal laws are there not just to prosecute but to deter too and if there is no punishment, there is no deterrence.


"Tom, Sarah, Iyaz and Jason,

Regarding comments on yesterday's show about hacking Sony etc. as hackivism and drawing parallels with the Boston Tea Party: the distinction the commenter missed is that civil disobience in general and the Boston Tea Party in particular are protests against the goverment and not private corporations. Governments create law and have a monopoly on the use of force; sometimes it becomes necessary- when no other recourse is possible because law itself restricts it- to violate those laws in protest. Private companies do not create laws or have the ability to throw you into jail (or worse)- your association with them is voluntary plus there a numerous legal ways to ""protest"" their behavior. Civil disobedience against non-civic entities is a contradiction in terms. Attacks against Sony or Amazon are not protest or activism or even whistleblowing; they are just hooliganism.

There may be borderline cases where a company is closely linked to the goverment (like Northop Grunmann) such actions might have some legitimacy but hacking Sony and publishing users accounts doesn't come close to being the same thing.

Thanks for the show, Jason "



Production Information

  • Edited by: Jason
  • Notes:
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