US Court Says NO to Net Neutrality, and Other Tech Headlines for 1/13-1/17

by Modis on January 17, 2014

U.S. Courts Rule Against Net Neutrality

If you were hoping for net neutrality to remain in the United States, unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Thanks to a ruling from The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the 2010 Federal Communications Commission’s order imposing net neutrality has been shot down. The original FCC order said ISPs ”shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management” while also mandating that ISPs “shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service.” The court, in ruling against the FCC’s rules suggests that restrictions are not needed at least in part, because consumers have a choice in the ISP they use. Many people live in areas with limited options, though the court cited Google Fiber’s presence in three cities as evidence of competition and choice.

Dropbox Not Hacked: Victim of Stupidity

This weekend, while Dropbox was down, countless reports that it had been hacked were circulating the Internet. Now that everything’s back up and running again and Dropbox has had a chance to take a look at what happened, it has been determined Dropbox’s own infrastructure is to blame. A planned update intended to upgrade the OS on a number of machines, ended up using a bugged upgrade script, thereby causing the system outage. They say no one’s files were at risk during the outage, and that they were able to recover everything from backups. Dropbox was up and running again with “most functionality” restored within three hours. Full functionality was restored by the end of the weekend.

Threshold: Windows 9 to Ship April 2015

At the upcoming BUILD developer conference in April 2014, Microsoft will discuss the future of Windows, including the codenamed “Threshold” project that is a year out from release. This “Threshold” project will most likely become known as Windows 9. The reality is Windows 8 isn’t doing as well as Microsoft wants it to–the free 8.1 update is being used on fewer than 25 million computers, indicative of disaster. Threshold needs to become everything that Windows 8 is not, to strike a balance between meeting the needs of billion PC users and enticing users to adopt it on mobile computing devices. The current line of thinking is that in order to distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle, Windows 8 will be completely dropped from branding, though this could change before the final release next year.

New Chrome Mobile Browser Could Reduce Mobile Data Usage by Half

The new Chrome mobile browser comes with a feature to manage bandwidth and compress data, so users will consume less data. This means you’ll be able to do more with the data plan you already have through your mobile carrier, and avoid overage charges for using too much data. The option to reduce bandwidth can be toggled on, to help users save data and show how much data has been saved. Other new features include the integration of Google Translate into Chrome for iOS, and the addition of shortcuts to websites on the home screen for Android users. The new version of the browser will be available within the next few days.

Starbucks: Storing Usernames and Passwords in Clear Text

Starbucks executives confirmed this week that their mobile app, the most widely used payment app in the United States, has been storing usernames, email addresses, and passwords in clear text. Anyone with access to the phone can see the passwords and usernames by simply connecting the phone to a computer. It is not necessary to jailbreak the phone. In addition to the email address, username, and password, there is also an extensive list of geolocation tracking points visible in clear text. In this case, convenience trumps security, as users are only required to enter their password once to activate the app, and anytime money is added. Storing the password and account data on the phone itself prevents users from constantly having to re-enter the information.

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