Rereading the tea leaves in the Netflix-Comcast deal

Ever since Netflix and Comcast announced an interconnection agreement aimed at improving streaming performance for Netflix users, commentators have been trying to read the tea leaves to determine what -- if anything -- this deal says about the future of the Internet and network relationships.

A few, including Dan Rayburn on Seeking Alpha, have hailed the agreement as a sign of the continued health of this largely unregulated market. (According to the multinational Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, more than 99 percent of interconnection deals are so straightforward that they're agreed to without a written contract.)

But most … Read more

Sen. Manchin demands complete US ban on Bitcoin

A US senator is asking the federal government to take this remarkable step: completely ban Bitcoin.

Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator representing West Virginia, sent a letter Wednesday to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and other regulators characterizing the virtual currency as encouraging "illicit activity" as well as being "highly unstable and disruptive to our economy."

Manchin, who is a member of the Senate banking committee, suggested in the letter -- titled "Manchin Demands Federal Regulators Ban Bitcoin" -- that a complete prohibition was appropriate because Thailand, China, and South Korea have already … Read more

White House faces options for regulating NSA data snooping -- report

The White House has reportedly received a proposal suggesting four ways to overhaul the National Security Agency's controversial phone record surveillance program.

Citing information from "officials familiar with the discussions," The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the proposal from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department was due by March 28 but was delivered earlier than expected.

Following widespread criticism over the NSA's bulk record collection, the Obama administration had asked US intelligence agencies and the Justice Department to come up with alternatives that would take the actual data ownership … Read more

AT&T, Verizon may join Comcast in Netflix streaming deal

AT&T and Verizon Communications may be the next big Internet service providers to strike a deal with Netflix to provide a direct connection from the video service to broadband customers.

On Monday, a day after Netflix announced a commercial deal to connect directly to Comcast's network, AT&T and Verizon each acknowledged that they have been in talks with Netflix to strike a similar commercial deal in which these ISPs would connect directly to Netflix's content delivery network to deliver better quality video to home broadband users who are subscribed to the Netflix service.

On … Read more

FCC to rewrite Net neutrality rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said he plans on a do-over for Net neutrality rules.

On Wednesday, the chairman laid out a plan for preserving the Open Internet after a federal appeals court struck down the rules last month.

As part of this new strategy, Wheeler said the FCC will not ask the federal appeals court to re-examine its decision in which the rules were thrown out. Instead, the agency will write brand-new rules using a different legal basis that was affirmed by the court's decision.

Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia … Read more

Privacy penalty weighs down Google's French Web site

Google has complied with a French court requirement that it notify people visiting its main search page about finding that it violated France's privacy law.

The notice informs people of the 150,000-euro fine (about $204,000) regarding last year's move to a more streamlined, unified privacy policy. The French National Commission on Information and Liberty (CNIL) ordered the posting Friday.

The search page now includes the notice, including a link to the CNIL page explaining its finding and the sanction against Google.

New Senate, House bills would restore Net neutrality

Democrats have introduced legislation in the US Senate and House of Representatives that will temporarily restore Net neutrality rules to keep the Internet open until the Federal Communications Commission can craft rules of its own that will stand up in court.

The two bills (PDF), which were introduced on Monday, come just weeks after a federal appeals court threw out the FCC's Net neutrality rules on a legal technicality. The FCC had adopted the rules, which were meant to ensure that broadband providers couldn't block access or discriminate against Internet traffic traveling over their connections, in late 2010. … Read more

US to push for mandatory car-to-car wireless communications

The US government will work to enable wireless communication links between cars, technology it expects will reduce accidents and, eventually, decrease fuel consumption and speed travel.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said Monday it's finalizing a report on the subject based on a 3,000-vehicle study of vehicle-to-vehicle communications that began in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2012. That report should be released in the coming weeks -- and then the Department of Transportation's push for using V2V technology in cars and light trucks will get serious.

"NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that … Read more

AT&T CEO: Net neutrality ruling changes nothing

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reassured the public on Tuesday that AT&T is committed to keeping the Internet open.

Stephenson, who was answering a question posed by an equities analyst during the company's fourth-quarter conference call, said that AT&T has no plans to alter its service to capitalize on a federal appeals court's recent decision to repeal the Federal Communications Commission's Net neutrality rules.

The question comes almost two weeks after the DC Circuit court threw out the FCC's Open Internet rules, which were adopted in 2010. In its decision, the … Read more

Worried about Net neutrality? Maybe it's the FCC that should really concern you

The FCC may have lost its battle in federal court last week to enforce its Net neutrality rules, but the ruling actually gave the agency what some are calling unlimited authority to regulate almost every aspect of the Internet.

The decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was initially deemed a blow to the principles of an open Internet and to attempts by the Federal Communications Commission to enforce them. But the simple truth is that last week's decision marked a big victory for the FCC.

The reason: While the court deemed that the … Read more