Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Open Network Agenda & Cell Phone Applications

A Victorious Battle in the War for Keeping the Internet Open

A commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Kevin J. Martin feels a victory has been achieved in the fight to keep the Internet Open from when he convinced two other commissioners to support his plan to impose sanctions on Comcast for interfering with the transfer of data packets of applications that uses peer-to-peer technology. In other words, Comcast chose to block an application that an end-user requested. An example could be, a user who wants to download music from a server; and the user starts an application that uses peer-to-peer technology; Comcast could've prevented the request from being started and/or completed.

The issue was profiled back in February when the inquiry into Comcast's action back in October 2007 was brought to attention before the FCC. Comcast along with another large communications operator Verizon argued that their companies should have the ability to control the traffic of information that flows through their networks. They reasoned that some applications used for file transfers can degrade the performance of their network, and they want to be able to control the priority that an application will have in the network.

This "control" could be broadly applied beyond controlling network traffic. The danger could be to extend this "control" to content flow also. Mr. Martin expressed in an interview last week that "people should generally be able to use any device and any software to connect to any legal content they want." (source NYT – Aug. 4th 2008.)

Twitter has been used in two creative schemes in the past week:

Representative, John Culberson, used his cellphone, Twitter and Qik to broadcast on the internet proceedings at the House after it had adjourned for its 5 week summer recess. Typically, when the House adjourns C-Span's cameras and microphones tune out as well. Last Friday, a few dozen Republicans had decided to stay on the House floor, after the recess was announced by the speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. John Culberson used his cellphone to make a live broadcast on Twitter: "Pelosi just turned out the lights." Another Representative, Mr. Peter Hoekstra, also used Twitter to post live updates. Meanwhile, Mr. Culberson filmed the event with his cellphone and shared it live on the internet using a streamlining video service called, Qik.

Meanwhile in Brazil, it was reported by BBC that Twitter's social network had been a target by cyber criminals. The attack was designed using a fake Twitter profile that enticed users to click on a link to a pornographic video. Upon clicking on the link the program appears to load a false version Adobe Flash, when in reality it is a program that can allow the intruder, a worm, to steal personal data.

It was Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, that discovered the malicious attack on Twitter. The discovery came about at the same time that Kaspersky Lab published details on two worms that target two other social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

"The worms transformed victims' machines into zombie computers, used by criminals to send spam, launch phishing attacks and harvest data… " They were disguised as a link to YouTube which also installed a fake version of Flash Player." (source BBC News)

It is noteworthy that the article mentions that only Microsoft Windows is vulnerable to infection from these malicious programs.

- Analyn Revilla

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