Tag: internet

Canada cements in net neutrality

While US president Donald (prince of Orange) Trump is giving Big Telco the internet, things are going the opposite way in Canada.

A new ruling by Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has stated that internet service providers should not be able to exempt certain types of content, such as streaming music or video, from counting toward a person’s data cap.

The ruling upholds net neutrality, which is the principle that all web services should be treated equally by providers.

Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC said that rather than offering its subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should be offering more data at lower prices.

“That way, subscribers can choose for themselves what content they want to consume.”

The decision stems from a 2015 complaint against the wireless carrier Videotron, which primarily operates in Quebec.

Videotron launched a feature in August of that year, enabling customers to stream music from services such as Spotify and Google Play Music without it counting against a monthly data cap as a way to entice people to subscribe to Videotron’s internet service. The decision means that Videotron cannot offer its unlimited music streaming plan to subscribers in its current form — nor can other internet providers offer similar plans that zero-rate other types of internet content, such as video streaming or social media.

Songs are getting shorter

A new study finds that pop songs themselves are getting faster as listeners’ attention spans diminish  and young people have the attention span of goldfish

The study was penned by Hubert Leveille Gauvin, a doctoral student in music theory at the Ohio State University who looked at the year-end top 10 on the US Billboard chart between 1986 and 2015.

He found that instrumental openings to songs have shrunk dramatically over the past three decades and, to a lesser extent, the average tempo of hit singles has been speeding up.

In 1986, it took roughly 23 seconds before the voice began on the average hit song. In 2015, vocals came in after about five seconds, a drop of 78 percent, he found.

His study was published in Musicae Scientiae, the Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. He linked the trend to the rapid rise of Spotify and other streaming sites that give listeners instant access to millions of songs.

“It makes sense that if the environment is so competitive, artists would want to try to grab your attention as quickly as possible and the voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things that there is.”

Apparently if you like to concentrate, you like instrumental music.

As an example of the shift, Leveille Gauvin pointed to Starship’s 1987 hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which takes 22 seconds for the vocals to begin and more than a minute for the chorus.

On the 2015 hit “Sugar” by Maroon 5, Adam Levine gets to the point within seven seconds with the lines: “I’m hurting baby / I’m broken down.”

Leveille Gauvin doubts that many pop stars are clamouring in the studio for shorter intros, he just thinks it is a steady evolution in songwriting conventions.

He connected the trend to scholar Michael H. Goldhaber’s concept of the “attention economy”—the quest to hold attention in an internet overflowing with information.

“You can think of music as this double role. Music has always been a cultural product, but I think that more and more songs are also advertisements for the artists,” Leveille Gauvin said.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee warns about a dying web

 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, said he is alarmed at what has happened to it in the past year.

He said that the world needs to step in to reverse three new trends which could kill off the Internet as a useful tool for humanity

Sir Tim cited compromised personal data, fake news and the lack of regulation in political advertising, which he says threatens democracy.

“Even in countries where we believe governments have citizens’ best interests at heart, watching everyone, all the time is simply going too far. It creates a chilling effect on free speech and stops the web from being used as a space to explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality or religion.”

When Berners-Lee submitted his original proposal for the Web, he imagined it as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.

He said that his faith has been badly shaken by a series of high-profile hacks and the dissemination of fake news by data science and armies of bots. The scourge of fake news and cyberweapons pose a significantly greater threat.

Zuckerburg talks bulwarks about isolationism

Facebook's Zuckerberg - Wikimedia CommonsSocial notworking Tsar Mark Zuckerberg was speaking a load of bulwarks against rising isolationism.

In a note, he wrote to Facebook users and claimed that the social notworking site could be the “social infrastructure” for the globe and a bulwark against isolationism.

“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The question, the 32-year-old executive said, was whether “the path ahead is to connect more or reverse course,” adding that he stands for bringing people together.

Zuckerberg quoted Abraham Lincoln, the US president during the country’s 19th century Civil War and waxed rather philosophical saying that the dogmas of the quiet past, were inadequate to the stormy present.

Facebook could move far beyond its roots as a network for friends and families to communicate, suggesting that it can play a role in five areas, all of which he referred to as “communities,” ranging from strengthening traditional institutions, to providing help during and after crises, to boosting civic engagement.

In comments on Facebook, some users praised Zuckerberg’s note for staying positive, while others declared “globalism” dead.

Facebook has been under pressure to monitor closely police hoaxes, fake news and other controversial content, although the concerns have had little impact on its finances. The company reported 2016 revenue of $27.6 billion, up 54 percent from a year earlier.

One area where Zuckerberg wrote that Facebook would do better would be suggesting “meaningful communities.” Some 100 million users are members of groups that are “very meaningful” to them, he wrote, representing only about five percent of users.

Facebook is also using artificial intelligence more to flag photos and videos that need human review, Zuckerberg wrote.

While there is much that can be agreed with in Zuckerberg manifesto he did avoid one word which would have been nice to hear “privacy.”

China invests $14.55 billion into internet

ChinaThe glorious Chinese government has set up a $14.55 billion  fund to support investment in the internet sector.

According to the official news agency Xinhua the fund is backed by China’s cabinet [shurely the china cabinet.ed] and is designed to help turn China into a major player in internet technology, said the report.

Some of the cash has already been raised from major banks and telecoms firms including ICBC, China Mobile and China Unicom. The idea is to have a pile of cash which companies using the internet can apply to the fund for investment.

China said earlier this month it would invest huge amounts of cash between 2016 and 2018 to develop information infrastructure.

Romans say embedding is not piracy

roman-mattressA Roman court has ruled that embedding does not constitute a copyright infringement.

The move overturns one of the 152 website blocks another court imposed last month, and ruled that that allowed the Italian site Kisstube to carry on as normal.

Kisstube is a YouTube channel, which also exists as a standalone website that does not host any content itself, linking instead to YouTube. Both the channel and website arrange content by categories for the convenience of users.

The Italian court’s decision was influenced by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) into an outfit called BestWater. In that case, the CJEU held that embedding or framing a video or image from another website is not copyright infringement if the latter is already accessible to the general public.

Another CJEU judgment, ruled that posting hyperlinks to pirated copies of material is only legal provided it is done without knowledge that they are unauthorised versions, and it is not carried out for financial gain.

The judge has assessed that there was no evidence of illegality of the link on Kisstube’s site, because it had received no “notice and takedown request”.

YouTube has a notice system based on the US DMCA, it was not interested in acting against Kisstube because there was no indication that the hyperlinks were to illegal material. Therefore it was not a pirate site and the BestWater ruling applied.

Microsoft’s Chinese AI is clever enough to censor itself

beijing cybercafeSoftware King of the World has admitted that its Chinese flavoured AI chat bot will not talk about anything that the authorities behind the bamboo curtain don’t want them to talk about.

Xiaoice would not directly respond to questions surrounding topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese state including the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 or “Steamed Bun Xi,” a nickname of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Am I stupid? Once I answer you’d take a screengrab,” read one answer to a question that contained the words “topple the Communist Party.”

Mentioning Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump also drew an evasive response from the chat bot. “I don’t want to talk about it,” Xiaoice says. Fair enough who does?

Microsoft has admitted that there was some filtering around Xiaoice’s interaction.

“We are committed to creating the best experience for everyone chatting with Xiaoice,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “With this in mind, we have implemented filtering on a range of topics.” The tech giant did not further elaborate to which specific topics the filtering applied.

Microsoft says that Xiaoice engages in conversations with over 40 million Chinese users on social media platform like Weibo and WeChat.

Euro coppers crack down on counterfeit sites

arrestCoppers across Europe have seized more than 4,500 website domains trading in counterfeit goods, often via social networks.

Europol, Europe’s police agency, unveiled its newest campaign dubbed “Don’t F***(AKE) Up” to stop scam websites selling fake brand names online.

In a statement the agency said that the internet has become an essential channel for e-commerce. Its instant global reach and anonymity make it possible to sell nearly anything to anyone at any time.

“Counterfeiters know it and are increasingly exploiting the unlimited opportunities” the internet offers.

But Europol warned that “despite these products looking like a bargain, they can pose serious risks to the health and safety of buyers.”

The crackdown involved agencies from 27 countries mostly in Europe but including from the US and Canada, joined forces to shut down over 4,500 websites.

They were selling everything from “luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products,” Europol said in a statement, without saying how long the crackdown took.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the arrests are getting to be an annual event and this year saw a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year.

Dutch anti-fraud police grabbed 12 people in the Netherlands, which should have made their eyes water,  and searched homes and warehouses.

Most of the raids were prompted by online sales of counterfeit goods on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

More than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods were seized in Holland, including shoes, bags and perfumes purporting to be such brands as Nike, Adidas, and Kenzo, with a market value of tens of thousands euros.

Bad online experiences affect life

O2-BMD-Stick-LifeA new Microsoft survey show nearly two-thirds of people surveyed had at least one negative online experience that had an impact on them in the real world.

Apparently, if you have a bad online experience it can result in side-effects including loss of trust in others, increased stress or sleep deprivation and thinking oranges might make good political leaders (we made the last one up).

The study, “Civility, Safety and Interaction Online – 2016,” polled youths aged 13 to 17 and adults aged 18 to 74 in 14 countries. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those polled said they had fallen victim at some point to at least one of 17 different online risks.

That figure grows to 78 percent when respondents included the online experiences of their friends and families. Half of those surveyed reported being “extremely or very” worried about online risks generally, with the most common concerns being unwanted contact (43 percent) and various forms of harassment (39 percent).

Young people said they were more likely to suffer social and academic losses following some sort of online conflict. More than 20 percent said they lost a friend or their scholastic performance suffered, while 13 percent said they intentionally spent less time at school due to online conflicts.

Both adults and teens said they became less trusting of others in the real world after a negative interaction online at about an even rate. For adults, it was 31 percent, for teens 29 percent. However, consequences to adults outpaced those to teens, such as becoming less trusting of people online and a reluctance to participate in blogs and other online forums.

It was not all bad. More than 29 percent of adults said they tried to be more constructive in their criticism of others after a negative online situation, compared with 25 percent of teens.

The full report will be out early next year.

A top vole said Microsoft had chosen to make this preliminary release, featuring some adult data, following the conclusion of the U.S. presidential election and in conjunction with World Kindness Day on 13 November.

The months leading up to the new year and Safer Internet Day 2017 represent an opportunity for a “digital reset… to ensure we’re putting our best digital foot forward … Digital civility is everyone’s responsibility, and Microsoft can help put you and your family on a path to good digital citizenship.”

There’s more browsing on mobiles than PCs

mobileInternet usage by mobile and tablet exceeded desktop worldwide for the first time in October according to web analytics company StatCounter

The StatCounter beancounters found that mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3 percent of internet usage worldwide in October compared to 48.7 percent by desktop.

“This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not,” commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter.

“Mobile compatibility is increasingly important not just because of growing traffic but because Google favours mobile friendly websites for its mobile search results.” He pointed out that Google recently launched a tool where businesses can test their website mobile performance.

Despite the rapid growth of mobile devices, desktop is still the primary mode of internet usage in mature markets such as the US and UK.

However, Cullen warned, “Post-Brexit, UK businesses should be aware, as they look to increase trade outside the EU, that India for example has over 75% internet usage through mobile devices.”

In the UK desktop is on 55.6 per cent  with mobile and tablet on 44.4 per cent .

In the US desktop still accounts for 58 per cent  of internet usage compared to 42 per cent for mobile and tablet.