All anybody knows for sure is that the game theory that we used to plot out provocations and responses during the Cold War is obsolete in a digital age.
On the one hand, concerns about acts of digital sabotage in wartime are silly. If war broke out between the United States and Russia, we'd have much bigger problems on our hands than spotty connectivity over the Internet. Sure, it would put a serious dent in Internet-based communications, international banking and a host of other rather essential digital traffic. But unless an enemy shot our satellites out of the sky, the military could maintain basic command and control without the Internet. More...
One possible solution borrows from a technical breakthrough made by AT&T half a century ago. The Brazilian government is working with local companies and Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chipmaker, on a modern version of toll-free calling. A new 1-800 system for mobile data allows Brazilians to access their bank accounts for free on smartphones without incurring data costs. The government of São Paulo plans to extend free data services to some official websites by the end of the year.
Banco Bradesco, one of the country’s biggest banks, began exploring a free data program after observing that many customers had stopped using the company’s app and were switching back to such traditional banking services as phone calls and visits to the teller. A survey of those customers found that they couldn’t afford data plans and didn’t have access to Wi-Fi during work hours, when banks are open. Bradesco teamed up with technology giant Qualcomm, and together they spent a year negotiating with Brazil’s four main phone-service providers. The bank purchased data packages wholesale and started rolling out the program in 2014. Bradesco customers can check account balances, transfer money, and pay bills without buying a data plan. “The response was excellent,” says Mauricio Minas, a vice president at the bank. More...
What changed Friday? The FCC will be able to assert extra authority over the Internet to establish net neutrality.
What is net neutrality? It's like equal opportunity for Internet speeds and access to websites: no unfair fast or slow lanes, and no blocking of anything that's legal on your phone, computer or tablet.
Isn't that what exists today? For the most part. In reality, the world won't look much different on Friday. Netflix won't suddenly stream any faster for you. AT&T and Comcast won't abruptly stop laying down high-speed fiber cables and investing in their networks as retaliation.
But the net neutrality rules mean Verizon can't block Google Wallet on your smartphone, like it did in 2011. Your phone carrier can't block tethering apps, which turn your phone into an Internet hotspot for your laptop or tablet. AT&T can't block video chatting apps like FaceTime or Google Hangouts. And Comcast can't slow down file-sharing websites, like it did to BitTorrent a few years ago. More...
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