Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Government or Business can shut down cell service for large crowds

The government or police did not shut down cell phone service in the crowd are of the Boston Marathon, but it could have.  Ars Technica ("Law and Disorder") has a detailed article by Timothy B. Lee Tuesday on the matter, link here

The story was motivated by incorrect AP reports that police had shut down cell phone service during the attacks.  Evidence shows that the “pressure cooker” pipe bomb was detonated by a 60s-ers timer, not by cell phone signals. 

The issue came up before when Bart officials shut it down near some stations in San Francisco to forestall demonstrations by BART police. 

Shutting service down in some areas has been proposed to control or prevent flash mobs, particularly  in Britain.

It’s important for individuals to have the ability to receive cell phone calls, for business or even security reasons (such as from their own homes).   Some venues turn off cell phone access (some cinemas and theaters do), and a few require surrender of cell phones to enter (such as some embassies like Israel, some areas of the US Capitol, and at least one major gay leather party in New York City).
Here’s a curious YouTube video about blocking a cell phone signal with a Faraday Cage.  I don’t know if this would really work.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Aereo wins legal battle in appeals court; its retransmission is not copyright infringement

There is some legal controversy over a service offered by a company called Aereo in New York City. The service would allow owners of Apple PC’s and smart phones to watch rebroadcast television shows on their devices, as explained on a Wiki here, , or at the company’s own link
Aereo has also won a legal battle in a federal appeals court in New York, Second Circuit, that its rebroadcast service does not constitute copyright infringement (technically, that a trial was not likely to go in the broadcasters' favor), even though broadcast networks earn revenue from licensing rebroadcast.  Brian Stelter has a story in the New York Times Monday, April  1, link here.
Aereo plans to expand to as many as twelve other cities. The customer acquires a small antenna to attach to his device.  The fact that a consumer has his or her own antenna somehow gets reflected in legal arguments that Aereo's business model does not violate copyright law. Cable channels pay to rebroadcast content but Aereo does not.  

Some networks, including Fox and even NBC, have said that they might stop conventional broadcasting and go to cable eventually in cities that offer Aereo or similar services.

Update: May 7:

Ars Technical reports that Aereo has launched a "pre-emptive" lawsuit against CBS, Joe Mullin, story here

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The "Pebble" wristwatch makes staying in touch while driving or biking safer/

This may not be much of a “network neutrality” issue, but it seems as though the Pebble will bring back the need for the wristwatch. 
It’s pretty clear that looking at a watch for the time or for traces of tweets or messages is more acceptable when driving or biking than picking up a cell phone – merely being seen holding one could get you pulled over in many states.  And pretty soon cameras will probably enforce no phones rules.  I wonder if new cars will. Bikers will really like this product -- even allowing for "Premium Rush". 
This is as good a basic reference as any, link

Apparently Eric Migicovsky made effective use of Kickstarter, which can work for “real product”, but not abstractions like mine.