The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on Oct. 27 on a revised proposal for rules to safeguard privacy of broadband users.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on Oct. 27 on a revised proposal for rules to safeguard privacy of broadband users.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks at the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington DC, U.S. February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks at the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington DC, U.S. February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on Oct. 27 on a revised proposal for rules to safeguard privacy of broadband users.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s initial proposal came under harsh criticism from internet service providers such as Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp, because it subjected them to more stringent rules than websites like Facebook Inc, Twitter or Alphabet Inc’s Google, which are overseen by Federal Trade Commission rules.

Providers had especially objected to sweeping “opt in” requirements under the initial proposal for using nearly all consumer data. Under the new proposal, providers must only get “opt in” or affirmative consent for sensitive data like health, finances, web browsing history, child data, and Social Security numbers.

But it allows other data to be used with “opt out” or implied consent for marketing purposes.

FCC officials said the new rules are more in line with FTC privacy rules for websites.

USTelecom, a trade group representing Verizon, AT&T and others, said it was concerned the FCC “is now attempting to redefine what consumers may regard as sensitive” and might not agree with the FTC’s definition.

Wheeler said the FCC has long required telephone companies to protect information associated with phone calls and now must do the same with internet service.

Several consumer groups including the Consumer Federation of America backed the revised proposal, as did Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

The FCC has authority to set broadband privacy rules after it reclassified broadband providers last year as part of new net neutrality regulations. A federal appeals court upheld that decision in June.

Wheeler is working to complete an aggressive agenda this year, including the privacy proposal, as well as rules to reform the $40 billion market for business data services, known as special access lines, and to allow consumers to ditch pay TV set top boxes.

A person briefed on the matter said Wheeler was circulating a revised proposal to reform the special access lines Thursday, but has not decided whether to bring it up for a vote on Oct. 27.

In September, the FCC said it would delay a final vote on a landmark reform of the $20 billion television set-top box market, which could reduce bills for tens of millions of subscribers.

Negotiations among the commissioners were continuing after the FCC’s three Democrats in a joint statement last week expressed support for letting consumers drop set-top boxes, which route cable and broadcasting to televisions. They said they were “working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues.”

-Posted under Editorial Use License Reuters Media Express

Users of Instagram, a photo-sharing app owned by Facebook Inc , can now post picture and video slideshows that last 24 hours, a feature similar to the signature function of social media rival Snapchat.

By Angela Moon and Supantha Mukherjee

A screen displays the Instagram logo during a presentation in New York December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo - RTSGU5I
A screen displays the Instagram logo during a presentation in New York December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo – RTSGU5I

(Reuters) – Users of Instagram, a photo-sharing app owned by Facebook Inc , can now post picture and video slideshows that last 24 hours, a feature similar to the signature function of social media rival Snapchat.

Snapchat, which launched in 2011, got its initial boost from millennials, especially teenagers, who value the privacy that the app offers. Text messages disappear right after they are read, and posts expire after 24 hours.

As with Snapchat, the new Instagram Stories feature allows its 500 million members to annotate their posts with emojis, doodles and texts, Instagram said in a blog post on Tuesday.

The feature is the latest salvo between Facebook, which bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and Snapchat, which rejected Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer just three years ago, as they try to attract more users.

Snapchat is popular with younger people who want to shield their posts from the eyes of their parents, who are more likely to be on Facebook, whose 1.7 billion monthly users tend to be older. Snapchat recently surpassed Twitter Inc in daily users and is valued at around $18 billion.

In July, Snapchat introduced a Memories feature that enables users to save and share their content, as on Facebook.

Instagram Stories allows followers to send direct messages to the uploader but users cannot “like” an image or post a comment, as in Facebook.

Instagram Stories is available in the United States and will roll out globally over the next few weeks on Apple Inc iPhones and Alphabet Inc’s Android-based smartphones, Instagram said.

“This is the latest step in putting video at the center of all our services. People are already creating and sharing more video, so we’re going to make it even easier,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook account.

Many replies to Zuckerberg’s post pointed out the new feature’s resemblance to Snapchat.

Facebook user Antoine Maillot wrote: “Snapchat-like on Facebook World… No, I prefer the real Snapchat app, sorry.”

Shares of Facebook fell 1.1 percent to $122.92 at mid-afternoon.

(Reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr and Richard Chang)

-Posted under Editorial Use License Reuters Media Express

So I promised to update after being pwned…

I’ve tried a couple of different password managers and while I wish I could report back that there is a simple fix…  I found the two I tried to be lacking.  While both did a good job and remembering the passwords I saved there were difficulties.

First was the ability to remember passwords across multiple devises.  While the free version of what I used remembered passwords on the pc it didn’t translate to my mobile device.  Furthermore, it was problematic with logging on to websites as it required me to be logged into the service each time I booted my PC.  Additionally, some of the time the password manager would obscure the form field I was trying to type in for new sites.

I also ran into problems with different sites requiring different types of passwords and lengths.  I.e. some site are purely letters and numbers, others require a special character and others a specific length.  My choice didn’t work well for me in those instances though it did give me the option to manually enter passwords.

While there may be a solution out there I’ve yet to find something better than my wife’s password booklet.  Yes… it’s not with us everywhere we go but at least there is one location for all of our password information.

Next I’m going to investigate password vaults… hopefully there I can find a solution to my issue of securely managing the ever growing list of passwords required to keep me safe on the net.

How about you?  What have you found that works?  Let us know.

I’ve been pwned!

I’ve been pwned!

I've Been Pwned???

No… it’s not a typo.  It’s an actual term nowadays among the gamer and hacking communities.  There is a connotation of complete domination and humiliation…  owned.  Apparently I've been owned... again.

pwnedI’ve always intended the second EPICTOUCH blog post to cover internet security.  The the email to right showed up in my inbox.  Most of us have read or heard about the do’s and don’ts.  You know… don’t open attachments from people you don’t know, always keep your antivirus up to date, eat healthy, exercise more, color between the lines etcetera etcetera.  But today this seemed to take precedence...

The email I received was from the website HaveIBeenPwned.com .  It is a non-profit operated by tech writer and security specialist Troy Hunt.  The basic premise is that they keep a list of sites that were hacked, what was released and you can find out if your account information was released.  I personally have been "pwned" with data breaches at Adobe, Linked In and now according to the email today Myspace.

But wait...  10 years ago I had a Myspace account? I'm sure I haven't logged in for the better part of a decade how can this possibly matter?  Well the email account I signed up for the account with is the same as the email account I use for Adobe, LinkedIn and really every other account that matters.  A decade ago it was really the only account I used, now it's THE account for important things.

I've always used a decent password that would be impossible to guess so I always figured I'd be safe.  But here's the problem I've used that same password or a variation of it for more that 10 years.  So those looking through the leaked information, over 3 different sites and 10 years could make a pretty good guess and start social engineering my passwords to other accounts.  For example my email account?  Yep.  I lost control of my personal email server about a month ago.  As I was on with tech support I was getting texts from Facebook asking if I was in fact trying to change my password.

OMG I've been totally PWNED!!!"

Now if you're thinking it can't happen to you ask yourself have you had an account with any of these sites? (If you don't want to click the link I can tell you there are a ton of sites there from Forbes to Domino's Pizza.  Event some internet security providers).  Please also know that I didn't use a simple password it was a pretty advanced one.  The issue is that once it's in the hands of hackers even the best, super top secret ultra secure, long, ninja-esque, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious password is rendered completely useless.  Furthermore if you used it more than once... dare i say more than two or three times then you too can be "pwned" to the extreme.

Additionally some of the data breaches leaked some of those "challenge questions" sites have added.  So while today I can't seem to remember the street I lived on in second grade, the name of my first pet or the first girl I kissed... If I entered it in over the last 20 years on a website odds are a hacker can find it if the site has been breached.  That's pure goal for social engineering.

Does that mean all is lost?  Do we need to return to the stone age and throw out internet?  Of course not!  We do however need to get smarter with our passwords.  The sheer number of internet accounts for me means it is impossible to remember different random passwords.  I've heard of using password "conventions" featuring the website or phrases with character changes included.  For example EpicToucHBloggerPa$$word!for20!6 (no that isn't the password) but again so many sites have different requirements regarding max and minimum length that remembering them can be an issue.  Your humble guest blogger, for example, has to reset his I-Tunes password almost every-time I log in.

ConnectSafely.org has a list of the "best practices" when it comes to passwords but I've employed all but one of them to date...

Consider using a password manager"

Over the next week I'm going to be researching password managers (free and paid) and share my results.  Additionally I'm going to ask my wife to consider changing all of the passwords she has using her system and see if I can't share her results (hopefully mine will be better... but they usually aren't).  I'd also like to hear from you on how you manage passwords to prevent yourself and family from being "pwned" or your story on being "pwned".

When I report back I'll share two options I tried, why I chose the options I did.  The goal isn't to advertise a service it's to solve a problem I have, and hopefully prevent one from happening to you.  If you use a password manager please share your experiences in the comments.

Thanks!

It’s a Blog… and it’s going to be EPIC

It’s a Blog… and it’s going to be EPIC

It's a.... BLOG

While most of our customers know who we are and what we do…  one of the great things about the internet is the global reach. 

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with EPICTOUCH I want to give a little background before we introduce the blog.

The company:

EPICTOUCH is a leader in rural telecommunications.  The company was founded in Elkhart Kansas by Curtis and Reba Whitecotton in 1956.  It has been a family run company since it began.  The EPICTOUCH family takes pride in the fact that they are active in the communities they service and their employees are part of the “EPICTOUCH Family”. EPICTOUCH provides a 100% fiber optic network in Elkhart to ensure their customers have access to the best in internet connectivity.  You can read more about the history of EPICTOUCH here.

The Brand & Promise:

Bringing Neighbors Together…  it’s more than our tagline. It is what we do.  Whether you want to connect with your neighbor down the street via Facebook or a family member half a world away you’re going to be connecting with them over the internet provided by EPICTOUCH.  We strive to come up with innovative ways to ensure you have the absolute best connectivity available and to be innovators in rural telecommunications.

So why a blog?

Blogging is a great, informal way to share what's important to you, our community and our services.  

What can you expect to read here?

Our goal is to keep you abreast on services, trends in technology and the communities we serve.  At a minimum of twice a week we'll be sharing information that we feel is relevant to you and our services.  Our writers are a mix of employees, staff, consultants and the community.  You read that right... if you have something you want to share on our blog contact us and see if if you can be a guest blogger for EPICTOUCH . 

How can you interact with us?

Please share your thoughts with us here on the blog and on our Facebook account.  Is there something you'd like to hear from us that you think your friends and neighbors would appreciate?  Ask us on the blog or Facebook.  We'll do our best to share the information in a timely manner.

Thanks!