Techerous

My name is Bill, I am a recent graduate in Information Sciences and Technology from Penn State University and this is a place for me to post or give my 2 cents on the fascinating world of technology. I am now working for a pretty big technology related company whose name I will leave out just to avoid any possible complications, however far-fetched them happening may be. Music gets included from time to time as well.

November 21, 2012 1:57 am
5 big tech issues await Obama in second term - CNN.com

Here’s a look at five of the biggest tech issues facing President Barack Obama, and the country, in his second term:

Piracy

Few topics riled the Internet in 2012 as much as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), an anti-piracy bill that raised concerns about free speech and privacy online. The Obama administration opposed that doomed bill but is expected to address the piracy issue again in the next four years.

Hollywood was a major contributor to Obama’s re-election campaign, and the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, is optimistic that Obama will support some sort of anti-piracy effort in his second term.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Obama administration to ensure the creative industries have every opportunity to thrive,” Dodd said in a statement after Obama’s re-election victory. Earlier in the year, Dodd threatened to cut off campaign contributions to politicians who did not support SOPA.

The issue isn’t limited to people illegally downloading movies, music and TV shows in the U.S. Hollywood is also battling rampant copyright infringement abroad, and the administration will likely have to address ways to make other countries respect U.S. intellectual property.

But as Washington learned earlier this year, any anti-piracy stance would have to be sensitive to Internet freedom and privacy concerns.

Privacy

There are two main foes in consumers’ ongoing struggle to preserve their online privacy: companies that collect data and track people’s online behavior to sell them things, and law enforcement agencies that collect data and track people to investigate crimes.

The rules for monitoring modern electronic communications are ill-defined. For the government, a warrant isn’t currently required after a certain period of time for older information — e-mail, social networking profiles or cell-phone location data — stored “in the cloud” on Web servers.

Congress will likely try to address some of these issues during Obama’s second term by updating the antiquated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which dictates what types of personal information the government can access.

Google: ‘Government surveillance is on the rise’

“We’re concerned that the administration will continue to use national security as a pretext to undermine privacy and other critical rights,” said Parker Higgins, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, citing the administration’s warrantless wiretapping programs, the prosecution of whistle-blowers and what he called an overall lack of transparency.

Civil liberties groups and large technology companies are teaming up to lobby for reform that would dictate what information the government can request and how. Tech companies will also face a separate battle over how they collect data.

The Obama administration has said it wants consumers to have control over whether companies track their online activity. Together with the Federal Trade Commission, the administration pushed Congress for online privacy legislation earlier this year.

The FTC does not currently have the power to pursue companies for privacy violations, but it is tangling with major tech companies on other fronts. Currently it is investigating Google for antitrust violations, claiming the company ranked its own services higher than those of competing companies.

Cybersecurity

Sometimes it takes a crisis to prompt action. Experts are hoping that won’t be the case with a crippling cyberattack on the nation’s power plants, financial systems or other vital industries.

“If nothing bad happens, progress will be slow. If we do get some sort of damaging attack, it will move much more quickly,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In his first term, Obama appointed a national cybersecurity coordinator. In his second term, he will most likely try again to pass cybersecurity legislation. It’s also possible he will issue an executive order instead of wrestling with Congress.

The administration’s last attempt was the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which aimed to help protect critical U.S. infrastructure through increased collaboration between the government and the private sector. Private industries such as energy, banking, telecommunications, water and transportation are all potential targets for a cyberattack, experts warn.

But the bill was successfully blocked in August by Senate Republicans who sided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses that balked at the idea of having the government regulate their security. Private industry, wary of government oversight, argued there was nothing the government could do that they could not do on their own. Another sticking point was that the process would have been overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The dilemma is that, left to their own devices, we can’t be sure companies are going to take these steps,” said Lewis. He expects the Obama administration to wait until the 113th Congress is sworn before it tries to resurrect cybersecurity legislation.

STEM education

College costs are rising, as is the demand for qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (dubbed STEM) professionals. Experts warn the demand for skilled workers will increasingly outpace the number of qualified graduates in this country.

Over the next four years, Obama will likely expand his education policies.

The $4.35 billion Race to the Top program awards financial aid to states’ K-12 school systems that set specific goals, such as establishing standards for assessing teachers, gathering data and finding innovative ways to improve the worst-performing schools. The president told the Des Moines Register that he wants to continue expanding the program in his next term and focus even more on STEM education.

In July, the Obama administration kicked off the national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Master Teacher Corps program with $100 million in funding. The program will start by training 50 STEM teachers, but the plan is to increase that number to 10,000 teachers over the next four years and to 100,000 over the next decade. The idea is that these specifically qualified teachers will spread their skills and knowledge to other schools and educators around the country.

When those fresh batches of science and math students are out of high school, they will face dauntingly high college costs.

During the campaign, Obama promised to continue to increase the Pell Grant program, which provides need-based financial aid for college. Critics claim that raising the amount of aid doesn’t help, because colleges will just continue to raise their costs to meet the increased demand. The Pell Grant got a large boost in Obama’s first term with an influx of money that was made available when the administration eliminated the federal guaranteed student loan program, which went through private banks.

Immigration reform

While our school systems adjust to produce more tech graduates, Silicon Valley will need fresh talent. One solution is to allow qualified workers from other counties to stay in the United States and take those jobs after college. So far, however, the Obama administration has faced difficulty passing relevant immigration reform.

“We need more green cards so that all these people who are stuck in limbo, these millions of skilled workers — doctors, scientists, engineers, computer programmers — can get permanent residency,” said Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur and vice president at Singularity University. “They’re here legally, they’ve done everything right.”

One potential fix is the bipartisan Startup Act 2.0, which would provide up to 50,000 visas to foreign STEM students who get their master’s or doctorate degree in the U.S. The new category of visa would require recipients to work in a science, technology, engineering or math field continuously for five years before they can become a permanent legal resident.

The proposal would also pave the way for entrepreneurs to start businesses in the United States, which could lead to more jobs.

The bill is supported by some tech heavy-hitters, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, and is currently being considered by a congressional committee.

April 29, 2012 1:05 pm
Why is Silicon Valley silent on CISPA?

This is why we have to find a way to get everyone’s attention this time. Unlike what I’m seeing a lot of people say, the truth is these bills are very different, particularly in that this one actually benefits companies. The fact that it negatively impacts your privacy doesn’t concern them. There isn’t going to be a Google or Twitter joining in on a blackout date to reach the apathetic masses. I want to believe that this will get crushed by the senate/president as they claim, but let’s not leave it up to them and create another fight. SOPA proved that people do care about online rights and honestly this bill attacks ones that probably affect them more.

April 8, 2012 7:50 pm
After killing SOPA, Internet activists take aim at a new House cybersecurity bill

I’m getting really sick of these broadly written bills. Perhaps more so than SOPA, I can’t really disagree with the purpose of this bill, however the fact that the language does not set barriers that could limit personal information about users companies can share and when with the government is really frustrating.  It’s a pretty ridiculous excuse when the lawmakers say that it’s okay because they aren’t going to interpret the law like that.  If that’s the case, why not just change the language to better fit the specific definition that can be agreeable?  I have to stress though, stay informed and read the details for yourself.  Don’t just take everyone calling this “SOPA 2.0” as automatic truth.  Like I said, I can’t disagree with the purpose and the importance of protecting people from hackers, we just need language that maintains the users rights at the same time.

February 1, 2012 12:16 am
As Anonymous protests, Internet drowns in inaccurate anti-ACTA arguments

It’s important to get the facts right in these cases. Tim Berners Lee has a history of trustworthiness so I feel this article accurately points out the lies and actual shortcomings floating around about ACTA. It’s still dangerous, but not as explicitly as SOPA and PIPA. It sets up requirements that COULD be abused rather than implementing abusive methods.

January 21, 2012 5:05 pm
"Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake"

Chris Dodd, Hollywood Lobbyist

It’s horrifying that they are actually so entitled they believe statements like this are perfectly fine to make in public.  They honestly think buying off politician’s is socially acceptable. Scum.

(Source: techdirt.com)

January 12, 2012 2:59 am
Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing - Boing Boing

Really long, but excellently written article. It’s possibly the best analysis I have read on SOPA and the state of intellectual property in a long time. Loved the wheel analogy. Honestly one of the most important points I learned in my internet law class was that you could not stop a device or technology so long as it’s sole-purpose isn’t to facilitate copyright infringement, hence why the VCR survived. I had forgotten about that rule and honestly it grounds entire sections of SOPA on precedent alone. Ultimately we are limiting society as a whole by narrowing the issue down and this article does a brilliant job of illustrating that.

“So, our regulators go off, they blithely pass these laws, and they become part of the reality of our technological world. There are, suddenly, numbers that we aren’t allowed to write down on the Internet, programs we’re not allowed to publish, and all it takes to make legitimate material disappear from the Internet is the mere accusation of copyright infringement. It fails to attain the goal of the regulation, because it doesn’t stop people from violating copyright, but it bears a kind of superficial resemblance to copyright enforcement—it satisfies the security syllogism: ‘something must be done, I am doing something, something has been done.’ As a result, any failures that arise can be blamed on the idea that the regulation doesn’t go far enough, rather than the idea that it was flawed from the outset.”

January 9, 2012 11:40 pm
Boycott SOPA: An Android app that terrifies publishers and politicians | ExtremeTech

Sousveillance at it’s finest.  It would be awesome if someone made an app that could support multiple boycotts.  It would require an extensive database that track’s different companies actions but with cloud technologies I feel it’s totally doable.

January 6, 2012 9:56 pm
"… are now able to be shared digitally. There is a growing concern on the part of the companies and individuals who create that content, that they’re not getting compensated in a fair way, and so they want to impose a new set of requirements on those companies who provide access to the internet, like the browsers, the search engines, etc. And some of these new requirements, according to the experts on the internet, would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the internet. As in all things, some compromise must be possible. The content creators and owners have a point and a legitimate complaint… But, in our country, in our world today, there is hardly anything more important — whether you want to solve global warming, as I do, whether you want to reinvigorate democracy as many of us do, whatever problem you want to fix — there is hardly anything more important to getting the right things done than to save and protect the vibrancy and freedom of the internet. The internet is bringing life back to democracy. We saw it in Egypt. We’re seeing it in Russia now. We’ve seen it in so many places…. If you look at the reform movements around the world, and in the US, more than likely they’re based on internet forms of organization. And anything that would threaten the vibrancy and freedom of the internet, I’m against!"

Al Gore on SOPA

(Source: techdirt.com)

January 5, 2012 8:43 pm
Why The Movie Industry Can’t Innovate and the Result is SOPA « Steve Blank

"This year the movie industry made $30 billion (1/3 in the U.S.) from box-office revenue.

But the total movie industry revenue was $87 billion. Where did the other $57 billion come from?

From sources that the studios at one time claimed would put them out of business: Pay-per view TV, cable and satellite channels, video rentals, DVD sales, online subscriptions and digital downloads.”