Kieren McCarthy

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If you read anything today about ICANN taking over the internet, make sure it's this

Analysis The internet community has published its plan to pull the United States government out of its role at the top of the internet's hierarchy. Unfortunately, the near-final version is a hodgepodge of ideas and compromises that fails to address a key aspect of Uncle Sam's role. In addition, the plan substitutes a complex set of …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 Aug 2015
Internet email sign. Pic: @mattw1lson, Twitter

Next-gen secure email using internet's own DNS – your help needed

A group of researchers from the US government and dot-com operator VeriSign are working on a new system for secure email: using domain names. Highlighting the problems and security holes associated with current mail systems, the team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a subset of the US Department …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 Aug 2015

Re/code apologizes for Holocaust 'joke' tweet

Apple blog Re/code has pulled, and apologized for, a tasteless tweet about the Holocaust. The unfunny gag was cracked after a consortium of German car manufacturers has bought Nokia's maps business. Linking to a story by senior reporter Ina Fried on the purchase, Re/code's official twitter account emitted this about 0645 PT on …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 Aug 2015

New twist in telco giants' fight to destroy the FCC's net neutrality

Analysis When an entire page of a lawsuit is taken up just listing the lawyers on the case, you know you have hit some vested interests. And so it is with the opening arguments [PDF] of the US Telecom Association et al versus the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), aka status quo versus Open Internet. There are seven …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Aug 2015

$100m fine? How about, er, $16k? AT&T teabags FCC with its giant balls

AT&T has taken its four-year campaign to avoid liability for throttling its "unlimited" data plans to new heights by proposing that a $100m fine imposed last month be reduced to just $16,000. In a filing leaked to Congress obsessive The Hill, the US telco giant argued that the fine levied by the Federal Communications …
Kieren McCarthy, 31 Jul 2015

Petrol cars are dead in the water, says Tesla CTO waving numbers on the back of an envelope

Analysis Gasoline-powered cars are a dying breed, and not because everyone will become a tree-hugging fossil-fuel-hating hippie, but rather thanks to cost. That's according to JB Straubel, the CTO of electric-car maker Tesla, who gave a keynote earlier this month at the InterSolar conference in San Francisco. Straubel's main argument …
Kieren McCarthy, 31 Jul 2015

Start learning parallel programming and make these supercomputers sing, Prez Obama orders

President Obama has signed an executive order that will pump US government money into American supercomputers just like before but in a more coherent fashion. The order, signed Wednesday, kickstarts a new "National Strategic Computing Initiative" [PDF] that will, through a single vision and investment strategy, try to keep …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Jul 2015

So just WHO ARE the 15 per cent of Americans still not online?

Analysis According to the most recent survey of online usage by Americans, 15 per cent of adults are still not online. What is just as interesting is the fact that this 15 per cent appear to be stubbornly refusing to get online despite numerous efforts by the US government and others to get broadband to both rural and low-income areas …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Jul 2015

Amazon comes up with delivery-drone zones after watching Fifth Element all night

Amazon has outlined a futuristic plan that would give drones their own 200-foot-thick piece of sky to zoom around in – and deliver packages in super-fast times. Amazon Prime Air co-founder Gur Kimchi outlined the plan in a keynote at the Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention in Silicon Valley on Tuesday …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Jul 2015

FCC now regulates ISPs – but don't take your complaints to the watchdog just yet

Net neutrality Tom Wheeler, chairman of America's broadband watchdog the FCC, has insisted that "we know what we're doing," as his regulator gobbles up more and more power. This is despite him acknowledging that the FCC isn't sure how far its authority stretches – and that it doesn't have crucial rules and guidelines in place. At a …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Jul 2015

Secretive trade pact the TTIP: Death of the web – or a brave new horizon?

Analysis The trinity of trans-Atlantic trade deals that have been under negotiation for two years appear to be heading toward some kind of initial conclusion. The free-trade deals between the US and various nations have become renowned for being negotiated in secret and for efforts to open the process resulting in ludicrous …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jul 2015

Ahem, FCC, who do you think you are? The FTC?

A US Congressional hearing this week will ask two heads of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) some pointed questions about its recent spate of decisions, in particular auction rule changes and why it thinks it's the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will talk with FCC …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jul 2015
management regulation2

US State of Georgia sues 'terrorist' for publishing its own laws ... on the internet

The State of Georgia in the US is suing the owner of the Public.Resource.org website for publishing the State of Georgia's own laws online. According to the lawsuit [PDF] filed this week, Carl Malamud has "engaged in an 18 year long crusade to control the accessibility of U.S. government documents by becoming the United States …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jul 2015

Q. How much did Google just spend applying political pressure in the US? A. $4.6 million

Moneybags Google has topped the list of tech-giant political lobbyists again, spending $4.62m in the past three months alone in Washington DC and elbowing its way into an enormous range of issues. That's according to a declaration filed by Google that companies are legally obliged to submit to US Congress. The multimillion- …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jul 2015

ICANN further implicated in .Africa controversy

Analysis Staff at domain-name overseer ICANN repeatedly rejected independent expert advice to ensure the .africa top-level domain was won by their preferred applicant – and then tried to hide their influence by censoring the results of an independent inquiry into the affair. That is the latest revelation from our investigation into …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jul 2015

Moneybags Bloomberg whips out checkbook to gobble spoof website

Bloomberg has filed with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) to get hold of the domain name that embarrassed the organization and boosted Twitter's share price temporarily last week. The website bloomberg.market hosted a mirror of the official bloomberg.com, but with a single exception: a fake story about how Twitter was on …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jul 2015

Google swears blind it doesn't give SEO advantage to new internet dot-words

Analysis For the third time in three years, Google has reiterated its position that it will not give a search ranking advantage to domain names with new internet top-level domains. In a post to its Webmaster Central Blog, the search engine giant has posted and answered six questions over how it handles top-level domains. Most of the …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jul 2015

Dough! Dominos didn't register dominos.pizza – and now it's pizz'd off

Pizza emporium Dominos has filed a formal request to get hold of the domain name dominos.pizza after it incomprehensibly failed to register it late last year. The The equisectioned-circle grease-cheese maker paid the National Arbitration Forum $1,300 (£835) on Monday to assess its rights in the name – a claim it is likely to …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jul 2015

Your poster guide: A fascinating glimpse into North Korea's 'internet'

Pic Singaporean photographer Aram Pan has been taking some fascinating photos of the world's most reclusive country, North Korea. Alongside pictures of beautiful landscapes and rundown buildings, however, one picture caught our eye: a map of the starving country's "internet." It sounds ludicrous, but thanks to North Korea's …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jul 2015

Snowden to the IETF: Please make an internet for users, not the spies

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has urged the world's leading group of internet engineers to design a future 'net that puts the user in the center, and so protects people's privacy. Speaking via webcast to a meeting in Prague of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the former spy talked about a range of possible …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Jul 2015

Cyber-security's dirty little secret: It's not as bad as you think

New research from the Global Commission on Internet Governance has reached a surprising conclusion: cyberspace is actually getting safer. The report [PDF] starts from a simple enough premise: while we are constantly told that incidents of cyberattacks and online security threats are increasing, are they growing relative to the …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jul 2015

Ant-Man: Big ideas, small payoff

Film Review We were invited by Dolby to see a screening of Ant-Man at its custom-built screening room in San Francisco the other night. And so, of course, we went along. The film is sound-mixed with Dolby's "Atmos" technology, which the high-end cinemas have and which basically allows you to place sounds in a theatre rather than have to …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jul 2015

Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart. Thursday doesn't even start. Friday I'm in .love

Today, Friday, sees the launch of one of the more interesting new internet top-level domains that has been approved by ICANN: .love. The TLD has passed from "sunrise" – during which trademark holders get first dibs on their names for a premium – to "general availability." Which means that you can now buy a domain ending in . …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jul 2015

Having been slammed and embarrassed, ICANN tells the world: We've done nowt wrong

Last week, a group of retired judges slammed domain-name overseer ICANN for breaking its own bylaws by having failed to "act fairly, neutrally [and] non-discriminatorily" in a dispute over the .africa top-level domain. Yesterday, we revealed that ICANN's staff redacted the judges' final report to remove all evidence that the …
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Jul 2015

Free internet for kids! Obama's offering free internet to kids! (Yes, there's a catch)

President Obama will officially launch Wednesday afternoon a new program to get kids in flat-broke households online. ConnectHome is a joint partnership between the federal government (the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)), local communities, and a number of different profit and non-profit organizations that …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jul 2015

Unredacted: ICANN's hidden role in fierce battle over .Africa rights

Domain-name overseer ICANN's pivotal role in a controversial fight over .africa is today revealed in full for the first time. An independent review into the .africa saga, which was two years in the making, concluded that ICANN had broken its own bylaws: the organization had failed to properly investigate claims made by one of …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jul 2015

Twitter shares soar after buyout story appears on bogus Bloomberg site

Updated Twitter's shares jumped four per cent this morning after a fake news story claimed the biz had received a $31bn buyout offer. The reason for the jump was that it appeared to come from respected newswire Bloomberg – but the piece was instead hosted at bloomberg.market, and not on the news organization's Bloomberg.com. "Twitter …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Jul 2015

Apple's chip'n'firmware security demands behind HomeKit delays

Wondering where all the Apple HomeKit products are? Well, here's an explanation: Apple is forcing internet-of-things companies to fit Apple-certified chips and firmware in their gadgets if they are to work with the HomeKit platform. That means, in a lot of cases, engineers must effectively redesign their products to …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Jul 2015

Pan Am Games: Link to our website without permission and we'll sue

Updated The organisers of the Pan American Games in Toronto, which start this week, require that people seek formal permission to link to its website at toronto2015.org. Under the website's terms of use, amid piles of incomprehensible legalese seemingly designed to hide from the fact that social media exists, it is decreed that no one …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Jul 2015

Oxford Uni unearths 800-year-old document to seize domain names

The University of Oxford has gone all medieval over some dot-com domain names, insisting that it be handed control of oxfordcollegeirl.com and oxfordcollegesc.com due to rights dating back to 1214 A.D. A panelist at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreed, although his job was made easier by the fact that …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Jul 2015

How many top-level domains are there now? 300? 500? No, it's 1,000

There are now more than 1,000 top-level domains (TLDs) for internet addresses, covering everything from .abb to .zw. This week, seven TLDs were added to the internet's root as part of the "new generic TLD" process being run by DNS overseer ICANN, pushing it over the 1,000 threshold. They were: .airtel, .barcelona, .bcn, .game …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Jul 2015

The Empire Strikes Back: Disney tractor-beams StarWars.co.uk from Brit biz

Disney has won ownership of just about every possible Star Wars UK domain name in a decision by the registry operator Nominet. Handing in a final judgment [PDF] this week, independent panelist Steve Ormand decided that the domains starwars.co.uk, star-wars.co.uk, star-wars.uk, star-warsco.co.uk, star-warsco.uk, starwars.uk, …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Jul 2015

Dexter maker Showtime streams over the 'net, joins cable-cutting gang

Showtime – the maker of hit shows Homeland, Dexter, and Weeds – has followed HBO, and made itself available for streaming over the internet without a cable TV subscription. Showtime is available from today on AppleTV and Roku for $10.99 per month with a free 30-day trial, and continues the cable-cutting trend that has cable …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Jul 2015

ICANN running the global internet? It's gonna be OK, it's gonna be OK, US Congress told

US Congress was soothed Wednesday morning over the fundamental shift of the IANA contract, which oversees the running of the global internet, from the US government to non-profit domain overlord ICANN, but significant questions remain. In a hearing called by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, ICANN's smooth-talking CEO …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Jul 2015

Dot-com da-bomb Verisign fires off an OpenDNS rival

Operator of the dot-com registry Verisign has launched a rival to popular online security service OpenDNS, called DNS Firewall. Announcing the service in a blog post, Verisign's Michael Kaczmarek said that protecting a company from cyberattacks was "becoming increasingly difficult and expensive," and pointed out that hackers …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Jul 2015

How a Cali court ruling could force a complete rethink of search results

We could be looking at a complete overhaul of search results thanks to a case involving Amazon and a high-end watch manufacturer. Earlier this week, California's Ninth Circuit reversed a district court decision that the online retail giant does not infringe the trademark of Multi Time Machine (MTM) when it displays competitors …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Jul 2015

Furor rages over ICANN and Facebook's bid to publish home addresses of website owners

A row over online privacy and domain-name ownership has reached its peak on the last day of its public comment period. The proposal put forward by domain name overseer ICANN will prevent any owner of a "commercial" website from using so-called proxy services – where a third-party provides their corporate details on the records …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Jul 2015

Network Solutions' 30-day refund has a catch: It'll keep up to 30%

Network Solutions has been scolded by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misleading consumers over a "30-day money back guarantee" that wasn't quite what it seemed. The domain flogger and web hosting company has offered the "guarantee" since 2008 on its hosting deals, which range from $120 to $350 per year. But on a …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jun 2015

Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

It's been 33 years since the United Kingdom went to war with Argentina and won back the Falkland Islands, but the battle still continues – including online. On Thursday, there was a meeting at the United Nations about the islands that resolved the UK and Argentina should get together and negotiate a solution to the ongoing …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jun 2015

ICANN's leaving the nest, so when will it grow up?

Comment ICANN is 17 years old. It's about to be given the keys to its dad's car. And we are all going to have to take a ride with it every day. On June 30, 2016, ICANN, which oversees the global domain name service (DNS), will take over the IANA contract on a semi-permanent basis from the US government. The IANA contract means very …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jun 2015
Photo by Heather Sorenson / sxc.hu

Hey devs. Forget Siri – Amazon's Alexa will show you a $100m good time

Amazon is reaching out to developers in an effort to build a rival to voice assistant services like Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana. The online retail giant has released APIs and a software development kit (SDK) in an effort to build up its new Alexa voice service, which is built into its Echo smart speaker. It has also …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jun 2015

Privacy advocates descend on proposed domain name change

A proposal to force domain name owners to reveals their true identity and address if their website is deemed "commercial" has set off a privacy storm. Under the proposal put forward by domain name overseer ICANN, any "registrants of websites engaged in active commerce" would not be entitled to use proxy services, which replace …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jun 2015

Tesla says Model 3 is still on schedule, despite being delayed again

The planned Tesla model for plebs – the Model 3 – has been delayed to 2018 from an original planned shipping date of early 2017. According to slides put out this week by JB Straubel, Tesla's CTO, the $35,000 entry-level electric car is "planned for 2018." When the Model 3 was first announced, it was scheduled to be shown in …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jun 2015

What is this river nonsense? Give .amazon to Bezos, says US Congress

The US Congress has had a second stab at trying to get Amazon its own internet extension in a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The Congressional Trademark Caucus has written to the domain name overseer's CEO and chair complaining about the decision to deny the online retailer its …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jun 2015

Another CEO goes overboard from Jay Z's Tidal music website

The troubled celebrity-backed music-streaming website Tidal has lost another CEO: Norwegian Peter Tonstad has quit after just three months in the job. Tonstad had replaced his former boss Andy Chen in April. One month before that, Tidal's parent company, Aspiro, was bought by a consortium of musicians fronted by rapper Jay Z for …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jun 2015

June 30, 2016: The day the US will hand over control of the internet

It is going to take until the end of June next year for the US government to formally hand over control of the top level of the internet. That’s according to the CEO of the organization that runs the IANA functions that keep the 'net glued together, and which is expected to take over the job on a more permanent basis. Speaking …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Jun 2015

Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

So in order to test out the Ecobee3 - as its names suggests, the third iteration of the product - it was necessary to pull the Nest smart thermostat off the wall and put it away. That this act seemed somehow wrong and even came with a twinge of guilt is an indication of just how entrancing the product that has become the face of …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Jun 2015

OK, forget DNS for a sec. Why not shift IP addresses and protocols away from Uncle Sam?

The director general of regional internet registry APNIC, Paul Wilson, has called for a staggered transition of the critical IANA contract away from the US government. Rather than be forced to wait until the controversial and complex issue of domain names is decided, Wilson proposes that the two other key elements of the …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Jun 2015

FCC hosts Reagan-off as it enters 21st century

FCC commissioners embarked on a Reagan-quoting political bake-off today as the regulator sought to expand its discount telephone service for flat-broke families. A proposal to extend a $9.25-a-month telephone service called Lifeline to include broadband internet access is now out for public comment. The Lifeline service is aimed …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jun 2015

US govt: Am I the only one around here who cares about DNS security and stability?

The US government has signaled its concern yet again over plans to give ICANN full control of the vital mechanisms that keep the internet held together. In a blog post, published just days before a meeting of domain-name overseer ICANN in Buenos Aires, Uncle Sam's assistant commerce secretary Larry Strickling repeated his …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jun 2015