Articles about Consumers

Ajit Pai

Say bye-bye to net neutrality next year, gloats FCC commish Pai

In a speech to a right-wing think tank, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai explained how 2017 will be the year that net neutrality dies in the US, and that municipal networks can forget about existing as well. On Wednesday, Pai gave a speech at the Free State Foundation in which he lambasted the FCC for taking on more responsibility …
Iain Thomson, 08 Dec 2016

Fitbit picks up Pebble, throws Pebble as far as it can into the sea

Smartwatch maker Fitbit has confirmed it has bought competitor Pebble – for an undisclosed sum – but only its software. Pebble products are on the scrapheap. The announcement comes a week after news of the purchase leaked, but many had assumed Fitbit would continue to support existing Pebble watches and slowly merge the two …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Dec 2016
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Information on smart meters? Yep. They're great. That works, right? – UK.gov

The UK government has insisted it is effectively communicating the benefits of its controversial smart meter programme – despite MPs having identified a "lack of clarity" over the "problem" the scheme is trying to solve. In its response to the committee’s “Evidence Check” report on smart meters in September, the government …
Kat Hall, 07 Dec 2016
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Brit telco EE's ads banned for 'misleading' 4G speed claims

Brit mobile provider EE has had to remove a number of TV, homepage and press ads for advertising "misleading" 4G speeds. Rival Three and two members of the public complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that a number of speeds claims made were misleading and questioned whether they could be substantiated. On its …
Kat Hall, 07 Dec 2016
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Hackers actively stealing Wi-Fi keys from vulnerable routers

Hackers have graduated from planting malware on the vulnerable routers supplied to consumers by various ISPs towards stealing Wi-Fi keys. Andrew Tierney, a security researcher at UK consultancy Pen Test Partners, noticed the switch-up in tactics in attacks against its honeypot network over the weekend. Customers of UK ISP …
John Leyden, 06 Dec 2016
NHM VR Experience audience

Microsoft boffins think VR visions will rival drugs by 2027

Search as people presently know it – a dialog box for typed queries – will vanish in a decade, according to Susan Dumais, distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Lab. Dumais is one of 17 Microsoft researchers who, in a blog post on Monday, offered predictions about technology developments we …
Thomas Claburn, 06 Dec 2016
Vocus Australia Singapore Cable

Vocus to build Singapore-Australia submarine cable

Junior telco Vocus has confirmed it will build a submarine cable linking Singapore and Australia, with a stop in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The Australia-Singapore Cable will have capacity up to 40Tbps and will make landfall in Perth. The cable's been on the drawing board for some time but Vocus today told the Australian …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Dec 2016

Citizens Advice slams 'unfair' broadband compensation scheme

Consumer rights charity Citizens Advice has slammed the UK's broadband compensation scheme which fails to pass on compensation to customers. Suppliers are typically paid compensation by Openreach for each day that there is a delay fixing a landline fault or setting up a new broadband or landline connection. But customers who …
Kat Hall, 05 Dec 2016
Photo by Klean Denmark

Exclusive: Team Trump's net neutrality guru talks to El Reg

Interview The newest member of the Trump's Transition Team sounded bemused by the tech blog headlines when we caught up with her today. As the academic who has conducted more empirical work into net neutrality than anyone else, Dr Roslyn Layton finds herself in demand from telecoms regulators all over the world. This week she faced the …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Dec 2016
Photo by Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Trump's FCC will soak net neutrality in gas and toss in a lit match

Supporters of net neutrality are preparing to defend FCC regulations passed two years ago in the face of what is increasingly looking like a determined effort by the Trump Administration to undermine them. Earlier this week, Trump named a third person to his FCC transition team and, as with the previous two, she is a vocal …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2016

Soon only Ticketmaster will rip you off: Concert scalper bots face US ban

The US Senate has unanimously passed a bill that will make it illegal to grab large quantities of online tickets with an automated bot. The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act prohibits both circumventing website controls that try to impose purchase limits and the sale of a ticket if it has been obtained through such a …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2016
letters stuffed in a mailbox. Photo by SHutterstock

Sky: Stuff your quad play – customers want separate bills

Sky had a few surprises when it unveiled its new mobile network this week. Rather than half-heartedly selling its network as a second-class bolt-on to Sky's 11 million existing TV and broadband customers, Sky Mobile is going to be a feisty, consumer-friendly MVNO in its own right. Features of Sky Mobile will include rolling …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Dec 2016
Data breach

Clients say they'll take their money and run if service hacked – poll

Further evidence has emerged that hacked firms might subsequently suffer a customer exodus. After TalkTalk's famous data breach, 101,000 of its customers walked. Almost half (48 per cent) of the 1,000 Brits questioned by Onepoll claimed they would cancel accounts if a provider of theirs suffered a data breach. In addition, a …
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2016

European Council agrees to remove geoblocking

The Council of Ministers has agreed on draft regulation to ban unjustified geoblocking in an attempt to remove barriers to e-commerce across the European Union. Geoblocking is the practice of preventing consumers in one country from accessing products and services via a website based in another country. The draft regulation …
OUT-LAW.COM, 01 Dec 2016
Bad review

Congrats America, you can now safely slag off who you like online

The US Congress has handed over the Consumer Review Freedom Act, which stops businesses from gagging online reviews of their products or services, to President Obama for his signature. With the growth of online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, some businesses have started to require customers to sign contracts that ban …
Iain Thomson, 01 Dec 2016

Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues

Comment A few years ago, I interviewed Dr Craig Venter, the man who decoded the human genome, about his plan to save the planet. Venter’s goal was to create a drop-in substitute for hydrocarbon fuels, using genetically modified algae. His algae facilities would be located beside high CO2 sources, and churn out synthetic oil. This …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Nov 2016
lottery

UK National Lottery data breach: Fingers crossed – it might not be you

Cyber criminals appear to be using passwords and email addresses from previous breaches to gain access to 26,000 online UK National Lottery accounts. Camelot, the company behind the National Lottery, detected the scam and subsequent attempted frauds and responded by locking down accounts, triggering compulsory password resets …
John Leyden, 30 Nov 2016
Big bill

UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

The government was warned of the risks surrounding its controversial smart meter programme four years ago, according to a leaked internal report seen by The Register, but appears to have largely ignored those concerns. A review of the programme from March 2012 highlights the vulnerability of smart meters to cyber-attacks, and …
Kat Hall, 30 Nov 2016

UK's new Snoopers' Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor

Among the many unpleasant things in the Investigatory Powers Act that was officially signed into law this week, one that has not gained as much attention is the apparent ability for the UK government to undermine encryption and demand surveillance backdoors. As the bill was passing through Parliament, several organizations …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Nov 2016

Banks' bid to board iPhones' NFC chips rebuffed

The four Australian banks attempting to use iPhones' near-field communications chips for their own payment services, and not Apple Pay, have all-but failed. Australia's Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac together control about 70 per cent of the nation's credit card market. Together with minnow The Bendigo …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Nov 2016

Oh no, software has bugs, we need antivirus. Oh no, bug-squasher has bugs, we need ...

Flaws in security products are among the most commonly encountered desktop software vulnerabilities, according to a new study. Eleven of the 46 products that made it into monthly top 20 most vulnerable product charts between August and October were security packages, Secunia reports. Products from vendors including AlienVault …
John Leyden, 29 Nov 2016
Well-dressed man drinks whisky in expensive flat. Photo by Shutterstock

Confirmation of who constitutes average whisky consumer helps resolve dispute

The average consumer of Scotch whisky is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect member of the general public who has an average level of attention, the EU's General Court has confirmed in ruling over a trade mark dispute. The determination by the Court helped whisky manufacturer William Grant & Sons …
OUT-LAW.COM, 29 Nov 2016

Adblock again beats publishers' Adblock-blocking attempts

Adblock Plus is celebrating, but publishers are scratching their heads, after German courts ruled blocking online advertisements is legal. All claims brought by German media cornerstone Spiegel Online against Eyeo GmbH, creators of Adblock Plus, were late last week dismissed by a court in Hamburg, Germany. Seven media houses …
Darren Pauli, 29 Nov 2016

Super Cali goes ballistic, considers taxing Netflix

More than 40 cities in California are considering a tax on streaming services – dubbed a Netflix tax – claiming that the tax system needs updating for the internet era. The news comes as AT&T announces a new streaming service, DirectTV Now, which the company hopes will see people discard their cable boxes altogether for over …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Nov 2016
Gavel

Rivals' keyword marketing activity censured by High Court

Online marketing activity carried out separately by two rival bathroom retailers respectively infringed trade mark and passing off rights, the High Court in London has ruled. The case related to keyword advertising on Google's search engine by Victoria Plum and Victorian Plumbing. Keyword adverts appear when words an …
OUT-LAW.COM, 28 Nov 2016
Shopping cart photo, via Shutterstock

Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

Loyalty cards – the little buggers are everywhere these days. When British supermarket chain Tesco launched its Clubcard back in 1995, it was a forward-looking idea, so much so that Lord Ian MacLaurin, then Tesco chairman, suggested that he knew more about his customers after three months than he did after 30 years in the retail …
Sooraj Shah, 28 Nov 2016

Have some sympathy for the AT&T devil

Analysis When the first fixed-line phone systems were installed, you paid for everything, but particularly for each minute of each call. Later they had broadband added to the copper and a flat rate began to become the order of the day. As phone calls went to IP, the same applied to calls for the most part. While there are upper limits …
Faultline, 25 Nov 2016

Black Friday: Cashback site Quidco goes TITSUP* on payday

Quidco, the cashback site, has gone TITSUP amid a push to encourage British consumers to engage in the US-imported Black Friday sales fest. The business operates by transferring third-party commissions (gained via its affiliate network) which retailers pay to referrers, on to its own members while taking a cut itself. But …
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2.1Gbps speeds over LTE? That's not a typo, EE's already done it

MBBF2016 Engineers at EE recently managed to get speeds of 2.1Gbps out of a trial LTE deployment, according to Tom Bennett, the British telco’s director of network services and devices. “Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the fastest anyone’s got LTE to go anywhere,” Bennett told the world’s tech press at Huawei’s Global Mobile …
Gareth Corfield, 25 Nov 2016
Scrooge McDuck

Enterprise vendors offering big Black Friday discounts

Black Friday and the Cyber Monday that follows have become big discount shopping days for consumers, but enterprise vendors are getting in on the act too with hefty discounts on training and some kit. Cisco Press is running a Buy 2+, Save 55% or Buy 1, Save 35% sale until November 26th, so the CCNP Routing and Switching v2.0 …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2016

Don't rush into 5G until you've got a market, warns GTI chief

MBBF2016 Mobile carriers should only adopt 5G "if we're able to create new markets", Craig Ehrlich of the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) has warned the mobile network industry, adding: "If 5G does not focus on that then we're buying a lot of equipment and [just] talking a lot of hype." Huawei, organisers of the Global Mobile Broadband …
Gareth Corfield, 24 Nov 2016
Bulls_eye_target

Tech giants warn IoT vendors to get real about security

The heavyweights behind the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) are sick of Internet of Things (IoT) startups foisting insecure rubbish on consumers, and have fired a report that looks like a stern warning that IoT bandwagon-hoppers need to get their houses in order. The group – which counts vendors like Cisco …
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Get patching: Xen bug blows hypervisor security to bits – literally

The Xen Project has issued eight security advisories for its open source hypervisor. XSA-195 is considered the most serious of the eight, as it could allow memory modification, resulting in arbitrary code execution, a crash of the host, or information exposure. According to the Xen Project, XSA-195 (CVE-2016-9383) is …
Thomas Claburn, 24 Nov 2016
Sharon White, new head of Ofcom, former Second Perm Sec at the Treasury

Surprise, surprise. BT the only Universal Service Obligation provider in town

BT is the only player to offer its services for universal coverage of 10Mbps by 2020, but has also placed a number of conditions on doing so, head of comms regulator Ofcom Sharon White has said. Speaking at the Culture, Media and Sports Committee hearing, White said BT has expressed interest in delivering the government's …
Kat Hall, 23 Nov 2016
Photo by Andrew Cline / Shutterstock

Pre-Trump FCC – get a grip on mobe data caps, racist Stingray spying, urge Dem senators

Leading Democrat senators are pushing the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address a number of hot topics, including zero rating and the use of the Stingray cellphone-tracking technology, before the Trump Administration takes over in January. In a letter [PDF] sent Friday, seven senators including Elizabeth Warren …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Nov 2016

FTC report highlights challenge of how to best regulate 'sharing economy' platforms

User rating and review services provided by online platforms can help reduce the need to regulate the "sharing economy", according to a report by a US regulator. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report (100-page / 2.26MB PDF), said, though, that the deployment of "trust mechanisms" alone might not "address externalities" …
OUT-LAW.COM, 22 Nov 2016

MP Kees Verhoeven wants EU to regulate the Internet of S**t

The Democrats 66 (D66) party, currently in opposition in The Netherlands, hopes it can legislate insecure stuff away from the Internet. The suggestion comes in a multi-part initiative put together by MP Kees Verhoeven, who also wants The Netherlands to fund a local threat analysis capability and a national cyber security …
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Apple unplugs its home LAN biz, allegedly

Apple has pencilled in the end-of-life date for its 17-year-old AirPort product line. The news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which probably got it right even if it does describe routers as "access points that connect laptops, iPhones and other devices to the web without a cable." The report notes that wireless networking isn't …

Time for a fresh look at IAM?

Broadcast At 8am PST / 11am EST / 4pm GMT today we'll be digging into the matter of Identity and Access Management with a live broadcast on the subject. Our host Jon Collins will be quizzing Tony Lock from Freeform Dynamics and Nadav Benbarak, from Okta, to understand just how far things have come and, most importantly, what to do about …
David Gordon, 21 Nov 2016

Ofcom slaps ban on BT/EE 4G spectrum bid

Communications giant BT/EE will not be able to bid for more 4G spectrum in the forthcoming auction, according to proposals by communications regulator Ofcom. Next year, Ofcom will auction 190 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands – an increase of just under a third of the total mobile spectrum currently available. …
Kat Hall, 21 Nov 2016
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Contracts trading personal data for digital content: Rights to remedy, redress required

Opinion Consumers should not have had to actively provide their personal data in return for digital content to be supplied to them to benefit from consumer protection rights relating to the supply of that content, a committee of MEPs has said. A new directive on contracts for the supply of digital content was proposed by the European …
OUT-LAW.COM, 18 Nov 2016
Smart Meter keeps you on top of your spending

Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

The UK government has been accused of burying a report on its hated £11bn smart meters project by releasing revised spending data just hours after the election of Donald Trump. The scheme will require energy suppliers to offer 53 million meters to homes and small businesses by 2020 and the implementation is to be rolled out in …
Kat Hall, 17 Nov 2016
Boba Fett

Qualcomm taps Samsung to make next-gen 10nm Snapdragon

The latest and greatest Snapdragon processor, the 835 due out in the first half of next year, will be made by Samsung and be the first to use the chaebol's 10-nanometer FinFET architecture. The announcement was made at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit in New York and extends the partnership the two firms have had for …
Iain Thomson, 17 Nov 2016
Man heaves giant rock above his head in the middle of the woods. Photo by Shutterstock

Facebook Telecom Infrastructure Project starts chucking rocks at mobile model

Analysis Nine months after announcing its Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP), Facebook has held its first summit and unveiled new partners and a first concrete project, a white box transponder/router for fibre backhaul, called Voyager. This is an indication, if any were needed, that the social media giant was not just tub-thumping …
Wireless Watch, 17 Nov 2016

Telstra's answers El Reg's Smart Home security questions

Telstra has managed to emit a response to The Register's questions about the soundness of its Smart Home service strategy, which we received at 5:10 PM yesterday. Vendors Telstra has, pleasingly, identified the vendors supplying its kit: The platform is powered by Icontrol; Cameras, smart plugs and door sensors are …

The world has changed but has your IAM?

Broadcast It was never easy to put a business case together for Identity Access Management (IAM), but the stakes are getting higher all the time. Headlines today are littered with the news of consumer data breaches, customer accounts being compromised and personally identifiable information exploited. At 8am PST / 11am EST / 4pm GMT on …
David Gordon, 15 Nov 2016

DirecTV Now to give Apple TV free for those who take 3-month deal

We made it very clear in our October 20 review of DirecTV Now that no set top was going to be commissioned for the service and yet it would deliver to any TV, because it would use a digital media adapter such as Apple TV. So it wasn’t the biggest surprise we have come across when 3 weeks later another story ran, suggesting the …
Faultline, 15 Nov 2016
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Facebook agrees to dial back 'racial affinity' ads

Facebook says it will stop allowing advertisers to set display-by-race preferences for certain types of ads. The House of Zuck said in a Friday blog post that it would not remove its "racial affinity" preference outright, but would "build tools to detect and automatically disable" the preference in ads for housing, job …
Shaun Nichols, 11 Nov 2016
Russian hacking

Russian banks floored by withering DDoS attacks

At least five Russian banks weathered days-long DDoS attacks this week. A wave of assaults began on Tuesday afternoon and continued over the next two days. Victims include Sberbank and Alfabank, both of which confirmed DDoS attacks on their online services, RT reports. The attacks were powered by compromised IoT devices, …
John Leyden, 11 Nov 2016
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Google: If you think we're bad, you should take a look at Apple

Google has responded to the European Commission's complaint that it is abusing its market power with the Android mobile phone operating system by griping that Microsoft and Apple are worse. The ad and search giant points out in a neat animated GIF that of the 39 bundled apps on an iPhone, all 39 of them stem from Apple; on a …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Nov 2016