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  • The argument for, and against, net neutrality Nov 15, 2014 7:34 AM
    Let’s say President Barack Obama gets his way and high-speed Internet service providers are governed by the same U.S. regulations imposed on telephone companies 80 years ago. Depending on whom you listen to, the rules could unleash future innovation and create jobs — or stifle innovation and kill jobs. The divisive and often confusing debate has intensified now that Obama has entered the fray. Obama’s stance is meant to protect “net neutrality,” the concept that everyone with an Internet connection should have equal access to all legal content online. The idea served as one of the Internet’s building blocks, but its fate has been in limbo since January, when a court ruling invalidated Federal Communications Commission guidelines designed to treat all online traffic equally. The FCC has already been working on a new regulatory framework and is under no legal obligation to heed Obama’s call. Nevertheless, Obama’s opinion turns up the political heat on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the four other commissioners who will make the final decision. The FCC isn’t under a deadline to make a decision. The Argument For Regulating Internet Service Providers As Utilities Obama believes the adoption of these Depression-era rules are the best way to preserve a “free and open” Internet that gives everyone in the U.S. the same access to any website hosting legal content, including video, music, photos, social networks, email, and maps. Adopting these rules would empower the U.S. government to prevent powerful online service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable from controlling Internet traffic in a way that suits their own financial interests. This premise assumes the service providers, if left unchecked, will create a two-tier system that funnels Internet traffic into fast and slow lanes. Only the richest companies will be able to pay the extra tolls to ensure their online content is accessible through these fast lanes, according to this hypothesis. “It is historically important that the Internet enhances freedom for all rather than profit for a few,” says Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a trade group that represents many technology companies, including Internet search leader Google Inc. and social networking leader Facebook Inc. And major cable-TV providers that also sell high-speed Internet service might be able to diminish the quality of service to Internet-only video services such as Netflix and Hulu that might lure away their customers. Netflix Inc., which boasts 37 million U.S. subscribers, is leading the charge to regulate Internet service providers like utilities. If net neutrality’s principles hadn’t been in effect for the past 20 years, proponents contend entrepreneurs would have been discouraged from developing a wide range of online services that have created millions of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth. Preserving net neutrality will put more people to work and enrich more investors under this theory. The Argument Against Regulating Internet Service Providers As Utilities If the U.S. government becomes the Internet’s traffic cop, online service providers will lose their incentive to continue investing in projects that improve their networks and expand into areas that have little or no high-speed access. This would lead to less innovation and threaten millions of jobs, according to cable and telecommunications companies spearheading the argument for little or no regulation. Adopting Obama’s approach “would threaten millions of jobs and a diverse array of stakeholders,” warned Broadband for America, an industry trade group. Last year, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable invested a combined $46 billion in the U.S. on plants, property and equipment, according to estimates complied in an analysis by the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank. Internet service providers also argue that it would be unfair to codify regulations that would prevent them from ever recovering some of the costs for connecting to broadband hogs such as Netflix, whose service generates about one-third of U.S. online traffic during the evening hours on weekdays. Netflix already pays Comcast, Verizon and AT&T an undisclosed fee for a more direct connection to their networks, an arrangement that could become unnecessary if Obama’s recommendation is adopted by the FCC. More regulation under rules created in a dramatically different era also threatens to bog down the Internet in more government bureaucracy and meddling. The 1934 Telecommunications Act would be the foundation of net neutrality, as envisioned by Obama, and it’s not clear how much the law would be updated. Broadband for America likened Obama’s proposal to the efforts of governments in China and Russia to gain more control over the Internet.

  • Review: No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week Nov 15, 2014 7:31 AM
    Apple Pay has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks, but there are lots of other mobile-payment systems. Google Wallet uses a similar wireless technology called NFC, or near-field communication. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have apps that generate bar codes for their stores. A phone case called LoopPay mimics the signals produced by card swipes so you can pay with your phone just about anywhere credit cards are accepted — at least in theory.

  • 5 questions, answers on ‘net neutrality’ Nov 15, 2014 7:33 AM
    President Barack Obama on Monday waded into the debate over “net neutrality” by suggesting that Internet service should be regulated more heavily to protect consumers. A look at the issue and what’s at stake.

  • Move or die: Apps that motivate you to exercise Nov 15, 2014 7:36 AM
    Countless articles have detailed how it harms our cardiovascular system and makes us gain weight. And as someone who has packed on the pounds since I went from part-time to full-time work, I can ruefully attest to the latter.So I’ve been scared into trying to work while standing at my desk. My goal, given a bad back and the fact that I sometimes find it easier to concentrate when sitting, is to stand at least two hours each morning and a little while in the afternoon.

  • Review: HTC Re camera fun, but doesn’t beat phones Nov 15, 2014 7:35 AM
    Don’t live your life through a screen. That’s the premise behind HTC’s new Re camera, which aims to let users document all of life’s little moments and actually experience them, too, instead of watching through a viewfinder or a screen. In fact, the Re doesn’t have either — we’ll get to that. The camera, launching Saturday in the U.S., is tiny, waterproof and easy to grip. But, at $199, is it good enough to replace your smartphone or digital camera?

  • Notorious Glendale Heights hacktivist shares methods Nov 15, 2014 5:17 PM
    Cocaine dealers, bank robbers and carjackers converge at Manchester Federal Prison in rural Kentucky — and then there is former Glendale Heights resident Jeremy Hammond, a tousle-haired and talented hacker whose nimble fingers have clicked and tapped their way into the nation's computing systems. Among those whose data he helped expose: the husband of the federal judge who sentenced him. “From the start, I always wanted to target government websites, but also police and corporations that profit off government contracts,” he says.

  • Illinois health insurance enrollment starts Saturday Nov 14, 2014 4:20 PM
    Many people still are confused about how to enroll, said Jose Munoz, the state’s chief marketing officer for the Get Covered Illinois campaign. About 43 percent of uninsured Illinoisans surveyed said confusion about the process kept them from signing up, he said. The state’s campaign will narrowly focus on three messages: free help available, the affordability of coverage and the quality of the health plans.

  • Wheaton expert: Online shoppers should stay vigilant against privacy hackers Nov 14, 2014 5:46 AM
    More of you are expected to shop online this holiday season and that means more vigilance is needed to protect your private information, a Wheaton expert said. That means you’ll need to remain cautious while protecting your devices and identity even more, especially in the wake of massive hacks at retailers, including Target, Jewel-Osco, Home Depot and others, said Vince Mazza, co-founder of Guard Street.

  • Los Angeles police use data to target crime Nov 14, 2014 10:11 AM
    Los Angeles police are increasingly relying on technology that not only tells patrol officers where crime is most likely to occur but also identifies and keeps track of ex-cons and other bad guys they believe are most likely to commit them. The program — part data collection, part lightning-fast computer platform, part street-level intelligence-gathering — is expanding in Los Angeles with the help of a recent federal infusion of $400,000 and has drawn interest from departments across North America.

  • Elk Grove data center expands Nov 13, 2014 4:48 PM
    The CenturyLink Technology Solutions data center in Elk Grove Village has expanded and offers more space for its managed services and sloud solutions.

  • Tech company eyeing Gurnee strikes exclusive agreement with Argonne National Laboratory Nov 12, 2014 5:30 AM
    An exclusive licensing agreement for diamond semiconductor technology has been granted by a federal agency to a company that wants to move to Gurnee. AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. still needs Gurnee village board approval for a tax incentive package to move there.

  • Obama dives into Internet regulation debate Nov 11, 2014 2:19 PM

    By Anne Flaherty

    President Barack Obama is embracing a radical change in how the government treats Internet service, coming down on the side of consumer activists who fear slower download speeds and higher costs but angering Republicans and the nation’s cable giants who say the plan would kill jobs.

  • U.S. fights cybercrime from office parks Nov 11, 2014 12:03 PM
    Ground zero in the nation’s fight against cybercrime hides in plain sight, in a nondescript suburban office building with no government seals or signs. Only after passing a low-key receptionist stationed on the seventh floor does one see the metal detectors, personal cellphone lockers and a series of heavy doors marked “classified” — all leading to the auditorium-sized National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

  • Shopping apps offer cash back at the grocery store Nov 9, 2014 7:31 AM
    Preparing for your Thanksgiving meal? Be aware that a new breed of shopping apps makes it easier to save money at the grocery store: Take a picture of the receipt and wait for the cash to roll in. SavingStar, Snap, Checkout 51, and others, let users earn money back if they buy certain products.

  • Boomers turn to online tools for health care needs Nov 9, 2014 7:00 AM
    Recognizing the needs and potential of such a huge market, companies are developing a variety of health-related technologies geared toward the needs of people in their 50s and 60s. Some of the technologies are aimed at the baby boomers themselves and others at helping people like Rubin care for aging parents.

  • Des Plaines school video a national finalist Nov 9, 2014 4:25 PM
    Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines could be in line to receive more than $57,000 worth of technology-related upgrades if it wins an online video contest.

  • Google challenges Amazon with new price cuts for cloud tools Nov 8, 2014 7:43 AM
    Google Inc. unveiled price cuts for its cloud-based computing services, as the company seeks to attract business customers from Amazon.com Inc. and other rivals. Amazon, Google and Microsoft Corp. have been lowering prices for Web-based services this year as they compete for customers in a market that was worth more than $45 billion last year, according to researcher IDC.

  • Fox eyes digital options to counter ‘fraying’ cable tv bundle Nov 8, 2014 7:42 AM
    21st Century Fox Inc., Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment company, is considering new Web-based initiatives to attract younger viewers and consumers who don’t subscribe to traditional pay TV services. Emerging digital platforms are “the most exciting and important opportunity for future growth,” Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said today on an earnings conference call.

  • How Apple Watch is killing wearable tech as a gift this Christmas Nov 8, 2014 7:33 AM
    This time last year, we all thought that 2014 would be the year of the wearable. But for the most part, the wearable trend still seems to be on the runway. Even as we head into the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s unlikely to take off, analysts say.

  • Technology helps grandparents stay plugged in to grandkids Nov 8, 2014 7:00 AM
    Like a lot of grandmothers, Sheri Williams doesn't get to visit her grandchildren as often as she'd like. In part, that's because she has a full-time job and nine grandchildren spread across several time zones. The youngest one lives in Arlington, Virginia; the oldest lives in Hawaii. “I can't just drive down the street,” she says.

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