Sunday, February 28, 2010

Microsoft's Botnet War

Windows logoImage via Wikipedia
Microsoft has several other botnets in its crosshairs, and believes it can use the same legal tactic against them that it deployed last week to strike at the Waledac botnet's command-and-control centers.
But the company also admitted that it had not yet severed all communications between the controllers of Waledac and the thousands of compromised Windows computers used by hackers to pitch bogus security software and send a small amount of spam.
"This shows it can be done," said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney with Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "Each botnet is different, of course, but this is another arrow in the quiver. This is not the last [effort].... We have other operations on the drawing board."
Last Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it had been granted a court order that yanked nearly 300 sites from the Internet. Those sites, Microsoft said, were a key link between hackers and the PCs that make up the Waledac botnet. The legal tactic, which garnered accolades from many security professionals as a precedent-setting move, resulted in what Microsoft called "a major botnet takedown" of Waledac, a fact that some researchers disputed.
The same method can and will be applied to other botnets, Boscovich said. He declined to say which zombie PC army is next on Microsoft's hit list. "Of course this is scalable," he said when asked whether the legal action against Waledac would work against other botnets, or was a one-off. "This is another tool we can now use, another mechanism that is available."
In fact, when Microsoft officials sat down in early January to decide which botnet to target, they started with a list of six, then narrowed it to three, from which they selected Waledac. The remaining five unnamed botnets remain on Microsoft's list.



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Department of Defense has loosened the reins on social networks

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
The Department of Defense has loosened the reins over the use of Facebook, Twitter and other user-generated applications among its personnel, ending the maddening inconsistency of Web 2.0 application use among the military.

In a Feb. 26 memorandum covering the "safe and effective use of Internet-based capabilities," the DOD said the entire non-classified network may provide access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other user-generated content and Web 2.0 applications, such as Google Apps, wikis and blogs.
"This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st Century Internet tools," said Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III.



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Saturday, February 27, 2010

It is a giant cash pile of about 25B

Steve JobsImage by Freedom To Marry via Flickr
Apple CEO Steve Jobs told shareholders that the reason for its giant cash pile, totaling at least $25 billion, was to enable it to take advantage of "what’s around the next corner." Potential purchases, suggest analysts, could be original news content or a big launch into cloud computing.

Apple has not only bested analyst expectations in recent quarters — most recently setting new records for iPhone and Mac sales — but has additionally been growing quite a cash pile, ranging from $25 billion in some reports to as much as $40 billion in others.
At the company's annual investors meeting Feb. 25, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told shareholders that rather than buy back shares or give them dividends, he preferred to “leave the powder dry” for possible acquisitions, though none were presently planned, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We’re a large enough business now, that in order to really move the needle, we’ve got to be thinking pretty bold, pretty large. And who knows what’s around the next corner,” Jobs told the shareholders, according to Reuters. “When we think about big, bold things, we know that if we needed to acquire something, a piece of the puzzle, to make something big and bold a reality, we could write a check for it.”



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Google adds location based search

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Google on Friday added the ability to search by location. Looking for a vet in your neighborhood? A good wine store? Now you no longer have to type in your city name in the search field, as the "nearby" tab will automatically pull local results.
"Location has become an important part of the way we search," Jackie Bavaro, a Google product manager, wrote in a blog post. "If you're a foodie looking for restaurant details, food blogs or the closest farmer's market, location can be vital to helping you find the right information."
To activate, conduct a search on Google.com and click "search options" on the top left-hand side of the results page. Scroll down, click "nearby" and Google will return results closest to you, if you are logged into your Google account. To change where you are, click "custom location" and enter the city, state, or region of choice.
"One of the really helpful things about this tool is that it works geographically -- not just with keywords -- so you don't have to worry about adding 'Minneapolis' to your query and missing webpages that only say 'St. Paul' or 'Twin Cities,'" Bavaro wrote.
The feature is currently only available in English.





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Friday, February 26, 2010

Will IT spending lead to jobs

Hardware, software, Web design and cloud computing technologies are expected to be funded, but whether companies are actually hiring new positions for those technologies remains in question. Technology contract and consulting work was up in 2009 and is expected to grow in 2010.


CIOs and CTOs plan to spend their budgets when the recession is over on the IT purchases they had to put on hold in 2009, according to a report by staffing company Robert Half Technology, which polled 1,400 technology decision makers.

What areas will they spend in?
The largest single category of spending, at 37 percent, was just what you would expect it to be: hardware and software. Web design and virtualization tied at 16 percent, while social media came in at 9 percent. Internal collaboration technology tools garnered 12 percent; cloud computing spending is expected by 11 percent of technology executives polled.

IT spending projection studies for 2010 from Forrester and IDC have predicted an expansion of IT spending in 2010 after an abysmal 2009 dominated by slashed budgets and the loss of a sizable percentage of technology jobs. The question in terms of jobs now, however, is whether we are in a period of post-recession with jobless recovery. Depends which economist or chief financial officer you ask. There is also the question of whether an increase in spending on technology necessarily amounts to new jobs being created.



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Excuses, excuses

Employees are always looking for ways to get noticed in the workplace and for tips about what could set them apart and fast track them for promotion. But they should also be aware of what could get them noticed for the wrong reasons, such as being known for giving excuses. Here’s advice you can offer employees who need to break the excuse doom cycle.

First, do not accept excuses from yourself. By following this straightforward yet difficult rule, you’ll do things the right way, and this behavior will get noticed. A few tasks or minor responsibilities tend to grow exponentially because people who can be relied on to get the job done without a lot of management oversight are very rare. Before long, you’ll be invited into the decision making circle.



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Oracle maintenance fees

Oracle BeehiveImage via Wikipedia
Image via CrunchBaseIt turns out that at least some Oracle users are getting mighty tired of forking over a minimum of 22% for maintenance costs when they see what were quoted to me as ‘obscene margins.’ These are not just minnows but some well known names.
Welcome to the quiet customer uprising. SAP got a heavy dose of the customer backlash after raising maintenance fees last year. Is it Oracle’s turn for 2010?



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Facebooks new patent

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia
You know those patents we see in the tech world that seem overly broad and tend to restrict competition in the space? Well, check out this one. Social networking giant Facebook was just granted a patent for "displaying a news feed in a social media network."
The patent, which was filed back in 2006, covers the information that is released the in the information river on Facebook's front page. It doesn't seem to cover status updates exclusively, meaning that sites like MySpace are probably safe on that front.
As many sites are pointing out, Twitter also seems safe from the effects of the recently granted patent.



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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Facebook's virtual currency

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Facebook's virtual currency, "Facebook Credits," is getting very close to its full launch: a post on the Facebook developer blog explains some of the full terms of the system and what developers can expect as the currency continues to roll out slowly.

"Today more than 500,000 applications exist on Facebook, and the virtual goods within those applications (particularly games) have become an increasingly valuable part of the user experience," the post explained. "By providing a single, cross-application currency, our goal is to [make] transactions simpler for users, leading to a higher conversion rate for developers. Specifically, our early testing has shown that users paying with Facebook Credits are significantly more likely to complete a purchase than the average Facebook user."
Developers will need to believe in that incentive: Facebook plans to take a full 30 percent cut of Credits transactions. Some developers have already denounced that as too expensive. Facebook will have to give them the hard sell in order to win them over, as many third-party currency start-ups have already flooded the developer platform, and there are consequently lots of other options out there.


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Thousands of tonnes of diesel fouled Italy's longest river, the Po

Thousands of tonnes of diesel and other fuel fouled Italy's longest river, the Po, on Thursday after pouring into a tributary from storage tanks in what authorities said could have been a deliberate act of pollution.
The Lombardy and Emilia Romagna regions in northern Italy asked Rome to declare a state of emergency to help deal with the spill in the Po and its Lambro tributary in the country's richest industrial and agricultural area.
Swift currents have hampered efforts to contain the fuel, mostly diesel.
"We are talking about 400,000 liters (106,000 gallons)," said Ferruccio Melloni, head of Emilia Romagna's civil protection agency.
The fuel poured into the Lambro late on Tuesday from storage tanks at a disused Lombarda Petroli refinery near Monza, about 30 km (20 miles) northeast of Milan, the Lombardy regional environmental protection agency said.
The fuel, which reached the Po on Wednesday, could have been released from the tanks intentionally, the agency said in a statement.
Enel SpA, Italy's biggest power company, said the fuel formed a layer between 10 and 15 cm (four and six inches) thick at its Isola Serafini hydroelectric power plant on the Po.





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Salesforce.com continued to reap rewards

Image representing Salesforce as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Salesforce.com continued to reap rewards from the rapid growth of the enterprise cloud software business as it reported record full year revenue for fiscal 2010 of $1.3 billion, a 21 percent year-over-year increase.
The company's total $1.4 billion run rate made Salesforce.com the “first enterprise cloud computing company to ever reach this scale,” said Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.
Salesforce.com generated record yearly and quarterly revenue despite the prolonged recession that has put the brakes on sales for many other IT companies. “While most software companies are trying to forget the past year our fiscal 2010 looks perhaps like our most memorable and exciting year ever,” Benioff said. He claimed that the 21 percent annual growth rate represented “the fastest growth of any comparably sized software company in the world,” he said.


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Class action launched against Yelp

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
Two law firms have filed a class-action lawsuit against local search provider Yelp for allegedly extorting Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital, based in Long Beach, Calif., in order to take down a negative review.
Beck & Lee Business Trial Lawyers in Miami and The Weston Firm in San Diego filed the suit, according to a Web site that the two firms created.
Both firms painted Yelp as a Web site that preyed on small businesses to increase its sales commissions.





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P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act

P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act would prohibit peer-to-peer file sharing programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. The legislation would also prohibit P2P software that would prevent the authorized user from blocking the installation of a P2P file sharing program and/or disabling or removing any P2P file sharing program.

Software developers would be required to clearly inform users when their files are made available to other P2P (peer-to-peer) users under legislation introduced Feb. 24 by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD). The legislation comes just one day after the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) notified nearly 100 organizations Feb. 23 that the use of P2P programs on their computer networks had resulted in significant data breaches involving sensitive information about customers and employees.

The FTC said users of these networks risk the exposure of personal information, including health-related information, financial records and drivers’ license and Social Security numbers, which can lead to identify theft.



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Microsoft Office 2010 upgrade

Microsoft Office 2007Image via Wikipedia

The program runs between March 5, 2010 and September 30, 2010


Customers who buy a copy of Office 2007 during that period — with or without a new PC — from a participating reseller will qualify for the promotion

To qualify, customers must activate their copies of Office 2007 by September 30 and request their free upgrade to Office 2010 by October 31

Those who are eligible will get a free download of Office 2010 (although discs will e purchasable for a shipping and handling fee)

Limit is 25 free-upgrade copies per person
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Yahoo has announced a partnership with Twitter

Yahoo has announced a partnership with Twitter that includes integrating Twitter content and social features across the Yahoo! network.
Yahoo has announced a partnership with Twitter that includes integrating Twitter content and social features across the Yahoo network.
In a February 23 blog post on the issue, Yvonne French, product manager for Yahoo Social programs said under the agreement users will be able to view personal Twitter feeds in Yahoo Mail.
"Users who authorize Yahoo will be able to read and update their Twitter feed from Yahoo Mail, the Yahoo homepage, and other locations across the Yahoo network," French said. "The Twitter (and Facebook) feeds will be important additions to the rich, diverse Updates feed that Yahoo users already enjoy," she said.



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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Net neutrality deadline extended

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via Wikipedia
Still not quite sure how you feel about net neutrality? Not to worry, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that it will extend the deadline for comments on the issue by more than a month.
The due date for final comments about the commission's proceeding has been extended from March 5 to April 8, according to an FCC filing.
The move comes after groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and the Screen Actors Guild asked the FCC for an extension in order to factor in the commission's national broadband plan, which is due to Congress by March 17.
Consumer groups like Public Knowledge and Consumers Union also issued their support for the delay.
"It is the policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted. However, given the large record and the National Broadband Plan's release in March, we find that good cause exists to provide all parties a one-time extension of the reply comment deadline," the FCC said.
The FCC introduced its net neutrality plan on Oct. 22. The first round of comments were due by Jan. 14, and stakeholders now have until April 8 to file responses to those comments.
The draft rules would permit broadband Internet access service providers to engage in reasonable network management. They would not, however, be able to prevent a user from: using a particular application, like BitTorrent; connecting to their network of choice; and accessing competing products. Providers could also not discriminate against lawful apps, and they would be required to disclose their network management practices.



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iTunes Will Sell 10 Billionth Song Today

iTunes Store logo, which simply consists of th...Image via Wikipedia
iTunes Will Sell 10 Billionth Song Today


10 billion. We can count up to 10 billion. But we won't. Because it's boring. But Apple's doing it, in their 10 billion song countdown. I remember when everybody laughed at the iPod and iTunes. Nobody is laughing now. [Apple]



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Wall Street bonuses up

Eric Frank and Thomas DiNapoliImage by johndbritton via Flickr
Wall Street bonuses were up 17 per cent to over $20-billion (U.S.) in 2009, the year taxpayers bailed out the financial sector after its meltdown, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday.

Total compensation at the largest securities firms grew beyond that figure and profits could surpass what he calls an unprecedented $55-billion last year, Mr. DiNapoli said. That's nearly three times Wall Street's record increase, a rate of growth that is boosted in part by the record losses in 2008 of nearly $43-billion, the Democrat said.



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Monday, February 22, 2010

Firefox 3.6x bug

Mozilla Firefox IconImage via Wikipedia
A vulnerability has been uncovered in Firefox 3.6.x. This bug is rated as highly critical by Secunia.

Details are sketchy, and there’s no official word from Mozilla yet.



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FBI is investigating allegations made against the Lower Merion School District

The FBI is investigating allegations made against the Lower Merion School District in a lawsuit by the parents of a student. The lawsuit claims school officials used a remote-controlled Webcam to spy on their son, a high school student.

The FBI is reportedly investigating a Pennsylvaniaschool district for possible federal law violations in light of a lawsuit filed by the parents of a high school student.
According to multiple media reports, the FBI is probing accusations made against the Lower Merion School Districtby Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa. The Robbins family filed a lawsuit alleging the district spied on their son, Blake, who is a student at Harriton High School, using a Webcam included on



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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Website management at eComTechnology

Complete Website Management Solutions


Very soon now Google will require your site to function at certain speeds and maintain a level of activity or it will simply fall off their search engine listings, same as listings on the stock market.
Putting your website on the Internet is the easy part. Who can manage it, eComTechnology. Static web sites go stale and that causes traffic to drop off. Regular maintenance will keep a website active in search engines and accessed by potential customers, even without adding new content. Website Management is not only important, it is now more than ever critical with new website requirements for search engines to even stay listed in the search engines. Very soon now Google will require your site to function a certain speeds and maintain a level of activity or it will simply fall off their search engine listings.
eComTechnology does Web Site Management Right!



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Saturday, February 20, 2010

After more than a yearlong ban, USB drives

After more than a yearlong ban, USB drives and other removable media devices may now used on military networks under "very specific circumstances and guidelines."

After a more than yearlong ban, USB drives and other removable media devices may now be used on military networks under “very specific circumstances and guidelines,” according to the U.S. Strategic Command. “This is not a return to business as usual," Vice Adm. Carl Mauney, deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, told SCMagazineUS.com in an email on Friday. “There remain strict limitations on using these devices.” The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) originally banned USB drives and other removable media devices in November 2008, after a worm infiltrated Army networks. A variation of the worm, W32.SillyFDC, was targeting thumb drives and other removable media and spreading through military networks. To stop the infection, all removable storage devices – including USB drives, external hard drives, cameras and some printers – were prohibited on all military networks.


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Friday, February 19, 2010

Yahoo Search developer tools

Yahoo! Inc.Image via Wikipedia
If you are wondering what will happen to the Yahoo Search developer tools now that the Microsoft and Yahoo search agreement has been approved, Yahoo has a message for you: Stay tuned.
As it did when the Microsoft/Yahoo search alliance was initially announced last July, Yahoo's Search team is saying the future of Yahoo Search developer tools like SearchMonkey and Yahoo BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) is up in the air.



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Google attacks coming from two schools in China

Google Inc.Image via Wikipedia
The New York Times is reporting that investigators examining the cyber-attacks on Google and dozens of other companies have uncovered evidence linking the attack to two schools in China.
Investigators have uncovered a link between two schools in China and the notorious Aurora attacks that victimized Google and dozens of other companies, according to a news report from The New York Times.
Citing sources close to the investigation, The Times reported the attacks, which were aimed at stealing trade secrets and computer codes and spying on Chinese human rights activists, may have begun as early as April – months earlier than previously thought.
According to The Times, the attack has been traced to computers at Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School, and evidence "acquired by a United States military contractor that faced the same attacks as Google" has led investigators to suspect a link to a computer science class taught by a Ukranian professor at the vocational school. Spokespeople for the schools reportedly told The Times they had not heard American investigators had traced the attacks to their campuses.



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Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
As Apple gears up for the release of its iPad tablet PC within the next two months, the company is apparently negotiating with major publishers for the ability to sell e-books at a reduced price depending on market circumstances.
In a Feb. 17 article, The New York Times quoted from three unnamed sources supposedly close to the negotiations, who suggested that Apple wants to the ability to lower the cost of e-books either selling for a reduced price in hardcover, or which hit the bestseller lists. That flexibility would represent a new twist in the rapidly evolving e-book market, which has seen prices remain relatively static.
Under the terms of that model, e-books that would ordinarily sell for $12.99 or $14.99 on Apple’s online storefront could be downloaded instead for $9.99. The article stated that the publishers involved in the Apple negotiations included Simon & Schuster, the Penguin Group, Macmillan, HarperCollins Publishers, and the Hachette Book Group.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Class action against Google

The suit, reported by ABC News, is the first reported suit filed against Google about Buzz, which unexpectedly exposed relationships users had with others when Google turned on the technology. Google has since offered two methods to turn off Buzz.

"I feel like they did something wrong," said Hibnick, an active Gmail user and second-year law student, as quoted by ABC News. "They opted me into this social network and I didn't want it."
Hibnick said that she is not seeking a large cash payout. "What we'd like to see as result is a commitment from Google that they're not going to do this again the next time they launch a product," said Gary Mason, of Washington D.C..'s Mason Law Firm

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Windows Mobile 6.x rebranded?

A Screenshot of the Windows Mobile 6.Image via Wikipedia
Microsoft refused to confirm rumors that Windows Mobile 6.x will be re-branded as Windows Phone Classic, even as the online community raised questions over the backward compatibility of existing Windows Mobile apps with its new Windows Phone 7 Series.
On Feb. 16, Long Zheng wrote on his Istartedsomething blog that Windows Mobile 6.5, launched in October 2009 and designed to slow Microsoft’s long decline in the smartphone OS arena, “will be rebranded as Windows Phones Classic, and presumably the devices as Windows Phones Classic Series.” Zheng wrote that he learned of the rebranding during an interview with Microsoft representatives.



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Google yesterday acquired email search startup reMail

Image representing ReMail as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Google yesterday acquired email search startup reMail. This alone is only mildly interesting, but then they promptly killed the company’s iPhone app, which speaks volumes.
reMail founder Gabor Cselle blogged about the acquisition:
Google and reMail have decided to discontinue reMail’s iPhone application, and we have removed it from the App Store.
Looks like reMail is just another casualty in the Apple-Google cold war that I’ve written about here ad naseum. Hopefully Apple will finally give us email body search in iPhone 4.0.


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Keeping a hold on Google

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
News Analysis: Major mobile carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T are having trouble with Google and its desire to change the way that the telecommunications industry operates. They realize that time is running out before they lose some control, and they want to do everything they can to stop Google's move into telecom services before it gets out of hand.
Google's Nexus One smartphone has caused several executives at mobile carriers to wonder just how far the search and Web services giant will go.
In a recent discussion at an industry conference in Spain, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said the industry should be wary of Google. He cited the fact that "80 percent of the advertising online goes down one funnel" as proof that wherever Google decides to compete, it attempts to dominate and leave just scraps for the competition.
Other carriers are concerned that Google might attempt to change the way the industry sells phones and, in the end, dictate the direction of the entire mobile industry—a luxury carriers have had since the beginning.
The only problem is, beating Google to the punch will be difficult. The company has captivated consumers with several well-respected Android-based devices. It has also used its position as one of the more trusted companies in the space to change the way consumers buy phones. All the while, it has generated significant advertising revenue originating from mobile phones connecting to the Web on carriers' networks. Those carriers are upset that they're being left out of the money-making process. And they want Google to address that.



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How FCC Plans to Reverse Title II Action in December

How FCC Plans to Reverse Title II Action in December By:  Wayne Rash  |  November 21,2017 The FCC plans regarding net neutrality, set ...