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I would really, really like an oily biscuit with honey and a touch of cinnamon after finishing this film. Please. First Cow is the latest feature made by American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt (of Old Joy, Meek's Cutoff, Night Moves). After initially premiering at the Telluride & New York Film Festivals last fall, it has made an appearance at the Berlin Film Festival this year showing as a European premiere in the main competition section. Set at the beginning of the 19th century in the rural Northwest (mainly in Oregon), the film is about a friendship and successful local business started by two lonely misfits. It's not just a film about a cow, it's not just a film about friends, and it's not just a film about the Northwest frontier. It has so much depth and heart and humility, an entirely wonderful film. I think I loved it, to be fully honest, which even surprises me. As the title indicates, Kelly Reichardt's ...
U.S. venture capital firm Quake Capital is partnering with German telco giant Deutsche Telekom and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland on a new technology accelerator program focused on 5G immersive entertainment. Based in Cologne, Quake Europe will target seed-level investments in early stage consumer-focused 5G tech ventures in Europe. Deutsche Telekom tech incubator Hubraum is serving as […] | 2/19/20

The continued growth of the games industry has been both a huge surprise and an inevitable certainty: Surprising because very few observers expected it to reach the $180 billion annualized market size it currently boasts, and inevitable because “Fortnite,” “Mario,” “Halo,” “Candy Crush” and Twitch have all become fixtures with audiences in the living room, at the office and on the go.

This year will be critical in the evolution of games. Here are six key trends in the gaming industry to keep an eye on in 2020:

1. Gaming could eclipse the market size of paid TV by 2021 based on current growth trajectories. 
In terms of overall revenue, gaming is now bigger than music and movies combined. Gaming is on track to become the No. 1 entertainment category in the next several years. IDG estimates that gaming reached roughly $180 billion in revenue last year and is on track to exceed $230 billion by 2023. Asia-Pac (led by China, Japan and South Korea) is the biggest overall bucket, followed by North America. But rest of world — led by what we are calling “The Opportunity Markets” of Southeast Asia, Middle East North Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Russia, India, Latin America and Turkey, among others — will post the strongest Compounded Annual Growth Rate in the next 4 years — 13% versus 6% for North America, 9% for Europe and 5% for Asia.

Also Read: 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Breaks Video Game Box Office Record With $58 Million Opening

2. The games market will become more fragmented and more consolidated at the same time.
In other words, there will be growth of cross-play, where a title can be played simultaneously by players of different platforms  (a PS4 “Call of Duty” gamer can play against a friend who has “Call of Duty” for Xbox One). At the same time, there will be growth of siloed walled gardens, where publishers build out their own platforms. The two sub-industries will be able to coexist in 2020.

While these two trends appear to be diametrically opposed to each other, there will be a mix of some new cross-play collaborations above and beyond “Fortnite”/”Minecraft”/”Call of Duty,” while at the same time EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Rockstar and others will continue to build out their own siloed platforms to complement their existing external platform partnerships. Sometime in the next 3-4 years, however, IDG believes that there will be a consumer reckoning, whereby having to log into 10+ platform accounts to access all of a gamer’s gaming content will become too cumbersome and cross-play/interoperability will be valued over fragmentation.

3. Gaming represents the next frontier for social media and for traditional media.
Players and viewers spend an increasing amount of time in share of day through game communities. As an example, Netflix’s greatest competitor might not be Disney+ or Hulu. “Fortnite” is a competitive threat, and Netflix said as much last year when the company stated that “Fortnite” was cannibalizing Netflix customers’ screen time. This battle for entertainment share of day is becoming more multi-faceted, and in many fronts of this battle, gaming and esports are winning. When evaluating the games market, it is important to take a community-centric approach. Both competitive and livestreaming platforms are benefiting from this broader trend, and it is reshaping entertainment as we know it.

Also Read: All 46 Video Game Movies Ranked, Including 'Sonic the Hedgehog'

4. Gaming and esports are the new Trojan horse for Gen Z and millennials.
Although there remains a sizable audience and appetite for traditional media and linear TV, those in younger demographics are often discovering content for the first time on Twitch, YouTube and other communities where gaming and esports are primary content drivers. These same audience segments represent the same people that traditional media have termed “cord-cutters,” and the growing share of gaming and esports is beginning to impact traditional media and even traditional sports.

While a streaming viewer of an esports event might hold a different value versus a Super Bowl television viewer, the scale and scope of gaming/esports/livestreaming entertainment can no longer be denied. Even if we split the League of Legends World Championship Series audience in half, since half of the global audience came from China, the remaining half is still pretty in-line with the total audience of this month’s Super Bowl event. And while the growth in viewership for traditional sports events has decelerated and, in some cases, declined year-over-year, the growth in gaming/esports viewership continues apace.

5. Esports is finally growing up and approaching esports 2.0.
In esports 1.0, the ecosystem was beginning to build out, but there was still a focus on short-term opportunities and a more transactional nature to partnerships. Many of the lower-quality companies are beginning to get weeded out of the market, while top-notch esports teams, franchises, brands and leagues are emerging with best practices and credibility to lend long-term strength to this burgeoning market. However, a rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats, and the same can be said in the case of esports.

There will be winners, but there will also be a lot of losers during this consolidation phase, as the market transitions in a flight to quality, with cleaner business models where dollars are tracked more accurately, operating models become more crystallized and less emblematic of the Wild Wild West. The partnership focus will become less transactional and, instead, will emphasize sustainable, long-term relationships.

Also Read: A New Era for Video Game Streaming? Competitors Target Twitch

6. Gaming and esports will benefit this year from a variety of key catalysts.
Next-gen console launches will release sometime in Q4 2020 for both PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Although console transitions are always disruptive to some extent, our checks with game developers indicate that there is more seamlessness in building next-gen content this time around versus prior transitions.

Cloud gaming platforms are still finding their footing, but there should be a bit more traction in 2020, although the bigger potential for this market is still a long ways off. VR gaming will also remain on the periphery but begin to establish itself more as we begin to see better VR-focused game content in the form of “Half-Life: Alyx” from Valve, among others. And the most important innovations in the games market will likely come from business model innovations, in addition to content innovations. Anticipate new genre mash-ups but also new ways of monetizing consumers that will provide additional value and engagement to the gaming experience.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Sonic the Hedgehog' Breaks Video Game Box Office Record With $58 Million Opening

All 46 Video Game Movies Ranked, Including 'Sonic the Hedgehog'

A New Era for Video Game Streaming? Competitors Target Twitch | 2/18/20

Reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) can be considered a severe threat to any honest-to-goodness small business or your average website owner. It refers to the practice wherein trademark owners attempt to cease a long-time domain's operation by filing a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) dispute to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In some cases, these domains already existed even before someone else filed a trademark for them.

Unfortunately, RDNH claims aren't necessarily valid or filed with reason. Gray areas concerning trademarks, common law rights, and rightful domain ownership are constant in most resolutions. However, WHOIS lookup tools can help respondents up their chances of retaining their domains.

The SteveJobs[.]com Case

In December 2019, The Steve Jobs Archive, LLC, a trust run by Steve Jobs's widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, won the right to own the domain name SteveJobs[.]com. It was previously owned by a South Korean national who goes by the name Steve Jobs Kim for nearly two decades. He used the domain to offer consulting services and publish technology-related news.

The National Arbitration Forum (NAF) panel concluded that the name "Steve Jobs" obtained common law trademark protection before the domain was registered. The name, after all, has become synonymous with Apple, Inc. and its commercial activities. NAF also stated in its decision that the respondent might be misleading website visitors into thinking that it represents Steve Jobs and Apple to some degree.

Among the experts who went up in arms about the decision was domain and intellectual property rights lawyer Paul Keating. In a post, he argued that the respondent never used the domain in bad faith and has owned it for years. He also stressed that Steve Jobs never used his name to represent any Apple goods and services or never treated his name as a brand during his lifetime.

RDNH cases are known for being extremely tricky. In many instances, exceptions to UDRP and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) restrictions are made to resolve disputes. As such, decisions are often subjective and possibly at the expense of the "little guy." But are respondents utterly helpless in such a case?

How a WHOIS Lookup Tool Can Help

WHOIS lookup tools provide a means for cyber investigators and rightful domain owners to uncover ill motives from claimants and protect themselves from RDNH. Such tools allow them to look up available WHOIS records to reveal information associated with a domain. Below are some other uses of WHOIS lookup tools:

  1. Conducting background checks on domain owners: A WHOIS lookup tool can be used to run background checks on claimants in the event of disputes. It reveals an owner's company and contact details that can be used to build a profile and prove the use of the domain in bad faith, for example.
  2. Validating potential business partners and acquirers: A study revealed that 59% of companies claim they suffered a breach due to a third party in 2018. Cyber risk assessors, business executives, and companies can rely on WHOIS API to perform due diligence on third-party vendors they plan to do business with or potential buyers of their organizations.
  3. Supporting cyber investigations: WHOIS lookup tools support e-discovery as well as digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) processes. Security researchers can use it for hunting down cybercriminals and gain an in-depth understanding of their infrastructure. They can also use it together with endpoint protection and detection tools to prevent malicious entities from interacting with their network.

Fighting Back RDNH with Strong Evidence

Going back to the SteveJobs[.]com case, Kim could have questioned (if he has not) the legitimacy of the trust's claims by looking into its background. The trust is a relatively new company (it was incorporated in 2015), as records from a public database show.


Kim could have also pointed out that his domain has been up way before the foundation decided to use it. Here's a snapshot of domain's details which we've retrieved with the tool. As you can see, Kim's domain was registered 16 years before the trust's founding date.

Meanwhile, the company only obtained the trademark for "Steve Jobs" in South Korea in 2018. This only goes to show that it did not own the mark when the domain was created in 1999. The company also applied for the name and mark in several countries such as Mexico, China, Singapore, Canada, and Australia during the same year. Some of its applications are still pending.

Source: WIPO Global Brand Database

Additionally, Kim could have used WHOIS history records to provide further evidence of the disputed domain's fair usage using a web archive capturing tool like Wayback Machine. He has, after all, consistently renewed its ownership and paid for its maintenance. Kim also did not attempt to hide any of his registration details, nameservers, and other pertinent WHOIS records, as most cybersquatters do.

Unfortunately for Kim, his appeals did not work. But while it's easy to assume that respondents battling it out with a massive brand name or entity like Apple or Steve Jobs are destined to fail, that's not always the case. In 2017, two brothers, Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato, won the right to use the name "Steve Jobs" for their fashion line in the European Union. A simple WIPO search also reveals other trademark owners of the world-famous visionary's name.

* * *

Protecting one's brand marks on top of running a business is undeniably tough. WHOIS lookup tools like WHOIS API, along with other domain research and monitoring tools, can help you build your defense against unjust RDNH disputes as well as bolster your organization's cybersecurity posture. | 2/16/20

Last month INHOPE, a global trade association of child abuse reporting hotlines, rejected a joint call from Prostasia Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Article 19, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, that its members should stop treating cartoons as if they were images of child sexual abuse. As our joint letter pointed out, INHOPE's conflation of offensive artwork with actual abuse images has resulted in the misdirection of police resources against artists and fans — predominantly LGBTQ+ people and women — rather than towards the apprehension of those who abuse real children.

INHOPE is not a child protection organization, but an industry association for organizations and agencies that provide censorship services to government and private industry. Its Articles of Association are surprisingly explicit about this: its objective is to "facilitate and promote the work of INHOPE Member Hotlines, whose work is to eradicate illegal content, primarily child sexual abuse material, on the internet" [emphasis added].

It executes this mission by collecting personal information of those who share images that are reported to it (which can include a name, email address, phone number, and IP address), and sharing this information among its member hotlines and with police. Again, it is explicit about this, acknowledging that its "core business revolves around the exchange of sensitive data." INHOPE members have actively lobbied to weaken European privacy rules so that they can maintain these data collection practices, while refusing to accept a compromise allowing continued scanning for actual child abuse images.

Such data collection is clearly justifiable when it is limited to actual sexual abuse images. But INHOPE's data collection isn't limited to this. It siphons up reports of all manner of reports that its members declare to be illegal in their country, and (with one exception mentioned below) gives them another "once-over" to determine whether they are illegal worldwide, only in the reporting or hosting country, or not at all, before forwarding them to INTERPOL. Even if this assessment leads to a determination that the images are lawful, INHOPE doesn't delete them. Inexplicably, it instead classifies them as "Other Child-Related Content," retains them in a database, and sends them to law enforcement for what it describes as "documentation purposes."

Images reported by NCMEC, the American hotline, undergo even less vetting. Despite being an INHOPE member, NCMEC doesn't utilize the services of INHOPE analysts, but directly shares reported images and associated personal information with law enforcement agencies around the world. According to Swiss authorities, up to 90% of these images are later found to be lawful.

INHOPE chose to mischaracterize our call as being grounded in a misunderstanding of the fact that some countries do prohibit artistic sexual representations of minors by law. But our letter explicitly acknowledged that fact, by calling on INHOPE to establish a policy for its members that "artistic images should not be added to image hash lists that INHOPE members maintain, and should not be reported to authorities, unless required by the law where the hotline operates” [emphasis added].

There are indeed some countries in which lawmakers do ill-advisedly use the same laws to criminalize the dissemination of offensive art as they use to prohibit the image-based abuse of real children. But the risks of an international organization allowing national authorities to act as gatekeepers of the images that it it treats as child abuse and reports to INTERPOL should be obvious.

For example, Canada's overbroad child pornography laws have recently drawn public attention over the much-criticised prosecution of an author and publisher for a novel that includes a brief scene of child sexual abuse in its retelling of the story of Hansel and Gretel. The Canadian Center for Child Protection, one of only two INHOPE members that proactively searches for illegal material, was responsible for the arrest of a a 17 girl for posting artwork to her blog, when it reported her to authorities in Costa Rica where such artwork is also illegal.

In other countries where cartoon images are illegal, criminal laws are used to disproportionately target and criminalize LGBTQ+ people and women. An example given in our letter was the case of a Russian trans woman who was arrested over cartoon images and sentenced to imprisonment in a men's prison.

Russia's INHOPE member the Friendly Runet Foundation encourages people to report if they are "exasperated by the on-line materials transgressing morality," and boasts that it was "created at the direct participation and works in close partnership with the Department "K" of the Russian ministry of Interior." This terminology, and the hotline's association with the ministry that criminalized "gay propaganda," is understood by Russian citizens as an attack on LGBTQ+ people's speech. It is noted that no LGBTQ+ representatives are included on INHOPE's Advisory Board. 

INHOPE can't do anything, directly, about unjust national laws that conflate artistic images with child abuse. INHOPE and its members also can't do much to prevent conservative members of the public from reporting non-actionable content (although one member has taken steps to address this problem). That's why we are directly targeting the public with our "Don't report it, block it” information campaign, to stem such false reports at the source.

But what INHOPE can do is to decide what to do with reports that it receives about artistic content. Passing them to law enforcement authorities, using a censorship and surveillance infrastructure that was established to deal with real images of child sexual abuse, isn't its only option here. Neither is it necessary to place those who share such images in the crosshairs of police, especially in countries that have unjust laws or repressive governments.

In 2019, we held a seminar with Internet companies and experts to discuss more proportionate ways of dealing with content such as child nudity, child modeling, and artistic images, that doesn't rise to the legal of child abuse, but which can still be triggering or offensive, or harmful when shared in the wrong context. Through a multi-stakeholder process, this resulted in the development of a set of principles for sexual content moderation and child protection that were launched at last year's Internet Governance Forum.

INHOPE already has a Code of Practice that its members are required to comply with. To be clear, some INHOPE members already do have good practices, and Britain's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is one of these: although cartoon images are unlawful in the United Kingdom and the IWF is mandated to accept reports about them, it doesn't include these reports in its hash lists of abuse images, nor share them with foreign police. Our joint letter invited INHOPE to take the opportunity to amend its Code of Practice to apply similar standards to its other members. Its decision not to consider this doesn't reflect well on the organization.

Internet reporting hotlines are selling a product to law enforcement authorities: a censorship service for which actual images of child abuse are only the selling point. This can be a lucrative gig; NCMEC alone received $33 million from the United States government in 2018. Therefore, as a business proposition, it makes sense for INHOPE and its members to ask few questions about the scope of the censorship services their governments call upon them to provide. Conversely, since almost no federal money is being allocated towards abuse prevention, there is little incentive for them to invest in prevention interventions that could reduce abuse in the long run.

But these perverse incentives are leading it down a dangerous path. It's time for us to call this censorship cartel to account, and to demand that it consider the human rights of the innocent people who are being hurt by its approach. The plain fact is that INHOPE doesn't represent the voices of experts who work on child sexual abuse prevention, it represents the law enforcement sector. By refusing to curtail its activities to place the censorship of artistic images outside its remit, INHOPE has lost the moral authority that provides the only justification for its sweeping and dangerous powers.

Written by Jeremy Malcolm, Executive Director, Prostasia Foundation | 2/14/20
Europe has emerged as a key region for hatching and scaling fintech companies, and today one of the bigger hopefuls is announcing a large round of funding, from a mix of strategic investors, to keep growing its business. Fenergo, a startup from Dublin that builds solutions for banks and other financial management companies to help […] | 2/12/20

After the disappointing “Birds of Prey” opening last week, movie theaters and studios are hoping for better returns during the Valentine’s/Presidents’ Day weekend, which will see the DC Comics movie attempt a rebound against a varied slate of new releases led by the Paramount family film “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

“Sonic” will be the No. 1 film on this 4-day weekend as both Paramount and independent trackers are projecting an extended opening total in the low $40 million range. While that would be a decent start for this $95 million-budgeted CGI/live-action hybrid, Paramount is aiming much higher than decent, and the studio likely hopes for a theatrical run strong enough to merit a sequel.

“It was a really rough 2019 for Paramount, and that’s in good part because they just don’t have enough reliable franchises,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “If ‘Sonic’ can become popular with families and overseas audiences, it could really help them build a more consistent movie slate that won’t have as many long slumps like we saw last year.”

Also Read: Here's How 'Birds of Prey' Could Rebound From a Weak Box Office Opening

There was a time when it seemed like “Sonic” was headed for disaster. When the film’s first trailer was released last April ahead of a then-scheduled November release, Sonic fans, critics and even the uninitiated mocked the character’s eerily human-looking design so thoroughly that Paramount moved back the release to February to make time for a total redesign of the character. The new design turned out much closer to the character’s video game appearance, and when a second trailer was released, reception among kids and “Sonic” fans was far more positive.

That trailer was followed by one of the biggest marketing campaigns for a Paramount release in recent years, with billboards, commercials, and bus ads prominently featuring Sonic’s makeover. But the blue hedgehog wasn’t alone. The campaign has also heavily pushed Jim Carrey, who plays Sonic’s nemesis Dr. Robotnik. The past decade saw Carrey take a big step back from the slapstick roles that made him a big star in the 90s and 2000s, with the one exception being a return to one of his most famous roles with “Dumb and Dumber To” in 2014.

Also Read: Jim Carrey on 'Sonic' Redesign Forced by Fans: 'It's Either Going to Be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing'

The Robotnik footage shown in the trailers have teased a return to the Carrey of old, which might lure in moviegoers who aren’t fans of Sonic but who grew up watching Carrey 25 years ago and are nostalgic for his brand of humor. If demographic breakdowns this weekend show a stronger than expected turnout from non-family audiences over the age of 35, that might be a reason why.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” will also release in 41 countries overseas, including in South America, Australia, and much of Europe. But China and Japan, the Asian markets where Sonic is most popular, are still to come. But even if word of mouth is positive both domestically and internationally this weekend, Paramount could see overseas numbers sag if the coronavirus crisis persists by the time “Sonic” is released in Chinese theaters on February 28.

China’s government has ordered the closure of almost every theater in the country as part of an effort to contain the virus that has as of this writing killed over 1,000 people. The lockdown began during the Lunar New Year holiday when many Chinese films come out, and those films have had their theatrical releases indefinitely postponed. Even if theaters are back in business by the time “Sonic” is supposed to be released in China, it’s quite likely that it will have to compete with an extremely jammed market filled with local fare like “Detective Chinatown 3,” reducing how much money it might make in Asia. That will be something both Paramount and analysts will have to keep in mind when it comes time to look at the overall theatrical performance and determine whether we will see a “Sonic 2” in the future.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown Cripples Chinese Box Office: Will Hollywood Movies Take a Hit?

Directed by Jeff Fowler, “Sonic the Hedgehog” follows the SEGA video game icon (voiced by Ben Schwartz) as he flees his world and arrives on Earth to hide from those who want to take his super-speed powers. But after an accidental encounter with a small-town Montana sheriff (James Marsden,) Sonic’s presence is exposed to the world, and he must team up with the cop to avoid being hunted down by the evil Dr. Robotnik. Tika Sumpter also stars in the film, which was written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller.

In addition to “Sonic,” two other wide releases will try to bring in Valentine’s Day couples looking for a date movie: the Sony/Blumhouse horror film “Fantasy Island” and the Universal romance “The Photograph.”

“Fantasy Island” is a dark take on the classic Ricardo Montalban TV series, starring Michael Peña in Montalban’s role as Mr. Roarke, the owner of a mysterious remote island that offers to make the wishes of its visitors come true. But for Roarke’s visitors, those granted wishes soon turn into nightmares, forcing them to figure out the island’s secrets if they want to make it out alive. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, the film is projected to earn a 4-day opening of around $18 million against a reported budget of $7 million. Sony is projecting a $13-15 million start.

“The Photograph” stars LaKeith Stanfield as a journalist who forms an unexpected relationship with the estranged daughter (Issa Rae) of a recently deceased photographer he is writing a story on. Lil Rel Howrey, Rob Morgan and Courtney B. Vance also star in the film, which was written and directed by Stella Meghie. The film has a reported budget of $16 million and is projected to earn a 4-day opening weekend of $12-14 million.

None of this weekend’s new releases had a critics score on Rotten Tomatoes at time of writing.

Related stories from TheWrap:

New 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Design Wins Over Rebellious Fans: 'All Is Forgiven'

Jim Carrey on 'Sonic' Redesign Forced by Fans: 'It's Either Going to Be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing'

'Sonic the Hedgehog' Director Vows to Change Character Design After Fan Backlash | 2/12/20
Revolut, the European banking and money transfer app that now claims over 10 million customers, has partnered with open banking API provider TrueLayer to add bank account aggregation features to its app. The new functionality means that Revolut’s U.K. customers — both consumer and business — can now connect their external U.K. bank accounts to […] | 2/11/20

Disney confirmed this month what many people already expected:  A lot of people have already signed up for Disney+.

To be exact, 26.5 million people during the fourth quarter started paying for the new service — which comes with a long list of classic Disney movies and shows, as well as new series like “The Mandalorian.” And since the start of 2020, Disney has added another 2 million subscribers, bringing its stalwart service to 28.6 million subscribers overall. That’s excluding viewers using a free yearlong trial thanks to Disney’s partnership with Verizon.

But how does that stack up against Netflix — the top dog in streaming — and Disney’s other competitors?

TheWrap asked Ampere Analysis, a London-based entertainment research firm, to help paint an up-to-date picture of the U.S. streaming market, after Disney chief Bob Iger said the “vast majority” of its subscribers came from the United States. (Disney+ also launched in a handful of international markets — Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand — back in November; it’s expected to roll out to several European countries in the near future.)

Here’s how the top streaming services compare when looking at their domestic performance:

HBO Now comes in at about 8 million subscribers; Disney+ is at 28.6 million customers; Hulu, which is owned by Disney, is up 30.4 million subscribers; Amazon Prime Video, according to Ampere’s data, has 42.2 million accounts watching its shows in the U.S.; and Netflix leads the pack with 61 million domestic subscribers.

There are a few things worth pointing out, including Prime Video’s performance. Amazon has been notoriously reticent to share any viewer data, although it did recently reveal, during its Q4 earnings report, that it now had 150 million global Prime members. Because Prime membership offers a myriad of perks beyond access to original content like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” comparing Prime viewing data with other services should be taken with a grain of salt; these members aren’t just signing up to watch Amazon original content, typically. And assuming most of those memberships stem from the U.S.,  it looks like a majority of Prime customers haven’t been compelled to watch Amazon’s shows.

Hulu, meanwhile, crossed the 30 million subscriber mark due, in part, to Disney’s bundling it with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. The bundle also proved important for Disney’s early streaming success; average revenue per user for Disney+ was $5.56, or about 20% less than the $6.99 monthly cost for Disney+ on its own — indicating a healthy amount of its subscribers opted for its bundle package.

Netflix is pushing towards a saturation point at home, with the company adding less than 600,000 domestic subscribers last quarter. With its formidable cushion in the U.S., Netflix has increasingly looked towards padding its international lead, as well. Netflix has started to produce more original series aimed outside the U.S., with 368 non-English language original series dedicated towards its international subscribers last year — up nearly 40% from 2018.

Conspicuously missing from this graph is Apple TV+. Despite launching in November, Apple offered few details on its new streaming service when it reported its earnings last week. Even with CEO Tim Cook saying it was off to a “rousing start,” Apple decided against sharing any update on its subscriber count. Later in the same earnings call, though, Apple CFO Luca Maestri seemed to contradict Cook, saying Apple TV+ “didn’t have a material impact” on its services business.

The question moving forward will be can Disney — or any of the other services — close the gap with Netflix in the U.S.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Why Disney+ Proves the Streaming Bundle Works

Disney+ Tops 28 Million Paid Subscribers, Company Beats Q1 Earnings Expectations

Why AVOD Services Like Xumo Stand to Benefit With Rise of SVOD Offerings Like Disney+ | 2/10/20

Most of us, when we go to a website and see the little lock at the top of the browser, don't think twice and trust that we are communicating with the right company or organization. However, this is no longer the case because of a rather radical development that has largely occurred without notice or intervention by almost everyone. The web now has its own rapidly spreading version of CallerID spoofing that is about to get worse.

Thirty-five years ago, the National Security Agency working with the private sector, developed what has proven the most important and widely used means for digital identity trust. It is known as the Public Key Infrastructure digital certificate or "PKI cert" for short and was specified in a global intergovernmental standard known as ITU-T X.509.

The idea was simple. Any organization that wants to be trusted goes to a special provider known as a public Certificate Authority (CA) who is supposed to verify certain essential identity basics, and then issue a unique, encrypted key — the PKI cert — to the organization with its identity information securely contained. The platform was approved by all the world's governments and became the basis for trusted digital identity globally. Europe added further trust features through an ETSI Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures standards group.

Then came the World Wide Web with sites all over the world as a kind of universal user interface to billions of people. The problem was that users couldn't trust who was actually running the websites. So a little over ten years ago, the five companies which produce most of the world's web browsers got together with most of the CAs to develop a standard for vetting organization identity for trusted website certificates and display that information in a little lock icon that appears at the top of the browser. They collaborate and reach agreements through an organization known as the CA/Browser Forum. The activity has very far-reaching, fundamental cybersecurity consequences as they control who gets trusted, how verification occurs, and how that trust is provided to billions of users around the world.

Until relatively recently, as required by well-established global standards and practices, the PKI certs had some substantial vetting of an organization's identity, which was then coded into the certificates and displayed to end-users in the browser lock. There was even a high trust certificated known as an "extended validation certificate" that turned the lock green in most browsers and displayed the validated name.

However, starting in 2013, several parties started up a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in Silicon Valley (Internet Security Research Group) to dramatically disrupt the digital identity world by issuing free, zero-trust, instant certificates with no organization identity vetting. These so-called Domain Certificates were then marketed commercially beginning in 2016 under the registered trademark Let's Encrypt® and browser vendors were asked to recognize them as a trusted CA. If you see one of these Let's Encrypt certificates (identified as "DST Root CA X3) and click on the lock, the Subject Organization identity information is completely missing and simply says "unknown." It is caveat emptor.

The tactic proved enormously successful as the organization itself described in a highly detailed, tell-all paper presented in a London conference made public last December. As they note in the paper, it "has grown to become the world's largest HTTPS CA… and by January 2019, it had issued over 538 million certificates..." The paper also documents how Let's Encrypt has had a profound effect on the CA market — now dominating it with 57% of the certificates. "Let's Encrypt has seen rapidly growing adoption among top million sites since its launch, while most other CAs have not." They also describe how they used the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to leverage their activities. The commercial opportunity was further facilitated through sponsors who make tax-exempt contributions to the organization's $3.5 million reported 2018 income - some of whom then market the certificates as part of their business offerings.

The paper also admits that "important security challenges remain." The cybersecurity impacts arise — because with zero validation, anyone with interest in spoofing, hiding their identity, or otherwise exploiting security flaws can do so — and indeed have.

Legal and public policy concerns

Although Let's Encrypt has a small section in its December paper describing the "legal environment," it doesn't even begin to treat the major national security, public policy, public safety, antitrust, tort liability, law enforcement, IRS, consumer protection dimensions that have gone with virtually no notice or discussion. Perhaps the most central concern can be summed up by four questions: who gets to decide who is trusted, with what level of vetting, with what manner of notice to end users, and who bears the consequences.

The challenge of digital identity trust was largely solved 35 years ago through a comprehensive, visionary Reagan Administration initiative known as Secure Data Network Systems (SDNS) that in fact was responsible for today's X.509 PKI environment. However, all the required public-private administrative and identity vetting actions necessary to successfully implement the platform were eliminated a decade later by the Clinton-Gore Administration in the belief that Silicon-Valley itself could handle everything and grow the information economy.

As a result, we have inherited today a world of rampant cybersecurity and societal problems stemming from an inability to trust anything online, and where some of the most important identity trust decisions for most of the world's population are made by a handful of firms and organizations with no oversight or control or consequences. It seems long overdue for a concerted global public-private effort to significantly improve digital identity trust for the web and all the giga-objects and services that will constitute the new 5G virtualised communications ecosystem. Potential sweeteners for Silicon Valley with government involvement is the relief from the potentially enormous antitrust, consumer protection, and tort liability consequences.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 2/9/20

The last few weeks have shown that n avigating Latino identity is a minefield that can set off an explosion at any moment in American culture. Such as: Is Antonio Banderas Latino or not?

This and other hot-button debates — including the unalloyed joy at Shakira and JLo performing at the Super Bowl — expose the complexity of what it means to be Latinx. These heated discussions drive home why Hollywood desperately needs gatekeepers who understand what these cultural firestorms are really about.

That’s because the unspoken rules regarding Latino identity shift depending on the context. (We can’t even agree on what to call ourselves, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Let me break down the firestorms of the past month as a way to unpack the lessons embedded within.

1. Antonio Banderas: Colonist or Hollywood trailblazer for Latinos?

Exactly on queue, on the morning Oscar nominations were announced last month, outrage among Latinxers erupted on social media. Aside from widespread frustration with JLo’s nomination snub, despite her head-turning role in “Hustlers,” debate raged over Banderas’ nomination for his leading role in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.”

The rub? For some, Banderas, who was born in Spain, does not represent diversity in Hollywood. The outrage at the suggestion that his nomination was a small win for all Latinos was so strong, one would think Banderas makes it a habit of waking up in the morning and dressing in Spanish conquistador armor before heading to Hollywood meetings. Others within the Latinx community dismissed the debate as divisive — a win for someone with Spanish-speaking roots should be a win for all.

That awkward moment when Antonio Banderas, a white man from Spain, is included with Cynthia Erivo in @CTVNews’s #OscarNoms report. Antonio Banderas, just like Catherine Zeta Jones, is a white European. #OscarsSoWhite

— Alfonso Martin Espina Opiniano (@alfonsoespina) January 13, 2020

That awkward moment when Antonio Banderas, a white man from Spain, is included with Cynthia Erivo in @CTVNews’s #OscarNoms report. Antonio Banderas, just like Catherine Zeta Jones, is a white European. #OscarsSoWhite

— Alfonso Martin Espina Opiniano (@alfonsoespina) January 13, 2020

Perhaps a more constructive conversation would be examining how Hollywood’s executive elite perceives Banderas. Have studio heads historically seen him as one of their own, a slam dunk for quintessential Hollywood roles? Or has Banderas, in his 30+ years in Hollywood, too been perceived as an “other” in those closed-door, career-defining conversations by gatekeepers?

The response to Banderas’ nomination among the Latinx community should have come as no surprise: The entertainment industry would do well in trying to understand the nuances of representation.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarónlast year captured the ongoing struggle about the lack of representation of U.S. born Latinos in an interview with media company Remezcla.

“There is so much talk about diversity, and I mean some progress has been made, but definitely the Hispanic Americans — and specifically Chicanos — are really, really badly represented still,” Cuarón said after winning an Oscar for the feature film “Roma.” “It’s amazing, you know? It’s a huge percentage of the population.”

Why Hollywood darling “American Dirt” turned to ash

Before copies even hit the bookshelves, the Mexican migrant novel by Jeanine Cummins unleashed the wrath of many Mexican Americans and other Latinos for what has been described as the book’s unsophisticated narrative — a tale laced with stereotypes, clichés and a hollow understanding of the journey to cross the border.

Imperative Entertainment, the production company behind Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” acquired the rights to the novel after a publishing bidding war resulted in a seven-figure sum for Cummins. In the author’s note, Cummins now famously says she wished “someone slightly browner than me” had written the novel, before conceding she had the “capacity” to be some sort of a cultural bridge, presumably because her husband was an undocumented immigrant (from Ireland, it was later known) and her grandmother is Puerto Rican.

Barnes & Noble

Did Hollywood jump before doing its due diligence? How we tell the important stories of our time is just as important as deciding what stories to tell.

The “American Dirt” controversy reminds me of a time early in my career when I was tapped by newsroom editors as a lead writer to help chronicle California’s changing demographics. I was being dispatched to the border to tell the story of the explosive population growth among Latinos, which for the first time was more a result of births than of immigration.

Barely out of college from my hometown of Miami — where Latinos dominate every layer of business, politics and culture — I felt the assignment was all wrong. So I mustered up the courage to ask for a meeting with editors to discuss the direction of the story.

Journalists, as with entertainment execs, are fans of storytelling extremes — when, in fact, most of our daily lives are lived within the gritty, ambiguous in-between. My twenty-something self sat in a chair inside a small office, flanked by three veteran journalists, all white men. I proceeded to explain what I saw as flaws of the story idea.

Latinos, it seemed from our conversation, were something to observe through a fishbowl. “Why do Latinos have so many babies? Let’s go see them in the wild,” it felt as though they were asking.

When I pushed back, one of the journalists who was standing inside of the cramped office asked if I felt as though I was “too close to the story” and couldn’t be impartial.

Would it be better, he asked, “if a Bavarian wrote it?” He was the said Bavarian.

I’m not exactly sure how I managed to pick up my metaphorical mouth from the floor and continue my pitch, but it remains a moment of pride that I walked out of that office with a completely different assignment of my own choosing. I would spend several months reporting and writing — alone, without the Bavarian.

It helped that I came to the meeting prepared, having spent hours analyzing census and private polling data. I found that if you look deeper at the trends over time, Latinos across generations very much begin to resemble white America when it comes to birth rates.

So I set out and found the perfect family (who hadn’t settled on the poverty-stricken border) from which to tell a generational story that begins at the Rio Grande, migrates to California’s crop-picking fields and finishes (or begins again) on college campuses.

It’s too late to change the immigrant tale at the center of “American Dirt,” though its publisher, Flatiron Books, backpedaled on its marketing push and book tour after the fervent backlash:

“We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the immigrant experience; we should not have said that Jeanine’s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland…” the statement read. “We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them.”

Does it come as a surprise that Latinos made up just 3 percent of the publishing workforce in 2018, according to a 2019 Publisher’s Weekly study?

No, not really.

3. How Shakira and JLo’s performance united Latinos

“I’ve often wondered why Latinos, particularly considering our share of the population, have struggled to make the same headway in Hollywood as African Americans and Asian Americans.

Then I think about some of the complicated conversations with my friends. For context: I’m the daughter of Cuban immigrants; my husband is second-generation California Mexican American; our friends are a mix of children and grandchildren of Mexican, Peruvian, Argentinian and European immigrants; and several also proudly represent Boyle Heights and East L.A.

On a recent night, we went from debating the Banderas nomination to discussing the Latino director of some obscure film. The assumption was that he was of Mexican heritage. Then we Googled his name.

“Oh, he’s Puerto Rican,” my friend, a self-described Chicana, said.

“You sound disappointed,” I responded, as her shoulders slightly slumped.

“I thought he was Mexican.”

In that disappointment lies the crux of why what Shakira and JLo did Sunday night felt so significant. For 12 minutes, these power women brought pan-ethnic Latinos together, forcing us to forget our differences and instead focus on our shared culture, experience and love of Spanglish.

We were one. And when JLo draped herself in a feathered Puerto Rican flag, Latinos collectively cheered, regardless of what country our parents or grandparents immigrated from; whether or not we speak Spanish; and no matter if we identify as Latinx or not.

Because in the context of making entertainment history on the most significant of stages, Latino identity transcended divisions.

So, yes, Latinos can gripe about whether a Banderas Oscar nomination counts toward Latino representation — and still see ourselves in “Pain and Glory.” We can tear apart the immigrant story central to “American Dirt” — and still demand more stories about the struggles south of the border. We can wear our different nationalities as badges of honor — and still come together as one when our culture is center stage.

Rather than see us as too difficult to understand, Hollywood should value us for being complicated and dynamic and flawed — a true American story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Lost City of Gold: How Hollywood Can Win Latinx Audiences

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It may look like the year of subscription video on demand (SVOD). But for Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris, the growing list of subscription services only means ad-supported streaming is about to take off.

Petrie-Norris doesn’t see SVOD and AVOD as an either-or proposition. Instead, he sees the launch of several high-profile streaming services – including Disney+, Apple TV+ and upcoming HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi — as a boost to ad-supported streaming in a rising tides lifts all boats fashion. For Petrie-Norris, who runs Xumo from the company’s Irvine, California headquarters, ad-supported streaming will only stand out more as viewers continue to grapple with having to for half a dozen streaming services. The thinking goes: If free, ad-supported shows worked for the TV industry for decades, why can’t it work in the streaming age — especially when customers are being asked to spend more each year on the best-known streaming services?

“AVOD will benefit and grow off the back off the subscription [services]. They will drive people to streaming, and AVOD will be the beneficiary,” he said. “As long as we can get the quality right. People are not tolerant of people just barfing ads up all over the place — it needs to be something worth me giving you an hour of my time. So quality, linear AVOD is where there will be growth.”

That’s where Xumo comes in, he believes. The company offers 10,000 free movies and shows, as well 190 channels, including Fox Sports, ABC News, and channels dedicated to series like “Family Feud” and “Forensic Files”. To get that content to the masses, Xumo has an app, but it’s best known for is its partnerships with smart TV makers like LG, where customers will plug in their TVs and see Xumo’s list of channels automatically installed. After signing new deals with Sony and Panasonic in January, Petrie-Norris said, “over 90% of all smart TVs now carry Xumo’s service in some way, shape or form.”

Also Read: How Will We Know Who's Winning Streaming War if Every Service Counts Views Differently?

Overall, the AVOD market is growing exponentially. Ad-revenue hit $3.8 billion last year, according to Magna Global estimates, marking a 39% increase from 2018, and in 2020, the industry is expected to increase another 31% to hit $5 billion in sales. That’s still well short of the $70 billion advertisers spend on old school TV ads each year, but Petrie-Norris is betting as more people use AVOD services, and more data is collected, companies will continue to shift their ad dollars towards AVOD.

AVOD’s rise has made several mainstay companies acquisition targets of late. Pluto TV, which also offers an array of ad-supported channels, was scooped up last year by Viacom for $340 million, and Comcast was reported last month to be in talks with Xumo about a possible buyout. Petrie-Norris didn’t have much to say about it when asked by TheWrap, only adding the company was “exploring” the best ways to expand its business. But it makes sense why Comcast would at least be interested, with a potential deal allowing Xumo to support Peacock on the technical side.

With that as a backdrop, TheWrap recently caught up with Petrie-Norris to talk about the state of ad-supported streaming. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity:

Why do you think viewers are starting to look more towards ad-supported services like Xumo, Pluto TV and Tubi, to name a few?

There is an infusion of new [paid] streaming services, and many customers are asking if paying for 4 services — Disney+, Amazon, Netflix, Quibi — is for them. There’s this question of, “what is the right number of services?” And the gateway to adding more paid services is getting higher. Adding the first 1,2 or 3 is fine, but on the 4th, consumers — I believe — are asking questions. Contrast that with AVOD, where I don’t even need to give you an email address to sign up for Xumo. If you stay or come back, it’s purely on the basis of the quality of the content and the value we’ve created for you. We’re asking you to watch some ads, but we’re providing great content.

When I started Xumo [in 2011,] ad-supported services were — and I use the term because I have ginger hair — the ginger-headed stepchild of the content industry. (Laughs) That’s not the case anymore.

If that was the case, then why did you go that route? 

Something happened with curation. Just having AVOD video isn’t enough. When you present a consumer with a big sea of thumbnails, they’ll check out and say, I’ll just go watch “The Mandalorian.” But when you curate channels based on interests, it gives viewers a reason to stick around, instead of just watching for 3 minutes and bailing. It was the way we presented [the content] that gave us more opportunities to show ads without overwhelming [the viewer.]

How do you serve ads to viewers who are becoming more and more used to not seeing ads? When I go to VidCon, for instance, most people 20 and younger say they never watch ads. 

The answer is, it’s highly dynamic. It’s not a one-sized fits all ad-strategy. It’s not just showing two pre-roll ads before a movie. It could be different the first time you come to our service compared to the second time you watch Xumo. It might be different at prime time versus noon. What we’ve built is not just an ad platform that has a classic 30 seconds of ads for every 10 minutes of content; it’s varying; it’s dynamic, to optimize the yield we get, to make sure those viewers come back the next day. We actually sometimes make sub-optimal decisions where we might make less money in the moment; maybe we don’t show [the viewer] that 90-second pharmaceutical ad, again. We might hold back on an extra ad because we know if we do, then they’ll come back again and watch more next week. That’s the smart engine we’ve built.

Can you tell me more about the new deals you have with Sony and Panasonic? 

Their smart TV carries us as a natural feature, where you get your local tuned-in TV channels but you also get 190 Xumo channels right in the same guide. You don’t need to go to the App Store — it’s built into the operating system of the TV in a very clever and unique way.

Xumo specializes in these services where somebody will come in and say, “I have a big consumer base. I have devices that can carry an IP video signal, but we don’t know much about how to sell the ads. Or how you license the content, manage the content and its discovery.” So they’ll come in and say we’ll interface with you; we’ll open our APIs, just build and plug-in the service and then you run it for us.

It’s a rev-share arrangement, so we both share in the risks and share in the upsides.

And what’s that rev-share agreement look like? 

The rev-share is a 3-way rev share, typically. The content partners, they take a rev share, the device manufacturer, which carries the service to the consumer, takes a rev share, and then we take the remainder.

And it works very well, because you have three groups who have a vested interest in making sure it’s discoverable, high-quality content. It’s hard when you start off with a rev share, because a rev share of nothing is nothing. (Laughs) Once we had our first few deals and got this engine running, you can get very reliable, very considerable revenues from the service, and we’ve de-risked it for people. We can predict and model out the yield per user per device pretty accurately now.

The addition of Sony is a major new partner. We’re starting with the U.S. first with Sony, but will go onto a global product, starting with many of the similar markets LG is present in — Western Europe, Latin America. We tend to go to markets that have a big enough online ad industry, which can sustain a video service. Xumo is now a global service. It started off in Irvine 8 years ago, and now with markets we’re available in, close to 700-800 million people can now access it. You still need to buy the TV, but that’s still a pretty big footprint we’re operating in.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Why Peacock's Bet on Ad-Supported Streaming Could Be Genius Move

Hollywood Experts' Predictions for 2020: Netflix Gets Acquired, Apple TV+ Flops

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Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed News for the last eight years, announced Tuesday he is exiting to join the New York Times as a media columnist.

“It’s been the privilege of my life to do this job, in its many iterations, for more than eight years,” he wrote in a letter first sent to staff. “The notion that BuzzFeed could play a major role in shaping global news, and the news business — from tweets to streaming shows — sounded crazy in 2012. Now it’s just a fact, the product of most of all of your hard work, creativity, aggressiveness, and judgment.”

The New York Times issued a tweet through its communications department shortly after he posted the announcement: “We are excited to announce that Ben Smith (@buzzfeedben), a relentless innovator who helped change the shape of modern journalism, is becoming our new media columnist.”

Also Read: BuzzFeed Editor Says CNN's Russian Dossier Report Led to Release of Documents

In his staff announcement, Smith wrote, “The newsroom and the company as a whole are now in a strong position. We have a CEO who fundamentally believes in news and has proven again and again that he’ll stand up for the toughest stories, about anyone, and colleagues across the organization who share that view.”

It’s true that the site he created doesn’t back away from stories: Back in 2017, Smith took to the New York Times op-ed page to explain why his site published the infamous “golden shower” dossier from British counterintelligence specialist Christopher Steele that featured unverified allegations about Donald Trump and his supposed ties to Russia.

Smith claimed BuzzFeed “spent weeks with reporters in the United States and Europe trying to confirm or disprove specific claims.”

BuzzFeed is edging closer to profitability, according to the Wall Street Journal, but had a rough 2019. In April, the site confirmed it would no longer include a regular reporter in the White House travel pool that accompanies the president on trips at home and abroad. The development comes amid broader cost concerns and financial pressures the company has faced in recent months. Earlier in the year, there were layoffs of about 15% of the site’s staff.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Tucker Carlson Confronts BuzzFeed Boss Ben Smith: 'You Just Don't Like Trump' (Video)

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith, CNN's Brian Stelter Face Off Over Published Trump Memo (Video)

Here's Why BuzzFeed's Ben Smith Published the 'Golden Showers' Dossier | 1/28/20

On the 5th of November 2019, the release of the first of ITU's Measuring Digital Development series coincided with Freedom House's unveiling of its Freedom on Net 2019 report. This serendipity prompted me to write this blog note after carefully examining both reports.

On one hand, ITU's analytical publication, with its new friendly format, emphasizes that Internet use continues to spread, warning however that the digital gender gap is widening. The estimated 4.1 billion people using the Internet in 2019 reflect a 5.3 per cent increase, confirming the trend of slowing global growth rates. More men than women use the Internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity, and 97 percent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal, reveals the report, offering interesting snapshots of other important ICT indicators. With its global and regional perspectives, ITU's Facts and Figures 2019 also recalls that most of the offline population (46 percent of the world population) lives in the least developed countries, with Europe and Africa having the highest and lowest Internet usage rates, respectively.

On the other hand, the Freedom on the Net 2019 focusing on 'the Crisis of Social Media' comments that the Internet, once a liberating technology, has opened new conduits for surveillance and electoral manipulation. Internet Freedom Declines outnumber gains for the ninth consecutive year with Ethiopia recording the largest gains in 2019 following the election of a new Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, who loosened restrictions on the Internet and unblocked 260 websites. "Digital platforms are the new battleground for democracy and Internet freedom is increasingly imperiled by the tools and tactics of digital authoritarianism” notes the report recalling that of the 65 countries assessed, 33 have been on an overall decline since June 2018. The future of Internet freedom rests on our ability to fix social media, predicts the report offering a series of recommendations to 'fairly' regulate a technology now pervasive in business, politics, and personal lives.

The more we connect the world, the less free it becomes?

Time to pick the Good from the Bad and the Ugly

At the multilateral level, narratives advocating the Good of connecting the next 46 percent to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are necessary more than ever but no longer sufficient. Containing the Bad and Repressing the Ugly is more and more critically needed to ensure a higher aggregate contribution of the growth of the Internet to the interconnected goals of the 2030 Agenda.

It is time for multilateral and other actors to acknowledge that neither the utopian hopes and optimistic narratives, nor the dystopian fears and pessimistic discourses reflect the evolving and more complex uses of the Internet witnessed in our current era. The rise of Social Media Platforms and Frontier Technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Biometrics etcetera) are reportedly posing new challenges to human rights and to values that are enshrined in the United Nations organizations serving as guiding principles for international civil servants in all their actions. The future of privacy, free expression, and democratic governance rest on policy choices and actions made or not today.

New perspectives are needed from scholars, intergovernmental bodies, policy makers and technologists when pursuing their respective missions, seeking for a deeper understanding of nuanced issues beyond just technological advancements. This could be achieved through innovative forms of partnerships driving thinking and advocating practices so that digital advancements are informed, with evidence, by their holistic social and human impacts when addressing developmental challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

Measuring Success of actions to connect the next billion (and the remaining 46 percent of the world) could go beyond connectivity related quantitative assessments and consider the extent of which lives and freedom have improved with Digital Development.

Key findings of both reports are summarized below.

On the growth of Internet use :

  • Internet usage keeps growing, but barriers lie ahead. Some 4.1 billion people are now online, but in developing countries, women's Internet use is falling behind. Affordability and lack of digital skills remain some of the key barriers.
  • Most of the offline population lives in least developed countries. An estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with the majority of the unconnected living in the Least Developed Countries where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.
  • The digital gender gap is growing fast in developing countries. More men than women use the Internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity. Wide gender gap in mobile phone ownership often coupled with a wide gender gap in Internet use.
  • Mobile-broadband subscriptions continue to grow strongly. ITU data show that 97 per cent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal and 93 per cent within reach of a 3G (or higher) network.
  • Almost the entire world population lives within reach of a mobile network. ITU data show that 97 per cent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal and 93 per cent within reach of a 3G (or higher) network.
  • Computers no longer needed to access the Internet at home
  • Bandwidth growing fast, but with regional differences
  • Lack of ICT skills a barrier to effective Internet use
  • Broadband still expensive in LDCs

On the decline of Internet freedom

  • Declines outnumber gains for the ninth consecutive year. Since June 2018, 33 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. The biggest score declines took place in Sudan and Kazakhstan, followed by Brazil, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe. Improvements were measured in 16 countries, with Ethiopia recording the largest gains.
  • Internet freedom declines in the United States. US law enforcement and immigration agencies increasingly monitored social media and conducted warrantless searches of travelers' electronic devices, with little oversight or transparency.
  • China is the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth consecutive year. Censorship reached unprecedented extremes in China as the government enhanced its information controls ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and in the face of persistent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
  • Digital platforms are the new battleground for democracy. Domestic state and partisan actors used propaganda and disinformation to distort the online landscape during elections in at least 24 countries over the past year, making it by far the most popular tactic for digital election interference.
  • Governments harness big data for social media surveillance. In at least 40 out of 65 countries, authorities have instituted advanced social media monitoring programs. These sophisticated mass surveillance systems can quickly map users' relationships; assign a meaning to their social media posts; and infer their past, present, or future locations.
  • Free expression is under assault. A record high of 47 out of 65 countries featured arrests of users for political, social, or religious speech. Individuals endured physical violence in retribution for their online activities in at least 31 countries.
  • Authorities normalize blanket shutdowns as a policy tool. Social media and communication applications were blocked in at least 20 countries, and telecommunications networks were suspended in 17 countries.
  • More governments enlist bots and fake accounts to manipulate social media. Political leaders employed individuals to surreptitiously shape online opinions and harass opponents in 38 of the 65 countries covered in this report — another new high.

The two reports can be downloaded here:
Facts and figures 2019 — Measuring digital development
Freedom on the Net 2019 – The Crisis of Social Media

Written by Kitaw Yayehyirad Kitaw | 1/24/20
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There is a difference, of course, between asserting a claim that cannot possibly succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and being unprepared to prove a claim that may have merit with the right evidence. Still, there is also an overlapping similarity in that complainants are either shockingly unfamiliar with UDRP procedures and jurisprudence (and should have retained counsel who are) or know they have no actionable claim but plow ahead anyway perhaps in the hope their abuse of the proceedings will not be noticed.

The Panels' exasperation is evident, to take a couple of examples, in Adventure SAS v. Mike Robinson, BlackHawk Paramotors USA Inc., D2019-2489 (WIPO December 12, 2019) involving a dispute over a soured distributorship in which it noted that "those responsible for the drafting of the Complaint [Complainant was represented by counsel] and/or the person who authorized the filing of the Complaint knew that the Complaint should not succeed because on any fair reading of the available facts the Respondent registered the Domain Name in good faith." In Nalli Chinnasami Chetty v. Anthony Nalli, FourPoints Multimedia Corp., D2019-2642 (WIPO December 18, 2019) () the "Complainant and its counsel also provided no evidentiary support whatsoever to support their argument that the Respondent must have registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith… ]T]hey [also] completely ignored the requirements set out in the Policy for establishing bad faith registration and use of a domain name [and] disregarded precedent and unfavorable facts in concluding that the webpage (which makes no connection whatsoever to the Complainant) was an attempt to misappropriate its trademark reputation, and offered no more than unsupported allegations."

The consensus as to what is expected of complainants (implicit in Adventure SAS and Nelli has been expressed succinctly in a number of memorable decisions: "[Complainant] should at least be minimally versed" and "[i]t is no excuse that a party or its representative is unfamiliar with clear Policy precedent, much less the clear language of the Policy and the Rules themselves" [D2012-1555], or "the deficiencies [of proof] must have been obvious to anyone remotely familiar with the Policy" [D2016-0126], or "[i]t is no excuse that Complainant may not be familiar with clear Policy precedent, the Policy, or the Rules" [D2012-2455].

The gamut of mark owners included in these rebukes ranges from the confused (mistaking the UDRP as a trademark court), through the clueless (who ought to have known otherwise) through the hapless (insofar as marshaling proof) to the manipulative (alleging bad faith when the facts contradict the allegations). The "confused" can be forgiven since while domain names are central to their complaint, the claim actually sounds in trademark infringement. The "clueless" are generally not forgiven; they should have known better.

Recent examples of the confused are: Altiplano Voyage v. Terra Holding Ltd. / Pierre Boyer, D2019-2141 (WIPO November 12, 2019) () and Taffo SRL v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0141464573 / Agenzia Funebre Taffo di Taffo G. & C. SAS Societa/Ditta, D2019-2266 (WIPO November 19, 2019) (>). As a general rule, where domain names are incidental to the offense the claim is outside UDRP's subject matter jurisdiction which is limited to claims of cybersquatting.

In Altiplano Voyage, the Panel notes that "this case presents a more nuanced trademark dispute (at least on the papers presented) than that for which the Policy is equipped." The Panel also comments on Complainant's evidentiary deficiencies. In Taffo, the Panel "incidentally notes that the Policy is designed to resolve standard cases of abusive domain name registrations, while the present one is a complex trademark matter that will be more appropriately handled by the Court of Rome before which an Ordinary Proceeding is already pending." If there is a remedy at all it must be for trademark infringement.

The "clueless" are mark owners whose rights postdate the registration of challenged domain names. They have no claim for cybersquatting under the UDRP (even though they have standing to maintain the proceeding), and no statutory claim or even standing under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The possibility that this kind of "clueless" is not clueless at all but deliberately abusive of the administrative proceeding cannot be discounted and is commonly dealt with as such.

A number of recent UDRP decisions illuminate how mark owners attempt to justify their complaints. There is no remedy because owing to the timing of mark owners' right, there can be no actionable violation. In Advice Group S.P.A. v. Privacy Administrator, Anonymize, Inc. / Michele Dinoia, Macrosten LTD, D2019-2441 (WIPO December 2, 2019) () the Panel explains that the "Respondent acquired the Domain Name some two years before the Complainant obtained a trademark, and nine months before the Complainant even filed its trademark application.") In another case, Gary Chupik v. Shant Sarkuni, FA1910001868583 (Forum November 18, 2019) () Complainant tried another, equally unpersuasive maneuver by applying for a trademark, strangely believing (one supposes) that having a trademark is conclusive of a right to the corresponding domain name:

a. the disputed domain name was registered on April 18, 2017;

b. Complainant made unsolicited offers to purchase the disputed domain name which were rejected by Respondent;

c. Complainant filed his trademark applications with the USPTO on January 30, 2019, after his offers to purchase the disputed domain name were rejected;

d. the filing of the Complaint on or about October 28, 2019.

Complainant appears to have believed that because "he made an offer to purchase the disputed domain name from Respondent" and because the "Respondent refused to sell the disputed domain name to him for the highest price that he was willing to offer" that he had asserted a claim for cybersquatting. The Panel found the conduct sanctionable: "In the circumstances, this Panel finds that Complainant, being aware that he was not entitled to succeed, nonetheless brought this Complaint with the hope that he may secure the transfer of the disputed domain name, after he had failed to purchase same in open commercial arms-length negotiations."

Other recent Complainants represented by counsel (who ought to have known better!): Pet Life LLC v. ROBERT RIESS / blue streak marketing llc, FA181000181087 (Forum November 11, 2019) ( registered more than 5 years after registration of domain name) and Glovoapp23, S.L. v. Wang Shun, D2019-1986 (WIPO September 30, 2019) ( registered 17 years before trademark right). Complainants in both these cases were sanctioned for asserting claims they could not possibly prove.

The second group, those I call hapless, may have meritorious claims, but either lack proof or have not marshaled what they need to establish bad faith. The inference with deficiency of evidence is that if no proof is offered, no proof exists. The point is illustrated in Assurity Life Insurance Company v. DOMAIN MAY BE FOR SALE, CHECK AFTERNIC.COM Domain Admin / Whois Foundation, FA1911001872882 (Forum December 21, 2019) (): "Complainant asserts both registered and common law trademark rights. Complainant owns several USPTO registrations but none earlier in time than ... March 21, 2006 and so even its filing date postdates the registration of the domain name [May 2004]." However, in this case.

Complainant's assertion of common law rights is premised, not on proof of public awareness and reputation, but on the above statement, which in turn rests on the claim of first use in commerce date of June 12, 1996, shown in Reg. No. 3,070,343. That date is provided to the USPTO by a trademark applicant. There is no proof of a common law trademark by May 2004 when the domain name was registered.

One of the questions here which the Panel frames as a preclusion issue can also be thought of as a credibility issue: if Complainant really believed it had a claim, why did it wait so long to assert it. The Panel noted that "although opinions have differed as to whether the equitable doctrine of laches applies to UPRP proceedings, it has been recognized [that is, the consensus among panelists is] that delay in bringing proceedings is likely to place a higher burden on a complainant attempting to prove a state of affairs long ago." The same point is also made in NovAtel Inc. v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Domain Admin,, D2019-1939 (WIPO October 4, 2019) ( and DK Company Vejle A/S v. Cody Favre, C4 Squared, D2019-2676 (WIPO December 17, 2019) (). In NovAtel, "[w]hile the Complainant asserts that its NOVATEL trademark has been in use since 1992, it provides no evidence as to how widely the mark was known at that time or, more importantly, in 2007." In DK Company Veile, the Panel explains that

[t]he difficulty with that case is that the Complainant has provided no information as to the size or reputation of its business, and such limited evidence as it does provide indicates its business is entirely European. The Complainant says that its CASUAL FRIDAY trademark is "widely known" in the European Union but provides no evidence to substantiate that assertion. There is nothing before the Panel to suggest that a United States retailer would have had any knowledge of the Complainant or, had it carried out searches, would have found any reason to conclude it could not adopt the words as part of a name for use in the United States.

In failing to produce supporting evidence necessary to establish common law rights or the repute of a mark at the time of the registration of the domain name or any other indicia of consumer recognition, the inference must be that it has none. The consensus is as the Panel states in Adventure SAS, namely that "the natural inference in the absence of any evidence to the contrary would be that the Respondent registered the Domain Name in good faith."

The third group, less hapless I think because they simply do not have enough information until the response is filed, are mark owners complaining of domain names held or used by commercial businesses offering bona fide goods or services (distinguishing these respondents from investors reselling domain names). Two recent examples are Lexon v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Surety Management, D2019-2365 (WIPO December 12, 2019) () in which Respondent offered proof that "the Disputed Domain Name was acquired as part of a legitimate business transaction when the Respondent purchased the Lexon Surety company and its trademarks"; and DSN Software, Inc. v. Rob Bay, FA1910001865961 (Forum December 10, 2019) () in which the descriptive phrase identified the services Respondent offered.

Included in the hapless group are complainants whose marks are composed of common words, descriptive or common phrases, and arbitrary letters (to distinguish marks composed of coined words or nationally or international famous). These strings are notoriously hard to prove domain names were not registered for their semantic (rather than trademark) values. In Service Spring Corp. v. hao wang, D2018-2422 (WIPO December 17, 2019) () the "Complainant submits that bad faith should be inferred from (i) the Respondent's use of a privacy service, (ii) the Respondent's provision of incomplete address details in the WhoIs record and (iii) the Respondent's failure to respond to the Complainant's cease and desist letters," but these factors, even if considered, are not conclusive of liability; they do not add up to bad faith.

One final note, a reminder, that these cases rejecting claims of cybersquatting represent less than 10% of all disputes that go to award. To the extent that strings of words are common in the language community, unsurprising and common expressions, descriptive phrases, not clearly associated with any one commercial user there is a corresponding increase in the evidentiary demand for proof of bad faith registration; bad faith use alone does not prove cybersquatting under the UDRP if there is no proof of bad faith registration.

Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP | 1/13/20
The US plan to impose a 100% tax on European wines will be as bad for business as Prohibition, the industry says. | 1/10/20

Don Savant, a former executive at IMAX Corporation, will be named CEO of CJ 4DPlex Americas, the US subsidiary of the Korean conglomerate responsible for the 4DX movie theater technology, the company announced Monday.

Savant will be responsible for growing both the 4DX and ScreenX formats in the Americas while also collaborating with movie studios to adapt films to the premium formats.

In 2019, CJ expanded its two formats to over 1000 locations nationwide. In that time, the 4DX format also saw a 41% increase at the box office compared to 2018. Further, the ScreenX technology, which is a 270-degree viewing experience, nearly tripled its revenue last year.

Also Read: 2018 Box Office Is Even Breaking Records for 4DX Theaters

“I am incredibly excited to join CJ 4DPLEX, and the CJ Group. I had worked with CJ CGV Cinemas for 18 years at IMAX. Their commitment to the development of the overall cinema experience and the film business worldwide created a deep and lasting impression with me and I am thrilled to be part of an organization committed to innovation and excellence,” Savant said in a statement.

“Don has a proven track record of growing premium theater concepts globally and will help continue our record-breaking growth for both 4DX and ScreenX. His has an excellent reputation among exhibitors and the overall entertainment industry, and we are excited to have him oversee our presence in the Americas and take it to the next level,” Jong Ryul Kim, CEO of CJ 4DPlex, said in a statement.

Savant previously spent 19 years at IMAX Corporation and was most recently president of global sales between 2016 and 2018, at which time he helped expand the company’s footprint with the development of 730 new theater locations in North America, Europe, India, China and Asia. He also helped establish China as the company’s largest market, leading to the IPO of IMAX China with a valuation of over $1.45 billion.

Also Read: IMAX Sets New Company Box Office Record on Eve of 'Rise of Skywalker' Release

Prior to IMAX, Savant was the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Iwerks Entertainment in Burbank, California, where he launched the company’s first 4D theaters.

Savant is a board member APPlife Digital Solutions Inc., a business incubator and portfolio manager that invests in and creates e-commerce and cloud-based solutions. He is also an active member of his community, having set up the Savant Fellowship with his wife Elizabeth at the UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment.

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HBO is out with its list of everything new coming to HBO in January, and everything leaving.

Highlights include “The New Pope,” out Jan. 13. Starring Jude Law, it’s a continuation of the 2016 series “The Young Pope.”

There’s also “The Outsider,” out Jan. 12. Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel, it stars Jason Bateman, Cynthia Erivo and Ben Mendelsohn.

“Avenue 5,” about a luxury space-traveling company, is out Jan. 19, along with season 10 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Here’s the full list for January:

Jan. 1
American Animals
Casi famoso (Almost Famous) (2019)
Vaca (2018)
Another Stakeout (1993)
Arthur (1981)
Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
Cat People (1982)
College (2008)
Fast Five (Extended Version) (2011)
Filly Brown (2013)
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Head Office (1986)
The Hitcher (1986)
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011)
Les Misérables (2012)
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1996)
Odd Jobs (1986)
The Odd Couple II (1998)
Rock the Kasbah (1991)
The Russia House (1990)
Scary Movie 3 (2003)
Seventh Son (3015)
The Shooting (1967)
Shutter Island (2010)
Spanglish (2004)
Stakeout (1987)
Sweet Dreams (1985)
Switch (1991)
Teeth (2008)
The Thing About My Folks (2005)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Jan. 2

Jan. 3
The Aftermath
Niña errante (Wandering Girl) (2018)

Jan. 5

Jan. 6
Mamon – Series Premiere

Jan. 7
The Little Stranger

Jan. 11
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Jan. 12
The Outsider – Series Premiere

Jan. 13
The New Pope – Season Premiere

Jan. 17
Tejano (2018)

Jan. 18
Real Time With Bill Maher – Season 18 Premiere
Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Jan. 19
Avenue 5 – Series Premiere

Jan. 19
Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season 10 Premiere

Jan. 25
The Curse of La Llorona


Jan. 12
Elektra (Director’s Cut) (2005)

Jan. 17
Getaway (2013)

Jan. 31
Amelie (2001)
Arachnophobia (1990)
Big Business (1988)
Bringing Down the House (2003)
Calendar Girls (2003)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Conviction (2010)
Deliver Us From Eva (2003)
The Dilemma (2011)
Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story (2005)
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
Going the Distance (2010)
The Hate U Give (2018)
Honey (2003)
In Her Shoes (2005)
The Jackal (1997)
Just Like Heaven (2005)
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
Life As We Know It (2010)
Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
The Old Man & The Gun (2018)
Out Cold (2002)
Paddington 2 (2018)
Red Sparrow (2018)
Rescue Dawn (2007)
Robin Hood (2018)
Search Party (2016)
Signs (2002)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Stay Alive (2006)
Thoroughbreds (2018)
Wild Hogs (2007)

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Major European legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation, evoked substantial change in the way we deal with the visibility of domain name registration information, and understandably those that use that data to solve problems are concerned about these changes, and some have even called for a U.S. legislative fix.

However, a more in-depth look at the issue and the policy-making surrounding it will show that there is, in fact, a process already well underway to address the situation.

While perhaps not as "quick" as some would want, the results of that process will ensure a solution that is workable, globally applicable, and in keeping with the overarching goal of maintaining a stable, secure, and resilient Internet Domain Name System.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the global multistakeholder body that sets and enforces policy for domain names. Its global remit is extremely useful in making sure that the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) does not get chopped up between different constituencies, be they geographical, political or cultural. However, it also means that ICANN has to systematically address and act on the output of numerous legislative bodies, at both the national and supranational level.

One such legislative output is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018. A wide-ranging, and consumer protection focused law, GDPR is ostensibly limited in its application to the geographic boundaries of the European Union and citizenship. However, the Internet's global nature, as well as the wording and imprecise application of the law, have given the rules reach much further than Europe and its citizens, particularly since separating out different versions of the Internet would be unwieldy both politically and technologically.

GDPR's protections of personal data affect several areas of the Internet, including WHOIS. For those not familiar with the incredibly un-sexy inner workings of the Domain Name System, WHOIS is a protocol that governs how users ask and receive information about the "registrants" of an Internet resource, such as a domain name. Most commonly, WHOIS refers to the information associated with a domain name registration. This information includes the registrant's name and contact information, which also happens to be considered personally identifiable information — the very information protected under GDPR. ICANN, as the global body responsible for requiring registries and registrars (it's contracted parties) and enforcing their collection, transfer, and publication of WHOIS information, found itself at the epicenter of bringing WHOIS into compliance with GDPR.

ICANN's processes are multistakeholder, which means that input into the policy development process is sought from all its different stakeholder groups. This process is one that puts an emphasis on transparency, inclusion and collaboration in a consensus-focused environment, which means that the decision reached is one that does not blindside any constituency; on the contrary, it benefits from diverse voices in its development.

This type of inclusive, multistakeholder governance is the cornerstone of ICANN policy development. However, the urgency of GDPR compliance (and the associated fines for non-compliance) forced ICANN to act quickly to ensure a continued WHOIS. ICANN did this by instituting a stop-gap measure, Temporary Specification, which ensured immediate compliance and a temporary solution for accessing WHOIS information.

However, as its name implies, that was not a long-term answer to how WHOIS would have to be redesigned to accommodate GDPR. Furthermore, any long-term policy and/or approach would require multistakeholder community development.

For that, ICANN's community joined together in an Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) to re-imagine WHOIS going forward. The EPDP strikes an important balance between the positives of a regular ICANN policy development process and the necessity of a speedy resolution. The first phase of the EPDP had a very ambitious timeline, and even so, the EPDP team reached it without reducing the quality of the debate. Furthermore, completing Phase One paved the way for Phase Two and the much anticipated discussion of developing a System for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD).

The EPDP is now in Phase Two, where the community — comprised of distinct, varied and at times opposing interests — are hammering out what will be an SSAD that gives the registries and registrars comfort that they are not in violation of GDPR; gives the users of WHOIS confidence that they can attain access to WHOIS information for pursuing their legitimate interests; and give assurances to the wider Internet community that data protection is taken seriously.

In order to get the requisite clarity, Phase Two requires more interfacing with other entities, specifically European regulatory bodies, such as the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). Input from the EDPB is crucial to making sure an SSAD will be developed in a manner that its operations and policy foundations will be both compliant and appropriate for the ICANN community.

Permitting access to domain name registration information in a GDPR compliant manner is an extremely complex challenge. It has to take into account a significant amount of distinct perspectives, from law enforcement to civil society to business interests. Even more, it has to take into account two different but equally important objectives: providing access to personal information for legitimate interests and data protection. These two objectives do not need to be mutually exclusive; in fact, GDPR recognizes that legitimate interests in data exist whereby access to personal information can and should be permitted. So, finding a solution that meets both objectives is complex but possible. The exercise just needs requisite time to "get it right," so that any solution and associated policy is acceptable to all involved.

While the global discussion surrounding WHOIS has captivated many in policy-making circles, further legislation or regulation from other national constituencies feeling like they are competing with GDPR for who would set global norms would be entirely counter-productive. A patchwork of national rules and laws would not solve the concern at the heart of the matter, but it would, in fact, aggravate it. Multiple external inputs, would at best stall the EPDP indefinitely and, at worst, create a fractured Internet by which different laws and policies apply depending on the state, country, region.

The ultimate solution has to come through an open, transparent and inclusive process that looks at the issue globally and allows for the businesses involved in the domain name world to properly navigate their global responsibilities.

A national legislative solution at odds with GDPR, one favored by some of those that are understandably worried about their work being impacted by changes to the WHOIS service, will not truly be a fix. Rather, it will be a wrench in the necessary policy development process, causing more delays as every layer of the infrastructure of the Internet has to readjust to another external unilateral decision, with policy and technical principles needing to be redrawn.

The ICANN EPDP is well on its way to providing a long-term, genuine, and robust solution, and we will stand witness to this process, keeping the public, as well as policy-makers, informed of its continued progress.

Written by Christian Dawson, Executive Director, i2Coalition | 12/19/19

NBCUniversal will be heading into the streaming era with a different man at the helm. On Thursday, word broke out that NBCU’s longtime CEO Steve Burke would be stepping down next summer, ending a nearly 10-year tenure running the media conglomerate.

And according to experts and analysts who spoke with TheWrap, Burke leaves behind a long shadow, but one that Jeff Shell, who is expected to succeed Burke, seems capable of filling. Tom Nunan, founder and partner of Bull’s Eye Entertainment and a lecturer at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, said Burke has been “an iconic figure in broadcasting for his entire career.”

“There are few people with his track record of success,” Nunan said. “He’s definitely in that elite circle that [Disney Chairman Bob] Iger is a part of and a few others.

Also Read: Jeff Shell to Replace NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke

“Frankly, I would be surprised if this is the end of his media career, because he’s still relatively young,” Nunan said, “and he comes from classic TV stock being the son of Dan Burke.” Nunan touted Burke’s “humility” as “one of his great assets.” He called Burke “a smooth operator” and “a steady hand” who “doesn’t overreact to things.”

“He’s not an attention-grabbing star executive the way that [Les] Moonves insisted on being,” Nunan said.

“[Burke] is kind of a classic, old-school executive in that regard,” Nunan said. “When I say old-school executive, I mean more from the corporate mold as opposed to the entertainment mold, which is more the impresario.”

Bob Thompson, Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, sees Burke’s legacy in the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger and the much more recent Sky deal. Thompson actually believes Burke’s greatest contribution may be an unsung one: jacking up the price of Disney’s 21st Century Fox takeover.

Also Read: NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke to Step Down in 2020

Thompson also offered another, less-flattering way Burke may be remembered by the general public.

“If anybody knows Steve Burke as a household name, it’s got nothing to do with all of that stuff he did to usher NBCUniversal into the Comcast era, which was a significant job, which I think he did pretty adeptly,” Thompson said. “What most lay people would remember would be his name associated with the likes of… Matt Lauer and reports by Ronan Farrow.”

Perhaps the stress of such an association and the calls for heads to roll at the top made this tough decision a little easier for Burke, Thompson wondered.

Burke’s upcoming departure is timed for next August, which would put it right after the 2020 Summer Olympics from Tokyo, which will air in the U.S. across NBCUniversal. It will also come just a few months after the launch of Peacock, NBCU’s streaming play. For one, Nunan is “surprised” by the Burke news — especially considering how close it would happen after Peacock’s debut.

“Peacock is going to become their most important venture in the next two to three years,” Nunan said. “It seems strange to me that [Burke] would walk away from building that at this time, but maybe his interests lie elsewhere.”

Also Read: NBCUniversal President of Strategy Dave Howe to Leave Company After 18 Years

Whether or not Burke is still around to see Peacock take flight, Thompson’s not sure what took them so long.

“If I’m looking in the grand scheme in the history of the media, they strike me as coming kind of late to that fair,” he said. “It seems like an awful lot of people have crossed the finish line, and everybody’s off watching that stuff and nobody’s even watching the race anymore as Peacock comes waddling through.”

Thompson does not share Nunan’s surprise on Burke’s pending departure.

“It seems to be that things have been put in place, ducks have been placed in a row,” Thompson said of NBCU’s recent restructuring moves. “I don’t think it’s sending any industry people in the know into some kind or surprise tailspin or anything.”

Burke has been the only CEO NBCUniversal has known in its decade-long tenure under Comcast, which acquired NBCU from GE at the end of the last decade (though that deal did not close until 2011). While Burke has overseen NBCU during a time period of massive change for the entertainment industry — one that threatens the traditional cable model that has been the lifeblood of Comcast — he has been more than a net positive for Comcast.

NBCU revenue has grown from just above $21 billion in 2011, when he was installed as CEO, to nearly $36 billion in 2018; Comcast will report full-year earnings for 2019 next month. Under Burke, NBCUniversal bought DreamWorks Animation in 2016 for $3.8 billion. Last year, Comcast bought European pay-TV company Sky in a bidding war with 21st Century Fox.

So no pressure, Jeff. But both men believe NBCUniversal will be in fine hands with Shell. Thompson simply pointed to Shell’s successes running his current entertainment assignments.

Also Read: How 'Runaways' Got Caught in the Middle of Marvel TV's Corporate Restructuring

Shell has served as chairman of the Universal film group since 2013. During his tenure leading the studio, Universal experienced four years of record profit, as well as two of the most profitable years in the studio’s 107-year history thanks, in part, to highly profitable franchises such as “Fast & Furious,” “Jurassic World” and Illumination’s “Despicable Me.” Earlier this year, Shell was was tapped to be chairman of NBCUniversal film and entertainment group, expanding his role beyond the film business to include oversight of NBC Entertainment, Telemundo and NBCU’s international operations.

That new appointment alone appeared to groom Shell for Burke’s job.

Shell is “a lot like Steve,” Nunan said. “He has a low-key style, he’s willing to stay behind the scenes, he likes to push the creative people out in front and give them credit where it’s due and give them support when they need it. That’s the hallmark that’s been handed down from Brian [Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO] and Steve to the rest of the staff is, ‘You’re allowed to fail. You’re allowed to take big swings and if it doesn’t work, it won’t be off with your head.'”

“I suspect Jeff is just going to try to walk in Steve’s footsteps as successfully as he can,” Nunan said.

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It has officially been over a year since the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect and in that time, we've come to see both the benefits, and the very serious drawbacks of this program. While the implementation of GDPR has been heralded by privacy advocates as a major step forward in keeping the personal information of individuals safe, it has also had the unintended consequence of making it easier for individuals and/or entities with less than honorable intentions to effectively disappear online.

The WHOIS database, the formerly public registry of web domains that contained information about every registered domain including the registrant's name and basic contact information, has been effectively rendered useless, with the information now largely redacted by domain name registrars. Methods for requesting obtaining that information is now unique to each registrar and even then, registrars are free to decide whether or not they want to comply with that request.

And within this void of unaccountability cybercriminals are exploiting this privacy loophole, as they now may launch malicious domains with anonymity. As a result, security researchers and law enforcement are finding that it's now exponentially harder to do their jobs keeping the web safe. See EU Laws May be Hampering Pursuit of Terrorists.

Other groups facing similar problems with criminals utilizing this privacy loophole include consumer protection agencies, child advocacy groups, anti-human trafficking organizations, intellectual property rights holders and brand protection agencies, to name just a few.

IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Research recently released a report which shows just how much of an impact GDPR is having when it comes to utilizing traditional WHOIS information for the tracking and blocking of malicious domains and other nefarious web based activities.

Comparing recent enforcement data to pre-ICANN policy changes enforcement data reveals stark statistics about the risks faced by consumers in a post-GDPR world. Prior to the implementation of GDPR, security researchers were able to identify and block 1.8 million newly registered malicious domains in October of 2017 alone. Fast forward to February of 2019 and that number drops to less than 160,000. That means that effective enforcement efforts utilizing WHOIS information is now just 9%, leaving a staggering 91% of potentially malicious domains and the sites to which they link up and running, and the criminals who run them, unhindered.

While there is no question there is a need to keep the private information of the public safe, it is clear that the GDPR as it applies to public safety should be re-evaluated. Cybercrime is a $600 billion a year business, and with GDPR making it easier for criminals to thrive with relative impunity, that number is only going to increase.

Completely eliminating GDPR and returning the WHOIS database originally public status is not the answer, which is why the need to establish regulated access for individuals involved in cybersecurity, law enforcement and web safety and security should be thoroughly explored.

For those who need to access the WHOIS database, AppDetex offers their WHOIS Requestor System (AWRS). Developed for and used by customers to obtain non-public WHOIS data, AppDetex sends customer verified, non-public WHOIS data requests for cybersecurity, consumer protection and IP enforcement activities to ICANN-accredited registrars.

Until a satisfactory compromise can be achieved, online crime will continue to thrive, making it obvious that the price of online privacy is apparently safety and security. | 12/13/19

The 2019 UN IGF is right now being held in Berlin and entering the last day. There has been a wide range of exciting discussions. It is a huge step forward that this year's IGF has been able to bring a plethora of topics together under a framework of thinking after the efforts done by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres' High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (The Age of Digital Interdependence) and by German scholars' engagement with all the stakeholders (Towards a Global Framework for Cyber Peace and Digital Cooperation: An Agenda for the 2020s).

A central underlying topic of this year's IGF is about the conceptions about digital sovereignty. It is totally predictable that Chancellor Merkel would use Berlin Wall metaphor to enshrine the value of free speech. It is rare, however, to hear that she emphasizes digital sovereignty, which is said to be neither censorship nor protectionism, but a way through which individuals are capable of determining their own digital development.

Sovereignty in cyberspace has long been labeled by Western mainstream literature as a "monopoly" by China. But this is no longer the case, perhaps has never been. This column piece wants to share a different narrative: Washington DC is, in reality, the strongest supporter of the notion of cyber sovereignty in the military domain; China pays more attention to the content category; EU is more concerned about big tech giants.

Or, an easier way to put it might be this. All nations and every individual like nice words and they all support freedom and free flow. The important thing is how they make exceptions. China has social stability exceptions. U.S. has national security exceptions. Germany has privacy exceptions. All the three nations, however, attach great importance to political stability, who is the core for a society to function.

I shared my ideas in the IGF 2019 Digital Sovereignty & Internet Fragmentation session. ( Below is a rewriting of what I said about how national sovereignty has made its extensions into cyberspace — with different degrees, in different categories, by different stakeholders — which shapes the complexities and contradictions in the articulation of digital sovereignty by different nations and stakeholders. There are five contexts.

Category No. 1 Military or legitimacy of cyberspace as military domain and the rules for it if it is legitimate. We see in this category the most hardcore extension of traditional national sovereignty into cyberspace by some nation-states. You will be given a Nobel Peace prize if you can find a multi-stakeholder solution to this unilateral or multilateral issue. If we can reduce the tensions in this category, all the rest of the challenges will become irrelevant and evaporate. China remains reluctant to admit that cyberspace has become a military zone but still eagerly promotes national sovereignty for defensive purpose against the possibility that the same two words — national sovereignty — might be used for offensive purposes by some other countries. That is a rather paradoxical situation.

Category No. 2 Crime or cybercrime governance. This is also a sovereignty story, but there are some transnational initiatives and mechanisms installed. EU has the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. Russia has submitted a UN Convention on the Fight against Information Crimes. U.S. and UK have signed the first bilateral data-sharing agreement under CLOUD. China follows a practical approach and is busy taking back suspects committing telecommunication fraud from abroad. Cybercrime is now No.1 type of crime in China, which is also good news because the crimes in the streets have significantly reduced.

Category No. 3 Trade or digital economy and digital trade rules. The most recent update is Osaka Track. It is another challenging field that brings together a lot of elements that call for multi-ministry and multi-stakeholder coordination. This is where free flow is upheld and may lead to the removal of many practices of data localization. The word trust in the principle of "data free flow with trust" is problematic and subjective. A plain use of free flow is much clearer.

Category No. 4 Code or technical communities and management of core Internet resources. This is where institutional innovation really happens and should be more widely exported to inform other categories. China is happy about the current situation. Multi-stakeholder is firmly supported. The words have been spread and repeated by Chinese President for quite some years at the World Internet Conference WuZhen Summit. All the WuZhen gatherings have carried a theme of "Digital Commons." The values nurtured by the technical communities are highly appreciated and resonate with some universal values deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The Chinese philosopher Zhao Ting-yang captures this Chinese worldview in his books about global governance. He concluded his dialogue with his French counterpart Régis Debray that the Internet changed the world more than revolutionaries like Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong.

Category No. 5 Content or social media governance. China so far prefers a sovereignty approach in this category. But domestically, It is important to pay attention to the diversity of media ownerships in China. There are state media like People's Daily. There are commercial media such as Tick-Tok. There are grassroots media like half a billion users' Microblog or WeChat accounts. The rise of private media ownership is quite reassuring.

Therefore, there are different extensions and projections of national sovereignty in different cyber contexts. A U.S. military version of hardcore cyber sovereignty assumes certain enemies, bases itself basically purely on imaginations, and makes China and perhaps many other developing parts of the world feel extremely uneasy. However, the Chinese way of protecting cyber sovereignty in the content domain makes the U.S. cry foul over human rights principles.

German Chancellor Merkel and her more outspoken French counterpart President Macron share the same U.S. worries about Chinese domestic practices in the content domain, but are more urgently concerned about the big U.S. Internet platforms, and this is perhaps the direction of a European version of digital sovereignty is pointing to. All of these are further enhanced by the uncertainties and competition for huge opportunities brought by emerging technologies.

Solution: return to the insights and values of the Founding Fathers of the Internet and flexibly combine multistakeholderism and multilateralism in global digital policy-making.

Written by Peixi (Patrick) Xu, Professor, Communication University of China | 12/1/19

Update: At about 12:15 p.m. PST on Thursday, a Facebook representative told TheWrap the outage issue had been fixed: 

“Earlier today, people may have experienced trouble accessing Facebook’s family of apps,” the rep said. “The issue has since been resolved, we are back to 100% for everyone and we’re sorry for any inconvenience.” 

If you were looking to share a picture of your family or your Thanksgiving food spread, you might have to wait a little bit as Facebook and Instagram are both experiencing major outages on Thursday morning.

“We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing Facebook’s family of apps, including Instagram. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible,” Instagram’s Twitter account shared. A Facebook representative shared the same comment when reached by TheWrap. Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.

Facebook’s issues appear to be hitting American users worse than Instagram; according to, a site dedicated to tracking outages, Facebook had more than 10,000 reported problems between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. PST. Most of the reported issues came from the East Coast. Instagram, on the other hand, had more reported issues — upwards of 15,000 — but they were more concentrated in Europe than the U.S.

Also Read: Sacha Baron Cohen Blasts Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook's Inaction Against Holocaust Deniers Is 'Simply Absurd'

As it typically goes when Facebook or Instagram is down, users flocked to Twitter to joke and complain about the minor inconvenience.

Facebook and Instagram is down so I've just invented a new social site. It's called "Outside."

— Eric Alper ???? (@ThatEricAlper) November 28, 2019

me opening instagram for the 12th time even though i know it’s not working rn #instagramdown

— allie ???? (@alliehoffmannn) November 28, 2019

The amount of people running to twitter to complain because Facebook and Instagram is down: #InstagramDown

— Ediye (@iamOkon) November 28, 2019

Facebook and Instagram down. Everyone comes to Twitter like…

— Todd Turner (@Maverick131108) November 28, 2019

Instagram and Facebook is down

Twitter: hello guys, welcome to twitter :)) #facebookdown #instagramdown

— ?????? ? (@QOeCLf2uCChxkvp) November 28, 2019

Also Read: Elizabeth Warren Slams Secret Trump-Zuckerberg Dinner: 'This Is Corruption, Plain and Simple'

If it seems like this has happened more often in 2019, that’s because it has. Both Instagram and Facebook have experienced several other outages this year, with Instagram going down three times in the span of a month this past summer. Business Insider reported in July that Instagram went down twice as much in the first six months of 2019 as it has in previous years and that Facebook has experienced a nearly 300% surge in outages during the first half of the year.

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Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who has been embroiled in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct.

The accusations were first reported by ProPublica and Portland Monthly on Wednesday:

“In one case, a potential business partner recalls that Sondland took her to tour a room in a hotel he owns, only to then grab her face and try to kiss her. After she rejected him, Sondland backtracked on investing in her business.

Another woman, a work associate at the time, says Sondland exposed himself to her during a business interaction. She also recalls falling over the back of a couch trying to get away from him. After she made her lack of interest clear, she says Sondland called her, screaming about her job performance.

A third woman, 27 years Sondland’s junior, met him to discuss a potential job. She says he pushed himself against her and kissed her. She shoved him away. She says his job help stopped.”

Sondland, in a statement, said the claims have “no basis in fact.”

Also Read: EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland Confirms 'Quid Pro Quo' in Trump's Dealings With Ukraine

“In decades of my career in business and civic affairs, my conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances,” Sondland told ProPublica. “These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.”

The alleged misconduct took place before Sondland began his ambassadorship to the E.U. in 2018. Before then, he had been a successful hotelier and Republican donor.

One of the women who came forward, Nicole Vogel, is the owner of Portland Monthy, which co-published the piece with ProPublica. While she cooperated with the piece as a source, an editor’s note from ProPublic said Vogel was “not involved in editorial decisions.” She said that she had first interacted with Sondland 16 years ago when she was trying to secure funding for her publication. After they had dinner together, where Vogel said Sondland expressed interest in investing, he brought her over to one of his hotels in Portland and showed her one of the rooms. There, she said that Sondland kissed her without her consent.

Another woman, Jana Solis, a hospitality safety engineer for a New York insurance company that specializes in risk management for hotels, had a business lunch with Sondland that she said turned inappropriate.

“He was flirting through the lunch, and ends up just saying, ‘OK, I’ve heard enough,'” Solis told ProPublica. “‘You’re hired. Congratulations. You’re my new hotel chick.'” As they were leaving the restaurant, Solis claims that Sondland slapped her on the butt. (Sondland denies doing so.) Later, the two met up again after Sondland requested she visit his house to view his art collection. “Solis wasn’t trained in art valuations, but she agreed to go to his home, she says, to keep the business account intact,” the article said.

He then directed her to meet up with him in his pool house to view another collection, and Solis said he was naked from the waist down. “He’s like, ‘Well, I just thought we could have some fun, but you know, it’s cool.'” Solis said. Though she rebuffed his advances, she wound up meeting with Sondland again as she was conducting training sessions at a hotel:

“So I’m acting very professional, and I’m going over some of the things I think he needs to deal with [as part of my inspection] and just trying to stay down that road. [He says:] ‘Have a drink. Thanks for all you’ve done this week.'”

Solis remembers sitting on the couch with him, having a glass of wine and hoping as hard as she could — praying — that it would go no further.

“The next thing I know, he’s all over me,” she recalls. “He’s on top of me. He’s kissing me, shoving his tongue down my throat. And I’m trying to wiggle out from under him, and the next thing you know, I’m sort of rising up to get away from him, and I fall over the back of the couch.”

Also Read: 'SNL': Will Ferrell's Gordon Sondland Shows Up to Ruin Things for Alec Baldwin's Trump (Video)

And the third woman, Natalie Sept, said she was working on the campaign for a Portland City Council member when Sondland invited her out to dinner to discuss a potential job offer. But when she cut the evening short because she was feeling uncomfortable, she said he insisted that he walk her to her car and leaned in for a hug.

“So I give him a quick hug and he holds onto my shoulders and looks at me and pushes himself into me and tries to kiss me,” Sept said. She claims she pushed him away, got in her car, and sped off. (“Ambassador Sondland did discuss Ms. Sept’s job prospects with her, but he denies any unwanted touching. He specifically denies attempting to kiss her, along with her claim that she pushed him away,” Sondland’s lawyer said in a statement.)

Jim McCarthy, spokesman for Sondland appeared on CNN Wednesday, saying that he’d been in contact with the reporters for weeks but was not given details about the women’s accounts and only a 24-hour window to respond before the piece was published.

“It was horrendously irresponsible journalism; the fact their own boss is the primary source of the story is appalling and a brazen conflict of interest,” McCarthy added.

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The organization responsible for providing global Internet resources, including addresses in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia has announced that as of today, 25 November 2019, it has run out of IPv4 addresses. "We made our final /22 IPv4 allocation from the last remaining addresses in our available pool," said the report. The organization adds that this announcement should not come as a surprise as the exhaustion of IPv4 address pool has long been anticipated and planned for by the RIPE community. What's next:

Recovered Addresses: "Even though we have run out, we will continue to recover IPv4 addresses in the future. These will come from organizations that have gone out of business or are closed, or from networks that return addresses they no longer need. These addresses will be allocated to our members (LIRs) according to their position on a new waiting list that is now active."

IPv6 deployment: "Without wide-scale IPv6 deployment, we risk heading into a future where the growth of our Internet is unnecessarily limited - not by a lack of skilled network engineers, technical equipment or investment - but by a shortage of unique network identifiers. There is still a long way to go, and we call on all stakeholders to play their role in supporting the IPv6 roll-out." | 11/25/19

The past week in the 5G world was notable because of some major events in Reno in the 5G race to roll out the full 5G specifications known as Release 16. A set of seven major concurrent industry standards meetings were hosted there over five days last week. The metrics are indicative of who really participates in and shapes the rapidly emerging 5G platforms.

The Reno entrants included 1911 registered industry technical experts from 231 different participating companies and organizations who worked through 12254 submissions from 165 of those entities to proceed toward the final initial specifications for Stand-Alone 5G products and services. These sets of 3GPP meetings on 5G occur about every 60 days with many smaller meetings on specialized 5G platforms in between. The 5G Mobile Edge Computing Group, as well as the Cybersecurity Technical Committee, were meeting the previous week in Sophia Antipolis, France, where other significant 5G platforms were considered. These are the hard-core technical venues where the "5G leaders" participate and collaborate on 5G.

If one counts registrants in the race, the Top Ten ranked as follows:

96 Samsung
89 Ericsson
83 Huawei
83 Nokia
72 Intel
63 Qualcomm
60 LG Electronics
58 China Mobile
46 Apple
44 Interdigital

Some U.S. government agencies actually managed to get a few people there. They included the DOD, CISA/FirstNet, NTIA, DOJ, and FCC. The real rubber meeting the road in the race, however, is measured by the number of input documents amongst those 12 thousand submissions. Those at the lead of the race were:

1517 Huawei
1305 Ericsson
1119 HiSilicon
936 Nokia
870 Nokia Shanghai Bell
682 Qualcomm
622 ZTE
456 Samsung
366 China Academy of Telecom
337 Intel
330 LG Electronics
264 MediaTek
226 vivo
217 China Mobile
197 OPPO
169 China Telecom
162 Apple
160 Sanechips
105 Motorola
90 Lenovo
79 Interdigital

HiSilicon is Huawei's chip foundry and works jointly. Nokia and Nokia Shanghai Bell also work closely together. Amongst U.S. government agencies, CISA/FirstNet produced 12 submissions, and NIST had 2 — all focused on NSEP requirements. On the cybersecurity side, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) proceeded to advance the key 5G virtualization security requirements.

The European Union, which is projected to be the 2nd largest 5G market after China, remains in the lead in dealing with 5G industry collaboration and network security. Its recently released NIS Cooperation Group Report on EU coordinated risk assessment of the cybersecurity of 5G networks" provides a best-of-breed, comprehensive overview of all the basics and is proceeding with rolling out 5G possible risk alleviating measures "toolbox."

Meanwhile, Washington clowns around banning vendors — a clear violation of the public international law which U.S. itself established over many years. As TechCrunch notes in reporting on the current state of affairs, "business of 5G security will need to get commensurately large to scale to meet the multi-dimensional security challenge that goes hand in glove with the next-gen tech. "Just banning a single supplier isn't going to cut it." European authorities generally have both the knowledge base and the ability to act effectively — which the U.S. Government completely lacks.

The 5G world of virtualized networks and services is not a zero-sum game. The ultimate winners will be the providers who can enter, innovate, and thrive in the global market for those virtualized networks and services. They are the ultimate 5G value proposition, not the network boxes.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 11/24/19
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Did Clint Eastwood troll pro-impeachment Democrats with a “quid pro quo” line in his latest film “Richard Jewell?” Wednesday night’s AFI premiere of Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” garnered laughter during one scene in which the term “quid pro quo” — a key term used in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry hearings — was uttered by a character.

In the beginning of the movie, Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is a supply room clerk at the Small Business Administration where Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) is employed as a lawyer. Bryant is a Snickers fan, and Jewell makes an effort to keep his Snickers supply stocked. When Jewell gets another job, he tells Bryant, given Bryant is the only one who has ever been nice to him. As a parting gift, he gives Bryant another Snickers bar, at which point Bryant gives Jewell a $100 bill to help out with his new job, saying it’s “quid pro quo.”

“A little power can go to your head — don’t become an a–hole,” Watson tells Jewell. After all, Jewell’s dream is to be part of law enforcement, even when it’s those agents that, along with the press, that ruin his life when he becomes a suspect in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing.

Also Read: 'Richard Jewell' Film Review: Clint Eastwood's Wrong-Man Docudrama Muddles Harrowing True Story

As previously mentioned, “quid pro quo” is a term that’s been frequently mentioned by Trump and politicians amidst the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Beginning last week, witnesses have publicly testified in front of Congress about a July call where President Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Burisma, the natural gas company that Hunter was on the board of.

On Wednesday, U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, where he asserted during his opening statement that the Ukrainian president’s White House meeting with Trump was conditioned on the Ukrainians announcing investigations into Burisma and debunked accusations about 2016 election meddling.

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?'” Sondland said. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Also Read: Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Questions Accuracy of Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' Ahead of Premiere

Trump has denied that there was a “quid pro quo” element in his request to the Ukrainian president.

The film wrapped production in August, and the public impeachment hearings only began last week, so it’s likely just a timely coincidence. Also, the script written by Bill Ray, is a supporter and fundraiser of Democratic causes. An individual with knowledge told TheWrap that the script was written four years ago.

Paul Walter Hauser poses at the #ChangingTheChairs statue at AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi

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Gaming is on the verge of becoming the biggest entertainment sector in the world.

That was one of the key takeaways from IDG Consulting CEO Yoshio Osaki’s opening presentation on Tuesday at TheWrap’s GamingGrill at Herringbone in Santa Monica. Gaming, according to IDG’s research, already brings in more revenue globally than the music business, movie ticket sales and home entertainment combined. Overall, the gaming industry is on pace to bring in nearly $180 billion in revenue this year — marking a 24% jump in revenue from only two years ago.

By the end of 2020, IDG projects gaming to surpass television as the most lucrative form of entertainment, with annual revenue rising to $195 billion.

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(Courtesy of IDG Consulting)

It’s probably best to think of major video game releases in the same way we think of blockbuster movies, Osaki said. And in many cases, the biggest video games trump the latest comic book epic coming out of Hollywood.

For example, “Avengers: Infinity War” brought in $640 million globally during its opening weekend last year — or about $85 million less than “Red Dead Redemption 2,” from Rockstar Games, made during its opening weekend in October 2018.

What’s behind gaming’s continued rise? There are a few dynamics at play. First off, as illustrated by “Red Dead Redemption 2,” gaming is truly international. Major releases in the U.S. drive huge sales in Europe and Asia. It applies in the opposite direction as well, as the FIFA soccer franchise from EA Sports indicates; the FIFA game sold nearly 14 million copies last year, according to IDG’s research, with 29% of those players coming from North America. Europe, where the game is especially popular, accounts for 69% of the game’s sales.

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New industry entrants and new ways for gamers to play are also spurring the industry’s growth. Osaki pointed to companies like Nike, Facebook and Amazon that are traditionally not gaming-oriented but are now venturing into the industry. Amazon’s involvement in gaming has grown exponentially since buying Twitch in 2014. Twitch is now the go-to streaming service for gamers around the world, and the company recently enjoyed its peak concurrent viewership for a single event, with 1.7 million people streaming a Fortnite event.

Snapchat also launched its own in-app gaming arcade earlier this year — around the same time Apple revealed it would also be getting into gaming, too. The smartphone, just as it’s making it easier for users to watch TV shows and movies on the go, is now becoming an integral part of the gaming industry.

Also Read: Twitch CEO Apologizes After Porn Was Promoted on Ninja's Former Gaming Channel


Another gaming trend to watch: esports. More people than ever before are watching people, well, play video games. This may seem like a niche development to those outside gaming, but the numbers are staggering. The Super Bowl pulls in about 100 million viewers at its peak, and it’s still dwarfed by major esports events like the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, which drew 200 million viewers at its peak, according to IDG.

It’s no wonder Twitch, Mixer and YouTube are duking it out — and often poaching popular streamers from their rivals — for gaming viewers.

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One of the most embarrassing and pernicious realities in the world of cybersecurity is the stark reality that some industry cybersecurity standards practices are themselves cyber threats. How so?

Most industry and intergovernmental standards bodies serve as means for assembling the constantly evolving collective knowledge of participant experts and package the resulting specifications and best practices as freely available online documents to a vast, diverse universe of users. In many cases, these materials have the force and effect of law through governmental bodies who reference them as compulsory requirements for an array of cybersecurity products and services provided to end-users.

Unfortunately, a few remaining outlier standards organizations attempt to exploit the cybersecurity marketplace by significantly restricting availability of their standards and charging incredulous prices for access to documents that deter use. This behavior is often coupled with lobbying co-opted government authorities to reference the specifications as mandatory requirements — flying in the face of longstanding juridical norms. In some cases where such references have created artificial demand, the prices reach an astronomical seven dollars per page for a single user to simply look at specifications that are often trivial and useless, yet mandated by some governmental authority or certification group. The result is that the cybersecurity standards practices themselves become cyber threats because the needed specifications are not available to end-users who cannot or will not pay seven dollars per page for a standard.

The most extreme of these bodies is the Geneva-based, private International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which together with its regional and national partners, manages to continue the practice of enticing participants to contribute their cybersecurity intellectual property for free — which is then resold by the organization's secretariats at vicarious prices reflecting whatever the cybersecurity market will bear. That some of the participants are also government employees who are contributing government IPR, and then effectively serving as marketing arms for secretariats selling the pricey products, makes the practice all the more unacceptable.

In a recent proposal to the European Union on cybersecurity normative standards, the entire bundle of proposed ISO/IEC specifications amounts to $ 5000 per individual user license. Additionally, that amount is potentially recurrent every five years - the asserted maintenance period for the standards. For the proposed bundle of 31 documents, the per-page price varies wildly between 0.68 and 6.77 Swiss Francs with the average 2.63 Francs ($ 2.65) per page as downloadable PDF files. The 6.77 Swiss Franc ($ 6.81) per page amount is for the ISO/IEC 30111 standard on how to process and resolve potential vulnerability information in a product or online services. And, these 31 standards only include the explicitly mandated specifications themselves. Secondary normative references requiring still further ISO/IEC standards can significantly add to the cost.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) engages in similar behavior, and even leverages its association with engineering profession members. Its price per page varies between $0.56 to $3.48 for common cybersecurity standards.

Over the years, most standards bodies who once sold their cybersecurity standards have ceased the practice — realizing that meaningful standards making in the ICT sector effectively require freely available standards to as many people and entities as quickly as possible. Where public safety or security are factors, or where the specification is referenced as a regulatory requirement, freely available standards are essential, and the converse inexcusable.

Several years ago, the American Bar Association advanced an initiative on public ownership of the law and adopted a resolution calling for public availability to standards which are the subject of regulatory enactments. However, the ISO/IEC national body in the U.S., ANSI, mounted a fierce lobbying effort asserting their right to pursue a business model of whatever the market will bear, and to do otherwise will put them out of business — without ever providing supporting financial data.

Today, as cybersecurity becomes ever more critical, government authorities worldwide need to seriously question arguments of the few remaining standards bodies who seek the largesse of a cybersecurity regulatory imprimatur, while maintaining a business model which is a clear detriment to end-users. Attempting to extract revenues from a cybersecurity standards marketplace is clearly very different from standards developed for a closed manufacturing community of physical "widgets." Today, there are many other cybersecurity standards bodies for governmental authorities to choose from who do have acceptable business models.

So in sum, while charging whatever the market will bear for cybersecurity specifications may be ill-considered as a private standards organization business practice, it is ultimately its choice. However, they should not be seeking a helping hand from regulatory authorities to prop up a broken business model at the expense of diminished cybersecurity.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 11/13/19
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Last May, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted "6 more launches of 60 sats needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate" and SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell recently said they planned to be offering service in parts of the US in mid-2020, which would require six to eight 60-satellite launches. The first of those launches will be in the middle of this month on a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster. (They will also need customer terminals and Elon Musk has used a prototype to post a tweet from his home).

Six to eight launches would bring them up to Musk's "minor" coverage by mid-2020 and, if they maintain the same launch rate, they will achieve "moderate" coverage around the end of the year. But, what is meant by "minor" and "moderate" coverage? A simulation by Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, provides an approximation of the answer.

The first Starlink "shell" will have 24 orbital planes. Each orbital plane will have 66 satellites at an inclination of 53 degrees and an altitude of 550 km. Handley ran simulations of the first six and first twelve orbital planes — corresponding roughly to the SpaceX plan for 2020. Snapshots of the coverage area "footprints" from the two simulations are shown below:

Coverage with six and twelve 66-satellite orbital planes

The blue areas — around 50 degrees north and south latitude — are regions with continuous 24-hour coverage by at least one satellite. With six orbital planes, there will be continuous connectivity in the northern US and Canada and much of western Europe and Russia, but only southern Patagonia and the South Island of New Zealand in the sparsely populated south. Note that the financial centers of London and (just barely) New York will have continuous coverage, but, since these early satellites will not have inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), SpaceX would have to route traffic between them through an undersea cable.

Coverage is continuous around 50 degrees north and south.

(At this point, you should stop reading and watch the video (6m 36s) of the simulation which shows the footprints moving across the surface of the planet as it rotates).

With 12 orbital planes, all of the continental US and most of Europe, the Middle East, China, Japan, and Korea will be covered. Shotwell says that once they have 1,200 satellites in orbit, they will have global coverage (with the exception of the polar regions) and capacity will be added as they complete the 550 km shell with 1,584 satellites. That should occur well before the end of 2021 since she expects to achieve a launch cadence of 60 satellites every other week.

Shotwell also said they planned to include ISLLs by late 2020, implying that around half of the satellites in this first shell will have them. Those ISSLs will give SpaceX an advantage over terrestrial carriers for low-latency long-distance links, a market Musk hopes to dominate. ISLLs will also reduce the need for ground stations. (Maybe they can lease ground-station service from SpaceX competitor Amazon in the interim)

All of this is cool, but what will it cost the user?

It sounds like SpaceX is serious about pursuing the consumer market from the start. When asked about price recently, Shotwell said millions of people in the U. S. pay $80 per month to get "crappy service." She did not commit to a price, but homes, schools, community centers, etc. with crappy service would pay that for good service, not to mention those with no service. Some customers may pay around $80 per month, but the price at a given location will be a function of SpaceX capacity, the price/demand curve for Intenet service, and competition from terrestrial and other satellite service providers — so prices will vary within the U. S. and globally. In nations where Starlink service is sold by partner Internet service providers, they will share in pricing decisions.

Since the marginal cost of serving a customer is near zero as long as there is sufficient capacity, we can expect lower prices in a poor, sparsely-populated region than in an affluent, densely-populated region. Dynamic pricing is also a possibility since SpaceX will have real-time demand data for every location. "Dynamic pricing of a zero marginal cost, variable-demand service" sounds like a good thesis topic. It will be interesting to see their pricing policy.

National governments will also have a say on pricing and service. While the U. S. will allow SpaceX to serve customers directly, other nations may require that they sell through Internet service providers and some — maybe Russia — may ban Starlink service altogether.

The price and quality of service also impact long-run usage patterns and applications. Today, the majority of users in developing nations access the Internet using mobile phones, which limits the power and range of applications they can use. Affordable satellite broadband would lead to more computers in homes, schools, and businesses and reduce the cost of offering new Internet services, impacting the economy and culture and leading to more content and application creation, as opposed to content consumption.

Looking further into the future, SpaceX has FCC approval for around 12,000 satellites and they recently requested spectrum for an additional 30,000 from the International Telecommunication Union. Their next-generation reusable Starship will be capable of launching 400 satellites at a time, and they will have to run a regular shuttle service to launch 42,000 satellites as well as replacements since the satellites are only expected to have a five-year lifespan. (One can imagine Starships dropping off new satellites then picking up obsolete satellites and returning them to Earth).

This sounds rosy. As we said in the NSFNet days, what could possibly go wrong? SpaceX seems to have a commanding lead over its would-be competitors. Might they one day become a dominant Internet service provider in a nation or region and abuse that position? Also, before they launch 42,000 satellites — or even 12,000 — SpaceX better come up with a foolproof plan for debris avoidance and mitigation. I hope they have a vice-president in charge of unanticipated side-effects.

Update Nov 5, 2019

Speaking at an investment conference, Shotwell said that a single Starship-Super Heavy launch should be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit. Doing so would reduce the per-satellite cost to 20% of today's 60-satellite launches.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University | 11/6/19
Issues around Trans-Atlantic data privacy still have a ways to go before any resolutions are reached, however, it is clear that GDPR is good for business. | 11/4/19

Developments in the telecommunications industry and the broader digital economy have opened up many new markets over the last few decades. Telecoms has changed from a more or less standalone, horizontally-organized industry to one that has become a key facilitator in a range of vertical markets.

The keyword that is used to indicate that change is "smart." We are talking about smart transport, smart energy, smart cities and so on. Essentially what this means is that internet and communication technology (ICT) technologies are increasingly being strategically added on and embedded in these industries.

The technological developments have been mindboggling: broadband, mobile communications, cloud computing, data management, storage, AI and analytics. Combined, these have created the ideal environment for the development of technology platforms on which social and economic transformations can be developed. These platforms are often called "labs" — places where innovation, sharing, collaboration and piloting can take place.

The telecoms industry was right at the forefront of the digital explosion, but for a long time, telcos concentrated on protecting their very lucrative incumbent voice businesses.

And so companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and many others in the internet market had free rein to develop over-the-top (OTT) business models, using the existing telecoms infrastructure to build their own platforms from which to distribute their own services to end-users.

Despite what could be called "missed opportunities" for telcos, they were able to maintain a strong market position in the basic telecoms market (connectivity). The massive increase in OTT services also stimulated a far greater use of the telecoms network. In most cases, telcos remain strong and healthy players in the connectivity market. However, it has become a low-margin utility service. Within their current business models, there is little room for them to develop more value-added products with opportunities for premium-based revenue models.

There are various obvious scenarios for the telcos to pursue:

  • Current model of an integrated telco: a strong focus on technology and engineering, combined with good customer relationships;
  • The wholesale model: full control over the network, intermediaries between vendors and OTT retail providers; and
  • Platform: a more virtual telco model based on first-class infrastructure with a strong focus on innovation and new services and strong relationships with customers, partners and developers.

I would like to concentrate on the third option.

The nature of the telecoms business, its culture, and its business models is not very well-suited to a more vertical approach that can be provided through platform-based models.

For example, let's look at the massive transformations that are taking place in transport, cities and energy. What is needed is a holistic approach to these developments. Telcos could take control of such a platform, rather than just being a supplier to some of the underlying elements of new smart models.

Looking around the globe, we see the car industry, cities and energy companies trying to take charge of the platform. As they often lack in-house ICT skills, the success of these platforms is a hit-and-miss situation. In other cases, IT companies are taking charge (such as Cisco, IBM and Huawei) or companies such as PWC and Accenture. The problem with these latter organizations is that their clients have become increasingly wary of proprietary solutions.

So far, very few telcos have taken a leading position in such developments. Key reasons are that their financial, technology and business models are not well-suited to starting a platform and taking risks involved in setting them up. Instead, we see IT companies taking the lead, like Google (Alphabet), for example, in Smart City Toronto.

Their business models are much better suited to such opportunities, and they are prepared to take risks and accept that several investments may fail. However, this allows them to learn on the job. They know that the total value of the platform markets that will be developed over the next 10-20 years will be in the trillions of dollars.

Perhaps Spain's Telefonica has gone the furthest of all the telcos. While still not adopting the full platform approach, they are taking the lead in a range of international smart city projects. KPN in the Netherlands is another example of a leading participant, but again not a full platform operator.

Of course, telcos quickly become partners in such projects, but most of the time, they are relegated to providing basic telecoms services. Often, these services are tendered for by the project leader, and competition makes sure that the margins for the telcos remain rather subdued.

Looking at the very upbeat messages that the telcos are sending out regarding 5G, the situation will become even more complex. In order to deliver the applications that the technology promotes, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and the much-promoted connected car business, platforms will require cooperation between telcos. Such applications can't rely on one supplier alone. You cannot have a driverless solution that only uses the Telstra network or the Optus one.

Telcos are not used to partnering with competitors. Often the message is "let's partner, but you have to do it my way." Car manufacturers in Europe have already indicated that they are not going to build the roadside IoT platforms and are looking at the telcos to collaborate. So who will develop the "build it and they will come" business model?

If the telcos do want to monetize their network better, they will have to move up the value chain, and this will require a totally different business model. Most likely, this will require setting up structurally separated new companies, each individually specialized, based on the markets they are selecting. The platform would largely be built around a virtual "telco" model, mainly operating in the cloud. They should be open to external developers and partners, securing an ongoing development of new and innovative offerings.

In such a model, the telcos' unique skill sets allow them to take a greater controlling role. Rather than being asked to be a partner, they should set up the ecosystem for the platform, select the partners, develop the financial models around the platform, and be in control. Their independent position also allows them to scale this business model and replicate it where opportunities arise.

There is no doubt that such an approach holds significant risks. Some initiatives will fail. Of course, such a model should be thoroughly assessed through scenario design, but that shouldn't lead to procrastination. If done well, the rewards will be substantial.

The telcos arguably have the deepest insight into customers' behavior, but if they are to move up the value chain, they will need to use this insight to move out of partnerships and establish themselves in a controlling position.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication | 10/31/19
UK: Mother of all elections to Get Brexit Gone Let there be no doubts about it, the future of the United Kingdom as a Union, as a successful economy and as a major player on the world stage is at stake in the forthcoming massive election on December 12. Let us present a serious and balanced analysis of what is on the table which will open the window for others to understand the magnitude of the situation and might point the British electorate in the right direction. Brexit has been a glowing ember for years, since the European Union went too far and too fast, stitching together economies which had taken thousands of years to develop into one single patchwork in one fell swoop. When the people were asked, they were as a rule divided 50/50 and as we saw in 2016, in the UK Referendum, they still are.

Randall Stephenson says he isn’t actively looking to sell or spinoff DirecTV right now, but the AT&T chief admitted there are no “sacred cows” in his portfolio. And the AT&T executive team has orders from Stephenson to commence another review of their holdings.

“[DirecTV] will be an important piece of our strategy over the next three years,” Stephenson said Monday on a conference call with media analysts and reporters. “But no portion of our business is ever exempt from a continuous assessment for fit and performance.”

“We’ll approach it with a fresh set of eyes and clarity,” he continued. “And we’ll evaluate multiple options that includes partnerships and other structures.”

Also Read: AT&T Tops Q3 Earnings Forecasts Despite Loss of Nearly 1.2 Million Premium TV Subscribers

The conference call was a particularly packed one. Not only did Stephenson (pictured above) have AT&T’s third-quarter 2019 financials to go over, he also unveiled his three-year plan.

Also on Monday, Stephenson promised shareholders that he would remain AT&T CEO through at least 2020. Stephenson said he has been talking with the board of directors to set up a “detailed plan” for succession when the time comes, however.

That doesn’t mean there are any “formal plans” right now though, Stephenson said.

Read more about AT&T’s Q3 earnings and its three-year plan here.

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AT&T to Sell Majority Stake in Central European Media Enterprises for $1.1 Billion

DirecTV Could Walk Away From NFL Sunday Ticket Renewal, AT&T COO Says

WarnerMedia CEO Says AT&T Not Planning to Sell DirecTV: 'Important Part of What We're Going to Be' | 10/28/19

The economy of Europe comprises more than 731 million people in 48 different states. Like other continents, the wealth of Europe's states varies, although the poorest are well above the poorest states of other continents in terms of GDP and living standards. The difference in wealth across Europe can be seen in a rough East-West divide. Whilst Western European states all have high GDPs and living standards, many of Eastern Europe's economies are still rising from the collapse of the communist Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia. Throughout this article "Europe" and derivatives of the word are taken to include selected states whose territory is only partly in Europe – such as Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation – and states that are geographically in Asia, bordering Europe – such as Armenia and Cyprus. Europe was the first continent to industrialize – led by the United Kingdom in the 18th century – and as a result, it has become the richest continent in the world today and the nominal GDP in 2010 is $19.920 trillion (32.4% of the World). Europe's largest national economy is that of Germany, which ranks fourth globally in nominal GDP, and fifth in purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP; followed by France, ranking fifth globally in nominal GDP, followed by the United Kingdom, ranking sixth globally in nominal GDP, followed by Italy, which ranks seventh globally in nominal GDP, then by Russia ranking tenth globally in nominal GDP. These 5 countries are all ranking in the world's top 10, therefore European economies account for half of the 10 wealthiest ones. The end of World War II has since brought European countries closer together, culminating in the formation of the European Union (EU) and in 1999, the introduction of a unified currency – the euro. European Union as a whole is, by far, the wealthiest and largest economy in the world, topping the US by more than 2.000 billions at a time of great economic slowdown– see List of countries by GDP. In 2009 Europe remained the world's wealthiest region. Its $32,7 trillion in assets under management represented more than one-third of the world’s wealth. Unlike North America ($29,3 trillion) it was one of few regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. Of the top 500 largest corporations measured by revenue, 184 have their headquarters in Europe. 161 are located in the EU, 15 in Switzerland, 6 in Russia, 1 in Turkey, 1 in Norway. 19 out of the top 26 nations in the world with the highest nominal GDP per capita are in Europe as of 2010. nr 1 Monaco $203,900 nr 2 Liechtenstein $136,864 nr 3 Luxembourg $104.390 nr 4 Norway $84,543 nr 6 Switzerland $67,074 nr 7 Denmark $55,112 nr 8 San Marino $50,670 nr 10 Sweden $47,667 nr 13 Netherlands 46,418 nr 15 Ireland $45,642 nr 16 Austria $43,723 nr 17 Finland $43,133 nr 19 Belgium $42,596 nr 21 Andorra $41,130 nr 22 France $40,591 nr 23 Germany $40,511 nr 24 Iceland $39,562 nr 25 UK $36,298 nr 26 Italy $33,828

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