Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that the tech giant is “very focused on election security” heading into the 2020 presidential election — something pundits have ridiculed the company for in recent years, following the 2016 U.S. election.
“We were behind in 2016, but by any objective measure our efforts on election integrity have made a lot of progress,” Zuckerberg said on the company’s Q4 earnings call.
The company has been criticized for its inability to weed out Russian trolls during the 2016 election. These Kremlin-backed accounts often shared poorly-worded memes touching on hot button topics like gun control and immigration. One meme, shared during a 2018 congressional hearing investigating election interference, claimed “President Hillary Clinton will definitely end private gun ownership in the U.S.” You get the idea.
Facebook’s critics have continued to complain about this issue in the years following the election, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bringing it up again earlier this month. Pelosi skewered Facebook for not checking “on the money from Russia in the last election,” among other issues she took with the company.
Still, there is little reason to believe bogus Russian ads played a major role in shaping the results of the 2016 election. A study from Oxford University found Russian trolls, from the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, spent less than $75,000 on Facebook ads between 2015 and 2017.
Facebook has since made several changes to its ad accounting, introducing an ad library that publicly shares details on how much political advertisers are spending. It also now requires all U.S. political advertisers to register with a U.S. address. The company is betting these changes will curb false political ads from foreign actors.
Zuckerberg made the comments after Facebook shared its fourth-quarter results, which you can read about here.
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www.thewrap.com | 1/29/20
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped into Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during a Thursday press conference, saying the tech giant is “shameful” and that it has looked to “schmooze” the Trump administration in order to get tax breaks.
“The Facebook business model is strictly to make money,” Pelosi said. “They don’t care about the impact on children, they don’t care about truth, they don’t care about where this is all coming from.”
Pelosi was responding to a question on whether Zuckerberg and other tech executives have “too much power.” Her sharp criticism adds to a growing number of Democratic politicians who have skewered the company in recent months for its decision to not fact-check its political ads. It also comes a week after President Trump said Zuckerberg had recently complimented him for being “number 1 on Facebook.”
“All they want are their tax cuts and no anti-trust action against them,” Pelosi continued. “They schmooze this administration in that regard.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, which is about 30 miles north of Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters, also skewered Facebook for not checking “on the money from Russia in the last election.”
The impact of bogus ads stemming from Russian troll farms has been a heated topic since the 2016 U.S. election, but there is little reason to believe it played a major role in shaping the result; a study from Oxford University found Kremlin-backed trolls spent less than $75,000 on Facebook ads between 2015 and 2017. Facebook has since made several changes to its ad accounting, introducing an ad library that publicly shares details on how much political advertisers are spending. It also now requires all U.S. political advertisers to register with a U.S. address.
You can watch a clip of Pelosi’s response below:
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www.thewrap.com | 1/16/20
I posted reviews of important LEO-satellite Internet service developments during 2017 and 2018. I've been updating those posts during the years and have 16 new posts for 2019. In 2019 we saw four inciteful simulations, Leosat suspending operations and Amazon announcing the availability of a new ground station service and plans for a LEO constellation, progress in phased-array antennas but a lowering of expectations for inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), new competition from China, worries about space debris and SpaceX racing ahead of the pack. The following are brief summaries of and links to those 2019 posts:
Simulation of OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed global broadband constellations (January 2019) – Inigo del Portillo and his colleagues at MIT have run a simulation comparing OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed LEO Internet service constellations. They estimated the average data rate per satellite and total system throughput (sellable capacity) for each constellation then computed the number of ground stations needed to achieve full capacity. The simulations were run with and without ISLLs. The configurations of SpaceX and OneWeb's constellations have changed somewhat since they ran the simulations, but del Portillo does not think the numbers for total throughput and number of ground stations would vary a lot for SpaceX and he expected the total system throughput would decrease slightly for OneWeb because of the reduction of the number of satellites from the initial 720 to 600.
Fifteen-dollar, electronically-steerable antennas for satellite and terrestrial connectivity (February 2019) – OneWeb founder Greg Wyler announced that his self-funded side project, Wafer LLC, has developed a flat, low-power phased-array antenna that could be mass-produced for $15. If that is the case, we can look forward to end-user terminals in the $2-300 dollar range. At this cost, one can envision deploying large numbers of two-antenna user terminals to act as ground stations when they are otherwise idle. A recent simulation shows that doing so would result in lower latency and jitter than today's terrestrial networks. Owners of these relay terminals could be subsidized.
Google balloons and Telesat satellites (February 2019) – Telesat will use Google's network operating system. In return, Google, which is also a SpaceX investor, may get access to some Telesat data in addition to compensation for their software. Another intriguing possibility is that Google might be planning to integrate Project Loon, their stratospheric balloon Internet service with Telesat's LEO satellite Internet service — to use Telesat's network as a global backbone. That integration would be facilitated by their both running the same SDN software — the same network operating system. (In the long run, I expect that all network layers will be integrated — from the ground to airplanes to geostationary orbit).
SpaceX's Starlink Internet service will target end-users on day one (March 2019) – Starting with Teledesic in 1990, would-be LEO satellite constellations have pitched their projects to the FCC, other regulators, and the public as a means of closing the digital divide, but they also have their eyes on lucrative aviation, maritime, high-speed trading, mobile backhaul, enterprise, and governments markets. (LEOSat, which had planned to focus exclusively on the enterprise and government markets recently suspended operations). SpaceX has filed an FCC application for one million ground stations, indicating that they will be focused on end-users and small organizations in addition to high-end customers from the start.
Are inter-satellite laser links a bug or a feature of ISP constellations? (April 2019) – OneWeb has decided not to include ISLLs in the first phase of their constellation, and SpaceX will not introduce them until near the end of 2020, at which time they may start with test satellites. OneWeb's decision was motivated by political issues in Russia as well as technical considerations. They will need more ground stations to offer global service without ISLLs, and a team of MIT researchers has run a simulation of a 720-satellite OnWeb constellation. They estimate that 71 ground stations would be required to reach maximum throughput.
Amazon's orbiting infrastructure (April 2019) – In his first annual stockholder letter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stressed that Amazon was focused on investing in infrastructure. Initially, they invested in retail distribution centers but have added an Internet backbone, trucks and planes, third party retail support, cloud computing and storage, and satellite launch and ground station service and are now working on a constellation of LEO satellites for broadband service. They use this infrastructure themselves and market it to competitors like online retailers and they have contracts to launch satellites for OneWeb and Telesat. This infrastructure yields both revenue and access to market data and there have been calls for antitrust action against Amazon.
Satellite Internet Service Progress by SpaceX and Telesat (May 2019) – Telesat has signed their first LEO customer, Omniaccess a provider of connectivity to the superyacht market, received a subsidy from the Canadian budget for providing service in rural Canada, is working with two teams that are competing to be the prime contractor for their constellation, and signed a launch contract with Amazon's Blue Origen. They also announced that they had demonstrated 5G mobile backhaul in tests with Vodaphone and the University of Surrey. SpaceX also announced ambitious plans for future launches, which have subsequently been surpassed.
SpaceX reports significant broadband satellite progress (May 2019) – SpaceX announced a significant reduction in the size and weight of their satellites and the addition of krypton-powered thrusters that would enable them to autonomously avoid collisions with on-orbit debris that was large enough to track. The thrusters would also be used to de-orbit obsolete satellites. Might the collective constellation "learn" to avoid smaller debris one day?
Might satellite constellations learn to avoid debris with sensors on satellites? (May 2019) – According to the European Space Agency, there are about 5,000 orbiting satellites, about 40% of which are still functioning. They estimate that there have been over 500 break-ups, explosions, collisions, or anomalous events resulting in fragmentation, and they estimate that there are 34,000 debris objects >10 cm, 900,000 from 1 to 10 cm and 128 million from 1 mm to 1 cm. NASA says there are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball, 500,000 the size of a marble or larger, and many millions so small they can't be tracked. Space debris is a "tragedy of the commons." SpaceX plans to launch thousands of satellites. Could sensors on satellites detect and catalog small pieces of debris and, if so, could that lead to meaningful evasive action?
Hongyun Project — China's low-earth orbit broadband Internet project (June 2019) – China has announced two LEO broadband satellite projects and a LEO narrowband Internet of things constellation. While far behind SpaceX in technology, the Chinese companies have a large domestic market, access to government capital, and political and economic ties to many nations through their Belt and Road and Digital Silk Road infrastructure projects.
Amazon's AWS Ground Station service is now available (June 2019) – Amazon is offering satellite ground station access as a service. They list a number of advantages to their service, several of which are based on complementary Amazon offerings like access to their data centers and global network backbone and cloud computing and storage services. We can assume that Amazon's satellite constellation will use these ground stations at cost and, like their launch service, they will be made available to competitors. Amazon has been accused of predatory pricing in retail, and competing ground-segment companies may fear the same.
Latecomer Amazon will be a formidable satellite ISP competitor (July 2019) – In spite of being a latecomer to the race to deploy a constellation of LEO broadband Internet satellites, Amazon's Project Kuiper will be a formidable competitor. While far behind SpaceX, Amazon has in-house launch capability, and they have extensive complementary infrastructure including data centers, Web services, and a ground-station service. They also have the funds to finance the constellation as well as to develop or acquire critical technology like ISLLs and cost-effective phased-array antennas. They have also hired ex-SpaceX executives and engineers, and in Jeff Bezos, they have a leader who is comparable to Elon Musk.
An optimistic update from Telesat (August 2019) – Telesat received 685 million Canadian dollars from the government to subsidize rural connectivity. They plan to start service at the end of 2022 with 200 satellites in polar orbit, to add 100 more in inclined orbit in 2023, and perhaps eventually reach 500 satellites. Combining polar and inclined orbits and utilizing the far-north ground stations they already have for their profitable, established geosynchronous satellite service will help them gain a foothold in rural Canada and polar regions.
Inter-satellite laser link update (November 2019) – SpaceX initially planned to have five ISLLs per satellite but cut that back to four due to the technical difficulty of linking to a fast-moving satellite in a crossing plane and the short duration of such links. OneWeb has decided against using ISLLs for the time being due to cost and political considerations and Telesat remains committed to them. SpaceX is engineering its own ISLL hardware, but OneWeb and Telesat may be working with third parties. The situation with Hongyun is unknown, and LEOsat has abandoned their effort.
What to expect from SpaceX Starlink broadband service next year and beyond (November 2019) – By the end of 2020, SpaceX will have coverage in the heavily populated parts of the world between around 50 degrees north and south latitude. They expect to be launching 120 satellites a month and, by the end of 2020, the satellites will be equipped with ISLLs. However, by that time, they will have many legacy satellites in space, and those early ISLLs may just be for testing. They expect the next-generation Starship to be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit, reducing the per-satellite cost to 20% of today's 60-satellite launches. They hope to compete with the "crappy" $80/month service in the US and, since the cost of the constellation is fixed, they will strive for affordable prices worldwide.
Starlink simulation shows low latency without inter-satellite laser links (ISSLa) (December 2019) – Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, has made two terrific videos based on runs of his simulation of the first — 1,584 satellite — phase of SpaceX Starlink. I discussed the first video, which assumes that the satellites have ISLLs, in a recent post. This one shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points. It also considers the possibility of using end-user terminals as ground stations when they are idle, which would further reduce latency and jitter.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 1/15/20
Microsoft has taken control of 50 domains used by a North Korean cybercrime group dubbed "Thallium" to steal information from users, including government employees, think tanks, university staff members, and those working on nuclear proliferation issues. "Our court case against Thallium, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, resulted in a court order enabling Microsoft to take control of 50 domains that the group uses to conduct its operations," wrote Tom Burt, Corporate VP, in a blog post today. Burt added: "This is the fourth nation-state activity group against which Microsoft has filed similar legal actions to take down malicious domain infrastructure. Previous disruptions have targeted Barium, operating from China, Strontium, operating from Russia, and Phosphorus, operating from Iran."
www.circleid.com | 12/31/19
Handley's simulation shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points.
Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, has made two terrific videos based on runs of his simulation of the first — 1,584 satellite — phase of SpaceX's Starlink Internet-service constellation. I discussed the first video, which assumes that the satellites have inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), in recent post.
While SpaceX plans to deploy ISLLs in the future, their early satellites do not have them since at 27,000 km/hr they are state-of-the-art technology and may also encounter political problems in some nations. Since it could be a year or so before SpaceX begins launching ISLL-equipped satellites, Handley has made a second video that assumes the phase one satellites do not have ISLLs. This post discusses that video.
Each satellite has four phased-array antennas that can rapidly switch narrowly focused connections to terrestrial antennas falling within a large "footprint" area. The terrestrial antennas might be Internet-connected ground stations or end-user terminals. If there were no ISLLs, long-distance traffic would have to be relayed by bouncing packets up and down between satellites and the ground.
Many people — me included — have assumed that these "bent pipe" hops would significantly increase latency on long-distance paths, but Handley's simulation shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points.
Consider, for example, this six-hop route between Seattle and New York. The bent-pipe route has a round-trip time of 36ms versus 78ms for the current Internet and 38ms for a hypothetical great circle fiber route, which would be impossible because of mountains and other obstructions.
That example was taken from a run in which only six orbital planes had been populated, and it assumed ground stations at popular SpaceX locations plus a few others that Handley assumed would be added at strategic points. With only six orbital planes, global coverage is spotty but it is solid around 53 degrees north (and south). As more satellites are added, coverage becomes wider, and latency improves. By the time all 1,584 satellites are in operation, there is global coverage and latency is consistently better than today's terrestrial Internet.
While adding satellites improves performance, adding additional ground stations has an even more significant impact. That suggests the possibility of relaying traffic through idle end-user terminals, which also have phased array antennas. Handley ran a simulation assuming relays every 100 km and found that latency across the US was roughly cut in half, and jitter (latency variability) also declined. Still, the number of route changes increased to about one every five seconds. That sounds like a lot of overhead, but Handley feels that it is feasible to handle. It would also require a more expensive user terminal, a little power, and the permission of the user so SpaceX might subsidize the terminals or charge less for service.
Handley also considered inter-continental relaying, which would require relay stations on strategically placed ships at sea. (It turns out that no ships would be needed to cross the Northern Pacific, but that would require a relay station in Russia, which might be a political problem). He doesn't mention the possibility, but couldn't cargo and cruise ships act as slowly moving relay stations? (They will certainly want to be terminal-users).
The example shown above is for an east-west link, but Handley also looked at long north-south links and found that ground relays actually beat ISLLs in some cases and were always better than fiber, but the best results are achieved by a combination of ISLL and terrestrial links, which we can look forward to once SpaceX and others begin deploying satellites with ISLLs.
Handley concludes by pointing out that since he started making the video, SpaceX had revised their constellation configuration from 24 66-satellite planes to 72 22-satellite planes. It turns out that once the first 1,584-satellite phase is complete, there is pretty much no difference between the new and old configurations. Still, it does require a few more satellites to be deployed before the trans-Atlantic and Pacific relays will work continuously. Note that SpaceX hopes to complete the first phase by early 2021.
I can't conclude this post without mentioning Handley's charming disclaimer that he has no inside information, but, based on public statements, has made reasonable assumptions about "what they could do if they wanted to, but probably isn't what they will actually do."
Watch the video:
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 12/31/19
‘Meet the Press’ to Air Special Edition on ‘Alternate Facts’ Days After Chuck Todd Interview Backlash
NBC’s “Meet the Press” is focusing on “alternative facts” Sunday just days after moderator Chuck Todd became a trending Twitter topic for a recent interview in which he admitted he was initially “naive” about the campaign of “disinformation” he said has come from the Trump administration and top Republicans.
The show’s team is splitting the hour up into sections: “Politics and Journalism in an Era of ‘Alternative Facts'” with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and the Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron; “Anatomy of a Lie” with NBC News national security analyst Clint Watts; and “Borrowing the Russian Disinformation Playbook” with New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen and former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
The show will also include a roundtable with Recode co-founder and editor-at-large Kara Swisher, MSNBC anchor Joshua Johnson, New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Matthew Continetti.
A representative for NBC News did not offer further comment.
Todd’s recent Rolling Stone interview revived questions about how the media handles factually incorrect statements from news figures, particularly in live broadcasts like “Meet the Press.”
When asked about Sean Spicer’s lies during his time as the White House’s press secretary, Todd confessed he “really believed they wouldn’t do this” at the time. He called his 2017 line of thinking “just absurdly naive in hindsight.”
In blog posts and tweet, thinkers the likes of New York University’s Jay Rosen and the New York Times’ Wajahat Ali questioned whether Todd was fit for the role if he wasn’t prepared to recognize and call out disinformation.
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www.thewrap.com | 12/27/19
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. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p55_LZmJ-2o&t=3795s). 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
www.circleid.com | 12/1/19
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:
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.
(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
www.circleid.com | 11/6/19
The nominees for this year’s Streamy Awards were announced Wednesday by Dick Clark Productions, Tubefilter and YouTube. David Dobrik leads the way with 11 nominations and murder-mystery reality web series “Escape the Night: Season 4” follows with five nominations.
Lil Nas X and Lizzo are both nominated for the first time.
The awards specifically celebrate the best in online video. This year’s ceremony, the ninth one, will be held Dec. 13 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. It will stream live globally on YouTube.
“Creators are the heart and soul of YouTube, so we’re excited to celebrate and honor their creativity, diversity and hard work,” Jamie Byrne, director of creator partnerships at YouTube, said in a statement. “Together with the Streamys, we’ve expanded our award categories to even more regions around the world to bring fans some of the biggest and most unforgettable moments from the past year, all from the creators they love.”
See the full list of nominees below:
Show of the Year
Action or Sci-Fi
First Person presented by GoPro HERO8 Black
International: Asia Pacific
International: Europe, Middle East, and Africa
International: Latin America
Health and Wellness
Kids and Family
Science and Education
Visual and Special Effects
Company or Brand
Nonprofit or NGO
Branded Content: Series
Branded Content: Video
Social Good Campaign
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www.thewrap.com | 10/16/19
It did not make any sense to analyze the Saturday rally in Moscow as soon as it happened, but Monday appears to be just the right time to do it. No one talks about the roots of the protest actions that took place in Moscow over the weekend. Most likely, they are not about the registration of certain individuals by the Moscow City Duma as candidates.The issue of the protest itself is broader. People took to the streets during the arrest of journalist Ivan Golunov, during the construction of an Orthodox temple in Yekaterinburg, etc. All those stories are symptoms of one and the same disease. One could see this disease spreading throughout Western Europe and the United States during the 1960s, but the causes of it were different. In the US, it was the Vietnam War and the killing of Martin Luther King. In Europe, there were protests against events in Czechoslovakia and other internal problems.But we remember that it was violation of social justice that defined all those protests. We also remember that many of those protests became "social elevators" for many politicians, who started coming to power in 15 or 20 years. For a very clear understanding of the situation, one may refer to two graffiti that students of the Sorbonne left in the streets of Paris in 1968: Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases. My father before me fought for wage increases. Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen. Yet my whole life has been a drag. Don't negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them." "One cannot fall in love with industrial growth!" It appears that the Russian youth could chant the same slogans today, if the education system in Russia has not degraded since the years after the Soviet power. It was not only education that has degraded. The qualification of people who are responsible for the moderation of internal political processes has gone down the toilet as well. Kiriyenko's 'social elevators' serve primarily managers of large corporations, but in case of social upheavals they will humbly step aside to observe. Mass youth movements of Mr. Surkov, the Reaction newspaper and the Yoki website have been disposed of. If one looks at what presidential grants are allocated to, one will see that they are not needed today, but could be good during the "lush" times. The United States eventually decided to pull out troops from Vietnam, abolish mandatory conscription and promote the PlayBoy technology (the protests are also known as 'sexual revolution' for a reason). Other countries had their own recipes.It is the internal essence of protests that plays the main role in the struggle that one can see in Russia developing today. If one doesn't know the essence, any struggle with external manifestations of protests will be useless.We know one thing. If the authorities remove all problems with the elections to the Moscow City Duma, the public protest will persist. The protest sentiment began to actively develop during the beginning of the pension reform, so it primarily involves the children of those people, whom the authorities have betrayed shamelessly. It has started snowballing for various reasons afterwards getting an increasing amount of citizens involved. It is 's time to open a tender for a team that would replace Sergei Kiriyenko with new ideas. The current political administrators under his leadership lack qualification to solve the issue of stability in the society.Photo: dw.com
www.pravdareport.com | 7/29/19
Amazon Studios’ Jennifer Salke Says Family Engaged Only ‘Legitimate Services’ of Counselor Tied to College Admissions Scandal
Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband have released a statement addressing their connection to the college admissions scandal and its ringleader William “Rick” Singer, denying ever having participated in any wrongdoing or being contacted by investigators in the case.
In a joint statement with her husband Bert, Salke said her family “engaged the legitimate services of Rick Singer’s company, The Key Worldwide,” including college counseling and ACT Test tutoring for her daughters. The Salkes denied any connection with the college admissions fraud scandal which saw Singer plead guilty in court earlier this year.
“We never engaged in any discussion involving any illegal activity in any of those meetings,” the Salkes said. “Our daughters did not apply to college as athletes of any kind, nor did they apply to any of the since-exposed schools involved in the scandal. We have never written a check or sent any other type of payment to the fraudulent Key Worldwide Foundation. We have never been contacted by law enforcement (including the DOJ and the FBI) about this case.”
Singer admitted in court to orchestrating a conspiracy to help students gain admission into the college of their choice, charging parents for services ranging from allowing extra time on tests to faking student athletic records to get them into elite-level colleges and universities. The scandal led to dozens of indictments, including for “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who plead guilty earlier this year, and “Fuller House’s” Lori Loughlin, who did not.
On Friday, Variety reported that Salke and her husband had been investigated by federal agents because of their connection to Singer. “The Salkes were never contacted by investigators, and the source says there does not appear to be enough evidence to prove wrongdoing,” the report said. “They are among the hundreds of parents who retained the services of Rick Singer, the Newport Beach college admissions consultant at the center of the scandal.”
Read the Salke’s full statement below:
We are releasing this statement to clarify an issue which has become increasingly of interest to
Like many other families, we engaged the legitimate services of Rick Singer’s company, The Key Worldwide, to provide college counseling and tutoring services for our children.
Singer’s company provided our daughters with a tutor for ACT testing and guidance on the college application process. Our daughters took the ACT test in an official testing facility, which included a proctor. Neither were allotted extra time or required any assistance. Rick Singer provided periodic in person counseling, primarily related to college selection. We never engaged in any discussion involving any illegal activity in any of those meetings. Our daughters did not apply to college as athletes of any kind, nor did they apply to any of the since-exposed schools involved in the scandal. We have never written a check or sent any other type of payment to the fraudulent Key Worldwide Foundation. We have never been contacted by law enforcement (including the DOJ and the FBI) about this case.
Our girls graduated with outstanding academic records at the very top of their class from a highly competitive high school. They applied to college in a standard manner and the only payment we made to any university was for the processing of their applications. We are proud of their accomplishments.
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www.thewrap.com | 7/20/19
During the beginning of the 2000s, United Russia Party published a campaign leaflet that predicted the standard of living in the country in a few years. The average salary in Russia would be equal to $2,500 a month, while people would live in spacious houses (120 square meters per family). Vadim Gorshenin, the head of Pravda.Ru media holding, describes several options of how the situation may develop in Russia in the near future, after Vladimir Putin's presidency.Option oneThe presidential election will be canceled as unnecessary. The uselessness of the vote will consist in the fact that the successor will not gain enough support during his first term in the office. The country will develop according to the principle of historical spiral: it will develop, but we will find ourselves surrounded by unfriendly countries as was the case in 1930. China will turn its back on Russia as it will take everything from Russia by that time. Neighbouring countries will be lost because of Russia's foreign policy and paternalistic relations. Russia's budget will not be able to support them anymore. The Russian economy will develop according to the principle of "war communism." Social programs will be abolished, and it will be up to the able-bodied population to support children and the elderly.Russia will be running out of its oil reserves, while alternative energy will be on the rise in Europe. This will severely affect budget possibilities too. In order to save money, Russia will pull out from the Council of Europe, which will give the Russian authorities an opportunity to narrow the implementation of human rights.Option twoThe name of the third president after Vladimir Putin will be announced. He will be limited in power due to constitutional amendments and the transfer of powers to parliament.The State Duma will be fully elected by the majority principle, just like the Federation Council. Members of the Federation Council will act as representatives of regions in the center and take part in the management of power in regions. Amended principles of budget formation after 2024 towards greater funding for science and education, investments in technological development by reducing preferences for oil and gas companies will affect both military and civil areas of life. Other countries may take a different look at Russia, and this policy may eventually lead to what Trotsky and his followers dreamed of.The management staff will be dramatically reduced after the introduction of informational and other technologies. Everyone will only wonder why the number of jobs during modernization was decreasing, and the number of officials was growing. Option three The state of affairs in Russia after Vladimir Putin will look very much like that in Venezuela. People will rush from one political force to another. There will be no stability. The 1990s will return, and Russia will collapse into coalitions of "The Ural Republic", "The Far Eastern Republic" etc.
www.pravdareport.com | 7/17/19
While the second Democratic debate didn’t feature any dueling Spanish or major technical difficulties like the first, it proved to be more heated as several candidates directly challenged the field’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Rep. Eric Swalwell said Biden should “pass the torch” to the next generation, while Sen. Kamala Harris said she was hurt by Biden’s former position on racial issues in America.
And yet there were also some moments of levity among the candidates, particularly from the political outsiders: former tech executive Andrew Yang and author/activist Marianne Williamson. Here are five of the biggest breakout moments from the second Democratic debate.
1. Joe Biden needs to “pass the torch,” and Kamala Harris doesn’t want a “food fight”
Rep. Eric Swalwell went on the offensive early Thursday night, saying when he was just six years old, he recalled seeing then-senator Joe Biden speak at the Democratic convention and said that it was important that the politicians in Washington “pass the torch” to the next generation. “Joe Biden was right,” Swalwell said, a comment that earned a big grin and a quick response from the former VP.
“I’m still holding on to that torch,” Biden said in response to Swalwell, explaining how education is the key to the future: aiding schools in distress, tripling Title I funding, having universal pre-K and providing for post-high school education.
At 76, Biden is twice Swalwell’s age. But it was 77-year-old Bernie Sanders who downplayed the generation gap between the candidates. “As part of Joe’s generation let me respond. The issue is not generational. The issue is who has the guts to take on Wall Street? To take on the fossil fuel industry. To take on the big money interests who have unbelievable influence over the economic and political life in this country. “
It was the first instance in which the candidates all began talking over one another, a notable difference from the previous evening’s debate. Kamala Harris rose above the cross-talk with a quick one-liner: “Hey guys, America does not want to witness a food fight, they want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.”
2. Kamala Harris got “personal” about race in America
One of the most intense moments during the debate came between Biden and Harris, in which Harris took Biden to task for recent comments in which he described his success working with segregationist senators.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” the senator from California said, directly addressing Biden. “But it was personal, it was hurtful for you to talk about the reputation of two United States senators who built their reputations and careers on segregation of race in this country.”
Harris said she was specifically affected based on his position on integration when it came to bussing students to school, though Biden called Harris’s comments a “mischaracterization” and even took a shot back, saying that he was a public defender and not a prosecutor early in his career as she was.
3. Andrew Yang was very laid back
Andrew Yang already stands out from the rest of the Democratic field as something of a political outsider, a former tech executive rather than a career politician. And many viewers heard for the first time his plan to offer $1000 to every American as part of a “trickle up” approach to the economy. But his economic policies weren’t the only thing that made Yang stand out from the crowd.
“Yang is blazing ground here … no tie,” MSNBC’s Brian Williams said as the candidates stepped onto the debate stage for their photo-ops, in which Yang appeared without a necktie.
He was so laid back in the evening, he even casually noted that Russia must be “laughing their asses off” at their ability to hack America’s electoral process.
4. Marianne Williamson says “love will win”
The Internet meme candidate of the evening was none other than Marianne Williamson. The author/activist didn’t get much screentime during the debate, but she made it count. During her closing remarks, she described her unusual strategy to beating Donald Trump.
“I’m going to harness love for political purposes,” Williamson said. “I’m going to meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”
But her finest moment came when the candidates were each asked to give a brief, one- to two-word response about what they would do on Day 1 of their presidency. Williamson, curiously, said she would call the President of New Zealand, who Williamson claimed previously boasted that her country was the best place in the world to raise a child.
“Girlfriend, you are so wrong, because the United States of America is the best place in the world to grow up,” Williamson said.
The Internet had a ball with that answer, imagining what else she might do on her first day in office. See a few of those reactions below:
5. There was one technical “fake-out”
The night wasn’t without its mishaps. Though nothing was as disruptive as Wednesday’s microphone issues, in the last half-hour of the debate, moderator Rachel Maddow planned to toss to Lester Holt for an audience question, but the segment wasn’t ready.
“That was just a fake-out,” Maddow joked before quickly pivoting to another debate topic. Holt did however get in one audience question near the very end of the broadcast.
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www.thewrap.com | 6/28/19
Ahead of the 2020 elections, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos and his colleagues at Stanford University have unveiled a sweeping new plan to secure U.S. electoral infrastructure and combat foreign campaigns seeking to interfere in U.S. politics. As the Mueller investigation into electoral interference made clear, foreign agents from Russia (and elsewhere) engaged […]
techcrunch.com | 6/6/19
SpaceX may be approaching debris detection as a machine-learning problem in which the entire constellation, not individual satellites, is learning to avoid collisions.
SpaceX delayed last Wednesdays Starlink launch due to high winds and on Thursday they decided to do a software update and postpone the launch until next week, but they revealed significant progress in their Starlink mission press release and in tweets by and a media call with Elon Musk.
Starlink size comparison – novel packaging accommodates 60 satellites in a single launch. (Source)
The mission press release said SpaceX has significantly reduced the size and weight of their satellites. Their initial November 2016 FCC filing specified 386 kg satellites that measured 4 x 1.8 x 1.2 meters. In February 2018, they launched two Internet-service test satellites — TinTin A and B — that measured only 1.1 x .7 x .7 meters with a total mass of approximately 400 kg. The mass of the Starlink satellites will be only 227 kg, about 43% that of the test satellites. (They are still heavier than OneWeb's 147.4 kg test satellites)
As far as I know, SpaceX has not previously commented on the number of satellites that might be launched at once, but the number was generally estimated as 25-30 after considering constraints on mass, volume, and numbers of satellites per orbital plane. As shown here, they will be launching a surprising 60 flat-packed satellites. Launching 60 satellites also demonstrates continued progress in rocket capability — this will be the heaviest SpaceX payload ever.
The speed and density of satellites in
That would be a breakthrough if feasible, but on first consideration, it seems impossible. Low-earth orbit satellites move very fast and even if a satellite had the resolution and pattern-recognition capability to "see" debris in its path, it would not be able to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a collision. That point was raised in this online discussion and a possible solution suggested — the entire constellation could dynamically pool and share data from each satellite as well as use NORAD tracking data, which Musk mentioned during the media call.
SpaceX may be approaching this as a machine-learning problem in which the entire constellation, not individual satellites, is learning to avoid collisions using its shared data as well as data from other sources like NORAD. One can imagine sharing such data with competitors like OneWeb and Telesat or even with Russia, China or India. (Elon Musk is known to read science fiction — this speculation is reminiscent of Azimov's Gaia or Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere).
The prospect of launching 60 satellites at once and a shared-data approach to collision avoidance have grabbed my attention, but Musk's tweets and media call were also highly informative — a few examples:
All that and they have yet to launch the satellites — stay tuned.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 5/17/19
The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions — just some of the potential attached to the internet. And for the first two decades, this basically was what happened, in a very positive and constructive way. It did disrupt several business, social and political models but that that was seen as 'a new broom sweeping clean.'
All of that is still happening — and as a matter of fact, it has only increased. However, at the same time, the ugly side of humanity has moved into this area as well. They all jumped on the bandwagon — cheats, plain criminals, misogynists, racists and bullies. This was very unfortunate, but it became serious when more organized misuse of the internet began to take place. This is undermining democracy and democratic processes; many people began to say enough is enough.
Most of the misuse is aimed at generating fake traffic that leads to extra advertising income or click income on YouTube for instance. In proportion to overall internet activity the other, serious political misuse is significantly less. It has, however, far deeper negative consequences. It is using manipulation to set people against each other. It interferes with democratic processes such as elections and undermines democratic institutions.
This criminal internet activity happens more or less in parallel with broader traditional forms of manipulations and is not limited to the internet. The fake news activities and the undermining of democratic institutions are for example carried out by President Trump without the internet. The same is happening in countries such as Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy, to name just a few.
There is no doubt that the internet has become an important tool to create division, hatred and conflict. This has more to do with human behaviour than with technology. Addressing only the technology element of this problem will not solve the much more serious underlying issues.
Division, lies, hatred, fake news, racism and conflict are being used by our leaders in public. It is then not difficult to understand that people perceive this as a license to do the same, with or without technology.
It is important to state that it is not the internet that is causing all of this. So far the internet has created far more positive than negative outcomes, and we need to preserve what's best about it. Most importantly, this includes the freedom for people to express themselves. Equally important is that entrepreneurs can innovate and build new business models. At the same time, we need to ensure that we protect society from broader harm.
We can look at what we have done with other tools that we use — tools like guns, cars, chemicals and drugs. All these products and services can have negatives associated with them. What we have done over the years to address this is to build elements into these products and services to limit the risk and increase safety.
This has been done through the hard work of everyone involved: the government and industry, as well as the users/consumers. As an example, look at cars in the 1970s. They killed 3 to 4 times more people than they do now, and our population has nearly doubled over that period. How did this change happen? Partly through regulation, partly through better products, and partly through human behaviour.
Have we, as a result, eliminated all the harmful elements of motor cars? No, of course not. But the risks have been reduced considerably over those years. This to such a level that the negative (e.g., death by car accidents) seems to be acceptable to most of us. Is that enough? No, it isn't. And so we are still trying to improve, through the combined efforts of government, industry and us, the people.
We will also have to begin to develop similar processes in relation to the internet. However, before we know what we need to do, we will first have to drill down to where the problems are and work out who can do what in addressing the issues.
Starting with the government, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the need for a more active role for governments and regulators. He suggested the need for an update of the rules for the internet. In particularly in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
In relation to the industry, he recommends starting with data manipulation aimed at defrauding the internet companies. Here the social media companies have a vested interest in tackling that problem themselves as fraud cost them money. The tools that they develop to minimize this can also be used to address other data manipulation issues — for example, interferences in elections and fake news. As Zuckerburg indicated, the government will also have to play a key role in setting up the rules for this. This will also need to be done at international levels.
It will remain a cat and mouse situation. New — more sophisticated — technologies to combat this will be developed, and they will be circumvented by criminals, and this process will continue. In the end, criminal interferences will be greatly reduced. The reason being that it simply becomes too costly for many of the groups to come up with their own tools to crack the ones developed by industry. The best hope here is for a managed situation, similar to those that have been created to manage other potentially dangerous tools, as in the motor car example.
A challenging issue here is the fact that what is harmful to one society, culture or religion is not necessarily the same for another group. A real threat — or even perhaps a reality — is that this would lead to a further regionalization of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have already created their own walls around the internet, and Russia is also trying to build its wall.
Another issue in relation to the industry is whether some of these companies are becoming too dominant and are showing monopolistic tendencies. A very human reaction to this is that we don't tolerate monopolies. We, therefore, need to start looking at industry legislation, be it anti-trust remedies, breaking up companies or other solutions.
Lastly, we also need to drill down on the people's side. We need to identify and address what causes the problematic behaviour of those misusing the internet before we can address these issues. Education and information at schools and elsewhere will be important. They will deliver longer-term positive outcomes.
Full-blown criminal behavior, racism, hate speech and the like are already punishable under existing laws. Our enforcement agencies, however, are still not well-equipped to address Internet-based crimes as effectively as they address similar crimes conducted in more traditional ways.
I am sometimes alerted by people who read my analyses to information or activities that are of an illegal or criminal nature. I report them to the appropriate authorities, but I have never received an answer from them. And if one goes to a police station to report internet abuse that will still too often elicit a blank look from the officer at the desk.
In order to get the people on board here, they need to be supported by well-functioning institutions. They should be able to take effective action against individuals that are crossing the line online. At the moment there is a feeling among the public that they are losing control over some of the central mechanisms of their lives. In the case of the internet, the lives of most people have been improved, and it has created lots of new economic activity. At the same time, it is also clear that the negatives of technology are such that people are not comfortable with the risks and safety issues. Comparing this with the example of motor cars, it is obvious that more work is needed. And whether we like it or not, people want action now.
So far this is resulting in some countries introducing broad and vague sweeping laws. Laws which are not implemented effectively, because it is impossible to do so while they are still being written. We clearly need to improve on that.
This will become increasingly apparent as time goes on. My colleagues in America say that the problems with the hastily introduced social media legislation will soon become evident in Australia. Other countries will learn from these mistakes and will adopt more realistic legislation to safeguard innovation, economic growth and freedom of speech. These core democratic elements seem to become the casualties of bad legislation. With a lack of effective self-regulation from the digital media giants, there is however no doubt that major changes to these negative elements in the use of the of the Internet will increasingly be regulated and legislated.
Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication
www.circleid.com | 4/24/19
NetDragon, a global leader in building internet communities, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on digital education with the leading Russian B2B-platform for cross-border e-commerce, Global Rus Trade, at the BRICS Business Council Midterm Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. Held from April 3 – 4, the conference gathers representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and [&hellip
www.itnewsafrica.com | 4/4/19
Inter-satellite laser links (source)I hope each of these companies has someone in charge of thinking about what might go wrong with a single, satellite-based network providing fast, low-cost links anywhere on the global Internet.
OneWeb, SpaceX, Telesat and Leosat all aspire to be global Internet service providers using constellations of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Their success will require still-unproven technological innovation, but there are also political stumbling blocks.
OneWeb has already encountered significant political problems in Russia. Russia launched OneWeb's first test satellites and has a billion dollar contract for 20 additional launches, but Russian security officials are lobbying against OneWeb's offering service (see posts from Dec 27 & Oct 27, 2018) on the grounds that it might facilitate spying. When Anatoly Zak, an expert on the Soviet space program, investigated that claim, he concluded that "With the launch of the OneWeb constellation, the Russian rocket industry stands to earn millions, but the Kremlin is terrified at the prospect of unhindered access to the Internet by its citizens."
As far as I know, OneWeb is still planning to offer service in Russia, but they have had to make financial and technical concessions. They agreed to become a minority partner in the company that will market their service in Russia and, significantly, they agreed to drop the inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs) from their constellation and pass all Russian traffic through ground stations in Russia.
Dropping ISLLs, which are still unproven for this application, will simplify the design of their satellites and save development time and cost. It will also reduce satellite complexity, size, and weight and save power, but there will be costs.
OneWeb throughput simulation (source)They will need more ground stations if they offer global service without ISSLLs. OneWeb founder Greg Wyler says they will have more than 40 such gateways, each capable of "seeing" satellites up to 4,000 kilometers away. A team of MIT researchers ran a simulation of a 720-satellite OnWeb constellation and they estimate that 71 ground stations would be required to reach maximum throughput. (Anatoly Zak estimates that four to six gateways will be in Russia and speculates that hackers may be able to illegally connect to satellites in neighboring countries). Dropping ISLLs will also add latency, especially on long-distance links.
What about the other would-be global LEO projects?
Telesat will retain ISSLs, but accommodate countries on a country-by-country basis. Erwin Hudson, vice president of Telesat LEO, says we "have the flexibility in our network control system to route traffic all kinds of different ways. There are no rules that traffic has to go over the inter-satellite links."
SpaceX is going forward with ISSLs, and they are also aware of the political problems. During a recruiting talk at the opening of their Seattle satellite-design office four years ago, CEO Elon Musk said "I'm hopeful that we can structure agreements with various countries to allow communication but it is a country-by-country basis ... it's not gonna take longer than five years to do that and not all countries will agree at first ... that's fine."
Leosat is also prepared to build gateways to make accommodations. For example, CEO Mark Rigolle says they would be willing to build a gateway in China to accommodate the government; however, that would be inconsistent with their primary marketing focus of providing low-latency, secure, point-to-point links globally.
These companies are all thinking about concessions they need to make in order to operate in countries that want to surveil citizens and control their access to information, but what about guarding against aggression? I hope each of these companies has someone in charge of thinking about what might go wrong with a single, satellite-based network providing fast, low-cost links anywhere on the global Internet.
During the recruiting talk mentioned above, Elon Musk said "[the constellation design] is a really difficult technical problem to solve so that's why we need the smartest engineering talent around the world to solve the problem and, you know, to also make sure we don't create Skynet." At that time, I asked "Would global Internet service providers require unique regulation and, if so, what should it be and who has the power to do it?" and said I was "less worried about Musk creating SkyNet than creating Comcast on Steroids," but I was naive.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 4/4/19
Google and ETECSA have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to negotiate a peering agreement that would allow cost-free data exchange between their networks once an undersea cable physically connects them.
Google has worked hard to establish a relationship with ETECSA and the Cuban government. In recent years, Cuba, not the US, has limited the Cuban Internet. This agreement telegraphs a change in Cuban policy.
Today, nearly all of Cuba's Internet traffic is carried over an undersea cable at the south end of the island. A cable from the Havana area to Florida would reduce the load on their inter-city "backbone" network that today carries Internet traffic to the cable landing in the south. That would result in a faster Internet and save ETECSA money. The next generation of low-earth and medium-earth orbit satellite connectivity can have a similar effect.
ETECSA could use the savings from an undersea cable or next-generation satellites to cut prices, increase investment in infrastructure or increase profit. That would depend upon who is actually calling the shots at ETECSA.
Over three years ago, Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, said he knew of at least a half dozen proposals — from US and non-US companies — to construct a north-south undersea cable between the US and Cuba.
The cable has been stopped by politics, not economics or technical difficulty. It looks like Cuba is willing to relent on the politics. Trump's fighting this cable would solidify Cuba's political and commercial ties with China and Russia.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 3/28/19
Education in Russia is provided predominantly by the state and is regulated by the federal Ministry of Education and Science. Regional authorities regulate education within their jurisdictions within the prevailing framework of federal laws. In 2004 state spending for education amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of consolidated state budget. Private institutions account for 1% of pre-school enrollment, 0.5% of elementary school enrollment and 17% of university-level students. Before 1990 the course of school training in Soviet Union was 10-years, but at the end of 1990 the 11-year course has been officially entered. Education in state-owned secondary schools is free; first tertiary (university level) education is free with reservations: a substantial share of students is enrolled for full pay. Male and female students have nearly equal shares in all stages of education, except tertiary education where women lead with 57%. The literacy rate in Russia, according to the 2002 census, is 99.4% (99.7% men, 99.2% women). 16.0% of population over 15 years of age (17.6 million) have tertiary (undergraduate level or higher) education; 47.7% have completed secondary education (10 or 11 years); 26.5% have completed middle school (8 or 9 years) and 8.1% have elementary education. Highest rates of tertiary education, 24.7% are recorded among women aged 35–39 years (compared to 19.5% for men of the same age bracket).