fcc-net-neutralityFCC Rejects Net Neutrality, But the Long-Term Impact of the Decision Remains Unclear

The Federal Communications Commission scrapped the net neutrality rules put into effect by the Obama administration in 2015, voting along party lines yesterday to repeal “regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service,” writes Cecilia Kang in the New York Times.  

The FCC’s action will probably boost the fortunes of major broadband providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. Ironically, the decision will also benefit tech giants like Google and Facebook, which opposed the repeal. 

It remains to be seen whether consumers will ultimately be hurt or helped by the FCC’s ruling. The impact won’t be immediate, so it’s hard to tell. What’s lost in the discussion is the potential effect of the ruling on the IT industry. One way or another, we all depend on broadband to transmit and receive data. 

From my perspective, it seems like the FCC just handed a mighty big cudgel to the broadband providers. We’ll just have to wait until the dust settles to see what happens next.

environmental-pollutionCracking Down on Polluters in China, with Some Help From Apple and Wal-Mart

Environmental pollution from industry is a huge problem in China, and it's good to see local activists using a smart combination of data science and public relations to fight polluters. 

Veteran activist Ma Jun, for example, uses data analytics to identify polluting factories and shame them for their transgressions. His strategy is backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.  

"Ma Jun's years as an environmental activist taught him one lesson: if you want factories to clean up their act, shaming them in front of Apple Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. works better than government fines," writes Lulu Yilun Chen in Bloomberg Businessweek.  

matternet-dronePalo Alto Experimenting with Drones to Transport Blood Samples

The city of Palo Alto hopes to partner with Stanford Blood Center and a drone maker based in Menlo Park to deliver blood samples by air.

"Drones might soon be buzzing overhead to deliver units of blood from Stanford Blood Center to Stanford Hospital, under a proposal the city of Palo Alto plans to send to the FAA, writes Elaine Goodman of The Daily Post.

Palo Alto also hopes to use drones for inspecting runways at the Palo Alto Airport and keeping a watchful eye on wildlife that could pose a threat to airport operations.

While not unheard of, the practice of using drones to deliver blood is uncommon in the U.S. A California-based robotics company called Zipline uses drones to deliver blood in Rwanda, and plans to expand soon into Tanzania. 

Minecraft_3Trial Reveals Bizarre Origins of Global DDoS Attack

There's an old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. Here's a great example of that pithy aphorism: The Mirai Botnet attacks that nearly brought down the Internet in 2016 were apparently the handiwork of three "computer savants" looking for ways to make money from Minecraft, an online game with 122 million registered users.

This is a must-read story for all of us in the IT industry. I remember some pundits blaming the attack on North Korea or criminal gangs in Ukraine. In truth, the Mirai botnet attacks were homegrown efforts.

"The brains behind Mirai were a 21-year-old Rutgers college student from suburban New Jersey and his two college-age friends from outside Pittsburgh and New Orleans," Garrett M. Graff writes in Wired. "Originally, prosecutors say, the defendants hadn't intended to bring down the internet-they had been trying to gain an advantage in the computer game Minecraft."