Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Prognosis of Digital Literacy Going Forward

Digital-Literacy

As the Digital Era pushes on pass the success of the ubiquitous smartphone to whatever device is next on the horizon. So who’s to blame for this widespread lack of Digital Literacy results?

Is it the mobile industry as a whole? Is it government programs? Is it specific mobile device manufacturers? Or does it actually come down to the individual members of society?

Digital Literacy is effecting you and everyone in society at this very moment, to some degree. Just as mobile technology changed the very fabric of our daily lives so will Digital Literacy.

Technological Unemployment

Technological change doesn’t have to increase overall unemployment, even though some types of workers may temporarily lose their jobs.

For example, in 1800, the majority of British workers were employed in agriculture. Labor saving technology meant that food could be produced with less workers and so some agricultural laborers lost their jobs as farms used more machines.

However, as jobs were lost in agriculture, new jobs were created in producing machines.

Similarly, advances in computers and robots meant that firms could produce manufactured goods with fewer workers. The increased productivity in manufactured goods meant that the relative cost fell, giving more opportunities for people to work in the service sector.

Healthcare

Between 2010 and 2050, the senior population is expected to reach 88.5 million, or 20 percent of the U.S. population, greatly increasing the need for senior care.  Home health care will then become an even more significant element of the continuum of care.

The same technologies that revolutionized the commerce, transportation, and finance industries are bearing down on the $3 trillion healthcare industry, promising to simultaneously improve care while reducing costs. The scope of revolutionary technologies includes diagnostics and monitoring, wearable devices, telehealth, medical modeling, smart devices, data management, tracking and delivery, and much more.

But innovators won’t find the solutions without completely understanding the problem.

Hacking

We may have a new ally against the treat of hacking.  Watson, IBM's computer brain, has a lot of talents. It mastered "Jeopardy!," it cooks, plays chess, and even tries to cure cancer. But now, it’s training for a new challenge: Hunting hackers.

On Tuesday, IBM Security announced a new cloud-based version of the cognitive technology, dubbed “Watson for Cybersecurity.” In the fall, IBM will be partnering with eight universities to help get Watson up to speed by flooding it with security reports and data. If successful, the Digital Era would simply blossom.

Terrorism

Technology has proved to be a double-edge sword in the war on terror. Though it has aided the security forces in detecting and thwarting terrorist operations, it has, at the same time, helped terrorists wreak their evil handiwork. The fact is, to be effective terrorists must be digitally literate. A trait society must gain in order to identify and protect itself.

There are some things in life that one should be proactive about, the new entry in this list is Digital Literacy. This isn’t something you can refer to as “Just like riding a bike”, oh no, this requires continuous learning. For those that consider themselves tech-savvy today, may not be tomorrow.

What you know today, may be obsolete tomorrow (along with you!).

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Connect Everyone to Internet & Gain $6.7 Trillion

Gain-$6.7-Trillion

Bringing internet access to the 4.1 billion people in the world who do not have it would increase global economic output by $6.7 trillion (£4.6tr), and raise 500 million people out of poverty, according to a study by PwC’s strategy consultants.

The report, titled Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion, was prepared for Facebook.

Getting everyone in the world online is not as tall an order as one might think, according to the company: affordability, rather than infrastructure, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. More than nine-tenths of the world’s population live in places where the infrastructure exists to get them online, but the majority of them cannot afford to do so.

For 66% of the world, a 500MB data plan costs more than 5% of their monthly income, the level the report’s authors describe as “unaffordable”. But some people decide to get online despite the cost – in China, just 22% of people can have a high enough income by that measure to make internet access affordable for them, even though 46% of the population is online. Even if it’s expensive, if there’s enough of a reason for someone to get online, they may look past the cost.

By contrast, in most of the developing world, the necessary infrastructure is already in place to get internet to the whole population, if they could afford it. China, Brazil and Indonesia all have 100% of their populations covered by internet-capable infrastructure.

While cost reductions sound easier to achieve than total infrastructure creation, that can understate the magnitude of the reductions needed. To get 80% of their populations online, for instance, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Philippines would all have to see a cut in the price of internet access by well over 90%.

Improvement of existing technology, or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will suffice to bring about much of this cost reduction. For instance, the vast majority of the world’s mobile spectrum is being used to deliver 2G internet: if it was upgraded to 3G or 4G, the cost of mobile data would plummet. But such an upgrade requires money spent upfront, not only by carriers, but also by users, who must buy (comparatively) more expensive phones.

The focus on cost reductions marries with Facebook’s own Internet.org project, which is aimed at partnering carriers in developing nations to give low-cost internet access. It has come under criticism, however, from web luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee, who dislike Facebook’s approach of limiting the low-cost access to a subsection of the web.

So-called zero rating, which lies at the heart of efforts by Internet.org to expand web access, involves allowing internet users to access some websites, such as Wikipedia and Facebook, without paying for the data they use. But the approach is criticized by net neutrality advocates like Berners-Lee, who said: “I tend to say ‘Just say no.’ In the particular case of somebody who’s offering … something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no.”

But Jonathan Tate, technology consulting leader at PwC, argues that Facebook’s approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version of the internet than the full web, he says it’s a crucial stepping stone to full access. “The important thing here is to get things moving,” he added.

Facebook’s motivation for paying for Internet.org is partially explained by PwC’s estimates of where the benefits of new access accrue. While most of the economic benefits of new internet access come to those freshly online, the consultancy estimates that content providers such as Facebook stand to gain a $200bn (£138bn) opportunity over the next five years.

But new technology will still be needed to achieve total connectivity. The reports’ authors estimate that the last 500 million people to get online won’t be able to rely on piecemeal improvements. Instead, they’ll need new “disruptive technologies” being created by companies like Google, with its Project Loon plan to mount internet access points on balloons, and Facebook, with its solar-powered, laser-armed 4G drone called Aquila.

Read Article (Alex Hern | theguardian.com | 05/17/2016)

Though self-serving Facebook does stand to gain monetarily over those five years, the access all those individuals will gain is worth it, I believe. And as they’ve already said, it’s an important stepping stone to full access. It’s also better than doing nothing at all.

But even though Internet access is without a doubt important, knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself is an issue just as important, it not more. Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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Google Facing a $3.4B Antitrust Fine in Europe

Google-Antitrust-Fine

U.S. technology companies are not having a good time of it in Europe. An investigation into Apple’s tax affairs in Ireland continues; Amazon’s e-book distribution system is being looked into; Qualcomm is facing not one but two investigations in Europe; and of course Microsoft was fined more than $700 million by the European Commission in 2013 for failing to offer users a choice of web browser.

Now it’s Google’s turn to face the music. The search giant, which is no stranger to probes by European regulators, could face more charges this week as investigators conclude a yearlong investigation into its Android operating system. The investigation could result in a fine of as much as $7.5 billion for the Mountain View, California, company.

Last April the European Commission announced it was issuing formal charges against Google following a five-year investigation into its comparison shopping practices. In the same breath the commission announced it was opening an entirely new investigation into Android to assess if Google's practice of forcing operators and manufacturers to preload its own apps onto the devices prevents developers of other apps from succeeding.

According to sources close to the investigation speaking to the Financial Times, the competition authority could announce formal charges against Google as soon as Wednesday, with lawyers involved in the case sending out requests for information with 24-hour deadlines — seen as a strong indication that the investigation is concluding.

The commission has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its global revenue, which in 2015 rose to $74.5 billion. Google, for its part, strongly denies any wrongdoing in either the comparison shopping or Android cases.

“By requiring phone makers and operators to preload a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, said during a speech in Amsterdam on Monday.

Vestager, who recently indicated the EC would be willing to investigate Google’s tax practices in the U.K., added that the investigation into Google had not formally closed, “so I can’t yet say if [it] has broken the rules.” What Vestager said this week is nothing new, and the commission said it would not be commenting on reports that a decision on its Android investigation was imminent.

Responding to the reports of possible charges, Google told International Business Times in an emailed statement that it continues to discuss the issues with the European Commission, pointing out why it believes Android helps rather than hinders developers and consumers. “Anyone can use Android, with or without Google applications,” the statement said. “Hardware manufacturers and carriers can decide how to use Android, and consumers have the last word about which apps they want to use on their devices.”

In a blog post published after the investigation was opened last year, Google claimed Android had led to more innovation and choice on mobile than ever before. Google, however, is clearly worried about the number of investigations it is facing in Europe.

According to a Guardian investigation last December, the company enlisted members of Congress to help lobby European politicians while it spent twice as much on lobbying in Europe as Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Uber combined in 2015.

Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system, and across Europe’s top five markets (U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain) Android commands over 70 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

It is an open-source piece of software, meaning anyone can download it and install it on their smartphones or tablets without having to pay Google to do so. However, to get access to apps like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Play Store — known collectively as Google Mobile Services — manufacturers need to sign a licensing agreement with Google. These agreements are confidential, but it is understood that Google imposes strict criteria on how its own apps will be displayed on the devices. It is on this aspect of Google's practice that the commission's investigation is focusing.

While Google doesn’t make any money directly from Android, it does derive huge profits from the fact that its services such as the Play Store, Maps, Gmail and search are all preloaded onto any Google-certified smartphone that runs Android. As the world moves more and more to mobile, Google wants to remain the dominant player in that market in order to be better able to sell ads to its customers.

While the European Union continues to investigate Android, it is not the only place in the world to do so. According to a report from Bloomberg, the Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation into whether Google stifled competitors’ access to the Android platform. In Russia, the courts have ruled against Google over an identical complaint by Yandex — known as the “Google of Russia” — which said Google was damaging competition by forcing manufacturers to pre-install certain apps. Having lost an appeal last month, Google will not be forced to change its contracts with manufacturers in Russia.

Read Article (David Gilbert | ibtimes.com | 04/18/2016)

There are normally two victims in the event of a data breach, the business and the consumer.  In the US, media and government agencies seem to treat business as the primary victim but in the EU, they definitely treat the consumer as the primary victim.

In addition, Europe now has new rules in place to protect European citizen’s personal data. “Whatever else may be said about it, the simple fact is that the global standard for data protection will now be dictated by European rules.”

The new laws have already proved controversial with companies wishing to operate with EU citizens’ data, placing an administrative burden on some, including those based outside of Europe. (Facebook)

It’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones and with your support, we will be able assist all those who struggle in the learning process.

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Surveillance SUV Disguised as Google Maps Car

Fed-SUV-Disguised

Who’s the owner of the government surveillance SUV disguised as a Google Maps car? For days, a few security experts on social media were buzzing about a mysterious government surveillance SUV in Philadelphia that appeared to be disguised as a Google Street View Car.

A University of Pennsylvania professor tweeted a picture of the suspicious vehicle, which he found parked in the Philadelphia Convention Center’s tunnel Wednesday morning. Motherboard reported Thursday that a placard displayed on the dashboard indicated that the car was registered as a city government vehicle. The SUV is mounted by two license plate reader cameras.

Google said it did not own the vehicle. So did the Pennsylvania State Police.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Police Department admitted to Motherboard that the SUV is one of its vehicles. But not all of the questions surrounding the surveillance SUV are solved.

They told The Washington Post that the department said it did not know who put the Google Maps decal on the vehicle and that the placement of the decal was not approved through any chain of command. It added that it would launch an internal investigation to find out who is responsible for placing the sticker.

The Philadelphia Police Department, which operates separately from the Pennsylvania State Police, has been using license plate reading technology since 2011. These powerful cameras allow law enforcement to track the whereabouts of any Philadelphia resident without a warrant.

This data can be stored up to one year for any citizen and indefinitely for anyone who may be linked to a criminal investigation. The license plate storage program is managed by a separate police task force, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force, whose mission appears to include reducing terrorist threats.

Google has told Motherboard that it is looking into how its stickers got on a city police SUV. Why the Philadelphia Police Department would want to disguise this vehicle when it has been openly collecting license plate information is unknown.

But now, at least, several people are asking that question.

Read Article (Karen Turner | washingtonpost.com | 05/13/2016)

This should really come as no surprise to anyone. Government surveillance is currently on a knife edge as threats multiply and become more innovative through technology. But now it appears that they are going on the offensive.

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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High Speed Internet: Luxury or Human Right?

Luxury-or-Human-Right

In an era when some Canadians are cutting back on groceries and skimping on the rent just to stay online, there's a growing argument that high-speed home internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. And the CRTC will soon have to decide whether it agrees.

Internet access has become necessary for employment, education and civic engagement, advocates say. People need to go online to find work, do homework, obtain many government services and stay connected, especially as more programs move toward cloud-based subscription models.

But not everyone has equal access. And that digital divide, advocates say, serves to keep the poorest Canadians from getting a leg up.

A Human Right

The Affordable Access Coalition, made up of public policy, consumer advocate and anti-poverty organizations, is petitioning the CRTC to subsidize internet access for low-income and rural Canadians. The CRTC will consider the proposal, among others, at public hearings into telecommunications services in April.

Coalition member ACORN Canada, a national organization of low- and moderate-income families, is calling on the CRTC to mandate that $10 per month high-speed internet packages be made available to families and individuals living below Statistics Canada's low-income measure.

"It's no longer a commodity; it's a necessity," ACORN spokeswoman Alejandra Ruiz Vargas told CBC News. She is not alone in that assertion. In speech last year, U.S. President Barack Obama proclaimed: "Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it's a necessity." In a 2015 address to the United Nations, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called internet access "a basic human right, like access to health care or water."

Facebook, as well as Google, have been investing in expanded internet access in the developing world. Google, meanwhile, announced last week it will provide free ultra-high-speed internet to public housing residents in cities on its Google Fiber network.

Even back in 2011, UN's special rapporteur on freedom of expression called on all governments "to develop a concrete and effective plan of action to make the internet widely available, accessible and affordable to all segments of the population."

But Not Everyone Is Sold

Commissioner Michael O'Rielly of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said in a speech last year that internet access "doesn't even come close to the threshold to be considered a basic human right."

"People do a disservice by overstating its relevancy or stature in people's lives," he said. "People can and do live without internet access, and many lead very successful lives."

But some Canadians are so desperate to stay online, they forgo other basic needs to do so, says ACORN. The group recently surveyed 400 of its members and discovered 59 per cent have cut into other budgets to pay their internet bills. Of those, 71 per cent went without food, 64 per cent cut back on recreation and 13 per cent delayed paying their rent.

Eight per cent of those surveyed don't have the internet at home or have cancelled it due to high costs. "The results were shocking," Vargas said. "Sometimes, we take things for granted."

Universal Service

John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre stops short of calling broadband access a human right, but said it should be considered a "universal service," with public policy geared toward making it as widely accessible as possible.

The advocacy center, also a member of the coalition, suggests that higher-earning Canadians pay a little extra on their own internet bills — about a dollar a month — to subsidize access for those who can't afford it.

That money would fund internet infrastructure in rural areas and subsidies of $10.50 to $20.50 per month for low-income Canadians in urban centers. But it wouldn't cover the $10-per-month packages ACORN is lobbying for. "My understanding is that ACORN is going to have to seek further support from say, government, if they really want to get it down to $10," Lawford said.

Keeping Pace

If the CRTC agrees to pursue universal access to broadband internet, it will have to decide what basic service looks like. Lawford worries that if the benchmark is set too low, Canadians will still be left behind as fiber optic networks expand and raise the bar for what constitutes an acceptable internet.

"As the rest of the networks get upgraded, if there isn't a very careful upgrading of the lowest package for people, this divide in substance will happen again, even though they have quote-unquote internet access, because you won't be able to do anything," he said.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre suggests a flexible target, based on average download speeds enjoyed by 80 per cent of connected Canadians.

Cost Not the Biggest Barrier: Rogers

The big telecoms will also have their say at the CRTC hearings, where Rogers plans to argue that cost is not the biggest barrier to internet access.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Kett cited a December 2015 Ipsos Reid survey of 1,250 Canadians that found 91 per cent have the internet at home. Among those who don't, 30 per cent cited cost as a barrier, while the other 70 per cent cited a lack of interest or ability (Digital Literacy).

"So the real challenge is making sure Canadians are getting the most out of their access. That means tackling all barriers such as confidence in security and privacy and increasing digital literacy," Kett said.

Read Article (Sheena Goodyear | cbc.ca | 02/08/2016)

It’s good they recognize that of the biggest barriers to Internet access, Digital Literacy is identified as a portion of the 70%. What’s not good is they’ve said nothing to address it.

Internet access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars