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Securing Your Online Surfing and Transactions

November 2, 2010 - 12:47 PM

Leaves are falling, the summer seems like a blur, the kids are knee-deep in homework, and the boxes and bubble wrap from newly purchased computer laptops and their slim-downed cousins, netbooks, have finally made their way to the basement for storage. If you haven't already checked, now is the time to see what anti-virus and firewall software was provided with your computer, and to learn how to use these tools.

Anti-virus and firewall programs protect computers from a host of potentially dangerous programs that can wreak havoc not only on their computer hosts, but can spread to any other computer connected to the same network. That's the bad news.

The good news is there are things you can do to protect yourself and your kids from malicious software that may be downloaded to your computer without your knowledge when you are surfing the Internet.

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Good for Jobs, Good for Our National Purposes

by Phoebe Yang, Senior Advisor to the Chairman on Broadband
November 1, 2010 - 11:59 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:237:height=100,width=70]]Most of the time, when commentators talk about the benefits of broadband, they focus on its impact on economic development, and for good reason. Jobs are a central concern for almost anyone in American public life today, and high-speed broadband can bring real benefits.

Consider Chattanooga, Tennessee’s recent announcement that it will offer 1 Gbps service to all 170,000 customers in its service area by the end of this year. Companies are saying that having access to a high-performance fiber network is a significant factor in their decisions to expand in the area, and Chattanooga is already seeing large business expansion and small business relocation.

But doctors, teachers and engineers are also showing that broadband can benefit our ability to achieve national priorities like improving health outcomes, educating our children and making our electric grid smarter. High-speed connectivity is allowing doctors to practice telemedicine, treating patients hundreds of miles away who would otherwise have little access to advanced care. It’s enabling educators to extend learning beyond mere words – from describing historic events like the first women to fly or enter space, to – at the click of a mouse – showing actual video and audio footage of events like Amelia Earhart's flight across the Atlantic or the launch of Challenger. And, it’s helping electric utilities manage energy use and reduce bills for their customers.

In short, broadband is the foundation both for economic opportunity and social prosperity in the 21st century.  Like electricity or telephones in prior generations, it is hard to imagine an enabling technology more vital to our future.

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The Power of Partnerships

by Pam Gregory, Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative
October 29, 2010 - 04:05 PM

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We had an inspiring couple of days in Colorado last week.  On October 21 in Westminister, we participated in the 10th Annual Coleman Institute Conference, entitled “All Together Now:  The Power of Partnerships in Cognitive Disability & Technology.”

While at the conference, Pam announced that the FCC was partnering with the Coleman Institute and Raising the Floor, an international coalition of individuals and organizations who promote internet accessibility for people with disabilities, to launch a challenge to the public to submit short multimedia presentations on their visions of how cloud computing can create new opportunities. The challenge, titled "Lifted by the Cloud: Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility" is the Commission’s first challenge using GSA’s new challenge.gov platform. More information can be found here.  Preceding Pam’s announcement of the challenge, Elizabeth Lyle, Special Counsel for Innovation in the Wireless Bureau, gave remarks on “The National Broadband Plan and Access for People with Cognitive Disabilities.”

We also participated in a pre-conference workshop in Boulder on October 20, entitled “Implications of Cloud Computing for People with Cognitive Disabilities,” which was sponsored by the Coleman Institute and Silicon Flatirons.  Jamal participated on a panel on “Technical Opportunities and Commercial Infrastructure, including the Farther Future” and Elizabeth participated on a panel entitled “Legal and Regulatory Barriers to Accessibility Technology in the Cloud.”

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Out of Sight, But All Around, Cyber Abounds

October 29, 2010 - 01:38 PM

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

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So you're in another country, you stop for a cup of coffee at a café and plug in your laptop to an Internet connection. Or you're at the airport, and you get an email that says: "Free upgrade now." Or you're in a hotel room and securing your passport in the safety deposit box and it asks you for a PIN number. "Ah hah," you think to yourself, "that's easy, I'll use the same passcode I use at home, that way, I'll remember it!" Or you live in a country like Haiti and one of the only ways to access currency is through a transaction on your cell phone. Stop before you act. BE AWARE. Cyber may be out of sight, but it is all around. Cyber abounds. And so do tactics designed to harm your electronic devices and to take information from you. In the United States, October has been National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. At the FCC, we've developed safety tips for consumers about Internet usage. And we've identified some precautions you can take when traveling internationally with electronic devices. Protect yourself. Take a look at these travel tips we put together to learn how.

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Announcing Open Developer Day at the FCC

by Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer
October 28, 2010 - 01:46 PM

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On Monday, November 8, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission will sponsor an "Open Developer Day" event at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC to promote collaboration between web developers in the public and private sectors.

The goal of Open Developer Day is to further innovation in accessible technologies and foster citizen participation in open government.

Open Developer Day will be a public, single-day event that prioritizes accessibility goals, though other web solutions are also of interest. The event will feature guest engineers from the Yahoo! Developer Network and Yahoo!’s Accessibility teamLab and will have a component addressing the requirements and opportunities in the new "Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act."

Think of Open Developer Day as a digital barn raising where software developers learn new tools and volunteer their skills to prototype and build new web applications together.

Engineers from the Yahoo! Accessibility team Lab and Yahoo! Developer Network will be providing technical instruction for some of their technologies that support working with web-based information and their ongoing work in accessibility.

A priority area is the development of a web application that will serve as a clearing-house of information on accessible information and communication technologies (ICT). The FCC is mandated to create this clearinghouse by a new law called the "Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act," which President Obama signed on October 8, 2010. The clearinghouse is intended to make it as easy as possible for people with disabilities, families, and support professionals to find information about accessible technologies.

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Big Data

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
October 28, 2010 - 01:06 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]The emerging discussion around "Big Data" is capturing imaginations quickly, and with good reason. The arenas that compose Big Data -- transaction records (e.g. banks, telephone service providers), social networks, and geospatial data all fall into this field.

Thanks to a combination of the advancement of computer science, demand for data, and ability for businesses and large institutions to make use of large datasets, Big Data is here.

Last week, I was honored to be part of the Booz Allen Series for Fed News Radio "Expert Voices," speaking on the topic of Big Data. From a government perspective, we at the FCC are not dealing with big data (billions of records) like some partners are, but we oversee and work with many industries that do. But to do the FCC's work, we are constantly collecting and tracking records in in the tens and hundreds of millions of records to help make sense of the communications industry.

As you might be able to tell from our data innovation initative, we clearly are in the business of better understanding our data assets and knowing where and how to make our own data better. We feel strongly that one of the most important aspects to a more efficient and effective FCC is strong data assets -- and in particular, ensuring our data assets are fully geospatially-enabled. When we have geospatially enabled data assets our ability to analyze trends over space and time will provide benefit to the policy discussion and provide a more informed and empowered arena for consumers.

Listen to the whole big data discussion or watch my small trailer on big data.

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Open (FCC.gov) Redesign

by Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director, Federal Communications Commission
October 28, 2010 - 12:16 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]As you’ve heard from me, we’re hard at work reimagining FCC.gov. The new FCC.gov will, first and foremost, be a resource for American consumers. As we reimagine the site and how it can best deliver the information and services consumers demand, public feedback will continue to be vitally important to our process.

Today, we're showing off some basic sketches for how the redesigned FCC.gov is coming together. And again, we need your feedback.

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Take an early look at some of the initial wireframe concepts for the redesign and let us know what you think.

These wire frames are just the first stage in the design process that show us how and where our information will be laid out. Rather than waiting for the release of the 1.0 version of the site, we wanted to give you-the users of FCC.gov-the opportunity to tell us directly what you think about the current ideas.

These sketches show how, at a fundamental level, we're moving towards a new FCC.gov. Built on a layout that speaks with one agency-wide voice, we're building a stronger consumer resource that's intuitively organized -- not based around an FCC bureaucracy that's unfamiliar to consumers. 

We will soon be testing this and other wireframes with consumers in a usability setting using scenarios most common to the FCC.

Let us know what you think. You can share your comments in our forum or leave your comments below.  If you prefer, you can also e-mail us directly at newmedia@fcc.gov.

We're looking forward to hearing from you.

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ON DECK: Pending and Upcoming Appellate Litigation Involving the FCC

October 27, 2010 - 04:18 PM

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During spring training, on the cusp of the major league baseball season, the Office of General Counsel discussed several significant cases involving the FCC that were pending before the appellate courts. See "On Deck" blog entry dated February 19, 2010. Now that the baseball season draws to a close, we thought this might be a good time to provide an update on these cases and other upcoming appellate litigation involving the agency.

The FCC in the Supreme Court

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Our Upcoming Cybersecurity Roadmap Workshop

October 27, 2010 - 02:02 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:51:height=100,width=70]]We are continuing to gather input for the Cybersecurity Roadmap that PSHSB will present to the Commission early next year.  Since early August, we’ve met with dozens of organizations representing a wide range of interests to help us focus the Roadmap.  To everyone who has participated in these discussions, thank you.  We are at the point where we think it would be beneficial to get as many of these vantage points as possible in the same room for an extended open discussion.
To this end, last week, we announced that on Friday, November 5, 2010, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., the Bureau will hold a workshop at FCC Headquarters to support the development of the Cybersecurity Roadmap.   Because the Commission Meeting Room can hold only a limited number of people, you must pre-register by November 3rd.  You can do this online.  You also can register by contacting my colleague Deandrea Wilson or calling (202) 418-0703.    As of today, almost 100 people have registered.  If you cannot attend in person, free audio/video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC's livestream Web page. If you participate this way, you can ask questions by email, which will be manned during the workshop.  We’ll try to get to as many of these questions as we can.  We have a great mix of private and non-profit panelists lined up, and we’ll be announcing more about the agenda in a few days.  

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Putting FCC TEC in the right hands

October 26, 2010 - 03:54 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]As part of this agency’s mission, the FCC supports the field of high-tech devices and solutions that are available to consumers all over the world.
Today, I’m pleased to announce the opening of the Tecnhnology Experience Center here at FCC headquarters. FCC TEC is an on-site technology lab that gives FCC employees and invited guests the chance to get their hands on the latest high-tech tools and toys and grow their understanding of this exciting field.
With the launch of FCC TEC, we’re growing our role as an expert technology agency here in Washington. By expanding FCC employees’ access to the latest technology, we’re continuously improving the agency’s expertise and awareness of a quickly changing -- and increasingly important -- high tech landscape.
FCC TEC also gives manufacturers and vendors the opportunity to display their latest devices in an environment designed for interaction, collaboration, and learning. As an avowed gadget geek myself, I’m particularly excited about expanding the relationship between the FCC and our industry partners, and growing FCC TEC. If you’re a manufacturer or vendor that’s interested in setting up a donation to FCC TEC click here.
One of the perks of my job is the privilege of working with FCC employees who help get some of the most innovative new tools and toys to consumers in the marketplace. I’m looking forward to ramping up FCC TEC and continuing to grow the expertise that our agency can provide for consumers and industry alike.

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