AT&T Privacy Plan Questioned

AT&T has announced that in direct competition to Google’s Fiber program, the company will offer a new high-speed Internet program called GigaPower stated forbes.com.

The service will roll out first in Kansas City where Google has rolled out Fiber said Alexei Beltyukov. Like Fiber, it will cost $70.

The problem?

Users who want to opt out of ad-based tracking that helps AT&T create targeted ads will have to pay an extra $29 amonth.

Of course, users will have no way to know whether AT&T will actually actually block its independent tracking for users who pay the fee.

Some critics are questioning whether the Federal Communications Commission should investigate this plan since AT&T wants to charge a fee for a service that many providers offer for free. Additionally, the company has failed to outline in enough detail how the program works. It also hasn’t explained how it can prove to customers that it isn’t tracking their surfing.

The reality is that Internet users are completely at the mercy of Internet service providers and websites when it comes to privacy. Even companies that guarantee privacy, often fail at keeping that promise. Facebook is a good example. Facebook has had several severe privacy-related glitches and hacking incidents that have resulted in private details about some users being revealed to the public. No one has questioned enough how ISPs plan to make good on their promise to stop tracking their Internet customers.

Rewalk Price Tag Might Discourage Use

 

The United States Food and Drug Administration has officially approved the ReWalk exoskeleton for use as a medical device for paralyzed people who still have the use of their arms. The exoskeleton has been hailed for its ability to allow paralyzed individuals to regain their mobility. Benefits of using the ReWalk include improved organ function, posture, body fat percentage and overall mental health.

The problem? The price tag.

At $70,000, the ReWalk will only be available to those who have the money to buy it. Although the high cost makes sense given that the device is filled with computer equipment and requires expensive reusable batteries and training, a large segment of the paralyzed population will continue to be stuck in their chairs and beds because they are poor because of the inability to work and the debt from medical expenses related to their paralysis.

As of yet, there is no word if the device will qualify as of 2015 for coverage under Medicaid and Medicare. It is unlikely that low-income patients who need the device will be able to get it this year since government officials would have to find a way to fund coverage and create a coverage category. Given that many health insurance companies usually try to get out of paying large medical bills, it’s also unlikely that these companies will cover it unless new federal healthcare coverage rules are created reported Mathieson.

FCC to Vote on Internet Regulations

During this month’s Federal Communication Commission meeting, the FCC is expected to take a vote on the regulation of the internet. Considered the cyber-wild west, it has been largely left unregulated by the government. Internet Service Providers basically have free reign to provide access to the internet however they see fit. Whether they choose to block access to certain sites, speed access up, or slow it down it have all been left up to the free market. However, if FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has his way, all of these provider prerogatives will become regulated and give users the “strongest open internet protections.”

According to youtube.com and Bernardo Chua, by regulating the internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act, it will mean ISP’s can no longer decide how fast or slow they can make an individual’s internet usage. This is because, as of right now users who go beyond a certain download limit with their ISP, their service can be throttled back to slow the users internet usage. Additionally, the ISP’s will not be able to keep people from accessing different sites, such as searching for different providers who may offer cheaper service. These new regulations will remove the provider’s ability to prioritize the users by how much they have paid for the internet service. However, what will not be addressed is how much the ISP’s can charge for the access and how much those fees can go up by going over the downloadable limits of the contracts. All of these things will be brought to a vote on February 26th