Saturday, February 28, 2015

New Net Neutrality Rules Passed

By Dave Parrack
New net neutrality rules, Facebook prevents suicide, Apple Watch is launching soon, play Fable for free, Google hates Apple, and the Toejam & Earl sequel hits Kickstarter.

The FCC Preserves Net Neutrality

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted in favor of new rules aimed at preserving net neutrality. The new rules reclassify ISPs as common carriers, meaning the FCC now has the authority to regulate them. This should help prevent the emergence of fast lanes for content providers willing to pay broadband providers a premium for preferential treatment.
In the end, the three Democrat commissioners voted in favor of the new rules, while the Republican commissioners voted against the change. Broadband companies, who will now have to put consumers before their personal interests are, unsurprisingly, against these changes, and are likely to challenge them in court.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler strongly defended the new rules, explaining:
“The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field. Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.”
“This proposal has been described by one opponent as ‘a secret plan to regulate the Internet.’ Nonsense. This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concepts: openness, expression, and an absence of gate keepers telling people what they can do, where they can go, and what they can think.”
This may just be the best defense for these new rules we have yet seen, reminding naysayers that enshrining something in law doesn’t automatically make it bad. Most people who understand what’s at stake, and who don’t have a vested interest in killing net neutrality, believe this is a positive change designed to protect, rather than strangle, freedom.

Facebook Helps Suicidal People

Facebook is significantly updating the system it has in place for dealing with users thought to be contemplating suicide. Any report of “troubling content” will be reviewed by a dedicated team. Support will then be offered both to the person exhibiting signs of depression, and the friend who flagged it up.
It should be noted that Facebook isn’t setting itself up to be the first and only line of defense, reminding people that if they see someone posting a “direct threat of suicide,” they should “contact their local emergency services immediately.” However, this offers another path that could lead to a positive outcome.

Apple Watch Launching on March 9

Apple is officially set to launch the Apple Watch on March 9. The event will take place in San Francisco, with details on pricing and availability for Apple’s smartwatch guaranteed to be revealed.
Despite the tagline of ‘Spring Forward’ being a clear reference to time, there are rumors that Apple will reveal several other products at the event. CNET imagines we’ll see a bigger iPad, new MacBook Airs, an updated Apple TV set-top box, and possibly even a new iPod.

Fable Legends Goes Free to Play

Microsoft has announced that Fable Legends will be a free-to-play title on Windows 10 and Xbox One (Xbox Live Gold subscription required). Crucially, gamers will be able to “play through it beginning-to-end without having to spend any money,” and have “access to the entirety of Fable Legends’ storyline and all of the quests we release this year and forever.
These leaves customization options and cosmetic items as the things offered through the in-app purchases that will be needed to make Fable Legends pay for itself over the longterm. Which isn’t too disagreeable at all. That is so long as the actual game is any good, which we won’t know for several more months.

Google Exec Calls Apple ‘Irresponsible’

Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Products, has ripped into Apple over its pricing strategy. His counter to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s previous comments regarding the monetization of users came during an interview with Forbes covering a range of different topics.
Pichai said, “Users use our services by choice. These are very loved products. We have many, many products that have more than 1 billion users. They provide a lot of value. And we provide many of these services for free. It’s a bit irresponsible to say everything should be many hundreds of dollars. [as most Apple products are].
The sad fact is that products and services need to be paid for one way or another. Apple chooses to charge a premium for hardware, while Google monetizes in other ways. Neither is particularly wrong, and consumers are left to make their own minds up as to which method they prefer.

Toejam & Earl Sequel on Kickstarter

And finally, a new Toejam and Earl game titled Back In The Groove, could be on its way, with the original creators of the game funding a sequel through Kickstarter. The campaign needs to raise $400,000 for this game to happen, with a pledge of $15 more required to receive the game if and when it’s completed.
Initially targeted at PC gamers, with versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Toejam and Earl: Back In The Groove will feature retro graphics, randomly generated levels, and an emphasis on co-op play. All of which will no doubt please oldies who remember the series from the early 1990s.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Do you agree with the new rules regarding net neutrality? Has Facebook got it right on how it tackles suicide? Is Apple as “irresponsible” as Sundar Pichai claims?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Andrew Hart via Flickr Source:

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