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Old 10-03-21, 07:22 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - March 13th, ’21

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March 13th, 2021

LiquidVPN Faces Lawsuit for Allegedly Promoting Pirating Content
Alyse Stanley

Virtual private networks can be great for folks wary of how their data is tracked online, but what happens when a VPN provider directly markets itself to those who would use that promise of anonymity to break the law?

LiquidVPN is now facing a lawsuit from pissed-off movie copyright holders that argue the provider purposefully billed itself as a haven for copyright infringers looking to pirate their favorite TV shows and movies and should be held liable for its users’ misdeeds. Voltage Holdings, Millennium Funding, and Hunter Killer Productions claim that LiquidVPN users illegally pirated titles such as I Feel Pretty, Shock and Awe, Automata, Survivor, and Hunter Killer, according to a complaint filed in a Florida federal court this week.

The rights owners are suing 1701 Management and its owner Charles Muszynski, which they allege own LiquidVPN, for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. In their complaint, they particularly call out several of the site’s promotional materials that appear to fly in the face of the law.

“The LiquidVPN Defendants actively promote their LiquidVPN Service for the purpose of movie piracy, including of infringing Plaintiffs’ Works. The LiquidVPN Defendants’ website includes a statement that their VPN service is the ‘Best VPN for Torrenting and P2P Filesharing today’ over the image of the notorious movie piracy website Pirate Bay,” the lawsuit reads.

Other promotional content that’s still up on LiquidVPN’s site advertises its services in conjunction with Popcorn Time, a popular torrent-based streaming client that copyright holders have frequently tried to stamp out. “Experience everything Popcorn Time has to offer in the United States and the UK. Except the risks,” the site reads. “Stream Content Anonymously. Why bother risking complaints from your ISP, settlement demands, threats and jail time for streaming your favorite TV show.”

LiquidVPN’s open appeal to copyright infringers and failure to terminate service for repeat offenders disqualifies it from the safe harbor from liability afforded to ISPs under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the rights owners argue. They added that they sent notices of infringements after discovering the piracy but were ignored.

Voltage Holdings, Millennium Funding, and Hunter Killer Productions are also suing the BitTorrent users who illegally uploaded or downloaded the films themselves for direct copyright infringement, though the lawsuit doesn’t name them individually. They’re also seeking an injunction against LiquidVPN to prevent the service from encouraging users to pirate content and providing access to copyrighted material.

Disney Plus Tops 100 Million Subscribers Worldwide
Cynthia Littleton

Disney Plus continues to grow apace, topping 100 million subscribers worldwide, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Tuesday during its annual shareholders meeting. That’s up from the 94.9 million Disney reported last month.

“The enormous success of Disney Plus has inspired us to be even more ambitious, and to significantly increase our investment in the development of high-quality content,” Chapek said. “In fact, we set a target of 100-plus new titles per year, and this includes Disney Animation, Disney Live Action, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Our direct-to-consumer business is the Company’s top priority, and our robust pipeline of content will continue to fuel its growth.”

The torrid growth of Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming service has helped drive Disney’s stock price to record highs. The stock closed Monday at $201.91, a record for a closing price. Chapek noted that it has been quite a swing from March 2020 when shares hit “a COVID low” of $79.

The success of Disney Plus, which added significant subscribers after its Feb. 23 launch on India’s Star platform, “has inspired us to be even more ambitious (and) significantly increase our investment in high quality content.”

Chapek also said that the ESPN Plus streaming service will be embedded into Hulu in a way that will allow subscribers of both to easily move between platforms. Later in the year, Hulu subscribers will be able to buy pay-per-view events via ESPN Plus even if they are not subscribers to the sports streamer.

Netflix is Testing a Crackdown on Password Sharing
Alex Sherman

• Netflix is running a test cracking down on password sharing.
• Some customers are getting a message on their screens prompting them to sign up for their own account if they aren’t watching with the subscriber.
• Netflix has historically ignored password sharing, even as about one-third of all users share passwords.

Netflix has never made a big deal about password-sharing, but a new test suggests the company may be reconsidering.

Netflix is trying out a new policy with some customers, prompting certain people to sign up for a separate account if they aren’t watching with the subscriber.

The message reads: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” The Streamable first reported about the trial.

According to a spokesman, Netflix tries “hundreds” of tests a year with select customers.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” Netflix said in a statement.

The trial may not lead to a larger crackdown around password sharing. The test could be applied for account security as well as sharing passwords.

About 33% of all Netflix users share their password with at least one other person, according to research firm Magid. Netflix’s basic plan costs $8.99 per month. The company’s standard plan is $13.99 per month, which allows users to watch Netflix on two screens at the same time. Historically, Netflix hasn’t done much to stop password-sharing, as strong growth in subscriber numbers and its stock price offset any concerns about lost revenue.

Netflix announced earlier this year it topped 200 million global subscribers, but shares have underperformed the S&P 500 this year as investors have moved away from growth stocks. Netflix must also fend off a slew of new streamers -- including Disney+, AT&T’s HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ -- to ensure users aren’t moving to competitive services.

Want to Borrow that E-Book from the Library? Sorry, Amazon Won’t Let You.

Its monopoly is stopping public libraries from lending e-books and audiobooks from Mindy Kaling, Dean Koontz, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Trevor Noah, Andy Weir, Michael Pollan and a whole lot more
Geoffrey A. Fowler

Mindy Kaling has gone missing from the library.

I was looking forward to reading the comedian’s new story collection, “Nothing Like I Imagined.” So I typed Kaling’s name into the Libby app used by my public library to loan e-books. But “The Office” star’s latest was nowhere to be found.

What gives? In 2020, Kaling switched to a new publisher: Amazon. Turns out, the tech giant has also become a publishing powerhouse — and it won’t sell downloadable versions of its more than 10,000 e-books or tens of thousands of audiobooks to libraries. That’s right, for a decade, the company that killed bookstores has been starving the reading institution that cares for kids, the needy and the curious. And that’s turned into a mission-critical problem during a pandemic that cut off physical access to libraries and left a lot of people unable to afford books on their own.

Many Americans now recognize that a few tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. But it’s sometimes hard to put your finger on exactly why that’s a problem. The case of the vanishing e-books shows how tech monopolies hurt us not just as consumers, but as citizens.

You probably think of Amazon as the largest online bookstore. Amazon helped make e-books popular with the Kindle, now the dominant e-reader. Less well known is that since 2009, Amazon has published books and audiobooks under its own brands including Lake Union, Thomas & Mercer and Audible. Amazon is a beast with many tentacles: It’s got the store, the reading devices and, increasingly, the words that go on them.

Librarians have been no match for the beast. When authors sign up with a publisher, it decides how to distribute their work. With other big publishers, selling e-books and audiobooks to libraries is part of the mix — that’s why you’re able to digitally check out bestsellers like Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land.” Amazon is the only big publisher that flat-out blocks library digital collections. Search your local library’s website, and you won’t find recent e-books by Amazon authors Kaling, Dean Koontz or Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Nor will you find downloadable audiobooks for Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and Michael Pollan’s “Caffeine.”

Amazon does generally sell libraries physical books and audiobook CDs — though even print versions of Kaling’s latest aren’t available to libraries because Amazon made it an online exclusive.

It’s hard to measure the hole Amazon is leaving in American libraries. Among e-books, Amazon published very few New York Times bestsellers in 2020; its Audible division produces audiobooks for more big authors and shows up on bestseller lists more frequently. You can get a sense of Amazon’s influence among its own customers from the Kindle bestseller list: In 2020, six of Amazon’s top 10 e-books were published by Amazon. And it’s not just about bestsellers: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the self-publishing business that’s open to anyone, produces many books about local history, personalities and communities that libraries have historically sought out.

In testimony to Congress, the American Library Association called digital sales bans like Amazon’s “the worst obstacle for libraries” moving into the 21st century. Lawmakers in New York and Rhode Island have proposed bills that would require Amazon (and everybody else) to sell e-books to libraries with reasonable terms. On March 10, the Maryland General Assembly unanimously approved its own library e-book bill, which now heads back to the state Senate.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.

Amazon declined my request for an interview. “It’s not clear to us that current digital library lending models fairly balance the interests of authors and library patrons,” said Mikyla Bruder, the publisher at Amazon Publishing, in an emailed statement. “We see this as an opportunity to invent a new approach to help expand readership and serve library patrons, while at the same time safeguarding author interests, including income and royalties.”

Amazon announced in December it is in negotiations to sell e-books to a small nonprofit called the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which makes tech for other libraries. But those negotiations don’t include Audible audiobooks and Amazon’s trove of self-published books. And even if that deal happened, it still wouldn’t help most American libraries, which buy and distribute e-books through the maker of the Libby app — a company called OverDrive.

OverDrive chief executive Steve Potash told me he’s had “ongoing dialogue” with Amazon Publishing. “As part of our dialogue, we communicated our willingness to innovate in an effort to support their business strategy,” he said. Amazon said it was in touch with OverDrive but not discussing operational details like with the DPLA.

It’s one thing to haggle over business — but another for Amazon to have the power to unilaterally force libraries to stay in the 20th century. It’s a price we pay for letting Big Tech get so big.

The new digital divide

Since the 1980s, lawmakers have focused on one main way to measure the harm caused by monopolies: Are prices going up for consumers? That’s been a gift to Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. In many cases, they can argue their massive scale has made prices go down or even made things free.

But we’re not just price-sensitive consumers — we’re also citizens. We need products that are made fairly, serve our needs and are equitably distributed. Groundbreaking government antitrust lawsuits filed in late 2020 argue Google’s monopoly hurts us because it’s blocking competitors and prioritizing its own inferior services. In my own investigation, I found Google search results are getting worse as it puts its own business ahead of our interests.

Libraries losing e-books matters because they serve us as citizens. It’s easy to take for granted, but libraries are among America’s great equalizers. Benjamin Franklin helped found one of America’s first because he realized few individuals could afford a large enough collection to be well-informed.

Today, the public service of libraries includes digital collections. They’re a hit in urban and rural areas alike: As of 2018, about 90 percent of American libraries offered online loans. The covid-19 pandemic made digital collections only more critical — several libraries told me e-book and audiobook checkouts surged by 40 percent or more in 2020.

You can check out an e-book or audiobook by going to your library’s website and entering your library card number. Once you find a book that’s available, you can download and read it on a dedicated device such as the Kindle, through the Web, or on a smartphone or tablet with an all-in-one app like Libby. When your loan is over, the digital copy disappears.

“Imagine if you were put out of work by covid, and you want to read a book about developing your skills. You don’t have the economic wherewithal to get that book yourself — but you log into the Libby app and can’t find it,” says Michael Blackwell, director of the rural St. Mary’s County Library in Leonardtown, Md.

The Internet has, of course, given us access to a lot more information — but also made it possible to erect new walls around some of it.

“Society pays a huge price,” says Michelle Jeske, city librarian at the Denver Public Library and president of the Public Library Association. “How many different platforms does a person have to subscribe to to be able to read all the things they’re interested in? You used to be able to just do that at the public library.”

Amazon treating digital collections differently than print is a “particularly pernicious new form of the digital divide,” the American Library Association told Congress.

Another problem: Libraries can’t archive for posterity what they don’t have access to.

Tech rights group Fight for the Future made an interactive guide called Who Can Get Your Book that explains the ways libraries are being left out.

Replacing the library card with a credit card

Nobody is arguing libraries should get freebies from publishers and authors. In fact, libraries usually pay more than we do for e-books — between $40 and $60 per title and as much as $100 for a popular audiobook. And unlike print books, which libraries can loan out to one person at a time again and again, e-books often come with digital locks that make them expire after a certain number of loans or a set period of time.

These terms have caused tension between libraries and publishers. Many librarians worry the price and terms that come with e-books aren’t sustainable, but most agree providing access is their overriding concern. Some publishers, meanwhile, say easy access to library e-books — just a few taps in the Libby app — hurts their sales. Libraries counter that they’re a net positive, not only because libraries buy so many books themselves, but also because they’re an effective way to market products to customers who also buy books and audiobooks.

Pollan, a James Beard Award winner who published “Caffeine” as an audio-only exclusive with Audible Originals in 2019, said he was unaware his book isn’t available in libraries. “If it were up to me, it would be,” Pollan emailed. He added that he’s planning to publish a new book and audiobook this summer through a different publisher that will make it available.

I emailed Amazon-published authors Kaling, Koontz, Westheimer, Noah and Weir, but they either declined to comment or didn’t respond.

“All books in all formats should be available through libraries. Authors want their books available through libraries,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, told me.

In its emails to me, Amazon didn’t specify what about the terms of library loans has kept it from making a deal for a decade. But it’s clear that owning the store, the e-reader and the product made Amazon immune to many of the market pressures on other major publishers.

“The key is that Amazon is the umpire and the player at the same time,” said Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, a think tank that’s critical of Big Tech monopoly power.

Amazon doesn’t need much sales and marketing help, with a command over so many American consumers. Dan Lubart, a publishing industry consultant whose firm monitors retailer bestseller lists to track market behavior, says you can see how aggressively Amazon markets its own e-books to Amazon customers. By his analysis, in 2020, Amazon had at least 238 of its own titles appear as Kindle bestsellers — 10.9 percent of the total distinct titles — with seven of them appearing on its lists over 100 times. Only one other big publisher had a single title show up more than 50 times.

And Amazon knows exactly how valuable library e-books are. Back in 2011, it began allowing library patrons to read OverDrive e-book loans from other publishers on Kindle e-readers.

In 2014, Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, its own paid e-book subscription, for $10 per month. (It doesn’t use the word “library” but says it comes with “unlimited reading” of more than 1 million titles.) And it sells Amazon’s audiobook exclusives through a subscription to Audible, which starts at $8 per month.

Browsing Amazon’s bestseller lists next to OverDrive’s most-borrowed lists, I see two completely different literary universes: the public and the private.

Amazon is building out its own library with an alternative set of books. And instead of a library card, Amazon accepts only a credit card.

A Leading Critic of Big Tech Will Join the White House

Tim Wu’s appointment to the National Economic Council signals a confrontational approach by the Biden administration.
Cecilia Kang

President Biden on Friday named Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, to the National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy, putting one of the most outspoken critics of Big Tech’s power into the administration.

The appointment of Mr. Wu, 48, who is widely supported by progressive Democrats and antimonopoly groups, suggests that the administration plans to take on the size and influence of companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, including working with Congress on legislation to strengthen antitrust laws. During his campaign, Mr. Biden said he would be open to breaking up tech companies.

That confrontational approach toward the tech industry would be a continuation of the one taken by the Trump administration. Late last year, federal and state regulators sued Facebook and Google, accusing them of antitrust violations. The regulators continue to investigate claims that Amazon and Apple unfairly squash competition.

Mr. Biden has also expressed skepticism toward social media companies and the legal shield known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. He told the New York Times editorial board in January 2020 that Section 230 “should be revoked, immediately.”

The tech companies have fought vigorously against new antitrust laws and regulations, building out some of the most potent lobbying forces in Washington to push back.

Mr. Wu has warned about the consequences of too much power in the hands of a few companies and said the nation’s economy resembled the Gilded Age of the late 1800s.

“Extreme economic concentration yields gross inequality and material suffering, feeding the appetite for nationalistic and extremist leadership,” Mr. Wu wrote in his 2018 book, “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.”

“Most visible in our daily lives is the great power of the tech platforms, especially Google, Facebook and Amazon,” he added.

Mr. Wu was a contributing writer for The Times before dropping that position for his appointment to the White House.

His role, with a focus on competition policy, will be a new one in the National Economic Council. Mr. Wu will also focus on competition in labor policy, such as noncompete clauses enforced by companies, and concentration in power in agriculture and the drug industry. The job does not require Senate approval.

Mr. Biden has not yet named nominees to officially lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission — the main agencies overseeing competition in commerce. Progressives have vociferously fought for the appointments of left-leaning advocates like Mr. Wu over individuals with histories of working for tech companies and law firms that represent them.

“Tim has been a longtime antitrust advocate, and he has pushed public officials to break up and rein in Big Tech,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement. “I’m glad to see him in this role.”

Mr. Wu has left academia at various times to work in government. He was a special adviser to the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 and 2012 and then joined the National Economic Council to work on competition policy during the Obama administration, which was known for its kid-glove treatment of tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Mr. Wu has since expressed some regret.

“I worked in the Obama administra#tion, and I worked in antitrust, so I will take some personal blame here, but we have not provided the merger oversight we should have,” Mr. Wu said in an interview at the Aspen Ideas festival in 2019. He added that “maybe sometimes we had an overly rosy view” of the tech sector.

Relatively unbridled by regulations, those companies greatly expanded through mergers and acquisitions during President Barack Obama’s two terms. Mr. Wu has talked about the pivot of many Democrats since those days, with the realization that the tech giants have failed to live up to promises to protect user data, treat small competitors fairly and root out misinformation from their platforms.

Mr. Wu is best known for advocacy against powerful telecom companies and for coining the term “net neutrality,” the regulatory philosophy that consumers should get equal access to all content on the internet. More recently, he has turned his attention to the gatekeepers — like Facebook, Google and Amazon — that dominate speech, search and retail online.

During federal and state antitrust investigations of Facebook, he joined with Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, to argue for the company’s breakup.

The appointment sets the tone for a new era in antitrust enforcement, said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. Ms. Klobuchar has introduced a broad bill to strengthen antitrust laws.

“The laws haven’t changed, so enforcement and new ideas are key,” she said. “This is the shot in the arm that competition policy needs.”

Tech’s Legal Shield Appears Likely to Survive as Congress Focuses on Details

Section 230 isn’t expected to be revoked, but even the more modest proposals for weakening it could have effects that ripple across the internet.
David McCabe

Former President Donald J. Trump called multiple times for repealing the law that shields tech companies from legal responsibility over what people post. President Biden, as a candidate, said the law should be “revoked.”

But the lawmakers aiming to weaken the law have started to agree on a different approach. They are increasingly focused on eliminating protections for specific kinds of content rather than making wholesale changes to the law or eliminating it entirely.

That has still left them a question with potentially wide-ranging outcomes: What, exactly, should lawmakers cut?

One bill introduced last month would strip the protections from content the companies are paid to distribute, like ads, among other categories. A different proposal, expected to be reintroduced from the last congressional session, would allow people to sue when a platform amplified content linked to terrorism. And another that is likely to return would exempt content from the law only when a platform failed to follow a court’s order to take it down.

Even these more modest proposals to the legal shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, could ripple across the internet. The adjustments could give companies like Facebook and YouTube an incentive to take down certain types of content while leaving up others. Critics of the ideas also say there is a huge potential for unintended consequences, citing a 2018 law that stripped the immunity from platforms that knowingly facilitated sex trafficking, making some sex work more unsafe.

“I think we are trying to say, ‘How can you narrowly draw some exceptions to 230 in a way that doesn’t interfere with your free speech rights?’” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who has introduced legislation to trim the law with a fellow Democrat, Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii.

The calls for change gained momentum after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which was carried out in part by people linked to QAnon and other conspiracy theories that thrive on social media. Critics say the shield has let the tech giants ignore criminal activity, hate speech and extremist content posted on their services.

The law protects websites from many lawsuits over content posted by their users or the way sites choose to moderate that content. Passed in 1996, it enabled the rise of large online services because they didn’t need to assume new legal liability each time they added another one of their billions of users.

Major tech companies have said they are open to trimming the law, an effort to shape changes they see as increasingly likely to happen. Facebook and Google, the owner of YouTube, have signaled that they are willing to work with lawmakers changing the law, and some smaller companies recently formed a lobbying group to shape any changes.

Some small steps — like pushing for content to be taken down after a court order — could earn the support of tech companies. But others, like stripping immunity from all ads, would probably not.

Many lawmakers say creating carve-outs to the law would allow them to tackle the most pernicious instances of disinformation or hate speech online without disrupting the entire internet economy, steamrollering small websites or running afoul of free speech rights.

“There isn’t any legislation that deals with everything,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, a California Democrat who has proposed carving out certain content from the law. “When someone says eliminate Section 230, the first thing it says to me is that they don’t really understand it.”

But there are many other unresolved issues. Lawmakers must decide how close they want to get to the core business models of the platforms versus just encouraging better moderation. One way to cut to the core would be to limit the shield when a post is amplified by the proprietary algorithms that rank, sort and recommend content to users, as Ms. Eshoo’s bill would in some cases. Or, as Mr. Warner’s bill does, lawmakers could simply say Section 230 shouldn’t apply to any ads at all.

And they must grapple with the question of whether any changes should apply only to the biggest platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, or take effect across the entire internet. Smaller companies have argued that they should be exempt from many changes.

“I think we want to take as modest of a step as possible,” said Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who researches misinformation. “Give it a year or two, see how it unfolds and make adjustments.”

The lawmakers’ focus on targeted changes to the law is a familiar one. In 2018, Congress passed a law that removed Section 230 protections when platforms knowingly facilitated sex trafficking.

But Mr. Trump was focused on repealing the law. In his final weeks in the White House, he pushed congressional Republicans to end the protections in an unrelated defense funding bill. His supporters and allies may not be satisfied by the targeted changes proposed by the Democrats who now control both the Senate and the House.

The White House did not immediately offer a comment on the issue on Monday. But a December op-ed that was co-written by Bruce Reed, Mr. Biden’s deputy chief of staff, said that “platforms should be held accountable for any content that generates revenue.” The op-ed also said that while carving out specific types of content was a start, lawmakers would do well to consider giving platforms the entire liability shield only on the condition that they properly moderate content.

Supporters of Section 230 say even small changes could hurt vulnerable people. They point to the 2018 anti-trafficking bill, which sex workers say made it harder to vet potential clients online after some of the services they used closed, fearing new legal liability. Instead, sex workers have said they must now risk meeting with clients in person without using the internet to ascertain their intentions at a safe distance.

Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who co-wrote Section 230 while in the House, said measures meant to address disinformation on the right could be used against other political groups in the future.

“If you remember 9/11, and you had all these knee-jerk reactions to those horrible tragedies,” he said. “I think it would be a huge mistake to use the disgusting, nauseating attacks on the Capitol as a vehicle to suppress free speech.”

Industry officials say carve-outs to the law could nonetheless be extremely difficult to carry out.

“I appreciate that some policymakers are trying to be more specific about what they don’t like online,” said Kate Tummarello, the executive director of Engine, an advocacy group for small companies. “But there’s no universe in which platforms, especially small platforms, will automatically know when and where illegal speech is happening on their site.”

The issue may take center stage when the chief executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter testify late this month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been examining the future of the law.

“I think it’s going to be a huge issue,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the committee’s top Republican. “Section 230 is really driving it.”

Two UK Broadband ISPs Trial New Internet Snooping System
Mark Jackson

Two unnamed broadband or mobile ISPs are reportedly helping the UK Home Office and the National Crime Agency (NCA) to trial a new internet snooping system on their customers, which is being conducted as part of the controversial 2016 UK Investigatory Powers Act (aka – snoopers charter).

The act introduced a new power that, among many other things, could force ISPs – upon being ordered to do so by a senior judge – into logging the Internet Connection Records (ICR) of all their customers for up to 12 months (e.g. the IP addresses of the servers you’ve visited and when), which can be accessed without a warrant and occurs regardless of whether or not you’re suspected of a crime.
NOTE: Obtaining the content of a communication still requires a warrant, but ICRs aren’t deemed to contain content.

The Communications Data Code of Practice, which was finalised in 2018, largely indicated that an ICR would “only identify the service that a customer has been using” and this is likely to involve the retention of various different pieces of data (varying between ISPs/networks).

However, the core ICR data should include a customer’s account reference, source IP address, destination IP address + port and the date/time of the start and end of the event or its duration. Other data may additionally be added if available (e.g. volume of data transferred and partial URLs – i.e. only that which contains communications data, not content).

Simplified Interpretation of an ICR Log

Account ID
Date (Time) Source IP (You)
Destination IP:Port Data Volume URL
1 19/01/2017 (12:01) 800KB omgfakeballz.com
1 19/01/2017 (13:12) 0.2KB ftp.faketest.co.uk
65 19/01/2017 (13:14) 1700KB icanhasyourdata.net

The IPAct effectively prohibits ISPs from talking about much of this, which makes it difficult to verify the details (it also makes it difficult for ISPs to share experiences when developing best practices for the code), but a new article on Wired has provided the first useful update on this work in some years and confirms that two ISPs are helping to develop the system (BT seem like a fair bet to be one of those, but this is not confirmed).

A spokesperson for the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) confirmed the trial is ongoing and that it is conducting regular reviews to “ensure that the data types collected remain necessary and proportionate“. At this stage the trial is described as being “small scale,” which we’d surmise to mean that it hasn’t yet been enabled for the entire customer base of each ISP.. yet.

Recent court challenges mean that, technically speaking, such data can only be stored (or ordered to be stored) if it is considered necessary and proportionate to do so, such as in the course of helping to fight serious crime. But the Government’s definition of what is and is not a “serious” crime has sometimes been called into question, while the IPAct has also faced some related legal challenges (here).

Meanwhile it’s reported that the NCA has spent at least £130,000 on two external contracts, which are being used to commission companies to build the underlying technical systems to run trials. Assuming all goes well then the Government will want to see this system being rolled out nationally and that could be a real burden for some ISPs.

The IPAct is due for its first 5-year review in the next year, which some hope could be an opportunity to improve its transparency. On the other hand, there may be fears that, without the protection of the EU’s charter, the UK government may seek to make the law even more intrusive and thus to the detriment of personal privacy. Well.. we’re sure nobody would ever want to abuse a mass national snooping system, no not at all (*tongue firmly in cheek*).

SpaceX Plans Starlink Broadband for Trucks, Ships, and Planes

Dishes will be modified for vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, SpaceX tells FCC.
Jon Brodkin

SpaceX on Friday asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to deploy Starlink satellite broadband to moving vehicles.

The application describes SpaceX's plans for Earth Stations in Motion (ESIMs) for automobiles, ships, and aircraft. SpaceX said it is "seek[ing] authority to deploy and operate these earth stations... throughout the United States and its territories... in the territorial waters of the United States and throughout international waters worldwide, and... on US-registered aircraft operating worldwide and non-US-registered aircraft operating in US airspace."

"Granting this application would serve the public interest by authorizing a new class of ground-based components for SpaceX's satellite system that will expand the range of broadband capabilities available to moving vehicles throughout the United States and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide," SpaceX told the FCC. Internet users are no longer "willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a US port, or while on a domestic or international flight," SpaceX said.

“Electrically identical” to Starlink home terminals

The application said that vehicle-mounted terminals will be similar to the Starlink satellite dishes designed for home-Internet service, with some key differences:

SpaceX Service's ESIMs are electrically identical to its previously authorized consumer user terminals but have mountings that allow them to be installed on vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, which are suitable for those environments. SpaceX Service's ESIMs will communicate only with those SpaceX satellites that are visible on the horizon above a minimum elevation angle of 25 degrees. The proposed phased array user terminal will track SpaceX's NGSO [non-geostationary orbit] satellites passing within its field of view. As the terminal steers the transmitting beam, it automatically changes the power to maintain a constant level at the receiving antenna of its target satellite, compensating for variations in antenna gain and path loss associated with the steering angle.

The ESIM terminals could be deployed "on passenger cars or pleasure boats," SpaceX said in a radiation hazard analysis submitted with its application, although Musk's tweet (noted in the update on top of this article) seems to contradict that. ESIM terminals may also be deployed on "the masts of ships or the tops of semitrucks that are not generally accessible to the public." The devices "are compliant and will not result in exposure levels exceeding the applicable radiation hazard limits," SpaceX said.

SpaceX's application noted that it already has FCC permission to deploy up to 1 million user terminals in the US. The requested license allowing terminals on moving vehicles apparently would not increase the total number of terminals. But SpaceX has separately asked the FCC for permission to increase its allowed number of terminals from 1 million to 5 million.

While Starlink home-Internet service can be set up by users themselves, that may not be the case with Starlink for moving vehicles. SpaceX said that it "will ensure installation of ESIM terminals on vehicles and vessels by qualified installers who have an understanding of the antenna's radiation environment and the measures best suited to maximize protection of the general public and persons operating the vehicle and equipment."

The ESIMs will transmit in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and receive in the 10.7-12.7 GHz band, and they will comply with spectrum-sharing rules to avoid interference with other spectrum users, SpaceX said. SpaceX is already battling Dish Network over Dish's claim that Starlink could interfere with satellite TV and 5G mobile services that may eventually be permitted in the 12 GHz range.

Before Musk threw cold water on the idea, a Teslarati article speculated that Starlink terminals would be a natural fit for Tesla cars. "Tesla's electric cars are connected to the Internet for features like video streaming and over-the-air updates, with the company even offering a 'Premium Connectivity' service as an option today," the Teslarati article said. "With Starlink's capability to connect to the Internet in a moving vehicle, Tesla would no longer have to rely on existing mobile Internet providers for its cars."

Musk tweeted in October 2020 that Starlink could be deployed on fast-moving vehicles. "Everything is slow to a phased array antenna," he wrote at the time.

Rep. James Clyburn Re-Introduces $100 Billion Internet-for-All Bill

INCOMPAS said universal availability is imperative
John Eggerton

As advertised, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), has re-introduced a bill to close the digital divide by connecting everyone to the internet at high speeds--1 Gig is the goal.

"Internet access will have the same dramatic impact on rural communities as the rural electrification efforts in the last century," Clyburn tweeted of the bill, which he previewed at the INCOMPAS virtual conference last month. "This pandemic has further widened the digital divide and exposed the urgent need to enact the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act," said Clyburn.

It may be affordable, but the price tag for the government will be $100 billion.

Clyburn, who created the Rural Broadband Task Force, has said he has lined up support in the House and Senate for his bill.

“Internet for All is more than a goal, it’s a moral imperative," said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS and himself a former member of the House. "Together our nation can and must, extend the power of faster more affordable internet access to every American family. The “Internet for All” legislation will create jobs today and make a bold investment in a better future filled with more competition, innovation and opportunity for all."

He Quit the Internet 2 Months Before the Pandemic

When Aron Rosenberg decided to try living offline for a year, he thought his sabbatical might be painful. It turned out to be easier than his return.
Charlie Warzel

Aron Rosenberg was on a road trip last summer when he realized his mind wasn’t working the way it used to.

He was alone in the car without a phone. His only potential companions were the meager offerings of his car’s AM/FM radio, which didn’t interest him much. He sat in silence, stared at a point on the horizon and lowered his foot down on the accelerator. Lost in his thoughts, he barely noticed the miles ticking by. He reached his destination in what felt like 45 minutes. It had been six hours.

Mr. Rosenberg is no monk — deep focus, especially on car trips, had never come naturally. That changed when he swore off the internet completely.

Mr. Rosenberg, a former high school teacher concocted this offline experiment in 2019 as part of his education P.h.D. research at McGill University. His work examines how student use of the internet shapes their learning and behaviors. He figured that by removing the internet completely from his life, he might better understand its grip on our brains. He set strict guidelines: no computers, no smartphones, no Wi-Fi, no public internet, no streaming, no asking other people to look things up for him or glancing at their screens.

Plenty of people have adopted weekly tech sabbaticals, and expensive digital detoxes have gone in and out of vogue over the last decade. In most cases, including Mr. Rosenberg’s, the idea is to use the absence of the internet to make sense of what it has done to us and our brains.

“We’ve gotten so used to toggling our attention between our offline and online lives that most of us don’t even remember what it’s like to not be distracted all the time,” Catherine Price, the founder of Screen/Life Balance and author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone” told me. Ms. Price, whose work focuses on helping people create healthier relationships with digital technology believes that the pandemic has made people more aware of how fragmented their attention spans have become, and has increased their interest in unplugging.

“People were already struggling to create healthy boundaries with technology before the pandemic, and now that we’re working and schooling from home, the situation has only gotten worse,” she said. “The good news is that people are finally waking up to the fact that this isn’t healthy or sustainable, and are starting to look for solutions.”

But what sets Mr. Rosenberg’s experience apart is the context of his yearlong experiment: Just two months into the experience, the coronavirus pandemic shut the world down.

Mr. Rosenberg forced himself offline at almost the precise moment when the rest of us were forced almost exclusively online. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve leaned heavily on our devices. One estimate from the app tracking company App Annie showed that average users spent 27 percent of their daily waking hours on their phone — a 20 percent increase in screen time compared with 2019. While many of us retreated to the internet during moments of extreme stress and isolation for entertainment and connection, Mr. Rosenberg lived out an unfathomable mirror image of quarantine.

But, as it turns out, riding out a pandemic offline was the easy part. The struggle came one year later, when it was time to plug back in.

The thought of being offline during a pandemic panicked Mr. Rosenberg at first. At the end of February 2020, while in Berlin, he wrote in his diary that being offline could prove hazardous to his health if the virus kept spreading: “A couple of my friends went to a club last night that was collecting everyone’s emails as they entered so that they could be in touch if they found out someone there had Corona. If this gets big and email becomes the way people figure out who’s been infected, I’m [expletive].”

But, to his surprise, when he returned to Canada and entered lockdown, he found that navigating the pandemic while fully analog was manageable. For news, he’d listen to the radio. This, it turned out, was less panic inducing than the constant scrolling many of us engaged in last spring. (It helped that Mr. Rosenberg’s partner is an epidemiologist).

“Having less access to all the unverified information and speculation that was rampant in March and April was almost a blessing,” he told me.

He took advantage of the solitude and thrust himself into his work. That’s when he saw a change. Most obvious was his ability to engross himself in books for long periods of time. Academic texts that had previously felt onerous were unlocked. He started following the trail of endnotes and exploring more obscure works that he might have otherwise overlooked.

“I realized just how much reliance on the internet caused me to privilege what was simply new over more durable ideas,” he said.

He began rereading books and articles, and found himself drawing connections he’d missed before. It dawned on him that for most of his life he’d been engaged in what some scientists refer to as “surface reading,” a superficial way of absorbing ideas that results in low retention. With his brain less clouded by digital input, he was able to engage in “deep reading,” which is believed to lead to better comprehension and increased empathy.

But there was also isolation and homesickness. His brother had a baby during the summer, and he was unable to see pictures or video chat with his family. He struggled with online classes and the guilt of forcing his teachers and fellow researchers to indulge his offline experiment during an already difficult year. To counter the disconnect, he wrote letters, sometimes up to 250 per month. When hundreds of letters, cards and heartwarming drawings from friends’ children poured in, he didn’t feel the nagging sense that his inbox typically triggered.

“There was no red notification icon or even really any expectation that I had to respond,” he told me. “I could let them sit as long as I liked. There was no sense of urgency, which meant I didn’t resent the sender.”

This became a theme of Mr. Rosenberg’s offline year. It wasn’t necessarily his devices he detested, but the feeling of being on call at every moment. He revisited a passage from Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” about how the installation of the first phone in a small town tormented its residents: “It was as if God had decided to put to the test every capacity for surprise and was keeping the inhabitants of Macondo in a permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment, doubt and revelation, to such an extreme that no one knew for certain where the limits of reality lay.”

With some distance, this is how Mr. Rosenberg began to feel about the internet. It had provided him with “a permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment,” which had left him feeling constantly on edge, never knowing what person or news item might barrel into his life at a given moment with a ping. His attention had been held hostage without a ransom demand.

During this offline year, Mr. Rosenberg had to break his rules once. When it came time to sign up for his fall semester classes, he realized the online system was his only option because the university registrar was working remotely. He was forced to ask a friend to register for him. Afterward, he felt dejected, having betrayed the experiment.

A later conversation with his academic adviser changed his perspective on the supposed infraction. Yes, he’d relied on a friend to use the internet on his behalf. But he’d also been reliant on information networks throughout the year — for directions, for information on the pandemic. He was walking through the world in an analog fashion, but dependent on those who were still connected.

“We’re taught to feel like we’re being independent when we use these technologies to do things,” he told me. “But we’re really just tapping into massive networks and relying on huge groups of, well, people.”

In other words, it broke his superficial distinction between the offline world and the online world.

Swearing off the internet was always designed to be temporary, and Mr. Rosenberg assumed the new perspective he gained would make coming online again a painful experience. As January 1, 2021, ticked closer, he began to fear what was waiting for him. He imagined recoiling at social media, being unable to adjust.

The opposite proved true. Returning to his laptop, he found himself overwhelmed but rapt. Twitter, especially, became a fixation. The early morning hours that he’d previously devoted to “deep reading” were now spent hunched over a glowing laptop, unsatisfied and unable to wrest himself from Twitter

“I really underestimated the power of these platforms,” he told me recently. “I thought I was using the tools, not being used. But I’m seeing the extent to which they’re priming me toward particular ends.”

A month after his return online, his partner — noticing a change in his behavior — asked him a simple question: What was he trying to get out of all this time online? “That’s when it hit me that the things I was going for — engagement, retweets — they make me feel great but I don’t actually value them.”

When we spoke in late February, I could sense Mr. Rosenberg’s restlessness. He felt unsettled, as if he was “in hyperdrive.” He was unable to break the hold of his platforms and devices. The experience of his yearlong sabbatical had left him more disoriented. He can remember the quiet of his mind and the intentionality with which he was able to direct his attention, but he can’t replicate it. Maybe he doesn’t want to.

After all, his experiment was never meant to be permanent. Mr. Rosenberg thinks that the internet and a great deal of the technology we use is exploitative. He thinks that it can be used to manipulate people and prop up oppressive personalities and systems. He also believes in the transformative powers of the internet — as an organizing tool, as a way of sharing knowledge. He sees value in our connected world, which is why he felt he had to experience it from a remove.

“I’m not a Luddite,” he said. “I’m only trying to understand the way we’re entangled with these tools and to suss out how much agency we really have.”

His struggle with that last part — the agency — resonated. I’ve often tried to tell myself the story that I’m in control, despite straining against the constant demands for my attention. But the truth is that I don’t really know what my mind is like when it’s quiet. I grew up online, work online and live online. And, if I’m being honest, aside from the occasional vacation, I’ve rarely unplugged and given myself time for my mind to settle. Few people have.

“In a way, he’s turned himself into a control group for what our brains would be like if they weren’t consumed by constant information overload,” Ms. Price told me, when I recounted Mr. Rosenberg’s year off for her. “It’s really a cautionary tale. He stepped away during a tumultuous time and had a chance to reset. Now he’s back at the mercy of these tools, and he’s experiencing all the consequences we experience every day, only we’re habituated to them. He’s showing us how sustainable our dependence on this frenetic system really is.”

Mr. Rosenberg seems to realize this. “We’re all expected to engage with technology as if we’ve had my experience,” he said. “But most people don’t know what the absence of this from their lives even feels like.”

Their observations have stuck with me. We frame our use of digital tools as a matter of choice. But are you making a choice if you are only familiar with a single option? Maybe. But is it an informed one?

Maybe that’s why our relationship with the internet and technology feels so fraught. Because right now we can’t imagine any alternative. We’re all residents of Mr. Márquez’s village, stuck in that “permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment, doubt and revelation.”

That sounds a bit like 2021 to me.

Polymer Cables could Replace Thunderbolt & USB, Deliver more than Twice the Speed
Malcolm Owen

Researchers are working on a cabling system that could provide data transfer speeds multiple times faster than existing USB connections using an extremely thin polymer cable, in a system that echoes the design path of Thunderbolt.

Presented at the February IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, the research aims to develop a connection type that offers far better connectivity than current methods. In part, it aims to accomplish this by replacing copper wiring with something else.

Copper is typically used for wires like USB and HDMI to handle data transfers, but it requires a lot of power to work for high levels of data transmission. "There's a fundamental tradeoff between the amount of energy burned and the rate of information exchanged," said MIT alumni and lead author Jack Holloway.

While the "increasingly bulky and costly" copper could be replaced by fiber optic cables, that introduces its own issues. As silicon chips have difficulty dealing with photons, this makes the interconnection between the cable and the computers more challenging to optimize.

According to Holloway, "there are all kinds of expensive and complex integration schemes, but from an economics perspective, it's not a great solution," which led to developers creating their own version.

Combining the benefits of copper and fiber optic conduits, a plastic polymer is used by the researchers. This makes it cheaper to manufacture than copper wires, which could be an attractive proposition for cable producers.

The polymer can also use sub-terahertz electromagnetic signals, which is more energy-efficient than copper at high data loads. It is believed this efficiency brings it close to that of fiber optic systems, but crucially with better compatibility with silicon chips.

Low-cost chips are paired with the polymer conduit that can generate the high-frequency signals powerful enough to transmit into the conduit directly. As such, the system is expected to be manufactured with standard methods, which also makes it cost-effective to produce.

The cables themselves can also be extremely thin, with the cross-sectional area of the interconnect measuring 0.4 millimeters by a quarter millimeter, smaller than typical copper variants.

That small hair-like cable can be used to transport data over three different parallel channels, enabling it to achieve a total bandwidth of 105 gigabits per second. Bundling conduits together could bring the cables into the terabit-per-second range, while still remaining at a reasonable cost.

Echoes of Thunderbolt

The system, using chips on either end of a cable, uses a relatively similar concept to Thunderbolt cables, albeit with a different conduit in use. In each case, chips inside the cable are used to manage data being fed into the cable at one end and out the other, while also handling interfacing with the conduit itself.

It seems plausible that such a system could be employed for a future Thunderbolt-style connection, allowing it to go far beyond the current 40Gbps upper limit.

Another connection to Thunderbolt is its research funding. While Thunderbolt was developed by Intel and Apple, the unnamed polymer research was also funded by Intel, alongside Raytheon, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research.

Seagate: 100TB HDDs Due in 2030, Multi-Actuator Drives to Become Common

Seagate demonstrates path towards 120TB HDDs.
Anton Shilov

Seagate is on track to deliver ~50TB hard disk drives by 2026, ~100TB HDDs by 2030, and 120TB+ units early next decade, according to the company's recently revealed product and technology roadmaps. To hit capacity targets, Seagate will have to adopt new magnetic recording technologies. To ensure the high performance of its future drives, the company plans to leverage its multi-actuator technology more broadly. This tech doubles the performance of its hard drives, and it could become a standard feature on some of the company's product lines.

Boosting Capacity

Seagate says that it is on track to build a 50TB hard drive sometime in 2026 and a 100TB HDD in 2030. Right now, Seagate is shipping its 3.5-inch 20TB HDDs based on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) to select customers and as parts of its Lyve storage systems. HAMR will enable Seagate to increase the areal density of its platters at a 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), which means larger steps forward for hard drive capacities.

"As we approach the maximum useful capacity of PMR technology, each successive drive increases by 1TB or 2TB at a time," said Jeff Fochtman, Seagate's SVP of Business and Marketing at the company's Analyst Meeting. "With HAMR technology, it allows us to jump in steps of 4 terabytes, 6 terabytes, or even 10 terabytes at a time."

In a bid to build a nine-platter 40TB hard drive, Seagate needs to increase the areal density of its media to around 2600Gb/in2 (2.6Tb/in2). Seagate has already achieved such areal density, though it is unclear whether the company already has prototypes of hard drives running such platters, or only tests them on spinstands.

In any case, Seagate already has media technology that will power its products several years down the road. But it is going to take from three to five years before HDDs with platters featuring a 2600Gb/in2 (2.6Tb/in2) density will be ready for primetime as the company still needs to polish off the media technology as well as develop the appropriate head, drive, controller, and other electronics.

Modern hard drives based on perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology use aluminum or glass platters with CoCrPt–SiO2 nanogranular magnetic films. Hard drives featuring HAMR rely on glass platters with magnetic films featuring high magnetocrystalline anisotropy to ensure very small grains. In particular, Seagate uses an iron platinum alloy (e.g., L10–FePt).

Today's HAMR media is expected to enable drives featuring 80TB ~ 100TB capacity, according to developers. But, for 3.5-inch HDDs with a ~105TB capacity and 5 ~ 7Tb/in2 areal density, new ordered-granular magnetic films will be needed as grains will get very small and tracks will get very narrow. But ordered-granular media is expected to be a relatively short stop before 'fully' bit patterned media (BPM) technology comes into play with an 8Tb/inch2 areal density.

"We see an opportunity to scale this design space with granular media into the range of 4 Tb/in2 to 6Tb/in2, at which point we plan to add patterning in one dimension through the use of ordered grain media," said John Morris, Chief Technology Officer of Seagate.

"This, we expect to be a steppingstone in media to open up the range of 5Tb/in2 to 7 Tb/in2. Then we will transition to fully patterned media to open up densities to 8Tb/in2 and even higher. With the areal density CAGR just introduced, we have a path to 10TB per disk by 2030. This then represents our outlook for technology limits over the next 10 to 15 years."

Boosting Performance

Advancing the capacity of hard drives at a rapid pace is important to keep Seagate's HDDs competitive, but capacity is only a part of the equation. Sequential read/write speeds, as well as random IOPS-per-TB performance, are also important. While read/write speeds are getting higher along with areal density, IOPS-per-TB performance drops as the capacity of hard drives increases. Datacenter operators want hard drives to offer more or less similar IOPS-per-TB performance since this affects their Quality-of-Service. If IOPS-per-TB declines, data centers have to mitigate it somehow, which requires additional investments.

A straightforward way to increase the IOPS-per-TB performance of an HDD is to use more than one actuator with read/write heads, and this is exactly what Seagate is set to do. Using two actuators instead of one can almost double throughput as well as IOPS-per-TB performance, which is tremendously important for data centers. Furthermore, doubling the number of actuators also halves the time Seagate needs to test a drive before shipping, as it is faster to inspect eight or nine platters using two independent actuators, which lowers costs.

For now, Seagate's dual actuator Mach.2 technology is used for experimental drives based on PMR that are available to dozens of customers, but it will eventually be used in commercially-available HAMR HDDs. When Seagate's nearline and enterprise hard drives hit capacities higher than 30TB, dual actuator technology will become a must-have feature in a bid to guarantee IOPS-per-TB performance on current (~16TB HDD) levels.

"Although Mach.2 is ramped and being used now, it is also really still in a technology-staging mode," said Fochtman. "When we reach capacity points above 30 terabytes, it will become a standard feature in many large data center environments."

Like all the other technologies, HDDs are getting more complex, and therefore manufacturing costs increase. Nonetheless, Seagate is confident that HDDs will be cheaper than SSDs on per-GB and TCO metrics for years to come.

"We believe that the TCO for hard disk drives and SSDs will stay approximately in equilibrium," said Morris. "Both SSDs and hard disk drives will continue to improve their value proposition, and storage demand for both will continue to grow. They are both critical enabling technologies for the growing datasphere, and their synergistic relationship in the data center infrastructure will persist."

Inventor of Cassette Tape Lou Ottens Passed Away
Jennifer Ruffalo

In the 1960s, Lou Ottens, then head of product development at the Belgian Hasselt branch of the Eindhoven company Philips, developed the cassette tape. In previous years, Ottens was annoyed with green and yellow tape recorders with the large reels and felt that something more user-friendly and especially something smaller should be replaced.

Hundred Billion

Ottens’ invention was a great success worldwide. More than 100 billion cassettes have been sold since its launch in 1963. But the bands disappeared after the release of the CD, which was developed twenty years later by the same Ottens together with a team of engineers. The CD also became a hit.

Decades later, Ottens told the Eindhovens Dagblad that in the 1960s he was completely unaware of the groundbreaking research he and his colleagues were doing. “Well, no. We were little boys who had fun playing. We didn’t feel like we were doing anything big. It was a kind of sport. ”


Later he was not really proud of his invention, he told NRC three years ago: “My pride has long since worn out. It was not a big event at the time either. You do not realize what comes of it. And you kept on going: the work never stopped. ”

Until next week,

- js.

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