Catch up on this week's tech and science news with the latest TowleTech from our correspondent Daniel Williford.
This week California Representative Lois Capps called on Congress to seriously consider the issue of Internet network neutrality, and to pass legislation that would ensure that major phone companies do not set up "tiered access" to the internet. "Objecting to the phone-company plans isn’t about protecting Google or other big Internet players. It’s about ensuring the next Google can emerge to compete with Google."
The Center for American Progress arranged a debate between two internet pioneers on the issue of net neutrality. David Faber, a computer scientist who was the creater of the first distributed computer system and who is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, suggested that there was not evidence of a problem that required legislation and that, furthermore, legislation could lead to censorship. Vinton Cerf, co-creater of the TCP/IP protocol who now works at Google, said that legislation was needed to prevent large phone companies from creating restricted access to online content.
According to a Bloomberg article, Internet content providers will continue to lobby for net-neutrality legislation, despite recent setbacks: The carriers [phone companies] won a 269-152 vote in the House of Representatives, and an 11-11 vote in the Senate Commerce Committee, rejecting the Web companies' bid for a ban on new fees. Google and other companies are still urging the full Senate to adopt the neutrality measure when sponsors try to revive it as early as September.
"We are not friends!" said Arnold Schwarzenegger to President Bush, in so many words, when he announced a $150 million loan today to CA's stem cell institute. "I remain committed to advancing stem cell research in California."
Amnesty International this week accused some of the biggest Internet-related companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google, of violating human rights by cooperating with governments to censor the Internet or track down individual users. The statement came with AI's latest project, Irrepressible.info, a "global campaign against Internet repression." The site asks users to sign a petition that will be presented at a UN meeting this fall that demands that governments and companies respect Internet freedom.
XM Radio launched two new players branded as the first portable satellite radio and MP3 player in one. The Samsung Helix and Pioneer Inno can access over 170 digital channels, and can record live songs and store them for repeated play. It can also store your own MP3 collection and can create playlists without accessing a computer program.
CinemaNow announced a new service that allows download-to-burn DVDs. So far they are offering about 100 popular major-studio films at 8.99 each, but they plan to add a much larger library.
"I see you, Andy." Yahoo Music is offering a download of Jessica Simpson's first single, "A Public Affair," that is personalized with the listener's name. Dozens of pre-recorded versions feature popular men's and women's names in the song, so all you have to do is locate your name and buy that version. If it invokes memories of those tacky junk shops that you went to on family vacations to some redneck resort town, well...yep.
The single is also making waves because it is one of the first by a major label that will be released in MP3 format without any encoded copyright restrictions. "We've been publicly trying to convince record labels that they should be selling MP3s for a while now," writes Yahoo Music blogger Ian Rogers.
Voice Over IP phone service provider Skype is launching several new WiFi cell phones that allow users to make calls on the go from any open WiFi Internet connection. This Netgear phone will be released this month, with several other models arriving in the next few months.
Visit our correspondent Daniel Williford at his blog, Until Today...