AT&T Loosens Facetime Restrictions
AT&T has announced that it will begin easing restrictions on the use of the iPhone Facetime video-calling application, enabling users on its LTE network to access the feature within the next 8 to 10 weeks. AT&T had previously stated that it would restrict Facetime use to customers on its Mobile Share plan. Although AT&T justified its restrictions as necessary to prevent the data-hungry application from overburdening its system, public interest groups alleged that the restrictions violate network neutrality regulations and vowed to file a complaint with the FCC if the restrictions remained in place. AT&T’s reversal came in response to these threats, although the groups maintain that since many users are still left without access to Facetime over AT&T’s older 3G cellular network, the new policy still falls short.
Apple and the Patent Wars
Speaking of Facetime, Apple was recently hit with a $368M judgment for using technology in its Facetime service that infringes domain name security and virtual private network patents held by VirnetX. VirnetX followed the victory by filing a new lawsuit to include Apple’s newly released products. Apple’s week got even worse when the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ordered Apply to pay Samsung’s legal fees after it published a “false and misleading notice” following the iPad design patent lawsuit in the UK.
Megaupload’s Continuing Legal Troubles
Following Kim Dotcom’s announcement of a follow-up to Megaupload called me.ga, authorities from the African nation of Gabon, which owns the .ga domain, have seized www.me.ga citing the desire to “protect intellectual property rights”. Kim Dotcom is currently in the process of defending himself against extradition to the United States where he faces charges of criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Dotcom tweeted that the seizure of the new domain name “demonstrates the bad faith witch hunt the US government is on.”
Australia’s Unfiltered Internet
Australia has formally abandoned its plan to filter its domestic Internet. Instead of implementing a comprehensive filter, officials say they will use Interpol’s “worst of” child abuse site list to prevent Australian internet users from accessing child abuse materials online. The filtering program had been criticized for being impractical and unworkable while potentially putting Australia in the same league as China when it comes to censorship. Rather than require new filtering legislation, the new policy will be implemented using existing telecommunication law.