News in Brief

Net neutrality, Heartbleed revisited and an aircraft carrier for drones

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Net neutrality: Like a utility, or 'Obamacare for the Internet'?

President Barack Obama threw his weight behind the idea of classifying the Internet as a "common carrier," making it subject to regulation much like telephone and cable companies.

"We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas," Obama said in a web address and statement posted on the White House website. He said he had asked the Federal Communications Commission to "implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality."

Obama wants the FCC to classify broadband Internet under Title II of the 1996 Telecom Act, which would impose rules requiring ISPs to handle Internet traffic uniformly and bar them from slowing or blocking transmissions or using paid prioritization among users.

After its initial net neutrality rules to limit the practices were struck down by a federal court, the FCC has been developing new rules aimed at preventing ISPs from charging more for big data transmissions, establishing tiered data plans and implementing other free-market practices that critics say would scotch the flow of information over the Internet.

ISPs, however, say the networks they installed at their expense are being overtaken by data-hogging services that consume an inordinate amount of bandwidth.

Sen. Ted Cruz called the president's proposal "Obamacare for the Internet."

"The Internet should not operate at the speed of government," said the Texas Republican, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Researchers find flaws in Heartbleed response

Website administrators around the country did not follow through on important security measures in response to the OpenSSL flaw Heartbleed, according to a study led by University of Maryland researchers.

Of the more than 1 million U.S. websites analyzed by the research team, 93 percent had patched their software properly within three weeks of Heartbleed's discovery in early April. Just 13 percent, however, "followed up with other security measures needed to make the systems completely secure," the university said in publicizing the study.

Patching is important, but so is revoking and reissuing a website's certificate, which many of these administrators either did not do or were slow to do. The study also found a human element at play: there was a "drastic" decline in certificate revocations on weekends.

DARPA's vision for delivering UAVs

The Pentagon would like to use smaller unmanned aerial systems on long-range missions, Defense Systems reports, particularly missions that pose a threat to military personnel or large, expensive aircraft. The problem is getting those small UAVs there.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's possible solution? Retrofit existing large aircraft -- such as the C-130 transport plane or the B-52 bomber -- to "transport unmanned systems to their destination, send them off like so many fighters from an Imperial Star Destroyer and then collect them back on board after the mission."

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