Popping the Bubble #7: net neutrality, Uber hack, and more

Reena Mathews’s “Popping the Bubble” is a series in which she covers some of the biggest news of the past two weeks. This week’s installment marks the seventh chapter of this biweekly series.


Net Neutrality

If you’ve ventured anywhere near any social media, you’ve likely already caught wind of the net neutrality battle. While net neutrality has been in the news several times over the past few years, it has recently exploded onto the surface of mainstream media.

In 2015, the FCC made broadband internet a Title II; this meant it was a utility, in turn allowing legislation to stop internet providers from exerting control over broadband speeds to prevent them from favoring specific websites or companies over others. Then in May, the chairman of the FCC released a notice that proposed overturning the 2015 decision.

There was an outpour of backlash, and recently the concern has proliferated on the Internet. As the Dec 14 vote steadily grows closer, frantic millennials have taken to their social media accounts to strongly voice their disapproval of ending net neutrality. Regardless, the FCC is continuing to move forward. The FCC wishes to end the government’s “micromanagement” of the Internet and instead require that service providers are “transparent about their practices.” The plan is to return broadband internet back to Title I status, promptly destroying net neutrality.

It is quite plausible that the plan will pass in a 3 to 2 vote, a very disheartening outcome. The chairman of the FCC argues that in the event that companies don’t please the people as they wield their new found freedom, the market will supposedly edge the company out. However, this is a thoroughly flawed argument. All across America, there are very limited choices when it comes to ISPs; a limited market gives the consumer little to no power. Consequently, in this event, there would likely be next to nothing consumers could do about the situation.

I can only hope that by some miracle, net neutrality is preserved. I agree, the government’s power should be limited. But we live in a country filled to the brim with money-hungry companies– companies that need to be reigned in by government restrictions.

Uber Hack

Last week, Uber admitted that in October of 2016, hackers stole data from 57 million users and drivers. Reportedly, two hackers got ahold of login credentials, allowing them access to data on Uber’s Amazon Web Services account. The names, email addresses, phone numbers, and more of 50 million Uber users were obtained. Moreover, personal information of about 7 million drivers, including around 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers, was also stolen. However, Uber reported that no social security numbers, credit card information, trip location details, or other data were compromised.

Uber claims that at the time of the security breach, immediate action was taken to secure data and block more unauthorized access. Furthermore, Uber identified the hackers and ensured the stolen data was destroyed. They then proceeded to implement more security measures on their storage accounts in order to prevent a similar incident from repeating.

And while this hack doesn’t sound necessarily horrendous or world-shattering, Uber’s negligence to alert the public until over a year after the attack has raised some suspicion. There are state and federal laws in place that legally require companies to report data breaches, yet they failed to do so.

It appears that Uber finally announced the hacking because of a change in leadership. After finding out about the breach, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi investigated, fired several employees, and reported the incident to the public.

North Korea’s highest ever ballistic missile

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile landed in Japanese waters, reaching an altitude of 2,800 miles. The several weapons tests North Korea has been performing have continued to cultivate tension, and this one is no exception, as it appears to be North Korea’s highest ever missile.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the missile had the ability to travel over 13,000 km, meaning it would potentially be able to reach any part of the continental U.S. Nevertheless, they reported that the missile had a very light mock warhead and as a result, would likely be unable to carry a nuclear warhead over such a far distance.

Reports from Japan stated that the missile traveled for around 50 minutes, landing approximately 250 km off the northern coast. While it did not soar over Japan, they were still unhappy with North Korea’s “continuous provocative behavior.”

South Korea also expressed their disapproval of the launch, and the EU described the launch as a “further unacceptable violation” of North Korea’s expectations. Finally, British ambassador for the UN denounced the launch as a “reckless act.”

Trump’s response has been that he will handle it. The manner in which he chooses to “handle it” remains uncertain.

Bitcoin exceeds $10,000

To end with some lighter news, the value of one bitcoin very recently exceeded $10,000. This is quite the momentous milestone for the virtual currency. As of now, all bitcoins in existence have a total value of over $167bn.

The root of the recent upsurge in value remains unknown, and experts believe bitcoin has the potential to continue to skyrocket.

Bitcoin is certainly thriving; let’s hope the rest of the world can indulge in a little share of that prosperity in the next two weeks.