Sunday, September 13, 2020

Stealing Lightning from the Sky: Telegraph and Misinformation 1850s

 A story from Reid's Telegraph in America (p. 216)

Near the town of Russellville, a Baptist preacher, of Campbellite proclivities, and not without talent, held forth semi - occasionally to the denizens of the region between Russellville and Pikeville. The country was wretchedly poor. In 1854 there had been an unusually long drought. In one of his sermons, while depicting with fervid oratory the general cussedness of the race, he exclaimed: "See there, my friends, out along the road thar a set of men have dared to interfere with the Almighty's lightning, and what, my friends, is the consequence? They have robbed the atmosphere of its electricity, the rains are checked, and there has not been a good crop since the wires were put up, and what's more, I believe we never will have any until they are gone." Curiously enough, a great many intelligent people encouraged and not a few believed the preacher's philosophy. Immediately, a wild excitement spread. It was difficult, to be sure, to connect a thread of iron running through the air with the parched soil and the famished land. But the very mystery made the belief take root. The wire was the devil's turnpike, sure. And so down went the poles by the dozen, and away went the wire by the mile, dragged by an angry and excited mob through Russellville, in triumphant avengement of their wrongs. It was difficult to know what to do in such a case. Dr. Green once thought to try my powers over the people, but, as I had by this time settled at Philadelphia, he decided to go himself. His Superintendent, in 1854, was A. E. Trabue, a lively character and a genius. He is known to the craft as the author of "Short Cirkut." Picking him up at Nashville, on his way south, the first movement made was an aggressive one, and, although the telegraph protection law had been abrogated, about a dozen of the ringleaders were arrested and put in jail at Pikeville. But it did not do much good. The jail at Pikeville was a kind of chicken coup, which the imprisoned men easily lifted by the corner, upset, and escaped. Trabue now suggested a barbecue, hired a big room, bought a good - sized pig for a roast, a few turkeys and other jim - jams, which need not be mentioned, hired a couple of expert fiddlers and invited everybody to a dance. The whole population turned out, and it looked like a grand success. The mirth and fun "grew fast and furious. "Trabue, to be sure, was knocked through the back door, down the hill, by a buxom widow who had danced him blind, but the dance, even with this deduction, was a success.


So long, however, as the rain delayed to fall, the influence of the Baptist preacher's theology kept the hostility to the wires alive. The repairer of the region recommended war. His name was Nipe. He and Trabue concocted a scheme by which Nipe was suddenly to disappear, and his clothes were to be found, torn and bloody. On this evidence of murder, a number of arrests were to be made, and the prospect of a general hanging held out. So thoroughly in earnest was Trabue, that the project was referred to the executive at Louisville. But Nipe's murder was forbidden. It was on this trip that Dr. Green first met his future Superintendent, Van Horne, detecting, beneath his quiet exterior, the qualities which have since distinguished him as a man and officer, and led to his present elevated and responsible trust. The year following, Van Horne was Superintendent. He and Bart. Brady, my old and faithful foreman of repairs, changed the programme for the treatment of the mountaineers. George V. Rutherford, an ingenious, humorous and politic man, well - known in telegraphic circles, and who died August 28, 1876, at St. Helena, Cal., was stationed at Russellville. As soon as the circuit was found to be broken, it was quietly and quickly restored, when possible, at night, and utter silence maintained. Finally, by aid of one of those ubiquitous men, who are everywhere and know everything, Van Horne ascertained that a man of ability, and not unknown in the State Senate, had organized a kind of Ku - Klux band to keep the line down. His speech at the meeting, and the time of the proposed first raid were fully reported. Van Horne and Brady put up, near the proposed spot of the attack, provided with a quantity of small wire. At the appointed time, true to the information received, the circuit was gone, and some miles of the wire quickly removed. The leader of the movement cunningly remained at home. Allowing time for the departure of the raiders, the new wire was speedily and quietly strung. Shortly afterward, at a great sale, where a crowd of men had gathered, all, as was customary, carrying guns, Van Horne saw the leader there and had him publicly arrested. A State law, by this time, had been passed, making interference with the wires a criminal offense. At his examination, the leader was astonished at the evidence against him, and which Van Horne skillfully confirmed by his own men. This prompt and vigorous action, a politic treatment of other offenders, the coming of abundant rain and good crops, at last brought peace, the wires had rest, and were soon after removed to the railroad.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

1999 :: July 12th :: The Last Morse Radio Station

The Ship-to-shore telegraph radio station, KFS, at Half Moon Bay, California, goes offline - disrupted by satellite technology.  KPH, which is currently a NPS museum, went offline June 30th, 1997.

Cybertelecom :: History Telegraph

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Old School Rick Whitt

Old School Goes Online: Exploring Fiduciary Obligations of Care and Loyalty in the Platforms Era

36 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2019

Richard S. Whitt

GLIA Foundation

Date Written: July 26, 2019


The concept of information fiduciaries has received considerable attention in recent years, as one way to impose greater societal obligations on Web-based entities. This paper seeks to probe the information fiduciaries concept, as a useful entrée into a broader discussion of how to bring longstanding legal institutions into the online digital world.

This paper has five primary objectives. First, it will describe the information fiduciary (IF) model, as laid out by scholars Jack Balkin and Jonathan Zittrain, and criticized recently by Lina Khan and David Pozen. Second, it will undertake a deeper dive into the basics of the common law of fiduciary obligations, including the twin duties of care and of loyalty. Third, the paper will examine the information fiduciaries concept from the standpoint of traditional common law and modern-day commentary.

Fourth, the paper will explore a proposed alternative legal model, the "digital trustmediary" (or DTM), with entrusted entities voluntarily acting under a heightened fiduciary duty of loyalty to their clients. This DTM model will be posited as a viable response to the current Web ecosystem, which is presided over by online platforms extracting and analyzing end user data in the absence of express fiduciary obligations.

The paper concludes by suggesting ways to meld together the two different but complementary fiduciary approaches in the context of Web-based entities. Consistent with the author's prior written work on functional openness, the overarching intention is to breathe productive new life into old school legal doctrines.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Policy Forum: Privacy in the World of Internet of Things

May 29, 2019

12:00 P.M. - 2:30 P.M.


Please join AT&T and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh for an in-depth discussion on one of the most challenging issues consumers and businesses face in a world of smartphones, wearables and other internet-connected devices—privacy.

The event will include welcome remarks from Tom Moore, Chief Privacy Officer, AT&T and a keynote presentation from Investigative Reporter and Ted Talks Award Winner, Kashmir Hill.

A privacy panel will follow and will be moderated by Courtney Linder, Business Technology Reporter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Panel participants include the following industry experts.

  • Lorrie Cranor, Director and Bosch Distinguished Professor in Security and Privacy Technologies, CyLab, FORE Systems Professor of Computer Science and of Engineering & Public Policy, CMU
  • Stacey Gray, Privacy Counsel, Future of Privacy Forum
  • Jorge Guajardo Merchan, Principal Scientist & Manager Security and Privacy Research Group; Robert Bosch LLC - Research and Technology Center North America
  • Jason Hong, Professor, School of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction Institute, CyLab Researcher, CMU
  • Omar Khawaja, Vice President & CISO, Pittsburgh, Highmark Health

Be sure to visit for any updates.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019
1:00–2:30 p.m. EST

Registration and lunch begin at 12:00 p.m. EST.


Carnegie Mellon University
Tepper Quad
Simmons Auditorium

4765 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


The event will be live streamed, details will follow by email for registrants.


Photographs and video may be taken by AT&T at this event. By attending, you consent to AT&T's use of any photographs or video in external and internal AT&T communications concerning this event.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Broadband Pilot Program-ReConnect Program

Fed Reg Notice

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced its general policy and application procedures for funding under the eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) in a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and solicitation of applications on December 14, 2018 in the Federal Register and amended the application window closing dates in a notice published on February 25, 2019 in the Federal Register. The Reconnect Program will provide loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. This Notice announces the opening date for the ReConnect Program application windows.

FCC Renews Tech Advisory Committee, Fed Reg Notice

On April 16, 2019, the General Services Administration approved renewal of the charter of the Committee pursuant to provisions of the FACA. The Commission intends to renew the charter on or before May 17, 2019 and provide the Committee with authorization to operate for two years from the effective date.

Rapid advances in technology have resulted in innovations in how telecommunications services are provided to, and are accessed by, users of those services. Many of these advances are increasing the rate of convergence among categories of services that have traditionally been viewed as distinct, such as cable television services, telephony, data services, and internet services. Regulations must be examined in light of these technology advances, and the Commission must remain abreast of new developments in technology so that it can effectively fulfill its responsibilities under the Communications Act.....

Friday, February 22, 2019

FTC Announces Agenda for the Tenth Session of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

FTC Announces Agenda for the Tenth Session of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

March 20 Hearing will examine competition and consumer protection issues in broadband markets

February 22, 2019

The Federal Trade Commission today announced the agenda for the tenth session of its Hearings Initiative. The session, focused on competition and consumer protection issues in broadband markets, will take place on March 20, 2019 at the Constitution Center Auditorium at 400 7th St., SW, Washington D.C. The hearing originally was scheduled for January 16, 2019, but was postponed due to the government shutdown.

The hearing will examine developments in U.S. broadband markets, technology, and law since the FTC staff's 2007Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy report and the FTC staff's 1996 Competition Policy in the New High-Tech, Global Marketplace report. Participants in the hearing will discuss: (i) the evolution of broadband networking and broadband markets since the 2007 Broadband Report; (ii) the identification and evaluation of advertising claims by internet service providers with respect to the delivery speed of content; and (iii) the identification and evaluation of conduct by broadband market participants that may be exclusionary or anticompetitive.

As previously announced, the Commission invites public comment on these issues, including the questions listed below. The comment-filing deadline has been extended: comments should be submitted online by 11:59 pm EDT, May 31, 2019.

  1. The FTC's 2007 Broadband Report provided a technical background of broadband market issues relevant at that time. How should the Commission evaluate broadband technology issues now? Which technological developments are important for understanding the competitiveness of the industry? How would technological developments likely to occur in the near future impact the competitiveness of broadband markets, or otherwise affect consumer interests?
  2. How should the Commission define relevant markets in this industry? How should the Commission identify and measure market power of content providers, content delivery networks, internet transit providers, internet service providers, and other relevant market actors?
  3. How should the Commission identify and evaluate conduct in this industry that may be exclusionary or anticompetitive, including but not limited to discounting and preferential pricing, contracts and agreements between firms in vertical relationships, and conduct that may undermine or discriminate against rivals? Under what conditions does such conduct harm consumers? Under what conditions is conduct that may exclude or discriminate against rivals also associated with short-run or long-run efficiencies or consumer benefits?  
  4. Do existing local, state, or federal regulations affect different market participants in ways that limit competition and innovation?
  5. What are the existing standards, if any, regarding how actual internet speeds correspond to advertised internet speeds? Are such standards relevant to an FTC analysis under Section 5?
  6. What tools, platforms, and research are used to measure the speed of broadband and related services? Are they adequate for the FTC's analysis of speed claims? If not, what additional resources are needed? Do competitors rely on data from these sources in challenging each other's speed claims? 
  7. How can consumers or other stakeholders determine whether actual internet speeds match advertised speeds?
  8. Do existing methods of advertising internet speed adequately inform consumers about their choices for broadband and telecommunications services?