DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

Drone manufacturer DJI launched a beta geofencing system last week called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO), designed to prevent drones from operating in areas restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. While DJI’s current flight limitation software stops drones from flying in restricted areas such as airports, the more dynamic GEO also enables updates to maps and restrictions based on unfolding events, including scheduled sports competitions or hazardous conditions like wildfires. Upon an event’s conclusion, maps can be updated again so that restrictions can be lifted. Continue reading DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

Amazon Debuts New Hybrid Prototype for its Prime Air Drones

Two years after it first announced its Prime Air drone project, Amazon has unveiled its latest UAV prototype, with plans to eventually deliver packages to customers in less than 30 minutes. In a video featuring former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson, a new hybrid design is introduced — a larger vehicle that is essentially part helicopter and part airplane. The drone can still take off and land vertically, but it can also shift to a horizontal flight mode with the capability of flying 55 mph for more than 15 miles. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Hybrid Prototype for its Prime Air Drones

Twitter Sues U.S. Government Over Surveillance Disclosures

Social network Twitter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government on Tuesday, seeking to bring more transparency to government surveillance. Twitter wants the government to ease restrictions on what tech companies can publicly disclose about the government’s national security-related requests for user data. The company alleges that these restrictions violate the company’s First Amendment rights. This is the latest in a series of battles over online national surveillance. Continue reading Twitter Sues U.S. Government Over Surveillance Disclosures

Amazon and Google Continue Their Plans for Drone Delivery

Google has joined Amazon in the race to deliver goods faster by small unmanned aircraft. The tech giant has had “Project Wing” in development for two years, but the company does not expect to build mini helicopter drones for another few years. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is still imposing restrictions on flying drones in the U.S., which could slow such plans. Amazon, however, may start drone delivery in India, which does not currently have drone regulations. Continue reading Amazon and Google Continue Their Plans for Drone Delivery

FCC Chair Tom Wheeler on the Power of Community Broadband

Tom Wheeler met this week with Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to discuss the power of networks in driving economic growth. In an FCC Blog post titled “Removing Barriers to Competitive Community Broadband,” Wheeler writes about Chattanooga’s history and Berke’s recognition that tomorrow’s economic growth will be reliant upon effective high-speed networks, which is why the city “invested in building out one of the nation’s most robust community broadband networks.” Continue reading FCC Chair Tom Wheeler on the Power of Community Broadband

Panel Recommends Obama Impose Restrictions on NSA Spying

A report by a panel of outside advisers has urged President Obama to place a number of restrictions on the NSA. Commissioned by President Obama back in August, the report is a response to the outrage inspired by Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing of the agency’s spying methods. The advisers are calling for greater congressional oversight and presidential approval for spying on national leaders. They also want to see the agency give up its cyber-spying on American hardware and software. Continue reading Panel Recommends Obama Impose Restrictions on NSA Spying

Could Removal of DRM Restrictions Actually Decrease Music Piracy?

  • New research from Rice and Duke universities challenges conventional wisdom by suggesting that the removal of digital rights management restrictions can actually decrease music piracy.
  • “Marketing professors Dinah Vernik of Rice and Devavrat Purohit and Preyas Desai of Duke used analytical modeling to examine how piracy is influenced by the presence or absence of DRM restrictions,” explains the press release. “They found that while these restrictions make piracy more costly and difficult, the restrictions also have a negative impact on legal users who have no intention of doing anything illegal.”
  • “In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” said Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”
  • According to the research paper, copyright owners don’t necessarily benefit from less piracy. “Decreased piracy doesn’t guarantee increased profits,” Purohit said. “In fact, our analysis demonstrates that under some conditions, one can observe lower levels of piracy and lower profits.”
  • The press release includes a compelling statement from the late Steve Jobs: “Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”