Webpass, Owned by Google Fiber, No Longer in Boston

Webpass, Owned by Google Fiber, No Longer in Boston

Google Fiber appears to be slowing its progress as its Webpass service has suddenly left Boston.

Webpass, which was bought by Google Fiber back in 2016, is now no longer taking in new customers in Boston, according to the Verge, as Webpass “winds down” in the area. The Webpass service was only offered in apartments and condos.

This news comes after a long stretch of reports about Google Fiber’s slowing expansion. As far back as 2016, NPR reported that Google Fiber would not be expanding to any more cities, staying only in the areas it had already been released. At this point, there was already talk about Google Fiber’s struggles with cost issues and lofty goals. Then in March of last year, installations were cancelled in Kansas City (Google Fiber’s first location). Now, articles like the most recent from The Verge suggest Google Fiber really is slowing its expansion dramatically—even going backwards, dropping to one fewer city.

Google Fiber, as you may know, is Google’s effort to release extremely fast and affordable internet that competes with the big providers. It offers speeds of up to a thousand megabits per second, no rental fees, and low pricing for some. When it was initially promoted and then released, it generated a lot of news and excitement from the people in cities that would potentially get access.

However, Google Fiber has also been in the news more recently for not so great reasons. Aside from reports of a slow in the service’s growth, other stories have made the rounds. In January of this year, Fiber’s vice president of communications and policy left Fiber to move over to Niantic (most well-known for Pokemon Go).

The news about Webpass’ exit from Boston is not the kind of news Google Fiber’s potential future customers want to hear. However, The Verge does note that the other seven Webpass cities likely have nothing to worry about, as there don’t seem to be plans to pull out of other cities at this time.

Google Home and Chromecast Devices Caused Wi-Fi Issues

Google Home and Chromecast Devices Caused Wi-Fi Issues

If you use Google Home or Chromecast, you may have been experiencing issues with your wi-fi because of it.

People were initially reporting problems several days ago when owners of the Google Home Max and the TP-Link Archer C7 router were dealing with their wi-fi crashing while their Google Home Max was in use. TP-Link fixed the problem, according to Gizmodo, but it quickly became clear that the problem wasn’t just with Google Home Max or the Archer C7 router. People using other devices, like Chromecast, were experiencing the issue as well.

The issue, as Gizmodo explains, is that when these Google devices were woken, they were sending packets of data that sometimes made the routers crash. The amount of data sent at one time grew the longer the Google device was inactive before being turned back on.

Google addressed the issue through a Google Home Help post, explaining what was happening. People using an Android device and a device like Chromecast or Google Home on the same wi-fi network were affected by the wi-fi crash issue. This is because the issue was with the Cast software specifically on Android devices, not with the Google Home Max or TP-Link routers as it previously had seemed.

Google noted they would be releasing a fix for the problem right away. An update was scheduled for Google Play services on the 18th of this month. According to Android Police, a beta update has now started rolling out. At this point, the article mentions, some users are saying the update has fixed the issue, while others are still not seeing any improvement even after updating.

If you want to try the beta update, you can do so by becoming a tester. Or if you’d rather wait for an update to the public version of Google Play services, Google has suggested that anyone having the wi-fi crash issue should restart their Android device and then make sure their router is up to date.

Internet 101: Overview of security basics

Internet 101: Overview of security basics

Recently, Wombat Security Technologies surveyed 2,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. to see how secure their online habits were, and measure the average level of knowledge about online risks. The results were disappointing (though perhaps not to companies who specialize in online security training, like Wombat Security). Wombat vice president of marketing Amy Baker states, “We often find that those of us who work in cyber security overestimate the knowledge the general public has on cyber security risks and basic secure behaviors.”

Two-thirds of those surveyed didn’t know what ransomware is, and nearly one-third didn’t know what phishing is. Half of the U.S. group had been victims of identity theft. Considering the abundance of online threats that have sprung up seemingly overnight, including the unprecedented WannaCry attacks and the Petya virus in May, maybe a refresher of online security terms and best practices is in order.

First things first. There is no need to panic. Most of the attacks are targeted at large corporations. Most, but not all. There are still plenty of scams and threats for those who are vulnerable. Online criminals are just like real-world criminals: opportunists. If you leave your valuables in plain sight in an unlocked car, they probably won’t be there when you come back. If you hide them and lock the doors, chances are good that thieves won’t bother you.

Keeping your online accounts and files secure is never a sure thing, but there is plenty you can do to lower your risks. If you at least make yourself a difficult target, thieves will most likely move on to easier pickings.

Basic security terms

Malware

Malware is an umbrella term to describe any software or program designed to damage computers or files. Viruses, trojans, spyware, and ransomware are all malware.

Ransomware refers to software attacks that take your files ransom: your files are encrypted, and you get a message with instructions to send payment to an untraceable account to regain access. Most attacks have been to companies and government servers, and individuals are at a low risk of attack. Unencrypting the files rather than paying the ransom hasn’t been successful and even paying does not guarantee you will get access to your files back. The best protection is prevention. Backing up your important files in a separate location (an external hard drive or a password protected cloud account) is already something everyone should be doing, but that many do not. Windows has issued a patch to secure the breach that was being exploited, so if you have a computer running Windows and have installed all available updates, you are not vulnerable to WannaCry.

Viruses are malware that spread rapidly by attaching themselves to other files.

Trojans are malware that looks like normal software. A Trojan lets other malware in.

Spyware doesn’t interfere—it records what you do, including passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive information.

Adware isn’t inherently malicious, though targeted ads, spam, and popups can make you feel attacked. And adware has to get through your security, leaving holes for other malware.

Phishing

Phishing refers to any scam where the scammer contacts you to try to get information or money. It could be on the phone, through email, through social media, or a website. It may be obvious (asking for information or to wire transfer money), or more subtle (clicking a link or installing/downloading a file, which then collects the information or transfers the funds).

To see examples of phishing, visit Microsoft support.

Facebook hackers

Sometimes your friends are not your friends: Facebook accounts regularly get hacked, and then the hacker can trade on the trust between friends to spread scams. Often the owner of the compromised account doesn’t even know what is happening. If a friend is posting links that seem out of the ordinary or making offers that promise free money or goods, it may be worthwhile to contact your friend offline to see if they are really behind the posts.

Mobile devices

The term “mobile device” doesn’t just refer to your smartphone. The growing “Internet of Things” includes smart watches and Fitbits, tablets, home networks and security, smart TVs, cameras—even refrigerators; anything that is connected to the internet or a network and isn’t an actual laptop or desktop computer is a mobile device. The problem with mobile devices (especially older ones) is that security updates are often neglected, or non-existent. Software companies are stepping up their security game with these smaller devices as attacks increase, but as with any new technology, it takes time to work out the kinks. Meanwhile, it is better to save your information sensitive transactions for your more secure devices.

Firewalls

According to Microsoft, “a firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet.”

What can you do?

Use passwords. This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it: use passwords.

Choose a secure password—use numbers, symbols, and capital letters, and for the love of Pete, don’t use your name, birthday, or “password.”

Use different passwords—if a hacker does get into one of your accounts, that’s bad. If they have all of your accounts, that’s worse. Don’t make it easy for them.

Don’t share your password. Just because you trust someone doesn’t mean they are trustworthy. But it also doesn’t mean that they will be as careful with your accounts as you would be.

Only conduct business on secure Wi-Fi connections.

Public connections (hotels, coffee shops, airports) aren’t secure just because the business is one you trust. Places with a password that you need to get from the clerk (or that is printed on a receipt) are a little better than those with an open network (no password needed), but it’s better to wait till you are in a secure connection to send sensitive emails or do your online shopping.

Regularly update your software.

I’m as guilty as the next person of putting off that “update required” notification, but procrastination can get you in trouble: security teams who are keeping up with weaknesses in their software need you to install their patches, or you don’t benefit from their services., and it is usually something the software developer has developed and update to fix, meaning that those not updating regularly are at risk. The patches to stop the WannaCry attacks were available in March. “This isn’t rocket science; it’s an oil change,” comments David Venable, a former intelligence officer with the US National Security Agency.

If something seems too good to be true, be suspicious and do your homework

Don’t call me, I’ll call you: Don’t share personal info with anyone who contacts you; tell them you will contact them with the deets. This includes spam emails: if you didn’t solicit an email, or don’t know the person who sent it, don’t open attachments. This is how many viruses spread. Even if you do know the person who sent it, exercise caution. Email accounts can get hacked.

Never, ever wire transfer money to someone you don’t know in person, and can’t talk to on the phone. The same goes for giving out your credit card number. When shopping online, companies like eBay and Amazon offer protections and refunds if your goods never show up, and PayPal does too—not to mention that the payment can be can be tracked if something fishy happens, and individuals don’t have access to your account information.

Only download files from trusted sites. Your anti-virus software can only do so much.

Make sure you have firewalls and antivirus software installed and updated

AVG currently has some of the best free antivirus software. Or you can pay a little for more advanced security. You can even get security for your smartphone.

Cat has picture taken by phone security

I can haz credit card number?

Cat tries to unlock phone: https://imgur.com/ZfFg47qIf you have a computer that runs Windows Vista or newer OS, you have a firewall installed and running by default. For other operating systems, you should check with the provider to see if you are protected.

Backup

An external hard drive or secure, password-protected cloud storage should be a regular part of your internet security plan. If your computer files do get corrupted, either maliciously or not, having separate copy means you won’t lose everything. But the key word is “separate”: leaving your external hard-drive connected to your computer network defeats the purpose.

Change your Wi-Fi network name and password: a step-by-step guide

Change your Wi-Fi network name and password: a step-by-step guide

We’ve all been there: you get internet service set up, and the default Wi-Fi name is something generic and forgettable, while the password is the opposite, being so unique that no one could ever remember it. If you don’t want to be known on your block by your Internet Provider or don’t want to type in 10 to 20 random alphanumeric characters every time you sign on a new device, it’s time to learn how to change your user name and password.

Default name and password

This name and password assigned to you when you got your modem or gateway (a modem/router combo) is important, and is almost always somewhere you won’t lose it: printed on the bottom or side of the device. You will need this to connect the first time, and to log onto your online Wi-Fi manager to change your settings. If you have changed the name/password and forgotten what they are, you need to reset the gateway to the factory default settings by pressing the “reset” button on the back for at least 10 seconds.

Find your IP address

Your IP is a string of numbers separated by periods. For all three gateways provided by Easy Internet Now (Pace 5268ac, Motorola NVG589, and Arris BGW210) the IP is:

192.168.1.254

If you have a different modem or gateway, finding your IP is easy. If it isn’t printed on your device along with your default name and password, or inside the manual that comes with the device, you can find it quickly on your computer.

For Windows:

  1. Type “Command Prompt” in the search bar of your Start Menu, and then click to open.
  2. Type “ipconfig” and press Enter.
  3. Your IP address will be located under “Wireless LAN,” beside “Default Gateway.”

For Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu, and select System Preferences.
  2. Select Network.
  3. Select Advanced.
  4. Select the TCP/IP tab.
  5. Your IP address will be beside Router.

(Thanks to How-to Geek for the Mac info!)

Some terms to know:

  • Your Wi-Fi name will likely be called your “Network ID,” “SSID,” or some combination of the two.
  • Your password will probably be called your “Network Key,” “Passkey,” “Security Key,” “WPA-PSK key,” or some combination.

Go to your online Wi-Fi manager:

You need to access your settings online and can do so using your IP address.

IP address in the address bar

  1. Paste or type your IP address in the search bar of an internet browser and press enter.
  2. Enter your default user name and password (printed on your modem/gateway) if prompted.

From here, exact instructions will depend upon the modem or gateway you have. However, your security settings must be set to WPA-PSK to change your network name. Security settings are usually located within the same tab or link to change your password and network name.

Pace 5268ac gateway:

Manual (page 17, 18):

  1. Select the Settings tab.
  2. Select the LAN tab.
  3. Select Wireless.
  4. Enter your new network name in the field titled Network Name (SSID).
  5. Select Use Custom Wireless Network Key.
  6. Enter your new password.
  7. Make setting selections for both your User SSID and your Guest SSID. (The Guest network allows you to provide your guest’s Wi-Fi without having to provide access to your personal connection or password. There are multiple radio bands within each network, and each radio band—2.4 GHz or 5 GHz—should be named the same as the others within that network—User or Guest).
  8. Select Save.

    https://setuprouter.com/router/motorola/nvg589/manual-1741.pdf

NVG589 gateway:

Manual (page 46-48)

  1. Your default user name will be “Admin,” and your default password will be a unique phrase or string of letters and numbers printed on the gateway.
  2. Select Modify your Wireless security or settings from the list of Common Tasks on the right side of the page.
  3. Enter your new network name in the field titled Network Name (SSID).
  4. Ensure your Security setting is WPA-PSK in the drop-down box (this should be the default).
  5. Enter your new password in the field titled Key.
  6. Select Save.

BGW 210 gateway:

This router doesn’t have a user manual, but the AT&T support page provides information on how to access your settings.

  1. Enter your IP address in the search bar and press enter.
  2. Select Home Network.
  3. Select Wi-Fi.
  4. Enter your Device Access Code in the Access Code field as it is printed on your device.
  5. Select Continue.
  6. Select 2.4 or 5 GHz radio from the Radio Selection box. (Your gateway has multiple radio bands and will choose the one with the best signal on a case-by-case basis. You can assign names to each of them, but for the best functionality, they should have the same name).
  7. Make setting selections for both your User SSID and your Guest SSID. (The Guest network allows you to provide your guest’s Wi-Fi without having to provide access to your personal connection or password. There are multiple radio bands within each network, and each radio band—2.4 GHz or 5 GHz—should be named the same as the others within that same network—Home or Guest).
  8. Turn on User SSID Enable.
  9. Enter your new network name in the Network Name (SSID) box.
  10. Ensure security is set to WPA-PSK.
  11. Enter your new password in the Password box.
  12. Select Save.

Changing your network name and password is pretty easy, once you know where to look for the options. But what should I change it to? I can’t really tell you that. Your password should be easy to remember but hard to guess and contain numbers and special characters. Buzzfeed has some funny, nerdy ideas for names if you don’t want to use your own (like “This one, Nana,” or “Pretty Fly For a WiFi”).

funny Wi-Fi names

Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/no-more-free-wifi?utm_term=.rq5BW0Gpb#.sp64A0RWD

 

Have a great idea for a funny network name? Tweet at me!

@easyinternetnow

@willreadforfood

 

AT&T and Cox have introduced 1 terabyte data caps for their customers on most plans.

AT&T and Cox have introduced 1 terabyte data caps for their customers on most plans.

1 terabyte is a lot: that’s 1000 gigabytes, and will be plenty of data for some customers, while some may need larger amounts. Cord cutters who consume a lot of HD video may fall into that category, and an additional 50GB of data costs $10.

Don’t know if you can be a cord cutter on 1 terabyte? Cord Cutters News has a guide.

Of course, gaming can use a lot of data, or hardly any, depending on what you are playing. Downloading files, games, patches, and DLC uses a lot of data. Surfing the web uses varying amounts of data, especially if you are on YouTube or an image-heavy site like Facebook or Instagram. Even streaming audio can use more data than you expect if it’s high-fidelity audio. Skype or other Voice over Internet Protocols (like chatting on Xbox Live or PlayStation) can use up data quickly too. This handy article by nbnco.com expands on that.

Everyone’s internet usage patterns are different, and it’s hard to tell you how much you need without taking lots of things into account. So you have 3 options:

1: Track your data usage over time. This is the most accurate way to tell what you are really using, especially if you are looking at several months of data use. I recommend at least 3. Check with your service provider to see if your records are available.

2: Need internet now, and don’t have time to compile the numbers? You can try to estimate what you use. This is going to mean some research and some generous estimations. How much time do you spend streaming videos? No really, how much? How much time on online games? How much time on social media? Keep in mind this is a daily average, and this is for everyone in your family, not just you. So unless you are keeping a close eye on everyone, chances are that you don’t really know.

3: Just find a provider that doesn’t cap data. This is what I would do—and I bet you know which company I would choose, don’t you? (You don’t? Easy Internet Now, of course!) But here’s why:

  • Easy Internet Now has low prices. Think you have to pay a bunch to get a fast, reliable, unlimited connection? Nope.
  • You get a free modem. Say what now? I like free. Free is good.
  • In the internet age, this shouldn’t have to be difficult. Easy Internet Now is easy to contact, easy to set up service with, easy to get support from. It’s part of the name for a reason.
  • AND NO DATA CAPS! The only caps are when I use CAPS LOCK (HIGH FIVE FOR THE AWESOME JOKE! Come on, don’t leave me hanging!)
  • Easy Internet Now uses the same network as AT&T. This is because we buy wholesale and re-sell, but without a lot of the strings and unpleasantness of a larger company. We’re proud to be a middleman!
  • You don’t need a contract or a credit check. This is a prepaid setup. Services for payment. Easy peasy.

Cox service area that will get the data cap (the names in bold are areas also served by Easy Internet Now:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Las Vegas
  • Louisiana
  • Oklahoma
  • Omaha, NE
  • Sun Valley, ID

AT&T and Easy Internet Now service area:

  • Alabama
    Map showing service area for Easy Internet Now

    Easy Internet Now service coverage

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

So by now, I hope you know that if you are getting a data cap, there’s no need to panic. Just assess your internet needs, and if you need to switch, there are options. Option. There is one option. No more. (Easy Internet Now, I mean).

 

The heavy price we pay for ‘free’ Wi-Fi

Benjamin Dean, Columbia University

For many years, New York City has been developing a “free” public Wi-Fi project. Called LinkNYC, it is an ambitious effort to bring wireless Internet access to all of the city’s residents. The Conversation

This is the latest in a longstanding trend in which companies offer ostensibly free Internet-related products and services, such as social network access on Facebook, search and email from Google or the free Wi-Fi now commonly provided in cafes, shopping malls and airports.

These free services, however, come at a cost. Use is free on the condition that the companies providing the service can collect, store and analyze users’ valuable personal, locational and behavioral data.

This practice carries with it poorly appreciated privacy risks and an opaque exchange of valuable data for very little.

Is free public Wi-Fi, or any of these other services, really worth it?

Origins of LinkNYC

New York City began exploring a free public Wi-Fi network back in 2012 to replace its aging public phone system and called for proposals two years later.

The winning bid came from CityBridge, a partnership of four companies including advertising firm Titan and designer Control Group.

Their proposal involved building a network of 10,000 kiosks (dubbed “links”) throughout the city that would be outfitted with high-speed Wi-Fi routers to provide Internet, free phone calls within the U.S., a cellphone charging station and a touchscreen map.

Recently, Google created a company called Sidewalk Labs, which snapped up Titan and Control Group and merged them.

Google, a company whose business model is all about collecting our data, thus became a key player in the entity that will provide NYC with free Wi-Fi.

How free is ‘free’?

Like many free Internet products and services, the LinkNYC will be supported by advertising revenue.

LinkNYC is expected to generate about US$500 million in advertising revenue for New York City over the next 12 years from the display of digital ads on the kiosks’ sides and via people’s cellphones. The model works by providing free access in exchange for users’ personal and behavioral data, which are then used to target ads to them.

Yet LinkNYC’s privacy policy doesn’t actually use the word “advertising,” preferring instead to vaguely state it “may use your information, including Personally Identifiable Information,” to provide information about goods or services of interest.

It also isn’t clear the extent to which the network could be used to track people’s location.

Titan previously made headlines in 2014 after installing Bluetooth beacons in over 100 pay phone booths, for the purpose of testing the technology, without the city’s permission. Titan was subsequently ordered to remove them.

But the beacons are back as part of the LinkNYC contract, though users have to choose to opt in to the location services. The beacons allow targeted ads to be delivered to cellphones as people pass the hotspots, but their use isn’t spelled out in the privacy policy.

After close examination, it becomes evident that far from being free, use of LinkNYC comes with the price of mandatory collection of potentially sensitive personal, locational and behavioral data.

This is all standard practice in the terms of use and privacy policies for free Internet-based products and services. Can we really consider this to be a fully informed agreement and transparent exchange when the actual uses of the data, and the privacy and security implications of these uses, are not clear?

A privacy paradox

People’s widespread use of products and services with these data collection and privacy infringing practices is curiously at odds with what they say they are willing to tolerate in studies.

Surveys consistently show that people value their privacy. In a recent Pew survey, 93 percent of adults said that being in control of who can get information about them is important, and 90 percent said the same about what information is collected.

In experiments, people quote high prices for which they would be willing to sell their data. For instance, in a 2005 study in the U.K., respondents said they would sell one month’s access to their location (via a cellphone) for an average of £27.40 (about US$50 based on the exchange rate at the time or $60 in inflation-adjusted terms). The figure went up even higher when subjects were told third party companies would be interested in using the data.

In practice, though, people trade away their personal and behavioral data for very little. This privacy paradox is on full display in the free Wi-Fi example.

Breaking down the economics of LinkNYC’s business model, recall that an estimated $500 million in total ad revenue will be collected over 12 years. With 10,000 Links, and approximately eight million people in New York City, the monthly revenue per person per link is $0.000043.

Fractions of a cent. This is the indirect valuation that users accept from advertisers in exchange for their personal, locational and behavioral data when using the LinkNYC service. Compare that with the value U.K respondents put on their locational data alone.

How to explain this paradoxical situation? In valuing their data in experiments, people are usually given the full context of what information will be collected and how it will be used.

In real life, though, a lot of people don’t read the terms of use or privacy policy. Those that do are not always able to understand what these documents are saying owing partly to the legalese used and partly to the intentionally vague wording of some passages.

People thus end up exchanging their data and their privacy far less than they might in a transparent and open market transaction.

The business model of some of the most successful tech companies is built on this opaque exchange between data owner and service provider. The same opaque exchange occurs on social networks like Facebook, online search and online journalism.

Part of a broader trend

It’s ironic that, in this supposed age of abundant information, people are so poorly informed about how their valuable digital assets are being used before they unwittingly sign their rights away.

To grasp the consequences of this, think about how much personal data you hand over every time you use one of these “free” services. Consider how upset people have been in recent years due to large-scale data breaches: for instance, the more than 22 million who lost their background check records in the Office of Personnel Management hack.

Now imagine the size a file of all your personal data in 2020 (including financial data, like purchasing history, or health data) after years of data tracking. How would you feel if it were sold to an unknown foreign corporation? How about if your insurance company got ahold of it and raised your rates? Or if an organized crime outfit stole all of it? This is the path that we are on.

Some have already made this realization, and a countervailing trend is already under way, one that gives technology users more control over their data and privacy. Mozilla recently updated its Firefox browser to allow users to block ads and trackers. Apple too has avoided an advertising business model, and the personal data harvesting that it necessitates, instead opting to make its money from hardware, app and digital music or video sales.

Developing a way for people to correctly value their data, privacy and information security would be a major additional step forward in developing financially viable, private and secure alternatives.

With it might come the possibility of an information age where people can maintain their privacy and retain ownership and control over their digital assets, should they choose to.

Benjamin Dean, Fellow for Internet Governance and Cyber-security, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

No, we’re not all being pickled in deadly radiation from smartphones and wifi

Image 20150519 25441 rcadyx
As technology improves our lives, we seem destined to witness a parallel rise in fear-mongering.
Yahoo/Flickr, CC BY

Simon Chapman, University of Sydney

Tomorrow at TedX Sydney’s Opera House event, high-profile neurosurgeon Charlie Teo will talk about brain cancer. Last Saturday Teo was on Channel 9’s Sunrise program talking about the often malignant cancer that in 2012 killed 1,241 Australians. During the program he said: The Conversation

Unfortunately the jury is still out on whether mobile phones can lead to brain cancer, but studies suggest it’s so.

Teo’s name appears on a submission recently sent to the United Nations. If you Google “Charlie Teo and mobile phones” you will see that his public statements on this issue go back years.

The submission he signed commences:

We are scientists engaged in the study of biological and health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF). Based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices. These include – but are not limited to – radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors as well as electric devices and infra-structures [sic] used in the delivery of electricity that generate extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF EMF).

That list just about covers off every facet of modern life: the internet, phones, radio, television and any smart technology. It’s a list the Amish and reclusive communities of “wifi refugees” know all about.

Other than those living in the remotest of remote locations, there are very few in Australia today who are not bathed in electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation, 24 hours a day. My mobile phone shows me that my house is exposed to the wifi systems of six neighbours’ houses as well as my own. Public wifi hotspots are rapidly increasing.

The first mobile phone call in Australia was made over 28 years ago on February 23, 1987. In December 2013, there were some 30.2 million mobile phones being used in a population of 22.7 million people. Predictions are that there will be 5.9 billion smartphone users globally within four years. There are now more than 100 nations which have more mobile phones than population.

So while Australia has become saturated in electromagnetic field radiation over the past quarter century, what has happened to cancer rates?

Brain cancer is Teo’s surgical speciality and the cancer site that attracts nearly all of the mobile phone panic attention. In 1987 the age-adjusted incidence rate of brain cancer in Australia per 100,000 people was 6.6. In 2011, the most recent year for which national data is available, the rate was 7.3.

The graph below shows brain cancer incidence has all but flat-lined across the 29 years for which data are available. All cancer is notifiable in Australia.

New cases of brain cancer in Australia, 1982 to 2011 (age-adjusted)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, CC BY

Brain cancers are a relatively uncommon group of cancers: their 7.3 per 100,000 incidence compares with female breast (116), colorectal (61.5) and lung cancer (42.5). There is no epidemic of brain cancer, let alone mobile phone caused brain cancer. The Cancer Council explicitly rejects the link. This US National Cancer Institute fact sheet summarises current research, highlighting rather different conclusions than Charlie Teo.

Another Australian signatory of the submission, Priyanka Bandara, describes herself as an “Independent Environmental Health Educator/Researcher; Advisor, Environmental Health Trust and Doctors for Safer Schools”.

Last year, a former student of mine asked to meet with me to discuss wifi on our university campus. She arrived at my office with Bandara who looked worried as she ran a EMF meter over my room. I was being pickled in it, apparently.

Her pitch to me was one I have encountered many times before. The key ingredients are that there are now lots of highly credentialed scientists who are deeply concerned about a particular problem, here wifi. These scientists have published [pick a very large number] of “peer reviewed” research papers about the problem.

Peer review often turns out to be having like-minded people from their networks, typically with words like “former”, “leading”, “senior” next to their names, write gushing appraisals of often unpublished reports.

The neo-Galilean narrative then moves to how this information is all being suppressed by the web of influence of vested industrial interests. These interests are arranging for scientists to be sacked, suppressing publication of alarming reports, and preventing many scientists from speaking out in fear.

Case reports of individuals claiming to be harmed and suffering Old Testament-length lists of symptoms as a result of exposure are then publicised. Here’s one for smart meters, strikingly similar to the 240+ symptom list for “wind turbine syndrome”. Almost any symptom is attributed to exposure.

Historical parallels with the conduct of the tobacco and asbestos industries and Big Pharma are then made. The argument runs “we understand the history of suppression and denial with these industries and this new issue is now experiencing the same”.

There is no room for considering that the claims about the new issue might just be claptrap and that the industries affected by the circulation of false and dangerous nonsense might understandably want to stamp on it.

Bandara’s modest blog offers schools the opportunity to hear her message:

Wireless technologies are sweeping across schools exposing young children to microwave radiation. This is not in line with the Precautionary Principle. A typical classroom with 25 WiFi enabled tablets/laptops (each operating at 0.2 W) generates in five hours about the same microwave radiation output as a typical microwave oven (at 800 W)in two minutes. Would you like to microwave your child for two minutes (without causing heating as it is done very slowly using lower power) daily?

David French/Flickr, CC BY

There can be serious consequences of alarming people about infinitesimally small, effectively non-existent risks. This rural Victorian news story features a woman so convinced that transmission towers are harming her that she covers her head in a “protective” cloth cape.

This woman was so alarmed about the electricity smart meter at her house that she had her electricity cut off, causing her teenage daughter to study by candlelight. Yet she is shown being interviewed by a wireless microphone.

Mobile phones have played important roles in rapid response to life-saving emergencies. Reducing access to wireless technology would have incalculable effects in billions of people’s lives, many profoundly negative.

Exposing people to fearful messages about wifi has been experimentally demonstrated to increase symptom reportage when subjects were later exposed to sham wifi. Such fears can precipitate contact with charlatans readily found on the internet who will come to your house, wave meters around and frighten the gullible into purchasing magic room paint, protective clothing, bed materials and other snake-oil at exorbitant prices.

As exponential improvements in technology improve the lifestyles and well-being of the world’s population, we seem destined to witness an inexorable parallel rise in fear-mongering about these benefits.

Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Wiman helps you find free WiFi and more

Wiman helps you find free WiFi and more

You love your Unlimited High-Speed Internet from Easy Internet Now – especially with your free Wifi modem – but what about when you leave the house? You’re stuck trying to find free WiFi to avoid your mobile carriers ridiculous data caps and speed throttling. It’s a mess of guessing which fast food restaurants or coffee shops will offer free public WiFi, made increasingly difficult by a growing number of places that are opting to be a “WiFi Free Zone” because they believe it will improve the atmosphere of their establishment. So what’s a traveling EIN customer to do when trying to find some free Internet on the road? If they’re using an Android phone (sorry Apple) there’s a new app available to help make things much easier.

More than Maps

Wiman is a service that conveniently maps out free public WiFi locations in cities around the world. You can use their website or their Android App to find locations close to your location or search in advance in a city that you plan to visit soon. One of the best features is the ability to save the WiFi maps for offline use – letting you find WiFi in places where you have no cellular data at all. At this time Wiman claims they have over 70 million free WiFi locations mapped around the globe. The app also gives you more detailed information about the type of connection you should expect and even has a built-in speed test that’s compatible with Android Wear, letting you check your connection speed right on your watch.

Business Use

The Wiman service isn’t just for roving WiFi bandits – it’s also for businesses to use to share their WiFi with the public while maintaining their internal network security. Businesses can get stats on their public WiFi usage and help drive more customers to their location just be being shown as available in the app. People are always looking for WiFi, no matter how much data their mobile plan offers, and if you’re a business owner you generally want them to choose you.

Interested in trying out Wiman?

Visit their Website

Download their App in Google Play (Android Only)