The Verge misstepped last week and ended up at the receiving end of our thoughts on the matter, but after a response by The Verge, we're back for one final response. Beyond that, normal hardware news ensues: We're looking at MIT's exciting research into the CPU space, like with advancements in diamond as potential processor material, and also looking at TSMC's moves to implement 7nm EUV.
Show notes are below the embedded video:
You may have heard about the new tariffs impacting PC component prices by now, with increases upwards of 10% to 25% by January 1st of 2019. We’ve spoken with several companies and individuals in the industry to better understand how PC builders can expect prices to increase. On our list of those providing insight is EVGA CEO Andrew Han, NZXT, SilverStone, and Alphacool, among off-record insight from others. In the very least, North American buyers can anticipate price increases as a result of the current administration’s new tariffs – it’s just a question of how much of that is passed on to the consumer.
Here’s the “TLDR” of the tariffs: Nearly every computer component is affected in North America, and those prices can reach outward to other regions as companies try to stabilize for a downtrend in overall revenue. The tariffs were pushed into law by the US Federal Government, with the first 10% taking effect on October 1st of 2018. After this, an additional 15% tariff will be mandated by the US government on January 1st of 2019.
There's been some online internet outrage about a leaked nVidia NDA, as published by Heise.de previously. Some of the online comments got a little out of hand and were severely misguided, so we decided to get on a call with a US-based, licensed lawyer, rather than continue to watch as armchair "experts" tried to extract any nefarious meaning they could from the document.
We'll leave this one to audio format. Our call with our legal correspondent goes through the document line-by-line and should answer any remaining questions. Overall, we think this was a mountain made of a molehill, and that little language in the document is abnormal or 'dangerous.' Note also that parties may terminate at any time (despite what some commenters will tell you), and that such an NDA doesn't somehow magically "prevent GPP2" from getting out because, remember, that wouldn't be covered under "Confidential Information." GPP was never disclosed to press by NV -- that was all third-party sources, and so that information is not covered under the agreement.
Audio/video below -- you can just tab away from this one, it's primarily audio:
The push to restore the net neutrality rules put in place under the Obama administration has gained more traction this week, with Democrats in the Senate filing a petition to force a vote on the repeal of the FCC’s new rules enacted by Ajit Pai, current FCC chairman.
The Congressional Review Act is the exact tool Congress and Ajit Pai’s FCC used to reverse Obama-era regulations—that is, the 2015 Open Internet Order that banned blocking content, throttling, paid prioritization by ISPs, and placed ISPs under Title II classification. Democratic Senators have used the CRA to force a vote and potentially remove the recent FCC rules voted for in December; however, the measure is something of a longshot, as it would have to pass both the House and be signed by the President.
This far along the line, it should be no secret that we at GamersNexus find the “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers that adorn so many devices—consoles, cellphones, laptops, etc.—ethically abhorrent. They are a thinly veiled, bullshit attack on consumers’ right to repair. These stickers are also a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act—a point we brought up in an article we wrote a while back, as well as details on the then-current right to repair climate. It would seem as though the pecuniary and questionable warranty practices of at least six companies have caught up with them, as the FTC has officially put six major companies on notice.
In the press release, the FTC expresses “concerns” about the six companies’ policies that constrict repairs to specific service providers—e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, et al. While the FTC wouldn’t disclose the identity of the companies in question, the press release did mention that these companies sell and market “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.”
We previously wrote about the need for net neutrality, adding our voice to the chorus of others on and off the internet that demanded the internet and net neutrality be protected. As a result of this outcry – and, honestly, basic logic – the FCC moved to protect net neutrality by reclassifying ISPs as Title II. Unfortunately, the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has revealed his plan to roll back net neutrality. 9 senators recently introduced a bill identical to a previous bill by the name of Restoring Internet Freedom Act. This bill seeks to remove the FCC’s jurisdiction over ISPs entirely and thus nullify the net neutrality rules the FCC previously set in place. These moves to kill net neutrality are just as disastrous of a choice as they were just a few years ago, so we naturally still oppose it. Before covering how you can let your opinion be known, let’s briefly review what net neutrality is and why it is needed.
In light of both the House and Senate voting to reverse forthcoming privacy regulations, interest in privacy measures that can be taken by the end-user are no doubt piqued. While there is no comprehensive solution to end all privacy woes—outside of, you know, stringent privacy laws—there are a few different steps that can be taken. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the big one, although they come with a few of their own caveats. The Tor software offers the most ways to anonymize a user’s online presence and more, although it can be involved. Smaller actions include adjusting DNS settings and using the HTTPS Everywhere extension.
Read on, as we will delve into these in a bit more detail. This guide serves as a tutorial to setting up a VPN and protecting your privacy online.
This was largely no surprise, given the stance that both the current administration and the newly appointed head of the FCC have adopted. The reversal of the rules traveled quick enough through the House and Senate that constituents had little chance to mitigate the overturn. We’ve covered this issue since it became public news, but in the event you’re not up to date, the now non-existent rules would have required ISPs to obtain clear consent before using data for advertising and other monetary purposes.
“What the hell do you have to lose?”
That was the question that now President Trump asked the American people while campaigning. The answer? Internet privacy rights. That’s on top of the other regulations that, according to the current administration, stifle innovation and are harmful to business.
In a vote along party lines, House Republicans successfully voted to repeal privacy protections that were set to go in effect December 2017. All that is left is for President Trump to sign and approve the measure, and there is no reason to believe he will do otherwise. The conservative lawmakers controlling both the House and Senate were not alone in the crusade against digital rights—far from it. Several advertising trade associations both urged and applauded the action, as can be read in this statement. The Internet and Television Association, which represents many broadband providers, has praised the votes against the new rules. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has also staunchly opposed both narrow privacy regulations and net neutrality. For readers unfamiliar with the latter group, their espousal to limited government politics and “virtuous capitalism” is particularly laughable. As expected, they too applauded the deregulatory move.
Also worth mentioning is the chump change needed to sway lawmakers. Put another away: how much does privacy cost? Granted, buying Senators and Congress members isn’t exclusive to one party line or another, but one party responded remarkably well to it for this vote. This list details the contributions made to Senators supporting anti-privacy since 2012. Additionally, this list details how much money Congress members have received. While it seems easy to make an overly simplistic connection between money and votes—and neither party is above taking charitable donations from varying industries—it is worth noting that this vote was extremely partisan, and no champion of the bill offered to substantiate the reason this legislation is good for consumers, other than uttering elusive “anti-consumer” and “free market” platitudes. Similar regurgitant is being recited while plans to unwind the EPA, renewable energy, and climate change policies are being put in motion.
While this kind of regression in the digital age is alarming, there are other policies in place that protect consumers, albeit not to the same extent. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act all have privacy provisions relating to customer information. Specifically, Title II, Section 222 of the Telecommunications Act imposes privacy requirements; however, they are from 1996 and mostly apply to telecom services. The FCC vowed to write new internet-specific rules regarding how ISPs are to handle privacy. In a rare win for privacy advocates, the rules (which passed last year) explicitly detailed how ISPs were to store and handle data, and offer customers clear notices and opt-in requirements. Those rules are all but nullified now. If AT&T’s arguably unconstitutional surveillance business model is any indicator, archaic laws are not sufficient for modern internet access.
Last year the FCC laid out landmark rules protecting internet privacy. Now, the current FCC leadership and members of the U.S. Senate are actively seeking to erase them. In fact, S.J. Res. 34 has already passed the Senate, and H.J. Res. 86—The House version of the bill—goes to Congress immediately. The House plans to take up the legislation this week, and we can be assured that is so constituents are not afforded the opportunity to learn the damage that is being done.
For those in need of a primer, eliminating the privacy protections will allow ISPs to aggressively monetize personal data without consent—to the tune of selling internet activity to marketers, targeted advertising, and redirecting traffic to paying third parties. For those interested in acting—and that should be everyone who uses the internet—towards preserving the rights to online privacy, here are some ways to get involved.
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