According to Alexa.com a universal ranking engine that reveals what websites are most popular in the world and the United States, Wikipedia is the most trafficked website in the World & the US. Wikipedia’s website is displaying a large black banner warning users that the site will be blacked out globally to protest SOPA and PIPA.
Currently the Wikipedia site says it be go into a full blackout in less than 3 hours. A learn more badge is offered to give users more insight into the damaging circumstances behind the SOPA legislation.
Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA blackout letter says, “The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia. This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made.” You can read more from Wikipedia administrators and statements for people in the organization at the statement link here.
The hope is that people that are not aware of the damaging online piracy bill that is trying to be pushed into law in the US Congress will become aware of what is going on. Considering Wikipedia is the 6th most visited website on the Internet it is clear that many people will start to learn about SOPA & PIPA legislation.
Other major websites are participating in full blackouts as well like Reddit.com. The LA Times interviewed the general manager of Reddit, Erik Martin who said the bills were, “an existential threat to our company and the industry we work in. We try to be pretty agnostic when it comes to content, news, politics,” Martin said. “This is the first time we’ve really stepped out and made a strong statement as a company. We feel we don’t have a choice.” The Reddit Blackout will go for 12 hours on Wednesday January 18th, 2011.
Another popular destination for users that is taking a stand is Boing Boing. Boing Boing makes a statement on their website that they’ll be doing their black out, “On January 18, Boing Boing will join Reddit and other sites around the Internet in “going dark” to oppose SOPA and PIPA, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the world. Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.”
According to Alexa.com in the United States Craigslist.org is the 9th most visited website in the US. Craigslist.org has decided to put up a warning message on all of it’s pages making people aware of the SOPA anti-piracy bill. Their message says, “STOP PIPA & SOPA S968 & HR3261 are threatening CL and the rest of your Internet. Most of the web sites you use strongly oppose these bills. Find out why, and how you can help put a stop to this madness before it’s too late!” Craigslist provides a link to more information which you can read here as well.
A Google Blackout is not imminent at this point but Google will be particpating in the United States Internet blackout in protest of SOPA. Google said, “”Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” a Google spokeswoman said. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.”
Twitter users have stood up in protest against the SOPA movement and are changing their Twitter profile pics to STOP SOPA. You can learn more about the movement taking place on Twitter here. If you’d like to support the movement yourself and change your Twitter profile picture go to: http://bit.ly/stop-SOPA
Netflix Investing In Originals Amidst Second-Quarter Loss
Netflix originals are starting to pay off for the streaming giant despite the subscriber loss in the past quarter.
Netflix reported a tremendous loss in its subscriber growth based on the latest second-quarter report of the year, which price increase, the brewing streaming wars, and lulling content all contributed to the streaming company’s plummet. However, Netflix can’t do anything about the first two problems; hence, it’s putting more money in its original content instead.
According to the quarterly report, Netflix lost 130,000 subscribers from the United States—a first for the streaming platform since 2011. Furthermore, only 2.7 million paying customers globally were added in the second quarter, which is not a small number but falls way behind the projected 5 million users.
Netflix stocks dropped by more than 10 percent before the market closed on the day the report came out—equating to around a $17 billion loss from its market value, analysts say.
Notably, the subscriber count loss can mainly be attributed to the price increase the streaming giant implement — an increase from $1 to $2 — which was announced at the start of the year that went into effect a few months after.
The platform is also looking at an imminently decreasing range of content that it can offer to its loyal subscribers, as the streaming wars begin to bleed Netflix dry and consequently, its subscribers in the process.
Specifically, the streaming giant is facing a large problem in its home country due to the looming oversaturation of streaming sites that will soon be available for all US citizens.
WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple are all launching their own streaming services within the next few years, and they’re bringing their original content with them and taking them out of Netflix.
In recent reports, Netflix will soon be losing several heavily watched licensed series including fan favorites, and most watch TV series Friends and The Office to competitors WarnerMedia and NBC Universal respectively.
In perspective, Disney+ will be involving Hulu and ESPN in its list of available services on top of successful production houses such as Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel for the general price of only $6.99 a month. Netflix’s basic plan is currently at $9.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is also launching HBO Max that will certainly feature pop culture icons such as Game of Thrones.
If more than anything, both products could easily persuade US customers in subscribing to their service and away from Netflix.
As of the moment, Netflix has over 60 million paying subscribers in the United States, and the company is confident that it can get that number climb up to 90 million.
However, with the streaming wars looming, Netflix is not taking any chances and are already looking at solutions. Primarily, the streaming giant is looking to get more original content on its platform.
Now, there are permanent studio sets that have been purchased for Netflix to produce films and TV shows faster. It is also putting lots of money behind US shows and movies, signing hundred-million-dollar deals with high-profile showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.
Based on recent reports, the effort is paying off as Netflix continues to break records with its original movies and TV shows. One, in particular, was the recently released Murder Mystery movie that featured the tandem reunion of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. According to Netflix, who seldom releases viewership statistics, it grossed over 73 million views from household accounts worldwide — more than Netflix’s entire US base.
Stranger Things 3, a Netflix original series that launched in Q3, attracted 26.4 million unique viewers in the first four days of its release in the United States. It was “the most-watched Netflix original series [that] we’ve ever analyzed,” according to Nielsen data.
There’s also more in store this quarter with one of its biggest shows, Orange Is the New Black returns for its final season with Season 7. Variety said that the all-women prison drama series have at least accumulated a massive 105 million users that have watched an episode of the show.
Related: Netflix Originals Is Going Asian
Netflix is also looking to expanding its demographic outside the US and into other markets like Asia and Europe. Thus, it plans to continue ramping production of more original content to cater to these new customers.
Three shows in particular: How to Sell Drugs Online (Germany), The Rain (Denmark), and Quicksand (Sweden) have all found big audiences outside of their native region.
Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr., the chief content officer for Netflix, said that each show has garnered around 12 to 15 million global viewers and that “they’ve been deeply relevant in the home country, and travel the region very, very well.”
In its letter to shareholders on Wednesday, Netflix said that while its US paid memberships were “essentially flat,” the company expects it to “return to more typical growth” in the third quarter. It expects to add another 7 million subscribers in Q3.
2.2 Million More Patient-Victims Of AMCA Data Breach Came Forward
Clinical Pathology Laboratories blamed AMCA for not providing them enough information back in June.
A month after the medical collection portal owned by the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA) fell victim to a data breach that has affected more than 20 million of their users from different blood testing laboratories and medical institutions around the country, a new AMCA partner lab came forward and said that their clients were also affected by the data breach.
According to Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL), 2.2 million clients may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, dates of service, balance information, and treatment provider information stolen from the previously reported data breach involving AMCA.
Last month, data were stolen from users of the AMCA payment portal that was used to pay for laboratory fees by more than 20 million victims. These data include their names, phone numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other bank details.
The list of impacted testing laboratories includes Quest Diagnostics (11.9 million patients), LabCorp (7.7 million patients), BioReference Laboratories (Opko Health subsidiary, 422,600 patients), Carecentrix (500,000 patients), and Sunrise Laboratories (undisclosed number of patients).
This time, Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) says that an additional 2.2 million victims of the data breach come from their client list, and another 34,500 patients had their credit card or banking information compromised.
The company blamed the late announcement from CPL to AMCA for not providing them with enough information regarding the breach when it was first disclosed in June.
“At the time of AMCA’s initial notification, AMCA did not provide CPL with enough information for CPL to identify potentially affected patients or confirm the nature of patient information potentially involved in the incident, and CPL’s investigation is on-going,” said the company in a statement.
As of today, it is still unclear whether AMCA nor its partner companies have reached out to their clients to personally notify them about the data breach. Back in June, AMCA first disclosed that only 200,000 clients had their data compromised. However, reports from its partners have confirmed that the victim tally reaches 20 million.
AMCA and partners were slapped with lawsuits
AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp in June were slapped with at least 19 lawsuits concerning the data leak. More than 19 class-suite actions have been filed against the three companies for their involvement in the breach and their inability to fulfill the promise of protecting their clients’ sensitive information.
According to one of the lawyers in one of the lawsuits hurdled against the involved companies, healthcare providers are one of the most susceptible entities, but they have lackluster data protection systems.
“Healthcare companies are especially susceptible to data breaches not only because they aggregate a tremendous amount of important and sensitive data, but also because they tend to be less focused on cybersecurity protection than other industries,” said John Yanchunis of Morgan and Morgan, one of the firms who filed lawsuits against Quest Diagnostics.
Yanchunis said that these companies “know [that] they are at an increased risk and yet have not taken the proper steps to protect their patients’ data.”
AMCA filed for bankruptcy
Amid the data breach that centers the American Medical Collection Agency, the company has filed for bankruptcy and laid off more than 70% of its workforce, as cost in mitigating the impacts of the leak has to lead the company to lose a massive amount of money.
According to the company, the data breach “resulted in enormous expenses that were beyond the ability of the Debtor to bear.”
“Almost immediately upon learning of the breach, LabCorp unqualifiedly and indefinitely terminated its relationship with the Debtor,” the filing reads.
“Soon after, Quest Diagnostics, Conduent, Inc., and CareCentrix, Inc. which together with LabCorp were the Debtor’s four largest clients, stopped sending new work to the Debtor, and all terminated or substantially curtailed their business relationships with the Debtor.”
Cybersecurity experts have estimated that the company most likely to spend at least $400,000 for cyber forensics alone. Add to that the cost of IT support, severe restrictions that were put in place to protect AMCA’s network from further intrusion, looming court cases, and the loss of valuable business partners; it is most likely that the company was driven to the abyss of bankruptcy by the data breach.
Of course, to cut cost, AMCA has also laid off employees and only retained those who are significant in the legal battles it faces, including the lawsuits and its request for bankruptcy. AMCA’s current employee count is down from 113 to 25, which practically cut of 78% of its human resources. Fuchs has asked the court to consider a motion which will ensure the firm’s remaining staff will be paid during the process.
Treasury Chief Says Crypto Is A “National Security Risk”
A new jab was thrown against Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies from the US government after statements from the U.S. Treasury Secretary branded the industry as a “national security threat.”
Facebook’s announcement of Libra has brought crypto and blockchain technology in the center stage, as governments around the world have heightened their scrutiny on the alternative financial system that the industry is offering.
Government executives and high ranking officials have raised concerns on the volatility of the technology, and how it is being used by malicious actors to facilitate illegal transactions such as money laundering and illegal drugs.
Now, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin chimed in the conversation and echoed earlier apprehensions versus Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The Secretary warns that Bitcoin, as well as, Facebook’s plans for Libra, pose a “national security issue” for the United States.
“This is indeed a national security issue,” Mnuchin told reporters at a press conference yesterday. “Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, and human trafficking,” adding that Facebook’s Libra “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers.”
Mnuchin echoed other politicians stance on Facebook’s Libra venture and said that he was “not comfortable” by the idea of it.
Trump vs. Crypto
In a series of tweets on last week, the POTUS said that he is not a “fan” of cryptocurrencies, asserted that America has only one currency, criticized bitcoin, as well as told Facebook that they need a banking charter if they want to launch their newly announced crypto-based money called Libra.
Trump said cryptocurrencies are not money, and “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”
“If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations,” said the president.
According to the President, the dollar is the only currency in America, and Libra, among other cryptocurrencies, are not “real money.”
“We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar!” Trump said in a tweet.
Trump’s anti-crypto stand was agreed upon by Mnuchin saying that “the president does have concerns as it relates to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies—those are legitimate concerns that we have been working on for a long period of time.”
Democrats vs. Crypto
Joining Trump’s army against cryptocurrencies and Facebook’s Libra plans are Democrats from the Senate who recently circulated a draft proposal that bans big tech companies from issuing digital money.
The bill, which was bluntly named as “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act,” circulates among Democrats majority that leads the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, proves that the US government is not joking about its position against Libra and other similar ventures in the future.
According to the proposed bill, no tech company should be allowed to issue any form of financial services. “A large platform utility may not establish, maintain, or operate a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,” reads a copy of the bill obtained by Z6Mag.
Furthermore, while the bill does not specify any company, it clearly refers to Facebook, and it’s planned blockchain-based currency, Libra. The “large platform utility” is defined as a technology company with “[an] annual global revenue of $25,000,000,000 or more” and one that is “predominately engaged in the business of offering to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.” This definition seems to be crafted to include Facebook rather than exclude other companies.
It is also worth noting that the proposed legislation also prohibits “large platform utilities” from affiliation with “persons who are a financial institution.” This further includes Facebook’s proactive workaround against possible future laws that may prohibit them from owning Libra.
Nonetheless, the bill is still in its earliest phase yet, and many could happen to move forward. For it to become a law, it still has to withstand the possible opposition by Republicans in both the House and the Senate.
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