Israel: 054-321-6176 / USA - 210-820-3070 alan@weinkrantz.com

Why I Did Not Blog From Cuba

I have just returned from a four day trip to Cuba with Jewish Federation of San Antonio.  I went legally because the U.S. lets groups go for humanitarian or religous purposes.  My intent was to blog and post photos in the context of the messages the Cuban people see and hear.  Our hotel had wireless in the lobby and while it was slower than the wireless you would find at Starbucks, it was functional.  The first day I was there, I could not get on to TypePad, my blogging platform.  So, as a work-around, I wrote the text and emailed to a friend who posted it for me from the U.S. side. In addition to posting that day, I uploladed some sample photos at Flickr.  I really did not think much of what I was doing until we went to a briefing at the U.S. Interest Section, a sort of Embassy in Havana, since we don’t really have offical relations with the Cuban government.  While the person who briefed us gave the usual Department of State party line, he did describe some the conditions of the jail cells and how they don’t like people who write about their government of way of life.  Even though  I was doing this as a blogger and not a journalist, I thought it would be best to take my photos and the one blog entry down.  Maybe I over reacted, but my instinct said to just do it. I am still recovering from my trip. Mr. Castro sent me home with a gift: I have been sitting on the toilet off and on...

VoIP Industry Pioneer, Jeff Pulver, Observes Contradictions in Federal Government’s Policies on IP Communications – Commits To Providing Venues and Events That Will Enable Technologists and Policy Makers To Engage More Often

Today we broadcasted a news release with quotes from our client,  VoIP Industry Pioneer, Jeff Pulver, observing that there are two critical, yet contradictory government views impacting the future of VoIP — one from the President’s top telecom advisor, and one from the FCC. Michael Gallagher, head of NTIA – the agency that is the President’s voice on Telecom Policy.Bush Administration Gets VoIP – FCC Does Not Appear ToPulver is adamant that President Bush gets it on VoIP and notes when the President campaigned for reelection, he openly set an aggressive goal of having affordable broadband access available to all Americans by 2007.  Pulver’s Proposed Solution:  Technologists and Policy Makers Must Engage More Often Pulver affirmed his commitment to continue the momentum and make sure the Peripheral Visionaries Summit produces long-lasting positive results for those pushing the limits of IP technology, the Internet and communications and for those attempting to promote the public good and evolving public policy for the Internet Age. Concludes Pulver, “Technologists tend to talk among themselves without the ears of policymakers and without their immediate input and reaction. Then, the technologists criticize the policymakers for not getting it. Policymakers create policy in a vacuum and then complain that technologists don’t respect public policy or don’t engage policymakers in the formulation of tech policy. Regardless of how brilliant our isolated discourses might be, our insights usually occur in our own echo chambers without any lasting effects. By bringing to DC bleeding edge technologists, academics and analysts, who don’t generally get much exposure to regulators and legislators, I hope that the policymakers might get a better sense...

Public Interest, Business Groups Unite to Challenge FCC Wiretapping Ruling

Today, a coalition of public interest and business groups- including our client, pulver.com, asked a federal appeals court to overturn a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling requiring that broadband Internet and interconnected voice-over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services be designed to make government wiretapping easier. In a ruling finalized Oct. 13, the FCC ordered distributors of broadband and certain VOIP services to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) of 1994.  CALEA requires telephone companies to design their systems to ensure a baseline level of government wiretapping capability. When Congress passed CALEA in 1994 it specifically exempted the Internet from its reach. The civil liberties, privacy and high-tech industry advocates opposing the FCC ruling warn that it extends the wiretapping rules to technologies it was never intended to cover, imposes a burdensome government mandate on innovators and threatens the privacy rights of individuals who use the Internet and other new communications technologies.   We helped support the Center for Democracy and Technology , along with COMPTEL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Sun Microsystems in distributiing news about filing the appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Congress realized in 1994 that the Internet was fundamentally different from the telephone system, and specifically refrained from applying CALEA to the Internet and "information services" carried over it.  Although ISPs and Internet application providers must (and do) comply with interception orders under the wiretap laws, they have not until now been burdened with FBI-imposed design mandates.    ...

Comments of the Global IP Alliance and Professor Henning Schulzrinne Now Online

Our client, the Global IP Alliance‘s comments to the FCC regarding a globally-oriented, more robust and functional IP-based next generation emergency response system that can bring enhanced capabilities to 911 system is now online.  You can review the filing here. The Global IP Alliance and Professor Henning Schulzrinne (renowned E-911 expert and Chair of the Department of Computer Science), submitted recommendations to the (FCC) calling for the development of a next-generation, IP-based emergency response system. The recent filing noted that, simply making the existing 9-1-1 system in the United States work for today’s VoIP users is not satisfactory, even as it may be a suitable stop-gap measure for those consumers who have already migrated over to VoIP services as a replacement for their former POTS service. Instead, the nation, and VoIP service providers must work creatively, and pragmatically with infrastructure providers and public policy makers and regulators to move this nation, and others to a modern, IP-based emergency calling infrastructure. The Global IP Alliance recommendations address that goal, while also describing the opportunities that a modern, IP-based emergency calling infrastructure offers....

Getting News from Israel– from Israeli Media

I really try to avoid political commentaries, especially about what’s going in Israel right now with the continued disengagement process.  I have a son who is a Freshman at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg School, and one-half of our business comes from Israeli high tech companies.  Needless to say, I have a personal and vested interest in Israel’s well being. I have found the best news coverage on the disengagement process and Israel in general is the online edition of the Jerusalem Post.  And now, Israel’s Channel 2 offers an online video streamed newscast, called Jerusalem Online TV that is basically  the news Israelis see, with English overdubbing.  Both are worth checking out not only for political and economic news from Israel, but for world news in the mind’s eye of the Israeli global...