Mired for years in the details and minutia of overseeing the nation's telecommunications and broadcast networks, the Federal Communications Commission has launched a consumer help center to bring information directly to Americans most affected by the country's networks. The site appears to be primarily directed at consumers with mobile phones.
The site went live on Tuesday around the time that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski addressed a meeting of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. "This website," said Genachowski, "will allow consumers to easily access the many resources that the FCC has developed to help consumers, including a consumer-friendly system for filing complaints; news about major consumer initiatives; and tips and advisories."
The help center covers consumer-oriented areas ranging from bill shock over unexpectedly high charges from carriers, to broadband speed tests in which consumers can test the actual speed of their networks against carriers' claims. It also offers advice on ways consumers can guard against high roaming costs when traveling. The site, directed by Joel Gurin, chief of the FCC's consumer and governmental affairs bureau, also enables consumers to file complaints.
At the Senate meeting, Genachowski said the FCC has partnered with the Federal Trade Commission to form a "joint task force to develop innovative, effective, and coordinated approaches to protecting online privacy."
Genachowski continued: "We are currently working together on education and transparency initiatives to help inform and empower consumers in connection with online privacy. We are also working on strategies to help educate consumers with wireless home networks about the need to adopt encryption or other security protections to safeguard their information."
Pointing to suggestions in the National Broadband Plan, which is pending before Congress, Genachowski said telecom and cable companies increasingly have access to sensitive consumer information over the Internet. The FCC chairman added that the existing framework is sometimes "confusing and would benefit from increased clarity."
Carriers maintain that their efforts to protect consumer information are generally effective.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
IT Strategies to Conquer the CloudChances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.