All due respect to NASCAR fans, but this is the sort of race we’d rather watch: Companies competing to be the first to unleash the world’s first global internet. Because, hey, we need to be able to surf porn check our fantasy baseball team from anywhere on the planet. It would also be useful to work from any place on Earth, whether zipping across the steppes of Mongolia on a motor bike or posting content from a flop house in the Philippines or snowshoeing across the Rocky Mountains.

We’re talking the ultimate life-work balance.

You’ve probably heard something about using drones, balloons, satellites, even homing pigeons (well, not yet) to make the worldwide web truly worldly. Somewhere around four billion people on the planet are missing out on cute cat videos, not to mention the economic benefits that come with an internet connection. The company that can first plug those billions into a global internet system would not only be a humanitarian hero but make a more-than-modest profit along the way.

A Project Loon balloon in Christchurch, New Zealand.

To paraphrase an interview on The Verge with Mike Cassidy, lead on Google’s Project Loon, which is launching high-altitude balloons into the stratosphere as one technological riff on global internet:

Think about it: 4.5 billion people without internet access. Take five percent and you’re talking 250 million people. If those people pay just a small portion of their monthly income, say $5 a piece, you’re going to be in a billion dollars a month in revenue, tens of billions a year in revenue. So it’s good business, too.

Cassidy should know a good deal when he sees it: He ended up at Google after starting and selling four startups, including the search engine DirectHit to AskJeeves for $532 million in 2000—less than two years after he founded it. And Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize and co-founder of Singularity University, recently listed what he called hyper-connecting the world as the No. 1 trend that made the world better in 2016. Let’s take a closer look at the global internet race.

Project Loon

The craziest-sounding effort to bring global internet to billions of people around the world may actually be the one closest to reality. Project Loon is backed by Google. To be more precise, it’s funded by Google’s newly created parent company Alphabet Inc. in the conglomerate’s Bond-esque, semi-secret R&D lab called X.

The idea behind Project Loon sounds, well, a little loony. It would create a floating global internet by launching balloons with solar-powered electronics that connect a ground-based telecommunications network on the ground with mobile devices through local wireless providers. The concept has already been tested with partners in places like New Zealand and Brazil. A network of 300 balloons is planned around the Southern Hemisphere, according to a story in Singularity Hub.

Sound complex? It is. Sound impossible? Definitely not. Launching balloons into the stratosphere, the layer of atmosphere that starts about 20 kilometers (12 miles, for those of you still on ye olde imperial system) above the Earth, is a well-practiced trick. Scientists do it with much larger balloons, expanding to the size of a football field, above Antarctica to launch telescopes. They’re sort of the poor man’s version of satellites.

Project Loon has the logistics down to a precise science. Custom-built “autolaunchers” are capable of sending balloons into near-space every 30 minutes. They’re basically specialized cranes that work like slow-motion catapults. Operators choreograph the airborne balloons, which can stay aloft for several months at a time, using wind models of the stratosphere and algorithms to provide maximum coverage. Project Loon claims it has demonstrated “transmission between balloons over 100 kilometers apart in the stratosphere and back down to people on the ground with connection speeds of up to 10 Mbps, directly to their LTE phones.”

Check out this video to learn more about the technical bits:

Droning Out the Competition

Google doubled-down on global internet in 2014 when it bought Titan Aerospace, a company that developed low-cost, low-flying satellites. The tech giant had wrested the startup away from Facebook. Google had planned to launch a swarm of Titan’s solar-powered drones to beam the internet far and wide.

It appears that plan crashed sometime last year, though the news only came out this past January. Alphabet decided to end its bid to provide global internet via unmanned aerial vehicles, aka UAVs or drones. In a widely circulated statement, X lab said, “By comparison, at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world.” (On a somewhat related note, Alphabet just announced this week that it’s further pulling out of the space biz with the sale of its satellite-imaging business, Terra Bella, to Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based private satellite company. Google had acquired the company, formerly known as Skybox Imaging, for $500 million the same year it bought Titan Aerospace.)

drone aircraft

Facebook’s Aquila drone has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737.

Facebook is still betting UAVs are a feasible way to provide global internet to the world’s unconnected (and unfriended) billions. The effort is led by the company’s Connectivity Lab as part of its initiative. Facebook’s futuristic vision is a fleet of solar-powered aircraft with a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737. The drones will beam the internet and Facebook posts via lasers. According to Facebook, the technology is so good that it can send data at fiber-optic speeds using very little power.

The Aquila prototype took flight and stayed aloft for more than 90 minutes but was apparently damaged during its first test flight. suffered an even bigger setback in September when another global internet initiative went up in flames after a SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad. The Falcon 9 rocket was to carry a $200 million internet satellite into space. Facebook had bought bandwidth to provide internet to sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with French satellite company Eutelsat.

Global Internet from Space

Of course, SpaceX has its own plans for global domination, er, global internet, which apparently has nothing to do with drilling a giant tunnel under Los Angeles. Company CEO Elon Musk just needs about 4,425 satellites in low-Earth orbit to bathe the world with broadband internet. That’s about equal to all the satellites currently in orbit around Mother Earth. Admittedly, both plans do sound a bit Bond villain in concept.

Singularity Hub’s Vanessa Bates Ramirez wrote that the satellite constellation would orbit between 715 and 790 miles above the Earth, providing speeds of one gigabit per second. SpaceX filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission, so at least the paperwork is out of the way. There’s no timeline on deployment, though TechCrunch reported late last year that Musk estimated the project would take at least five years and cost around $10 billion. We have to ask where even someone like Musk is going to find that sort of cash. SpaceX is backlogged and losing money, while Tesla is feeling (at least temporarily) some consumer backlash from Musk’s seeming coziness with the president of the United States.

A mock-up of the OneWeb facility to be built in Florida.

Another ambitious satellite system, OneWeb, appears to be on firmer financial ground after raising $1.7 billion since 2015, including $1.2 billion in December 2016 from the telecommunications and internet giant SoftBank. OneWeb’s 900-satellite system would offer global internet as soon as 2019, according to Diamandis. Among the leaders of that venture is Richard Branson, a sort of Elon Musk, but with a cooler accent and better hair.

Yet another player is U.S.-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT), which is working with Boeing to launch three satellites that will provide 1 terabit per second internet connections to remote corners of the world, according to ViaSat claimed on its website that the first two of three new satellites could offer more than twice the total network capacity of the 400 or so commercial communications satellites currently orbiting the Earth combined.

And if all that—balloons, drones and satellites—fails, there’s still hope for global internet. Several companies, including Facebook and $63 million startup Starry (founded in 2014 by founder of defunct startup Aereo, Chaitanya “Chet” Kanojia) are working on a whole different solution. They propose delivering wicked fast internet anywhere literally out of thin air by using millimeter waves. Check out the specs of this project on The Verge. We’ve got sunset over the Mekong River to catch. We’ll post some pictures as soon as we’re back in Wi-Fi range.

Looking to buy shares in companies before they IPO? A company called Motif Investing lets you buy pre-IPO shares in companies that are led by JP Morgan. You can open an account with Motif with no deposit required so that you are ready to buy pre-IPO shares when they are offered.


Source :

Categorized in Others

Introduction :

Cyber law is the law governing cyberspace. Cyberspace jurisprudence is evolving rapidly with various technological developments. Due to immense increase in the use of computers and other communication devices, there has been increase in cyber crimes worldwide. It has also given rise to various challenges dealing with the legal aspects of cyber law to the governments across the world.

The unprecedented rate of technological change has cropped up many challenges and problems, especially the problem of governance, formulation of new laws and amendments of the existing ones from time to time. Cyberspace has no limitations as to geographical boundaries which has given rise to many transnational crimes, which may affect any country across the globe.

It is likely that various challenges might arise in future due to such rapid increase in the information technology. There is a need for nations to enter into multi-lateral international agreements to establish new and uniform rules applicable to cyberspace. Also there is a need for creating an international organization to deal with problems relating to cyberspace.

Emerging global trends and developments in Cyber Law :

Globally, Various trends and challenges are likely to arise with the development and evolution of cyber law jurisprudence. Following are few of the Trends and challenges in cyberspace which has emerged in last few years and needs a serious attention of the governments across the world.

Trends in Mobile Laws :

The increased usage of mobile devices, cell phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants and all other kinds of communication devices in different parts of the world are becoming an integral part of day –to-day existence in life. This has widened the scope of Mobile Ecosystem and is likely to give rise to various complex legal issues and challenges across the world

In countries like India and China, wherein the usage of mobile devices is exceedingly high, the area of mobile law is emerging and different complicated legal, regulatory and policy challenges concerning the usage of mobile devices and  communication devices are coming to the forefront ,and it is expected that these countries would contribute towards the growth and development of Mobile law.

Also the increased usage of mobile devices is likely to give rise to more mobile related crimes. It is need of an hour for the governments to adopt direct legislations pertaining to mobile law as the existing laws, regulations and rules in different countries which have an impact on legal issues pertaining to mobile laws are applicable in an indirect manner.

It is expected that with increased usage of mobile devices across the world, mobile law would emerge as an distinct area of jurisprudence. There is a need for appropriate enabling frameworks for the governments across the world that will help, protect and preserve the rule of law in mobile ecosystem.

The growth of mobile law jurisprudence has led to the legal issues connected with it. Mobile crime is likely to increase leaps and bounds in the coming years. Increased usage of mobile apps, which majorly consists of an individuals private and personal information, are likely to bring up various legal issues which will need appropriate consideration in order to ensure mobile protection and privacy .With more and more mobile apps emerging the personal information of the user needs to be protected.

Social Media and Challenges :

One of the biggest problem cyber law is encountering is related to development of jurisprudence relating to social networking. Increased adoption and usage of social media are likely to bring various legal, policy and regulatory issues. Social media crimes are increasingly gaining attention of relevant stake holders. Misuse of information, other criminal and unwanted activities on social networking platforms and social media are raising significant legal issues and challenges. There is a need for the countries across the world to ensure that rule of law prevails on social media. Social media legal issues continues to be significant. In order to avoid social media crimes and protect the privacy related to social media, it is a challenge for cyber law makers across the world to not only provide appropriate legislative and regulatory mechanisms but also provide for effective remedies for redressal to the victims of various unauthorized, unwanted criminal activities done in cyber space and social media.

Cyber security and related issues :

With the growing activities of cyber crime across the world, there is a need for enacting a appropriate legislative, regulatory and policy framework pertaining to cyber security. The International Conference on Cyber law, Cyber crime and Cyber security which took place in November 2014 in India highlighted significant issues affecting cyber security and came up with various recommendations for international stakeholders. It is likely that countries of the world have to deal with issues pertaining to attacks and intrusions into computer systems and networks from location outside the territorial boundaries of the country. It has the potential of prejudicially impacting the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country. Thus there is a need for the nations across the world to amend their existing IT legislations which would help the protection, preservation and promotion of cyber security in the use of computers and communication devices.

Cloud Computing and Challenges:

Another important challenge in cyber space is the evolution and development of legal responses to the complicated legal challenges poised and raised by cloud computing and virtualization. Cloud computing being a popular phenomenon among corporate is likely to bring forth issues like data protection and data confidentiality. The relevant stakeholders including lawmakers and governments across the globe need to provide appropriate legal, policy and regulatory framework pertaining to legal aspects concerning cloud computing.

Spam Laws :

In the initial years, spam seemed to be targeted at computers but has now also targeted mobile phones. Email spam is the most common form of spamming, Mobile phone spam and instant messaging spam also exist. In majority of the countries there is no such anti spam law, which has led to the further growth of spam. There is an increased need for the countries to come up with regulatory and legal framework for spam as many countries have already become hotspots for generating spam.


The aforesaid are some of the more significant and important cyber law trends which will have bearing on the growth and further evolution of international Cyber law ecosystem. The aforesaid list is only illustrative in nature and by no means exhaustive. With the tremendous growth in information technology worldwide, the society being more and more dependant on technology,  crimes related to computer, computer systems and electronic devices are bound to increase and the law makers have to go the extra mile to maintain the rule of law in the cyberspace ecosystem. What may happen in the future no one can predict due to the fast pace of technological growth. There lies a duty not only on lawmakers and governments, but also on the users at large, to understand their responsibility towards ensuring a safe and healthy technological development and that it is used for legal and ethical purposes to the utmost benefit of mankind.

Author : Sonia Tulse

Source :

Categorized in Internet Ethics

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