Friday, January 13, 2012

Electronic Surveillance


Electronic Surveillance

Electronic Surveillance, the interception of communications by electronic listening or other devices by someone who is not a party to the conversation. Electronic surveillance may be conducted by governments or individuals and may be targeted against any type of communications device, such as conventional telephones, wireless cellular phones, or computers. Electronic surveillance may occur with many mediums, or methods, of communicating, including communications over the Internet. Prior to the widespread use of digital and other new forms of communication, the term “wiretapping” was often used generically to cover all types of electronic surveillance.
In the United States, electronic surveillance of telephone conversations is prohibited by a 1968 federal statute and the laws of some states. Law enforcement officers, however, are permitted to conduct electronic surveillance of telephone conversations under federal statute, including the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the laws of some states, provided a court order has been obtained.
II
LEGAL RULINGS ON ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE
In 1928 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Olmstead v. United States that wiretapping of telephone lines could be employed without violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, provided the police did not enter the subject’s home or office. The Supreme Court reversed Olmstead in 1967, ruling in Katz v. United States that electronic communications are protected by the Fourth Amendment. In 1968 Congress enacted a statute that imposed comprehensive restrictions on wiretapping, including a requirement for a judicial warrant. See also Bill of Rights; Privacy.
Although court-ordered wiretapping is now legal, wiretapping by the federal government without a court order is not. The courts have sustained the use of wiretapping to obtain foreign intelligence information, but in 1971 the Supreme Court held in two different cases that (1) domestic electronic surveillance of radical political groups without a court order violated the Fourth Amendment, and (2) witnesses before a grand jury could refuse to answer questions arising out of information developed from unauthorized wiretaps. In 1972 the Court rejected an argument put forward by the administration of President Richard M. Nixon that the president had the power to wiretap without court approval to protect national security. In an opinion written by Justice Lewis Powell, the Court declared: “History abundantly documents the tendency of Government—however benevolent and benign its motives—to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. Fourth Amendment protections become the more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs. The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.”
III
PASSAGE OF THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT
In 1978 Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The law was enacted in response to abuses by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the 1960s and 1970s. Congressional hearings held by Senator Frank Church in 1975, known as the Church hearings, revealed that the two agencies had wiretapped anti-Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. FISA was meant to prevent such abuses by allowing electronic surveillance only for foreign intelligence purposes and under the supervision of a special court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. See also Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Antiterrorism legislation passed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States significantly expanded the federal government’s surveillance powers. The Patriot Act, for example, for the first time formally gave the federal government the right to monitor e-mail communications. Federal agents also obtained greater authority to listen in on cellular telephones and in cases involving terrorism to monitor e-mail and Internet use with a court’s approval.
IV
WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE
In December 2005 civil liberties advocates became concerned when the New York Times revealed that President George W. Bush had signed a presidential order in 2001 authorizing a Terrorist Surveillance Program. The order gave the National Security Agency (NSA) authorization to eavesdrop without judicial warrants on the international electronic communications of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States. Many legal experts believed the order violated FISA because it bypassed FISA’s special court. They argued that the law requires warrants, although in an emergency the law gives the government authority to eavesdrop for up to 72 hours before having to request court approval. Some critics also maintained that the law bars the NSA from any domestic spying and that the NSA program could not guarantee that only international communications were monitored.
Several lawsuits were brought against the federal government claiming that the government had violated FISA and infringed on civil liberties. A lawsuit filed by an Oregon attorney in February 2006 alleged that the attorney had documentary evidence of the electronic interception of privately protected communications between the attorney and his client, an Islamic charity. Also in February the Washington Post reported that the NSA had eavesdropped without warrants on the telephone conversations of 5,000 Americans suspected of terrorist activities and that nearly all of them had subsequently been cleared of suspicion.
In hearings before the U.S. Congress in 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales aggressively countered the claim that the NSA’s electronic surveillance was illegal, citing Bush’s “inherent authority” as president. Gonzales also said the program’s legality was established by a congressional resolution, the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” that declared the president could use “all necessary and appropriate force” to prevent future acts of terrorism. Many members of Congress, however, said they never envisioned that the resolution had anything to do with warrantless electronic surveillance. The conflict raised questions not only about Fourth Amendment protections but also about the limits of presidential power and the American system of checks and balances.
In May 2006 USA Today reported that the NSA surveillance program was far more extensive than previously known. The newspaper cited several anonymous sources who claimed that the NSA had secretly entered into contracts with telecommunications firms to obtain the telephone records of nearly 200 million customers, including domestic calls. The practice, known as data mining, allegedly gave the NSA records of the complete telephone calling histories of the firms’ customers along with regular updates on calls made, enabling the NSA to create the largest database ever assembled. The reported purpose of the monitoring was to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity. The New York Times independently reported that a high-ranking but anonymous government official had confirmed much of the report. According to the official, the NSA had access to records of most telephone calls in the United States, but call records were used only to identify the telephone contacts of known terrorist suspects. Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah also asserted that a special court set up under FISA had advance knowledge of the NSA monitoring.
The Bush administration and one of the telecommunication firms—AT&T, Inc.—would neither confirm nor deny the reports. After conducting an internal review, BellSouth denied that it had a contract with the NSA and said that it did not provide bulk customer calling records to the NSA. Verizon initially refused to confirm or deny the report, but later issued a statement saying that it had not provided local phone records. The statement appeared to leave open the possibility that MCI, Inc., which Verizon acquired in January 2006, had turned over records of long distance calls to the NSA. Sources close to the country’s fourth largest telecommunications firm, Qwest Communications, including Qwest’s former chief executive officer, said Qwest had refused to participate in the program because the company doubted its legality. Officially, however, Qwest would neither confirm nor deny whether it was approached by the NSA for customer calling information. Verizon Wireless, a joint cellular phone venture with a British company, denied involvement in the program.
The alleged NSA program reportedly did not intercept the content of conversations, only the records of calls made. Personal information such as customer names and addresses were reportedly not revealed. However, civil liberties advocates noted that other databases would enable the government to match telephone numbers with personal information.
Legal experts differed on whether the program was legal. Some experts said FISA did not prevent data mining. Other experts said the program was illegal under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and that the Communications Act of 1934 prohibited telephone companies from giving out information about their customers’ calling habits. That act has been amended to provide for stiff financial penalties for companies that violate customers’ privacy rights. In April 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that advocates for electronic privacy rights, filed suit against AT&T, based on documents obtained from an AT&T whistleblower, a former employee who said the NSA set up a secret surveillance room at AT&T’s San Francisco office. The EFF lawsuit followed a December 2005 report in the Los Angeles Times that AT&T had given the NSA direct access to a company database that recorded the telephone number and the duration of every call made over its network since 2001. An EFF attorney said the purpose of the monitoring was irrelevant because without judicial oversight the government could do whatever it wanted with the information.
The USA Today disclosure created a bipartisan backlash against the alleged NSA program. The NSA and the three telecommunications firms cited in the USA Today report all said that they were operating within the law. President Bush also came to the NSA’s defense, denying that his administration was “mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.” Bush said that the administration’s efforts were “focused on links to al-Qaeda and their known affiliates.”
In August 2006 Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, Michigan, issued her ruling in a case brought against the NSA by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The president, she wrote, had ''undisputedly violated'' not only the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, but also statutory law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A criminal statute, FISA calls for a maximum punishment of a $10,000 fine and five years in prison. The Justice Department appealed the verdict to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in July 2007 a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit voted 2 to 1 to reverse Judge Taylor’s decision on technical grounds, finding that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because they could not show they had been harmed by the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Most of the plaintiffs represented by the ACLU were lawyers and journalists.
Although the judges did not rule on the legality of the program, the effect of their ruling was to allow the NSA’s warrantless surveillance to continue. In the dissenting opinion, Judge Ronald Gilman argued that the lawyers in the suit had standing to sue because they could show that they had to change the way they communicated with their overseas clients to assure the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship. The ACLU argued that they were trapped by a “catch-22” in which they could not demonstrate harm because the program’s surveillance documents were kept secret.
Following the November 2006 midterm elections, which resulted in a Democratic-controlled Congress, Attorney General Gonzales had informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that the administration would not be reauthorizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program. In a letter to the committee, Gonzales wrote that the administration had obtained “orders” from the FISA special court that would give it the “necessary speed and agility” it sought. As a result the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would be supervising all anti-terrorism wiretapping and surveillance within the United States, according to Gonzales. Nevertheless, the Bush administration reserved the right to restore the warrantless wiretapping program if the president deemed it necessary. As a result, the battle over the NSA surveillance program was expected to continue in the courts.
V
AMENDING THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT
In August 2007 Congress passed and President Bush signed into law a sweeping amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Known as the Protect America Act of 2007, the new law enabled the director of national intelligence and the attorney general to monitor without a warrant all electronic communications going into or out of the United States even if the communications involved a U.S. citizen. In effect, the two executive branch officials were given the authority previously granted only to the 11-member FISA Court. The amendment required that the government must have a “reasonable belief” that the target of the surveillance was outside of the United States. The law also gave the government the power to compel the cooperation of communication service providers, such as the major telecommunication companies.
The proponents of the legislation argued that the law was needed to modernize FISA by taking into account that many overseas communications pass through telephone and Internet switches based in the United States. Without the ability to intercept such telephone or e-mail communications, they argued, the National Security Agency would lose the ability to eavesdrop on communications between foreign terrorist suspects. Civil liberties advocates argued that the law was much too broad and gave the executive branch of government the power to monitor the overseas communications of U.S. citizens without a judicial review, turning the FISA Court into a “rubber stamp” of an executive branch program. They also objected that the law was purposefully vague in stipulating that the surveillance was for the purpose of acquiring “foreign intelligence information” rather than being limited to targeting terrorist suspects, the chief reason given by the Bush administration for seeking the expanded powers. And they said oversight of the program belonged to the same officials responsible for conducting it.
Concern about the hasty drafting of the new law led Congress to set an expiration date of six months for the Protect America Act. However, a provision of the law permitted any surveillance approved by the director of national intelligence and the attorney general to continue for a full year from the time of approval. As a result, although the law expired in February 2008, any surveillance approved before its expiration could continue until the beginning of 2009.
The law’s expiration resulted from the inability of the U.S. Congress to resolve conflicts between Senate and House versions that would have extended the law. In the Senate version of the new bill retroactive immunity was granted to telecommunication companies that cooperated with the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The House version did not include an immunity provision but instead allowed the courts to hear classified evidence in civil lawsuits against the telecoms. That provision addressed a complaint by the companies that they were unable to cite possible exculpatory evidence against claims that they violated the privacy of their customers. Nearly 40 lawsuits have been filed against the firms.




Network and computer science


Network (computer science)
Network Configurations
A star network connects many computers and computer resources, such as a printer, to a central computer called a server that directs the flow of information. A token-ring network uses a special message called a token that travels from computer to computer. The token designates which computer sends information through the network.

Network (computer science), a system used to link two or more computers. Network users are able to share files, printers, and other resources; send electronic messages; and run programs on other computers.
A network has three layers of components: application software, network software, and network hardware. Application software consists of computer programs that interface with network users and permit the sharing of information, such as files, graphics, and video, and resources, such as printers and disks. One type of application software is called client-server. Client computers send requests for information or requests to use resources to other computers, called servers, that control data and applications. Another type of application software is called peer-to-peer. In a peer-to-peer network, computers send messages and requests directly to one another without a server intermediary.
Network software consists of computer programs that establish protocols, or rules, for computers to talk to one another. These protocols are carried out by sending and receiving formatted instructions of data called packets. Protocols make logical connections between network applications, direct the movement of packets through the physical network, and minimize the possibility of collisions between packets sent at the same time.
Network hardware is made up of the physical components that connect computers. Two important components are the transmission media that carry the computer's signals, typically on wires or fiber-optic cables, and the network adapter, which accesses the physical media that link computers, receives packets from network software, and transmits instructions and requests to other computers. Transmitted information is in the form of binary digits, or bits (1s and 0s), which the computer's electronic circuitry can process.
II
NETWORK CONNECTIONS
A network has two types of connections: physical connections that let computers directly transmit and receive signals and logical, or virtual, connections that allow computer applications, such as e-mail programs and the browsers used to explore the World Wide Web, to exchange information. Physical connections are defined by the medium used to carry the signal, the geometric arrangement of the computers (topology), and the method used to share information. Logical connections are created by network protocols and allow data sharing between applications on different types of computers, such as an Apple Macintosh or a personal computer (PC) running the Microsoft Corporation Windows operating system, in a network. Some logical connections use client-server application software and are primarily for file and printer sharing. The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite, originally developed by the United States Department of Defense, is the set of logical connections used by the Internet, the worldwide consortium of computer networks. TCP/IP, based on peer-to-peer application software, creates a connection between any two computers.
A
Media
The medium used to transmit information limits the speed of the network, the effective distance between computers, and the network topology. Copper wires and coaxial cable provide transmission speeds of a few thousand bits per second for long distances and about 100 million bits per second for short distances. (A million bits is equal to one megabit, and one megabit per second is abbreviated Mbps.) Optical fibers carry 100 million to 40 billion bits of information per second over long distances. (A billion bits is equal to one gigabit, and a billion bits per second is abbreviated Gbps.)
Wireless networks, often used to connect mobile, or laptop, computers, send information using infrared or radio-frequency transmitters. Infrared wireless local area networks (LANs) work only within a room, while wireless LANs based on radio-frequency transmissions can penetrate most walls. Wireless LANs using Wi-Fi technology have capacities of around 54 Mbps and operate at distances up to a few hundred meters. Wireless communications for wide area networks (WANs) use cellular radio telephone networks, satellite transmissions, or dedicated equipment to provide regional or global coverage. Although transmission speeds continue to improve, today’s wide area cellular networks run at speeds ranging from 14 to 230 kilobits per second. (A kilobit is equal to 1,000 bits, and one kilobit per second is abbreviated Kbps.) Some networks use a home’s existing telephone and power lines to connect multiple machines. HomePNA networks, which use phone lines, can transmit data as fast as 128 Mbps, and similar speeds are available on Power Line or HomePlug networks.
B
Topology
Common topologies used to arrange computers in a network are point-to-point, bus, star, ring, and mesh. Point-to-point topology is the simplest, consisting of two connected computers. The bus topology is composed of a single link connected to many computers. All computers on this common connection receive all signals transmitted by any attached computer. The star topology connects many computers to a common hub computer. This hub can be passive, repeating any input to all computers similar to the bus topology, or it can be active, selectively switching inputs to specific destination computers. The ring topology uses multiple links to form a circle of computers. Each link carries information in one direction. Information moves around the ring in sequence from its source to its destination. On a mesh network, topology can actually change on the fly. No central device oversees a mesh network, and no set route is used to pass data back and forth between computers. Instead, each computer includes everything it needs to serve as a relay point for sending information to any other computer on the network. Thus, if any one computer is damaged or temporarily unavailable, information is dynamically rerouted to other computers—a process known as self-healing. see Computer Architecture.
LANs commonly use bus, star, or ring topologies. WANs, which connect distant equipment across the country or internationally, often use special leased telephone lines as point-to-point links.
C
Sharing Information
When computers share physical connections to transmit information packets, a set of Media Access Control (MAC) protocols are used to allow information to flow smoothly through the network. An efficient MAC protocol ensures that the transmission medium is not idle if computers have information to transmit. It also prevents collisions due to simultaneous transmission that would waste media capacity. MAC protocols also allow different computers fair access to the medium.
One type of MAC is Ethernet, which is used by bus or star network topologies. An Ethernet-linked computer first checks if the shared medium is in use. If not, the computer transmits. Since two computers can both sense an idle medium and send packets at the same time, transmitting computers continue to monitor the shared connection and stop transmitting information if a collision occurs. When used on local area networks, Ethernet typically transmits information at a rate of either 10 or 100 Mbps, but newer wide-area technologies are capable of speeds as high as 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).
Computers also can use Token Ring MAC protocols, which pass a special message called a token through the network. This token gives the computer permission to send a packet of information through the network. If a computer receives the token, it sends a packet, or, if it has no packet to send, it passes the token to the next computer. Since there is only one token in the network, only one computer can transmit information at a time. Token Ring networks are now quite rare. Most LANs now use Ethernet technology. International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), the company that invented Token Ring in the early 1980s, no longer promotes the technology.
In the mid-1990s a new protocol called Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) was introduced. This protocol encodes data in fixed-sized packets called cells rather than variable-sized packets used on an Ethernet network. It was designed as a way of merging old, circuit-switched telephone networks with more modern packet-switched computer networks in order to deliver data, voice, and video over the same channel. This can now be done with other protocols as well. Capable of speeds of nearly 10 Gbps, ATM is often used in wide area networks, but never really caught on with LANs.
III
NETWORK OPERATION AND MANAGEMENT
Network management and system administration are critical for a complex system of interconnected computers and resources to remain operating. A network manager is the person or team of people responsible for configuring the network so that it runs efficiently. For example, the network manager might need to connect computers that communicate frequently to reduce interference with other computers. The system administrator is the person or team of people responsible for configuring the computer and its software to use the network. For example, the system administrator may install network software and configure a server's file system so client computers can access shared files.
Networks are subject to hacking, or illegal access, so shared files and resources must be protected. A network intruder could eavesdrop on packets being sent across a network or send fictitious messages. For sensitive information, data encryption (scrambling data using mathematical equations) renders captured packets unreadable to an intruder. Most servers also use authentication schemes to ensure that a request to read or write files or to use resources is from a legitimate client and not from an intruder. See Computer Security.
IV
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES AND TRENDS
As of 2005, much of the Internet’s backbone—that is, its core infrastructure connecting so many of the world’s PCs—had been converted to 10 Gbps Ethernet, and researchers were working to develop even faster technologies. Ethernet speeds tend to grow by a factor of ten every half decade, and if this trend continues, speeds as high as 100 Gbps can be expected by 2008. Many researchers, however, believe that 100 Gbps is a bit further off, expecting an intermediate stop at 20 or 40 Gbps.
On the wireless side, some researchers are working on a new local area standard, known as 802.11n, which would double transmission speeds for wireless devices to nearly 200 Mbps. Other researchers are developing a new standard called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), which would allow wireless mobile devices to seamlessly move from local area networks to wide area cellular networks and back again. Currently, there is no way for personal digital assistant (PDA) handhelds and cell phones to move automatically between a wireless LAN and a wireless WAN or vice versa. Service is interrupted, and a manual adjustment must be made on the device for wireless service to continue.



MCI, Inc.


MCI, Inc.

MCI, Inc., international telecommunications company, which became one of the largest bankruptcies in United States history in 2002 when it was known as WorldCom, Inc. The company went bankrupt after being accused of carrying out the biggest accounting fraud in U.S. business history. The company emerged from bankruptcy in April 2004 when it officially adopted the name MCI, Inc. In February 2005 Verizon Communications Inc. announced that it was acquiring MCI for about $6.7 billion, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. The merger was completed in 2006.
II
HISTORY
The beginnings of MCI date from 1963 when John Goeken, the owner of a mobile phone company, sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide telephone service between Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. Goeken’s company, known as Microwave Communications, Inc., planned to use then-new microwave technology that transmitted phone calls through the air like radio signals rather than through the commonly used copper wires (see Microwave Communications). At the time AT&T Corp. operated as a government-regulated monopoly, controlling all long-distance telephone service within the United States. AT&T, which used the profits from long-distance services between major cities to subsidize its service to rural customers, strongly opposed Goeken’s plan.
In 1968, while the issue was being decided by the courts, Microwave Communications, Inc., was renamed MCI Communications Corporation. Later that year, William McGowan replaced Goeken as head of MCI. Under McGowan’s leadership, MCI filed a lawsuit claiming that AT&T constituted an illegal monopoly, or trust, designed to eliminate competition in the telecommunications industry. The company also began lobbying the FCC and the Congress of the United States. MCI’s efforts eventually succeeded. In 1971 MCI became the first company authorized by the FCC to compete with AT&T in the American long-distance market. In 1982, under the threat of a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust suit, AT&T agreed to give up control of its 22 regional subsidiaries, which provided local telephone service.
In the aftermath of the breakup, AT&T cut prices drastically, compelling MCI to do the same. Although MCI now had the second largest share of the U.S. long-distance market, the company lost $448 million in 1986. MCI soon joined AT&T in calling for deregulation that would allow long-distance companies to compete in local markets.
Responding to growing competition in the telecommunications industry, MCI began to focus on marketing and diversification. In 1992 the company launched a highly successful long-distance service known as Friends and Family, which promised reduced rates for residential customers. In 1993 MCI and British Telecommunications (BT), the United Kingdom’s largest provider of local and long-distance telephone services, announced a worldwide strategic alliance. As part of the alliance, BT invested $4.3 billion to acquire a 20 percent stake in MCI. In 1994 MCI and Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival, Mexico’s largest financial group, formed a joint venture known as Avantel to offer long-distance service in Mexico.
As competition in the telecommunications industry intensified, MCI lost more than a million customers to AT&T in 1994. To compensate, MCI increasingly focused on forming partnerships with other large companies. In 1995 MCI acquired Nationwide Cellular, an American cellular telephone company, and SHL Systemhouse, a Canadian firm specializing in corporate computer networking systems. In 1996 MCI and News Corporation formed a joint venture to offer consumers information and entertainment through a satellite system known as ASkyB (American Sky Broadcasting). Similar satellite services were offered to businesses through the SkyMCI program. MCI also formed strategic alliances with Microsoft Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Intel Corporation.
III
MCI-WORLDCOM MERGER
The 1996 Telecommunications Act deregulated the U.S. telephone market. MCI became the first long-distance company to offer local telephone service, but it also faced new competition in the long-distance market from regional telephone companies. In 1996 British Telecommunications announced plans to purchase Washington D.C.-based MCI. However, after BT lowered its offering price by nearly 20 percent, in 1997 MCI accepted a purchase offer of $37 billion from telecommunications firm WorldCom.
Founded in 1983, WorldCom had used its own fiber-optic cable network to become one of the leading U.S. telephone and Internet service providers (see Fiber Optics). WorldCom, based in Jackson, Mississippi, also owned Internet access company UUNET Technologies, one of the world’s leading Internet service providers.
The merger faced scrutiny from antitrust officials in the United States and Europe. Regulators voiced concerns that the proposed company’s Internet business would have an unfair advantage in the market because both WorldCom and MCI had substantial Internet holdings. In early 1998 WorldCom’s UUNET division had gained control of the network units of CompuServe, a subsidiary of America Online, making UUNET the world’s leading provider of Internet access. To gain approval for the WorldCom-MCI merger, MCI sold its Internet assets to Cable & Wireless PLC, a British telecommunications firm, for $1.75 billion in 1998. The European Commission and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved the merger later that year.
IV
ACCOUNTING FRAUD AND BANKRUPTCY
In June 2002 WorldCom admitted that it had falsely reported $3.85 billion in expenses over five quarterly periods to make the company appear profitable when it had actually lost $1.2 billion during that period. Experts said it was one of the biggest accounting frauds ever. The company fired its chief financial officer and laid off about 17,000 workers, more than 20 percent of its workforce. The company’s stock price plummeted from a high of $64.50 in 1999 to 9 cents in late July 2002 when it filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the United States Department of Justice, and the U.S. Congress all opened investigations into WorldCom’s accounting scandal. The admission of accounting fraud followed similar developments at other major companies, most notably the Enron Corporation, and was blamed for helping send stock markets into a major decline during 2002.
In February 2004 the U.S. Justice Department handed down indictments against Bernard J. Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, and Scott D. Sullivan, the former chief accounting officer. Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charges in a plea agreement in which he agreed to be the chief witness against Ebbers, who pleaded not guilty. A jury convicted Ebbers in March 2005 of securities fraud, conspiracy, and filing false reports with regulators. In July Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison. A number of other lower-ranking WorldCom financial executives were also indicted and pleaded guilty.
In March 2004, in a formal filing with the SEC, the company detailed the full extent of its fraudulent accounting. The new statement showed the actual fraud amounted to $11 billion and was accomplished mainly by artificially reducing expenses to make earnings appear larger. After restructuring its debt and meeting other requirements imposed by a federal court, the company emerged from bankruptcy protection in April 2004 and formally changed its name to MCI, Inc.
Even as it emerged from bankruptcy, industry observers anticipated that MCI would need to merge with another telecommunications firm in order to compete against larger companies that offer a broader range of telecommunications services. The merger materialized less than a year later, in February 2005, when Verizon Communications Inc. announced its acquisition of MCI for about $6.7 billion in cash, stocks, and dividend payments. MCI ceased to exist as an independent company under the terms of the merger, which was completed in 2006.

AT&T, Inc.


AT&T, Inc.

AT&T, Inc., the largest telecommunications company in the United States following the merger in 2005 between SBC Communications Inc. and AT&T Corp. After receiving regulatory and shareholder approval to acquire AT&T in November 2005 for $16 billion, SBC decided to adopt the AT&T name, keeping alive the brand name of the former American Telephone and Telegraph Company, which held a virtual monopoly on telephone service in the United States until 1984, when it was forced to divest itself of local telephone operations under the terms of an antitrust agreement. The new company was named AT&T, Inc.
II
ORIGINS
AT&T traces its roots to Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1876. One year later Bell founded the Bell Telephone Company and began licensing telephone exchanges to route telephone calls throughout New England. Bell Telephone Company quickly became embroiled in a dispute with the Western Union Telegraph Company, which had filed a patent for the telephone just hours after Alexander Graham Bell. As part of a compromise reached in 1879, Western Union sold its 55-city telephone system to Bell Telephone Company and backed out of the telephone business. Bell Telephone agreed to abandon the telegraph business and pay royalties to Western Union. In 1882 Bell acquired Western Electric Company, the largest manufacturer of electrical equipment in the United States, from Western Union.
In 1885 Bell Telephone created the American Telephone and Telegraph Company to finance, build, and operate the parent company’s rapidly expanding long-distance system. Many technological advances followed, including the pay telephone, an automatic dial system, and party lines that allowed several people to share a telephone line. In 1899 AT&T itself became the parent company for the entire Bell system. AT&T owned almost all of the long-distance circuits in the United States, while its subsidiary, the Western Electric Company, manufactured most of the telephone equipment. Although heavily burdened with debt, the system had more than 3 million telephones in operation by 1907. That year a group of investors led by American financier J. P. Morgan took control of the company. Morgan appointed Theodore Vail, a former associate of Alexander Graham Bell, as president. In 1909 AT&T purchased Western Union. This acquisition raised complaints that AT&T had become a trust, an illegal corporate monopoly organized to eliminate competition. In 1913 the U.S. government forced AT&T to sell Western Union and grant independent local telephone companies the right to connect to its long-distance lines. AT&T, however, maintained its monopoly on long-distance service and retained control of Western Electric. In return, AT&T president Vail agreed to accept government regulation.
AT&T developed many technological innovations, such as the first long-distance television transmission in the United States (1927), the invention of the transistor (1948), and the first transatlantic telephone cable (1956). In 1962 AT&T launched Telstar I, the first Earth-orbiting commercial communications satellite. In 1964 the company developed the Touch-Tone phone, which featured push buttons rather than a rotary dial. Beginning in 1949, AT&T faced a new series of antitrust suits. Federal officials banned AT&T from entering unregulated businesses in 1956, took away the company’s telephone equipment monopoly in 1968, and gave microwave-based long-distance companies the right to access AT&T’s lines in 1969.
III
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
In 1974 the Department of Justice filed two antitrust suits against AT&T. One of the complaints asked that the communications giant be dismantled. While these cases were tied up in the courts the company continued to make enormous financial gains. AT&T’s $6.9 billion profit in 1981, the highest ever recorded by any company at the time, only fueled charges that the company was an illegal monopoly. In 1982 AT&T and the government announced that the Bell telephone system would be broken up, and that the company would be permitted to enter the unregulated computer and information systems markets. In 1984, as part of the antitrust settlement, AT&T lost control of its 22 regional telephone systems, which were replaced by seven firms that became known as the Baby Bells, including the firm that eventually became SBC Communications. Although the company retained its long-distance business, the breakup reduced AT&T’s $150 billion in assets—more than any other corporation in the world—to $34 billion overnight.
AT&T spent much of the 1980s and 1990s searching for a new course. In 1994 the company acquired McCaw Cellular Communications of Kirkland, Washington, then the largest provider of cellular phone service in the United States. This business, renamed AT&T Wireless Services, provided cellular phone services in more than 1,000 cities. In 1995 AT&T announced plans to establish its communications equipment and computing divisions as separate companies. The following year AT&T spun off its communications equipment division and Bell Laboratories as an independent company called Lucent Technologies. NCR, a computer company that had become a subsidiary of AT&T in 1991, also spun off as an independent company in 1996.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the U.S. telecommunications industry, creating new opportunities and challenges for AT&T. The company extended its activities in a number of markets, including Internet access, satellite television, local phone service, and wireless communications. In 1998 AT&T agreed to purchase Teleport Communications Group, Inc. of New York for $11.3 billion in order to expand AT&T’s local phone markets to more than 60 U.S. cities. That same year AT&T announced it would reduce its workforce by up to 18,000 employees, primarily through voluntary early retirement incentives.
In 1999 AT&T paid an estimated $55 billion to acquire Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), one of the largest cable-television companies in the United States. Based in Englewood, Colorado, TCI provided cable television service to more than 10 million U.S. homes at the time of the merger. Through the acquisition, AT&T intended to make TCI’s cable lines capable of offering local telephone service to consumers. This prospect was appealing to federal regulators who approved the merger, because they had long sought to open local telephone monopolies to competition.
The merger also enabled AT&T to enhance its Internet business by offering high-speed Internet access through TCI’s cable lines. The company named its cable television and high-speed Internet access business AT&T Broadband. In late 2001 AT&T reached an agreement to sell AT&T Broadband to Comcast Corporation, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Federal regulators approved the merger in 2002.
In 2004 AT&T Wireless was acquired by Cingular Wireless, a company founded by SBC Communications and BellSouth Corporation with a controlling interest by SBC. The acquisition set the stage for SBC to acquire all of AT&T. In January 2005 SBC announced a deal to buy AT&T for $16 billion in stock and cash. The merger was approved by regulators and shareholders in November 2005 when SBC announced that it would adopt the AT&T name.

Intelligent Transportation Systems


Intelligent Transportation Systems

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), advanced electronics, communications, and computer systems that increase the efficiency and safety of highway transportation. Originally known as Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems (IVHS), these technologies can provide real-time information exchange between drivers and the roads, giving rise to the terms smart cars and smart highways. As the technologies have expanded to include public transportation and commercial vehicles, this range of technologies has become known as the Intelligent Transportation System. Increasingly, drivers will have access to up-to-the-minute information on traffic conditions, alternate routes, and directions to unfamiliar destinations. Ultimately, vehicle control may be automated.
II
TRAFFIC CONTROL
Electronics and computer systems are currently used in advanced traffic management to improve traffic control. Traffic along major highways in some cities is monitored by remote cameras, radar, or sensors in the roadway. A central computer system analyzes the information. If roads are congested, traffic flow can be improved by automatically adjusting traffic-signal timing, controlling traffic flow on freeway ramps, or providing information to drivers by means of electronic signs along the roads.
III
TRAVELER INFORMATION
Advanced traveler-information systems are currently available in some new automobiles. These are navigational systems into which drivers enter their destination. An electronic map then displays the best route on a small screen, or a synthesized voice provides directions along the route, including directions on when to turn. These systems use a transponder, or a transmitting and receiving device, in the vehicle and a satellite-based global positioning system to pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle along its route. When this navigation system is coupled with cellular-radio technology, it can be used to signal a central dispatcher in case of an emergency.
IV
VEHICLE CONTROL
Automated vehicle-control technologies are currently under development to improve highway safety. These devices are aboard the vehicle and can alert a driver to an impending danger or, in an emergency, can override the actions of the driver. A radar system has been adapted for use in school buses that detects the presence of a person near the vehicle and then warns the driver. Radar and sensors are also used to detect another vehicle in the driver's blind spot—that is, in a position that is not visible in the mirrors. Infrared sensing and other methods of visual enhancement to improve safety during night driving or during adverse weather conditions such as fog, snow, or heavy rain are also under research. The most ambitious ITS project is the automated highway, on which vehicles can travel at high speeds and at close intervals by means of on-board radar, vehicle-position and engine sensors, actuators for acceleration and braking, and computer links between vehicles.
V
COMMERCIAL USE
Commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses also use ITS technologies. Transponders allow these vehicles to pay tolls, obtain permits, and accomplish other routine functions while in motion, saving the time and expense of stopping. Electronic toll collection for passenger cars is also currently available in some metropolitan areas. In the future, commercial shipping companies will be able to track specific vehicles and eliminate weigh stations by using weigh-in-motion systems.
ITS technologies are expected to improve the efficiency of intermodal transportation, the use of a combination of modes of transportation, such as automobiles, mass transit, and airplanes. Commuters will be able to receive information on the location of bus, train, or subway stations, parking availability, and current arrival and departure times. The availability of advanced information is expected to increase the use of mass transit and thereby decrease traffic congestion.



Personal Media Device


Personal Media Device
iPod Digital Media Players
Three models of Apple's popular iPod MP3 and digital media players, from left to right: iPod shuffle, iPod nano, and iPod with video. The special-edition red iPod nano was issued as part of a campaign to raise funds to fight AIDS in Africa.

Personal Media Device or Portable Media Device, handheld electronic device that plays sound and video recordings stored as digital multimedia files. Other functions and features offered by personal media devices (PMDs) may include displaying and storing photographs, access to over-the-air radio or television broadcasts, wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) access, text messaging, e-books, electronic games, video and audio recording capability, and cellular telephone access. Media files can be downloaded from personal computers or other devices that have access to the Internet or the ability to record digital media files. PMDs usually have a built-in hard drive (microdrive) or solid-state flash memory. They can run on batteries or be plugged into a power source.
Personal media devices have become a growing segment of the home electronics market, particularly MP3 players. The trend is for more types of portable electronic devices to have multimedia features. Newer models of cell phones, portable game systems, and even digital cameras also have media playback capabilities, as do some personal digital assistants. The go-anywhere convenience and on-demand entertainment made possible with these devices have made them a welcome addition to the lives of many people.
II
TYPES OF PERSONAL MEDIA PLAYERS

A
MP3 Players
Microsoft's Zune Media Player
Microsoft introduced its Zune audio player in 2006. In addition to playing MP3 audio recordings and radio broadcasts, the device can display photos and videos. It also has a wireless sharing feature so that users can send media to each other.

MP3 players are designed primarily for listening to recorded music or audio material such as podcasts, usually downloaded as files created or stored on a personal computer. Some players can also show video on a display screen. They are lightweight devices that can be held in a single hand. Many can be carried easily in a shirt pocket or strapped to an arm. Earbuds or headphones allow for private listening. MP3 players can also be plugged into speakers or other audio equipment for full sound playback. Additional capabilities include off-air radio and viewing photographs or lists of e-mail addresses or notes. Accessories such as microphones can allow MP3 players to make voice recordings.
The development of the MP3 format allowed music to be recorded in compressed digital form, requiring much less memory to store or bandwidth to download than a musical track from a CD in regular uncompressed form. The first use of MP3 format was on personal computers, allowing music and other audio files to be easily sent and downloaded over the Internet. The invention of the portable MP3 player in 1998 meant large numbers of music tracks could be stored on a small, lightweight device. MP3 players were much less bulky than portable cassette-tape players or portable CD players and did not require transporting tapes or CDs. MP3 players that used a small hard drive to store files could hold hundreds of hours of music. Music was typically downloaded to the player using a personal computer.
Apple Inc. introduced the iPod in 2001. The iPod had a hard drive and could hold thousands of songs or, in later models, display thousands of digital photographs. A user accessed the menu by touching parts of a click wheel rather than by using a keypad or switches. The iPod’s capacity, convenience, and simple design made it a major success with consumers. Later designs included a larger display screen to allow video files to be viewed and more compact iPods (iPod shuffle and iPod nano) that use flash memory instead of a hard drive. Microsoft introduced its own MP3 player called Zune in 2005.
B
Portable Multimedia Players
Portable Media Player
Many portable media players play the forms of digital entertainment that can be stored on a personal computer, including recorded television, movies, pictures, and music. This model used a hard drive to store data and an LCD screen for display.

Portable multimedia players (PMPs)—also called personal media players, portable video players, and video jukeboxes—are primarily designed for viewing video. They typically have a larger display screen than MP3 players and are held in two hands. Some models, however, are the size of MP3 players and have smaller screens. PMPs use hard drives or flash drives, and have LCD or OLED display screens. Features available include playing recorded audio and video in a number of formats, game playing, photo storage, e-book readers, off-air TV and radio broadcasts, Wi-Fi Internet connection, and video and radio recording capabilities. The first PMP was introduced in 2002 by the French company Archos.
C
Multimedia Cell Phones
Handheld mobile cellular telephones have gained enormous popularity since their introduction in the 1980s. Models have become smaller and lighter as more features have been added. Camera phones were introduced in the late 1990s, allowing users to take and send photos and later video. Computer components such as hard drives or flash drives have allowed cell phones to play and receive many types of multimedia, and perform some computer functions.
Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone in 2007 as a device that combined a mobile phone with the multimedia features of an iPod and access to the Internet. Similar handheld, all-in-one electronic devices that combine features of personal computers, media players, gaming devices, and mobile phones are likely to become much more common in the future.
D
Portable Gaming Devices
Handheld, portable gaming consoles are primarily designed for electronic games and can be interactive, permitting multiple players to participate while linked through separate devices. Gaming devices typically are held in two hands, with buttons or touch keys on each side. With many models, the display screen allows additional multimedia capabilities similar to PMPs, including wireless Internet access, playing video, or viewing photographs. Sound and music come through built-in speakers or can be listened to with earbuds or headphones.
Inexpensive handheld electronic games were first developed in the late 1970s and remained popular into the early 1990s. More sophisticated dedicated gaming devices were introduced in the late 1980s. Combination devices that offer multimedia or Internet features began to appear in the early 2000s. Such extras are now available on many models and brands.
E
Personal Digital Assistants
Personal Digital Assistant
The personal digital assistant (PDA) is a handheld computing device. Some models have multimedia playback capabilities, including MP3 files and video.

Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are handheld computers that were originally designed to help with such tasks as taking notes, scheduling appointments, and sending faxes and electronic mail. Many now have multimedia capabilities including radio, MP3, and video/audio recording, as well as e-book display. Some PDAs also have a global positioning system (GPS) link.
F
Digital Cameras
The large display screen on some digital cameras can be used to watch movies and videos. Movies or video can be downloaded from a personal computer to the cameras, which can also play sound. Some digital cameras can also be plugged into television sets to show movies, video, or photos stored on the camera.
III
CONSUMER ISSUES

A
Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues
Consumers have welcomed the ability to easily record, copy, and transfer digital multimedia files from a CD or a DVD, or from the Internet, to a personal computer and then to an MP3 player or PMP for convenient listening or viewing. However, some forms of copying are seen as piracy by the industries that claim legal and intellectual property rights over such audio and video material. Sharing of MP3 music files over the Internet in particular has led to attempts to prosecute and fine people for illegal copying. The United States Supreme Court and Congress have tried to define what constitutes fair use of copyrighted material. As the law stands, an individual who buys a CD is allowed to copy the songs to their own PC, convert the music to MP3 files, and download the files for private listening on a personal MP3 player or other device. However, supplying copies of the files to another person, even for free, is deemed illegal.
One solution to this problem has been the creation of online services such as Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s Zune Music Store, or AmazonMP3 that provide downloading of music files or other copyrighted material over the Internet for a fee or on a subscription basis. These purchased files may contain special coding called digital rights management (DRM) protection to prevent additional copying, or that render the files unplayable after a certain amount of time or on different kinds of digital devices. Such DRM coding and software-hardware incompatibilities have been controversial and unpopular with consumers. Some music download services and recording companies have dropped the anticopying protection features, allowing consumers to make a copy of the legally purchased music file to any device they wish, and even to copy the file onto a recordable CD or DVD. DRM may be retained for downloaded digital video files such as motion pictures, however.
B
Environmental Concerns
The convenience of personal media devices has not come without a cost. The batteries for such devices can only supply power for a limited time. The more complex the media or task, the faster the batteries may run out. Batteries can be made rechargeable and some designs that have solar panels to recharge batteries have been marketed. Electronic devices as well as the batteries to power them often contain substances such as heavy metals or toxic chemicals. Disposing of old electronics and batteries has become a serious environmental issue. Some states such as California and Washington require recycling of electronics rather than disposal in landfill sites. Manufacturing such devices may also have potentially harmful environmental effects.
C
Health Concerns
Some medical experts have raised concerns about possible health effects associated with using some personal media devices. The lightweight earbuds commonly used with MP3 players, gaming devices, and other handheld electronics fit deep in the ear. Some evidence indicates that loud volumes or listening for extended periods can damage hearing. Other concerns have been raised about cell phones held next to the head for long periods of time. Some studies suggest microwave energy broadcast by a cell phone could affect brain cells and other tissues in the head.