First Amendment and Blogs

A California appeals courts has ruled that First Amendment protections apply to Internet reporting. According to the New York Times:

The three-judge panel in San Jose overturned a trial court’s ruling last year that to protect its trade secrets, Apple was entitled to know the source of leaked data published online. The appeals court also ruled that a subpoena issued by Apple to obtain electronic communications and materials from an Internet service provider was unenforceable.

Zfone for Windows released – high grade encryption for SIP now available

Phil Zimmerman has finally released the Windows version of Zfone. As previously mentioned, ZFone sets up encrypted communications using the ZRTP protocol between two SIP software clients. The Windows version joins existing version already available for MAC and LINUX systems. While this software will be very handy for two individuals that wish to keep their VOIP communications private, in order to truly bring privacy to the predominantly insecure VOIP industry it is hoped that the protocol will be licensed by VOIP handset manufacturers and SIP telephony service providers.

Skype Free Long Distance Workaround

Skype has announced that it will offer free long distance within the US and Canada. This means that a Skype user physically located within the US or Canada can call any landline located in the US or Canada using Skypeout at no charge. The limitations on the calling location appear to be implemented by recognizing IPs used by ISPs located within the US and Canada. Canadian and US residents traveling abroad, and Skype users located outside of North America, are expected to pay the Skypeout rates to call a PSTN number in the US or Canada. However, I suspect that users that utilize corporate VPNs that terminate in North America, or wifi hotspot users that subscribe to one of the pubic VPN services (such as hotspotVPN or PublicVPN) may find they will appear as located in North America even when traveling abroad (this will depend on the location of the public VPN server) and may be able to benefit from the free Skype offer. Another option might be to set up a VPN server on a home computer (for example, iOpus Private Internet Gateway (iPIG))or Internet router.

T-mobile bans VOIP over its 3G network

ZDnet UK recently had a story about T-Mobile in the UK baning (through its terms of use) the use of VOIP over its new Web’n’Walk Pro 3G network (which utilizes an HSDPA-enabled data card). Lets hope that regulators start paying more attention into the use of contractual prohibitions or technical impediments by licensed users of the public air waves (wireless carriers) to protect against cannibalization of competing services they offer.

Skype adds new features

Skype has announced the beta release of version 2.5. Some of the neat new features added include:

* the ability to pay for Skype’s various fee-based services from within Skype (instead of needing to use a web browser)
* support for sharing of contact lists between groups
* the ability to send SMS messages from within Skype.
* audio call quality analyzer
* support for Skypecasts (which allow conference calls of up to 100 participants)

I’ve also recently noticed the emergence of third party services that are tied to Skype. For example, Lavalife is running a World Chat for singles and Untye is offering a desktop sharing application integrated with Skype.