New Technologies and Regulatory Gaps

The Ultimate Little Black Book (pdf)

Sterling-based NeuStar is the carriers’ digital directory for all phone calls in North America. More than 800 telephone companies have numbers in the database. NeuStar assigns blocks of available telephone numbers to carriers. It also manages the directory for common short codes: five- or six-digit codes that people punch into their cellphones to take part in sweepstakes or to vote for game-show contestants, for instance. And about one out of every four Internet transactions is routed using a NeuStar database, as NeuStar handles traffic for domains that include .biz, .us, .org and .info.

NeuStar’s databases are so powerful that the FBI a few years ago sought direct, unfettered access to one containing 310 million phone numbers in the United States and Canada. The telephone companies that pay NeuStar to run the database denied the FBI’s request, but they did allow NeuStar to create a site where authorized law enforcement officials with court orders can obtain carrier information on telephone numbers.

NeuStar is part of an evolving telecom industry that is creating caches of information attractive to the government without clear guidelines governing who may have access and under what circumstances. Its registries fall under international, U.S. government and trade association rules, including those set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Writers’ Strike Accelerates A Trend?

A season to forget for TV networks (pdf)

AS REAL-LIFE broadcasters get set to announce their fall schedules next week in New York, they’re still scratching their way out of a trench, otherwise known as the worst season in the history of the network TV business.

Not a single one of the new fall series broke through to a big audience, even the ones that looked can’t-fail on paper […]

Every network except Fox has posted significant ratings declines for the season so far, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

Even as existing series have gradually returned from the three-month writers strike, viewers have, to the surprise and dismay of network executives, stayed away.

Social Networks, Trust and Scams

Web social networks friendly to identity thieves (pdf)

Social networking sites, which let users create detailed profile pages and connect with friends, are becoming the hot new thing for identity thieves, both amateur and professional. As improved spam filters and skeptical consumers make bogus e-mail less successful, scam artists are taking advantage of the atmosphere of trust that exists within these online circles of friends.

Symantec Corp., a tech security firm, recently reported that 91% of the bogus U.S.-based websites used in so-called phishing attacks during the second half of 2007 imitated the log-in pages of two unnamed social networking sites — believed by industry executives to be the two biggest, MySpace and Facebook. Phishing tries to trick recipients into visiting phony websites and disclosing account numbers, passwords and other personal data.

“The bad guys are very adaptable. If something doesn’t work, they come up with something new,” said Kevin Haley, a product executive at Symantec. “Users feel more comfortable surrounded by their friends online — what could be safer?”

Sometimes financial gain isn’t the objective. Cyber-bullies have taken over the social networking accounts of acquaintances to post vicious rants or engage in mischief.

Learning *Is* Taking Place

An Alternative Approach to Marketing Rock Bands

The label has a deal with Atlantic Records, a Warner Music Group brand, that lets Atlantic promote, market and distribute Fueled by Ramen bands that are becoming popular. Even by itself, Fueled by Ramen is usually one of the most popular partner channels on YouTube, behind conglomerates like Universal Music and CBS.

The label and its partners “know how to do things on the cheap,” said Bob McLynn, a partner at Crush Management, which represents Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes and several other Fueled by Ramen bands. “The music business doesn’t know how to do that.”

Fueled by Ramen has its acts promote one another as well as the company itself, as indie labels have done since the 1960s heyday of Motown and Stax. But Mr. Janick has brought such cross-promotion into the Internet era, where fans of one band are just a click away from information on another on the label’s Web site. His bands often tour together, and many were discovered by Pete Wentz, of Fall Out Boy, and benefit from his implicit endorsement.

Related: Nine Inch Nails Album Is Free Online