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Media Bits & Bytes - Sorry, Wrong Number Edition

Judge Declares Phone Spying a No-No; Internet of Things Coming Up Fast; Many "Things" Are Already Plugged In; Social Media Becomes a Trusted News Source; San Francisco Gets Free WiFi

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A city bus in Washington displays a wraparound advertisement sponsored by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. , New York Times // Jim Lo Scalzo / European Pressphoto Agency

Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records

By Charlie Savage
December 16, 2013
New York Times

A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans' phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as "almost Orwellian" and suggesting that James Madison would be "aghast" to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way.

The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the two plaintiffs in the case and to destroy the records of their calling history. But Judge Leon, appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, stayed his injunction, allowing the government time to appeal it, which he said could take at least six months.

The case is the first in which a federal judge who is not on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorized the once-secret program, has examined the bulk data collection on behalf of someone who is not a criminal defendant. It also marks the first successful legal challenge brought against the program since it was revealed in June after leaks by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden. In a statement from Moscow, where he has obtained temporary asylum, Mr. Snowden praised the ruling.

How the "Internet of Things" Will Replace the Web

By Christopher Mims
December 15, 2013

We've already written about why 2014 is really, finally the year that the "internet of things" - that effort to remotely control every object on earth - becomes visible in our everyday lives.

But most of us don't recognize just how far the internet of things will go, from souped-up gadgets that track our every move to a world that predicts our actions and emotions. In this way, the internet of things will become more central to society than the internet as we know it today. The web will survive, just as email survived the arrival of the web. But its role will be reduced to that of a language for displaying content on screens, which are likely to be more ubiquitous but less necessary. Here's a closer look at the internet of things that's already here, and where it's headed.

10 Surprising Things Connected to the Internet

By Jason Shueh
December 12, 2013
Government Technology

Many are aware of the well-publicized Google Glass that pairs the Internet with a set of shades. What takes some by surprise, however, is how many other products have followed suit.

The trend has been dubbed with a variety of titles, such as the "Internet of Things" and the "Internet of Everything," titles which  -  considering their ambiguity  -  could easily be dismissed for sheer lack of definition. However, a new report published by the Center for Data Innovation showcases just how diverse these "things" connected to the Internet can be.

Here are 10 things you may not have known were connected to the Internet, that also link to a trend in smart products hitting the marketplace.

More Than Half of US Residents Get News From Social Media

By Kimberlee Morrison
December 10, 2013
Social Times 

Social media is being used as a news source by bigger percentages of its users. 52 percent of Twitter users and 47 percent of Facebook users are using their feeds to get the latest news. Reddit is by far the most relied on for news, but it represents such a small percentage of the general US population. So where are we getting our news?

Pew Research Center conducted the study as part of a continuing examination of social media use as it relates to news. The Center examined the media consumption patterns of 5,137 social media users, to gauge the national response to news sources and news gathering by individuals. The results reveal a lot about how the role of social media is changing and maybe why Facebook decided to change the news feed.

In most cases, users got their news through only one social network, while a quarter used two sites and only nine percent of news buffs used three sites of more. But before we start sounding the death knell for other forms of news media, people are still buying newspapers, and watching TV.

While they are most adept at using mobile technology for getting their news, Twitter users were least likely to watch television news and bought the fewest papers. With Twitter's short form, and mobile friendliness, 54 percent of tweeters were getting their news hot off the hashtag.

San Francisco Gets Fast, Free Public Wi-Fi on Market Street

By Liz Gannes
December 16, 2013
All Things Digital 

Nearly 10 years after international tech hub San Francisco first said it wanted to offer free public Wi-Fi, the city's first big deployment is finally being unveiled today. There's a new mayor and a new tech boom in town, and  -  perhaps most importantly  -  the technology for providing reliable, high-capacity access has improved dramatically over the past decade.

San Francisco will offer free Internet access along the Market Street corridor, from the Embarcadero to the Castro, under the network name "_San_Francisco_Free_WiFi" (with the awkward punctuation so as to show up first in search results).

The network is built to reach speeds of up to 50 Mbps both up and downstream, better than what many people receive in their own homes. The Market Street project is being built with equipment donated by Ruckus Wireless, which is also powering high-speed networks in San Jose, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and for the World Cup in Brazil.