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Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant. If you would like to receive Telecom Daily emailed daily to your desktop, please click here: TelDailyEmail.

Tuesday, February 21...

Verizon Drops Yahoo Purchase Price by $350 Million Over Hacks
Verizon Communications and Yahoo have finally confirmed the swirling rumors that a pair of high-profile security breaches at the Web-centric company would result in a reduced purchase price for its acquisition by Verizon. The likelihood of a reduced purchase price arose after its was revealed that Yahoo had been the victim of two major breaches in 2013 and 2014, respectively, that affected over 1.5 billion user accounts. These incursions were not confirmed by the company until it was already in the process of being acquired by Verizon in 2016. After months of speculation, the duo released a joint statement announcing that the agreed upon $4.83 billion purchase price would be reduced by $350 million. These funds will presumably help insulate Verizon against loss now that it has agreed to pay 50 percent of any penalties associated with governmental and third-party lawsuit judgements resulting from the hacks. For its part, Yahoo itself has agreed to foot the bill for any lawsuits filed by shareholders, as well as any costs resulting from the ongoing SEC investigation into the incidents. The transaction is now on track to close some time during the second quarter of the 2017 fiscal year.

Two Bills Introduced to Limit Law Enforcement's Usage of Fake Cell Towers
A pair of bills have been proposed by US lawmakers that would make it illegal for law enforcement officials to make use of fake cell towers without first being required to get a warrant. Although the full text of the bills has yet to be posted, the documents focus on devices such as the well-known "Stingray" units, which can mimic a typical cell tower, allowing an unknowing user's device to connect to it. Once connected, the device's communications can be discretely monitored without its owner ever knowing that his or her text messages, phone calls, and location data are being inspected by law enforcement. Although the bills would likely go a long way towards alleviating the privacy concerns relating to the generally unregulated current use of such devices, they do come with built-in loopholes. These include exceptions for both "exigent circumstances" and foreign intelligence surveillance. The former likely refers to things like Amber Alerts and other situations in which an individuals life or safety may be in jeopardy, although the exact parameters remain unknown. Both bills are being sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Latest Harris Poll Report Shows Indications of Significant Note 7 Fallout for Samsung
The 2016 edition of The Harris Poll's "Reputation Quotient" has provided one of the first material studies to show the negative impact the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco may have had on Samsung's public image in the US. According to the latest edition of the study, Samsung, which had placed third in 2015, has now tumbled all the way to 49th on the list. The poll was held between November 28th and December 16th, 2016, with just over 30,000 respondents being queried on their feelings about companies' trustworthiness in areas such as social responsibility, products and services, and workplace environment. While this does seem to contradict some earlier polls operated by Reuters and others, it should be noted that additional developments, including the near-arrest of Samsung's CEO for bribery, have occurred since those initial investigations. This year's Reputation Quotient winner was Amazon, with Apple, Google, and Tesla also placing in the top 10. Near the bottom of the list were Comcast, Time Warner, and Wells Fargo.

... Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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