Week in Standards – Week 21, 2011

Here is this week’s week in standards.

Web Standards

Mobile Apps “May Soon Be Dead”

On the day that Gartner reports the growth of the smartphone market by 85%, comes the counter intuitive suggestion that very soon mobile apps will be dead. Apps are, of course, the main reason people buy smartphones.

While there is nothing the media enjoy more than killing off things, MIT’s Technology Review is a title not given to excess or hysteria. But the reason for its gloomy prognosis is the increasing growth of web apps.

W3C: new members extend Web standards work

The World Wide Web Consortium announced 35 new members, a move it says signals growing interest in HTML and other Web technologies it standardizes. Among the new members are: China Unicom, Comcast, Facebook, LG Electronics, NEC Corporation, Netflix, SanDisk, Sony, and Zynga.

W3C to develop peer-to-peer browser standards

The World Wide Web Consortium is to develop standards to enable direct peer-to-peer communications between browsers, without the need to go through centralized servers.

The standards could make it more difficult for repressive government action against Web communications, according to members of the W3C working group assigned to develop the standards. The group aims to define APIs that will let browsers communicate using audio, video, and “supplementary” real-time communications, the W3C said yesterday.

Opera CTO still sour on Google native code plugin

Google I/O Officially, Opera CTO Håkon Wium Lie was at Google’s developer conference to discuss WebP – Mountain View’s open source effort to replace the aging JPEG image compression format – but he’d rather talk about WebM, the video format he calls the last missing piece in the standard web platform.

This morning, at Google I/O in downtown San Francisco, Wium Lie delivered a presentation on Opera’s use of WebP, a new “lossy” image compression format open sourced by Google last fall. Like Google Chrome, Opera’s desktop browser can now display images encoded with WebP, but the format is also used by Opera Turbo, the browser maker’s traffic-compression service.

Khronos respond to WebGL security report

The Khronos Group, who maintain OpenGL and WebGL standards, have responded to claims of security issues in WebGL. It affirms that security is a “vitally important consideration for any web standard” and notes that the WebGL working group has been working with GPU vendors “from day one” on WebGL security.

DOJ Ruling Against Microsoft Impacted Browsers Little

Even though the DOJ put restrictions on Microsoft about how Windows handled browsers, the consent decree seemed to have little effect on the development of the browser market, observers said. Instead, competitive pressure brought about the vibrant market that the DOJ sought, and the variety of browsers today, and what they can do, is far richer than it was in 1998.

Ericsson testing the boundaries of HTML5

The knock on HTML5 is that browser-based technologies don’t have the oomph to stack up to their more robust natively developed counterparts. But Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) developers hope to change that perception. At the Ericsson Business Innovation Forum in Silicon Valley this week, Ericsson demoed a prototype browser that supports real-time audio and video, technologies that eventually could be used to run video chat and video conferencing programs straight out of the PC and smartphone browsers.

Mobile Standards

Apple offers olive branch to cellcos with SIM plan

Apple wants to adopt a more standards-based approach for its next generation of SIM cards – as long as it can set the standards. The company has submitted a proposal to the key European telecoms standards body, ETSI, for a tiny SIM card suited to future, ultra-slimline products.

UK start-up targets M2M in white space spectrum

Neul, set up by founders of CSR, aims to enable the ‘internet of things’ once ETSI publishes standards this year

MEF joins ASC X9 to develop essential standards for advancing …

MEF (Mobile Entertainment Forum), the global trade body for the mobile media industry with a dedicated focus on mobile commerce, and ASC X9, the US technical group that develops financial industry standards, today announced that they will work together with industry leaders to develop privacy and security standards for M-commerce. A launch webinar will be held on the 24th of May 2011 which will set out why security is so important for the growth of M-commerce and outline the work of MEF and ASC X9.

Universal phone charger standard amended to include Tablet PCs

A universal mobile charger that’s currently in development has been adjusted to ensure other devices including MP3 players and tablet PCs can be charged using it.

Cloud standards

NIST Releases Federal Cloud Guidelines

Technology standards organization aims to be a comprehensive resource to help agencies comply with government’s “cloud-first” mandate.

OMG Announces Cloud Standards Customer Council

OMG has formed the Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC). CA, IBM, Rackspace, Software AG and Kaavo are founding sponsors. Among end users, Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, North Carolina State University and more than 40 others are CSCC members.

Military won’t commit to single cloud computing architecture, say panelists

The military doesn’t want to to commit to any particular cloud computing architecture, said panelists during a May 11 panel at the AFCEA International 2011 Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, Va.

“There are multiple standards, and they serve multiple purposes. I don’t think it would be beneficial to DoD to limit itself to a selection of just one type of cloud technology,” said Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Brendler, chief of staff of the Defense Information Systems Agency. For example, some architectures serve high speed computing applications better than others. A more capacity-oriented architecture based on a distributed file system–similar to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud–probably wouldn’t be a good fit for such a need, he added.

Brussels opens ears on cloud computing

The European Commission has opened a consultation on cloud computing ahead of the creation of a Europe-wide strategy.

Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda Commissioner, said she wanted to hear from cloud developers as well as users.

Of particular interest is feedback on cross-border data protection and liability, standards and interoperability, uptake of cloud services – especially by smaller companies – and ways to promote research and innovation.

The Commission is already looking at data protection rules more generally, including how they can be adapted to cloud computing.

The consultation will run until 31 August and the Commission’s strategy on cloud computing will be released next year.

Intel, partners push for cloud standards

But how will the market force cloud providers to interoperate?

One effort is Open Data Center Alliance, whose members include BMW, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed, Marriott, Shell, Terremark, UBS, Baidu, eBay and Kraft Foods.

The alliance was formed late last year and its membership has since doubled to more than 150 firms, representing, in total, about $85 billion in annual IT spending, according to Kirk Skaugen, a vice president at Intel and general manager of its data center group.

Intel helped to create the alliance, but Skaugen says the chip maker serves in an advisory, non-voting, role. The roadmaps and recommendations that come out of this group will be software and hardware agonistic, he said.

The alliance isn’t creating standards, but what it will do is work with existing standards organizations, such as Distributed Management Task Force, to help develop them, said Skaugen.

Do Cloud Standards Matter?

The Interop conference this week in Las Vegas discusses opportunities and standards

Red Hat Elected to DMTF Board of Directors

The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the organization bringing the IT industry together to collaborate on systems management standards development, validation, promotion and adoption, today announced that open source solutions provider Red Hat has joined the DMTF Board of Directors. The addition of the industry-leading company adds to DMTF’s expanding presence in the IT industry. Red Hat joins AMD, Broadcom, CA Technologies, Cisco, Citrix Systems Inc., EMC, Fujitsu, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and VMware to continue DMTF’s mission to enable interoperable IT management solutions.

Ubuntu Switches Cloud Platform From Eucalyptus To OpenStack

Canonical has decided to dump the Eucalyptus framework from Ubuntu Linux’s cloud foundation in favor of the OpenStack platform. The OpenStack is an open-standards-based cloud-computing platform established by NASA and hosting-services provider Rackspace.

Privacy standards

California Proposes Smart Grid Data Privacy Standards

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has released a proposed decision that would specify security and privacy requirements for all data collected and stored by smart meters.

Watchdog Hits HHS on Records Security

Two new reports from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General offer harsh assessments of HHS’ efforts to protect electronic health records.

App Makers Urged to Do More to Protect User Privacy

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee scolded both government and industry officials on Thursday for doing too little to protect the privacy of children who use applications on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Senate To Hold Hearing On Mobile Privacy

Standards for online privacy might be in flux as ad networks debate whether to respect the new browser-based do-not-track headers, but many ad companies at least offer privacy policies and say that users can opt out of receiving targeted ads. When it comes to mobile privacy, however, a good number of app developers appear to operate on an anything-goes basis.

Privacy Bills: Which One Would Ad Industry Choose?

It’s no secret most ad industry trade groups and many online marketers do not want online privacy legislation to pass. Yet, if they had to pick one of the six recently-introduced online privacy bills, some would be more palatable to their business interests than others.

Leahy Proposes Changes To Electronic Privacy Law

After nearly two years of discussion on the issue, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has finally introduced legislation that would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

HHS To Release Final Rule on HIPAA Privacy, Security by End of Year

A final omnibus rule to strengthen HIPAA privacy and security safeguards and provide better protection for electronic health data will be released by the end of 2011, according to an HHS official, Government Health IT reports.

Privacy groups applaud Senator Rockefeller’s “Do Not Track” bill

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a new “Do Not Track” bill to Congress that aims to hold companies accountable for collecting information on consumers after they’ve expressed a desire to opt out. Called the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 (PDF), the bill would create a “universal legal obligation” for companies to honor users’ opt-out requests on the Internet and mobile devices, and would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to take action against companies that don’t comply.

White House Issues Major Cybersecurity Guidelines

President Obama wants the Department of Homeland Security to work with the private sector to set security standards for critical parts of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure like the power grid, according to detailed legislative guidance the White House sent to Congress on Thursday.

Government-certified private-sector inspectors would then verify that such systems are safe.

Smart grid standards

Solutions for Integrating PV into the Grid

Solar power’s role in the global power generation portfolio is growing year over year largely because solar generation increasingly makes economic sense.

This burgeoning economic case results from a combination of incentives such as solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and mandates including renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and because solar solutions—especially when they have smart grid and other functionality built in—can be packaged into profitable business propositions without subsidies. As these forces grow solar power’s prominence, power grids must handle far more photovoltaic (PV) input than before. To accomplish this, solar power and the grid have some growing up to do.

Open Standards for a Smart Grid

As the number one purchaser of renewable energy in the United States and a strategic investor in renewable energy startup companies, Intel is helping lead the development of the clean energy industry. An imperative that is closely linked to clean energy is to help make smart energy a global reality.

NIST body backs beefing up cybersecurity in smart grid standards

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel’s (SGIP) Cyber Security Working Group (CSWG) is recommending cybersecurity measures be beefed up in the smart grid standards for wireless communications and smart metering the next time they are revised, according to CSWG Chair Marianne Swanson.