The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with “malicious intent” and was initiated by a “sophisticated actor” but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said the matter is still under investigation.

“Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter,” Earnest said.

President Obama is holding daily meetings with his homeland security advisers and cyber coordinators to determine who is responsible and how to respond, he said.

Earnest said that response would be “proportional.”

“They are considering a range of options,” he said. But he added that the president is also “mindful of the fact sophisticated actors are often times seeking to provoke a response from the United States of America. They may believe that a response from the U.S. in one fashion or another would be advantageous to them.”

Intelligence officials have turned their attention to North Korea this week as the likely culprit. But some have said the attack may also have come from inside Sony, possibly with the help of someone who has worked there.

Sony Pictures canceled the release of its $44 million comedy “The Interview” after hackers threatened there would be attacks on theaters that showed the film. The apparent hackers said they were incensed by the film that depicts the North Korean leader’s head being blown off.

In a message posted to the file sharing site Pastebin, the alleged hackers wrote in awkward English a warning to movie goers.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

James Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies tells NPR’s Mellissa Block the attacks are unprecedented.

“It’s the combination of the techniques and the vindictiveness and the duration of the attack that make it special,” says Lewis, who has worked for the state and commerce departments.

Lewis says North Korea has been pursuing cyber warfare for almost 20 years.

“The current leader’s father put big emphasis on building an IT industry,” he says. “They probably have several thousands of people who are part of their intelligence service. They’ve improved markedly over the past 10 years.”

Lewis says, if North Korea is responsible, as most in the intelligence community seem to believe, this attack has a political agenda.

“This is not warfare, this is politics,” he says. “North Koreans are very touchy about their leaders. They’ve gone after banks, TV stations, newspapers, government agencies. It’s part of a larger political campaign to make a political point or defend their leaders’ reputation.”

The White House defended the right of writers and artists to freely express their views, even those they do not agree with. “And while we may not agree with the content of every single thing that is produced,” Earnest says, “we certainly stand squarely on the side of the right of private individuals to express themselves.”

Hollywood actors and producers such as Judd Apatow, Steve Carell and Jimmy Kimmel took to twitter to call the movie’s cancellation un-American and an act of cowardice.

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The FCC’s controversial plans for a new version of net neutrality are still open for public comment for a few more days, and Chairman Tom Wheeler — continuing to fight charges that he may be a dingo — says it’s already received over 647,000…

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Love or hate them, it’s hard to argue that Apple’s retail stores aren’t highly distinctive. That’s what the EU’s highest court thought when it overruled a German verdict and said that Apple’s store design could be registered as a trademark in Europe….

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New Chrome Plugin Plays Clown Music Every Time You Read About Rob Ford

Toronto mayor and cherub-cheeked comedy goldmine Rob Ford is back in the news this week after a brief stint in rehab, where he may or may not have been using drugs but was definitely belligerent . To celebrate, here’s a Chrome extension that plays clown music at every mention of the crack-smokin’ mayor’s name.

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Considering how successful Apple has been it’s not unreasonable to wonder … does it make sense for Cook to add new members to the board of directors? That’s what the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The crux was that the current board is from the Steve Jobs era, with most of the directors over 63 years of age, half of them having been on the board for more than a decade, if not longer. So, given all that, I think it does.

Tim Cook has shaken up Apple management, he’s hired high-ranking executives from the fashion industry, he brought back charitable matching, he initiated a massive share buyback and dividend program, and the list goes on. So why not shake up the board as well?

Apple’s eight-member board currently consists of Tim Cook and seven other members who come from outside of Apple. It’s often a good thing to have what we call “outside directors” because they are, in theory, less likely to just go along with whatever the CEO thinks is right. But that’s obviously not always the case, and I doubt any of these board members would have strongly opposed anything Jobs wanted to do.

Steve Jobs likely didn’t need the same kind of board that Cook needs. Jobs had special talents that most of us do not have. Tim Cook doesn’t have Jobs’ product vision and comfort in making super fast decisions about the quality of an idea or product. I think this is why Cook has promoted several of the Apple executives into expanded roles and explains why he’s brought on new executive talent.

That’s fine. Jobs wasn’t a logistics and operations expert, which is why he brought in Tim Cook. So, it also stands to reason that Cook would want to build a board of directors that was better equipped to add value to the discussion of where Apple is going.

Given the ages, given the tenure, I think it makes sense to plan for the obvious. Some of these board members are going to change how they spend their time as they age, and spending more time on work is unlikely. Apple may as well recruit new, younger board members now.

Cook obviously has a plan for Apple, and the human resource moves he’s made so far are a big clue. It shouldn’t be surprising if a refresh of the board is part of the plans.

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A couple of days ago I wrote about Apple and accessibility, and the work they’ve done not only implementing but promoting accessibility — or better put, inclusivity. The same day an article from Reuters hit the wires that managed to mangle the story of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). It was unfortunate, but it has given the NFB a chance to tell it again, tell it directly, and hopefully, to reach even more people. From the NFB blog:

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2014, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Apple to work with the National Federation of the Blind to create and enforce policies, standards, and procedures to ensure the accessibility of all apps, and to ensure that accessibility is not lost when an app is updated.

Apple is singled out, probably, because they’re the industry leader. Just like the environmental movements and others have singled out Apple in the past. It’s the equal and opposite reaction to the headlines Apple gets when a new iPhone or iPad is launched. The idea is, where Apple goes, so goes the rest of the industry. That’s worked in the past at motivating Apple, because the people at Apple seem to care deeply about issues just like this. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if it’s motivated anyone beyond Apple. Rather than seeing the attention Apple gets as a competitive challenge, some competitors see it as competitive advantages — something that lets them save time and money by ignoring things while all eyes are on Apple.

I think it’d be hard to argue, however, that Google, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Samsung, Amazon and any and everyone else with skin in the platform game should be and has to be part of the discussion. For accessibility and inclusivity to be real, it can’t depend on any one vendor. Some customers will choose to use Android or ChomeOS, TouchWiz or Sense, Windows or Windows Phone, FireOS or BB10 — shouldn’t they be able to experience the same level of support that OS X and iOS users enjoy? Better even, if they can?

The second part is harder to unpack. The NFB calls for policies, standards, and procedures, and the enforcement thereof. What does enforcement mean? Should apps be rejected from the App Store, Google Play Store, or Windows Phone Store if they fail accessibility, the same way they would if they crashed on launch? If so, which accessibility technologies should be enforced? What kind of team or teams would be needed to review them?

If not outright rejection, then could non-accessible, non-inclusive apps be excluded from featured promotions on the various app stores? Would loss of that marketing incentive developers to make accessibility and inclusivity a priority? Or, if a carrot works better than a stick, could accessible, inclusive apps be included in special promotions, with dedicated sections, badges, indicators, awards, and other forms of recognition?

If we push down to the developer level, could dedicated advisors, evangelists, “kitchens” and other workshops, code and design reviews, and consulting resources and other services be made available, or perhaps even be subsidized by the platform owners?

Could peer and customer pressure work, with non-accessible, non-inclusive apps receiving the same kind of scorn as those with horrible visual design or terrible interactivity?

That’s a lot of questions. I ask them because I don’t know the answers. Maybe there are no easy answers to know, at least not yet. I think the NFB understands the complexities and nuances involved far, far better than most, and even they used the language “work with”, because there’s a lot of work to be done.

Accessibility and inclusivity, after all, don’t just mean making an iPhone or iPad or Mac that can be used by the blind or the deaf, the motor impaired or those with autism, the very, very young or the very, very old, the absolute beginner or the person for whom technology still feels like a challenge even after decades. It means making an iPhone or iPad or Mac that can be used by everyone. And an Android or ChromeOS device, and a Windows or BlackBerry device. All of them. Everyone.

Give the NFB resolution a read and then let me know — what do you think?

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Peter Rosenthal’s here this week to review the new Planet of the Apes movie. No, not the one from 2011. No, not the one from 2001. Nope, not 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, or 1968. No, the other one.

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