Alan sez, "Using a simple (if wordy) graphic, Common Cause has teamed up with Symbolia to produce a Creative Commons-licensed description of how Verizon's lawsuits and lobbying threaten net neutrality."
Big Deal Big Money
Robbo sez, "Alternet reports on Verizon's stated plan to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order and charge selective tolls for access to internet content."
At its core Verizon's attack on the FCC is an attack on the idea that regulators have any role to ensure affordable access to an open Internet. Now more than ever we need policies to protect consumers and users of all communications. And as all media converges on digital networks that means policies that protect Net Neutrality.
While Verizon and other ISPs are already raking in immense profits from connecting users to the Internet, they see even higher margins in being able to tell us where to go once we're online. By charging a premium so wealthy businesses can jump to the front of the line, they're playing a game with data delivery that would shove all other sites to the back.
"I think the people who talk about dismantling -- threatening -- Net Neutrality don't appreciate how important it has been for us to have an independent market for productivity and for applications on the Internet," World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said.
Verizon's Outrageous Plot to Crack Up the Internet
In John Wooley's hilarious 30-minute mockumentary The Internet Must Go, he plays a marketing shill hired by the big cable operators and phone companies to convince Americans to accept corrupt, non-neutral Internet connections where your ability to reach sites and services online is based on whether your ISP has a deal with the company offering it.
Wooley's playing a Colbert-esque useful idiot, and he never breaks character as he interviews Susan Crawford, Al Franken, John Hodgman, Tim Wu, Larry Lessig, and many others, giving them the chance to play out the arguments for a neutral, fair Internet. The climax is a visit to North Carolina, where the big telcos have successfully gotten legislation passed banning municipalities from offering high-speed Internet, even in towns where the cable and phone companies have no plans to offer high-speed connections.
The trailer is above, the whole movie is below, but do visit the movie's site for action links and more interviews.
Read the rest
Michael from Public Knowledge sez, "Today the DC Circuit Court is hearing Verizon's challenge to the FCC's net neutrality rules. It has been a while since net neutrality was in the news, so we created this interactive timeline to remind people of all of the twists and turns of net neutrality so far."
A Timeline of Net Neutrality
For years, Google has intervened in regulatory and court proceedings on the side of net neutrality (except for its embarrassing and inexcusable joint filing with Verizon on mobile rules). But now that Google is running its own gigabit broadband service, it has told the FCC that it's perfectly reasonable to discriminate on the basis of which packets are flowing and how they were generated -- justifying its own terms-of-service that block running "servers." Without this policy, it would be harder for Google to sell a "business" service that was distinct from the gigabit home service.
Read the rest
Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos.
Their anti-Net-Neutrality front groups like NetCompetition, Broadband For America, and Media Freedom have been smearing Crawford and her book since it was published, and now, at least 31 people have posted highly similar one-star reviews of her book to Amazon, quoting talking points from these organizations. Most of these reviewers are not in Amazon's "real name" program, and the ones that are work for big telcos and the think-tanks they fund. Mike Masnick investigated the reviews in detail and it's pretty clear that nearly all the five-star reviews are from legit, named, disinterested parties (albeit with a few people who have a dog in the fight, like activists and scholars, and a couple more who say they are trying to balance out the one-star smears); meanwhile, nearly all the one-star reviews are from shills or telco people.
America has some of the worst Internet infrastructure in the developed world, and it's getting worse year by year. It's thanks to the crooked phone companies and their corrupt pals in Congress, the state houses, and the regulators. These titans have the country by its nervous system, and they're so afraid of criticism that they engage in petty, corrupt astroturfing to attack books that call them out. Now is a great time to buy Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, read it, and give it an honest review.
Read the rest
As you doubtless suspected, your ISP wants Google and Netflix to cough up, and bandwidth is their bat
Behind the scenes, in negotiations that almost never become public, the world's biggest Internet providers and video services argue over how much one network should pay to connect to another. When these negotiations fail, users suffer. In other words, bad video performance is often caused not just by technology problems but also by business decisions made by the companies that control the Internet.
Alan Wexelblat sez, "Baratunde Thurston is generally known as a humorist, not a net.activist, but here he gives a concise and remarkably non-technical explanation of what net neutrality is and what it means for the average person."
Baratunde Thurston explains net neutrality
Brian sez, "I made an animated presentation about broadband and mobile data caps - specifically, how they discourage innovation, how the excuses used to justify data caps don't hold water, and the real reasons that ISPs and mobile providers are moving towards caps."
This is really good stuff. It might need an edit for time, but if you've got 11 minutes, this is what you should spend 'em on.
Why Data Caps Suck: The Animated Examination
The American Six-Strikes regime -- through which ISPs voluntarily agree to punish their customers if the entertainment industry accuses them of piracy -- has been delayed, again, to "early 2013." The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) -- which will act on the entertainment industry's behalf -- blames Hurricane Sandy for the delay.
TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.
Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.
AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.
I wonder if Facebook will sue them for tortious interference.
Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Delayed Till 2013
(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
David sez, "According to TorrentFreak, a leaked AT&T training doc indicates that starting on Nov. 28, if a customer is flagged 4-5 times for copyright infringement, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon will block access to unspecified "popular sites" until the customer completes an 'online education tutorial on copyright.' No, there's nothing even remotely Soviet about continuous surveillance that judges you via a faceless bureaucracy without appeal, and punishes you by blocking access to information until you come back from re-education camp. Nothing Soviet at all, comrades!"
The documents inform AT&T staff about the upcoming changes, beginning with the following overview.
“In an effort to assist content owners with combating on-line piracy, AT&T will be sending alert e-mails to customers who are identified as having been downloading copyrighted content without authorization from the copyright owner.”
“The reports are made by the content owners and are of IP-addresses that are associated with copyright infringing activities. AT&T will not share any personally identifiable information about its customers with content owners until authorized by the customer or required to do so by law.”
The papers further reveal the launch date of the copyright alerts system as November 28. A source connected to the CCI previously confirmed to TorrentFreak that all providers were planning to start on the same date, which means that Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are expected to have a simultaneous launch.
AT&T Starts Six-Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Next Month, Will Block Websites
Rand and Ron Paul have penned an Internet Freedom manifesto that is pretty terrible. It pans the idea of net neutrality, arguing that the phone companies who receive gigantic government handouts in the form of cheap (or free) rights of ways and hold natural monopolies over our connectivity should be able to use that government largesse to run a protection racket in which any website that doesn't pay for "premium carriage" will be slowed down when you or I try to visit them. They also denounce the public domain as a collectivist plot, and argue that government monopolies over knowledge should be extended, and that tax-dollars should be used to enforce them. TechDirt's Mike Masnick has some choice words for the Pauls:
To them, any support of a neutral internet must be about "coercive state actions" and "collective rule" over "privately owned broadband high-speed infrastructure." This makes me curious if the Pauls spoke out against the billions and billions in subsidies and rights of way grants that the government provided the telcos and cable providers to build their networks. Once again, I am against regulating net neutrality -- because it's obvious that the telcos will control that process and the regulations will favor them against the public -- but pretending that broadband infrastructure is really "privately owned" when so much of it involved tax-payer-funded subsidies and rights of way is being in denial.
Then there's the following, where they claim that these evil "collectivists" want to limit "private property rights on the internet" and are saying that "what is considered to be in the public domain should be greatly expanded." Considering the Pauls were both instrumental in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, you would think that the two of them understood how copyright law is massively abused and how beneficial the public domain is. But apparently not. To them it's all part of this "collectivist" plot. Earth to the Pauls: copyright is a massive government-granted monopoly privilege. That's the kind of thing we thought you were against, not for. In this document, you seem to be arguing for one of the largest programs in the world of a centralized government handing out private monopoly privileges.
Ron And Rand Paul: Net Neutrality And The Public Domain Are Really Evil Collectivist Plots
The two reps who led the Congressional fight against SOPA have unveiled a draft bill of rights for the Internet. Reps Darryl Issa and Ron Wyden unveiled their proposal at Personal Democracy Forum, and invite the Internet to edit and refine the list on Keep the Web Open.
1. The right to a free and uncensored Internet.
2. The right to an open, unobstructed Internet.
3. The right to equality on the Internet.
4. The right to gather and participate in online activities.
5. The right to create and collaborate on the Internet.
6. The right to freely share their ideas.
7. The right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are.
8. The right to freely associate on the Internet.
9. The right to privacy on the Internet.
10. The right to benefit from what they create.
SOPA opponents unveil "Digital Bill of Rights"
Ot from the Dutch technology activist group Bits of Freedom writes, "Good news from The Netherlands: on 8 May 2012 The Netherlands adopted crucial legislation to safeguard an open and secure internet
. It is the first country in Europe to implement net neutrality in the law. In addition, it adopted provisions protecting users against disconnection and wiretapping by providers. Digital rights movement Bits of Freedom calls on other countries to follow the Dutch example." (Thanks Ot!
Neelie Kroes is Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, and recently gave a speech to the World Wide Web Conference 2012 in Lyon, France. It was a hell of a good thing, making the case for network neutrality and open standards, and stating unequivocally that it is not legitimate to punish people for what they do on the Internet by disconnecting them.
In the Arab Spring, many brave activists successfully used the open Internet to coordinate peaceful protests. In response, despotic governments sought to control or close down Internet access; and also used ICT tools as a tool of surveillance and repression.
We cannot allow democratic voices to be silenced in that way. And I am committed to ensuring "No Disconnect" in countries that struggle for democracy. We must help such activists get around arbitrary disruptions to their basic freedoms.
The benefits of openness are clear. And when it’s as simple as an oppressive government trying to turn off the Internet, it's clear that we need to do what we can to prevent that.
What does it mean to be open online?