De-obfuscating Big Cable's numbers: investment flat since 2000


The cable lobby group NCTA claims the industry has been investing record amounts in network upgrades, which will dry up if they are forced to endure Net Neutrality. Techdirt points out that Big Cable's numbers are cumulative, and re-runs them year on year. Turns out investment has been flat since about 2000.

Read the rest

FCC brings down the gavel on Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler just brought down the gavel on the latest moment in the Net Neutrality saga. Commissioners voted 3-2 to allow his "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" to go ahead, meaning we have 120 days to submit comments on his terrible proposal to allow for "Internet fast-lanes" that will be available to the online services that offer ISPs the biggest bribes. The outcome that I -- and Net Neutrality advocates -- had been hoping for was that for the Commission to reject his proposal outright and tell him to come up with a better one for comment. A reminder: Wheeler is a former cable lobbyist, and the cable companies stand to make billions, forever, from his proposal.

Activist camp on FCC's doorstep for Net Neutrality: Occupy the FCC!

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Since Wednesday May 7th, net neutrality activists have been camped out on the FCC's doorstep in Washington, DC with tents, sleeping bags, signs, and a giant banner that says 'Don't break the Internet.'

Read the rest

240 Writers Guild of America members sign pro-Net Neutrality letter to the FCC

Robbo sez, "The WGA (Writers Guild of America West) has stepped into the fray over the FCC's proposed non-Net Neutrality rules with over 240 members (show runners, creators & writers alike) signing a letter urging FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to protect a free and open internet and not let it become like cable television. While the larger tech companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla and others have also publicly expressed their concerns over FCC proposals to create a two-tiered approach to Internet access there has been little if any outcry from any major players in the Hollywood industry - until now."

Read the rest

Cable lobbyists strong-arm Congresscritters into signing anti-Net Neutrality petition

Robbo sez, "Cable lobbyists are trying to get Congress Critters to sign off on a letter from the industry exhorting FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to NOT reclassify broadband Internet as a Title II common carrier service. It is, of course, complete horseshit and now (even after all the public outcry over Wheeler's patronizing positioning over his own proposed rules) the weasels of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association are looking to get their Congressional lackeys to block any reasonable response to the public will.

"It's a shame members of Congress don't read more than their bank balance - if they'd read anything from Susan Crawford they'd know the rational recourse would be for the FCC to declare the net a common carrier. But with Wheeler at the helm and with the NCTA dicks priming the pump from the shadows we're likely to see further douche maneuvering on the Hill."

Read the rest

Turning spam-calls from a hassle into a profit-centre


Lee Beaumont of Leeds, England got sick of unsolicited calls to his home number, so he spent £10 registering a "premium rate" number that costs 7p/m to call, and started listing that as his home number in all of his commercial dealings. Once he'd set things up so that spammers made him money, he started to spread his number around, tweeting it in the clear and telling customer service reps to call him on it. The number paid for itself in two months, and, when the story drew press-attention last summer, the lengthy press-calls he received made him hundreds of pounds. If you want to give Mr Beaumont 7p (or more), you can call him at

Read the rest

Huge tech coalition asks FCC to save Net Neutrality

A massive consortium of technology companies ranging from Google, Facebook and Amazon to smaller publishers like Techdirt, have signed an open letter to the FCC opposing Chairman (and former cable lobbyist) Tom Wheeler's plan to allow ISPs to discriminate among Internet services, demanding bribes to deliver the data that we request. Cory 7

Some considerations for potential XKCD phone purchasers

Randall Munroe's xkcd Phone has the greatest warning label of all time: "Presented in partnership with Qualcomm, Craigslist, Whirlpool, Hostess, LifeStyles, and the US Chamber of Commerce. Manufactured on equipment which also processes peanuts. Price includes 2-year Knicks contract. Phone may extinguish nearby birthday candles. If phone ships with Siri, return immediately; do not speak to her and ignore any instructions she gives. Do not remove lead casing. Phone may attract/trap insects; this is normal. Volume adjustable (requires root). If you experience sudden tingling, nausea, or vomiting, perform a factory reset immediately. Do not submerge in water; phone will drown. Exterior may be frictionless. Prolonged use can cause mood swings, short-term memory loss, and seizures. Avert eyes while replacing battery. Under certain circumstances, wireless transmitter may control God."

Telcos gave spies unfettered, deep, warrantless access to Canadians' digital lives

Michael Geist writes, "The recent revelations regarding massive telecom and Internet provider disclosures of subscriber information has generated a political firestorm with pointed questions yesterday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons. While Harper tried to provide reassurances that warrants were obtained where necessary, the reality is that the law includes a massive exception that permits voluntary, warrantless disclosure of subscriber information."

Read the rest

Broadband, Net Neutrality and airplane boarding: industries' love affair with stupid


As you probably know, we board airplanes in just about the worst, most inefficient way possible (this is the best way). The airlines know this, but stupid boarding remains the order of the day. That's because stupid boarding involves charging rich people more to skip the stupid, and participate in the slightly-less-stupid of eating warm nuts while you hang around waiting for everyone else to endure the maximally stupid.

The thing is, this isn't just stupid, it actually costs the airlines a ton of money -- in aviation, time is money, and stupid wastes a lot of time. Much more than they make from charging special skip-the-stupid/eat-warm-nuts fees. But there you have it. They're addicted to stupid, because stupid makes money, while smart merely saves (even more) money.

As Mike Masnick points out, this kind of stupid is a perfect microcosm of the terrible behavior we're likely to see as a result of the US FCC abolishing Net Neutrality and allowing Net Discrimination:

Read the rest

Every 27 seconds, Canadian telcos hand over subscriber data to cops (mostly without a warrant)

Michael Geist writes, "These stunning disclosures, which were released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, comes directly from the telecom industry after years of keeping their disclosure practices shielded from public view. Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant).

Read the rest

Barack Obama will take a backseat to no one when it comes to (promising) Network Neutrality

Back before Barack Obama appointed a Net Neutrality-destroying cable lobbyist to run the FCC, he was clear: "I will take a backseat to no one when it comes to Network Neutrality."

President Obama and Big Telcoms: delivering high-speed fiber to the campaign promise every election cycle!

Podcast: Internet service providers charging for premium access hold us all to ransom

Here's a reading (MP3) of a my latest Guardian column, Internet service providers charging for premium access hold us all to ransom, which tries to make sense of the disastrous news that the Federal Communications Commission is contemplating rules to allow ISPs to demand bribes from publishers in exchange for letting you see the webpages you ask for.

Read the rest

Gutting Net Neutrality also guts innovation, fairness and democracy


My latest Guardian column, Internet service providers charging for premium access hold us all to ransom, explains what's at stake now that the FCC is prepared to let ISPs charge services for "premium" access to its subscribers. It's pretty much the worst Internet policy imaginable, an anti-innovation, anti-democratic, anti-justice hand-grenade lobbed by telcos who shout "free market" while they are the beneficiaries of the most extreme industrial government handouts imaginable.

Read the rest

Phone phreakers' anthem

Brad sez, "A few decades ago, phone phreaks spent all of their free time learning about the Bell telephone system and making free phone calls to each other. This song by Bonecage attempts to capture that era, and the footage for the video was contributed by phone phreaks (and ex-phone phreaks) around the world."