Join the Fastlane: hypothetical ISP from the cable company fuckery dystopia


As the FCC sleazes its way towards a world of cable company fuckery, Bittorrent's Join the Fastlane provides a preview of a world where your ability to get reliable access to parts of the Internet you love is a function of those sites' willingness to bribe your ISP for "premium" carriage.

Read the rest

Morse code instructional film - made possible by Boing Boing readers!

Carl Malamud sez, "This 1966 military film on good style in sending Morse Code is a real hoot. 38k views on YouTube and another 3.6k on the Internet Archive. This video was made possible by a crowd-sourcing appeal on Boing Boing in 2009 (and in the case of this particular DVD, a donation by Mary Neff ... thanks Mary!)"

INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE, HAND SENDING

Turn on your data for one minute, AT&T sticks you with a $750 international roaming charge


Jeff writes, "I learned this week that it's possible to run up a $750 international data roaming bill in one minute on AT&T. I managed to convince AT&T to forgive the charges after two days and 40 minutes of phone calls but the best guess at how this happened is kind of alarming. It seems that AT&T's billing system sometimes bundles US traffic with international traffic." Jeff was driving in the Pacific northwest, near the Canadian border.

Read the rest

Rightscorp: a business founded on threats of Internet disconnection

Rightscorp, a company that went public last year, has an idea: they'll issue millions of legal threats to alleged music file-sharers, threaten them with millions in fines, and demand nuisance sums ($20/track) too small to warrant consulting with an attorney -- and they'll arm-twist ISPs into disconnecting users who don't pay up. Rightscorp has a secret system for identifying "repeat offenders" who use Bittorrent, and they believe that this gives them to right to force ISPs to terminate whole families' Internet access on the basis of their magically perfect, unknowable evidence of wrongdoing. They call this "holding the moral high ground." More than 72,000 Americans have had "settlements" extorted from them to date, though Rightscorp still runs millions in the red.

Rightscorp's rhetoric is that the sums it demands are "deterrents" to prevent wrongdoing, and that it wouldn't really want to sue people into penury. But it is a publicly listed company with a fiduciary duty to extract as much money as it can from the marketplace. It's a good bet that its prospectus and quarterly investor filings announce that the company will hold its "fines" down to the smallest amount that provides the deterrent effect -- instead of, say, "all the market can bear."

The legal theory under which Rightscorp is operating is pretty dubious: a belief that ISPs have a duty to terminate the Internet connections of "repeat offenders" based on a clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This theory has been sparsely litigated, but the one major case in which it has been tested went against Rightscorp's business-model. But as Joe Mullin points out in his Ars Technica profile of the company, they may be able to get past this hurdle just by suborning the increasingly corrupt, noncompetitive, inbred and rent-seeking ISP industry by giving them a piece of the action.

Read the rest

It's not Net Neutrality that's at stake, it's Cable Company Fuckery

John Oliver was incandescent on the subject of Net Neutrality, Time Warner and Comcast on Saturday, and he has a new, less-boring term for Net Neutrality: "Cable Company Fuckery." This is not only brilliant, it's hilarious. John Oliver is a perfect blend of Jon Stewart and Charlie Brooker. A reminder: you can reach out and touch the FCC on the subject of Cable Company Fuckery, and EFF can explain how to do it.

Read the rest

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