T-Mobile fined $40m for scamming rural users with Potemkin ring-tones

T-Mobile didn't want its rural users to know how shitty its service was, so when the company couldn't connect a call, it would play fake "ring tones" to the caller that made it sounds like the person on the other end wasn't picking up. It did this "hundreds of millions of times" per year. Read the rest

Between Trump, Ajit Pai and a GOP Congress, there's never been a better time for a terrible Sprint/T-Mobile merger

One of the factors that makes the Net Neutrality fight so urgent is how little competition there is in the telcoms sector; it -- like the whole modern economy is dominated by a few giant, top-heavy firms that are gobbling one another at speed. Read the rest

Even the telco industry thinks Ajit Pai is an asshole for maiming Lifeline, a broadband subsidy for poor Americans

Ronald Reagan created the Lifeline program, which gives low-income Americans a $9.25/month subsidy to spend on one of: landline, broadband, or wireless access. Read the rest

Help crowdfund the Harlem Cryptoparty and 100 unlimited, privacy-protecting wifi hotspots for Puerto Rico

Calyx is an amazing nonprofit, privacy-oriented activist ISP (they were the first ISP to successfully resist a secret Patriot Act warrant); they are notable for offering an unlimited, unfiltered, unthrottled 4G/wifi hotspot for a tax-deductible $400 year (mine has repeatedly saved my bacon). Read the rest

You know who does creepier stuff with your data than Cambridge Analytica? Your ISP

Chances are, your ISP has been repeatedly caught sucking up all your clicks, and also chances are that it's a de facto arm of the US spy network, making bank selling your data to the NSA; AT&T has proposed charging you hundreds of dollars extra a year not to spy on you; Comcast wants to do the same. Read the rest

Big Telco hates "regulation," but they love their billions in government handouts

When it comes to killing Net Neutrality, Big Telco's major talking point is that "government regulation" has no place in telcoms; but the reality is that the nation's telecommunications providers are the recipients of regulatory gifts that run to $5B/year, and are expected to do very little in return for this corporate welfare. Read the rest

Rhode Island proposes blocking all online porn and charging $20 to unblock it

Rhode Island Democratic state Senators Frank Ciccone (@senatorciccone) and Hanna Gallo (@hannagallo27) have proposed grandstanding, unworkable legislation, "Relating to Public Utilities and Carriers—Internet Digital Blocking" which would mandate the state's ISPs to identify all the pornography on the internet, and then block it for all Rhode Islanders, unless those Rhode Islanders specifically requested their porn to be unblocked and paid $20 for the privilege. Read the rest

AT&T's 1993 "You Will" ads, the rightest wrong things ever predicted about the internet

In 1993, AT&T ran a series of ads trumpeting the future of the internet, called "You Will." Read the rest

Governor of Montana signs executive order banning state from doing business with non-neutral ISPs

Governor Steve Bullock [D-MT] has signed an executive order banning state agencies from procuring internet service from ISPs that violate net neutrality principles like throttling, blocking and paid prioritization. Read the rest

Motherboard announces a neutral, meshing community ISP based at Vice's Brooklyn headquarters

Motherboard -- an imprint of Vice -- has announced that it will build a community ISP branching off its Brooklyn headquarters, built on meshing wireless protocols, and connected to the internet via high-speed fiber lines terminating at a network exchange. Read the rest

Net Neutrality is only complicated because monopolists are paying to introduce doubt

My op-ed in New Internationalist, ‘Don’t break the 21st century nervous system’, seeks to cut through the needless complexity in the Net Neutrality debate, which is as clear-cut as climate change or the link between smoking and cancer -- and, like those subjects, the complexity is only there because someone paid to introduce it. Read the rest

100 million Americans live in areas where every single ISP has admitted to violating net neutrality

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- a former Verizon exec -- says that we can count on ISPs to voluntarily refrain from abusing their natural monopolies to degrade service to their customers in order to maximize their profits. Read the rest

Ajit Pai made a funny: leaked video shows his presentation at the Telecom Prom where he "pretends" to be a Verizon shill

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a former top Verizon executive and now he's about to hand Verizon billions of dollars in public subsidy by striking down net neutrality rules, which is a really funny coincidence! Read the rest

Bell is leading the push to end Canadian Net Neutrality with a secret, extrajudicial Star Chamber that will decide what Canadians can and can't see

Canada has a grotesquely concentrated telcoms sector and a grotesquely concentrated media sector, and thanks to a series of extremely anticompetitive mergers, the two sectors are one in the same. Read the rest

Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination

Comcast fought the last net neutrality regulation in 2015 by making a bunch of promises about how fair it would be, whether or not the FCC regulated its behavior; this week, Comcast has put on charm offensive by repeating all but one of those promises, namely, its promise not to create internet slow lanes and then extort money from web publishers by threatening to put them there unless they paid for "premium access" to the Comcast subscribers who were trying to retrieve data from them. Read the rest

Net Neutrality is just for starters: municipal networks are the path to paradise

We just bought a house here in Burbank and I was delighted to learn that my new home office -- part of a business incorporated in the state of California -- would be sitting directly on one of the scorching-fast fiber optic lines that the city of Burbank maintains to wire up Disney, Warners and the other major businesses in town. Finally, an end to my long nightmare of slow, balky internet from Charter/Spectrum, my local cable monopolist! Read the rest

A million anti-Net Neutrality comments reportedly fake

Over on Hackernoon, data scientist and "language nerd," Jeff Kao, has posted the results of a data analysis he did on Net Neutrality comments submitted to the FCC between April-October 2017. Using natural language processing techniques, he was able to look for suspicious patterns in the language used. What he found was alarming.

The first and largest cluster of pro-repeal documents was especially notable. Unlike the other clusters I found (which contained a lot of repetitive language) each of the comments here was unique; however, the tone, language, and meaning across each comment was largely uniform. The language was also a bit stilted. Curious to dig deeper, I used regular expressions to match up the words in the clustered comments:

It turns out that there are 1.3 million of these. Each sentence in the faked comments looks like it was generated by a computer program. A mail merge swapped in a synonym for each term to generate unique-sounding comments. It was like mad-libs, except for astroturf.

When laying just five of these side-by-side with highlighting, as above, it’s clear that there’s something fishy going on. But when the comments are scattered among 22+ million, often with vastly different wordings between comment pairs, I can see how it’s hard to catch. Semantic clustering techniques, and not typical string-matching techniques, did a great job at nabbing these.

Finally, it was particularly chilling to see these spam comments all in one place, as they are exactly the type of policy arguments and language you expect to see in industry comments on the proposed repeal, or, these days, in the FCC Commissioner’s own statements lauding the repeal.

Read the rest

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