Thursday, June 21, 2018

California net neutrality gutted by lobbyists, would even allow telecoms to charge publishers for connection

In a rather disturbing development, Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that lobbyists have gutted the supposed California net neutrality bill, according to a story by Ernesto Falcon 

The changes not only allow some paid prioritization (which is OK in limited circumstances for really special uses) and zero-rating (which is OK if limited) but the possibility of connection charges to websites (probably managed through hosting companies).
Wired has a similar story, here

But none of the major telecoms have actually tried to do this and all say they still don’t block or prioritize content.

Jon Brodkin had written in Ars Technica that Comcast wants paid prioritization to be allowed for “specialized services” (like medical emergencies, and example often given by Pai). 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

David Hogg ties net neutrality end to voter right suppression; EFF paper could mean this can make sense

The Washington Times reports that David Hogg has invented a conspiracy theory claiming that the repeal of net neutrality will empower large telecom companies to deny minority groups web presence to suppress the right to vote. Here is the story by Victor Morton.

But here is Hogg’s tweet. He could be reacting to the Ohio SCOTUS ruling (Issues blog). 

On the other hand, Electronic Frontier Foundation has a critical article by Ernesto Falcon June 12 critical of ATT attempts to create zero-rating service for low-income consumers that would allow Internet access on one device only.  It’s possible that Hogg’s comments (which appear out of context otherwise) are an elaboration of this story.  People who are otherwise illiterate and who cannot afford access to information simply won’t try to vote.  That makes sense.  But this is a bit of what went on in the South in 1964 (when three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi).
These plans do exist overseas in some countries with weaker regulation, like Portugal.

Update: June 15

Here is my WP writeup on Ajit Pai's briefing at Cato Wednesday. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Net neutrality has ended officially; Washington Post runs scare headline like a false flag, with story details that don't support the anxiety

Tony Romm has an eye-catching headline on the lower front page of the Monday Washington Post (June 11), making it look like a Sunday paper. It reads as “The Web as you know it may soon be altered”.

Online the title is more pertinent, in the Business Section, “Goodbye to Net Neutrality, Hello to an even bigger ATT”?  Link (paywall) is here

But the article itself says “For now, companies like ATT, Comcast and Verizon have said they would not block or throttle Web access or charge more for faster delivery of online content.”

And Tuesday, a federal judge will decide if ATT can buy Time Warner.  Yet, ATT insists it has no economic incentive to hinder consumer access to remaining competitors, either on cable or on the Web.

So far, as of 10:30 AM EDT June 11, everything works normally. 

I think there are strategic threats to individualized web operations like mine, but they come from the political climate, with is reacting to past extreme capitalism by trying to force solidarity among even future constituents of oppressed “groups”, by threatening individual speech. FOSTA is more serious than net neutrality; curiously the EU Copyright Directive could have big indirect effects here, and there are even other strategic threats regarding insurability and liability exposure that no one has discussed yet but that I am aware of from my own past.  Stay tuned.
Activist groups like EFF need to attack these problems in combination, not “hands separately” like this was beginning piano lessons.

Friday, June 08, 2018

On June 11, network neutrality dies with a whimper (unless ...)

June 11 approaches (right after Washington is suitably distracted by the Capital’s Stanley Cup and gay pride weekend) and network neutrality officially ends, unless the House passes the Senate bill over the weekend. 

Chad Marlow, for ACLU,  says it will end with a whimper, like in Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” (with "Waltzing Matida").  No, we don’t expect the telecoms to do anything rash on June 11, and furthermore they would have to announce it publicly, and they haven’t. 

Inverse has a briefer article, and makes a whimsical warning about porn prices going up.

In the longer run, to see radical changes, telecom’s would need a business case for trying to control your media experience the way Facebook tried.  This really doesn’t make sense right now, to me at least.
But the Cato Institute will do a digital interview with Ajit Pai on Wednesday, June 14 at 6 PM EDT, announcement here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Even the Washington Post admits that the sky wouldn't fall because of net neutrality pull back

Back on March 5, 2018, even the “liberal” Washington Post questioned activists who claim that the sky will fall if network neutrality is repealed, in this article by Salvador Rizzo. 
“If you don’t restore net neutrality, you’ll get the Internet one word at a time.” Indeed.
The Post seems reassuring that even with no action, the major telecoms have pledged not to change anything, for now.
But what about down the road?
There are disturbing questions these days as to who should be allowed online, inasmuch as private companies have been willing to ban some users based on associations.  True, you don’t want neo-Nazis.  But it can be a very slippery slope.  Maybe you don’t want amateur content at all.  Some guilds don’t.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

EFF explains how net neutrality discharge petition in the House will work

Ernesto Falcon of Electronic Frontier Foundation has explained “the path to victory” in the House of Representatives with an explanation of the discharge petition process, here

The article suggests that representatives tend to be responsive to calls asking them to sign the petition. Once they commit to doing so, they have to sign a document that is continually updated and is visible online, here

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Net Neutrality CRA un-repeal passes Senate; now House needs a "discharge petition", too

The Senate has voted today under the authority of the CRA to overturn the FCC “repeal” of Obama’s 2015 network neutrality rules, 52-47.  The AP story was carried here by WJLA. 

The attempt to reverse Ajit Pai’s “light touch” is likely to face a tough sell in the House. Ryan does not want to allow this to come up for a vote, so it needs a discharge petition first (so did the Senate).
Techcrunch has an explanation of how the discharge petition process will work, here. 

In practice, it really looks like tech companies will not be in a hurry to make major changes for a long time because of uncertainty, litigation threats, and a belief their consumers want most of what neutrality offers (which a few special exceptions).
Congress ought to be able to figure out that some specific kinds of preferred service (like for medical providers in emergencies) would not undermine consumer or small business use. 
FEE (Foundation for Economic Education, a libertarian group) pushed an article “Let’s end net neutrality once and for all in America” May 15, bad timing.  FEE says things were fine before 2015 with Obama’s rules, but companies may have been on their best behavior.