Monday, April 29, 2019

Why a focus only on net neutrality won't save speech on the Internet

I found a new site regarding Network Neutrality, “Battle for the Net”, here  with a lot of PR for continuing the pressure in Congress,.

It’s well to revisit an article in Cultural Weekly in January 2018 that examined prospectively the idea that without network neutrality, telecoms would individually charge website owners the right to be connected to the web. The article says that “amateur” blogs on free sites like Blogspot or Wordpress would stay because they don’t need their own domain registry. But hosted domains would be in jeopardy.

So far, that has not happened, as of spring 2019.  There is a reverse argument that at some point in the future Google could decide to pull Blogger (as it has for Google+) or that Automattic could do the same with its free service. More to the point, Blogger will remove what it considers “spam blogs” (which was a big problem between 2005 and 2008) by algorithms, although this has not been the problem (false positives) that it had been around 2008.  

It is also relevant that YouTube channels (which don't require their own domains but many people set them up anyway) are overtaking Blogger in importance (as they have since about 2014). 

Also more to the point is that there are other threats to downstream liability protection of platforms (both regular social media and hosting companies) regarding copyright (in the EU with article 13), and harmful content (sex trafficking like with FOSTA, or terror related, and more recently white supremacy related) such that the network neutrality issue, in practice, sounds less important in practice.  Activists should focus on all the problems together, which is intellectually very difficult – and it is hard to organize people around multiple problems at the same time.

Right now, it is unlikely that the GOP Senate will do anything with the House bill, unless there is some other development that more libertarian-oriented senators could come up with.

In time, telecoms could buy anti-virus companies and refuse to connect sites with poor safety ratings (or that don’t have workable https – which has gotten easier to install than it used to be).
Sitelock (with a close relation to the Endurance Group) has bought Webroot, which could give that Denver-based company (I chat with them sometimes) some power in this kind of an environment.
I noticed also that the Blogtyrant site (sold in June) recently put up a link to an old article on network neutrality but had taken it down when I looked this morning.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

House subcommittee moves on Save the Internet Act, and recognizes need to "connect the dots"

EFF’s Katharine Trendacosta reports on March 26 on the crucial 18-11 victory in a House committee vote on the Save the Internet Act.

But what’s remarkable about this article is that finally writers and members of Congress are starting to connect the dots – that activism over one law (or reversing bad policy by the administration) won’t fix all the other problems, like privacy, overreaction to harmful content, and the effect that Europe’s recent copyright law could have here.

Update: April 10

EFF reports that the House passed the Save the Internet Act.  There had been rumors it might not happen.  The Senate is said to be unwilling to pass it. 

"The Juice" on Twitter offers this video ad about the "shitternet" featuring Alex Jones.