Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pai grilled by Senate Commerce Committee

Ajit Pai testified today before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and issued this statement

But there has been controversy over claims that the FCC comments section in 2017 was hit by a DDOS attack, which caused to the comments to be misproportioned.  Those claims seemed to be largely discredited.

Pai has lashed at the chicken little claims that the sky would fall and that telecom companies would cut off speakers whom they did not control if the regulations were relaxed.  That has not happened so far. Pai made similar comments at the Cato Institute in June. But political pressure on tech companies over especially extreme right-wing content could be brought to bear on telecom, too, it would seem. 

Monday, August 06, 2018

Recent competition for full cable, and then banning of "extremist" or "fake news" sites on social media, may cause telecoms to see a business advantage to throttling

Although I certainly support competition and streaming services offering low-cost packages that consumers want if they don’t want to pay for full cable plans, I do see how this could affect the net neutrality issue with the formal restrictions gone (except for notification).
Consumer Reports latest issue has a guide to other services, and earlier CR had an article on how to negotiate with cable companies. But there is a potential dark side to all this.

Telecom companies (as well as streaming companies) could play this game to. In some countries (without net neutrality) smart phone plans sometimes offer certain video and social media platforms without the full Internet already, at low cost. If more consumers really want this, telecoms could gradually find that it makes business sense to offer reduced access to the Internet or parental controls, and gradually get away from letting everyone “legal” connect (as is the case now)

The banning today of Alex Jones by YouTube and Facebook and Apple, as well as Amazon’s recent cutoff of sales of Nazi materials, and past incidents involving white supremacy sites (Daily Stormer), it’s pretty easy to imagine activists pressuring telecom companies to cut off sites like Alex Jones.  That could again lead companies into thinking more about throttling. Blacklisting can spread like the Spanish flu.   The ban seems to have started with Apple and spread.  Should Tim Cook (or David Hogg) have so much power?  YouTube says it followed its community standards strikes policy with Jones. 

The more radical part of the Left has a very mixed idea about free speech. They need it to organize their own groups and recruit.  But they see individualized speech as a tool of the privileged to oppress minorities, and big Tech is more sensitive to these arguments than you would think. (Think about Google and James Damore.)

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Reports of net neutrality "violations" sneak in

I guess six weeks into the Net Neutrality “repeal” we should look at whether there have been any violations against the volunteerism.
In fact, there had been small, localized violations of the principle for years, but they generally didn’t affect many users.  Here’s a story on the Free Press from Timothy Karr, link. 

Comcast is limiting some video use by user hotspots, which matters mostly when customers are traveling and believe hotspots are more secure than a hotel system,  It has to do with fees paid to Verizon. Of course, when I travel, I usually don't have time to watch movies in a hotel room. But I did watch a Cato conference from a hotel room in Texas May 31, and I switched over to the hotel system.  Not the safest thing to do.  
We’ll keep watching. Again, we would be concerned over the future of small or personal sites over time.
These links came from a fundraising email from FFTF Aug. 1.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nebraska Congressman accused by FTFF of sandbagging discharge petition on net neutrality vote

I got an email from Fight for the Future about Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) has taken money from telecoms but refused to sign a discharge petition to vote for a modified net neutrality bill in Congress.
Here is their link.  They want to raise money for a highway billboard campaign, especially in Nebraska and the midwest (I have a lot of ties to KU and Kansas). 
I’ll leave the decisions on donations to the judgment of the visitors.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Small ISP's fight anti-competitive claims by big telecom's on "unbundled network elements" (UNE's)

USTelecom, a trade association of seven major telecom companies, wants to have the right to starve smaller ISP’s out of existence (including community or municipal owned), according to story on on Engadget by Nicole Lee, tweeted by Electronic Frontier Foundation, by rolling back part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (which contains Section 230) that requires them to sell unbundled network elements (UNE’s) to smaller companies.

Ernesto Falcon had written about this problem on June 8 for EFF, as a “fight for their lives” of smaller companies.
It’s pretty easy to imagine who this jives with the network neutrality “repeal”.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kavanaugh has a bizarre way of applying the First Amendment to telecoms, undermining net neutrality

I’ll pass along “Fight for the Future” group’s emergency link  and let the visitor decide.

The group FTFF writes about Brett Kavanaugh’s views on network neutrality, which it says are a misinterpretation of the First Amendment. “ ISPs are like newspaper editors, empowered to decide what speech is suitable to share and what isn’t. This, simply put, is nuts. It’s like saying the electric utility can decide what we can plug in and what we can’t.”  I think he is comparing a telecom to a cable service that just doesn’t carry all possible channels.  (Comcast doesn’t carry OANN, for example, and I’ve brought this up with both companies.  But there is a difference between cable service and Internet/web access.   Kavanaugh does allow the idea of regulation telecoms that have no competition in their service areas. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Broadband for America sends out confusing call to action on discharge petition

I’ll pass along Broadband for America’s call to reject H.R.joint resolution 129, in Congress, here.  Here is the associated discharge petition  to express disapproval of Pai’s weakening of net neutrality rules, effective June 11.

However this group seems to be a front for a corporate anti-net neutrality lobbying effort, as in this story.

Update: July 8

Comcast has been accused of "pseudo-throttling" but only end-users, not publishers (would not be illegal under Obama), nevertheless, FTFF raised the alarm.