Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Activists claim Comcast, other telecomm in secret negotiations to subvert quasi net neutrality' billboard campaign fund sought; take with a grain of salt

I don’t normally get involved in one-sided campaigns to defeat very narrow bills or changes, but there is a big push to stop the FCC from gutting net neutrality as the second comment period ends.  This seems to be designed to fund billboard ads, link here

The email I got suggested that Comcast was in secret negotiations with Congress to gut net neutrality.  I take this with a grain of salt personally.

Here's a galley of the photos:

Politico’s account is here

Open Secrets is here.

Motherboard on Vice has a story here

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Most ISP's enforce data limits on users; could loosening net neutrality lead to larger data limits?

Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica reports that almost 200 ISP’s in the US still have data usage caps.  A few of them are very low (like 3GB) but not regularly enforced.  Larger ISP’s typically inforce 1TB to 3 TB.  Comcast usually allows 1 TB per month and charges $10 for each 50 GB afterward. But it is very unlikely that a typical home user would reach 1 TB, unless a large household doing binge watching, or some sort of heavy duty P2P.

Comcast allows guest accounts (encourages the practice for Airbnb) for security (xfinitywifi), which would arguably count against the limit.
It’s arguable (in Ait Pai’s thinking) that looser network neutrality could give some ISP’s a motive to up the data limits. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Demonstration to save network neutrality outside Capitol (near Senate office buildings) today

I attended a small demonstration shortly after noon today for the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save  Network Neutrality.

The main argument offered was that if big telecom companies are allowed to set up fast lanes for other big businesses that they own or that pay them off, ordinary consumers will not find their competitors. So it sounds like an anti-trust argument, and similar arguments have been made against Google and search engine results.  Speakers also noted that major Silicon Valley companies support neutrality and that major startups have developed during this period. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) led the event.  But then look at Timothy B. Lee’s recent Vox piece, “The End of the Internet Startup”.

Another major argument was that network neutrality helps minority voices (people of color, LGBT, and immigrant) voices be heard.

There are more videos from this event on my Wordpress "Media Reviews" blog here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My own official comments to the FCC on rolling back network neutrality

I have submitted my own comments to the FCC on net neutrality.

I follows the instructions exactly as published by "The Verge" here.

Here is the text of my comments:

"The biggest concern among many Internet users, especially small businesses or individuals running their own Internet domains, either on their own servers or with shared hosting services, is that, if network neutrality provisions are rolled back, then some or all telecommunications providers might start treating websites as if they were analogous to cable television channels and not offer access to all of them unless paid by content providers.

"But it does appear the NCTS-itv has promised that its members indeed will not do this, and will continue to allow lawful content to be accessed from the United States from their servers in the same manner as today.

"My own stake in this is as a political and social commentator who has very low costs in developing and posting content, but whose operations could not “pay their own way” in an environment if indeed telecom providers changed the “rules of the game” so to speak. 

"I can understand the position that says, a telecom provider might want to provide a very low-cost service for some customers with very limited web access, in the same sense that I recall that ten years ago many cell phones did not yet offer web access at all.  I also remember that in the earliest days of the public Internet, in the mid 1990s, “proprietary content” from big providers like AOL and Prodigy ruled the world until about 1997 or so, as it became more common for users to apply the html protocol on their own and expected to find any website this way.  I also realize that over time, consumer modes of access change, as from the dialup (which in time became reasonably effective for text and smaller images, although not for video) of 20 years ago, to wireless mobile devices today, with a backbone in conventional PC or Mac or Linux computer and laptop access.

"My main expectation would be that telecom providers would facilitate or allow connection to my sites the same way as it happens today, for about the same cost, in both mobile and desktop or PC usage, in wireless, FIOS and conventional cable.  If some users with very limited plans could not access my sites, that probably would not affect me, as such consumers are probably not interested in my kind of content anyway. But such a develop could seriously affect some kinds of small businesses, whose owners depend on inexpensive Internet web access from all potential consumers to make a living.  And such a development could hamper some kinds of innovation. 

"I don’t have a problem with the idea that, even in a reasonably regulated environment, some providers (such as those performing rescue or emergency medicine) have a legitimate need for fast lanes; this should not affect ordinary use. "

When you submit the comment the form removes the paragraphs, but the email confirmation restores themm. 

Sunday, July 02, 2017

NCTA stands by promises of voluntary "neutrality" compliance

I wanted to pass along the form where people can express their comments about the dissolution of network neutrality, to the FCC.  It’s at this url.  Deadline is July 17.

The latest Day of Action Event link for July 12 is here.

NCTA’s own voluntary promise not to interefere with normal website access is here

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Tech companies plan "Day of Action" on Net Neutrality on July 12

ATT recently (May 31) published a blog post by Hank Hultquist, Chairman of “Federal Regulatory” offering the viewpoint that Obama’s net neutrality rules (FCC’s common carrier concept) are predicated on the idea that an ISP advertises itself as a “neutral conduit”, link here.

That is, there is nothing inherently illegal even now for a small ISP to deliver only carefully curated websites to, say, a religious consumer subset that wants only a limited Internet exposure.
That’s true, this wouldn’t matter as long as the major companies maintain their public posture as “public accommodations”, so to speak.

And none of the major ISP’s have indicated any interest in censoring or blocking content.  They might have issues with, say, porn sites that use enormous bandwidth.

And today, Wednesday June 7, 2017, p. A14 of the Washington Post carries a story by Brian Fung, “Web companies plan July ‘day of action’ in push to protect net neutrality”, link here. The companies involved are Amazon, Reddit, Mozilla and Kickstarter, on Wednesday July 12, 2017.  Fung reminds us of a similar day in January 2012 to protest SOPA when Wikipedia went dark.  Fung still rehearses the idea that “neutral”  ISP’s could throttle content they don’t like.  I’m still getting lots of emails asking me to “join in” a hyped petition.  The last day for comments is July 17, and I will probably submit one. Fung reiterates, however, that ISP’s still say they are committed to neutrality in practice.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

FCC votes to take comments on rolling back net neutrality, among "Chicken Little" reports

Well, the comment period on the rollback of Network Neutrality has started, by a 2-1 vote today, overlooked by the media given all of Trump’s antics.  Arstechnica, normally level headed, seems to think that the sky is falling, as in “Chicken Little”

I think I may well make a formal comment during the open period, before July 17.

Arst Technica links to a list of some ISP violations over the years.  In one case, a labor union’s site was reportedly blocked.  Comcast apparently tried to interfere with user P2P, which is odd because Comcast doesn’t offer OpenDNS (I think Verizon does), which is how a host (like for Airbnb) could try to block anyone using his router from doing most possible illegal downloading for which the host could be liable.

This topic needs our continued attention to see what ISP’s really say they want to do.