Sunday, December 01, 2019

Appeals court upholds FCC "repeal" of net neutrality but allows states to pass their own law; odd metaphors used in writing opinion (expanded commentary)


Nilay Patel has a long piece in the Verge, Oct. 4, 2019, that I missed, about the narrow ruling in the DC Circuit, where the Federal Circuit (at Judiciary Square, near Union Station in Washington DC) narrowly upheld the FCC’s “repealing” of Obama’s formal network neutrality rules, and invited Congress to fix the problem.  It also said that states should be free to implement their own net neutrality laws.  One of the judges quoted from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to make a metaphor about keeping over-regulation at bay. (I’m reminded that there is a quote from “Othello” about actors that seems to honor David Hogg.)


The court brought up bizarre ideas like that washing machines can’t make phone calls.
   
Freepress.net maintains it filed the first lawsuit against the repeal and still asks for donations.

The text of the opinion is here.  Judge Williams quotes Macbeth on p. 18. 

FreePress asks for donations and still presents this issue a major priority. Now generally the wild speculations about throttling and blocking have not occurred and that observation points out that you need to look at Internet freedom problems in combination, not just one at a time (my own short film outline on this matter).
  
Still, ironically, social justice warriors could goad telecoms to block certain sites (as happened after Charlottesville). But the same SJW’s express concern over voices of organized marginalized groups.
 
(A shorter version of this story from EFF had appeared Oct. 7, 2019 here.) 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

5G could affect weather forecasting of hurricanes? A note about non-profit tribalism


Jason Solowski and Kevin Lemanowicz report, on Boston 25 News, that some scientists at NOAA and NASA are warning that some 5G frequencies are too close to frequencies used in measuring water vapor in hurricanes or developing storms, link

A similar story appeared today on Smart News.

Other scientists have disputed these claims.

It is possible that long term forecasts more than a three days out would be compromised.

As I recall, forecasting Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas was difficult this fall.

  
I wanted to note that I have been critical of some activist groups focusing on just one issue at a time when that issue didn’t turn out to be as important as others, for example FFTF and net neutrality in 2017 and 2018.  Now that group is working on surveillance and facial recognition abuse.
  
What seems to be happening is that some non-profits want to develop a series of issues that their followers will help them with out of “tribal” cohesion and faithfulness to the organization. 
   
The way speech develops, whether it comes from individuals or from organized groups, is becoming more critical as an issue itself.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

In Maryland, protesters question rules allowing 5G towers near homes


Montgomery County, MD wants to consider allowing allowing 5G transmission towers within 30-60 feet of homes, WJLA reported recently (with video). Protesters showed up questioning the untested health risks. 


Probably most newer homes (especially townhomes) don’t have front yards in that range and wouldn’t be affected. 
   
But the home my trust used to own had a 60-foot front yard (in Arlington, VA), large enough for whiffleball games in my childhood.  It sounds entirely reasonable that you could propose putting up a 5G cell tower.

NIH will do a study on the issue soon.  NIH points out that we have not had children born in generations of intense microwave exposures so there could be.
  
Previous reports have suggested that 5G does not pose a danger to adults as far as we know.

Monday, November 11, 2019

David Rubin interviews Ajit Pai, to debunk all the "rumors" of the past from activists(?)



The Rubin Report (David Rubin) interviews Ajit Pai from the FCC, Nov. 10, for one hour.


There is a shorter video summarizing five major points also on his channel.

(By the way, Rubin has talked a lot lately about his adult-life-long companion Emma, who is dying of cancer at dog old age of 15.)

Many of the early rumors were like, the Internet will work one word at a time, or you’d be charged for every tweet.

The bigger fear was that telecom companies could charge individual websites to be connected, and could be prohibitively expensive for smaller sites or bloggers.  That has not happened.  There was talk in 2016 and 2017 that hosting companies might have to negotiate deals with telecom companies.

It sounds reasonable that telecoms could insist that all sites offer https.  So far that has not happened.
Most telecoms proffered statements that they would not block lawful content once the “repeal” of NN went into place.

But after Charlottesville in 2017, both hosting companies and telecoms got pressure not to allow white supremacist (a subjectively defined idea sometimes in the eye of the accuser) literature to be connected. That’s when we saw some de-platformings.

Pai argues that deregulation will help startups compete with bigger companies (a paradox).

At about 40:20 Pai says he now supports a one-page bill that would enforce consistent neutrality with absolutely no "special interest" exceptions. Rubin got into a discussion of the "publisher v. platform" issue (Section 230, DMCA Safe Harbor).  Pai also discusses his support for a no outside line required in hotels for 911 calls (after a death happened when a kid didn't know to press 9 first to get an outside line). 
        
Ajit Pai spoke at the Cato Institute in the summer of 2018.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

California's "gold standard" network neutrality law seems to be in legal limbo during litigation, as other states look for examples to follow


Makena Kelly reports for The Verge that California has made a deal with the FCC where it will delay the roll out of its “gold standard” network neutrality bill while it is in litigation, link. 

  
FTFF sent out an email asking for donations and it appears to believe California could be persuaded to enforce its law now and set an example for other states, so that telecom companies will accept the probability of such state laws as reality.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Federal circuit allows FCC "repeal" of net neutrality to stand but allows state laws



Corynne McSherry, Katharine Trendacosta, and Ernesto Falcon discuss the state of network neutrality litigation now, noting that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (the technology circuit) has allowed the FCC’s “repeal” of network neutrality protections to stand, but will allow states to pass their own laws. 

The court made comments on public safety, pole attachment overrides, and rural access.  The pole attachment cases sound tricky. 



Monday, September 02, 2019

EFF has a full citizen's lobbying guide for network neutrality advocacy this fall


I’ll pass along a “Net Neutrality Defense Guide” from Electronic Frontier Foundation, a pdf embedded in the web page, here

There are various reports that Congress will take up the issue quickly this fall after reconvening.
   
There have been reports that in a few cases emergency response has been compromisd by telecom companies.

  
But restoring Obama-era network neutrality won’t fix all the other problems, like FOSTA and the radicalization issues. 

FFTF is, as usual, seeking donations (here) for the latest surge.