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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Should you call your own Senator over net neutrality? Is email good enough?



Here is a link where you can tell where your two Senators and House Representatives stand on undoing the Net Neutrality “repeal”.  All three of mine support restoring net neutrality. 

For what it’s worth, activists say that personal phone calls are more effective than letters or emails, and letters are more effective than emails.  Tweets and Facebook messages are not effective.
  
I have a problem with “Take Action” calls, because there are too many intersecting issues.  The FOSTA issue may be more of a ‘threat” than the net neutrality issue, in practice, so I don’t like to waste “capital” on one group’s issue, which leads to misleading messages.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

FCC says new rules replacing "net neutrality" will take effect Monday June 11



Reuters is reporting that the FCC has announced that the “new rules” effectively repealing network neutrality will take effect on Monday June 11, 2018 – allowing time for the OMB review.
  
Reuters also writes that major telecom providers have said they will not block lawful content.

The Senate could vacate the FCC action by a vote that could happen next week.
  
Medium and FFTF wrote their own account here   Medium admits that no changes would happen immediately, but that users would notice fewer startups.  (There could be other reasons, like FOSTA/SESTA.)

  
On Pai’s video above, go to 6:46. 
  
The rules would require telecom providers to announce any changes.
  
Cox (my provider at home) is not mentioned in the Reuters article but here is their own commitment statement from the end of 2017.
  
But Cox did announce price increases on some specificservices in January.



Update: May 11

Electronic Frontier Foundation's action article is here

May 14:

I can't find a statement from Verizon yet, but there were some issues with Netflix and YouTube in the summer of 2017,. Ars Technica here

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Senate will vote on a CRA nullification of FCC's ending of net neutrality



Electronic Frontier Foundation set out a “red alert” regarding the planned Senate vote in mid May to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order.    A simple majority can apparently overrule the agency rule on Dec. 15.  Thirty signatures can force the vote.
  
FTFF reports that the Senate just moved to force a vote, here

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Big ISP's whine in front of state legislatures claiming net neutrality raises bills to consumers



Ernesto Falcon has an article (“The Big Lie”) May 4 from Electronic Frontier Foundation summarizing arguments some big ISP’s have made to state legislatures claiming they don’t make enough money, and that net neutrality will cause consumer bills to rise, link here
  
  
EFF discusses a relatively small ISP in Chattanooga, TN that offers some of the fastest service in the nation, EPB Fiber Optics.
  
The article also describes an instance where ATT would not allow Google to use its telephone poles in some areas to enlarge its own new fiber optic service.  Anti-competitiveness is reportedly denying some consumers optimal access.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Pro net neutrality activist group wants to use your website, or get you to hand deliver messages



A group “Fight for the Future”, which I have mentioned here before, is encouraging supporters to place red alerts on their own social media pages (Facebook) and personal web pages. Here is their "Red Alert" link if you want to see it. 

I don’t do this with my own sites because I want to behave like a “journalist”, so I say, with some irony given the issue, that I want to behave publicly with some irony.  But that could be one reason why activists have a love-hate relationship with journalists, who can’t “join up” by definition.


The group has also encouraged mass calling of legislators and even hand delivering letters (bicycle messengers, sometimes with legs shaved, do that).
   
I'm generally reluctant to spend my own "lobbying capital" on just one issue just because I could get hurt by it.  But maybe getting hurt means out for the season and career Tommy John surgery. 

Note the Senate vote coming up the middle of this month.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Major challenge to Pai's net neutrality repeal moves to federal circuit



INCOMPAS, a trade association representing smaller telecoms, is joining a lawsuit against the repeal of network neutrality, and the venue was moved from the Ninth Circuit to the Federal Circuit.

Dell Cameron explains for Gizmodo in a surprising story here where he says the major media misses this entire development.
  
Apparently this could delay the “repeal” even further, or prevent it, until Congress passes some reforms.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ajit Pai's motives with the OMB review



Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica gives a more detailed explanation of Ajit Pai’s allowing the net neutrality “repeal” languish with the OMB, largely over the transparency rules, here.
  
The OMB issue has already been covered here, but the writer conjectures that Pai wants to give Congress some reason for a “compromise” bill, allowing more paid prioritization, but the Democrats and the activists are ceding no ground.

Friday, April 20, 2018

OMB process may slow down the net neutrality "repeal" on April 23



Gigi Sohn has a detailed article on “broadcastingcable” explaining how a comment period on OMB regulations regarding rollback of network neutrality runs from March 27 to April 26, 2018. 
  
Theoretically, a few changes from providers would be possible April 23, but throttling could not happen until after the OMB period and after transparent notification from ISP’s to consumers.
  
It doesn’t appear that any litigation or state laws would stop the administrative process associated with OMB review.  There is a good theoretical question about how administrative law (vs. courts) could set any precedents.


Sohn indicates that so far major ISP’s have shown no interest in throttling.
  
We think they could eventually require sites to have security certificates (SSL’s) and possibly safety ratings.  The SSL might be a useful tool to reduce the growing risk of foreign sabotage or hacking (as would the use of content delivery services like SiteLock and Cloudflare).  Google says it wants to see the entire web on SSL by July!!



Update: April 24

Electronic Frontier Foundation explains this more thoroughly in a story by Katherine Trendacosta.  EFF does not know when OMB will publish on the Federal Register and what the "final" cutover date would be. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

California getting cold feet on restoring net neutrality?



California is trying to enforce net neutrality within its own borders, with State Senator’s bill SB S822, and a California state Senate committee is trying to undermine the bill, according to EFF’s Ernesto Falcon.

  
Although the committee is sympathetic to preventing throttling, it seems to side with big telecom on its need to make money through some paid prioritization and zero-rated services. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Loss of net neutrality rules could ironically complicate https everywhere efforts


Here's something to watch.  In providing a security certificate (SSL) to enable https everywhere for your site, your host may have to propagate a new IP address (especially if its not a free one). 

There are many products to track propagation.  Generally the certificate will not work until all telecom companies around the world have changed the A record IP. The http sometimes will not work either if there is CDS,

This means that after the "net neutrality repeal" rules take place on April 23, there is at least a theoretical possibility that a domestic (US) telecom could reject a site if it has announced it will do so in advance for some kinds of sites.  This is something to watch for. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Open DNS could provide workarounds for net neutrality loss if the "worst" were really to happen



I haven’t heard any more big news on holding up net neutrality repeal, but I also haven’t heard of any plans by telecoms to change anything (and even the new environment requires announcement and transparency).
  
But Ars technical referred back to its rather pessimistic December 2017 article, and recommends some OpenDNS tools, as run by Cloudflare, to stop any telecom sniffing, article by Sean Gallagher here.  Apparently there are ways around throttling, too, if it ever happens (although Cloudflare has in at least one case refused at least one controversial customer, Daily Stormer).
  
OpenDNS is permissible with some telecoms, not others.  It can also provide a useful tool for an Airbnb host to shield himself from any misbehavior online by guests. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Litigation against net neutrality repeal consolidated; three telecom trade associations defend FCC with arguments; broadband "nutrition labels"



Jon Brodkin has a summary and explanation of the litigation, at least twelve lawsuits and counting, against the FCC over the Network Neutrality repeal, on Arstechnica, here
  
But three lobbying groups for the telecom industry have filed their “defense” of the FCC action as the lawsuits are combined into one.  It appears that it is headed for the Ninth Circuit. Brodkin has another article here


Technically the Net Neutrality rules expire April 23, pending one more OMB action.  It is not yet clear if this litigation would stop the Net Neutrality reversal from going into effect that day.  It seems unlikely that telecom companies would make any major changes immediately however.  I personally think they may pressure publishers more into https and website safety rating. 
  
Note the case about Charter in New York above   Note the stuff about broadband “nutrition labels.”

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Pundits ask: will net neutrality repeal turn the Internet into a grindhouse?




Salvador Rizzo has a perspective and analysis in the Washington Post today: “Will the FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal grind the Internet to a halt?”
  
Well, it this a grindhouse?  The article really doesn’t consider the timing of litigation or possible Congressional action. 
  
The article mentions various informal pledges from telecom providers, but believes that paid fast lanes will gradually develop.
  
The lack of good broadband in some rural areas is still and issue.  Around Green Bank W Va, it isn’t wanted.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Senate introduces network neutrality bill; Washington signs first state law



Democrats have introduced two bills to restore net neutrality, even if there is little chance of passage within 60 days – to make it an election issue this fall.  These are Senators Chuck Schumer and Ron Wyde, (D-OR), Vice story here
  
  
And Jay Inslee, of Washington State, has signed the first state network neutrality law, NYTImes story Monday here. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Simple majority votes in Congress can restore network neutrality



Electronic Frontier Foundation is reminding voters that simple majorities in both houses can overturn the FCC’s recent order abandoning Obama’s 2015 net neutrality rules.
  
Pallone and Doyle have a Feb. 22, 2018 press release, here
  
You can check up your own reps here

Monday, February 26, 2018

Now, given that Ajit Pai is "published", what next?


Brian Fung has summarized “what happens next” (in the Washington Post) now that Ajit Pai and his FCC rules are officially published in the (boring) Federal Register. 

It doesn’t look like Congress can do much in 60 days (especially the House) but it sounds likely a federal court will probably stop the change by April 23.
  
  
Fung doesn’t think telecom companies are in any hurry to change things.  (Would “throttle” mean block, or just slow?)  Paragraph 244 of the FR paper takes up the idea that there is no valid business reason for throttling.

Friday, February 23, 2018

What if, post net neutrality, telecom companies throttle the NRA or gun stores, out of a private "political" motive?



Dell Cameron of Gizmodo reports that the NRA has awarded FCC chairman Ajit Pai a ceremonial gift rifle for his “courage”, news story here. 
  
But Symantec and Lifelock and other private businesses (banks with Visa cards) have cut ties with the NRA out of social and political outrage.
  
I tweeted today, what if a telecom company, once the Net Neutrality “repeal” takes effect fully (April 23), refuses to allow the NRA website or any gun shop to connect, out of “political motives”?
   
I hope people understand where this can be headed.  We saw tech companies block Daily Stormer last summer.  This is a very slippery slope, between genuine moral outrage and political incorrectness or intersectionality.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Official publication of net neutrality "repeal" in FR occurs Feb. 22 and can take effect April 23 theoretically



Ajit Pai’s “Restore Internet Freedom” rules will officially be published on the Federal Register Thursday 22, 2018  (I had thought they were published already).  Here is the web link

Ars Technica has an article by Jon Brodkin. 
  
Theoretically, the changes take effect April 23, 2018.  But various groups and states will file petitions and lawsuits within ten days.  The legal challenges will probably take a year.  In the meantime there are efforts to introduce bills in Congress, which may not get through the House.


Telecom providers seem to suggest they do not intend to make any changes now. Yet the Ars Technica article warns that theoretically this is possible (telecoms would have to give notification) after April 23 unless a court intervenes. 
  
The Verge has a detailed summary on how various telecom companies would behave. In general, there are no absolute guarantees, but it seems companies don’t have specific plans and are not in a hurry to make changes.
  
It's well to bear in mind that a lot of free services on the Internet (like Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter) we "take for granted" but their permanent existence cannot be guaranteed, and with some of these services I have started to wonder about the sustainability of their business models.  A lot of things in life are like that, and so was Net Neutrality.  You have to stay alert.  

Monday, February 05, 2018

New Jersey governor orders all telecoms doing business with the state honor net neutrality



Gov. Phil Murphy (D) of New Jersey has signed an Executive Order with all companies doing business with New Jersey to respect network neutrality.

  

Murphy said the companies are cooperative.  Will they honor the promises everywhere?   This video was shared today by Electronic Frontier Foundation. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Would checking for typosquatting violate (previous) network neutrality?


Today, when I misspelled a domain name – yes, that can be dangerous (typosquatting) Cox intercepted it and with a message that it cannot connect to a domain by that name.

This could be good – Cox is likely to be protecting consumers from typosquatting scams.  In most cases, though, a non-existing domain is caught by the browser and a message is returned back from regular Internet tier DNS servers.  Theoretically, this might have violated network neutrality rules in the past (until the repeal).

In fact, I had thought that Pai had already published his “revolution” to the Federal Register, but the latest seems to be that it’s not all there yet.

It may be laudable for telecom companies to protect customers from security problems by scanning domain names for validity and possibly typosquatting, which is what I suspect is happening. No legitimate sites have been blocked in my experience (by Cox, Comcast, or Verizon).  But it could set the stage for offering much more restricted sets later, for example https only, or perhaps sites rates as safe only. I wonder how that will play out with all the net neutrality litigation starting, especially in the states. 

I would notice that some offices and some public computers block "amateur" sites, but this has nothing to do with telecom's; this seems to be a workplace environment issue. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Burger King's net neutrality repeal protest


Burger King put on its own demonstration on the demise of network neutrality this week, with a sham practice of making customers pay a premium to go to the head of the line. US News story here

  

Although, paying more for an Ezpass lane (and drive alone) during rush hour seems OK (not to some commuters). 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

States sue to stop net neutrality repeal, predict telecoms will control content in court papers; Senate close on a vote


The attorneys general of twenty states have filed suit to stop the FCC’s network neutrality repeal, as they claim that the repeal would allow telecom companies become gatekeepers of what gets disseminated and seen, at their own profit.  (Will this really happen?) Here’s the MSN story.

  
The Senate appears to have 50 out of 51 votes needed to approve a Congressional Review Act to stall the FCC’s decision.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

States want to introduce their own net neutrality, but legally Congress will probably have to let them


Cecilia Kang reports in the New York Times that a number of states are pushing back on network neutrality repeal, introducing legislation to protect consumers and small businesses or individuals seeking sustainability in their ability to reach customers or readers online as today. These states include California and New York, which tend to be trendsetters and affect large companies, as well as North Carolina, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Nebraska.  The list includes some red states.  The story is here
  
  
There are legal questions as to whether the FCC order would circumvent states who want to pass these laws, but that is one of the topics of upcoming litigation and Congressional debate.
  
There’s another video on the FCC’s pre-emptive attempt to override state laws, here

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

House GOP introduce pseudo-net neutrality replacement bill; Senate may vote on blocking FCC order


House Republicans have a compromise on Net Neutrality, “The Open Internet Preservation Act”, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)  

Here’s a text of the Act.

The act would prohibit telecoms from throttling lawful web content, and would require them to obey state laws anywhere the do business, but would not allow the FCC to stop fast lanes or special packages or apps for targeted customers who don’t want everything.


Personally I think this is good enough (for me at least), but it isn’t playing over too well.
A good question could be whether telecoms could insist sites offer https or qualify as safe sites somehow.  I don’t see that in the language now.

There is movement in the Senate to overturn the FCC order, as Se, Ed Markey (D-MA) has collared the 30 votes to force a vote on overturning the rules, MSN story. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

FCC issues its official "repeal" of net neutrality


Electronic Frontier Foundation informs us that the FCC has just published it’s “order” repealing Network Neutrality on the Federal Register.
  
Here is the official PDF of the order. 
  
Here is EFF’s article and suggested manner of contacting Congress, link

California has introduced its own bill to protect Net Neutrality, which would affect most large telecoms, here
  
I don’t necessarily agree with the speaker’s conclusions in the video, but there may be something to it.  You don’t necessarily have a constitutional right to be heard all by yourself without “earning it”.  

Friday, January 05, 2018

FCC Dissenting vote by Clyburn: interesting reading


EFF has tweeted a link to the dissent by FCC member Mignon L. Clyburn 

The paper makes chilling reading.  Note that Clyburn admits that maybe nothing happens for a while, until service providers start a gradual came of “Mother May I” and possibly cloak everything in nondisclosure agreements.

She notes well that small businesses won’t be able to pay off big businesses to be found more easily by customers, so they won’t be formed. The world would tend to move into the direction of structure oligarchy of power, like Russia.

She mentions sole proprietors, who are actually helped by the recent Trump tax law. But this could make it prohibitive for people to publish on their own like I have at some point in the future if the worst were to happen.

She also mentions the discrete communities whose issues might be hidden if they didn’t have equal access.


Yet we got by fine until 2015.  Well, not quite.  There were scattered abuses.  Does web access itself need to be viewed as a utility? Is there some level of regulation that is logical and consistent with past policy?

But the very dependence on utilities puts us at an existential, singular threat that we haven’t face before. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Could the FCC soften the "repeal" before publication in the Federal Register?


Deve Coldewey of Tech Crunch writes that the FCC is still “tweaking” its network neutrality repeal” and “that’s normal”.  The Yahoo link is here.
  
Let’s hope this means that, before publication in the Federal Register (which I remember so well from my days at Lewin) the FCC will include some language that telecom’s should not compromise lawful web access that exists today, even if some fast lanes are actually desirable (for medical purposes, maybe gaming, virtual reality, and the like), and certain flexibility in low-served rural areas is also needed.