Thursday, August 30, 2018

California house passes state net neutrality bill SB 822

Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that a new net neutrality law in California passed the state house 61-18, SB 822. It needs to pass the Senate again.

ISP’s had been making robocalls claiming net neutrality would increase their cable bills (Falco story).

Update; Sept. 1

EFF reports that the bill passed the California Senate and goes to Jerry Brown for signature. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Verizon accused of throttling a California fire department during wildfires

Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica has a detailed article on Verizon’s reported throttling of the Satna Clara CA fire department’s wireless broadband Internet service during the recent fires.  The department had supposedly paid for unlimited data, but the service was slowed to .5% of normal speed until the department switched to a new plan, and even then there was delay of service.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that Verizon denies a connection, while the California assembly plans hearings.

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.