Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Internet Neutrality

February 27, 2015

Internet Neutrality

“The internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” —  FCC Chair Tom Wheeler

The FCC voted to adopt stronger Network Neutrality rules on Thursday. Network Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all internet traffic equally, that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade access to certain websites or services or set aside a “fast lane” to allow ISP-favored content to load more quickly. Broadband providers will now be regulated as public utilities, and it is this “Title II reclassification” move that will give the agency broader authority to establish network neutrality rules.  Expect resistance from ISPs, in the form of PR campaigns and lawsuits.

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Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

February 25, 2015

Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

From the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

“The federal court of appeals based in Washington, DC has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may withhold from the public a secret procedure for shutting down cell phone service. EPIC pursued the DHS policy after government officials in San Francisco disabled cell phone service during a peaceful protest in 2011. EPIC sued DHS when the agency failed to release the criteria for network shutdowns. A federal judge ruled in EPIC’s favor. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held for the DHS but said that the agency might still be required to disclose some portions of the protocol.”

– “In EPIC v. DHS, DC Circuit Backs Agency Secrecy on ‘Internet Kill Switch,'” EPIC.org

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You May Have Just Lost Broadband

February 3, 2015

You May Have Just Lost Broadband
If you’re in the USA, it could be you’ve just lost your broadband connection. Why? The FCC just changed the definition of “broadband” by raising the minimum download speed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. Anything slower isn’t considered broadband anymore. 4% of US Internet users have connections slower than 4Mbps, and the new definition adds another 13% of users with sub-broadband speeds. That’s 55 million Americans without broadband.

How does the US compare with other countries when it comes to average broadband speed? We’re tied with Bulgaria at number 25, way slower than superpowers like Moldova, Andorra and Estonia.

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FCC Chair: What USA Calls ‘Broadband’ Is Too Damn Slow

January 9, 2015

FCC Chairman: What USA Calls 'Broadband' Is Too Damn Slow
The Federal Communications Commission gets to define what constitutes “Broadband” in the USA and the absurd current minimum rate of 4 Megabits per second doesn’t cut it. 25Mbps is more like it, and that’s what the draft of an upcoming FCC report is calling for as the new minimum. Even that is absurdly slow compared to many places in the world. Of course US Internet Service Providers need to serve large spans of sparsely populated rural areas. But still.

And bear in mind that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is the former head lobbyist for America’s ISPs, and this overdue upgrade may be his feeble attempt to distract us from the fight to regulate Internet access as a public utility instead of the highly profitable near-monopoly it has been up to now.

More:

“Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition,” Jon Brodkin, ArsTechnica

Update:

“Obama Pushes FCC To Expand Broadband Access,” Krishnadev Calamur, NPR

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Image (“Slow Internet, after Andreas Vesalius”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Net Neutrality: Obama Observes the Obvious

November 11, 2014

Net Neutrality: Obama Observes the Obvious

The USA, which invented the Internet, is 43rd in world Internet speed, behind Estonia. High-speed broadband access costs three times as much in the US as in the UK and France, more than five times as much as in South Korea. There are only a few broadband providers in the US, and 30% of Americans can only choose one due to monopoly local access rules. So naturally, instead of upgrading their networks to world standards, American Internet Service Providers plan to selectively slow down Web access unless customers cough up even more dough.

The FCC has been considering allowing the “Internet Fast Lanes” and opened proposed regs for public comment. 4 million outraged citizens told them to shove it.

President Obama has reasonably observed that Web access is a basic utility today and should be regulated like a utility. Naturally Comcast, VerizonTime Warner Cable, and AT&T are foaming at the mouth. They argue that regulation would stifle innovation, as if their strong-arm tactics haven’t clearly done that already (see “Estonia,” above). Republicans are raging against the Net Neutrality proposal, partly because big corporations fund campaigns but mostly because Obama is for it. But the FCC is an independent agency, theoretically insulated from presidential and congressional pressure, but a few protesters sat at the foot of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway, blocking his car, so he’d have a better understanding of bandwidth throttling.

More:

“President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules,” Ezra Mechaber, White House Blog

“Obama’s big net neutrality announcement, explained,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox

“Tim Wu says Obama’s net neutrality plan is ‘bold, courageous, and just obvious,'” Nilay Patel, The Verge

“Ted Cruz’s Net Neutrality Take Isn’t Just Dumb, It’s Dangerous,” Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo

“The legal arguments against a leading net neutrality proposal are weak,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox

Obama to the FCC: Adopt ‘the strongest possible rules’ on net neutrality, including Title II,” Brian Fung , Washington Post

“President Obama urges FCC to ban paid internet ‘fast lanes,’” Anne Flaherty, AP via PBS

“Obama calls for more regulation of Internet providers, industry fires back,” Fox News

“Obama’s Net Neutrality Push,” Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly

“Obama’s Plan to Save the Internet,” Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

“Barack Obama’s support for net neutrality sets precedent for the rest of the world,” Alex Hern, The Guardian

“The FCC Fires Back At the President’s Net Neutrality Plan,” Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch

“Obama’s Net Neutrality Statement Will Start a War on K Street,” John B. Judis, The New Republic

“Why the Public Utility Model Is the Wrong Approach for Internet Regulation,” Larry Downes, Harvard Business Review

“By Backing Net Neutrality, Obama Delivers Blow to Corporate Giveaways,” Rebecca Leber, The New Republic

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

September 25, 2014

Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

“The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.”

– “Putin considers plan to unplug Russia from the internet ‘in an emergency,'” Luke Harding, The Guardian

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’

September 22, 2014

Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’

 

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, recently spoke with the Washington Post‘s Brian Fung about proposed FCC rule changes that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge content companies for higher speed access to consumers, so-called “fast lanes.”

 “If businesses are to move here and start here rather than start in Europe or Brazil or Australia — they’re going to look around and make sure, ‘Oh, does the power stay up?’ And they’ll look for other things. ‘Is the Internet open?’ Will they have to effectively bribe their ISPs to start a new service? That’s what it looks like from the outside. It’s bribery.”

– “World Wide Web inventor slams Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’” Brian Fung, Washington Post

Related:

“We Can Win the Fight for an Open Internet — If We Keep up the Pressure,” Michael Copps, Moyers & Company

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Coffee Cups

August 10, 2014

Coffee Cups

Take-out coffee cups. We’re partial to the 1963 New York diner classic designed by Leslie Buck (above), but there are others. Now there’s a blog that explores them in photos, Coffee Cups of the World. It’s curated by Henry Hargreaves. If you think he’s missing any you can submit them.

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Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Sarah Palin Launches TV Network

July 28, 2014

Sarah Palin Launches TV Network

Sarah Palin, former Miss Wasilla, once part-time Temp-Governor of Alaska, losing GOP Vice Presidential candidate and failed Fox News commentator, is launching her own on-line TV network, the Sarah Palin Channel. Run on free-market principles, it’ll cost you $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year. A comment on Gawker suggests you go monthly, since Palin will probably quit after 6 months, like she did as Governor of Alaska.

More:

“Sarah Palin Launches Her Own Channel Online,” Todd Spangler, Variety

“Sarah Palin begins her own online channel,” Catalina Camia, USA Today

“Sarah Palin Launches Subscription-Based Online Video Channel,” Andrew Kirell, Mediaite

“Millions Pay for Rare Opportunity to Hear Sarah Palin Speak,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

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Free College for the Rich

December 7, 2013

Free College for the Rich

“Most people taking free online courses worldwide are among the best-educated and wealthiest of the population, casting doubt on the idea that the classes will benefit the disenfranchised, a survey showed.

More than half of those taking massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were men and the majority were already employed, according to Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the correspondence piece in today’s journal Nature.”

– “Survey: Rich kids reap benefits of online courses,” Nicole Ostrow, Bloomberg via Salon [link added]

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