When President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler (a former top telecom lobbyist) as chairman of the FCC, he got a lot of grief for selling out his '07 pledge to protect Net Neutrality -- the founding principle long prized by open web activists that ISPs cannot privilege certain data over others, without which dire visions of a tiered and pay-for-play internet loomed. Earlier, weaker attempts at net neutrality had failed in court, and the new chairman looked set to fold. But after an unprecedented outcry following last year's trial balloon for ISP "fast lanes" -- including a viral appeal by John Oliver, a public urging by the president, and perhaps Wheeler's own history with the pre-web NABU Network -- the FCC yesterday voted along party lines to enact the toughest net neutrality rules in history, classifying ISPs as common carriers and clearing the way for municipal broadband. ISPs reacted with (Morse) venom, while congressional Republicans are divided over what they called "Obamacare for the internet."
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.
Obama just came out endorsing net neutrality, and going even further, saying the FCC should reclassify the Internet as a utility. Here's the full plan.
With a combination of humor and fearlessness, Last Week Tonight has done an unlikely thing: spurred action. John Oliver’s segment on net neutrality this past June perfectly summed up what his HBO show Last Week Tonight is so good at: transcending apathy. It’s an ingenious formula that’s making a difference in the real world. “Making a difference” isn’t hyperbole. The FCC’s website actually crashed from overwhelming web traffic the day after Oliver’s segment originally aired. The Atlantic looks at How John Oliver Beats Apathy.
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, previously
- John Oliver on net neutrality, previously
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on FanFare
Despite the comment collecting engine crashing on the last day to submit comments on the very popular topic of Network Neutrality, the system worked well enough to collect 1.1 million comments, which the FCC has made available to the general public as six XML files, totaling over 1.4 gigs of raw data. Mailed comments postmarked prior to July 18 are still being scanned and entered, so this isn't everything, but it's a lot of data. TechCrunch graphed the frequency of certain words, with the high score going to Comcast, with 4,613 mentions. NPR shared the visualized results of Quid's analysis of a sample of 250,000 comments, and Quid's analysis of a sample of 317,000 comments to map geographic sources of the public comments and adjusted them based on state populations to depict which states care more about net neutrality, while The Verge dug deeper, mapping comments by zip code.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced that they would propose new rules allowing content providers to pay ISPs for priority "fast lanes," reversing their earlier position and effectively rejecting the principle of net neutrality held since the earliest days of the internet. The full set of proposed rules will be announced on May 15. [more inside]
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has come under fire for the sweeping effects it may have on intellectual property laws in signatory countries, and is expected to export and even extend some of the worst features of US copyright law, including the criminalisation of DRM circumvention. The level of secrecy surrounding the agreement has been controversial: the US Trade Representative has refused to make the text of the agreement public, and only three persons in each TPP nation have access to the full text. The New York Times editorial board has been criticised for its endorsement of the deal, when the public (and supposedly the NYT) were unable to read the agreement. In advance of the 19-24 November Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Wikileaks has obtained and published the secret negotiated draft text of the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter, including negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states. [more inside]
The Canadian Pirate Party is official, registered, and running 10-12 candidates in the current federal election. The recent debate over usage-based billing convinced at least one of its candidates of its potential appeal to voters. They are unabashedly an issue-based party, whose platform deals with intellectual property, privacy, net neutrality, and government access/openness. [more inside]
The FCC and Department of Justice have approved Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal. The acquisition marks the first time a major television network will be owned by a cable provider. Opponents like Al Franken decry the deal as giving “unprecedented control over the flow of information in America” to a single media conglomerate. FCC news release about conditions imposed on the merger. (Scribd link)
Law professor Susan Crawford takes a moment to explain to all of us why we should be wary of Verizon's decision to suspend FiOS rollout across the country and the resulting likely domination of the high-speed internet access biz by the cable companies in a short (for a legal journal) paper in the Yale Law and Policy Review. [more inside]
Having trouble explaining to non-technical folks why net neutrality is important, or wondering about it yourself? This simple and appealing single serving site is a 2-minute primer on the idea, and should help!
Despite very strong denials last week from Google and Verizon that they were not discussing ways around Net Neutrality, Google and Verizon held a conference today to announce their agreement to the establishment of price-tiered network services, dividing the current Internet into a "neutral public Internet" that remains "open" (and which preserves access to YouTube and other Google properties), and a set of paid, priority channels that Verizon and other telecoms can use to deliver certain other types of content at higher prices, particularly over cell networks and whatever future infrastructure the Internet will be carried over.
More details are surfacing about why Blogetery.com, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company. [more inside]
Bad News for Net Neutrality: "A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks." The ruling is being viewed as a major setback for the FCC's National Broadband Plan.
AT&T's recent complaints about its mobile phone customers using too much of its underpowered data service have now expanded this week to open opposition to net neutrality legislation. In response, the satirical blog The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs jokingly "reported" on a fake Apple memo calling for "Operation Chokehold", where customers agree to get together on Friday to overwhelm the company's networks. The joke has gained traction with disgruntled users, enough so that AT&T, in turn, chided the blog for "an irresponsible and pointless scheme", creating a Facebook page to promote "Operation Cuckoo".
"The key to the internet's success has been its openness. But the FCC needs your help. That is why we have created openinternet.gov [beta]. I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity to share your ideas on (net neutrality)." FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday outlined his plan for requiring Internet service providers to keep their networks open to legal content and external devices. Some are enthused. The large telecommunications companies who could profit, are not.
On November 20th, the CTRC made a landmark ruling that defeated the CAIP's plea to stop Bell's conjuration of the Deep Packet Throttle Monster. However all was not lost, as consumers of Bell's copper pipes can take solace in three recent developments that aim to reclaim the pipes for We, the little guy. hooray! [more inside]
It seems that previous MeFi post heralding The Year of Net Neutrality may have been frighteningly accurate. Between the recent CRTC and the FCC filings on Bell's illegal throttling practices in Canada, and FCC ruling against Comcast to "Stop Blocking Internet Traffic" in the USA, it seems the issue is finally sparking action, and we may be seeing much more to come. For those interested, there is an open-source documentary called Human Lobotomy which discusses the way this issue weighs on freedom of press and freedom of speech, and also an activist blog, Save the Internet which promises to stay abreast of the issue.
It seems the Belgian "party" NEE's move towards film has ironically lead them into public service announcements and political activism for net neutrality; again using a sexually charged pun, but now directed at Virgin media.
Net Neutrality Update: Comcast admits to paying people to stack the room in their favor at a public hearing with FCC commissioners in Boston. Via savetheinternet. Previously.
We're only two weeks into the year, but net neutrality issues hit the ground running. The FCC already has three different inquiries open. (also) (previously) The 700 Mhz auction threatens to disrupt an already converging telecom industry. AT&T's post-merger commitment to net neutrality ends this year, and they plan to test the filtering waters, despite recently opposing the practice. And today, a leaked memo revealed that Time Warner will test tiered internet services soon. The Internet as we know it, and communications in general, might be headed for some major changes in 2008.
FCC to investigate Comcast's traffic-management practices. The AP and the EFF both have confirmed that they do interfere with some certain file sharing technologies. Previously.
Ambushing yer bits on teh Interpipes (maybe) Accusation against Comcast shows need for net neutrality laws.
Why Does AT&T Hate Pearl Jam’s Freedom? Well, of course, they’re all apologies now… But this latest corporate misadventure seems to touch on all the hot buttons: Media consolidation, net neutrality and the future of political speech in America. (Newsfilter)
Shooting the Messenger (PDF). A new report from Free Press "dispels the many myths manufactured by the telecommunications industry to excuse America's poor broadband performance compared to the rest of the world."
A Call to Free the Cell Phones. Law professor and Net Neutrality activist Tim Wu throws down the gauntlet to wireless industry. Building on the Carterphone ruling, he makes the argument for Wireless Net Neutrality: that consumers, not wireless carriers, should choose how they connect to the wireless networks, what devices they use, and what they do with the bandwidth.
Net neutrality hurts consumers, and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) gets it completely: "I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?" Huh? Enlightening audio of the entire Jabberwocky-esque speech here, as he "explains" why he voted against a proposal that would have required broadband providers to give their competitors the same speeds and quality of service as they give to themselves or their partners.
When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Tim Berners-Lee talks about net neutrality.
The Broad Band has released an on-line protest song: God Save the Internet. Jill Sobule, Kay Hanley, and Michelle Lewis are trying to stir up a webgrass protest against what may already be a done deal. They are in favor of Net Neutrality, by the way.
I just heard some sad news on talk radio. Net Neutrality was found dead in Congress this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the community will miss it. Even if you didn't enjoy its work, there's no denying its contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.
The inventor of the internets (no, not Al), weighs in on the topic of net neutrality, previously discussed here, here, here, and here. (hope I didn't miss anyone)
Don't Regulate is telecom-sponsored ad dressed up as an underground cartoon, writes Timothy Karr. At issue is net neutrality (previously discussed here).
Save the Internet is a coalition trying to preserve net neutrality and stop Congress from ruining the internet by giving it to the telecommunications industry this Wednesday. (More links, previous discussion, via.)
$200,000,000,000 scandal? America is ranked 16th in the world in Broadband speed. Wanna know why? Verizon won’t tell you, but Bruce Kushnick will. His latest book, $200 Billion Dollar Broadband Scandal, is a powerful critique that outlines a truly massive case of fraud. The Bell Companies (Verizon, SBC, Qwest, and BellSouth) used trickery and deceit to swindle the U.S. out of a promised 45mbps internet connection. They collected billions of dollars in regulatory fees, and now they are attempting to commoditize the Internet. Kushnick's book uses stunning detail to expose this treachery with accuracy and thoroughness.
Saving the Net isn't just really about saving the net: the article is a great point of confluence on the issues of Intellectual Property, Property and Success as American values, as well as the future of the Internet as a true commons. Especially interesting is the observation that Presidential candidate Howard Dean's campaign contribution lead – raised via the Internet – is owed to a huge number of small donations, not to a small number of large special interests. If he's being bought, it's by his voters." [via Slashdot]