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Long after this week's surveillance firestorm erupted, the White House has finally seen fit to grace the public with some justifications for their wholesale secret spying on pretty much everyone, everywhere, all the time. In a speech (full video here
), Obama effectively stated that spying on such a ridiculous scale is a "critical" tool in the country's arsenal, and that both
of the programs
exposed in more detail this week were approved by Congress, and therefore perfectly ok.
...no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are.
-Barack Obama, 2007
"These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006," said the President, adding that "your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we're doing."
Except said duly elected representatives should have voted down the program if they had an ounce of respect for liberty, privacy, and the will of their non-corporate constituents. There's a reason Congress has such a dismal approval rating and the vast majority of the country considers them a bunch of blithering, bickering, incompetent dolts
A report over at Public Integrity
notes that more and more corporations are throwing money at civil rights groups, and in exchange convincing them to parrot support for bad public policy. We most recently saw this during AT&T's attempted takeover of T-Mobile, when oodles of minority groups that should be supporting more competition, lower prices, and fewer job cuts -- suddenly began magically repeating AT&T talking points on the subject
While there's absolutely no doubt that Google Fiber has been a positive thing for the industry, critics have singled out two problems with Google's ultra-fast offering. One, the company backed off of open access promises
that would have allowed multiple companies to come in and truly compete over the infrastructure.
As I've been discussing a lot lately
(because it's the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines -- and by proxy DSL -- to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist that they're simply interested in "modernizing regulations" and ushering us into an "all IP age." In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they're unwilling to upgrade.
The Justice Department is under fire for obtaining two months of telephone records for twenty different lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press. Said data included phone numbers, names, calls made, and potentially call duration. story continues..
Early last year we noted that AT&T, the company that really started the network neutrality debate to begin with
, had come up with yet another awful new idea: charging app makers a fee if they wanted to send data to consumers without impacting their usage caps. While AT&T presented the idea as akin to a 1-800 number for data or "free shipping," what it actually is a troll toll imposed by AT&T allowing them to rake in new cash -- and impose their power on a content ecosystem and app marketplace that operates better with companies like AT&T out of the way.
Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell today announced that he'll be leaving the FCC
for an unspecified job elsewhere. McDowell was the likely front-runner to lead the FCC if Romney had won the election.
A new FCC initiative promises to accelerate the delivery of 1 Gbps connections to all fifty states by 2015, though the plan upon closer inspection appears to be another hollow agency puppet show. FCC boss Julius Genachowski received ample press attention last week by proclaiming that the FCC was spearheading a new agency program that would bring 1 Gbps connections to all fifty states in just two years. story continues..
For years the cable industry insisted that they imposed usage caps because network congestion made them necessary. You'll recall that Time Warner Cable insisted that if they weren't allowed to impose caps and overages the Internet would face "brown outs.
" Cable operators also paid countless think tanks, consultants and fauxcademics to spin scary yarns
about a looming network congestion "exaflood," only averted if cable operators were allowed to raise rates, impose caps, eliminate regulation or (insert pretty much anything here).
FCC Boss and Obama Harvard chum Julius Genachowski desperately hopes that his FCC legacy will be the man who saved wireless, though he'll more likely be remembered for being a wishy washy politician who folded precisely when the agency needed courageous and bold pro-consumer leadership.
While Genachowski's FCC has proclaimed itself to be pro-consumer, they more accurately have engaged in a steady stream of pro-consumer theater: for example net neutrality rules that protect nobody
, broadband plans that ignore competition and sky-high prices
, and merger conditions that mean nothing
Over the last few months several reports have surfaced pointing out that U.S. residents pay significantly more for fiber than their European counterparts. story continues..
FCC boss Julius Genachowski has been busy lately paying lip service to Silicon Valley, most recently telling a bunch of Silicon Valley conference attendees that caps were something we should be "concerned" about
, after telling cable companies just a few months earlier he thought caps and overages are nifty and innovative
. Speaking again to Silicon Valley folks yesterday at a speech
at Vox Media headquarters, Genachowski hashed out his muddy position a little further, again insisting he was "concerned" about caps -- sort of -- maybe:
(Growing usage) presents challenges for broadband providers in managing the growing loads on their networks while earning returns to drive capital investment in network upgrades and expansion.
The New Republic story continues..
notes that one of the cornerstones of the GOP's technology agenda being firmed up at the convention this week (aside from censoring porn
, opposing net neutrality and further eliminating consumer protections) is "spectrum reform." The New Republic
argues that spectrum reform in GOP parlance is really just code for taking any and all spectrum you can find and selling it to AT&T and Verizon, so they can squat on it and prevent additional competitors from entering the marketplace (aka protectionism).
In addition to just throwing money at the GOP
, the incumbents and the GOP sell the idea of further protecting the nation's duopoly from competition by insisting they're just super
concerned about bringing broadband to rural users.
Scott Cleland is a policy consultant paid by incumbent ISPs to sell his client's unfiltered Kool-Aid to reporters and politicians, and is frequently called to Washington as an "objective" industry analyst, despite his obvious role as little more than a paid parrot. You might recall that when we last saw Scott Cleland, he was busily beating up on Google for not investing in broadband infrastructure
, despite billions spent on global fiber runs and storage capacity.
An editorial first posted over at the Wall Street Journal
recently bubbled up over at GigaOM
. In it, "management consultant" Rags Srinivasan talks about how AT&T and Verizon are, like most duopolies, just pretending to compete -- giving each other winks and nods when it's time to raise prices.
After a year or more of hinting at such a change, Verizon recently unveiled
the company's "Share Everything" data plans to more than a little disappointment by consumers and consumer advocates. The plans, while offering unlimited voice and text services, impose very high per byte data charges on consumers in addition to per device fees.
It's 2012, and while politicians like to proclaim that the United States is a broadband leader, the reality on the ground is anything but. In addition to the millions of DSL customers of smaller phone companies unable to upgrade or unwilling to upgrade their lines, there's still numerous communities that no private company wants to serve at all. story continues..
Back in February we noted that AT&T, the company that really started the network neutrality debate to begin with
, had come up with yet another awful new idea
: charging app makers a fee if they wanted to reach consumers without hitting their usage caps. While AT&T presented the idea as akin to a 1-800 number for data or "free shipping," what it actually is a troll toll imposed by AT&T allowing them to rake in new cash -- and impose their power on a content ecosystem that operates better with AT&T out of the way.
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