As noted last week
, the leaked draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement not only tries to foist wonky US copyright law upon the globe, it's pushing for numerous entertainment-industry initiatives like content filters, greater ISP liability, the disconnection of pirates from the Internet, and even language that could kill off Aereo.
It's all continually illustrative of how TPP negotiations have utterly excluded not only consumers, but all intelligent but discordant voices -- unless you're one of the 600 lobbyists invited to negotiations.
Now Derek Khanna, a Yale Law Fellow who was behind the White House website petition to making cell phone unlocking legal again
, notes over at Slate
that the latest TPP draft also undermines cell phone unlocking efforts by failing to include language that would allow for consumer-friendly device tinkering:
The leaked treaty draft shows that while the White House was championing restoring free market principles to phones, the U.S. proposed that the TPP lock in the process that allowed the Librarian of Congress to rule this technology as illegal through international law. This would make potential reforms like H.R. 1892 impossible. It should be noted that Canada did submit an amendment proposal that could allow unlocking, but neither the United States nor any other country supported it.
This of course runs in stark contrast with the rather breathless government support of unlocking devices, which culminated in a almost-but-not-quite ultimatum
to industry last week by new FCC boss Tom Wheeler.
Wikileaks this week released a copy
of the latest version of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that has been under construction behind closed doors for years. As we've long noted
, the TPP attempts to take some of the worst aspects of U.S.
Speaking before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy yesterday
, Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, insisted the NSA has absolutely no idea how often it collects data on American Citizens. What's more, Litt proclaimed it would violate citizen privacy to try and do so.
The entertainment industry's "Copyright Alert System" (aka "six strikes) was launched back in February
with the cooperation of major ISPs including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. While the program integrates "educational" material and a variety of short-lived punishments ranging from throttling to click through warnings, early indications are the program hasn't had much if any impact on BitTorrent piracy traffic
for a variety of reasons (users hiding behind VPNs or proxies, no punishment after the sixth "strike").
You might have noticed that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and company were very, very quiet during this latest NSA-surveillance related scuff up. That's in part because unlike a few of the more modern tech companies (like Yahoo
, who fought secretive rubber-stamped FISA court requests), the telcos yelled "how high?" when asked to repeatedly trample privacy and wiretap laws.
A group of Conservatives, led by Libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), are pushing to have NSA surveillance funding pulled
unless the agency reins in some of its aggressive wholesale spying on Americans.
As Edward Snowden's leaks continue to create international ripples
and his options for sanctuary tighten
, the whistleblower this week issued a statement posted to Wikileaks
accusing the Obama administration of "using citizenship as a weapon." "Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person," states Snowden. "Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right." He later argues the U.S. government is not afraid of whistleblowers like Snowden, but "of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised."
Here in the States, any attempt to impose meaningful net neutrality rules for consumers effectively died back in 2010
in a puff of partisan bickering and disinformation. Even the feeble rules the FCC did muster the stomach to pass are facing obliteration by lawsuit courtesy of Verizon
Barring veto by Austin Governor Rick Perry, Texas is poised to pass one of the toughest e-mail privacy protection laws in the nation. HB2268
would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), requiring that state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant for all e-mails regardless of the age of the e-mail. That protection however wouldn't extend to federal investigations
. After passing both houses of the Texas legislature earlier this year without a single "nay" vote, the bill now sits on the desk of Governor Perry, who has until June 16 to veto it, or it passes automatically this fall.
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.
CISPA last week passed the House by a vote of 288 to 187
courtesy of oodles of lobbying cash from the likes of Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, and Intel, who all desire the protections the bill gives them for privacy violations. However, Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the chairman of the U.S.
Last week CISPA passed the house
courtesy of oodles of lobbying cash from companies like AT&T, Verizon, Google, Intel and Cisco. Those companies are thrilled that the bill protects them from privacy violations, as are security firms eager to net billions in government contracts to fight an endless parade of phantom "cybersecurity" menaces.
As a private company, Cox Communications is one of the few companies that refused to participate in the entertainment industry's "six strikes" anti-piracy initiative. However, the company has taken things into their own hands, telling Torrent Freak
that they're running an anti-piracy program of their own.
California Assembly Member and Los Angeles representative Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced a bill called "The Right to Know Act of 2013
" (pdf). Her bill would require all California provide consumers, upon request, a list of all user data collected and precisely who that data is being shared with or sold to. "By modernizing the requirements, consumers have a right to know not just how their basic information may have been used for junk mail, but also how it's collected and shared with data brokers, advertisers, and others," Lowenthal says in a statement on her website
. You can expect oh -- a wee bit of opposition from the government and the myriad of companies busily tracking and selling anything that isn't nailed down.
Last month I noted
how CISPA was likely returning for a second try, despite complaints that the bill would significantly erode consumer privacy and expand Internet activity surveillance under the guise of "cybersecurity." Sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger insisted he was working on fixing the bill so it addressed the concerns of privacy advocates, then immediately proceeded in re-introducing a completely unchanged version of the original. Now the bill is heading to Congress for a closed door debate
so that the public can't point out how awful the bill is -- again. About that whole Congress supposedly working for the people thing...
Streaming OTA video provider Aereo this week saw another major win in their fight against broadcasters looking to shut the service down. Fox network founder Barry Diller started Aereo
trials last year in New York City, the service offering users a $12 a month option for local broadcast television services -- adding an interesting and inexpensive option for those eager to cut the cord.
Despite the fact that Google Glass isn't even launched yet, West Virginia lawmakers are getting ready to pass a law banning people from using Glass while driving
. State lawmakers have already been working on new laws that ban texting while driving, so Gary Howell (R-Mineral) is updating the law so that it also covers "a computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer." Google, for its part, is trying to argue that Google Glass could make drivers safer:
"We are putting a lot of thought into the design of Glass because new technologies always raise new issues," a Google spokesperson wrote to Ars. "We actually believe there is tremendous potential to improve safety on our roads and reduce accidents. As always, feedback is welcome."
While the potential for driver distraction might be significant, West Virginia probably has more important things to worry about than passing regulations governing a niche product few people will actually be able to afford at $1,500 a pop. This is the state currently investigating its own incompetence and corruption
after state leaders wasted $126.3-million in broadband funding on un-used, overpriced routers and redundant, overpaid consultants, in the process lining Cisco and Verizon's pockets with no-bid contracts.
A petition on the White House website
urging the Obama administration to stop CISPA has received the 100,000 signatures necessary to get a White House response. CISPA "creates broad legal exemptions that allow the government to share "cyber threat intelligence" with private companies, and companies to share "cyber threat information" with the government, for the purposes of enhancing cybersecurity," argues the petition. "The problems arise from the definitions of these terms, especially when it comes to companies sharing data with the feds." The last CISPA crumbled in the aftershocks of SOPA, but with many companies (like Verizon and AT&T
) supporting this bill, the second attempt may be more successful.
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