Featured ContentNote: We're able to pay for good user-contributed content
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.
That's a move that has serious repercussions in the form of increased broadband coverage gaps, higher prices, stronger cable monopolies and lower-quality service. What happens to these users is part of one of the biggest shifts this industry has ever seen. The FCC this week simply noted that they'd be taking a closer look at this transition
, in the form of "Pilot programs" that can study the transition from the copper PSTN to wireless and/or VoIP.
This modest proposal outraged AT&T, who'd very much like to sever tens of millions of in-use DSL lines nobody wants to buy -- and they don't want to upgrade -- without anyone studying the way this would impact you. In a piece over at CNET
, contributor Larry Downes channels this bogus carrier outrage in a dubious piece that trots out all the industry's usual bogeymen, such as the well-worn yarn that the government simply studying an issue stifles network investment:
The notice was disappointing to advocates who see the IP transition as a potential catalyst in connecting more Americans to the broadband ecosystem, a goal far more likely with the switched network definitively shut off in favor of native IP technology. According to Fred Campbell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a former bureau chief at the FCC, Friday's notice is "more likely to discourage future investment in Internet infrastructure than to accelerate it."
Yes, nothing "connects more Americans to the broadband ecosystem" quite like killing off regulations requiring they keep providing DSL and POTS lines.
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..
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 I noted the other day
, documents recently obtained by the ACLU
after a FOIA request suggest that IRS protocols still assume that the agency can freely snoop through United States citizen e-mails, despite the fact that a 2010 Appeals court ruled such behavior violates the Fourth Amendment. When pressed by several Senators during a hearing last week, IRS boss Steven Miller stated the agency would update their surveillance protocols as they pertain to e-mail
, though his answers left it uncertain if the agency would do the same for things like social network websites and other online services.
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.
by Revcb Thursday 14-Mar-2013
by Revcb Wednesday 13-Mar-2013
A Berkeley city councilman has proposed a tax on e-mail and each bit as a possible way to help shore up the United States Postal Service's dwindling funds. "There should be something like a bit tax," insisted District 8 Berkeley Supervisor Gordon Wozniak
this week. "I mean a bit tax could be a cent per-gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year. And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email, he said.
Georgia's absurd anti-community broadband bill
is of course only the latest in a decade long effort by incumbent ISPs to ban communities from wiring themselves -- even if the local operator refuses to. The Wall Street Journal
notes that with the recent passage of similar rules in North and South Carolina, 19 states now have laws in place -- all of them written by incumbent ISPs -- either banning or greatly hindering community broadband improvement efforts.
If you live in the United States, you may be familiar with the common sentiment that you generally cannot take your favorite cellular enabled device (tablet, smartphone, Sony PlayStation Vita, etc.) and use it on any carrier you like. With GSM carriers, this is referred to as a SIM lock. story continues..
CISPA, a bill that would significantly erode consumer privacy and expand Internet activity surveillance under the guise of "cybersecurity," (see the EFF's excellent primer
) recently rose from the dead
. Phone companies are of course in support of CISPA, given it gives them a blank check to violate consumer privacy laws.
Fear that Canadian regulators were going to do their job has resulted in a welcome -- though likely brief -- return to unlimited broadband in Canada. Our friends to the north are well-known for some of the most predatory and punitive broadband caps and overages anywhere, courtesy of uncompetitive broadband markets and regulatory capture. story continues..
The FTC today announced
that they've closed a two-year investigation into Google for anti-trust violations, resulting in only minor changes to the search giant's business practices. The agency found that Google's search engine has succeeded because it's simply good
, not because Google acted anti-competitively.
The FCC has hired a new chief economist with a history of cheerleading broadband usage caps for the cable industry. According to the FCC, they've hired Steven Wildman, an economist and professor at Michigan State University, as the agency's new chief economist. story continues..
As we noted last month
, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been working on an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that would have strengthened consumer e-mail privacy protections, requiring that the government obtain a warrant before snooping user e-mail or remotely stored data (like cloud storage). It was a surprising direction for a government that has relentless pushed to eliminate all citizen privacy protections, so not too surprisingly the Amendment has been killed without explanation
Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud). The Senate was set to approve the video privacy bill along with the email amendment, which would have applied to a different law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But then senators decided for reasons unknown to drop the amendment.
Current law allows the government to sift through emails and other cloud data without a warrant provided the data has been stored for 180 days or more. However, with wiretaps installed at most large carriers
providing the government user communications in real time, it's believed that those laws are generally laughed at by intelligence services.
You might recall that iiNet
, one of Australia's largest ISPs, was sued
by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and the Australian arms of various movie studios for failing to stop the transfer of pirated content across their network. iiNet fought back and won; Company CEO Michael Malone at the time argued the industry's demands for iiNet to play traffic cop were unreasonable if not impossible, and that "these guys are asking us to be judge, jury and executioner."
iiNet's making headlines once again for balking at industry demands, this week walking out of discussions
with the Australian government and the entertainment industry over continued efforts to make ISPs responsible for the pirated transfers occurring on their networks.
·more stories, story search, most popular ..
Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , telcodad