Category Archives: net neutrality

Automating Influence: The Manipulation of Public Debate

By Andrew Trabulsi – While the application of influence campaigns for the purposes of altering public discourse and politics are rapidly gaining prominence, it’s a field, as discussed in previous writings, with a detailed past.

Tasked with winning the moral high ground during World War I, the famed British propaganda unit, Wellington House, distributed evocative, explicit reports of German barbarism to bolster public opinion in favor of the Allies. At a time before the interminable ubiquity of Internet communications, this tactic proved invaluable in securing the attention and support of the Allies’ war effort, improving recruiting and persuading neutrals.

Today, we see such tactics—albeit in different, non-traditional fashions—show up across case studies, for both political and commercial purposes. In a similar vein to the manipulation of public commentary on net neutrality, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed adjusting its rules to stunt abuse within payday lending markets, it too was berated with an abnormal number of duplicate and semantically similar comments.

As political and economic issues become increasingly influenced by technological engagement, it’s becoming more and more important to understand the limitations and vulnerabilities of such systems. more>

A goal realized: Network lobbyists’ sweeping capture of their regulator

By Tom Wheeler – “Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.

The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.

With this vote, the FCC walked away from over a decade of bipartisan efforts to oversee the fairness and openness of companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon. These four companies control over 75 percent of the residential internet access in America, usually through a local monopoly. Henceforth, they will be able to make their own rules, subject only to very limited after-the-fact review.

The assertion that the FTC will be able to provide that protection adequately is an empty promise. The people at the FTC are good people, but they have neither network expertise, nor the authority to make rules. more>

Network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles


By George Mattathil – In a nutshell, the current situation with cyber security [2] is the direct result of the developments during the the “internet bubble,” in the 1990s. Collapse of the Bell Labs permitted the unchecked growth of the “internet bubble” and related hype.

The divestiture and the collapse of the Bells Labs left a vacuum for network technology leadership, that was substituted by hype that surrounded the “internet mania.” As a result, current network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles.

This added to the deficiencies in economic decision systems for (network) technology adoption, with the results we are seeing today: cyber security [2] challenges, internet malware [2] attacks and political controversies [2].

One of the consequences of the flawed network foundations is that the Broadband [2] adoption (which includes IoT) is progressing much slower than it could.

Another side effect is that ongoing network deployments are architecturally incoherent, resulting in enhanced complexity and cost. more>

Network Neutrality Can’t Fix the Internet

The FCC is poised to dismantle common carriage for broadband and wireless providers. That’s bad, but the internet itself is worse.
By Ian Bogost – It makes sense to construe broadband and wireless providers as common carriers, like telephone companies and utilities. And a majority of Americans, no matter their affiliation, support regulating internet providers in this manner.Security breaches, privacy violations, election meddling, wealth inequality, and a host of other concerns have sullied the tech sector’s reputation.

A public darling during the Obama years, when net neutrality won out, the tech industry has effectively become Big Tech, an aggressor industry along the lines of pharmaceuticals, oil, or tobacco.Local retailers have to manage their searchability on Google, or pay for ads to compete with big companies like Amazon. Restaurants must make sure they’re listed on Google Maps and Yelp and OpenTable.

Creating a mobile app requires payment of registration fees for listing products on the Google or Apple app stores, and a substantial commission on every sale or subscription.

If the internet is to remain a public utility, it must also become a public utility worth using, and one that doesn’t dismantle the society that would use it through neglect and deceit and malice.

It’s time to stop treating the internet as a flawless treasure whose honor must be protected from desecration. It hasn’t been such for a long time, if indeed it ever was. more>

The FCC’s net neutrality proposal: A shameful sham that sells out consumers

By Tom Wheeler – Fighting against monopolization in the internet era…meet ideologically-driven “do what the big guys want.”

A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect.

For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.

The assertion that the FCC proposal is somehow pro-consumer is a sham that doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority. more>

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A pioneering computer scientist wants algorithms to be regulated like cars, banks, and drugs

By Katherine Ellen Foley – It’s convenient when Facebook can tag your friends in photos for you, and it’s fun when Snapchat can apply a filter to your face. Both are examples of algorithms that have been trained to recognize eyes, noses, and mouths with consistent accuracy.

Such algorithms are already deeply embedded in many aspects of our lives. They do such things as setting prices on stock markets, flying aircraft on autopilot, calculating insurance risks, finding you an Uber, and devising routes for delivery trucks.

But algorithms make mistakes too, and when they do it can be extremely hard to figure out why—witness the flash crashes on stock markets and the autopilot failure that brought down Air France flight 447 in 2009. more> https://goo.gl/O8inEI

Net neutrality 2.0: Perspectives on FCC regulation of internet service providers

By Stuart N. Brotman – The final outcome of this high-profile, high-impact proceeding will not be apparent until sometime late in 2017, at the earliest. Congress may also become more seriously involved at some point on the legislative front.

But without a doubt, as Chairman Pai noted in his Newseum speech, a “fierce debate” lies ahead for a number of months at least. And if past is prologue, the FCC may well receive an avalanche of comments in response to these proposed changes; the record in the Title II Order shows that over four million comments were filed by interested parties and the general public combined.

There will be no lack of political discourse, to be sure.

As we move into 2016, an unresolved national communications policy dilemma remains: whether the public-switched telephone network and the internet are parallel systems or parts of a larger ubiquitous network environment. Determining which characterization will be followed has profound consequences for regulatory treatment.

Given the emerging dominance of mobile over fixed service, if the FCC can’t regulate both, it may win the battle but lose the war. Given that a further appeal is likely regardless of which side prevails, including possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress may find itself re-emerging as the best source of guidance for the FCC. Legislative action can definitively clarify whether Congress intends for the telephone network and internet to be joined at the hip, or should continue to function in parallel with differing regulatory treatment. more> https://goo.gl/f4x8Uh

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Net Neutrality Trumping Privacy Undercuts The U.S.-EU Data Safe Harbor

By Scott Cleland – The U.S. government’s Internet priorities in Europe are upside down.

It has chosen bits over bodies, prioritizing protecting the neutrality of innumerable inanimate Internet bits over protecting peoples’ privacy and personal data.

The European Court of Justice has made it doubly clear that Europeans have a right to privacy concerning how Big Internet companies collect and use Europeans’ private data in Europe and that the European Court of Justice will be vigilant in protecting Europeans’ privacy going forward.

In stark contrast, Big Internet companies’ lobbying in the U.S. has been very successful in ensuring that Americans have virtually no right to privacy concerning Big Internet companies. Both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have proven very weak Big Internet privacy enforcers. more> http://tinyurl.com/ommyahp

EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes

By Glyn Moody – A two-tier Internet will be created in Europe as the result of a late-night “compromise” between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council.

The so-called “trilogue” meeting to reconcile the different positions of the three main EU institutions saw telecom companies gaining the right to offer “specialized services” on the Internet.

These premium services will create a fast lane on the Internet and thus destroy net neutrality, which requires that equivalent traffic is treated in the same way. more> http://tinyurl.com/ob8qy6z

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Global Threats to Net Neutrality

New York Times – In Europe and India, proponents of weak net neutrality rules appear to have bought into the misguided notion that higher charges are necessary to keep telecommunications companies in business and, further, that the companies have a right to impose them.

The idea goes something like this: Internet companies like Google and Facebook are making lots of money because cable and phone companies have built networks that give people access to their services. Therefore, Internet-based businesses should help pay the costs of creating, maintaining and upgrading networks.

This is a disingenuous argument. more> http://tinyurl.com/n9kmha9