Tag Archive: Internet Freedom


Republicans Fear Net Neutrality Plan Could Lead To UN Internet Powers

 

 

 

 

” The U.S. government’s plan to enact strong net neutrality regulations could embolden authoritarian regimes like China and Russia to seize more power over the Internet through the United Nations, a key Senate Republican warned Wednesday.

  Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune of South Dakota argued that by claiming more authority over Internet access for net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission will undermine the ability of the U.S. to push back against international plots to control the Internet and censor content.

  Countries like Russia already have made it clear that they want the International Telecommunications Union or another United Nations body to have more power over the Internet, Thune said.

” It seems like reclassifying broadband, as the administration is doing, is losing a valuable argument,” Thune said at his panel’s hearing on Internet governance. “How do you prevent ITU involvement when you’re pushing to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and is everyone aware of that inherent contradiction?”

  On Thursday, the FCC is set to vote on net neutrality regulations that would declare Internet access a “telecommunications service” under Title II. Advocates, including President Obama, argue that the move is the only way the FCC can enact rules that will hold up to legal challenges in court. The rules aim to prevent Internet providers from acting as “gatekeepers” and controlling what content users can access online. 

  David Gross, a partner at the law firm Riley Wein who advises tech and telecom companies, agreed with Thune’s warning.

  The U.S. has consistently argued that the Internet is not a “telecommunication service” and therefore outside of the authority of the International Telecommunications Union, he explained. “If they were to find that Internet service is a telecommunications service, that would undoubtedly make the job of my successors much more complicated,” Gross, a former ambassador to the ITU during the George W. Bush administration, said.

  A top Obama administration official dismissed the comparison between net neutrality and UN control of the Internet.”

   Read the rest at National Journal and see how confident in the Obama administration’s assurances you are . It’s not like they’ve ever lied to us .

FCC Chief Pressed To Release Net Neutrality Rules

 

 

 

 

” A key Republican lawmaker in Congress called for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to make proposed net neutrality regulations public before a planned Thursday vote on the measure.

  In the latest wrinkle in the Republicans’ battle to quash Wheeler’s proposals, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who’s also the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter today to Wheeler, questioning whether the FCC has been “independent, fair and transparent” in crafting the rules to protect content on the Internet.

” Although arguably one of the most sweeping new rules in the commission’s history, the process was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review,” he said.

  Chaffetz urged Wheeler to publicly release the 332-page draft order that was given to the other four commissioners nearly three weeks ago and appear at a House Oversight hearing Wednesday before a vote at the FCC’s monthly meeting Thursday.

  Also today, FCC commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly too asked for Wheeler to release the proposal to the public and postpone the Thursday vote to allow for 30 days of public comment.”

 

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Republican Lawmakers Investigate White House Net Neutrality Push

 

 

 

” Congressional Republicans are demanding to know how much the White House influenced the Federal Communications Commission while the agency crafted net neutrality rules.

  The FCC has until Monday afternoon to produce unredacted email messages, focused on net neutrality rules, between FCC staff and officials with the Obama administration, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in a letter to the FCC Friday. The Utah Republican is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

  Chaffetz’s committee is “investigating the potential involvement of the White House” in the creation of proposed net neutrality rules that the FCC is scheduled to vote on next Thursday, he said in the letter. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose regulations that would reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service instead of a lightly regulated information service.

Chaffetz’s letter to the FCC came just two days after Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Wheeler they were expanding an investigation into agency rule-making processes.”

 

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DDoS Attacks Against Governments More Powerful And Popular Than Ever

 

 

 

” When the protesters hit the streets, expect DDoS attacks to hit the Web. 

  Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are being used against government targets more than ever before, according to new research from Internet infrastructure firm Verisign. The attacks are increasingly powerful, cheap, and easy to deploy.

  DDoS attacks work by flooding a target—a bank, for instance, or a popular website—with data in order to make it crash or unusable for users. It’s not only an easy-to-use, cheap, and effective weapon for hackers, it’s also a goldmine for security firms paid to defend against the attacks.

  DDoS attacks against public-sector targets grew to account for 15 percent of all attacks recorded by the company at the end of 2014. The average size of attacks grew in size by 245 percent, Verisign found.

  DDoS-for-hire services can cost as little as $2 per hour, delivering an easy-to-use but potentially powerful punch to any Internet-connected devices on earth. 

  The DDoS defense market—where Verisign is a major player—is projected to hit $1.6 billion within two years.”

 

Daily Dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internet Groups In Tricky Position Over US Net Neutrality

 

 

 

 

The problem comes with the form the rules will take. With heavy nudging from the White House, the FCC has opted to repurpose an authority it was given under an old telecoms law, known as Title II, to make it apply to the internet era.

  Like all deeply technical issues that become political footballs, it has not been hard for the rival camps to turn this into opposing talking points. Depending on where you stand, it is either bold action to protect an open internet or inappropriately sweeping, utility-style regulation.

  What is indisputable is that the legislation the FCC is relying on was designed for circuit-switched telephone networks in a different age. The only way to adapt it to modern times is to suppress certain parts of Title II and implement it piecemeal. The FCC promises a light touch: in particular, it says it will avoid price regulation or any requirements that might force operators to unbundle their networks.

  If history is any guide, a challenge in the courts will follow. There is simply too much at stake for the regulations not to be tested. And, as was the case with the last approach to net neutrality, it is not beyond the courts to reject the FCC’s compromise as unduly arbitrary.

  This is where things could become dicey for companies such as Google and Facebook. Who knows how some future FCC would interpret its new Title II powers, or whether a court would order a different implementation of the law. Price regulation of the internet’s interconnection agreements would always be a looming threat.

  It is not just the impact in the US itself that is at stake. There is also the question of what message US regulators are about to send to the rest of the world. The risk is that Washington will be seen to be giving a nod of approval to the idea of extending traditional telecoms rate regulations to the internet.”

 

 

Read the whole piece at Financial Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FCC Chair Has All But Confirmed He’ll Side With Obama On Net Neutrality

 

 

 

 

 

 

” President Obama’s top telecom regulator just issued his strongest hints yet about a pending plan to regulate Internet providers, and judging by reports from the room, he’s leaning hard toward the most aggressive proposal on the table.

  Speaking Wednesday at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler took aim at several industry arguments against the use of Title II of the Communications Act to regulate broadband providers. That’s the legal tool that President Obama and many consumer groups say would prevent broadband providers from unfairly discriminating against some Web sites.

  Wheeler also appeared to backtrack on one of his previous net neutrality proposals, saying it didn’t go far enough in protecting consumers, according to tweets from the audience.

  Now, analysts and policy experts from both sides of the net neutrality debate largely agree that Wheeler will seek to apply Title II to Internet providers after all, more than a year after a federal court tossed out the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules.”

 

Washington Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama: Government Should Regulate Internet To Keep It Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” So President Obama has announced that the Internet should be regulated as a public utility. He’s asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify internet service providers (ISPs) from “information services” under Title I as telecommunications providers under Title II regulatory guidelines. (See here for background on the distinction.)

  This is all being done in the name of “Net Neutrality,” keeping the Internet free and open, prohibiting “fast lanes” for certain services and sites, making sure no legal content is blocked, and all other horribles that…have failed to materialize in the absence of increased federal regulation.

  Reason contributor and Clemson University economic historian Thomas W. Hazlett defines Net Neutrality as “a set of rules…regulating the business model of your local ISP.” The definition gets to the heart of the matter. There are specific interests who are doing well by the current system—Netflix, for instance—and they want to maintain the status quo. That’s understandable but the idea that the government will do a good job of regulating the Internet (whether by blanket decrees or on a case-by-case basis) is unconvincing, to say the least. The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change. “

 

   More on this latest example of Orwellian State-Speak so commonly spewed by the current administration can be found here . Obama’s line is sure to be a classic right up there with “if you like your doctor…” and “we must pass the bill to see what’s in it . ” .

 One is forced to ask , are the progressives so dense as to be blissfully unaware of the ignorance of their statements , or are they inveterate liars ? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

 

 

 

 

 

” The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program.

  The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.”

 

This is the power of Leviathan … we’ve been warned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Net Neutrality But Were Afraid To Ask

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Okay, ever since our big Net Neutrality Crowdfunding, we’ve had some new readers who aren’t as familiar with the details and issues — yet we’ve been mostly writing as if everyone is informed of the basics. So, we figured it only made sense to take a step back and do a bit of an explainer about net neutrality.

What is net neutrality?

  This is not an easy answer, actually, which, at times, is a part of the problem. The phrase, first coined by law professor Tim Wu, referred originally to the concept of the end-to-end principle of the internet, in that anyone online could request a webpage or information from any online service, and the internet access provider (usually called internet service providers or ISPs) in the middle would deliver that information. At the time, the ISPs were starting to make noises about how they wanted to “charge” service providers to reach end users, effectively setting up toll booths on the internet. This kicked off in earnest in October of 2005, when SBC (which became AT&T) CEO Ed Whitacre declared that internet companies were using “his pipes for free.”

  The phrase has been warped and twisted in various directions over the years, but the simplest way to think about it is basically whether or not your ISP — the company you pay for your internet access (usually cable, DSL or fiber, but also wireless, satellite and a few others) — can pick winners and losers by requiring certain companies to pay the ISP more just to be available to you (or available to you in a “better” way). John Oliver probably summarized it best by arguing that it’s about “preventing cable company fuckery” (though, to be clear, it goes beyond just cable companies).

  The internet access providers claim that service providers, like Netflix and Google, are getting a “free ride” on their network, since those services are popular with their users, and they’d like to get those (very successful) companies to pay.

Wait, so internet companies don’t pay for bandwidth?

  They absolutely do pay for their bandwidth. And here’s the tricky part of this whole thing. Everyone already pays for their own bandwidth. You pay your access provider, and the big internet companies pay for their bandwidth as well. And what you pay for is your ability to reach all those sites on the internet. What the internet access providers are trying to do is to get everyone to pay twice. That is, you pay for your bandwidth, and then they want, say, Netflix, to pay again for the bandwidth you already paid for, so that Netflix can reach you. This is under the false belief that when you buy internet service from your internet access provider, you haven’t bought with it the ability to reach sites on the internet. The big telcos and cable companies want to pretend you’ve only bought access to the edge of their network, and then internet sites should have to pay extra to become available to you. In fact, they’ve been rather explicit about this. Back in 2006, AT&T’s Ed Whitacre stated it clearly: “I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network – obviously not the piece for the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in internet access fees, but for accessing the so-called internet cloud.” In short, the broadband players would like to believe that when you pay your bandwidth, you’re only paying from your access point to their router. It’s a ridiculous view of the world, somewhat akin to pretending the earth is still flat and at the center of the universe, but in this case, the broadband players pretend that they’re at the center of the universe.”

 

Read the whole thing at TechDirt and arm yourselves with the facts .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Neutrality Activists Are Mobilizing For A “Day Of Action”

 

 

Save The Internet

 

 

” Internet activists are hunkered down today, meeting with major tech companies, startups, venture capitalists, and organizations representing communities of color in preparation for a coordinated response to counter the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new rules that could destroy net neutrality.

  The proposed FCC regulations, first reported yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, would allow broadband providers to essentially act as gatekeepers and charge websites fees in order to reach customers through a data “fast lane.” This is the antithesis of net neutrality, which states that all traffic is to be treated equally. In short, net neutrality is an assurance that internet providers can’t favor one kind of traffic over another, or charge for access to certain parts of the internet. According to activists, yesterday’s reports signal a hard end to that practice as well as the open internet (FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler attacked the reports in a blog post, saying that “the allegation that it will result in anti-competitive price increases for consumers is also unfounded”).

  The news has web activists are worried. And they’re mobilizing.

“ Net Neutrality is on life support,” Free Press’ Josh Levy wrote this afternoon in a joint Reddit AMA on the subject. As of this afternoon, it’s the top post on Reddit’s front page with over 5,000 upvotes, a signal that the news seems to have hit a nerve online and that frustration with the FCC is beginning to bleed into the mainstream.”

 

 

   Read more at Buzzfeed and do not forget about what we feel is an even bigger threat to Internet freedom , the dreaded , cronyist , secret negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internet Transition Triggers GOP Backlash

 

 

 

 

” The Obama administration’s decision to relinquish oversight over the group that manages the Internet’s architecture has raised an early red flag with Republicans, who blast the move as a threat to free speech.

  Exactly who would regulate the Web’s back-end is unclear, but the decision already has sparked backlash among some in the GOP, who warn it could allow the United Nations or authoritarian countries to step in and seize control of the Web.

  U.S. lawmakers have long warned about the dangers of ceding ICANN’s authority to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency. They see the U.N. as a vehicle for countries with tight constraints to allow even greater online censorship. Congress unanimously passed Bono’s resolution ahead of a 2012 ITU meeting to reinforce America’s commitment to an open Internet.”

    At first glance the Obama administration’s promise to relinquish control over ICANN seems like a good idea … one less thing the government controls … but given that this administration is not known for championing liberty and the free markets one is left wondering if this is a back-handed way for the Statists to cede control over the free flow of information to the UN or some other Statist body while appearing to do the opposite .

   There is much talk as well that this new move opens the door to an internet tax and censorship which should be of concern to us all . If there is one thing we know about the Obama administration it is that it loves both taxes and regulation so we cannot help but wonder that something larger is at play here than “fairness” and freedom . 

 

Read on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electronic Frontier Foundation Offers A Tribute To Aaron Swartz On The Anniversary Of His Tragic Death

 

Aaron Swartz

 

” One year ago, we lost Aaron Swartz, a dear friend and a leader in the fight for a free and open Internet. The shock was, and remains, a profound one. It’s a testament to the power of his commitments and ideals that both in life and in death he has inspired millions around the world, including all of us at EFF, to redouble our own efforts to advance the causes that he believed in, and to untangle the twisted and brutal computer crime laws that were used to persecute him.”

 

 

 

 

” Aaron was a passionate activist, but he also stood out as a technologist whose ambitions were always aligned towards a better, more just future. His pioneering work demonstrated a passion for harnessing technology to advance the public interest. As the Internet community confronted massive new challenges to free speech and privacy in 2013, there were many moments when we wondered quietly about what Aaron would have said and done.”

 

 

More about Aaron and efforts to fight State control can be found here and at the links below .

 

Take Action

TheDayWeFightBack.org

Reddit

AARON SWARTZ GETS “STREET ART” TRIBUTE AT HIS FINAL WORKPLACE

Remember Aaron Swartz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET

 

The Day We Fight Back

 

 

 

” In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. A year ago this month one of that movement’s leaders, Aaron Swartz, tragically passed away.

  Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.”

 

 

 

 

” If Aaron were alive, he’d be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.

  Now, on the eve of the anniversary of Aaron’s passing, and in celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA that he helped make possible, we are announcing a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.”

 

 

 

Do your part to protect privacy and internet freedom . Click the link to see how .

 

 

 

 

 

Brazil To Host Global Summit To Draw Up New Governance Model

 

 

 

 

” Here’s a hugely important story that brings together three major threads. First, the continuing wrangling over the form that Internet governance should take. Second, the fact that NSA’s massive surveillance operations around the world have included economic espionage. And third, Brazil’s increasingly angry reaction to that spying. As a post from the Internet Governance Project explains:

the Directors of all the major Internet organizations — ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society, all five of the regional Internet address registries — turned their back on the US government. With striking unanimity, the organizations that actually develop and administer Internet standards and resources initiated a break with 3 decades of U.S. dominance of Internet governance.

Those directors have issued what they call the “Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation,” which includes the following:

They called for accelerating the globalization of and functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

That’s a fairly clear call for the US to relinquish its dominant role. Another section hints at why this is happening now:

They expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.”

Censorship In America: 34 Civil Liberties Groups Speak Out Against CISPA In Lead Up To Hearings

 

 

 

” On Monday, EFF and over 30 other Internet rights organizations sent a letter to members of Congress demanding they vote no on the “cybersecurity” bill known as CISPA. The letter starts off a week in which Congress will hold three different hearings about CISPA and computer and network security. In addition to the letter, each hearing will provide opportunity to voice many of the bill’s problems. We encourage you to join the fight and tell your Representative to say no to CISPA.

 

The first hearing this week will focus on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in cybersecurity. In the past couple of years there has been a turf battle over whether the National Security Agency (NSA) or DHS should run the nation’s Internet and network security. Even after NSA head General Keith Alexander declared that civilian agencies should be in charge, the House didn’t get the message. The letter we sent highlights a loophole in CISPA allowing companies to bypass privacy laws and share potentially personal information directly with the NSA. We agree with General Alexander. Civilian control of our domestic cybersecurity is a necessity. “

 

 

 

 

 

 

DoJ Admits Aaron’s Prosecution Was Political

 

 

 

 

” The DOJ has told Congressional investigators that Aaron’s prosecution was motivated by his political views on copyright.

I was going to start that last paragraph with “In a stunning turn of events,” but I realized that would be inaccurate — because it’s really not that surprising. Many people speculated throughout the whole ordeal that this was a political prosecution, motivated by anything/everything from Aaron’s effective campaigning against SOPA to his run-ins with the FBI over the PACER database. But Aaron actually didn’t believe it was — he thought it was overreach by some local prosecutors who didn’t really understand the internet and just saw him as a high-profile scalp they could claim, facilitated by a criminal justice system and computer crime laws specifically designed to give prosecutors, however incompetent or malicious, all the wrong incentives and all the power they could ever want.

But this HuffPo article, and what I’m hearing from sources on the Hill, suggest that that’s not true. That Ortiz and Heymann knew exactly what they were doing: Shutting up, and hopefully locking up, an extremely effective activist whose political views, including those on copyright, threatened the Powers That Be:”

3D Printed Gun Parts Hit Road Blocks (and Why it Matters)

 

 

 

 

” As states like Colorado try to make manufacturing some magazines illegal, than legality must be a concern. But regulation is going to be complicated, if not impossible, when people begin printing magazines at home.

But it goes beyond legislation.  After Sandy Hook, many people and corporate entities are distancing themselves from guns. There is the proposed sale of Freedom Group. Even firearms retailers pulled back from controversial guns.

Even Ebay is getting (more) skittish.  They’re paranoid about the mention of “Assault Weapons” in any description.  You can still sell a part that might fit more than one gun, but not if you mention assault weapons, or any of those taboo guns associated with assaults.  Theirpolicy page now reads: “Accessories that fit a variety of different weapons, including assault weapons [can be posted]. But in your listing, you can’t mention any assault weapon compatibility.”

And Thingiverse, the online repository of printable projects associated with MakerBot printers, recently pulled the plans for an AR-15 lower, citing a violation of their service terms (you’re not allowed to store files that can be used to make weapons).

This has to be an expected setback for HaveBlue (aka Michael Guslick), the designer that posted the AR-15 plans.  Similar things are happening to others.  Cody Wilson and the team at Defense Distributed, for example, now seem to be spearheading the printed firearms movement.  They have an SLA Printed 30 round AR magazine.  The only thing that isn’t printed is the mainspring.”

 

 

 

Why You Should Care About the Death of Internet Activist Aaron Swartz, The Internet Remains Free in Large Part Because of His Efforts

 Video At The Link

 

 

Stop SOPA

 

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Aaron led the way in the effort to stop SOPA. Every single person in the world who values the free flow of information on the Internet, and the free market of ideas owes this young man a debt of gratitude.”

“GOP platform adopts Internet freedom plank

“Republicans vowed to fight against efforts that would give international or intergovernmental
organizations more control over the Internet in their party platform, approved on Tuesday. “We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance
by international or other intergovernmental organizations,” the platform reads.