Archive for the 'Net Neutrality' Category

"Keeping Up With… Net Neutrality"

Posted in Net Neutrality on August 22nd, 2014

ACRL has released "Keeping Up With… Net Neutrality".

Network neutrality, a term coined by Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu in 2003[1], is the idea that an internet service provider (ISP) should treat all the data that travels through its network equally, regardless of the source, destination, or content of that data. In practice, this means that the data packets that make up streaming video, images from a digital archive, massively multiplayer online games, and class material in a course management system are all delivered from server to user indiscriminately, with minor modifications for network optimization. Discriminating against or blocking content from reaching an end user (e.g. slowing down certain websites like Netflix or blocking access to a service like Apple's FaceTime) violates the principle of net neutrality.

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    Net Neutrality: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Issues Statement on FCC’s Open Internet Rules

    Posted in Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on February 20th, 2014

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a statement on the FCC's open internet rules.

    Here's an excerpt from Public Knowledge's Sherwin Siy's analysis:

    In short, the FCC is keeping all of its possible tools in play. From a legal standpoint, the obvious answer would be to follow the roadmap laid out by the D.C. Circuit's opinion and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service. That would give the FCC all the authority it needs to preserve net neutrality. But the D.C. Circuit also acknowledged that section 706 gives the FCC broad power to do lots of other things, so long as they will encourage the deployment of broadband. . . .

    Speaking of what you can do with section 706, the D.C. Circuit's opinion makes it pretty clear that, while you might not be able to do something that looks too much like traditional common carrier regulation with it, there's a heck of a lot you can do with it. For instance, Wheeler notes, the FCC would seem to have the power overturn state laws that ban communities from setting up their own broadband networks—laws passed with the lobbying muscle of ISPs that don't want the competition. The outer bounds of section 706 are now open for discussion—and they may provide a scope of regulatory power as broad as Title II might have (in some ways, potentially broader). That's another reason to have proceedings on section—ensuring that its authority is used to encourage deployment and competition, and not stray into more troubling areas like censorship or copyright filtering. This, too, should be a clue to the path ahead—one where Title II isn't a political polarizer, but instead a simple, direct application of the FCC's job to protect an open internet.

    Read more about it at "FCC Thinks It Can Overturn State Laws That Restrict Public Broadband."

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      "The Open Internet Preservation Act"

      Posted in Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on February 4th, 2014

      Several Democratic Senators have introduced "The Open Internet Preservation Act" in the House.

      Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

      Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced S. 1981, "The Open Internet Preservation Act", with House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introducing companion legislation H.R. 3982, to protect consumers and innovation online. Last month, the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet rules preventing broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against content online. The bill would restore these rules until the FCC takes new, final action in the Open Internet proceeding.

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        Net Neutrality, RIP?

        Posted in Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on January 15th, 2014

        While it could be appealed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's Verizon v. FCC ruling may well be the death knell of net neutrality given that an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling could make the situation worse by eliminating its last legal vestiges.

        What now? In my 1996 "Strong Copyright + DRM + Weak Net Neutrality = Digital Dystopia?" paper, I had this to say about the prospects of net neutrality's demise:

        There are many unknowns surrounding the issue of Net neutrality, but what is clear is that it is under assault. It is also clear that Internet services are more likely to require more, not less, bandwidth in the future as digital media and other high-bandwidth applications become more commonplace, complex, and interwoven into a larger number of Internet systems.

        One would imagine that if a corporation such as Google had to pay for a high-speed digital lane, it would want it to reach as many consumers as possible. So, it may well be that libraries' Google access would be unaffected or possibly improved by a two-tier (or multi-tier) Internet "speed-lane" service model. Would the same be true for library-oriented publishers and vendors? That may depend on their size and relative affluence. If so, the ability of smaller publishers and vendors to offer innovative bandwidth-intensive products and services may be curtailed.

        Unless they are affluent, libraries may also find that they are confined to slower Internet speed lanes when they act as information providers. For libraries engaged in digital library, electronic publishing, and institutional repository projects, this may be problematic, especially as they increasingly add more digital media, large-data-set, or other bandwidth-intensive applications.

        It's important to keep in mind that Net neutrality impacts are tied to where the choke points are, with the most serious potential impacts being at choke points that affect large numbers of users, such as local ISPs that are part of large corporations, national/international backbone networks, and major Internet information services (e.g.,Yahoo!).

        It is also important to realize that the problem may be partitioned to particular network segments. For example, on-campus network users may not experience any speed issues associated with the delivery of bandwidth-intensive information from local library servers because that network segment is under university control. Remote users, however, including affiliated home users, may experience throttled-down performance beyond what would normally be expected due to speed-lane enforcement by backbone providers or local ISPs controlled by large corporations. Likewise, users at two universities connected by a special research network may experience no issues related to accessing the other university's bandwidth-intensive library applications from on-campus computers because the backbone provider is under a contractual obligation to deliver specific network performance levels.

        Although the example of speed lanes has been used in this examination of potential Net neutrality impacts on libraries, the problem is more complex than this, because network services, such as peer-to-peer networking protocols, can be completely blocked, digital information can be blocked or filtered, and other types of fine-grained network control can be exerted.

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          Net Neutrality: ALA Issues Statement on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Verizon v. FCC Ruling

          Posted in ALA, Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on January 15th, 2014

          ALA has issued a statement by Barbara Stripling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Verizon v. FCC ruling.

          Here's an excerpt:

          The court's decision gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block Internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain Internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests. This ruling, if it stands, will adversely affect the daily lives of Americans and fundamentally change the open nature of the Internet, where uncensored access to information has been a hallmark of the communication medium since its inception.

          Public libraries have become leading providers of public Internet access, providing service to millions of students, elderly citizens, people seeking employment and many others every single day. Approximately 77 million people use public library Internet access every year. These users of libraries' Internet services, and people all across the country, deserve equal access to online information and services.

          The ability of the Internet to spread and share ideas is only getting better. With modern technology, individuals and small groups can produce rich audio and video resources that used to be the exclusive domain of large companies. We must work to ensure that these resources are not relegated to second-class delivery on the Internet—or else the intellectual freedoms fostered by the Internet will be seriously constrained. ALA will work with policy-makers and explore every avenue possible to restore the long-standing principle of nondiscrimination to all forms of broadband access to the Internet.

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            Network Neutrality and Quality of Service: What a Non-Discrimination Rule Should Look Like

            Posted in Net Neutrality, Reports and White Papers on June 14th, 2012

            The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School has released Network Neutrality and Quality of Service: What a Non-Discrimination Rule Should Look Like.

            Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

            This paper proposes a framework that policy makers and others can use to choose among different options for network neutrality rules and uses this framework to evaluate existing proposals for non-discrimination rules and the non-discrimination rule adopted by the FCC in its Open Internet Order. In the process, it explains how the different non-discrimination rules affect network providers' ability to offer Quality of Service and which forms of Quality of Service, if any, a non-discrimination rule should allow.

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              Know Your Limits: Considering the Role of Data Caps and Usage Based Billing in Internet Access Service

              Posted in Digital Culture, Net Neutrality, Reports and White Papers on April 29th, 2012

              Public Knowledge has released Know Your Limits: Considering the Role of Data Caps and Usage Based Billing in Internet Access Service by Andrew Odlyzko, Bill St. Arnaud, Erik Stallman; and Michael Weinberg.

              Here's an excerpt:

              Regardless of the motivation driving its implementation, usage-based pricing has the potential to significantly impact how networks are designed and used. This, in turn, impacts the innovation that relies on those networks. Before deciding if and when usage-based pricing is desirable, it is critical to fully understand the history of usage-based pricing, how it impacts markets, and both the benefits and harms that such a model can bring.

              This paper aims to explain the basic issues surrounding usage-based versus flat-rate pricing. Section I examines the trend towards usage-based pricing in both the wired and wireless markets. Section II then considers the benefits and justifications for using usage-based pricing. This is followed in Section III by a review of the history and economics of flat rate pricing. Since broadband access is central to so many national and societal goals, the penultimate section—Section IV—discusses the problems that might be caused by usage-based pricing. Finally, we end with a series of conclusions and recommendations for responsible implementation of usage-based pricing.

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                FCC Net Neutrality Rules Upheld in Senate

                Posted in Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on November 10th, 2011

                The Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with Respect to Regulating the Internet and Broadband Industry Practices resolution was defeated in the Senate.

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