Archive for the 'Net Neutrality' Category

Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009

Posted in Legislation and Government Regulation, Net Neutrality on August 2nd, 2009

Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) have introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"The Internet is a success today because it was open to everyone with an idea," said Rep. Markey. "That openness and freedom has been at risk since the Supreme Court decision in Brand X. This bill will protect consumers and content providers because it will restore the guarantee that one does not have to ask permission to innovate."

"The Internet has thrived and revolutionized business and the economy precisely because it started as an open technology," Rep. Eshoo said. "This bill will ensure that the non-discriminatory framework that allows the Internet to thrive and competition on the Web to flourish is preserved at a time when our economy needs it the most."

H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, is designed to assess and promote Internet freedom for consumers and content providers. The bill will also require the FCC to examine whether carriers are blocking access to lawful content, applications, or services. The legislation calls for the FCC to conduct eight public broadband summits around the country no less than a year after the bill is enacted. These summits will be used to gather input from consumers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders on Internet freedom and U.S. broadband policies affecting consumer protection, competition, and consumer choice.

Here's an excerpt from the "Public Knowledge Hails Internet Freedom Preservation Act":

[Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge] "The requirements in the bill are very straightforward. In essence, the bill would return non-discrimination to communications law, preventing Internet service providers (ISPs), such as telephone and cable companies, from interfering in that end-to-end relationship. The requirements would curb the ability of ISPs from using the claim of network management to impose their own priorities on data traffic, based on financial arrangements or other considerations."

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    Bill Would Prohibit Internet Use Caps: Congressman Eric Massa to Introduce “Broadband Internet Fairness Act”

    Posted in Internet Regulation, Net Neutrality on April 14th, 2009

    Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY) has announced that he will introduce the "Broadband Internet Fairness Act," which would prohibit Internet use caps.

    Here's an excerpt from the press release:

    The Massa Broadband Internet Fairness Act would prohibit unfair tiered price structures from internet providers. The bill will also address the importance of helping broadband providers create jobs and increase their bandwidth while increasing competition in areas currently served by only one provider.

    "I am taking a leadership position on this issue because of all the phone calls, emails and faxes I've received from my district and all over the country," said Congressman Eric Massa. "Time Warner has announced an ill-conceived plan to charge residential and business broadband fees based on the amount of data they download. They have yet to explain how increased internet usage increases their costs." . . .

    In the past week, there has been a significant uproar in the Rochester, NY area regarding Time Warner's announcement that they will "test market" a plan to charge customers based on how much they download. The initial proposal was to introduce a 5, 10, 20, or 40 gb/month downloading cap. If customers went over the cap, they would start mounting additional fees.

    Then today Time Warner announced a new tiered plan similar to the previous one. However, for a consumer to receive the same unlimited internet that they currently do for around $40 per month, they would be billed $150 per month under the new plan.

    Read more about it at "Congressman: There Should Be a Law against Internet Caps!" and "Time Warner Faces Backlash on Broadband Caps."

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      What is Deep Packet Inspection? A Collection of Essays from Industry Experts

      Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Net Neutrality on April 7th, 2009

      The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has released What is Deep Packet Inspection? A Collection of Essays from Industry Experts.

      Read more about it at "Privacy Commissioner Puts Spotlight on Internet Monitoring Technology."

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        Net Neutrality: The Federal Communications Commission's Authority to Enforce its Network Management Principles

        Posted in Net Neutrality on March 9th, 2009

        The Congressional Research Service has released Net Neutrality: The Federal Communications Commission's Authority to Enforce its Network Management Principles. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

        Here's an excerpt:

        In 2007, through various experiments by the media, most notably the Associated Press, it became clear that Comcast was intermittently blocking the use of an application called BitTorrent and, possibly, other peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs on its network. Comcast eventually admitted to the practice and agreed to cease blocking the use of the P2P applications on its network. However, Comcast maintains that its actions were reasonable network management and not in violation of the Federal Communications Commission's ("FCC" or "Commission") policy.

        In response to a petition from Free Press for a declaratory ruling that Comcast's blocking of P2P applications was not "reasonable network management," the FCC conducted an investigation into Comcast's network management practices. The FCC determined that Comcast had violated the agency's Internet Policy Statement when it blocked certain applications on its network and that the practice at issue in this case was not "reasonable network management." The FCC declined to fine Comcast, because its Internet Policy Statement had never previously been the basis for enforcement forfeitures.

        Comcast has appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as have other public interest groups. Comcast argues that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce its Network Management Principles and the Commission's order was invalid for that reason. The Commission argues that it has ancillary authority under Title I of the Communications Act to implement the broad statutory goals for an open, user-controlled Internet laid out by Congress. If the court finds that the FCC does not have the authority to adjudicate based on its Internet Policy Statement, Congress may face the question whether to act to give the FCC such authority in order to prevent anticompetitive conduct by broadband access providers. If the court finds that the FCC acted properly, the agency may continue to enforce these broad principles on a case-by-case basis.

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          ALA Action Alert: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

          Posted in ALA, Net Neutrality on February 11th, 2009

          ALA has issued an action alert regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can use the alert's form to contact your Congressional representatives.

          Here's an excerpt:

          The next 36 to 48 hours is critical to get millions, maybe billions, of dollars for libraries in the stimulus package. We need every single library supporter to start sending messages and calling congressional offices so that we can keep important library provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As you all know, libraries are a key source of free Internet access to look for jobs and so much more. Our libraries provide essential services that stimulate our local economies, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides crucial funding for libraries to continue and build upon them. This week, the Senate and House versions of the economic stimulus package will go to conference to reconcile these pieces of legislation, and your calls and e-mails will help protect this funding. There are pros and cons of each version of the stimulus, and we need to protect the parts that benefit our communities.

          In the coming days, you will receive a lot of e-mails from us, and your advocacy will be the key to our success. Last week, Senate Amendment 501 could have stripped broadband funding from their version of the bill but your calls and e-mails to your elected officials defeated this amendment and successfully protected this funding. Now, more than ever, your activism is needed. Over 1,250 calls went to our elected officials, and now we need even more.

          Please call your elected officials and tell them to communicate with the conferees in support of the following parts in both the House and the Senate versions:

          • Restore education construction funds eliminated from the Senate version of the ARRA. The House version of the ARRA would provide $14 billion for K-12 construction and $6 billion for higher education construction and specifically mention libraries as an allowable use of funds. The K-12 construction funds would create 300,000 jobs.
          • Restore the money cut from the State Stabilization Fund in the Senate bill to $79 billion to and restore the Governors ability to use a portion of the funds at his or her discretion.
          • Maintain $8 billion for ‘Broadband Technology Opportunities Program’ for robust broadband to all of America including “fiber to the libraries for the 21st century.”
          • No less than $200 million that shall be available for competitive grants for expanding public computer center capacity, including community colleges and public libraries.
          • Open access of networks should be upheld and not include provisions allowing intrusive network management techniques.

          If your elected officials are one of the following, it is even more critical that you contact them, as they are conferees on this legislation and control what stays in and what will be taken out.

          Please contact the following and use the same talking points:

          Appropriations Chairman Obey (D-WI)
          Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY)
          Commerce Chairman Waxman (D-CA)
          Appropriations Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
          Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI)
          Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
          Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
          Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
          Finance Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
          Appropriations Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS)

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            A Debate on Net Neutrality

            Posted in Net Neutrality on August 31st, 2008

            Opposing Views' "Should We Support Net Neutrality?" page offers contrasting views of net neutrality. The Open Internet Coalition, Public Knowledge, Save the Internet argue for it, while the CATO Institute and Hands Off the Internet argue against it.

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              Two Strikes and You're Out: Comcast Will Suspend Internet Service If Residential Customers Exceed New Monthly Data Limit Twice

              Posted in Net Neutrality on August 28th, 2008

              On October 1, 2008, Comcast will implement a new 250 GB monthly Internet use limit for residential customers, and it will suspend Internet service for one year if customers exceed it twice.

              Read more about it at: "Comcast Caps Highlight Lack of Broadband Competition," "Comcast to Cap Internet Usage for Customers," and "Comcast to Cap Monthly Consumer Broadband Starting Oct. 1."

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                FCC Issues Memorandum Opinion and Order about Comcast P2P Blocking

                Posted in Net Neutrality on August 20th, 2008

                The FCC has issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order about Comcast's inteference with P2P traffic.

                Here's the "Introduction":

                We consider whether Comcast, a provider of broadband Internet access over cable lines, may selectively target and interfere with connections of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications under the facts of this case. Although Comcast asserts that its conduct is necessary to ease network congestion, we conclude that the company's discriminatory and arbitrary practice unduly squelches the dynamic benefits of an open and accessible Internet and does not constitute reasonable network management. Moreover, Comcast's failure to disclose the company's practice to its customers has compounded the harm. Accordingly, we institute a plan that will bring Comcast's unreasonable conduct to an end. In particular, we require Comcast within 30 days to disclose the details of their unreasonable network management practices, submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these unreasonable management practices by the end of the year, and disclose to both the Commission and the public the details of the network management practices that it intends to deploy following termination of its current practices.

                In the "Discussion" section, the FCC notes that ISPs may "may block transmissions of illegal content":

                50. Comcast and several other commenters maintain a continual refrain that "all network providers must manage bandwidth in some manner" and that providers need "flexibility to engage in the reasonable network management practices." We do not disagree, which is precisely why we do not adopt here an inflexible framework micromanaging providers' network management practices. We also note that because "consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice," providers, consistent with federal policy, may block transmissions of illegal content (e.g., child pornography) or transmissions that violate copyright law. To the extent, however, that providers choose to utilize practices that are not application or content neutral, the risk to the open nature of the Internet is particularly acute and the danger of network management practices being used to further anticompetitive ends is strong. As a result, it is incumbent on the Commission to be vigilant and subject such practices to a searching inquiry, and here Comcast's practice falls well short of being carefully tailored to further the interest offered by the company.

                Read more about it at: "Analysis: FCC Comcast Order Is Open Invitation to Internet Filtering"; "FCC Finalizes Comcast's Filtering Penalties"; "FCC Order Scolds Comcast for Changing Story on P2P Blocking"; and "Public Knowledge Praises FCC's Order Protecting Internet, Condemning Comcast Discrimination."

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                  Free Wireless U.S. Broadband, Censorship Included

                  Posted in Net Neutrality on August 12th, 2008

                  Since it was announced, the FCC's proposal for a free national wireless broadband service has been controversial.

                  Free speech advocates don't like this provision of the proposal:

                  That filters or blocks images and text that constitute obscenity or pornography and, in context, as measured by contemporary community standards and existing law, any images or text that otherwise would be harmful to teens and adolescents. For purposes of this rule, teens and adolescents are children 5 through 17 years of age;

                  CTIA-The Wireless Association and individual wireless companies have voiced opposition to the plan as well, citing business and technical concerns.

                  Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has introduced the Wireless Internet Nationwide for Families Act of 2008 (H.R. 5846) in the House, which is similar to the FCC proposal.

                  Read more about it at: "22 Public Interest Groups Roast FCC Smutless Broadband Plan"; "Congressional Dems Back Porn-Free Wireless Broadband Network"; "FCC Moves Ahead with Plan for Smut-Free Wireless Broadband"; "FCC Wants Free Broadband Service, Plus Content Filtering"; "FCC's Planned Free WiFi Is for Five Year Olds"; "GOP Pols Oppose Smut-Free Wireless Network Proposal"; and "Martin Defends Smut-Free, Wireless Network to Wary Congress."

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                    Free Press Releases Blocking or Metering: A False Choice

                    Posted in Net Neutrality on August 10th, 2008

                    Free Press has released Blocking or Metering: A False Choice.

                    Here's an excerpt:

                    The bottom line is this: Making consumers choose between having applications blocked and limitation pricing is what economists call a Morton’s Fork. Neither path is desirable because they both have the same outcome: reducing the innovative power of the Internet. Such an outcome would do great damage to the major driving force behind much of the social and economic change that has occurred over the past 20 years—not to mention all the benefits the Internet promises for the foreseeable future.

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                      Switzerland: Test Your ISP's Net Neutrality

                      Posted in Net Neutrality, Open Source Software, P2P File Sharing on August 3rd, 2008

                      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released Switzerland, an open source software tool for testing your ISP's net neutrality.

                      Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

                      Part of EFF's "Test your ISP" project, Switzerland is an open source, command-line software tool designed to detect the modification or injection of packets of data by ISPs. Switzerland detects changes made by software tools believed to be in use by ISPs such as Sandvine and AudibleMagic, advertising systems like FairEagle, and various censorship systems. Although currently intended for use by technically sophisticated Internet users, development plans aim to make the tool increasingly easy to use.

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                        FCC Chairman Wants FCC to Stop Comcast's P2P Throttling

                        Posted in Net Neutrality, P2P File Sharing on July 11th, 2008

                        Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin will try to get the FCC to approve an order to Comcast to stop throttling P2P downloads and to provide details about its current and planned network management practices.

                        Read more about it at: "Comcast Loses: FCC Head Slams Company's P2P Filtering," "Comcast Ordered to Stop BitTorrent Traffic Interference," "FCC: Comcast Broke Rules, But Will Not Face Fines," and "Internet Users Stop Comcast, Net Neutrality Win on the Horizon."

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