Internet Domain Names to Contain Non-Latin Characters

ICANN has appoved the use of non-Latin characters in Internet domain names.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The first Internet addresses containing non-Latin characters from start to finish will soon be online thanks to today's approval of the new Internationalized Domain Name Fast Track Process by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board.

"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush. "Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters—A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."

ICANN's Fast Track Process launches on 16 November 2009. It will allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name—and made up of characters from their national language. If the applications meet criteria that includes government and community support and a stability evaluation, the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations.

"This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and CEO. "The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives."

Informed P2P User Act Hearing

On 3/5/2009, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) introduced the Informed P2P User Act. The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the bill today.

Here's an excerpt from Marc Rotenberg's testimony (Rotenberg is the Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center):

In the consideration of this bill, it is important to understand that P2P programs are used for a wide variety of function from the sharing of music to Internet-based telephony as well as scientific research. Even the military makes use of P2P networks. The technique is also important in countries where Internet censorship is a threat.

In the most generic sense, a P2P network is a technical description, much like saying a telephone network or the Internet. It is no intrinsic application, other than architecture that allows nodes to exchange information equally with other nodes in the network. Some Internet scholars have observed that this architecture reflects the collaboration among individuals that has helped spur the growth of the Internet. Professor Yochai Benkler refers to this as "Commons Based Peer Production."

No doubt part of the bill aims to discourage the use of file sharing techniques that may infringe copyright as well as making users vulnerable to certain types of inadvertent file sharing. But there is some risk that the bill would also discourage the use of file sharing techniques that do not raise such concerns. More generally, it appears to be posting a warning sign on a very wide variety of applications that most likely have little to do with the sponsor’s concern.

Read more about it at "H.R. 1319 Wants You to Know When You're Sharing Files, but Will Drown You in Pop-Ups" and "P2P Bill Could Regulate Web Browsers, FTP Clients."

DigitalKoans

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

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."

COPA, RIP

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a government appeal of Mukasey v. A.C.L.U., a case about the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act of 1998 (COPA). This action effectively kills COPA after a very long legal battle.

Read more about it at "After 10 Years, an Infamous Internet-Censorship Act is Finally Dead," "Supreme Court Deals Death Blow to Antiporn Law," and "Ten Years of Futility: COPA Finally, Truly Dead."

Welcome to the Filtered Internet: No Opt-Out for Australians

Australia's Plan for Cyber-Safety will not offer an Internet filtering opt-out. Rather, Australians will have to choose between two filtered options: one blocks inappropriate content for children, the other "illegal" content.

Read more about it at "Australians Censor the Internet," "Australia Continues Down the Slippery Slope of Censorship. . . 'For The Children,' of Course," and "No Opt-Out of Filtered Internet."

Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future

Noted copyright freedom fighter and science fiction author Cory Doctorow has released a free version of Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future under a Creative Commons U.S. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Doctorow is also a major contributor to the Boing Boing Weblog.

Usenet Newsgroups Will Be Blocked By Major ISPs

Spurred on by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to fight child pornography, Sprint, Time Warner Cable. and Verizon will block significant numbers of Usenet news groups.

Regarding the Verizon ban, Declan McCullagh points out that only 8 of 1,000 Usenet hierarchies are being kept, and "That means not carrying perfectly innocuous—and, in fact, very useful—newsgroups like symantec.customerservice.general, us.military, microsoft.public.excel, and fr.soc.economie."

Read more about it at: "alt.blocked: Verizon Blocks Access to Whole USENET Hierarchy" "ISPs: We're Limiting Our Own Usenet Groups, Not Blocking Others" "N.Y. Attorney General Forces ISPs to curb Usenet Access" "Verizon Offers Details of Usenet Deletion: alt.* groups, Others Gone"

The "Community Conscious Internet Provider" ISP: Utah Wants to Certify Porn-Free ISPs

Under a bill in the Utah legislature (H.B. 407), Utah would certify a qualifying ISPs as a Community Conscious Internet Provider (CCIP). The designation would be renewed annually.

Among other provisions, a CCIP ISP must "prohibit its customers by contract from publishing any prohibited communication"; "remove or prevent access to any prohibited communication published by or accessed using the Internet service provider's service within a reasonable time after the Internet service provider learns of the prohibited communication"; "maintain a record for two years following its allocation of an IP address of the IP address, the date and time of the allocation, and the customer to whom the IP address is allocated"; and "cooperate with any law enforcement agency by providing records sufficient to identify a customer if the law enforcement agency requests the information and supplies reasonable proof that a crime has been committed using the Internet service provider's service."

Prohibited communications are either pornographic (Section 76-10-1203) or harmful to minors (Section 76-10-1206) as determined by Utah law.

Read more about it at "Proposed Utah Bill Would Give Special Designation to ISPs That Block Porn" and "'This ISP Has Been Rated 'G' By the State of Utah'."

Australian ISP Porn Filter Test Gets Green Light

The Australian government is ready to proceed with testing an ISP Internet filter that aims to eliminate digital pornography. Customers who do not want a filtered Internet connection will need to opt out. Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said that the government's previous $85 million PC-based filter program, the NetAlert program, had "clearly failed."

Read more about it "ACMA Report Finds Little to Support Conroy's Enthusiasm for ISP Filtering," "Australia Moving Ahead with Plans to Erect ISP Porn Filters," "Net Filter at Test Phase," and "Web Porn Software Filter a Dud."

Net Neutrality Is Back: The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chip Pickering (R-MS) have introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5353) in the House.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The goal of this bipartisan legislation is to assure consumers, content providers, and high tech innovators that the historic, open architecture nature of the Internet will be preserved and fostered. H.R. 5353 is designed to assess and promote Internet freedom for consumers and content providers. Internet freedom generally embodies the notion that consumers and content providers should be free to send, receive, access and use the lawful applications, content, and services of their choice on broadband networks, possess the effective right to attach and use non-harmful devices to use in conjunction with their broadband services, and that content providers not be subjected to unreasonably discriminatory practices by broadband network providers.

Read more about it at "Lawmakers Introduce New Net Neutrality Bill," "New Net Neutrality Bill Frowns on ISP 'Favoritism'," "New Net Neutrality Bill Surfaces in House (Updated)," and "Net Neutrality Returns To Top Of Washington's Agenda."

Will Libraries and Other Wi-Fi Access Point Owners Have to Report Known Child Porn under the SAFE Act?

The rapid passage of the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act of 2007 (SAFE Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives has left confusion and controversy in its wake about whether the owners of public Wi-Fi access points must report digital child pornography that they are aware of to the CyberTipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or face massive fines. It appears that this was not the intent of the bill's authors, but the wording of the bill could be interpreted by courts to include libraries and other public Wi-Fi access point owners: "Whoever, while engaged in providing an electronic communication service or a remote computing service to the public through a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce . . ."

Read more about it at "House Vote on Illegal Images Sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web Sites"; "SAFE Act Won't Turn Mom-and-Pop Shops into WiFi Cops"; and "Wi-Fi 'Illegal Images' Politician Defends Legislation."