Sunday, August 17, 2014

ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US

ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US • The Register: ""Your announcement last week that the Commission will be holding a series of public roundtables to discuss approaches to protecting an open internet was a welcome and much-needed step," Leahy wrote to the FCC's big cheese.

"While the roundtables the commission is holding in Washington will help to promote further public input, I strongly urge you to expand your listening sessions outside of the Beltway."" 'via Blog this'

FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables

The FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables | TechCrunch: "At the risk of being too pleasant on a Monday morning, the idea isn’t a bad one. Discussing net neutrality issues will allow for more granular arguments and, hopefully, less space for generic statements of broad philosophical bent that do little to advance the conversation.

Here’s the schedule:

 September 16 (morning): Policy Approaches to Ensure an Open Internet

September 16 (afternoon): Mobile Broadband and the Open Internet

September 19 (morning): Effective Enforcement of Open Internet Requirements

September 19 (afternoon):  Technological Aspects of an Open Internet

October 2: Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures

October 7: Internet Openness and the Law" 'via Blog this'

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Canada & Morocco - horrendous mobile rip-offs

My mobile operator 3UK has now secured free roaming and calling to UK from 16 destinations - including the US, Australia, and several European countries (but not Germany, Spain or Netherlands). But that highlights the hideous price gouging in countries without agreements, gouging which should be criminal.
Here's Canada, just over the border, and Morocco, southern edge of Europe a few miles from Spain:
Calling a UK number. £1.40 per minute Canada, £3 Morocco.
Calling a local number. £1.40 per minute Canada, £3 Morocco.
Texts to UK. 35p per text.
Texting a Canadian number. 35p per text.
Receiving calls from any number. 99p per minute Canada, £1.25 Morocco.
Receiving texts from any number. Free.
Using internet and data. £6 per MB.
Using voicemail. £1.40 per minute.            

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Net Neutrality in Practice, the Dutch Example

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating: Net Neutrality in Practice, the Dutch Example by Nico Van Eijk :: SSRN: To be presented at TPRC'42 - the best academic telecoms conference in the world: "The regulator in charge – the Authority for Consumers and Markets – took a first decision on applying the new rules in a case where Internet access in trains was blocked for congestion reasons. In another case, a service similar to WhatsApp was inaccessible via wireless networks. In two cases, the Authority investigated the bundling of data packages with free services (i.e. a mobile subscription with ‘free’ access to Spotify).

To deal with these cases, a new guideline has been drafted by the ministry involved. The consultation process on the guideline has recently ended.

 The conclusion of the paper is that putting net neutrality into more material regulation is much more complicated than defining it in a more abstract sense. Putting the rules into practice is even more challenging. In our view, the Dutch example shows that if regulation is too detailed, the development of services might be hampered and might to some extent ridicule the true objectives of net neutrality. The focus should be on a dynamic and evolutionary approach, offering the opportunity to adapt interventions quickly, depending on the specifics of the case. In order to establish such a more flexible framework, the present provision needs to be amended." 'via Blog this'

Reminder: the open Internet is like an English pub, imperfect but egalitarian and common carriage

Chapter 9 of the book: British public houses are – as we saw in the common carriage discussion in Chapter 2 – granted special rights and given special duties, primarily that to accommodate all-comers who so request. How does the Internet currently resemble a pub? It has its share of gaming[628] and gambling, of queuing and noise, of public lounge and saloon, of the snug (in certain areas), of spam, of video, of music, of piracy (those smuggled CDs), and of course many people of a religious persuasion are convinced it’s a den of vice – it certainly is a place to meet romantically (or otherwise). It has its private privileged alternatives – the members’ club, the nightclub with its VIP room, the other more private spaces with their reserved tables and guest lists. It is related to the coffee houses which provided the first insurance (Lloyds) and stock market speculation in London. It is a place for all people and all seasons. It is also the place for debate and conflict, even violence and police response. More libel is committed in an evening’s ‘character assassination’ in a local pub than in a year of a newspaper, hence the popularity of the widest viewed English language soap opera, ‘Coronation Street’ and its ubiquitous gossiping in the ‘Rovers Return’ pub. The pub is monitored in several ways: first the police license its hours and services; second, police make (somewhat) random visits to check on activities; third, publicans in the United Kingdom often install video cameras to film the entrance. Furthermore, popular pubs have security guards on busy evenings. You might say that the surveillance is as methodical here as on the Internet. We accept these measures of surveillance – though both cameras and security guards (who are now licensed by a regulator to ensure they are fit and proper persons) as well as some licensing authority decisions continue to grate.
Pubs, like ISPs and Internet content providers, have complex economic value chains which constantly threaten the independence of the local public house. Parliament has continually intervened in the past twenty years to ensure that the ideal of the public house, the common carrier, as a public space, is maintained with at least some defence against the tyranny of the economics of scale and scope that tend towards the concentration of pubs with brewers in vertically integrated national or even multinational conglomerates. The idea that pubs are ‘free houses’ unconnected to each other and selling any beer or other service they wish is a romantic but false idea, and many pubs are parts of chains tied in one way or another to each other, or vertically integrated with beer suppliers. However, rules prevent over-monopolization of this market, and untied pubs and guest beers predominate since the abuses of competition were recognized and acted upon in the early 1990s.[629] Radical regulatory action saved pubs: the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) investigated the market.[630] Its report found a complex monopoly existed in favour of brewers who owned tied houses or who had tying agreements with free houses in return for loans (brewer loans) at favourable interest rates. MMC recommended barring any one brewing company owning more than 2,000 licensed pubs. Government followed this advice: the Beer Orders[631] modified the recommendations of the MMC report. The Office of Fair Trading in 2000 concluded that there seemed to be a reasonable amount of competition nationally, even if some regional and local concentration existed, and government followed its advice and revoked most of the Beer Orders.[632] In 2009, Parliament once again investigated pubs,[633] and after nearly a decade of deregulation their findings were different. Parliament urged self-regulation by pub chains to be taken more seriously:
Since the British Beer & Pub Association code of practice was updated in 1997 the industry has changed and we suggest that this code of practice should be revised … if the industry does not show signs of accepting and complying with an adequate voluntary code then the Government should not hesitate to impose a statutory code on it.
They recommended urgent government action to the industry, not relying on the previous light mixture of regulation and self-regulation. Pubs are by no means a common agora and debating house paradise lost, but the mix of law enforcement, licensing and pro-competitive changes has restored some tenuous vitality and independence to the trade.
I raise the pub issue not only because of certain similarities of economics and speech freedoms associated with both the Internet and pubs historically, but also to illustrate the specific, sustained and careful consideration which Parliament has given to maintaining some openness in the industry. If it is willing to devote such time and energy to pubs on behalf of one part of its electorate, can it not also find resources to devote to fully exploring net neutrality and the Internet? 

Wikipedia Zero & Net Neutrality: Are BBC & other Public Service Broadcasters also exempt?

Dear Mr Moller

Wikipedia is exempt from Net Neutrality as a public service, you say. Who regulates what forms that service that has to be part of an Option Zero Internet? Is not the BBC a much better resourced and regulated public service than you? Is all their video to be Option Zero on mobile too? When is enough enough? The BBC considered this position and rejected it eight years ago - I was there (and urging them) when the correct decision was taken (see pages 95-103 in Net Neutrality). Neutrality for some is discrimination against others. You are unprincipled, opportunistic or ignorant.

Wikipedia Zero and Net Neutrality: Protecting the Internet as a Public Space « Wikimedia blog:

"We believe that free access to public interest resources can be provided in a manner that keeps the playing field level and avoids net neutrality issues. The Internet has tremendous potential to bring education and services to people for free. Beyond Wikipedia, this includes potentially life-saving access to health and emergency services or disaster relief.
Policymakers can design laws that uphold and affirm net neutrality without damaging the Internet’s ability to spread the free information it was designed to share. In the United States, the FCC’s previous Open Internet Rules, for example, simply focused on prohibiting blocking and unreasonable discrimination against content providers. Similarly, the recently adopted Marco Civil bill in Brazil does not prohibit free Internet connection as long as ISPs do not monitor, filter, or block content." 'via Blog this'

Facebook Zero’s Gateway Drug - Morosov

Facebook’s Gateway Drug - "when development becomes just a means of making a buck, the losers will always be the people at the bottom. Thus, to Silicon Valley’s question of “Is Internet access a human right?” one could respond by turning the tables: What kind of “Internet,” and what kind of “access”?" 'via Blog this'

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Net neutrality a key battleground in growing fight over encryption, activists say

Net neutrality a key battleground in growing fight over encryption, activists say | Security - InfoWorld:

"ISPs might start to block encrypted traffic in order to maintain their business model. For example, if carriers can discriminate among applications, they can make some exempt from a user's data consumption cap. AT&T has already announced plans for such a service, called Sponsored Data, on its cellular data network. Among other things, this could allow content providers to cover the cost of delivering their data to consumers, making their content more attractive.

That concept may get more complicated if encryption comes into play, Meinrath said.

For example, in some developing countries, Facebook and mobile operators together are offering cheap mobile data deals that only cover Facebook. There are encrypted services that can tunnel through Facebook to give users access to other service, but carriers will want to know if anyone is circumventing the exclusive Facebook deal.

 "The problem is that providers are going to say, 'We need to be able to know that you're not doing that, therefore we need to be able to ensure that you are not encrypting,'" he said." 'via Blog this'

Net Neutrality Kabuki Theater: How Cable Companies Dominate the Debate

Net Neutrality Kabuki Theater: How Cable Companies Dominate the Debate | VICE United States: "In May, Comcast filed a letter to the FCC explicitly opposing the effort to reclassify broadband services under Title II regulations. And for years, Comcast has battled net neutrality. But the feel-good ad, which builds on a Comcast marketing campaign that began in April, creates a blanket deception to hoodwink viewers about both the merger and the company’s position on the open Internet.

 So on paper, the FCC is supposed to protect the interests of consumers and the general public. But the ISP lobby has transformed the entire net neutrality process into a kabuki theater of sorts, one in which the stage of policymaking appears to be open and honest, but all the main actors are playing from a familiar, industry-written script." 'via Blog this'

Lawrence Spiwak: Understanding the Net Neutrality Debate: A Basic Legal Primer

Understanding the Net Neutrality Debate: A Basic Legal Primer | Bloomberg BNA: "Three recent cases from the D.C. Circuit--Comcast v. FCC,Cellco Partnership v. FCC and Verizon v. FCC-shed light on the current state of the law. These cases hold that the FCC has ample authority over BSPs going forward under the current legal regime and, as such, reclassification of broadband Internet access as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service is unwarranted." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who are you? 20k views a month - from developing countries?

Regular readers will have noticed that since the EC vote on 3 April, there has been a 500% increase in the audience. The main source is Vietnam (.vn), but also various other developing countries: Egypt, Colombia, Uganda. Welcome newbies, enjoy the ride.
What I had not thought hard about was just how Windows-dominated these readers would be - the 2013 audience was only minority IExplorer and in fact Firefox had become browser of choice, and Windows was under 75%. How it has changed. You are now massively dominated by Microsoft, 95% on OS and 76% IExplorer. Get Firefox people! Or ask your sysadmins nicely if you are all on university/school PCs.

NetFlix continuing "interconnection" problems with US fixed ISPs

From Ars Technica: "Verizon last week blamed Netflix for the problem,
saying that the video company is sending traffic over congested links.
That's true, but it's not the whole story. Netflix agreed to pay Verizon
for a direct connection to the ISP's network on April 28, but Verizon hasn't been able to set up enough links yet. Verizon has said the connections will start rolling out incrementally this month and should be completely installed by the end of 2014.

Netflix performance is also getting worse on AT&T, though that's
less of a surprise since Netflix has not yet agreed to pay AT&T for a
direct connection. AT&T U-verse performance dropped from 1.7Mbps in
May to 1.5Mbps in June, while AT&T DSL performance dropped from
1.26Mbps in May to 1.13Mbps in June. Netflix performance on Comcast dropped a bit too, from 2.72Mbps to
2.61Mbps, but it remains far better than on Verizon or AT&T.
Cablevision, which agreed to give Netflix free connections to its
network, leads major ISPs in the US with a rating of 3.03Mbps. The US
average across all ISPs is 2.18Mbps."

To European readers, this is very reminiscent of BBC's 2006-8 issues with BT and others for iPlayer - but back then there were sensible reasons for the problem. This appears much more - calculated?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

UK loses human rights in 2 days; why I research in Brussels on net neutrality

I have given up trying to explain to fellow academics (even constitutional lawyers and human rights lawyers) why I spend my time studying the European institutions not the London ones. This week provided a case study.
The European Parliament on Tuesday elected the President of the European Commission. For all his flaws, he does at least intend to appoint a 'digital' Commission, which will have to support some version of net neutrality. The arguments are public and well attended. Members vote using "buttons", a new fangled 19th century technology...
The European institutions have finally acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The European Court of Justice is haltingly starting to incorporate fundamental rights into its decisions, not least in striking down the disproportionate blanket retention of data in a rushed 2006 Directive railroaded through the European Council by New Labour Britain.
Back in London, the Mother of Parliaments (sic) has slept through the Snowden revelations about Tempora and other programmes. On Thursday last week, the main political parties agreed to rush emergency legislation through Parliament, published in detail on Monday, and now law. Yes, that's right, it is already the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014. It was voted through by shouting 'aye' or 'no', and whipping members through doors at either end of the chamber if the noises were loud enough in opposition. No, I am not joking.
It extends UK law to cover webmail from anywhere in the world. Yes, that is an appalling precedent for other countries.
I signed a letter with other academics that was featured in the press, and has received about 15,000 views on Slideshare and other  places. Today I had to refuse an interview by CCTV because how could I explain to the audience of Chinese dictators how this UK Parliament compares to their own? It is government by decree in London in 2014.
That's why I choose to research the European institutions. In a hyper-power world, they at least act as some check on the Anglo-Saxon corporate-political institutions and their 'Government House' secrecy and lying. See Australia for what can happen without that check.
Parliamentary democracy is a great idea - as Tom Paine told us, we should try it some time, if not in England, then the United States. If not there, then France. If not there, then Brussels?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Draconian

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian | TechCrunch: "“It’s not actually extending the interception power itself — it’s just extending it to a wider group of people. Whether you call that an extension or not I don’t know,” he [Salmon] added. “It is potentially extending it to a wider group of people, which they say they were always trying to cover in the first place. But it depends on how you define all that.”

On the risk of a challenge to the legislation, Salmon points out that the government may well be calculating that the time it would take for any legal challenge to be brought against DRIP would take longer than the lifespan of the bill itself.

“I guess the government probably are thinking well ultimately if it goes to court, then it would potentially get another referral to the ECJ which, as you know, is not exactly a swift process,” he added. “They’re going to get another two years.”" 'via Blog this'

Academics protest emergency surveillance bill (Wired UK)

Academics protest emergency surveillance bill (Wired UK): "Chris Marsden, a signatory and professor of law at the University of Sussex, said there were fundamental problems with the scope of the bill. It may even prove incompatible with European legislation on human rights and privacy.

"Blanket data retention in itself is quite likely to be against the law," he explained, adding, "I think it's unjustified to do this without a proper parliamentary debate, not just an emergency debate. It's pretty shocking."" 'via Blog this'