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Sunday, January 26, 2014

In Developing Countries, Google and Facebook Already Defy Net Neutrality

In Developing Countries, Google and Facebook Already Defy Net Neutrality | MIT Technology Review: "In essence, these deals give people free access to text-only version of things like Facebook news feeds, Gmail, and the first page of search results under plans like Facebook Zero or Google Free Zone. Only when users click links in e-mails or news feeds, go beyond the first page of search results, or visit websites by other means do they incur data charges (see “Facebook and Google Create Walled Gardens for Web Newcomers Overseas”).

For people who have no Internet in the first place, the idea of net neutrality is not exactly top of mind. Getting online cheaply in the first place is a greater concern, and the American companies are often enabling that to happen. Internet access is expensive in developing countries—exorbitantly so for the vast majority of people." 'via Blog this'

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

EParliament voting on net neutrality - ITRE committee vote 27 February

Blog | Access: "Culture and Education (CULT) and Legal Affairs (JURI) Committees of the European Parliament voted today on the European Telecom Single Market proposal, tabled in September 2013 by the Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes. The proposed Regulation, which principally aims at completing a “European Single Market for electronic communications and achieving a Connected Continent” includes provisions putting network neutrality at stake.
Five of the European Parliament’s Committees are in charge of the Commission’s proposal. Four of them will provide an opinion, and one -- the lead Committee -- will take the final decision. The vote these two Committees cast earlier today is considered an opinion vote, which will pave the way towards and impact the final vote of the lead Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee on 27 February." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who Killed Net Neutrality? By Tim Wu

Who Killed Net Neutrality? : The New Yorker: "who lost net neutrality? Tasked by President Obama with codifying the principle, the previous chairman of the F.C.C., Julius Genachowski, was cowed, leading to the present debacle. Put less generously, he blew it. In 2010, the F.C.C. introduced formal net-neutrality rules, in what it called the Open Internet Order. Genachowski, inexcusably, did not use his agency’s main authority over wire communications to enact it. Since its creation, the F.C.C. has had the authority to police all communications by wire in the United States. Instead, Genachowski grounded the rules in what is called—in legal jargon—the agency’s “auxiliary authority.” If the F.C.C. were a battleship, this would be the equivalent of quieting the seventeen-inch-inch guns and relying on the fire hoses." 'via Blog this'

What Does Network Neutrality Look Like Today? Harold Feld

What Does Network Neutrality Look Like Today? | Public Knowledge: "This doesn’t make the FCC entirely helpless. But it does mean that the best the FCC can hope for, absent reclassifying broadband as Title II, is possibly a sort of “Net Neutrality-lite” that looks remarkably like what we had in 2008 -- a complaint process based on Open Internet principles. As folks may recall, no one particularly liked that because it created all sorts of uncertainty as to what conduct would or wouldn’t be allowed and how far the FCC’s authority would reach. Every new business model becomes the possible subject of a complaint, and every complaint becomes a crap shoot because the FCC cannot actually impose a rule." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What Prospects for Net Neutrality in Europe?

Last week was a momentous one for Internet law – first on Wednesday the District of Columbia Court of Appeals overturned much of the Federal Communications Commission network neutrality regulations, then on Friday the President of the United States decided to tighten the rules governing secret surveillance of electronic communications. The latter decision is highly contentious, with many advocates for privacy claiming it does very little to restrict government surveillance of US citizens and nothing for foreigners – such as we Europeans. That sets a precedent for the British government to make even more minor procedural changes, and for the respective agencies in US and UK to continue to swap the metadata that each has gathered on each other’s citizens. That is government control of the Internet secured by gathering private companies’ records of our metadata, whereas the net neutrality ruling in the US sets a precedent for the private censorship by the same Internet access providers –itself authorized or at least not prevented by the same governments. The government actively has tried to shelter Vodafone, Verizon, British Telecom and other IAPs from the ‘reputational damage’ caused by their spying on users’ surfing.
There are three lessons from the net neutrality defeat for the FCC, and therefore Obama. The first is that it is extremely difficult to separate out individual items in communications policy: the National Security Agency and other security services need the legal and extra-legal cooperation of the IAPs, and the IAPs need regulatory backing for their decisions to speed up and slow down traffic on the Internet for their own commercial benefit – breaching net neutrality. In both cases, users’ rights to privacy in their browsing are trampled underfoot – most egregiously when British Telecom and behavioural advertising company PHORM intercepted traffic of 30,000 users without any attempt to secure their consent. The government had connived in their deployment of the technology (as I detailed in pp77-79 of my book on Net Neutrality) and was later dragged to the steps of the European Court of Justice before amending their privacy laws to stop such an event happening again.
The second is that electoral promises are hard to keep when Congress does not support legislation. Just as Obama failed to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp which he had explicitly promised in 2007/8 in his first Presidential campaign, so the failure on net neutrality breaks his main technology policy promise from 2007. In fact, it was the developed policy of his friend Lawrence Lessig (his junior professorial colleague at Chicago when they both taught constitutional law in the early 1990s) and Lessig’s brilliant protege Tim Wu, the originator of the term net neutrality and its main academic proponent. Lessig warned in 2010 that Obama was cooling on net neutrality because of political opposition from telecoms lobbyists and their sponsored Congressmen. The FCC took over two years to issue and print its net neutrality Order (just before Christmas 2010), which has then been litigated for over three years. That is not five years wasted, however, as legislation and regulatory proceedings may take many years, but various net neutrality requirements had in the meantime been inserted into the telecoms companies’ mergers. That remains the case today: Comcast, the largest cable company, is subject to net neutrality requirements until 2017 as a result of its merger with NBC-Universal, the media company, in 2011, as Ellen Goodman points out. However, the big telephone companies can act freely as their net neutrality merger requirements imposed in 2006 expired years ago – and AT&T last week started that process in earnest.
The third is that technological progress is very difficult to regulate in the public interest when private market forces are pushing so hard for censorship for profit. British Telecom wants to charge content companies to carry video, as does Vodafone, claiming that they will roll out fixed and mobile high speed Internet more quickly if they are granted this ability to put a toll lane on the Internet. The technologies they use are dual-use: they can be used for censoring content in the public interest, for instance spam or child pornography, but also to control content to charge users or content companies more for it, as when access to BBC iPlayer fails in the evening ‘congested’ period on the Internet. Technologies are always difficult to regulate, private profit in a constant struggle with user rights to freedom of expression, and privacy (Dr Ian Brown and I explain this in detail in our recent ‘Regulating Code’).
All these forces face European leaders too. The UK minister for the Internet (Ed Vaizey) has declared himself in favour of net neutrality but also in favour of higher speed toll lanes, which is contradictory. The European Commissioner began her term by drawing a big ‘heart sign’ on her notes and explaining that she loved net neutrality – but has failed to enforce until now. But Europe is not the United States, and the litigation and Congressional deadlock there does not apply here. A pan-European proposal for enforcing net neutrality was provoked by national legislation in Netherlands and Slovenia. This new Regulation is called ‘ConnectedContinent’ and may become law in 2014, though a new Commission and Parliament may delay or even derail the process.
The United States has failed to properly enforce net neutrality due to its attempt to deregulate carriers with an a la carte approach – keeping net neutrality but removing the requirement for monopolies to open access to competitors. In Europe, monopolies still have strict regulation to allow competitors, and there is no obvious reason why net neutrality would be successfully challenged by the courts as exceeding European legal powers. Just as extra-legal Internet snooping is disapproved in mainland Europe, so private censorship by the same Internet companies is unpopular, and telecoms lobbying may not prevent the imposition of a real net neutrality law. That would then lead to 28 countries trying to implement it. Ed Vaizey may soon have the chance to correct his contradiction.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Glass half full? Winning and Losing in the Net Neutrality Decision

Winning and Losing in the Net Neutrality Decision | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy: "Didn’t Verizon win? Yes, but there are three caveats.  First, and least importantly, the nondiscrimination rule applies to wireline Internet broadband providers but never applied to mobile Internet providers, so vacating that rule doesn’t affect mobile providers (like Verizon Wireless). Second, and more importantly... the D.C. Circuit opinion suggests the permissibility of a different form of “no-blocking” rule (one that the FCC’s general counsel at oral argument endorsed and claimed was the no-blocking rule the FCC in fact promulgated, but the D.C. Circuit read the rule differently).  But third, and most importantly, the D.C. Circuit majority reads section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as providing significant regulatory authority to the FCC.  This is the most significant aspect of the opinion, in my view.  And the authority seems pretty broad." 'via Blog this'

Glass half empty? D.C. Circuit Court Decision

TeleFrieden: The D.C. Circuit Court Decision on the FCC’s Open Access Order: "This is “damning with faint praise” at its finest, so much so that the author of the decision condescendingly notes that “even a federal agency is entitled to a little pride” (p. 20) when after losing the first case on network neutrality (Comcast v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642 (D.C. Cir. 2010) the Commission struggled onward to find lawful authority.  This decision offers the FCC a generally worthless victory that the Commission can lawfully find some statutory basis for jurisdiction over Internet Service Providers so long as the responsibilities imposed do not constitute common carriage. " 'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 02, 2014

[Netherlands] T-Mobile Free Wi-Fi on Trains may Block YouTube

Broadband Traffic Management: [Netherlands] T-Mobile Free Wi-Fi on Trains may Block YouTube: "Here is how the "reasonable traffic management" exception to Net Neutrality looks like in real life. While the Netherlands has a Net Neutrality law, its railway service is allowed to block certain traffic on its free Wi-Fi service (operated by T-Mobile). I assume that if you still wish to watch YouTube you'll need to use paid mobile service.
24 Oranges reports that "The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets has approved Dutch railways’ move to block YouTube and Spotify which use a lot of bandwidth in order to provide better quality Wi-Fi in some of their trains. Even though the Wi-Fi is free, the net neutrality law force ISPs and telecom operators to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network".
ACM explains that "traffic that congest the netwrok is an exception to the Net Neutrality law"" 'via Blog this'

Dutch govt presents policy vision on internet ecosystem

Dutch govt presents policy vision on internet ecosystem - Telecompaper:
 "Dutch government wants a stronger foundation to net neutrality rules, with these also extended to other 'gatekeepers', such as businesses that filer or aggregate information, like search engines, operating systems and app ecosystems... the rise of OTT and on-demand services may require regulation of the audiovisual sector to be relaxed. The Dutch government said it's ready to take the lead on this in EU discussions.
In addition, issues such as integrity, continuity and privacy are increasingly the domain of 'new' players, and not just market incumbents, and these new players should face the same responsibilities, both towards public authorities and end-users." 'via Blog this'