FCC Says Netflix Throttling Itself Isn’t Against Net Neutrality

Recently the popular streaming service Netflix admitted that when it comes to mobile phones accessing their system, they reduced the video quality on most mobile networks to help avoid excessive data usage. This caused an uproar given Netflix’s stance on the topic was to support the concept of Net Neutrality (the idea being that all traffic on the internet is equal and, therefore, shouldn’t be prioritized or capped based on its content). It nows seems that the FCC have stated where they stand on the matter.

The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the Federal Communications Commission had no intention of investigating the service for throttling its own streams. Critics of Netflix agree with the idea that the FCC’s ruling on net neutrality applies to internet service providers, those that provide the entirety of the internet to you rather than just a service within the internet. Even with this agreement, they want the company investigated, with Wheeler clarifying that they “do not regulate edge providers”. An edge provider in this case is what the FCC title online content providers, the ones that actually use the internet to provide a service rather than provide access to the internet itself.

This comes at a time when the FCC are openly investigating mobile providers for their internet usage systems, with companies like TalkTalk offering their Binge service, a service which allows you to stream unlimited amounts of content from select providers that have partnered up with TalkTalk.

Where do you stand? Should companies be allowed to reduce quality to ensure you get a smooth service without additional costs? Should they be allowed you provide you with “unlimited content” from select providers?

Video Startup Leaves T-Mobile Binge On Service

T-Mobile didn’t have a great year last year, after having their customer records stolen. After such a public fiasco, they didn’t have too much luck with their data policies. First the CEO confirmed that their unlimited data plans had restrictions, and then at the end of last year, it was revealed that their new service Binge On was throttling videos. The problem being is that 4Stream.TV, a video startup, has left T-Mobiles Binge On service over recent concerns for the service.

4Stream.TV’s creator, Slidefuse, has left the service citing the comments recently made on John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, on his twitter account.

When Legere was asked by the EFF what Binge does to alter video streams or if it just limits the bandwidth used by the video, his response was that it used “proprietary software” and then began to ask “who the **** are you, anyway, why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?”. After being so defensive against the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a charity known for promoting equal access and rights to internet users, Slidefuse retracted their name from the 38 providers currently assigned to the Binge On service.

The controversial service would see that the listed providers such as Hulu and Netflix, would not count towards a user’s data use. The problem that has been found, by the EFF, is that once you are signed into the service, all your video content are throttled, resulting in a limited speed affecting all video streams, including those which you are downloading to watch offline later.

The service has got so bad that the company soon will meet with the Federal Communications Commission to discuss whether Binge On violates the net neutrality, a principle in which traffic on the internet cannot be prioritized or restricted over a different piece of content on the internet.

Zuckerberg Shocked India Doesn’t Appreciate His Free Internet

The Internet.org “free internet” initiative – now known as Free Basics – is under threat of closure by Indian authorities, but its founder, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t get why India isn’t grateful for his efforts. The Time of India reports that the country’s telecoms regulator is putting pressure on Reliance to cease carrying Internet.org over fears that its “walled garden” structure – allowing only sites that are paid-up partners with Free Basics to be accessible to users – is anathema to the idea of a free and open internet.

Zuckerberg has now responded to the controversy, insisting that his vision for Internet.org is purely philanthropic, and lamenting the fact that no one seems to see that but him. “Who could possibly be against this?” he begs in a Times of India op-ed. “Surprisingly, over the last year, there’s been a big debate about this in India.”

“Instead of wanting to give people access to some basic internet services for free, critics of the program continue to spread false claims–even if that means leaving behind a billion people,” Zuckerberg says. “Instead of recognizing the fact that Free Basics is opening up the whole internet, they continue to claim–falsely–that this will make the internet more like a walled garden.”

“Instead of welcoming Free Basics as an open platform that will partner with any telco, and allows any developer to offer services to people for free, they claim–falsely–that this will give people less choice,” he argues. “Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality, they claim–falsely–the exact opposite.”

Many, including figures within the India government, disagree with Zuckerberg’s appraisal, with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik arguing in a letter to Indian regulators: “While the underprivileged deserve much more than what is available, nobody should decide what exactly are their requirements. If you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them.”

YouTube Claims T-Mobile’s ‘Binge On’ Plan is Throttling Videos

T-Mobile has won a host of US customers due to its liberal policy towards internet data usage, selling itself as the nation’s “un-carrier”, with particular plaudits aimed at its Binge On data plan, which allows free streaming of online videos (but at lower resolutions) without eating into customers’ data allowances. YouTube, however, have blamed the policy for throttling its videos down to 480p, despite the service not being an affiliate of Binge On, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled, via BGR and MacRumors).

“Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” a YouTube spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

This assertion has been corroborated by The Internet Association, which says that T-Mobile’s Binge On “appears to involve the throttling of all video traffic, across all data plans, regardless of network congestion.”

When asked for comment, T-Mobile did not address the issue directly, choosing instead to boast how its customers enjoy “free streaming video that never hits their data bucket” and “the quality of their video experience and the complete control they have.”

T-Mobile’s Binge On plan is currently under investigation by the FCC to determine whether it adheres to the new net neutrality laws in the US.

US Fed­er­al Judges May Help ISPs Undermine Net Neutrality

Federal judges in the US could force the Federal Communications Commission to decimate its own net neutrality ruling. Internet service providers have been fighting the FCC ever since the government body reclassified internet services under Title II of the Com­mu­nic­a­tions Act, according to the National Journal. At the behest of ISPs, three Federal judges at the D.C. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals are currently putting that reclassification under the microscope, which may see the concept of a free and open internet sold out.

Lawyers working on behalf of ISPs argue that internet services should be classified as ‘information services’ like Google or Netflix, rather than ‘telecommunications services’ like telephones, due to the cost of storing and sending large quantities of data.

On Friday, Judge Steph­en Wil­li­ams asked lawyers from the FCC why companies should not be allowed to charge extra for internet “fast lanes?” asserting that, “If you get something spe­cial, you pay something spe­cial.”

The Appeals panel is also looking at what constitutes an internet network. For example, mobile internet for smartphones and tablets is distributed via mobile (cell) phone networks, while broadband operates through fibre or cable, so why should they be considered the same “network”?

“You nev­er know with these guys,” me­dia at­tor­ney An­drew Schwartz­man, a supporter of net neutrality, told re­port­ers. “They probed very, very ag­gress­ively both sides. My sense of it, for what it’s worth—and we’ll know in four months—is that they were sat­is­fied with the com­mis­sion’s explan­a­tions.”

Whatever the panel decides – ruling in favour of either the FCC or ISPs – it is expected that the losing side will take the case to the Supreme Court.

Deutsche Telekom First to Introduce Fast Lanes Under New EU “Net Neutrality” Laws

Mere days after the European Parliament voted in broken net neutrality laws that allow for traffic shaping and internet fast lanes, the first EU telecoms company has announced plans to introduce a two-tier internet, allowing priority access to paying customers. In a statement on the company’s website (in German), CEO Timotheus Höttges said Deutsche Telekom will introduce charges for startups to access specialised internet services.

“There needs to be the option of giving priority to data associated with sensitive services if the network is congested,” says Höttges (translation courtesy of Euroactiv). “Developing innovative internet services with high standards of quality will continue to be possible.”

“Start-ups need special services more than anyone in order to have a chance of keeping up with large internet providers,” Höttges argues. “If they want to bring services to market which require guaranteed good transmission quality, it is precisely these companies that need special services. By our reckoning, they would pay a couple of percent for this in the form of revenue-sharing,”

In response to Deutsche Telekom’s plans, Vodafone Germany told German newspaper Der Spiegel, “Vodafone is not currently pursuing such plans [for internet fast lanes], but in our view, Deutsche Telekom’s position is correct,” adding that, “an equal internet does not even exist today.”

Image courtesy of Acoustic Branding.

UK ‘Porn Filters’ Ruled Illegal by the European Union

While the European Union’s much-contested net neutrality laws are causing much consternation amongst internet rights activists, one knock-on effect that the legislation has had is to make UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘porn filter’ illegal. The EU’s net neutrality laws require all member countries to “treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference” whatever the “content accessed or distributed”, making Cameron’s “opt out” adult content filter unworkable, to the dismay of anti-porn campaigners.

While a form of adult content filter can still be applied in the UK, it would have to be “opt in” only, meaning that internet users can choose to use such a filter, rather than it being turned on by default. The ruling is designed to put control back into the hands of the use, allowing them to “access and distribute information and content […] via their internet access.” The UK Government required ISPs to introduce the “opt out” porn filter in July 2013.

Despite the ruling, a spokesperson from Downing Street said that “nothing would change”. Another spokesperson told the Daily Mail, “This means that if we need to we will bring in our own domestic law to retain the existing filtering systems the ISPs have put in place.”

European Parliament Votes in Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Despite challenges by activists, MEPs, and online businesses, the European Parliament (above) has voted in net neutrality laws that includes exceptions allowing traffic shaping and two-tier speeds, the very things net neutrality was designed to prevent. Loopholes in the legislation, opposed by many trying to protect the idea of a free and open internet, allows websites that pay ISPs for preferential treatment. The regulations came into effect in every European Union country following the commencement of the vote.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said that the defeat of the amendments a sign that “corporate interests come first,” while Julia Reda, MEP for Germany’s Pirate Party, said the legislation allows for the creation of a “two-speed” internet.

“We are disappointed that the European Parliament has decided not to legislate on this critical issue,” Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst for Access Now, said. “By not supporting the necessary amendments to give clarity to the text, the Parliament has left it up to courts and national regulators to determine its meaning.”

However, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society in the EU, claimed the new law would “deliver tangible results to improve the daily lives of Europeans”.

“We will get for the first time ever net neutrality rules in EU law,” he added. “These rules protect the right of every European to access the content of their choice, without interference or discrimination.”

One good thing to come from the vote, though, is an end to roaming data charges across EU countries, which will come into effect on 15th June, 2017.

Europe is Close to Voting on Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Following years of discussion and drafting, the European Parliament is to vote on net neutrality laws next week, and if the legislation is approved then it could spell disaster for a free internet across Europe. It has been known for months that the EU’s net neutrality proposals are broken, and that its idea of “net neutrality” is a misnomer, but as well as creating internet fast lanes for paying companies, the latest draft of its bill will allow torrent and VPN throttling.

“This is a real problem for P2P applications. ISPs regularly throttle or otherwise interfere with peer-to-peer file-sharing applications to manage congestion if they are not prevented from doing so by network neutrality rules,” Barbara van Schewick told TorrentFreak.

“The provisions would allow ISPs to throttle or de-prioritize P2P file-sharing around the clock based on the ‘objective technical requirement’ that P2P file-sharing is not sensitive to delay,” she added.

In a post on Medium, van Schewick outlined the four major problems with the EU’s net neutrality proposal:

  • Problem #1: The proposal allows ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay through the specialized services exception.
  • Problem #2: The proposal generally allows zero-rating and gives regulators very limited ability to police it, leaving users and companies without protection against all but the most egregious cases of favoritism.
  • Problem #3: The proposal allows class-based discrimination, i.e. ISPs can define classes and speed up or slow down traffic in those classes even if there is no congestion.
  • Problem #4: The proposal allows ISPs to prevent “impending” congestion. That makes it easier for them to slow down traffic anytime, not just during times of actual congestion.

Anyone European citizen that is concerned that the proposed EU legislation will kill a free and open internet should contact their respective MEP to ask that they stand against issues that allow ISPs to shape, throttle, and prioritise internet traffic. More information can be found at SavetheInternet.eu.

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

Mark Zuckerberg Plans To Connect Refugee Camps Via The Internet

Mark Zuckerberg has built a powerhouse in the form of Facebook which has both revolutionized the notion of a social network for consumers and also provided a platform for discussion and quick responses to world events. The recent statements from the famous CEO, who always seems to clad himself in the same coloured T-shirt, have included phrases concerning the Internet being “a force for peace” and “an enabler of human rights”, has announced that his company would offer its assistance to the United Nations with the aim of supplying internet connections to refugee camps.

Mr Zuckerberg responded to suggestions that Facebook are aiming to offer this service with the knowledge and expectation of drawing new consumers to the company’s platform by stating that it’s “not all altruism”. This, according to Wikipedia is defined as the “principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others”. Facebook have yet to firmly state how and when they would be offering their assistance to refugee camps, or indeed how the internet connections would work.

This has coincided with a petition which Mr Zuckerberg has created with the entertainer Bono, the philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and others to expand connectivity, calling internet access “essential” to achieving the development goals. This is all well and good, but there has yet to be clarification on the subject of net neutrality or internet censorship.

I have a feeling this gesture is being driven in its entirety by share price and company growth, Facebook wants to break into developing markets and are viewing the current displacement of people as a business opportunity. Mr Zuckerberg believes “We all benefit when we are more connected.” Indeed, so do the advertisers and corporations. There is also another issue which I can think of, if these refugee camps are connected via the Internet, surely this would make them easier to be tracked or hacked into by governments, your average Joe Militia or terrorist organisations.

It will be interesting to track, see what I did there, the progress and potential outcomes of these projects on the wider world.

Thank you nytimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of bnr.nl

Jeb Bush Promises to Trash Net Neutrality Laws if Elected

Republican US Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy on Facebook at the end of last year, has vowed to “repeal or reform the most onerous Obama rules and regulations,” with net neutrality high on that list.

“The Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rule classifies all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as ‘public utilities,’ subjecting them to antiquated ‘common carrier’ regulation,” a post from Bush’s team, entitled “The Regulatory Crisis in Washington”, reads.

“Rather than enhancing consumer welfare, these rules prohibit one group of companies (ISPs) from charging another group of companies (content companies) the full cost for using their services,” the post continues, veiling Bush’s business-serving libertarian ideals behind advocacy for the common man.

Bush adds that broadband providers “like KWISP (475 customers in rural Illinois) and Wisper ISP (8,000 customers near St. Louis, Missouri)—have declared under penalty of perjury that the Net Neutrality rule has caused them to cut back on investments to upgrade and expand their networks,” failing to acknowledge that a number of ISPs, in the face of pending net neutrality laws, threatened to stop upgrading networks in order to hold the FCC to ransom. ISPs don’t like net neutrality as it prevents them from monetising the internet, one of the things consumers need protection from.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

EU Pretends Internet Fast Lanes Are OK Under Net Neutrality

The European Union is moving ahead to legislate net neutrality and enforce a free and open internet! Hooray! Only, the EU is trying to change the meaning of words to make its net neutrality laws nothing of the sort. The key to the EU’s obfuscation is the term “specialised services”; under this banner, companies can throttle speeds and prioritize traffic to their heart’s content.

The current draft of the EU net neutrality legislation looks promising:

The rules enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law: no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services. It means that there will be truly common EU-wide Internet rules, contributing to a single market and reversing current fragmentation.

  • Every European must be able to have access to the open Internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open Internet.
  • All traffic will be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic in the Internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to justified technical requirements, and which must be independent of the origin or destination of the traffic.

But this defines just one category of internet traffic. The second is classed as “specialised services”, which will allow for the “paid prioritisation”, “blocking”, and “throttling” that is prohibited from other parts of the internet:

What are specialised services (innovative services or services other than Internet access services)?

The new EU net neutrality rules guarantee the open Internet and enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access. These are services like IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery. They use the Internet protocol and the same access network but require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users that cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet. The possibility to provide innovative services with enhanced quality of service is crucial for European start-ups and will boost online innovation in Europe. However, such services must not be a sold as substitute for the open Internet access, they come on top of it.

In segregating the internet into two categories, enforcing open internet laws on one and allowing the other to exploit traffic in whatever way it seems fit, the EU is making a mockery of net neutrality, with the bill itself becoming an oxymoron. Let’s hope that by 2016, when the laws are set to take effect, that the European Union can deliver true net neutrality to the citizens of Europe.

Thank you TechDirt for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Net neutrality Under Threat in Europe

Europe is attempting to renege on an agreement to implement net neutrality legislation across European Union member states. Back in May, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of Europe-wide net neutrality legislation, a positive step in protecting internet rights for users and content providers alike. However, after being passed through the belly of the European Council, the proposed net neutrality regulations have become so mangled that they no longer represent a free and open internet.

UK internet activism organisation Open Rights Group (ORG) is campaigning for the next round of negotiations, due to take place on 29th June, to change the legislation to better reflect true net neutrality.

As the proposal stands at present, it is open to exploitation by ISPs and other online service providers. ORG describes the flaws within the fledgling legislation:

The Council’s text could allow Internet Service Providers to charge customers and companies extra for receiving and delivering different types of online services. Only those who pay more will have easy access to an audience online. It would also authorise blocking of lawful content. This is completely counter to net neutrality and contradicts the Parliament’s position.

ORG also accuses the European Parliament of being complicit in undermining the integrity of net neutrality, despite agreeing to the protections in principle, saying:

The Council and the Parliament have been negotiating the final text of the new net neutrality rules for the last few months. And we’ve seen the Parliament give in to the Council’s demands time and again while the Council has given up almost nothing. The Parliament have even conceded on the definition of net neutrality. The phrase net neutrality isn’t even in the most recent working text. The Council has successfully replaced it with a vague “open internet” which suggests there is a “non-open” Internet, which is worrying.

In an effort to guide the legislation back into something resembling real net neutrality, ORG is asking all European citizens to contact their MEP to implore them to stand up for a free and open internet. If you are interested in helping fight the good fight, click here to get the relevant information how to contact your MEP.

Image courtesy of Oompfh.

Internet.org Is a Two-Tiered Ghetto For the Internet’s Poor

A coalition of internet advocacy groups from 31 countries has formed to stand against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “free” internet project, Internet.org. In an open letter, supported by groups from India, Colombia, Uganda, and Iceland, to name but a few, Internet.org is branded a “walled garden” that keeps the poor segregated from normal internet users, with corporations and businesses deciding what users can and cannot see, in a flagrant flouting of the principles of net neutrality.

“In its present conception,” the letter reads, “Internet.org thereby violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation.”

“We urge Facebook to assert its support for a true definition of net neutrality in which all applications and services are treated equally and without discrimination — especially in the majority world, where the next three billion internet users are coming online — and to address the significant privacy and security flaws inherent in the current iteration of Internet.org.”

Another major worry is that Internet.org prohibits the use of TLS (Transport Layer Security), Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or HTTPS encryption by its partners, leaving both services and users vulnerable to attack. Though Zuckerberg has paid lip service to both net neutrality and online security as recently as 4th May, the entire premise of Internet.org as it stands is not conducive to either. In its current guise, it can only ever be an internet ghetto where the poor are exploited as commodities in exchange for limited and heavily controlled internet access.

Thank you Silicon Republic for providing us with this information.

Internet.org Gets Trashed by Global Internet Activists

Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire Facebook founder, recently unveiled plans to offer a ‘free’ internet – essentially a sponsored internet portal through which limited filtered content can be viewed – to the world’s poor through his Internet.org endeavour.

A group of internet activists from around the world, however, have taken exception to the idea, accusing Zuckerberg of treating the poor as a lower class who don’t deserve to benefit from net neutrality, all in the name of ‘free’ internet; free from cost, but not free from corporate control. Digital rights activists across the globe have, quite rightly, accused Zuckerberg of attempting to violate the concept of an open internet.

Brazilian activists have written to President Dilma Rousseff, an advocate of Internet.org, to protest, saying, “We believe this project … could jeopardize the future of Brazil’s information society, the digital economy and the rights of users on the network, such as privacy, freedom of expression and Net Neutrality.”

The e-mail, written by Cristiana Gonzalez of the University of Sao Paulo, continued, “If defending Net Neutrality is a challenge, try convincing policymakers that there are better solutions to affordable access than offering the ‘free Internet’ via cellphones.”

In Nairobi, tech entrepreneur Ali Hussein Kassim said, “The Googles and Facebooks of the world can lure local users onto their global sites and platforms, but what happens to local Internet entrepreneurs who are trying to launch their own online businesses and services?”

“It’s like inviting me into your house and telling me that I can do this and that,” Kassim added. “People like us will continue pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing until they hear us. We will not give up.”

Zuckerberg, in a particularly pissy rebuttal to criticism, said last week, “We have to ask ourselves, what kind of community do we want to be? Are we a community that values people and improving people’s lives above all else? Or are we a community that puts the intellectual purity of technology above people’s needs?”

Niels ten Oever, head of digital for free speech group Article 19, was one of many who took exception to Zuckerberg’s rhetoric, responding, “It’s not the community of people that are fighting for Net Neutrality that are depriving people of full Internet connectivity. It’s the telcos, companies and governments that have the capacity and resources to do so, but who don’t.”

Zuckerberg does not want to bring free internet to the masses, he wants to inflate his Facebook userbase and monetise an untapped resource. The sooner he is honest about that, the better.

Thank you Moyers & Company for providing us with this information.

Hollywood Wants Exception to Net Neutrality Rules to Fight Pirates

Hollywood thinks it’s special, and can play by its own rulebook in its fight against online piracy, so the latest move by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) to bypass Brazil’s “Internet Constitution” – essentially the country’s version of net neutrality legislation – in order to block pirates is very much in character. The MPA has appealed to Brazilian Justice Minister to amend the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet), still in its infancy, to allow special exceptions for choking traffic to notorious torrent sites.

In its appeal to Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, the MPA writes:

“[Our] position is that the regulation should contain cases of exception to the general rule of net neutrality, enabling the judiciary to determine that traffic to a given illegal repository can be blocked.”

“The aforementioned suggestion is based on the premise that an adequate service must be in harmony with the possibility of allowing the judiciary to block access to content that, based on judicial scrutiny, is illegal for any reason, from a case of child pornography and trafficking of illegal substances, to the case of systematic disregard for the consumer and violation of intellectual property rights.”

The Marco Civil da Internet legislation has been in development since 2009 and is designed to protect online privacy and net neutrality. What the MPA is asking for is the addition of a “But…”, giving Hollywood studios the privilege – something the film industry is already swimming in – to abuse those privacy and net neutrality laws for the sake of money.

The new law has been in place for a year this month, and was fast-tracked after the Edward Snowden leak back in 2013. Amongst confidential documents revealed by Snowden were cables indicating that the US had been intercepting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s private phone calls and e-mails, as well as digital data from Petrobras – Brazil’s biggest oil company – and millions of Brazilian citizens.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of apcm.org

Verizon Pokes Fun at Net Neutrality With Response Written in Morse Code

It’s no surprise that Verizon, one of the big monopolistic US ISP and mobile providers, is unhappy with yesterday’s net neutrality ruling. They, amongst others, including AT&T and Comcast, have always contested against such a decision. They’ve constantly maintained that the ‘fast lanes’ they could provide would not only help their profits, but improve the services provided to users.

Whether you agree with their interpretation or not, the company decided to make their position clear following the historic decision, by utilising a popular social media meme – #ThrowbackThursday. 

– — -.. .- -.– .—-. …   -.. . -.-. .. … .. — -.   -… -.–   – …. .   ..-. -.-. -.-.   – —   . -. -.-. ..- — -… . .-.   -… .-. — .- -.. -… .- -. -..   .. -. – . .-. -. . –   … . .-. …- .. -.-. . …   .– .. – ….   -… .- -.. .-.. -.–   .- -. – .. –.- ..- .- – . -..   .-. . –. ..- .-.. .- – .. — -. …   .. …   .-   .-. .- -.. .. -.-. .- .-..   … – . .–.   – …. .- –   .–. .-. . … .- –. . …   .-   – .. — .   — ..-.   ..- -. -.-. . .-. – .- .. -. – -.–   ..-. — .-.   -.-. — -. … ..- — . .-. … –..–   .. -. -. — …- .- – — .-. …   .- -. -..   .. -. …- . … – — .-. … .-.-.-   — …- . .-.   – …. .   .–. .- … –   – .– —   -.. . -.-. .- -.. . …   .-   -… .. .–. .- .-. – .. … .- -. –..–   .-.. .. –. …. – -….- – — ..- -.-. ….   .–. — .-.. .. -.-. -.–   .- .–. .–. .-. — .- -.-. ….   ..- -. .-.. . .- … …. . -..   ..- -. .–. .-. . -.-. . -.. . -. – . -..   .. -. …- . … – — . -. –   .- -. -..   . -. .- -… .-.. . -..   – …. .   -… .-. — .- -.. -… .- -. -..   .. -. – . .-. -. . –   .- –. .   -.-. — -. … ..- –

What you see above is just an excerpt from Verizon’s real statement on the ruling, written entirely in Morse Code. They say that the decision to bring internet provision under Title II regulation is antiquated and not fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

Just incase you did want to read the real thing, the company posted a link to the statement for “readers in the 21st century” which you can read here. Even that they styled as though it was written on a typewriter.

Source: Verizon

FCC Votes for Net Neutrality in Landmark Vote

The US Federal Communications Commission has voted to implement Title II regulation upon internet service providers, introducing a set of strict rules ensuring net neutrality. The Commission voted 3-to-2 in favour of the regulation as part of a historic vote in the history of the internet.

The vote was attended by a number of web and technology dignitaries, including the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Apple Co-Foudner, Steve Wozniak. Berners-Lee added his support before the vote, saying “We have to add net neutrality to a list of basic market conditions that we protect.” Well it appears that the FCC agreed, as a majority decided to align with Tom Wheeler, the head of the Commission, who lead an impassioned speech in support of the regulation.

The ruling now puts internet access alongside the provision of utilities, in that it should be provided equally and fairly to all, prohibiting companies from creating ‘fast lanes’ and other measures that could limit the openness of the web. That’s in the US at least.

Source: The Verge

Twitter Pushing for Strict Net Neutrality Rules

In the build-up to the FCC vote regarding net neutrality – which, despite taking place in the US, could have ramifications for the global web – Twitter has thrown its support behind regulating broadband services as a utility, much like other telecommunication services, rather than a business.

In a post on Twitter’s blog, Will Carty, Public Policy Manager at the social network, came out firmly on the side of Title II regulation for internet services, saying, “Empowering ‘lesser’ or historically less powerful voices to express themselves and be heard globally is at the core of Twitter’s DNA.”

Carty continued:

This openness promotes free and fair competition and fosters ongoing investment and innovation. We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter. Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely-known Internet companies might never have come into existence.

The Federal Communications Commission votes on net neutrality for internet services on 28th February.

Source: The Washington Post

Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm Oppose Title II Net Neutrality

An alliance of 60 tech companies, including the likes of Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, have signed a letter addressed to US Congress and the FCC opposing Title II reclassification of broadband services.

It was President Barack Obama who proposed classifying internet as a utility service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act in order to ensure net neutrality, but there has been backlash from ISPs, tech companies, and telecoms providers ever since the idea was pitched.

“For almost twenty years, national leadership, on a bipartisan basis, has nurtured the broadband internet with a wise, effective, and restrained policy approach that supported the free flow of data, services, and ideas online while creating a climate that supported private investment in broadband networks,” the letter claims. Then, attacking Obama’s net neutrality plan, it continues, “Title II is going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it.”

FCC chair Tom Wheeler had hoped to bring in legislation to protect the internet by the end of the year, but plans have been delayed until 2015.

Source: The Verge

German Chancellor Disputes Net Neutrality

The battle for net neutrality has spread across Europe and the US, with President Barack Obama throwing his support behind a free and open internet. But influential German Chancellor Angela Merkel has scoffed at the idea, voicing her approval for a two-tier internet, with a premium channel operating above standard traffic on the same network.

Merkel made the declaration during the Digitising Europe conference, run by the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication. “An innovation-friendly internet means that there is a guaranteed reliability for special services,” she said. “These can only develop when predictable quality standards are available”. Merkel sees this special channel of the internet as supporting innovations in telemedicine and driverless cars, which would require transmission that is “reliable and always secure.” Then, with the disingenuous suggestion that this practicality is dictated by current technology, Merkel argued, “we can’t talk about net neutrality if the capacity to have it isn’t available.”

Though the European Parliament voted against two-tier internet back in April, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that the German government is still exploring the possibility of implementing some form of premium internet split service.

Source: Electronista

Netflix Accused of “Working to Effectively Secure ‘Fast Lanes’ for its Content” by FCC

Netflix has paid plenty of lip service to its support of net neutrality – it criticised Comcast earlier this year for working against a free and open internet, though only after it had signed a content delivery agreement with the ISP – but now the Federal Communications Commission has accused the media streaming service of violating net neutrality.

Ajit Pai, a Republican Commissioner at the FCC, made the accusation in an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, referring to the company’s decision not to commit itself to the Streaming Video Alliance and its Open Connect content delivery system, essentially its own premium ‘fast line’. As Pai puts it, the company is “working to effectively secure ‘fast lanes’ for its content on ISPs’ networks at the expense of its competitors.”

Pai continued, “Specifically, I understand that Netflix has at times changed its streaming protocols where open caching is used, which impedes open caching software from correctly identifying and caching Netflix traffic,” he wrote. “Because Netflix traffic constitutes such a substantial percentage of streaming video traffic, measures like this threaten the viability of open standards.”

Netflix has so far declined to comment.

Source: PC magazine

‘This Is Net Neutrality’ Coalition Fights for Global Internet Rights

In the wake of US President Barack Obama supporting a free and open internet, ISPs threatening to sue over potential restrictive legislation, and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) stuck in the middle, trying to keep both sides happy, a coalition of diverse groups from all over the world, including Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Digitale Gesellschaft, has formed to voice its support for net neutrality, on a global scale. The coalition is called This is Net Neutrality, and they issued the following statement, in eleven different languages, on their website on Thursday:

“The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Today, this open Internet is endangered by powerful service providers seeking to become gatekeepers who decide how users can access parts of the Internet. We don’t want to prevent these companies from using reasonable and necessary methods to manage their networks, but these acts cannot be a pretext to eliminate openness nor to police content.

The fundamental openness of this crucial technology must be preserved, and to this end we offer the resources on this site for activists, academics, policy makers and technologists who share our vision.”

The group also outlined their definition of ‘net neutrality’, which informs their use of the word throughout their campaign:

“Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.”

Deji Olukotun, Senior Advocacy Manager at Access, one of the members of This is Net Neutrailty, summed up the coalition’s all-encompassing view of the issue: “Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.”

Source: Common Dreams

FCC Warn: ISPs Will Sue Over Net Neutrality, Regardless

America’s ISPs will behave litigiously no matter what net neutrality laws are introduced, warns FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler told reporters that lawsuits are unavoidable, explaining why the FCC have been so cautious in their net neutrality contemplations.

He explained, “Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out. We need to make sure we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised.”

He added, “I want to move forward on open-internet rules with dispatch. I also want to have open internet rules that are sustained. And that’s the process we’re going through.”

Earlier this month, President Obama implored the FCC to implement the “strongest possible rules” to protect a free and open internet, suggesting that broadband be reclassified as a utility. In the wake of that, AT&T made outright threats of legal action against such a move, saying the same day, “if the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”. The FCC’s response was bullish, reminding the President that they were an independent body that makes its own decisions.

Source: The Guardian

FCC Rejects Obama’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Following President Obama’s support for net neutrality, suggesting that the FCC invoke Title II legislation to protect broadband as a utility, Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the FCC, has issued a defiant response: “I am an independent agency.”

Obama proposed that Title II of the 1934 Communications Act be applied to the internet in order to protect services from anti-consumer measures. As part of the regulation, ISPs would be monitored by independent ombudsmen to ensure their fair practice. The proposal has met opposition from ISPs – Verizon and AT&T have already make threats of legal action if Title II is implemented – and Republicans, citing the potential restriction of trade as damaging to the free market. But the FCC’s reply has undermined Obama’s proposition before it could gain traction.

The White House issued a brief statement, agreeing, “ultimately this decision is theirs alone.”

Source: electronista

AT&T Halt Fibre Investment Until Net Neutrality is Resolved

First, President Obama voiced his support for net neutrality, asking the FCC to apply Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to protect broadband as a utility. The ISPs responded by threatening to sue if the regulation was implemented. Then, the FCC puffed out its chest, asserting its autonomy as an independent body, one that makes its own decisions. Now, the latest move in the net neutrality row sees AT&T putting a hold on any further fibre network development until the issue of net neutrality is resolved.

AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, said at a conference today, “We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed.” He added, “We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like.”

Source: Mashable

Obama Chimes in on Net Neutrality

US President Barack Obama has come out in support of net neutrality by suggesting that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) reclassifies the internet as a utility.

“To put these protections in place, I’m asking the FCC to reclassify internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act,” Obama said in a statement. He added, “In plain English, I’m asking [the FCC] to recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.” The changes would mean that internet service would need to be treated in the same way as water or gas, meaning that ISPs would act as the ‘dumb pipe’ providing unfettered internet access, without any control as to what they sell and without being able to favour certain companies or services to benefit their business.

Obama outlined 4 major points in his statement, saying that ISPs would be restricted from blocking sites delivering legal content, they’d be banned from intentionally slowing down or speeding up certain sites or services and perhaps most importantly, they wouldn’t be able to offer paid-for ‘fast lane’ provisions for certain companies willing to pay for them at the detriment of other internet traffic. Interestingly, Obama also asks that these rules be applied to mobile internet providers as well. This would be significant in itself, as mobile providers have not at all been subject to the same restrictions as wired providers.

Source: The Verge