Archive for the ‘net neutrality’ Category

Adam Savage and Mythbusting Net Neutrality

Thursday, January 16th, 2014


Kind of sad to see Adam Savage of Mythbusters as the face of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association – one of the key trade groups lobbying against net neutrality.

You’ll never guess who the cable-telecommunications industry thought prevailed in Verizon v. FCC [pdf]. The “big winner,” they said, was “the consumer.”

It’s interesting to see the double-talk the NCTA uses to argue that net neutrality is bad. (Or, as they would say, that “fair broadband pricing” is good.)

Allowing consumers to choose the best broadband plan to suit their needs promotes fairness, saves customers money and encourages adoption to a wider audience than more restrictive “universal” pricing plans. The continued expansion of broadband networks and usage-based tiers will provide consumers with significant benefits without asking that they subsidize the efforts of a select few.

See? Telecommunications companies aren’t trying to hold the internet hostage to collect ransoms. They’re helping consumers. Thanks for busting that myth for us.

Vote Obama-Biden for Pro-Blogger Internet Policy

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Many of you out there are single-issue votes when it comes to the office of president. And, of course, that single issue is blog law. Or not.

But if you issue is blog law, your candidate is Barack Obama.

While blog law did not take center-stage (or even side-stage or backstage or offstage) at the debates, we do know something of candidates’ positions on blog law. Happily, Scientific American asked the candidates for president 14 questions related to science. In truth, I’m not sure internet policy is a “science” question, but, as it so happens, SciAm included the following: “What role, if any, should the federal government play in managing the Internet to ensure its robust social, scientific, and economic role?”

Interestingly enough, the candidates’ answers are importantly different. And Governor Mitt Romney takes a position that is squarely against the interests of bloggers. So, if you are voting on the basis of blog law, vote Obama-Biden.

Let’s take a look at what they said.

President Barack Obama:

A free and open Internet is essential component of American society and of the modern economy. I support legislation to protect intellectual property online, but any effort to combat online piracy must not reduce freedom of expression, increase cybersecurity risk, or undermine the dynamic, innovative global Internet. I also believe it is essential that we take steps to strengthen our cybersecurity and ensure that we are guarding against threats to our vital information systems and critical infrastructure, all while preserving Americans’ privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizing the civilian nature of cyberspace.

That’s a pretty boring response that seems designed to offend no one. There is one nugget of a controversial-stance taking inside of it. When the president says “any effort to combat online piracy must not reduce freedom of expression, increase cybersecurity risk, or undermine the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” he seems to be talking about the hypercopyright bill SOPA, which I’ve blogged about several times. That’s good, because anti-SOPA is pro-blogger.

Governor Mitt Romney:

It is not the role of any government to “manage” the Internet. The Internet has flourished precisely because government has so far refrained from regulating this dynamic and essential cornerstone of our economy. I would rely primarily on innovation and market forces, not bureaucrats, to shape the Internet and maximize its economic, social and scientific value.

Thanks to the non-governmental multi-stakeholder model, the Internet is — and always has been — open to all ideas and lawful commerce as well as bountiful private investment. Unfortunately, President Obama has chosen to impose government as a central gatekeeper in the broadband economy. His policies interfere with the basic operation of the Internet, create uncertainty, and undermine investors and job creators.

Specifically, the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” regulation represents an Obama campaign promise fulfilled on behalf of certain special interests, but ultimately a “solution” in search of a problem. The government has now interjected itself in how networks will be constructed and managed, picked winners and losers in the marketplace, and determined how consumers will receive access to tomorrow’s new applications and services. The Obama Administration’s overreaching has replaced innovators and investors with Washington bureaucrats.

In addition to these domestic intrusions, there are also calls for increased international regulation of the Internet through the United Nations. I will oppose any effort to subject the Internet to an unaccountable, innovation-stifling international regulatory regime. Instead, I will clear away barriers to private investment and innovation and curtail needless regulation of the digital economy.

Romney’s pro-big-telecomm stance against net neutrality should be very concerning for bloggers. I’ve explained why net neutrality is important for bloggers. (In fact, I’ve written about it a lot.)

On that basis, Blog Law Blog officially endorses Barack Obama for president of the United States. (Just to be completely clear, that’s coming from the Blog Law Blog Editorial Board, which is me, and does not necessarily reflect contributor viewpoint.)

So go and vote. And beginning tomorrow, I will provide you with some of America’s least comprehensive election coverage. (But, hey, it is likely be America’s only election coverage solely devoted to blog law issues!)

Wolverton on Net Neutrality

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A column by my friend, Troy Wolverton, in the San Jose Mercury News, does an excellent job of explaining why the FCC’s new net neutrality rules aren’t cause for too much celebration.

He pithily explains the tech, the law, what’s at stake, and his opinion on it. In particular, he explains why it’s not okay to ensure net neutrality for wired connections but not for wireless connections.

WARNING TO BLB READERS: Be careful with that column! The San Jose Mercury News’ parent company, MediaNews Group, recently signed up with Righthaven, which then sued a blogger who reposted a column published in sister paper The Denver Post.

Letter to Santa re Law o/b/o Bloggers

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Dear Santa:

On behalf of bloggers across the USA and around the world, BlogLawBlog respectfully requests the following:

With warm holiday wishes,

Eric E. Johnson

FCC Passes Net Neutrality Rules, Reactions Mixed

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

FCC headquarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: FCC)

Yesterday the FCC approved new rules to guarantee at least a watered-down version of net neutrality for wired internet connections.

The order has not been publicly released, but here are three articles (best first) that you can read to get up-to-date on what  is known and how people are reacting:

Two key issues in the ongoing controversy are “paid prioritization” and whether net neutrality will be enforced for wireless services. Senator Al Franken, an outspoken proponent of net neutrality, touched on both in a statement he issued expressing his disappointment at what transpired. In part, he said:

The FCC’s action today is simply inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet. I am particularly disappointed to learn that the order will not specifically ban paid prioritization, allowing big companies to pay for a fast lane on the Internet and abandoning the foundation of net neutrality. The rule also contains almost no protections for mobile broadband service, remaining silent on the blocking of content, applications, and devices. Wireless technology is the future of the Internet, and for many rural Minnesotans, it’s often the only choice for broadband.

But while the rules don’t explicitly ban paid prioritization, they do ban unreasonable discrimination, at least for hardwired internet access. Chloe at PCMag explains what that might mean:

Among those things that would probably be unreasonable? Paid prioritization. The whole idea behind net neutrality is that everyone has equal access to the Web; a wealthy company like Amazon should not be able to pay to have their Web site load faster than a mom-and-pop e-commerce site. While this practice of paid prioritization is not strictly banned in the net neutrality rules, the FCC said yesterday that it would likely be deemed unreasonable.

FCC Expected to Adopt a Compromise Net Neutrality Order Today

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

FCC logoToday the FCC is slated to consider a new net neutrality order that will be binding on American telecom companies. It looks like it will be adopted on a 3-2 vote with the three Democrat commissioners supporting it and the two Republican commissioners opposing it.

Net neutrality is incredibly important for bloggers. Without net neutrality, telecom companies will be allowed, basically, to accept bribes from big-money media companies. In return telecoms would their new friends preferential fast-lane treatment on the internet, pushing citizen bloggers onto side roads.

Say you have a blog that dishes celebrity gossip. With a non-neutral internet, your readers may begin to lose patience over your slowly downloading pages, choosing instead to jump over to bigger operations, like Access Hollywood or TMZ, that could afford to pay tolls to telecoms for lightning fast download times.

Here are two solid articles if you want to read up on what’s ahead for the FCC:

The rule that the FCC is considering today is a compromise. It draws a distinction between wired and wireless. Regular wired broadband internet access (e.g., for your home and work computers, whether plugged in or accessed through a wi-fi router) would be subject to net neutrality rules. Wireless/mobile internet services (e.g., through your phone, 4G services) would not.

You might ask, does it really matter if phones don’t get net-neutral service? Let me answer that with another question: Do you want people to be able to read your blog on their phone? (And before you answer, think about how much internet end-user traffic is going to phones …)

More from me on net neutrality:

Inimai Chettiar and James Scott Holladay on the Economic Benefits of Net Neutrality

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Inimai Chettiar of the NYU School of Law and James Scott Holladay of NYU School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity have posted to SSRN Free to Invest: The Economic Benefits of Preserving Net Neutrality.

Here is the abstract:

It is hard to imagine a future where the value of the Web takes a downward spiral: where less content is created, online access is less useful, and fewer people log on. Currently, thousands of new websites and applications are constantly created. The content attracts millions of new users who email, tweet, blog, and discuss the information on the Web freely. Net neutrality supports this open and entrepreneurial dynamic which helps to create billions of dollars in free value for the American public. In Free to Invest, the Institute for Policy Integrity warns of negative economic consequences if net neutrality is weakened. The report arrived at five main findings that describe the trade-offs of revoking net neutrality.

Google’s About Face and Bloggers’ Stake in Net Neutrality

Monday, August 30th, 2010

“Net neutrality” means that internet traffic is all treated equally. On a non-neutral internet, some webpages will download faster if the host of those pages has paid a special fee to your internet service provider.

If you are a blogger, should you care about net neutrality? Yes, you should care about it dearly. It’s a complicated issue, involving complicated technology, complicated economics, and complicated industrial models. That’s all true. But it comes down to something quite simple. Right now, a lone blogger is on an equal footing with the New York Times in terms of the being able to deliver content to end-users across the internet. Without net neutrality, that could change.

What will happen to blog readership in a non-neutral world? Imagine you have a choice between reading a blog or reading news from a big media company. The blog downloads at a glacial pace. You’re waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Meanwhile, the big media company’s content goes ZIP! and it’s all there. Readership of traditional blogs will plummet.

The political picture on a postage stamp is this: Big telecom companies generally don’t like net neutrality, because they would like to charge for non-neutral carriage of data. Little guys without a lot of political clout like net neutrality. The one mega-sized corporate friend that net-neutrality supporters had was Google. That’s why Google made such big news when it announced recently that it had struck a deal with Verizon to support non-neutral carriage for wireless services and other tweaks on net-neutrality.

Learn about it:

In favor of net neutrality, read this very well-done post by Jeff Sayer: How the Death of Net Neutrality Effects You. Also good is this post on Gizmodo: Google Just Killed Net Neutrality

For the other side of the argument, there’s no better source than Google itself. Read Google’s announcement, Google’s explanation for why it is not a sell-out.