FCC Passes Network Neutrality Rules

The dilution of strong network neutrality continued yesterday with the FCC approving the draft plan as released earlier in a three to two vote. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica has a good summary of the proceedings, including initial reactions from those supporting network neutrality.

Even before today’s vote, some reform groups expressed their disappointment with the mildness of the decision; for instance, here’s a dispatch from the Media Access Project.

“MAP respects and admires the work of Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn on this important issue, but MAP cannot support the watered-down, loophole-ridden option that the FCC appears to have chosen,” the group’s statement last night declared. (Note that Chairman Genachowski doesn’t share in this admiration.) “The inadequate protections for wireless technologies are especially troublesome, as wireless services provide an onramp to the Internet for many of the nation’s poor and minority citizens.”

Cellular internet is to be held to the weaker, partial standard already mentioned. So-called special services are still granted a troubling exemption except for some vague notions of monitoring for anti-competituve behavior. For the most strictly regulated wired internet, loopholes abound in the form of allowances for “reasonable” network management where the measure of reasonableness isn’t clearly defined.

Ryan Singel at Wired, with help from Sam Gustin, has some more supposition on how we came to this lamentable pass, namely the nigh unstoppable lobbying power of AT&T. He at least concedes that part of the reason for the weakness of the new rules stems from the commission’s unclear authority in the wake of the ruling against it in the Comcast case over the cableco’s throttling of BitTorrent traffic.

What we’re left with is undoubtedly a long chain of future case law to try to pin down the shape and size of the various loopholes in this plan. Meanwhile, ISPs and carriers will no doubt get a pass to pretty much carry on as usual. Like many others, I am left wondering why the commissioners who supported Title II re-classification didn’t push harder. That too would have led to any number of court cases but would have been far more fruitful, in the meantime, and in the process of whittling down a coarse but strong set of rules would have been far more certain to yield a final set of compromises giving as much weight to public interest as to the unending rent-seeking of the ISPs and carriers.

feeds | grep links > New Cable Box Rules, France May Subsidize Downloads, Firefox 4 Could Be Delayed, and More

  • Bjarne Stroustrop reflects on 25 years of C++ , Slashdot
  • Wikileaks donations account shut down, Slashdot
  • FCC approves changes to cable box rules
    Slashdot links to a post at Hillicon Valley discussing this latest news in a long standing fight for competition and consumer choice. I can’t help but think that if the FCC, or Congress, had worked to keep DRM out of our media stack, as its embedding in the HDMI connector standard, that there would be less of a need for pushing Cablecard. On the flip side, with the first Google TV devices coming out, this could open the way to smarter set top devices being able to integrate much more seamlessly into our media ecosystem than ever before.
  • French government may subsidize music downloads
    There isn’t much more detail in the article to which Slashdot links, especially as to the detailed reasoning. This is an anti-piracy move but once the vouchers are spent, the effective prices will rise returning everything back to where it was. I’ll give them credit for trying but a more thorough shift is required, one that incents labels as much as young people to meet over legitimate online distribution sites.
  • Blocker bugs snarl next Firefox 4 beta release, The H

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/10/2010

TCLP 2010-09-26 News

This is news cast 225, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, thanks to Steve for his latest donation which also means he gets the signed copies of Wizzywig 1 & 2. Also, an announcement of audio and feed changes to go in effect on October 3rd.

This week’s security alert is a more in-depth look at the Stuxnet worm.

In this week’s news Intel to use DRM to charge for processor features and why that is problematic, an Ubuntu designer shares his thoughts on a context aware UI, a course on the anthropology of hackers (one I wish UMD’s MITH would offer), and the FCC finalizes rules for white space devices (including details on those rules) prompting one commissioner to speculate we no longer need net neutrality rules.

Following up this week the MPAA wants to know if it can use ACTA to block WikiLeaks and one judge quashes a US Copyright Group subpoena.

[display_podcast]

View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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FCC Opens Up APIs for Key Databases

Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica not only shares the news but includes some more crunchy detail on the APIs themselves. His article actually serves as a pretty good survey of what is possible with the APIs. It also hints that more data will be accessible in a similar manner soon.

“The release of these APIs marks an important day for us at the FCC,” Byrne says. “The FCC has long published many data sets. Now we are allowing developers direct access to our data via live queries. Your feedback on these APIs—what you think, how you are using them, what needs to be improved—helps us continue in this direction.”

This is an encouraging development from such a high profile agency beyond the broad and often frustratingly vague commitment to open data under the Obama administration. Information at this detail is key to enabling and encouraging the kinds of analysis and mash ups promised by mere transparency. Getting projects hacking is key to moving past the reactionary criticism of transparency solely as an end and reinforces its nature as a means to generating interest and actual knowledge.

Calling all developers! FCC releases APIs for key databases, Ars Technica

Following Up for the Week Ending 8/25/2010

TCLP 2010-08-08 News

This is news cast 221, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, my thanks to Mike for his donation for which he has earned a merit badge. A final reminder there will not be a feature cast this coming week, I’ll be out in San Francisco for most of the week. Also, a quick review of George Mann’s “The Osiris Ritual“. I reviewed his first novel, “The Affinity Bridge”, earlier in the Summer.

This week’s security alerts are RFIDs can be provably read at over 60 meters and an algorithmic attack on reCAPTCHA.

In this week’s news an algorithm to improve the energy efficiency of mesh networks, concerns over a citizen vigilante group monitor ISPs though the groups claims may be overstated, Google ends Wave development though is dedicated to learning from its failure in this case probably from its complexity despite adding more resources and opening up to more users, and unpacking what exactly went on between Google and Verizon especially as they deny claims of an anti-neutrality pact (even on Twitter). Odds are good they are still meeting and talking to some end which may be why the NYT is sticking to its story. Cringely has the most intriguing guess at their possible goal.

Following up this week EFF offers assistance to targets of the US Copyright Group and the FCC ends closed door discussions on its net neutrality plan.

[display_podcast]

View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Following Up for the Week Ending 7/25/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 7/18/2010

Public and Non-public Discussion of FCC’s Plan for Net Neutrality

In an ideal world, the FCC’s recent notice of inquiry on its “third way” compromise for implementing some enforcement mechanism for network neutrality would push all of the stake holders–big, small, public and private–all into the same space and keep the discussions in the open. Sadly, that appears to be too much to hope, despite promises to that end by the Obama administration.

Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica has news of several private meetings between large stakeholders and the FCC, apparently to the end of brokering some sort of compromise that would avoid even partial re-classification of broadband as common carriage. I understand the angry ton of this story, especially from the public interest folks. It makes me a mad too but at the same time, this is how it has always been. Money buys privileged access and greater leverage to secure your own ends.

Lasar shares the a quote from an FCC staffer explaining the move. There will be a series of these meetings with “stakeholders” which begs the question, that Lasar also asks, of whether the public will be considered a stake holder in any form.