05/15/2014 archive

FCC Moves To End Net Neutrality

In a vote this afternoon the Federal Communications Commission voted open debate on a proposal that would essentially end net neutrality. In a 3 – 2 vote, Chairman Thomas Wheeler and the two other Democratic members voted to allow Internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.

Critics worry the rules would create “fast lanes” for companies that pay up and slower traffic for others, although Wheeler has pledged to prevent “acts to divide the Internet between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.'”

The FCC’s proposal tentatively concludes that some pay-for-priority deals may be allowed, but asks whether “some or all” such deals should be banned and how to ensure paid prioritization does not relegate any traffic to “slow lanes.” [..]

Consumer advocates want the FCC to reclassify Internet providers as utilities, like telephone companies, rather than as the less-regulated information services they are now.

Opponents have told Wheeler that stricter regulations would throw the industry into legal limbo, discourage investment in network infrastructure and still not prevent pay-for-priority deals.

Numerous technology companies, including Google Inc and Facebook Inc, have spoken out against allowing pay-for-priority, although they have not called for reclassification.

At the moment, nothing has change but as Mike Masnick at Techdirt put it, the door is now open to a very messy process that didn’t need to happen because the FCC has the power to declare the Internet a public utility:

At this point, what we basically have is open season on lobbyists trying to influence the FCC one way or another, eventually leading to some sort of rulemaking, followed (inevitably) by a bunch of lawsuits from broadband providers who aren’t going to be happy with any solution. And, of course, the potential (unlikely as it may be) for Congress to get involved. [..]

And while Wheeler has suggested that the FCC is willing to knock down laws that block competition, we’ll believe it when we see it in action. On top of that, Wheeler made it clear today that he still sees the interconnection issue as a separate issue, even thought it’s becoming clear that that’s where the real problem is. Oh, and while lots of people are calling for Title II reclassification, and there are many reasons to believe that may be the best solution, it’s also exceptionally messy as well, because Title II has lots of problems as well. The FCC would need to deal with those problems, via forbearance, which creates a whole different set of headaches. [..]

But, that doesn’t mean that everyone should just throw up their hands and go home to their (increasingly slow) internet. The broadband lobbyists will not be doing that. And, of course, they know quite well how to play the lobbying game and how to work the ins-and-outs of everything above. It is why it’s going to become increasingly important to become much more informed on a variety of these issues and the true implications of the choices the FCC makes in the coming months. If you would like to weigh in, and I do suggest everyone seek to share their comments with the FCC, I would suggest first spending a little time more deeply reading through the full set of issues and what the pros and cons of different options may be. You can file comments directly with the FCC or via a very, very handy Dear FCC tool that the EFF put together.

Time to take action by sending this easy letter to the FCC that the Electronic Freedom Foundation has put together:

 photo neutrality-3_zps2fd0f4dd.png

It’s our Internet. We made it, and it has re-made us, changing the way we communicate, learn, share and create.

We want the Internet to continue to live up to its promise, fostering innovation, creativity and freedom. We don’t want regulations that will turn our ISPs into gatekeepers, making special deals with the few companies that can “pay to play” and inhibiting new competition, innovation and expression.

Start your letter to the FCC by clicking here

Keep the Internet Neutral

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Richard (RJ) Escow: Look Out, Wall Street, the New Populism Is Coming

Even as the Campaign for America’s Future prepares for its May conference on the New Populism, attacks on populism keep coming from all directions. One of the latest salvos to be publicized comes in the form of an anecdote about Bill Clinton. As Tim Geithner told Andrew Ross Sorkin, Clinton sarcastically told the Wall Street-friendly Treasury Secretary how to “pursue a more populist strategy”:

   “You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley,” Clinton said, “and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again.”

Clinton was always effective at belittling people with whom he disagrees — even when, as in this case, his own position is morally indefensible. The president and his economic team deregulated Wall Street to disastrous effect, then became very wealthy there after leaving office. [..]

It is precisely this sort of sneering insider indifference to public opinion — not to mention good governance and fair play — which has given rise to today’s populist mood. And make no mistake about it: the public’s mood, despite years of attempts by most Republicans and many Democrats to placate them, is distinctly populist. And much of that populist sentiment is directed toward the financial institutions which have so badly damaged our economy.

Jameel Jaffer: The official US position on the NSA is still unlimited eavesdropping power

One year after Snowden, the government is defending – in not-so-plain sight – the ‘paramount’ power to spy on every call and email between you and your friends abroad

Modern American privacy law begins with Charles Katz, an accused gambler, making a call from a Los Angeles phone booth. In a now-famous opinion, Justice John Marshall Harlan concluded that the US Constitution protected Katz’s “expectation of privacy” in his call. American phone booths are now a thing of the past, of course, and Americans’ expectations of privacy seem to be fast disappearing, too.

In two significant but almost-completely overlooked legal briefs filed last week, the US government defended the constitutionality of the Fisa Amendments Act, the controversial 2008 law that codified the Bush administration’s warrantless-wiretapping program. That law permits the government to monitor Americans’ international communications without first obtaining individualized court orders or establishing any suspicion of wrongdoing.

It’s hardly surprising that the government believes the 2008 law is constitutional – government officials advocated for its passage six years ago, and they have been vigorously defending the law ever since. Documents made public over the last eleven-and-a-half months by the Guardian and others show that the NSA has been using the law aggressively.

Sen. Al Frankin: Tomorrow Could Be the Beginning of the End for Net Neutrality. You Should Be Worried.

Tomorrow is an important day for the future of the Internet. That’s when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will cast a crucial vote that could send us down a dangerous and misguided path toward destroying the Internet as we know it. That path could end with an Internet of haves and have-nots, with big corporations deciding who falls into which camp, all based on the amount of money they pay. I’m urging the FCC to take a different course — one that preserves the Internet as an open marketplace where everyone can continue to participate on equal footing, regardless of one’s wealth or power.

Tom Wheeler, the FCC’s chairman, has a proposal that would undermine net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally. Net neutrality is embedded in the foundational architecture of the Internet, and it has served us well. Because of net neutrality, an email from my constituent in rural Minnesota gets to me as quickly as an email from my bank. Because of net neutrality, the website for the small neighborhood hardware store loads just as quickly as that of a major retail chain. Because of net neutrality, you were able to access this op-ed, even if your Internet provider doesn’t like what I have to say.

Zoë Carpenter: Judicial Nominee in Limbo After Senators Demand Secret Drone Memos

Once again, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are challenging the Obama administration over its national security policies. At issue now are secret legal opinions sanctioning the government’s targeted killing program, some of which were written by a Harvard law professor named David Barron, who is President Obama’s nominee for a prominent judicial position. At least two of the memos written by Barron when he worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council concern the extrajudicial killing of American citizens abroad. [..]

Just how many memos related to drones Barron produced during his time at the Justice Department is unclear. (He worked at the OLC from 2009 to 2010.) Most of the controversy around Barron has focused on two memos, the one at the heart of the court case mentioned above, and a shorter one also reportedly related to targeting Americans. Those two documents were particularly pertinent in the decision to target an American named Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. Interestingly, majority leader Harry Reid indicated on Tuesday that the White House has provided senators with a second memo, presumably the other one of the two. “As far as I know, they’re down there,” Reid said when asked if the proper documents were available in the secure area. “I’ve looked, there’s two of them.”

The killing of American citizens abroad without due process is a critical issue, but so is the policy of assassinating non-Americans away from the battlefield. Many other memos have been written about the drone program beyond its application to US citizens; it’s unclear whether Barron contributed to any of them. With the White House claiming it has given senators access to the information they’ve requested regarding the targeting of American citizens, the question of whether Barron analyzed any other aspects of the drone program may now become the focus of the debate.

Jane Hamsher: What Do Barack Obama and the Koch Brothers Agree On? The Smarter Sentencing Act

There aren’t many things that Barack Obama, Eric Holder, the Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist, Ted Cruz and Sheldon Whitehouse agree on. One of those rare things is the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill that has broad transpartisan both houses of Congress — but is currently stuck there for no other reason than partisan gridlock.

Four years ago, a similar coalition came together when everyone agreed that drug sentencing disparities had a deeply unfair application that resulted in black and Latino offenders serving much longer sentences for possessing the same amount of crack cocaine than a white person who was more likely to possess powder cocaine.

Their efforts resulted in the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010. It did not, however, retroactively change things for people who were already serving draconian sentences under the old law.

The Smarter Sentencing Act would fix that problem as well as many other things that would dramatically reduce our seriously overcrowded prison population, which has quadrupled since the 1970s.

On This Day In History May 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 15 is the 135th day of the year (136th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 230 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, the Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

The Virginia Conventions were a series of five political meetings in the Colony of Virginiaduring the American Revolution. Because the House of Burgesses had been dissolved in 1774 by Royal Governor Lord Dunmore, the conventions served as a revolutionary provisional government until the establishment of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776.

The fifth convention began May 6, 1776 and met in Williamsburg. On May 15, the convention declared independence from Britain and adopted a set of three momentous resolutions: one calling for a declaration of rights for Virginia, one calling for establishment of a republican constitution, and a third calling for federal relations with whichever other colonies would have them and alliance with whichever foreign countries would have them. It also instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to declare independence. Virginia’s congressional delegation was thus the only one under unconditional positive instructions to declare independence; Virginia was already independent, and so its convention did not want their state, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, to “hang separately.” According to James Madison’s correspondence for that day, Williamsburg residents marked the occasion by taking down the Union Jack from over the colonial capitol and running up a continental union flag.

On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, one of Virginia’s delegates to Congress, carried out these instructions and proposed independence in the language the convention had commanded him to use: that “these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” This paved the way for the American Declaration of Independence, which also reflected the idea that not one nation, but thirteen free and independent states were aborning on the east coast of North America.

The convention amended, and on June 12 adopted, George Mason‘s Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. On June 29, the convention approved the first Constitution of Virginia, which was also the first written constitution adopted by the people’s representatives in the history of the world. The convention chose Patrick Henry as the first governor of the new Commonwealth of Virginia, and he was inaugurated on June 29, 1776. Thus, Virginia had a functioning, permanent, republican constitution before July 4, 1776 — uniquely among the thirteen American colonies.

TDS/TCR (Where there is fire…)


Harry Reid, Senator Harry Reid

Flinging Feces

The rest of the mess including two songs by The Black Keys below the fold.