Tuesday, October 2, 2018

California law will require certain bots to identify themselves →

Gili Malinsky for the Los Angeles Times:

On Friday, [Gov. Jerry Brown] signed another bill that drew less attention — a new law that bans automated accounts, more commonly known as bots, from pretending to be real people in pursuit of selling products or influencing elections. Automated accounts can still interact with Californians, according to the law, but they will need to disclose that they are bots.

The law comes as concerns about social media manipulation remain elevated. With just more than a month to go before the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, social media companies have pledged to crack down on foreign interference.

So, we are apparently on a roll here in the great golden state. This won’t put an end to malicious bots for good, but this is the kind of legislation that we need moving forward. Proud to have California lead the way.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

California enacts strongest net neutrality protections in the country as Trump administration files suit →

Jazmine Ulloa for the Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday restored net neutrality rules in California that were repealed under the Trump administration, setting up a legal battle with the federal government over whether states can prevent companies from blocking access to the internet.

News that the governor signed the ambitious new law was swiftly met with an aggressive response from Justice Department officials, who announced soon afterward that they were suing California to block the regulations. The state law prohibits broadband and wireless companies from blocking, throttling or otherwise hindering access to internet content, and from favoring some websites over others by charging for faster speeds.

Absolutely loving this. Bring it on, DOJ.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Net Neutrality did not die today →

Katharine Trendacosta for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

[…] Net neutrality protections didn’t end today, and you can help make sure they never do. Congress can still stop the repeal from going into effect by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC’s action. All it takes is a simple majority vote held within 60 legislative working days of the rule being published. The Senate is only one vote short of the 51 votes necessary to stop the rule change, but there is a lot more work to be done in the House of Representatives. See where your members of Congress stand and voice your support for the CRA here.

Keep fighting the good fight, people. As I have said before: we may be losing the battle, but we will win the war.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

F.C.C. Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in Victory for Telecoms →

Aaron Byrd and Natalia V. Osipova for The New York Times:

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.


“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Complete and utter bullshit. ISPs are amongst the shadiest companies out there and Pai is a disgrace to the F.C.C. chairman office.

A brief example of what could theoretically be possible without Net Neutrality rules:

Big online companies like Amazon say that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.

For an explainer, read my piece on this subject, Net Neutrality And You.

Please call your representatives and plead with them to pass legislature to preserve Net Neutrality. Visit Battle for the Net for more info and to find out what you can do to help. We may lose this battle, but as long as we keep pressing, we’ll win the war.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Apple breaks silence on Net Neutrality in support letter to FCC →

Yesterday was the last day to provide comment to the FCC on their proposal to gut Net Neutrality rules implemented in 2015. As a result, Apple finally broke their silence on this subject with an official letter to the FCC. In it, Apple comments on consumer choice, fast lanes, transparency, competition, investment and innovation, and more in support of Net Neutrality. It’s a great, short read, but to the point.

Here’s my Net Neutrality And You post if you need a refresher on the subject. Now for a few excerpts from Apple’s letter…

On consumer choice:

Consumers must be allowed to access the lawful internet content, applications, and services of their choice, using non-harmful devices of their choice (subject, of course, to reasonable network management). Broadband providers should not block, throttle, or otherwise discriminate against lawful websites and services.

On the prospect of paid fast lanes:

Paid fast lanes could replace today’s content-neutral transmission of internet traffic with differential treatment of content based on an online providers’ ability or willingness to pay. The result would be an internet with distorted competition where online providers are driven to reach deals with broadband providers or risk being stuck in the slow lane and losing customers due to lower quality service.

On competition:

Competition for last-mile broadband connections is crucial to protecting an open internet. Based on the FCC’s latest data, 57 percent of Americans with access to fixed broadband at or above 25Mbps/3Mbps—the current FCC benchmark for advanced broadband service—have only one choice of broadband provider.3 This means that many consumers cannot switch providers even if they learn that their broadband provider interferes with the internet’s openness in a way that they oppose.

This in particular is laughably pathetic. America is so far behind in terms of home Internet speeds it’s embarrassing.

I’m glad to see this official response from Apple, even if it doesn’t explicitly call for ISPs to remain classified as Title II utilities. On the other hand, I don’t know why it took them so damn long to comment.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Verizon admits to throttling LTE data for video →

Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica:

Verizon Wireless customers this week noticed that Netflix’s speed test tool appears to be capped at 10Mbps, raising fears that the carrier is throttling video streaming on its mobile network.

When contacted by Ars this morning, Verizon acknowledged using a new video optimization system but said it is part of a temporary test and that it did not affect the actual quality of video. The video optimization appears to apply both to unlimited and limited mobile plans.

But some YouTube users are reporting degraded video, saying that using a VPN service can bypass the Verizon throttling. The Federal Communications Commission generally allows mobile carriers to limit video quality as long as the limitations are imposed equally across different video services despite net neutrality rules that outlaw throttling. The net neutrality rules have exceptions for network management.

“We’ve been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network,” a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. “The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected.”

I’m sorry, but what the fuck?

I’m not saying carriers shouldn’t be allowed to conduct tests on their own network, but Verizon did this in the most shady way possible. No notice was provided to customers who are paying for an expected level of service, and it was only discovered due to some clever sleuthing.

Verizon is in clear favor of removing Net Neutrality regulations, so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised at their latest bullshit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Net Neutrality Day of Action →

Many websites are taking part in today’s Net Neutrality Day of Action campaign in an effort to make clear the need for retention of neutrality rules to Congress and the FCC.

If you don’t know about Net Neutrality, please read my explainer, ‘Net Neutrality and You’. The Internet is something everyone should care to protect, regardless of your political affiliation.

Head over to Battle for the Net (linked) and tell the government to butt out.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Despite public concerns, the FCC will begin repealing Net Neutrality regulations

Save the Internet

Credit: Joseph Gruber License

Yesterday, the FCC voted to begin rolling back Net Neutrality regulations that classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers (utilities) under Title II of the Telecommunications Act back in 2015.

This simply cannot stand for the good of all Americans, and it comes after thousand of comments were left on the FCC’s website against repealing the rules. In case you missed it, my Net Neutrality post goes into more details about the concept as a whole.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (a former Verizon lawyer, by the way) has frequently said “The Internet was not broken in 2015,” but he is completely missing the point. Net Neutrality exists to protect the internet, not fix anything that’s wrong with it. Read on to find out what’s next.

Read on

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Net Neutrality and You

Save the Internet

Credit: Joseph Gruber License

You’ve probably heard the term “Net Neutrality” before, but what is it, really? It’s a highly important topic that should be on everyone’s radar, because it affects us all. It should be a non-partisan issue, but President Trump has already repealed FCC privacy rules, in addition to the GOP passing legislation to allow the sale of private Internet data. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced plans to roll back regulations that classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as utilities. Read on for a breakdown of Net Neutrality and what we can do to fight for it.

Read on