Three years ago, we fought the good fight to protect the internet and with a lot of the help from the good senator from Minnesota, Al Frankin, and an HBO comedian, John Oliver, we won. It was Oliver in particular and the popularity of his then new show, “Last Week Tonight,” that really woke up …
May 08 2017
Nov 14 2014
The headline in the Washington Post, “Obama’s call for an open Internet puts him at odds with regulators“, is misleading. Yes, President Obama made one of his flowery speeches supporting a free and equal internet but he was the one who appointed industry lobbyist Thomas Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission.
The dissonance between Obama and Wheeler has the makings of a major policy fight affecting multibillion-dollar industries. The president wants clear rules to prevent Internet service providers from auctioning the fastest speeds to the highest bidders, a scenario that could favor rich Web firms over start-ups.
Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications industry, has floated proposals that aim to limit the ability of service providers to charge Web companies, such as Netflix or Google, to reach their customers. But critics have argued that his approach would give the providers too much leeway to favor some services over others. [..]
But the move by the White House has put Wheeler in an uncomfortable spotlight. The two men have long been allies. Wheeler raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign and advised the president on his transition into the White House. Obama last year appointed Wheeler to lead the FCC as it was poised to tackle its biggest issue in years – the rules that govern content on the Web.
A growing source of frustration for White House and congressional Democrats is that they have three of their own on the five-member commission at the FCC, a majority that should give them the power to push through a policy of their liking. But if Wheeler charts a different course, he could bring the other members along with him.
And, as Wheeler reminded participants at his meeting with Web companies Monday, the FCC does not answer to the Obama administration.
The article states that Obama campaigned on Net Neutrality and, according to aides, made the statement to energize his base of young, tech-savvy progressives. Seriously? He does this now, after the drubbing in the mid-terms? Now Obama wants to curry support of the Democrats in Congress. What happened during the last six years?
And don’t forget, he appointed Wheeler because they’re friends.
According to The Washington Post, Wheeler met with officials from Google, Yahoo and Etsy on Monday and told them he preferred a more nuanced solution. Wheeler reportedly said: “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business. What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.” On Monday, protesters called on Wheeler to favor net neutrality as they blockaded his driveway when he attempted to go to work. Protests also took place in a dozen cities last week after The Wall Street Journal reported the FCC is considering a “hybrid” approach to net neutrality. This would apply expanded protections only to the relationship between Internet providers and content firms, like Netflix, and not to the relationship between providers and users. We discuss the ongoing debate over the Internet’s future with Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice.
The transcript can be read here
There is only one person to blame if the FCC sides with the industry, Barack Hussein Obama, shill for the 1%.
Jun 05 2014
This government should be afraid of internet trolls. Very afraid.
On his June 1 Sunday night show “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver made an impassioned plea to angry internet users to “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction” and “prevent cable company fu*kery.”
Well we did and on Monday June 2 an army of Jon’s internet “trolls” crashed the Federal Communication Commission’s web site with e-mails demanding they protect net neutrality.
We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly.
— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014
This is John’s call to action: Stop Calling It Net Neutrality; It’s ‘Preventing Cable Company F**kery’
And I can’t believe I’m going to do this. i would like to address the internet commenters out there directly. Good evening monsters, this may be the moment you spent your whole lives training for. You’ve been out there ferociously commenting on dance videos of adorable three-years-olds, saying things like: “every child could dance like this little loser after 1 week of practice.” Or you’d be polluting “Frozen’s ” Let It Go with comments like, “ice castle would giver her hypothermia and she dead in an hour.” Or, and I know you’ve done this one commenting on this show: “f*ck this asshole anchor…go suck ur president’s dick…ur just friends with terrorists xD.”
This is the moment you were made for, commenters. Like Ralph Macchio, you’ve been honing your skills waxing cars and painting fences, well guess what? Now it’s time to do some f*king karate.
For once in your life we need you to channel that anger. That badly spelled bile that you normally reserve.
The FCC started taking public comments, nearly 50,000 have been posted in the last 30 days. Undoubtedly, those number will rise after John’s brilliant rant.
May 15 2014
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:
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
May 07 2014
Net Neutrality may shortly become another broken promise made by Barack Obama during is campaign for the presidency. His appointment of telecommunications lobbyist, Thomas Wheeler, may well be the nail in its coffin. Bill Moyers and his guests, David Carr of the New York Times and Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School think is still time to stop it death if the public takes action.
“For most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly. And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see,” Crawford tells Moyers.
Carr adds: “People have a close, intimate relationship with the web in a way they don’t other technologies … they have the precious propriety feelings about it. And I’m not sure if the FCC really knows what they’re getting into.”
TRanscript can be read here
The problem, Bill Moyers says, is that “business and government are now so intertwined that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call ‘the gratitude machine.'” FCC officials, including Wheeler, transit back and forth through the revolving door between public service and lucrative private commerce, losing sight of the greater good. But there’s still time to speak up and make your voices heard.
Transcript can be read here
Don’t Let Net Neutrality Become Another Broken Promise
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president. [..]
He said it many more times. And defenders of Net neutrality believed him, that he would preserve Internet access for all, without selling out to providers like Verizon and Comcast who want to charge higher fees for speedier access – hustling more cash from those who can afford to buy a place at the front of the line. On this issue so important to democracy, they believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be Washington’s infamous revolving door. Last May, President Obama named Tom Wheeler to be FCC chairman. He had other choices, men or women whose loyalty was to the public, not to rich and powerful corporations. But Tom Wheeler had been one of Obama’s top bundlers of campaign cash – both in 2008 and again in 2012, when he raised at least half a million dollars for the president’s re-election. Like his proposed new rules for the Web, that put him at the front of the line.
Take Action Now
» Using WhiteHouse.gov’s We the People site, critics of the new proposal have also launched a petition, calling for “nothing less than complete neutrality in our communication channels.” It already has over 40,000 signatures.
» A second petition asks the FCC to reclassify broadband as a regulated common-carrier service, which means it would have to be open to all, and serve all customers without discrimination. Currently broadband is classified as an information service, a category that gives the FCC a fairly limited set of regulatory options.
» There are a number of other organizations that are working on maintaining Net neutrality, including: Access, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, Voices for Internet Freedom
Jan 14 2014
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday struck down the government’s latest effort to require internet providers to treat all traffic the same and give consumers equal access to lawful content, a policy that supporters call net neutrality.
The Federal Communications Commission did not have the legal authority to enact the 2011 regulations, which were challenged in a lawsuit brought by Verizon Communications Inc, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in its ruling. [..]
During the oral argument in September, Verizon’s lawyer said the regulations violated the company’s right to free speech and stripped control of what its networks transmit and how.
The eventual outcome of the dispute may determine whether internet providers can restrict some content by, for instance, blocking or slowing down access to particular sites or charging websites to deliver their content faster.
As Expected, Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules: Now What?
By Mike Masnick, Techdirt
Basically, this is exactly what lots of us said at the start of this whole process. I’ve seen a bunch of reports overreacting to this today, from people saying that it’s “the death of the internet.” It’s not. There are problems on both sides here. The telcos absolutely do want to abuse things to effectively double charge both sides. And that could clearly create significant issues with the basic end-to-end nature of the internet.
However, on the flip side, we should be equally concerned about the FCC overstepping its bounds and mandate in regulating the internet. Because that opens up the opportunity for the FCC to regulate all sorts of aspects of the internet in dangerous ways. So, this ruling is both good and bad. It stops the FCC from overstepping its bounds… but opens up the opportunity for the telcos to sweep in and try to upset the basic concepts of the internet. It’s what happens now that becomes interesting. The court does leave open the possibility that the FCC could use other aspects of its mandate to establish net neutrality rules — where it has a much more firm legal footing. In other words, the court is telling the FCC basically: you can establish net neutrality rules if you do it correctly.
Circuit Court Of Appeals Strikes Down FCC’s Open Internet Order, Net Neutrality Threatened
By Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch
Media watchdog and advocacy agency Free Press released the following statement about the decision via President and CEO Craig Aaron, condemning it while also acknowledging that the Open Internet Order probably wasn’t the best possible solution for enforcing net neutrality:
We’re disappointed that the court came to this conclusion. Its ruling means that Internet users will be pitted against the biggest phone and cable companies – and in the absence of any oversight, these companies can now block and discriminate against their customers’ communications at will.
The compromised Open Internet Order struck down today left much to be desired, but it was a step toward maintaining Internet users’ freedom to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and communicate freely online. Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.
The FCC – under the leadership of former Chairman Julius Genachowski – made a grave mistake when it failed to ground its open Internet rules on solid legal footing. Internet users will pay dearly for the previous chairman’s lack of political will. That’s why we need to fix the problems the agency could have avoided in the first place.
New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must have the ability to protect broadband users and preserve the Internet’s fundamental open architecture. In order to do that, he must act quickly to restore reassert the FCC’s clear authority over our nation’s communications infrastructure. The agency must follow its statutory mandate to make broadband communications networks open, accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone.
We look forward to working with Chairman Wheeler and the rest of the Commission to protect and preserve real Net Neutrality.
A federal appeals court just sided with Verizon and against you, against us, against the Internet.
If this ruling stands, the Internet as we know it will die.
Forget free and open access. Picture a system like cable TV with corporations charging for different levels of access, and blocking access to information they don’t favor!
The Internet is our tool for circumventing the corporate media, for reaching each other with a bit of truth and accuracy, for organizing each other into collective action. We cannot let this one go.
Feb 15 2013
Recently the Federal Communications Commission announced that it wanted to create a free super Wi-Fi network across the country, virtually eliminating a monthly internet bill. Naturally, the telecommunication giants and the lawmakers in Congress who protect them are opposed. In Europe, internet users enjoy inexpensive, high speed access to a broadband, phone, and cable TV package for as little as $40 a month. The phone service has unlimited local calling and a lot of free international calls.
Bloomberg View contributor and visiting professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School, Susan Crawford notes that Americans pay a high price for slow and bad internet connections at a time when “the internet has taken the place of the telephone as the world’s basic, general-purpose, two-way communication medium“. In the article, she describes how a city in Louisiana brought cheaper, high speed internet to its community despite opposition from the telephone and local cable companies:
Terry Huval is a large, friendly man with a lilting Southern accent who plays Cajun fiddle tunes in his spare time. He is also the director of utilities in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Our job is making sure we listen to our citizens,” he says.
In 2004, the Lafayette utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home service. The new network, called LUS Fiber, would give everyone in Lafayette a very fast Internet connection, enabling them to lower their electricity costs by monitoring and adjusting their usage.
Push-back from the local telephone company, BellSouth Corp., and the local cable company, Cox Communications Inc., was immediate. They tried to get laws passed to stop the network, sued the city, even forced the town to hold a referendum on the project — in which the people voted 62 percent in favor. Finally, in February 2007, after five civil lawsuits, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted, 7-0, to allow the network.
From 2007 to mid-2011, people living in Lafayette saved $5.7 million on telecommunications services.
Prof. Crawford joined Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss why U.S. internet access is slow, costly and unfair
Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation, and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, joins Bill to discuss how our government has allowed a few powerful media conglomerates to put profit ahead of the public interest – rigging the rules, raising prices, and stifling competition. As a result, Crawford says, all of us are at the mercy of the biggest business monopoly since Standard Oil in the first Gilded Age a hundred years ago.
“The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality,” Crawford tells Bill.
Feb 08 2013
Color me shocked. If this comes to fruition, the US would catch up with the rest of the world.
The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. […]
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.
Over at Maddow Blog, Steve Brenen spoke with an FCC spokesperson who explained:
“The FCC’s incentive auction proposal, launched in September of last year, would unleash substantial spectrum for licensed uses like 4G LTE. It would also free up unlicensed spectrum for uses including, but not limited to, next generation Wi-Fi. As the demand for mobile broadband continues to grow rapidly, we need to free up significant amounts of spectrum for commercial use, and both licensed and unlicensed spectrum must be part of the solution.”
This is several years off and faces opposition from the telecom industry and lawmakers in the House and Senate who represent them and not us.
h/t to Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars for this 2010 interview with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski who answered questions submitted and voted on by people on Citizentube.
Dec 14 2012
The Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of handing media mogul Rupert Murdoch a very nice Christmas present. Murdoch, who already owns Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Fox movie studios, 27 local TV stations and more, now wants to purchase the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, that are currently owned by the bankrupt Tribune Company, and a controlling stake in the Yes Network. Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, is about to ease the rules to let him.
We were down this road before during the Bush administration and it was roundly rejected, not only by the public, but by Congress and the courts:
Genachowski’s proposal is essentially indistinguishable from the failed Bush administration policies that millions rallied against in 2003 and 2007. Ninety-nine percent of the public comments received by the FCC opposed lifting these rules when the Republicans tried to do it.
Genachowski’s proposal is nearly identical to the one the Senate voted to overturn with a bipartisan “resolution of disapproval” back in 2008. Among the senators who co-sponsored that rebuke to runaway media concentration were Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
At the time, Obama blasted the FCC for having “failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism,” saying the agency was in “no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation.” Nothing has changed — except which party controls the White House.
The federal courts have repeatedly — and as recently as 2011 — struck down these same rules, noting the FCC’s failure to “consider the effect of its rules on minority and female ownership.” The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to study the impact of any rule changes before changing the rules. The FCC has done nothing of the kind.
Yet, the Obama FCC now wants to hand control of the news in a media outlet to one man.
Bill Moyers addressed this issue with Sen. Bernie Sanders on why big media shouldn’t get bigger.
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled a majority of American media. Now that number is six. And Big Media may get even bigger, thanks to the FCC’s consideration of ending a rule preventing companies from owning a newspaper and radio and TV stations in the same big city. Such a move – which they’ve tried in 2003 and 2007 as well -would give these massive media companies free rein to devour more of the competition, control the public message, and also limit diversity across the media landscape. On this week’s Moyers & Company (check local listings), Senator Bernie Sanders, one of several Senators who have written FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to suspend the plan, joins Bill to discuss why Big Media is a threat to democracy and what citizens can do to fight back.
Sanders also expresses his dismay that such a move would come from an Obama appointee. “Why the Obama Administration is doing something that the Bush Administration failed to do is beyond my understanding,” Sanders tells Bill. “And we’re gonna do everything we can to prevent it from happening.”
FCC May Give Murdoch a Very Merry Christmas
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Until now, this hasn’t been the best year for media mogul Rupert Murdoch. For one, none of the Republicans who’d been on the payroll of his Fox News Channel – not Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin – became this year’s GOP nominee for president. [..]
But Murdoch’s luck may be changing. Despite Fox News’ moonlighting as the propaganda ministry of the Republican Party, President Obama’s team may be making it possible for Sir Rupert to increase his power, perversely rewarding the man who did his best to make sure Barack Obama didn’t have a second term. The Federal Communications Commission could be preparing him one big Christmas present, the kind of gift that keeps on giving – unless we all get together and do something about it. [..]
In prior years, the FCC has granted waivers to the rules, but this latest move on their part would be more permanent, allowing a monolithic corporation like News Corp or Disney, Comcast, Viacom, CBS or Time Warner – in any of the top twenty markets – to own newspapers, two TV stations, eight radio stations and even the local Internet provider. [..]
Make your voices heard – write or call Genachowski and the other commissioners – you can find their names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers at the website fcc.gov, or on the “Take Action” page at our website, BillMoyers.com. Write your senators and representatives, too, tell them the FCC must delay this decision and give the public a chance to have its opposition known. We’ve done it before.
Just ask the FCC this basic question: What part of “no” don’t you understand?
Dec 22 2010
Yesterday the FCC passed new ‘Net Neutrality’ rules along party lines: 3-2. The full text of the rules haven’t yet been released, but the draft proposals have drawn plenty of fire from both sides, and many experts predict different portions will end up in court soon after they take effect at the beginning of next year.
If I understand correctly, the FCC failed to assert that wireless broadband should fall under their jurisdiction and classify Broadband as a communication service, leaving telecoms to their own devices, making it possible to control what applications you can access on hand-held devices.
The new rules seem to provide for a two-tiered service for different IPs, and that corporate heavy-hitters like Google and Amazon will be able to provide faster access than the second-tier IPs.
Aug 10 2010
Imagine if you were talking on the phone and Verizon or ATT decided they didn’t like where your conversation was going. You’d be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly disconnected. Or maybe they didn’t like the person you were talking to, or the subject. You’d be unable to connect or your conversation would become so slow and poor quality you’d give up and call someone else. Or maybe you lived in an area of the country where they didn’t want to give you telephone service. So you’d be unable to call at all. The telecom companies would justify all this by explaining that the fiber optic lines or wireless frequencies were simply their private property. They had a right, they’d say, to do whatever they wanted with them.
Sep 06 2009
The Current Media System favors the Representation of Corporate Interests by our Politicians.
Since the Media Airtime costs so much, Politicians generally have little choice but to give Corporate Speech an Audience, in order to get Elected. … Helloooo Corporate Lobbyists!