Mozilla Makes Suggestions to the FCC about Net Neutrality

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, net neutrality

Recently, the FCC has been moving to give up Net Neutrality. Mozilla, being dedicated to the free (as in speech) and open internet, has offered a simple compromise. Their proposal is that the FCC classifies internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers on the server side, forcing restrictions on them to prevent discrimination of traffic to customers, while allowing them to be "information services" to consumers.

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In other words, force ISPs to allow services to have unrestricted access to consumers, without flipping unnecessary tables with content distribution (TV, etc.) services. Like all possibilities so far, it could have some consequences, however.

"Net Neutrality" is a hot issue lately. Simply put, the internet gives society an affordable method of sharing information. How much is "just information" is catching numerous industries off guard, including ones which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) participate in (such as TV and Movie distribution), and that leads to serious tensions.

On the one hand, these companies want to protect their existing business models. They want consumers to continue to select their cable and satellite TV packages, on-demand videos, and other services at controlled profit margins and without the stress and uncertainty of competing.

On the other hand, if the world changes, they want to be the winner in that new reality. Yikes.

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A... bad... photograph of Mozilla's "UP" anti-datamining proposal.

Mozilla's proposal is very typical of them. They tend to propose compromises which divides an issue such that both sides get the majority of their needs. Another good example is "UP", or User Personalization, which tries to cut down on data mining by giving a method for the browser to tell websites what they actually want to know (and let the user tell the browser how much to tell them). The user would compromise, giving the amount of information they find acceptable, so the website would compromise and take only what they need (rather than developing methods to grab anything and everything they can). It feels like a similar thing is happening here. This proposal gives users what they want, freedom to choose services without restriction, without tossing ISPs into "Title II" common carrier altogether.

Of course, this probably comes with a few caveats...

The first issue that pops in my mind is, "What is a service?". I see this causing problems for peer-to-peer applications (including BitTorrent Sync and Crashplan, excluding Crashplan Central). Neither endpoint would necessarily be classified as "a server", or at least convince a non-technical lawmaker that is the case, and thus ISPs would not need to apply common carrier restrictions to them. This could be a serious issue for WebRTC. Even worse, companies like Google and Netflix would have no incentive to help fight those battles -- they're legally protected. It would have to be defined, very clearly, what makes "a server".

Every method will get messy for someone. Still, the discussion is being made.

Source: Mozilla

The FCC's gaff and Verizon's pebble are on track to derail Net Neutrality

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2014 - 09:44 AM |
Tagged: net neutrality, legal, FCC

In a wonderful display of ignorance the FCC seems to be on course to end any hope of US citizens actually receiving the bandwidth they pay for and major corporations are in danger of breaking their wrists because of too many high 5's.  With one ingenious move they have made over 100 years of common carriage laws designed to allow enforcement of fair business practices obsolete as far as providers of "information services" are concerned. 

Today we will we see some of the the results of their utter failure to protect the interests of US citizens as Net Neutrality will be redefined to allow providers to throttle or increase the available bandwidth to online media companies based on how much dosh those aforementioned companies are willing to shell over.  This means that while you may have a connection rated at 100Mbps download, that will no longer have anything to do with the actual speed you receive; that speed is dependent on how much bandwidth the provider makes available to the media service you are using.

The ruling is not yet released; keep an eye for updates here and on The Inquirer ... or just skip down to the new Gigabyte boards if you don't want to be depressed.

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"IN A MOVE designed to serve corporate America and raise the hackles of almost everyone else, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed to redefine net neutrality."

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Source: The Inquirer

The FCC has painted itself and net neutrality into a corner

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2014 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: net neutrality, legal, FCC

The US FCC has been told they do not have the authority to enforce its Network Neutrality rules as they have defined the Internet as something unique and therefor not covered under the existing common carriage regulations.  These regulations have evolved for over 100 years from when they first referred to actual physical carriages transporting goods and have since expanded to less physical services such as cable TV.  That has allowed government agencies to regulate providers and transporters of goods and services by accounting for almost any business practice that has been used since this regulations inception.  Unfortunately as the FCC has chosen to define broadband internet as a distinct service the ruling today does make legal sense, there are no legal statutes on the books specifically about Net Neutrality and now the debate should shift to whether it is wiser to attempt to create a brand new set of regulations or if the FCC should attempt to change its stance and attempt to have common carrier regulations apply to broadband suppliers and their negotiations with both edge providers and end users.  It is worth following the link from Slashdot to the ruling, it is 80 pages long but contains a lot of the history of the legal decisions that have lead to this point as well as containing some amusing analogies.  After all, it is not like at least one mobile provider is already set to take advantage of the current unenforceable nature of net neutrality regulations. 

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"According to a report from Gizmodo, a U.S. Appeals Court has invalidated the FCC's Net Neutrality rules. From the decision: 'Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such."

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Source: Slashdot