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  • Geebo 10:31 am on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , net neutrality   

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices? 

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices?

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    On this blog, we’ve discussed the FCC’s plan to dismantle the net neutrality policies put in place by the Obama administration to try to keep a free and open internet. Long story short, the Trump administration’s FCC, helmed by Chairman Ajit Pai, will be voting next month to determine the fate of net neutrality in the US, and the vote is expected to scrap the protections that were put in place by the previous administration. This was inevitable considering Pai’s stance on net neutrality since he was made chairman. However, there have been two other recent FCC rulings when you put them all together paint a pretty bleak picture.

    Last week, the FCC loosened a decades long restriction on one company owning more than one TV station in the same market. Locally it could lead to one company’s dominance of the media in that market essentially only providing one voice in news. That effect could happen nationally as well as any one company could own multiple outlets in each market.

    The other ruling from last week was that the FCC voted to roll back Lifeline subsidies that helped provide low-cost internet and phone to low-income families. In that same ruling, the FCC put a cap on service providers offering Lifeline plans. With the internet being an essential tool today for trying to accomplish any kind of basic function, this will make it extremely difficult for low-income families to look for employment or find financial assistance if needed.

    When you look at the three of these rulings together, one can almost see it as small parts of a larger plan to stifle the voices of the average American consumer. Ajit Pai’s plans almost seem like that of a totalitarian regime except offered under the banner of false promises of competition and innovation among broadcasters and internet providers.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on August 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , net neutrality   

    The FCC seems to think we have enough internet 

    The FCC seems to think we have enough internet

    When they’re not busy getting ready to dismantle a free and open internet, the FCC seems to think mobile broadband is enough for most homes. According to Ars Technica, the President Trump-backed FCC is leaning toward declaring mobile broadband speeds as the national standard. As Ars Technica points out, this could mean we may see a slow-down of broadband infrastructure and services being improved in the near future.

    While mobile data is great for when you’re out running errands or using your GPS, it’s neither financially nor practically feasible to think homes can run on mobile internet. Mobile data plans are already expensive and usually cap your data at around 5GB of bandwidth. A normal home where the family uses services like Netflix, or plays online games, can use that amount of bandwidth in less than a day. At that point a number of mobile providers start charging customers an exorbitant rate for going over their data limit. Mobile networks are also prone to failure when too many people try to use the same network at the same time. For example, say some kind of natural disaster strikes and a large number of people in the affected area try to tell their loved ones they’re all right by using social media. Everyone trying to reach Twitter or Facebook at the same time in a concentrated area could bring the entire local data network down.

    This really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the FCC’s appears to be giving heavy favor to the mobile broadband providers with their recommendations. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a former counsel for Verizon who stands to gain a lot if the FCC removes Title II protection from broadband. It almost seems like the FCC won’t be happy until we’re using 56K modems again while being charged by the minute.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: net neutrality,   

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality? 

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality?

    Proponents of net neutrality have almost completely resigned themselves to the idea that the FCC will revoke the Title II status that currently regulates internet providers. Title II treats internet service as a utility, like electricity or water. This means internet providers can only provide a stream of internet and can’t throttle internet speeds for different tiers of service. The President Trump-backed FCC has already stated their intention to remove Title II status in the name of ‘over-regulation’. While Title II has not yet been removed, some customers of a wireless internet provider are claiming speeds for certain services are already being throttled.

    Many Verizon customers are claiming in the past week the wireless company has been throttling speeds to video streaming services like YouTube and Netflix. A number of Verizon customers have gone online to complain and to suggest using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to get around the speed ban. Verizon has said they are testing a ‘video optimization system’, however, the optimization test is said to have resulted in lower quality video streams and excessive buffering for video content.

    While Verizon says its optimization test falls well within net neutrality exceptions, what was the test actually designed to gauge? Was it really designed for video optimization, or was it to test customer reaction to a potential slowdown for tiered data plans? Either way, Verizon didn’t appear to pass the test.

  • Geebo 8:57 am on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality,   

    Is Netflix fighting for net neutrality once again? Sort of. 

    Is Netflix fighting for net neutrality once again? Sort of.

    Previously, the CEO of Netflix said that his company was not worried about net neutrality since he said they were “big enough to get the deals they want.” Now it appears the subscription video streaming service may have changed its tune. Recently, Netflix made an announcement they were participating in the July 12th Battle for the Net campaign, alongside sites such as Reddit, Etsy, Kickstarter and Amazon among many others.

    Relative content between 4:36 and 5:12

    In a tweet from Netflix they said, “Netflix will never outgrow the fight for #NetNeutrality. “Everyone deserves an open Internet.” The tweet also included a link to the ‘Day of Action’ website. It’s still unknown what is going to take place on July 12th, but back in 2014 many websites participated in a similar protest where they displayed animations to make it look like their websites were loading very slowly.

    So why did Netflix have a change of heart? Probably for PR reasons. Many Netflix subscribers are cord-cutters, meaning they’ve gotten rid of their expensive cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of the less expensive internet streaming service. Their customers do not want to see those savings nullified by internet service providers raising their rates even further just so people can have quicker access to prioritized sites.

    Again, even with Netflix wearily on board, this latest campaign for net neutrality may be like trying to hold back the ocean with a broom, as the President Trump-backed FCC has full intentions of repealing the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration.

    You can go here to voice your opinion about net neutrality to the FCC.

  • Geebo 9:03 am on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality,   

    Big name steps in to replace Netflix in net neutrality debate 

    Big name steps in to replace Netflix in net neutrality debate

    As previously posted on this blog, video streaming heavyweight Netflix has withdrawn itself from the net neutrality debate. They claim they are so large an entity they can command any deal they want from internet service providers. By doing so, the net neutrality supporters lost their biggest ally. Now, a number of tech companies are banding together for a ‘day of action’ on July 12th to try to show the need for a neutral net. A number of those companies are no slouches, such as Mozilla, Reddit, Kickstarter, Etsy, Nextdoor and Patreon just to name a few. However, the most important name to thrown into the debate is the internet’s largest retailer, Amazon.com.

    (Relative content is between 4:20 and 7:00)

    Not only is Amazon the largest retailer on the web, but they are also Netflix’s number one competitor in the online streaming market. With the Trump-backed FCC getting ready to gut the net neutrality regulations installed by the Obama administration, the fight for a free web needs more powerful icons like Amazon to take up the banner. With such a huge ally on their side maybe the net neutrality debate isn’t quite over just yet.

    The problem is, it doesn’t appear the FCC is going to budge on their net neutrality stance anytime soon. Ronald Reagan could rise from the grave and testify before the FCC in favor of a free net and the FCC still wouldn’t reverse their decision. While it’s a good sign that net neutrality proponents have a number of tech giants on their side, you can’t fight city hall, or in this case the FCC.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on June 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: net neutrality,   

    Has net neutrality lost its biggest ally? 

    Has net neutrality lost its biggest ally?

    When the discussion of net neutrality comes up, Netflix is usually used as the poster child for keeping the internet open. It’s been argued if ISPs are allowed to prioritize traffic, consumers may have to pay extra to access the bandwidth hogging streaming service. In the past, Netflix had argued in favor of net neutrality. However, now in the face of the President Trump-backed FCC voting to repeal net neutrality, Netflix has taken a different stance.

    Recently when the topic was approached, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings basically said they were out of the fight. His exact words were, “We’re big enough to get the deals we want.” With those nine words, Mr. Hastings may have put the final nail in the coffin for net neutrality.

    While net neutrality is probably on its last legs, at least during the current administration, losing a key ally like Netflix may have signed its death warrant. It’s bad enough that most consumers don’t have many choices when it comes to receiving internet service, it will be even worse once the phone and cable companies start charging customers extra to have access to the more popular web services.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , net neutrality   

    Is net neutrality dead? 

    Is net neutrality dead?

    Yesterday, the President Trump-backed FCC voted 2-1 to overturn the net neutrality regulations the Obama administration had put in place in 2015. Net neutrality basically states all internet traffic should be treated equally and internet service providers should not charge consumers extra for prioritized traffic.

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai has stated he believes overturning net neutrality will promote competition between ISPs and will result in more choices for consumers, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most US markets, consumers only have a choice between either their local cable company or their local phone company. In most cases those companies are part of larger conglomerates like Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T. So if anything, these companies will more than likely offer less actual choice to consumers while raising prices. Instead they will offer tiered services offering faster traffic to popular sites for more money, disguising that option as choice.

    Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet, but it’s on life support. The public has 90 days from yesterday to respond to the FCC’s actions, but no matter how rose-colored your glasses may be, it’s unlikely they will reverse their decision to kill net neutrality.

  • Geebo 10:08 am on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , john oliver, net neutrality   

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC’s website 

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC's website

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of net neutrality, it can be best described in this way. Let’s use popular streaming site Netflix as an example. Netflix is a bandwidth hog when it comes to internet service providers. Most users need a pretty fast connection in order to use Netflix. Now say that internet providers started offering tiered services where you had to pay extra in order to get a fast connection to Netflix. Or it could be other popular sites like Facebook or Gmail. Net neutrality says that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Proponents of net neutrality wanted the FCC to regulate ISPs like a common carrier which would prevent ISPs from favoring certain web traffic over others. Opponents of net neutrality don’t want the government interfering with internet in general under the belief that once the government starts regulating the internet they will never stop regulating the internet, leading to accusations of possible censorship. Under the Obama administration, the FCC ruled that ISPs were in fact common carriers, however, under the Trump administration, those regulations have largely been gutted. This is a battle that’s been going on for years but it reached a fever pitch recently when a large salvo was fired against the Trump-controlled FCC the other night.

    It all started when political humorist John Oliver started talking to his audience about net neutrality. On his HBO show, he asked his viewers to go to the FCC website and leave their comments about how they feel about net neutrality. This included Oliver promoting a humorous but slightly off-color URL in order to lead his viewers to exactly where they needed to be on the FCC website. This led to so many users flooding the website, that it was basically knocked offline due to all the traffic it was receiving.

    This led to the FCC calling Oliver’s campaign a denial of service attack, or DDoS for short. Normally a DDoS attack is a form of cyber-vandalism used in order to intentionally knock a site offline with a flood of traffic. The difference with Oliver’s campaign is that he wanted his viewers to leave legitimate comments. This has led opponents of net neutrality to fire back by launching a number of automated scripts called bots to swarm the FCC’s website, leaving comments in support of the Trump administration’s handling of net neutrality. In case you were wondering, yes that sounds more like a DDoS attack than what John Oliver’s viewers were doing.

    Unfortunately, this is the way of the internet. When one side of an argument starts speaking up about an issue, the other side tries to shout them down. In the end, while Oliver’s actions may have been well intended, this will ultimately have no effect on the net neutrality debate, thanks to many of the players involved acting like petulant children.

    If you want to make real change about net neutrality, the best way is to write or call your representatives in Congress and let them know how you feel. Congress still operates in an old school way and gives letters and phone calls more weight than e-mails and online petitions. Also, to better get your point across, always be respectful when dealing with politicians whether they deserve it or not. If you’re rude or ranting in your communication with them, your voice will largely be disregarded.

  • Geebo 10:55 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality, , TOR, VPN   

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you? 

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you?

    As was expected, the House of Representatives also voted to repeal internet privacy regulations that would have prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information to advertisers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk. However, the questions remain about how this affects the individual user and what can they do to protect themselves?

    First off, if your web history is sold to a third-party it won’t be sold as an individual’s history. Instead, it will be sold off as part of a multitude of users who fit a certain demographic, for example males ages 18-34. Also, that’s only if your ISP or wireless provider engages in selling your data. Most large ISPs have voluntarily promised not to sell your internet history.

    If you’re still unsure about your history being sold you could always use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is basically a tunnel that goes through your ISP’s connection but hides your direct activity from them. You could also use the TOR browser which reroutes your internet traffic throughout many servers across the world, however, with the TOR browser you would sacrifice speed for a certain level of anonymity. While VPNs and TOR would hide your traffic from your ISP, they will not hide you from law enforcement if you’re engaging in illegal activity, as VPNs can just as easily sell disclose your browsing history and law enforcement has been catching bad guys through TOR for years.

    If you’re really worried about your privacy there are options out there, however, they may cost you a little bit of money or speed, but in the end they may be worth it.

  • Geebo 9:53 am on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality,   

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs 

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs

    Yesterday, the US Senate voted to repeal FCC regulations that prohibited wireless and internet providers from selling your personal information to third-parties. The previous regulations required these carriers to ask your permission up front before sharing your personal information. This included such information as browsing information, location and financial information.

    Proponents of the repeal said that the old privacy regulations are too far-reaching and expensive for ISPs and that the rules don’t apply to web-based companies like Google and Facebook who aren’t required to ask your permission before sharing your information. What those who are in favor of the repeal want to do is move these regulations from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Privacy advocates see this as a start of a war on net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept where all internet traffic is treated equally. For example, without net neutrality ISPs could slow down traffic to a service like Netflix but instead prioritizes it to their own streaming service.

    The repeal is expected to pass the House easily so when the new regulations go into effect you will have to tell your carriers not to share your information if you so choose.

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