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Early Lessons From New Zealand's 'Three Strikes' Punishments | Techdirt

Early Lessons From New Zealand's 'Three Strikes' Punishments | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New Zealand has the unhappy distinction of being in the vanguard of using the "three strikes" approach of punishment for people accused of sharing unauthorized copies online. As in France and the UK, this was brought in without any preparatory research to ascertain its effectiveness, and without any real thought about the practical implications. That makes a post by Susan Chalmers on the blog of InternetNZ, a "non-profit open membership organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the Internet in New Zealand", particularly valuable.

 

It's entitled "Early Lessons from the Copyright Tribunal", and looks at the first two cases that have come before the New Zealand body responsible for implementing the three strikes law (recently, a third one has been added.)

 

It's full of fascinating details, and is well-worth reading for the insights it gives into the realities of the three-strike approach in New Zealand. Take the following, for example:

 

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Next Fake EAS Alert Could be More Malicious, Warns NAB | Leslie Stimson | TVTechnology

Next Fake EAS Alert Could be More Malicious, Warns NAB | Leslie Stimson | TVTechnology | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After “The Bobby Bones Show” incident in October, in which a recording of a real alert using the EAN event code was used, triggering an alert that was transmitted by stations in several states, the FCC asked broadcasters how to prevent “unauthorized” alerts. The agency also sought comment on how to authenticate alerts going forward.

An “EAN” is an Emergency Action Notification,” which is national in scope and can authorized only by the President of the United States. It represents the most urgent type of Emergency Alert System notification.

The National Association of Broadcasters has urged the commission to support a joint industry effort to address the issue. In filed comments, the trade lobby noted that FCC rules state stations must interrupt their programming and air those messages immediately after they are received.

Stations that aired the Oct. 24 message were following the correct procedures, according to NAB, which asks the commission not to pursue enforcement action against those stations that aired the bogus alert.

The larger question remains of how to “clarify” the relevant procedures and authenticate messages to prevent future occurrences remains, according to NAB, which says: “NAB understands that EAS equipment may vary in their processing of EANs with an unclear date or time, or provide users with differing capabilities and setting options. Potential solutions have been discussed on EAS message boards and Listservs, such as the periodic dissemination of verification codes as a part of a “red envelope” mechanism, changing the format of EAN date/time stamps to include the year, and establishing more uniform standards and settings for EAS boxes, among others.”


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FCC Chair Tells Congress Net Neutrality Regs 'Essential' | Wendy Davis | MediaPost.com

FCC Chair Tells Congress Net Neutrality Regs 'Essential' | Wendy Davis | MediaPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New Net neutrality rules are “essential” to protect openness on the Web, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a new letter to Congress.

“I believe that the Internet must remain an open platform for free expression, innovation, and economic growth,” Wheeler wrote to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a letter dated Dec. 9 and made public this week. “We cannot allow broadband networks to cut special deals to prioritize Internet traffic and harm consumers, competition, and innovation.”

Wheeler's statement comes in response to a letter from Goodlatte expressing support for the idea that existing antitrust laws can achieve the same goals as new Net neutrality rules.

“Strong enforcement of the antitrust laws can prevent dominant Internet service providers from discriminating against competitors' content or engaging in anticompetitive pricing practices,” Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to the FCC last month.

“Antitrust law prosecutes conduct once it occurs, by determining on a case-by-case basis whether parties actually engaged in improper conduct,” the lawmaker added. “Regulation, by contrast, is a blunt, 'one size fits all' approach that creates a burden on all regulated parties.”

Goodlatte has expressed similar views in the past, including at a Congressional hearing this summer.

Wheeler responded last week that Net neutrality rules “can work in tandem with antitrust law” to promote open Internet principles.

“There has been a decade of consistent action by the Commission to protect and promote the Internet as an open platform for innovation, competition, economic growth, and free expression,” Wheeler wrote. “At the core of all of these Commission efforts has been a view endorsed by four Chairmen and a majority of the Commission's members in office during that time: that FCC oversight is essential to protect the openness that is critical to the Internet's success.”


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How State Attorneys General May Help Hollywood Revive Anti-Piracy Efforts | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com

How State Attorneys General May Help Hollywood Revive Anti-Piracy Efforts | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this year, Hollywood came up with a plan to work with state attorneys general to undermine Google, bolstering efforts to revive principles of the Stop Online Piracy Act, the controversial anti-piracy legislation fought by Google and other tech companies that failed in Congress in 2012, according to internal documents obtained by The Verge.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D), president of the National Association of Attorneys General, told The Huffington Post that he supports SOPA principles and wants to hold Google accountable for hosting content that prosecutors consider illegal, prioritizing busting counterfeit drugs over piracy. He said his views haven't been influenced by the movie industry.

"Google's not a government, they may think they are, but they don't owe anyone a First Amendment right," Hood told The Huffington Post. "If you're an illegal site, you ought to clean up your act, instead of Google making money off it."

SOPA would have given the government broad authority to remove content from the Internet. For example, the bill would have required search engines like Google to remove from search results websites that are repeatedly accused of copyright violations. (Under current law, if someone rips a Taylor Swift song and posts it to YouTube, the song is taken down, but users can still find YouTube.) The bill also would have permitted the government to block some copyright-infringing site domains altogether.

SOPA did not get far. A coalition of big-name tech companies, including Google and Wikipedia, protested the legislation. Some sites took part in an Internet "blackout." In January 2012, the legislation's chief sponsor pulled the bill.

The Verge, citing emails from earlier this year leaked in the Sony hack, reported the Motion Picture Association of America, an industry group, explored ways to obtain court orders to block websites, "without first having to sue and prove the target [Internet Service Providers] are liable for copyright infringement." MPAA also aimed to further the interests of entertainment companies by persuading friendly state attorneys general to take action against "Goliath"-- which The Verge interpreted to be Google -- and providing money to aid in legal defense for the state officials.

Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advised companies in the SOPA campaign, including Google, said that the plan detailed in The Verge appears to include SOPA-like elements.


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Metronet Dark Fiber Network Expanding Education in South Bend, Indiana | community broadband networks

Metronet Dark Fiber Network Expanding Education in South Bend, Indiana | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In South Bend, the Trinity School at Green Lawn recently connected to the Metronet Zing dark fiber network thanks to a grant from Metronet and nCloud. According to Broadband Communities Magazine, the new connection has brought new opportunities to teachers and students at the high performing school.

The Metrolink Fiber Grant program, new this year, awards grants to schools to encourage innovative approaches focused on outcomes improving broadband capacity to implement innovation. To receive the grants, schools must have a specific plan, an implementation strategy, a way to measure success, and an accountability plan. Schools must also demonstrate that there will be adequate training and that staff will remain supportive and committed to the plan.

Like many other schools, Trinity at Greenlawn had to limit technology in teaching because its capacity was so poor. In classes where students exchanged information for projects, they often emailed from home where connections were better or exchanged flash drives.

Bandwidth is no longer an issue. From the BBPMag article:


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OR: Google Fiber delays decision on service in Portland, other cities Mike Rogoway | OregonLive.com

OR: Google Fiber delays decision on service in Portland, other cities Mike Rogoway | OregonLive.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber's Internet service is really, really fast.

Google Fiber's decision-making process? Not so much.

The company said Thursday that it will delay a verdict on whether it will serve Portland, five suburbs and eight other metro areas in other parts of the country until "early next year."

That extends a wait that began in February when Google first announced it was contemplating offering fiber-optic service in the metro area.

At that time, Google said it planned to make a decision by the end of 2014. But the company rarely met its target dates in two prior markets, Kansas City and Austin.

"We've been working closely with cities around the U.S. to figure out how we could bring them Google Fiber, and we're grateful for their vision, commitment, and plain old hard work," Google said in a written statement. "While we were hoping to have an update for cities before the holidays, we have a bit more work to wrap up; we'll be back in touch sometime early next year."

The delay doesn't diminish the city's optimism it will ultimately be among those Google selects, said Dana Haynes, spokesman for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

"One of the reasons I'm optimistic is they said on other occasions that the regional response we were getting from Portland and the suburbs was really good," Haynes said.

In addition to Portland, Google is contemplating fiber service in Gresham, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Hillsboro, along with several other metro areas across the country. Portland approved a franchise for Google in June.

Portland, which has been courting competitive Internet and cable TV service since the 1990s, granted Google Fiber a franchise in June.

The sheer scale of the project could be complicating Google's planning efforts. Google's fiber network in Kansas City runs 7,000 miles, and it's contemplating expansion in eight other metro areas across the country in addition to Portland.

A project on that scale would cost billions of dollars -- a mighty sum even for Google, which reported $13 billion in profits last year.

It may be the company needs additional time to figure out how to undertake such a mammoth endeavor in many markets at once and how to navigate an array of rules and regulations in each local jurisdiction.


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Sony Hit With Third Hacking Class Action Lawsuit By "Left In The Dark" Ex-Employees | Dominic Patten | Deadline.com

Sony Hit With Third Hacking Class Action Lawsuit By "Left In The Dark" Ex-Employees | Dominic Patten | Deadline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

'The Interview' may have been pulled and the North Koreans may be behind the ravaging hack that has hit Sony, but the lawsuits continue. In the space of as many days, the studio this week has been whacked with a third class action from former employees over the massive and revealing data breach that has left tens of thousands of social security numbers, medical records, emails and other personal information out on the World Wide Web.

Like the other two lawsuits, this one is seeking a variety of damages to be determined at trial for violation of California privacy laws and negligence plus reclassification to include other past and present Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employees. “Plaintiffs allege that SPE failed to adequately safeguard its current and former employees’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, medical records, and financial information, in compliance with applicable law,” says the 4-claim complaint filed December 17 (read it here).

Added to that, plaintiffs Joshua Forster and Ella Carline Archibeque aren’t really happy at all with how Sony has handled the actual hack for the people who work there and have worked there in the past.

“Since the breach SPE has focused its remediation efforts on securing its intellectual property from pirates and a public relations campaign directed at controlling the damage associated with the release of embarrassing internal emails,” says the jury trial-seeking complaint filed in federal court. “Meanwhile, SPE delayed confirming the data breach for a week and left its employees in the dark about the scope of the breach, how they and their families were impacted, and what steps SPE is taking to remedy or mitigate the breach,” the 27-page filing adds.


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Protecting Net Neutrality will not invalidate Internet Tax Freedom Act | Senator Ron Wyden

Protecting Net Neutrality will not invalidate Internet Tax Freedom Act | Senator Ron Wyden | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act. So I want to set the record straight about the false claim being peddled by opponents of net neutrality. They are saying things that aren’t true to try to stop the FCC from acting to protect the free and open Internet.

The claim: If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet access as a “common carrier” under Title II, consumers could be stuck with new taxes by state and local governments.

In a word: Baloney.

The facts:

  1. Net Neutrality is not going to invalidate the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). My colleagues and I knew people would try to tax the Internet if they could. So in ITFA Congress broadly defined the term “Internet access.” It is illegal to tax the internet. Under Title II or otherwise. The FCC could define the Internet as a series of tubes and ITFA would still prohibit taxes.
  2. The “grandfather clause” in ITFA will not allow cities to suddenly open the Internet up to telecom taxes. If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet, it will not change if states taxed Internet access before 1998. The FCC has broad authority, but it cannot rewrite history.


The bottom line: The Internet Tax Freedom Act will protect the Internet from taxes regardless of how the FCC defines Internet access.

The opponents of the open Internet aren’t quitting. But the good news: neither are we!

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Urban League parrots telecom donors' net-neutrality stance | Alan Holmes | PublicIntegrity.org

Urban League parrots telecom donors' net-neutrality stance | Alan Holmes | PublicIntegrity.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last October, Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, wrote a column outlining his stand on the issue of “network neutrality” that aggravated activists but made providers of Internet services cheer.

Morial’s column in The Hill newspaper reflected a position on the issue — which is about whether all content sent over the Internet be treated equally — that was very much the same as that of David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest Internet service provider.

It’s not unusual that Comcast would make that argument, but it seemed a little odd that the Urban League — known for defending civil rights and fighting for economic equality for blacks — would take a position in a debate over such a seemingly arcane issue.

Critics say Morial’s decision to speak out had more to do with money and relationships than with Internet policy.

It turns out that Cohen has sat on the Urban League’s board of trustees since 2008. In addition, the Comcast Foundation, headed by Cohen, gave the National Urban League and some of its more than 100 affiliates almost $2 million from 2012 to 2013, according to an analysis of IRS tax filings by the Center for Public Integrity.

Cohen’s not the only representative of an Internet company to sit on the Urban League’s board.

Among its 33 trustees is Donna Epps, who manages Verizon Communications Inc.’s domestic public policy efforts. Epps formerly worked in the company’s federal regulatory group, which tracks government rules such as those that affect net neutrality. Verizon sued the Federal Communications Commission over its initial network neutrality rules issued in 2010 and won. Representing AT&T Inc. on NUL’s board is Charlene Lake, senior vice president of public affairs and chief sustainability officer.

The Verizon Foundation in 2012 and 2013 gave the Urban League nearly $590,000. AT&T’s foundation, however, gave nothing to the Urban League or any of its affiliates in 2012. AT&T didn’t provide a copy of its 2013 tax filing by deadline.

The Urban League says Cohen’s position and the donations from the foundation have had no bearing on its position on the network neutrality issue.

“While our partnerships absolutely support the work we do, the positions of the National Urban League on any issue are — and have always been — our own and uninfluenced by any corporate, foundation, government or individual supporter,” said the Urban League in an emailed statement to the Center.


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NY: REDC Awards: Southern Tier top performer $80.8 mil | Jillian Marshall | WBNG.com

For the third consecutive year, the Southern Tier is among the top performing regions in the state for ideas to drive economic development. As a result, the region is once again on the receiving end of tens of millions of dollars to build business.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) awarded $709.2 million in economic and community development funding through round IV of the Regional Economic Development Council, or REDC, initiative.

The crowd cheered as the Southern Tier was announced a top performer for the third year in a row at the Regional Economic Development Council's 2014 awards.

$80.8 million will help fund 91 projects across the region's eight counties.

"We should be feeling really lucky, as well as proud that we won this year. The extra money will definitely help a lot of the communities in the Southern Tier," said Dr. Harvey Stenger, co-chairman of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, or STREDC.

STREDC took home the third highest amount, and more than $9 million is going to downtown Binghamton.

"Specifically there's about five projects in the city of Binghamton from renovating the old Carnegie Library, to doing the demolition work on 50 Front St, to a new development on 70 Court St," Stenger said after the awards.

"This is very exciting, this is a really good day for the city of Binghamton. There are some very exciting new construction projects that will now move forward," Binghamton Mayor Rich David (R) said.

In round IV, STREDC wants to focus on enhancing the region's urban areas, downtown infrastructure and tourism.

"I think one of the big wins is Project Seneca, on Seneca Lake, as well as the Watkins Glen International Raceway, which will be a great upgrade there and increase the attendance at that facility," Stenger said.

Some other big projects in Round IV include the Corning Hospital Redevelopment Project and the Delaware County Broadband Initiative.


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If Comcast Loses, Millennials Win | Neil Howe | Forbes.com

If Comcast Loses, Millennials Win | Neil Howe | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last month, President Obama released a statement directed at the FCC in favor of net neutrality. In it, he threw his support behind reclassifying Internet service as a utility—a move that has raised new concerns about the proposed $45 billion merger between media giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable.


As the pressure ramps up on the FCC to rule on net neutrality, regulators there are also tasked with assessing the merger’s impact on the public interest while the Department of Justice reviews the deal on antitrust grounds. They will decide whether Comcast becomes the primary gatekeeper of the television and Internet businesses in America—a move that would pit them squarely against a gathering generational tide that’s pushing for the opposite.


To garner support, Comcast is touting the merger as a win for consumers. As part of an extensive lobbying campaign, advocates have cited the prospects of higher broadband speeds and faster implementation of new technologies. Comcast also argues that the merger wouldn’t result in any loss of competition, since it doesn’t compete with TWC in any market.


Needless to say, however, Comcast and TWC have the most to gain if the deal goes through—along with Charter Communications, which has struck a deal with Comcast to buy a significant share of the subscribers the company is divesting to placate regulators.


But critics contend that the resulting company would wield enormous power over the nation’s high-speed Internet. Though consumers might have other options for pay-TV, cable companies are often the only available broadband providers. According to one government study, 74 percent of Americans have access to one provider at most that offers modern-standard 25Mbps service.

This distinction matters because broadband is increasingly viewed as the future of content delivery. More consumers are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming movies and TV shows through online alternatives like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, as a handful of networks—namely HBO and CBS—plan or have begun to offer their content directly through new “unbundled” options.

While the overall number of cord-cutters may seem like a drop in the bucket, surveys suggest that those numbers will only accelerate under the up-and-coming generation of Millennial consumers.


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How IBM’s Watson could change your business | John Gallant | NetworkWorld.com

How IBM’s Watson could change your business | John Gallant | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Early this year, IBM formed the Watson Group, investing $1 billion to commercialize the Watson cognitive computing technology that captured the public’s imagination in 2011 when it beat two former Jeopardy! champions at their own game.


Watson is already solving some challenging problems in healthcare, finance and other professions, and the Watson Group is moving quickly to empower developers of every ilk with the tools needed to build Watson-fueled applications.

So, is Watson ready for your world? Could it help you make faster, smarter decisions about the most important aspects of your business today? How will Watson be melded into other parts of the vast IBM product line for enterprise IT? And how can you start experimenting with Watson today?


Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of the Watson Group, answered those questions in a conversation with IDG US Media Chief Content Officer John Gallant at the organization’s new headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley. Rhodin explained how his team has worked with early Watson customers and the steps he’s taking to speed the technology’s rollout.


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The Year of Community and Municipal Gigabit Broadband | Drew Clark | BroadbandBreakfast.com

While net neutrality captured Washington policy headlines, the most significant communications development in 2014 was the emergence of new and more viable approaches to building community and municipal Gigabit Networks.

A confluence of factors in the worlds of broadband, energy, transportation, manufacturing and civic engagement have underscored the need for next-generation internet networks. Evidence of this gathering momentum behind global Gigabit Cities include the high-profile emergence of public-private financing models and a growing network of high-bandwidth computing applications.

This year’s fight over net neutrality is not unrelated to the push for Gigabit Networks. The Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet proceeding is a battle over scarcity: The prioritization of traffic on lower-capacity networks. From the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision striking down FCC rules in January to President Obama’s decision to directly intervene in the new FCC proceeding, it’s been an all-consuming public battle.

But viewed from the vantage point of the future, the far more significant development will be the emergence of opportunities outside of Washington for high-capacity broadband networks. It’s a world in which cities and municipalities are playing the leadership role.


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Making the Internet a utility—what’s the worst that could happen? | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Making the Internet a utility—what’s the worst that could happen? | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There seems to be nothing the broadband industry fears more than Title II of the Communications Act.

Title II gives the Federal Communications Commission power to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or "common carriers." Like landline phone providers, common carriers must offer service to the public on reasonable terms. To regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, the FCC must reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that consumer advocacy groups and even President Obama have pushed the FCC to take.

Under Obama's proposal, the reclassification would only be used to impose net neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling applications and websites or from charging applications and websites for prioritized access to consumers. The FCC would be expected to avoid imposing more stringent utility rules in a legal process known as "forbearance."

Although Title II offers perks that help providers build out networks, ISPs and telecom industry groups have argued that Title II would bring a host of oppressive regulations that the FCC would have a hard time not imposing. They claim that Title II will impose so many extra costs that they’ll be forced to raise prices—though customers might point out that ISPs aren’t shy about raising prices to begin with.

So what, exactly, are ISPs afraid of? We wanted to find out what the worst-case scenario for broadband providers is. Hypothetically, assuming the FCC were to impose all possible Title II regulations (even though Obama specifically said he doesn’t want that to happen), what kinds of new regulations would ISPs have to follow and what new costs would they absorb? And would consumers pay the price in higher bills and worse service?


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Netflix: offline viewing is 'never going to happen' | Hugh Langley | TechRadar.com

Netflix: offline viewing is 'never going to happen' | Hugh Langley | TechRadar.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For some time now, services like BBC iPlayer and 4oD have offered the ability to download shows for offline viewing, yet Netflix hasn't

And despite the pleas of the masses (or maybe it's just us) it doesn't sound like it's going to happen any time soon - or ever. Speaking to TechRadar, Cliff Edwards, Netflix's director of corporate communications and technology, said "It's never going to happen".

According to Edwards, Netflix's position on the matter is that offline downloads are a "short term fix for a bigger problem", that problem being Wi-Fi access and quality.

The service has made a similar argument in the past. In years to come, Netflix expects Wi-Fi coverage to improve significantly, particularly on transport.

In five years time, Edwards believes, we won't even be talking about the prospect of offline downloads. So while we'd say "never say never", it sounds like it is, in fact, a case of never.

Interestingly, Amazon decided to wade into the debate in light of our report, announcing that it did not agree with Netflix's stance on the matter. In response to the news, Amazon Digital Video VP Michael Paull confirmed that Amazon's offline viewing feature will roll out beyond Fire tablets in the future.


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DOJ Secretly Helped Kill FOIA Transparency Bill That Was Based On Its Own Public Policy | Trevor Timm | Techdirt.com

DOJ Secretly Helped Kill FOIA Transparency Bill That Was Based On Its Own Public Policy | Trevor Timm | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've long known the Justice Department's stance on transparency has been hypocritical and disingenuous. But they've really outdone themselves this time. Last week, the agency secretly helped kill a bipartisan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform bill that was based word-for-word on its own policy.

First, a little background: In a surprise to some, the very modest FOIA Improvements Act died in Congress last Thursday, despite virtually unanimous support in both houses. The bill was completely uncontroversial. It merely would have upgraded agencies' ability to accept FOIAs electronically and codified existing policy—mainly President Obama's now infamous January 20, 2009 memo in which he ordered federal agencies to operate under a "presumption of openness."

All Speaker John Boehner had to do on the last day before Congress adjourned for the year was bring the bill up for a vote, and it would've been whisked through to the President's desk. A similar bill had already passed the House unanimously earlier in the year.

Yet for some unknown reason at the time, he didn't. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported on the inside story behind the last-minute death of the bill, and the blame centers on the Justice Department:


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Markey, Eshoo, 34 Senate and House Democrats to FCC: Now Is the Time to Act on Net Neutrality and Title II | Senator Ed Markey

Markey, Eshoo, 34 Senate and House Democrats to FCC: Now Is the Time to Act on Net Neutrality and Title II | Senator Ed Markey | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), along with 34 Senate and House Democrats, today called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use its authority immediately to prevent broadband providers from engaging in discriminatory practices and enshrine net neutrality by reclassifying broadband Internet access under Title II of the Communications Act.


The lawmakers point out in the letter that it’s been nearly a year since the FCC’s net neutrality rules were invalidated by the D.C. Circuit Court and urge the Commission to act now to finalize new rules.

“We believe the way to achieve a free and open Internet is to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, with appropriate forbearance. As you know, President Obama recently joined us in urging this action,” write the lawmakers in the letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

“Everyone has spoken; now is the time for action. We urge you to act without delay to finalize rules that keep the Internet free and open for business.”

In addition to Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo, the letter is signed by Senators Al Franken, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, Carl Levin, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Boxer, Ben Cardin, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Henry Waxman, Zoe Lofgren, Michael Doyle, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Michael Capuano, Chellie Pingree, Betty McCollum, Suzanne Bonamici, Tim Ryan, Mark Takano, Mike Honda, Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis, Jared Huffman, Jim McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Louise Slaughter, Niki Tsongas, Sam Farr, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, and John Conyers.


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San Francisco's Monkeybrains ISP offering gigabit home wireless connections | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net

San Francisco's Monkeybrains ISP offering gigabit home wireless connections | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's $35/month for the service, from San Francisco's coolest indie ISP (founded by Rudy Rucker's son, Rudy Jr, it was the inspiration for Pigspleen, the fictional ISP in my novel Little Brother) and if you opt to pay a little extra, they'll install a free link in a low/medium income neighborhood, too.

Setting up a link is pricey -- $2500 -- but for $100 you can sponsor a free, open wifi access point to one of the other links, establishing pockets of free, anonymous, open Internet access across the city. Depending on your location, you'll get 350Mbps to 1Gbps throughput!

I don't live in San Francisco anymore, but I just funded an open access point.


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Comcast Starts To Stream In 4K On Samsung TVs | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast Starts To Stream In 4K On Samsung TVs | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has officially entered the 4K era.

Beating its end-of-the-year deadline, Comcast on Wednesday (December 18) launched Xfinity in UHD, a 4K streaming app that will initially be available on 2014 Samsung UHD TVs and provide free access to a set of TV shows from NBC and USA Network.

Comcast, which announced plans to launch the app at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, will start off with full current seasons USA’s Covert Affairs and NBC’s Chicago Fire, and will add Parks & Recreation to that list in February 2015.

Early on, shows delivered on demand via the Internet-delivered, authenticated streaming app, offered via Samsung’s SMART Hub, won’t include ads, but will allow viewers to set parental controls, enable closed captioning and manage audio preferences. Deluxe On Demand, which recently added more 4K-facing enhancements, also has a role as it provides the UHD workflow system and delivery and playback tech on 4K-enabled Samsung TVs.

Comcast said an Internet connection speed of 15 Mbps is required to view the programming in UHD, though customers will still be able to view that content using lower Internet speeds.


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It's Official: FCC Proposes OTT Reclassfication | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

It's Official: FCC Proposes OTT Reclassfication | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It is now official, except for the commissioner's statements. The FCC has voted unanimously--three Democratic "yes" votes, two Republican "concurrences"--to propose reclassifying linear over-the-top (online) video providers as MVPDs, at least for the purposes of access to vertically integrated programming. That is according to a source who has seen the vote tally.

The vote actually came last night, a drop-dead, must-vote deadline for the Republicans. The Democrats had voted it already.

The item will likely not be released until Friday, along with the commissioner statements. A concurrence is approval, but with the suggestion that they would have done things somewhat differently, likely to be expounded on in those statements. Neither Republican commissioners offices were available for comment at press time.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asks a host of questions about that reclassification, including, what other MVPD obligations should apply. But nothing is official until an order is voted, which won’t come until after a healthy comment and reply period.

In essence the vote launches the process of figuring out how to treat online video services that emulate traditional ones--linear day and date channel lineups.


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The Sony breach may be start of new nation-state cyberattack | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

The Sony breach may be start of new nation-state cyberattack | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It has been an exceptional year for IT security breaches, which have become part of an escalating trend in destructive attacks. And they're going to get worse.

The Sony Pictures cyber attackers are doing everything they can to inflict damage on the company. They have released films, emails, medical records, and all sorts of confidential data, and are making threats of physical attacks in conjunction with the release of The Interview, a comedy about the attempted assassination of the North Korean president. On Wednesday, Sony canceled the Dec. 25 release of the movie after theater chains said they would not show the film because of the threats.


The Sony breach has the earmarks of a nation-state operation because of its sophistication and ruthlessness, and on Wednesday, U.S security officials told the New York Times they had concluded that North Korea was behind the Sony cyberattacks.

There is also serious speculation that the October attack on JP Morgan Chase, which compromised some 76 million records, was also orchestrated by a nation-state -- possibly a retaliatory move by Russia over Ukraine sanctions. In 2013, the Iranians were blamed for denial-of-service attacks on U.S. banks.

The sources of the JP Morgan and Sony attacks have not been officially confirmed, but Avivah Litan, a security analyst at Gartner, is convinced that what we are seeing is a new type of nation-state attack.

For years, the Eastern Europeans and Russians have been going after point-of-sale systems and credit card processors, and the Chinese have been involved in espionage against private sector firms, Litan said.

"But the big new thing is the nation states," she said. Russia, North Korea and China "are going after private sector companies in a very public way."

Litan said this trend of nation-state attacks will escalate.

"More political differences will be fought in cyberspace, and nation-states will retaliate against U.S. companies to make political points," Litan said.

"Private sector companies are not equipped to deal with the force of the nation states," she said. "They don't have the resources to fight them off. It's a national security issue, and there needs to be a national strategy to try to stop it. "It's really pretty serious," she said.


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6 aging protocols that could cripple the Internet | Serdar Yegulalp | NetworkWorld.com

6 aging protocols that could cripple the Internet | Serdar Yegulalp | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The biggest threat to the Internet is the fact that it was never really designed. Instead, it evolved in fits and starts, thanks to various protocols that were cobbled together to fulfill the needs of the moment. Few of those protocols were designed with security in mind. Or if they were, they sported no more than was needed to keep out a nosy neighbor, not a malicious attacker.

The result is a welter of aging protocols susceptible to exploit on an Internet scale. Some of the attacks levied against these protocols have been mitigated with fixes, but it’s clear that the protocols themselves need more robust replacements. Here are six Internet protocols that could stand to be replaced sooner rather than later or are (mercifully) on the way out.


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The MPAA's Secret Plan To Reinterpret The DMCA Into A Vast Censorship Machine That Breaks The Core Workings Of The Internet | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

The MPAA's Secret Plan To Reinterpret The DMCA Into A Vast Censorship Machine That Breaks The Core Workings Of The Internet | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Yes, all the attention these days about the Sony hack is on the decision to not release The Interview, but it still seems like the big story to come out of the hack is the sneaky plans of the MPAA in its bizarre infatuation with attacking the internet.


We've already covered the MPAA's questionably cozy relationship with state Attorneys General (to the point of both funding an investigation into Google and writing documents for those AGs to send in their names), as well as the continued focus on site blocking, despite an admission that the MPAA and the studios still don't have the slightest clue about the technology implications of site blocking.

Last week, TorrentFreak noted the various options that were under discussion by the MPAA for blocking sites, and now The Verge has published more information, including the analysis by MPAA's favorite hatchetmen lawyers at Jenner & Block about how site blocking might work in practice [pdf] by breaking DNS.

For years, actual technology experts have explained why DNS blocking is a really bad idea, but the MPAA just can't let it go apparently. It's just, this time, it's looking for ways to do it by twisting existing laws, rather than by getting a new SOPA-like law passed.

To understand the plan, you have to first understand the DMCA section 512, which is known as the safe harbor section, but which includes a few different sections, with different rules applying to different types of services.


512(a) is about "transitory digital network communications" and basically grants very broad liability protection for a network provider who isn't storing anything -- but just providing the network. There are good reasons for this, obviously. Making a network provider liable for traffic going over the network would be a disaster for the internet on a variety of levels.

The MPAA lawyers appear to recognize this (though they make some arguments for getting around it, which we'll get to in a follow-up post), but they argue that a specific narrow attack via DMCA might be used to force ISPs to break the basic internet by disabling entries in their own DNS databases.


The trick here is twisting a different part of the DMCA, 512(d), which is for "information location tools." Normally, this is what's used against search engines like Google or social media links like those found on Twitter.


But the MPAA argues that since ISPs offer DNS service, that DNS service is also an "information location tool" and... ta da... that's how the MPAA can break DNS.


The MPAA admits that there's an easy workaround for end-users -- using third-party DNS providers like OpenDNS or Google's DNS service -- but many users won't do that. And the MPAA would likely go after those guys as well.


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Is 10 Mbps Really Broadband? | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

Is 10 Mbps Really Broadband? | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On December 11 the FCC released an order in Docket No 10-90 that increased the definition of broadband for rural landline connections that can receive funding from the Universal Service Fund. The new baseline definition of broadband is 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload and which replaces the old definition of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. In today’s world is 10 Mbps really broadband?

The FCC came to this number based upon tables they included in the Tenth Broadband Progress Notice of Inquiry released last August. The FCC suggested the following as representative of the broadband usage today in different sizes of homes:

‘ Light Use Moderate Use Heavy Use

One User 1 – 2 Mbps 1 – 2 Mbps 6 – 15 Mbps

Two Users 1 – 2 Mbps 1 – 2 Mbps 6 – 15 Mbps

Three Users 1 – 2 Mbps 1 – 15 Mbps More than 15 Mbps

Four Users 1 – 15 Mbps 6 – 15 Mbps More than 15 Mbps

The first thing that is obvious is that the FCC didn’t set the new standard high enough to satisfy households with 3 or 4 people. I know in my household with 3 users that we often look something like the following in the evening:

1 User watching HD movie 5.0 Mbps

1 User watching SD movie 3.0 Mbps

Web browsing 0.5 Mbps

Cloud Storage 1.0 Mbps

Background (synching emails, etc.) 0.4 Mbps

‘ Total 9.9 Mbps

But we can use more than that. For instance we might be watching three HD videos at the same time while still doing the background stuff, and using over 16 Mbps, as the FCC suggests.

Clearly the old metric of 4 Mbps that was adopted in 2011 is now too low. But I think the new standard is already too low for today’s usage and it will probably be three years or more before this is considered again.

This new definition is going to be used in the upcoming reverse auction for Universal Service Fund support. Carriers can ask for a monthly subsidy from that fund to help to offset construction of broadband facilities that will deliver the 10 Mbps speeds. That is not a lump sum grant, but instead a payment per month over 5 – 7 years that help to pay for the new investment over time.

So what kind of landline technology can deliver this much speed?


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Media Institute Launches Program to Protect a Version of Global Online Free Speech | Austin Allen | BroadbandBreakfast.com

The Media Institute announced a new initiative on November 24 aimed to protect the group’s view of internet freedoms around the world. Entitled Global Free Speech and the Internet, this program will be “guided by a number of underlying principles, based on the belief that the internet should be an open and interoperable platform, largely free from government intrusion, where information can be shared freely.”

“The ‘Global Free Speech and the Internet’ program will be a forceful advocate for global free speech online,” the group said.

Chaired by former Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell, aims to halt government-centric models of internet governance that control online speech.


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T-Mobile pushes LTE to the outskirts of 4 cities | Kevin Fitchard | GigaOM Tech News

T-Mobile pushes LTE to the outskirts of 4 cities | Kevin Fitchard | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

T-Mobile’s 4G network may not have the geographical reach of Verizon’s, but T-Mobile has started taking the first steps to get there. In conjunction with its big rollover data announcement on Tuesday, T-Mobile revealed that its new LTE network on the 700 MHz band is now live in and outside of Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile has offered LTE services in those cities since 2013, but by tapping into new 700 MHz frequencies it bought from Verizon, it’s been able to create a higher-coverage, better-performing network. T-Mobile’s main LTE network is up in the 1700 MHz/2100 MHz band, but lower bands can propagate further, letting signals punch through walls and travel further in suburban and rural areas.

The big knock on T-Mobile is that its coverage has always been so poor compared to AT&T and Verizon. That’s a comparison T-Mobile wants to nullify as this new network gets rolled out, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a call with media Tuesday.

“I can’t tell you the exact month, but I can tell you that we won’t stop until we have a complete network,” Legere said.


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