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Pennsylvanians Excited/Outraged About Free Cell Phones & Discounted Broadband for the Poor | Stop the Cap!

WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Penn. has been running several stories about the FCC’s Lifeline program, which hands out free cell phones to those living below the poverty line. While the FCC defends the Lifeline cell phone program as delivering needed phone service for job-seekers and as a landline replacement, some citizens who consider cell phones a luxury are upset the federal government is subsidizing the project at a cost of $1.3 billion a year. Even more disturbing to some is the reported amount of waste, fraud, and abuse that may be delivering free phones to those who don’t deserve them. The anchor’s thinly-disguised editorializing leaves little doubt he considers the program a waste of money at a time of skyrocketing budget deficits.

 

WHP ran this follow-up story about the FCC’s forthcoming involvement in “free broadband” for the poor. In fact, the subsidized Internet program would likely deliver 1-3Mbps basic Internet service for around $10 a month. The WHP anchor doesn’t seem too impressed with this part of the Lifeline program either.

 

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'Old guard' civil rights groups blew it on net neutrality | Van Jones | CNN.com

'Old guard' civil rights groups blew it on net neutrality  | Van Jones | CNN.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission got it right on "net neutrality."


So did President Obama, who took a bold stand in favor of keeping the Internet free.


So did leaders such as Reps. John Lewis, Keith Ellison and Maxine Waters, and the Rev. William Barber II, one of the architects of "Moral Mondays" protests and a member of the national board of the NAACP. So did the United Church of Christ, as well as more than 100 social justice and civil rights groups.


And so did countless progressive, people-powered groups, such as Color of Change, an online community (which I helped to found) dedicated to bringing about positive change for African-Americans. Ditto for tiny, grassroots dynamos like Oakland's Center for Media Justice, led by Malkia Cyril.


You know who got it dead, dead wrong? As much as it pains me to say it: Far too many of our old-school civil rights organizations.


Since the first days of the Internet, one principle has been in place. Put simply, it is that "owning the pipes" does not give you license to mess with what flows through them.


Internet service providers (ISPs) can charge a fee to provide Internet access. But they cannot block or censor content they do not like, or charge for a fast lane, or relegate companies that do not pay up to slow Internet speeds that could frustrate customers.


All the FCC did this week was keep that principle in place.

They made sure the Internet will work the same way the phones do -- a call to the small business down the street does not sound worse or cost more than one to a big chain store.


ISPs like Verizon and Comcast stood to make a killing from blocking this change. But what is shocking is that some trusted civil rights organizations -- including the National Urban League, NAACP, and Rainbow Push -- actively helped the ISPs make their case.


Worst of all, it was a completely avoidable error.


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Internet Access In The World: Only 40% Of Global Population Have Ever Been Online | Bruce Wright | IBTimes.com

The Internet has made the world figuratively smaller with the relative ease of electronically connecting people across the globe, but there remains a significant portion of the world’s population that has still never once logged on to the World Wide Web. According to a new report from Internet.org, a Facebook initiative that explores the reasons why people continue to lack Internet access, more than 60 percent of all people failed to log on to the Web at least once in the past year.

The report, citing a current declining rate at which the world is connected online, details who has Internet access and who doesn’t, and then attempts to answer the question of why that conundrum persists. In 2008, the amount of Internet users grew by more than 12 percent, according to the report. But in 2014 that number shrunk down to less than seven percent.

Three reasons are provided for why that downward trend occurred: inadequate infrastructure for people based on their geographical location, citing undeveloped, poorer countries as being most afflicted; the growing cost of Internet access; and overall relevance -- either not being aware of the Internet’s existence or because of a content-related language barrier.


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How Gary, Indiana, Got Serious About Tackling Blight | Chris Bentley | CityLab.com

How Gary, Indiana, Got Serious About Tackling Blight | Chris Bentley | CityLab.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For more than three decades, the vacant Sheraton Hotel loomed over City Hall in Gary, Indiana, a billboard for the city's descent from Steel City glory into postindustrial blight.


Once the city's tallest building, it was hailed as "the gateway to the city's future" by former Mayor Richard Hatcher upon its opening in 1971. It went dark just 14 years later. Entering or passing by Gary on the highway, visitors could see straight through the gutted building, its skeleton a rebuke to the neoclassical dome of City Hall right next door.


Until last October, that is, when current Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson delivered on a campaign promise to tear it down. Freeman-Wilson, a Gary native and Harvard-educated lawyer, became Indiana's first black, female mayor when she took office in 2012.


Critics dismissed the move, which received federal and state funds as well as city financing, as a mere public relations stunt. But demolishing the Sheraton could also be viewed as the opening salvo in Freeman-Wilson's larger war on blight—a campaign she says also addresses crime, economic development and, crucially, the city's image of itself.


"It's extremely important," Freeman-Wilson says. "There's a sense of pride that you have when you can say, 'My city looks good.'"


Even with the Sheraton Hotel gone, Gary still has a long way to go. The University of Chicago recently helped the city survey more than 58,000 parcels as part of a data-driven approach to tackling blight. Teams of students and Gary residents—including Freeman-Wilson—volunteered their Saturday afternoons to walk every street in the city, grading the condition of vacant and blighted properties, and making notes through a mobile app.

It could end up being a model for other shrinking post-industrial cities trying to make big plans with small budgets. "I think this provides an opportunity for Gary to lead the way," the mayor says, "as cities all over the country deal with this issue."


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O'Rielly: I'm Not Holding Up Title II Order Release | John Eggerton | Multichannel

O'Rielly: I'm Not Holding Up Title II Order Release | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly is not happy with what he says is the suggestion his lengthy dissent in the Title II decision could be a reason for delaying the public release of the order's language. The Feb. 26 vote was 3-2 along straight party lines to reclassify ISPs as telecoms subject to some Title II common carrier regs.

At a press conference following the vote to reclassify ISPs as telecoms, FCC officials would not put a timetable on its release, saying that per a D.C. Appeals court decision--the same court that will likely be reviewing a legal challenge to the new rules--the FCC is required to "engage the arguments raised before it," including in dissenting opinions, and FCC General Counsel said the FCC will do that "as quickly as we can." Both O'Rielly and Pai and multi-page, multi-part dissents running to several pages (O'Rielly's was nine pages--but a longer version is on the way, he signaled).

In his press conference, Chairman Tom Wheeler also said the FCC would post the order on its Web site after the FCC gets the dissents in and looks at them, citing the court decision.

In addition, earlier in the week at a network neutrality hearing in advance of the vote, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, said he was sure the chairman would put out the order language as soon as he could after the vote and called on the other commissioners to help make that happen, though at the time it was unclear what he meant.


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FCC Gives Municipal Broadband Providers and Internet Competition a Boost | Joshua Romero | IEEE Spectrum

FCC Gives Municipal Broadband Providers and Internet Competition a Boost | Joshua Romero | IEEE Spectrum | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today, in addition to reclassifying broadband from an “information service” to a “telecommunication service,” the Federal Communications Commission voted to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that previously restricted municipal governments from expanding their broadband services and competing with commercial Internet service providers in surrounding areas. The decision was not a surprise, as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been talking about preempting such state laws for over a year.

There are at least 19 states with laws that restrict or limit municipal broadband. Just last month, Missouri lawmakers proposed strengthening existing restrictions in their state. Today’s decision only applied to the two specific petitions filed with the FCC—one from The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a second from the city Wilson, North Carolina—but it may set a precedent that encourages other municipalities to submit petitions. In the meeting, Wheeler said, “I do hope, however, that this attention…calls out the activities of incumbents to block consumer choice and competition through legislation.”

Many other cities, fed up with the speeds and prices offered by the commercial Internet service providers in their areas have also tried to provide broadband to citizens directly. But it’s not always easy. In many cases, there’s already a commercial ISP that doesn’t welcome competition. For those who support municipal broadband, more competition is exactly the point. “You can’t say you’re for competition, but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices,” Wheeler said in the meeting.

“The competitive landscape is pretty bleak,” says Vishal Misra, an associate professor of computer science at Columbia University. He points out that at “true broadband speeds,” some Americans have two broadband providers to choose from, but most have only one (or zero).

When the FCC redefined broadband last month, it did so largely to highlight the lack of consumer choice at higher bandwidths. In general, ISPs prefer to invest in areas where they’ll be the sole provider, as it’s expensive to try to poach customers from an existing provider.

ISP competition matters, because it tends to lead to more bandwidth at lower prices.


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Wall Street Journal Upset That Wall Street Isn't Upset About Net Neutrality | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Wall Street Journal Upset That Wall Street Isn't Upset About Net Neutrality | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A few weeks ago, after it was more or less confirmed that the FCC was going forward with full Title II reclassification of broadband, we noted that the stocks of the big broadband companies actually went up suggesting that Wall Street actually knows that reclassification won't really impact broadband companies, despite what they've been saying publicly. Perhaps this is partly because those same companies have been telling Wall Street that the rule change won't have an impact.

However, for the Wall Street Journal -- which has become weirdly, obsessively, anti-net neutrality -- this is an abomination. The newspaper has spent months trying to whip everyone into a frenzy about how evil net neutrality is, using some of the most blatantly wrong arguments around.


Just a few days ago, the WSJ turned to its former publisher, now columnist, L. Gordon Crovitz to spread as much misinformation as possible. This is the same L. Gordon Crovitz who a few years ago wrote such a ridiculously wrong article on the history of the internet that basically everyone shoved each other aside to detail how he mangled the history. He, bizarrely, insisted that the government had no role in the creation of the internet. Crovitz also has a history of being wrong (and woefully uninformed) about surveillance and encryption. It's difficult to understand why the WSJ allows him to continue writing pieces that are so frequently factually challenged.

In this latest piece, Crovitz suggests that Ted Cruz didn't go far enough in comparing Obamacare to net neutrality, arguing that net neutrality is even "worse."

The permissionless Internet, which allows anyone to introduce a website, app or device without government review, ends this week.

Um, no, actually, the reverse. The rules say that no website or app needs to get permission. The government isn't going to be reviewing anything, other than anti-consumer practices by the large ISPs.


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San Francisco Adopts Wireless Ordinance to Comply with 6409(a) | J. Sharpe Smith | AGL Media Group

San Francisco Adopts Wireless Ordinance to Comply with 6409(a) | J. Sharpe Smith | AGL Media Group | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The City of San Francisco has adopted an ordinance modifying the requirements for wireless site permits on utility or street light poles in the public right of way, in part to comply with a judgment by the California Superior Court and also to accommodate the FCC’s 6409(a) ruling.

In May 2011, T-Mobile and NextG (now Crown Castle) sued the city in the California Superior Court challenging aspects of the city’s permitting authority in regulating the use of the public rights of way for wireless facilities. In 2012, the case was modified to include a federal preemption claim based on Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

The city’s Board of Supervisors developed the wireless ordinance to preserve its right to review the aesthetics of wireless siting in the public right of way and allow for public notification, while implementing federal siting law, according to Supervisor John Avalos.

“At trial, the city prevailed that it could use aesthetics to regulate telecommunications carriers in the public right of way,” Avalos said. “Unfortunately, the court also ruled with the wireless carriers on the modifications provision. “

As a result of the court’s ruling, the city repealed provisions that allowed it to deny an application for a wireless permit for economic or technological reasons, but it kept and simplified a provision that allowed it to review the aesthetics of the site.


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Wireless Usage Caps (And Creative Abuses Of Them) Are The New Global Net Neutrality Battlefield | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Wireless Usage Caps (And Creative Abuses Of Them) Are The New Global Net Neutrality Battlefield | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After having their wrists slapped for more ham-fisted neutrality abuses like throttling and blocking, ISPs have been increasingly clever when it comes to ways to abuse their stranglehold over the uncompetitive broadband last mile.


On the fixed-line broadband front the major net neutrality battlefield is currently interconnection, with ISPs accused of allowing their peering points to tier 1 operators and content companies to deteriorate in order to glean new direct interconnection payments. This effectively has shifted one major portion of the neutrality debate from the user's connection to the edge of the network.

In mobile, the current net neutrality hotbed is usage caps and so-called "zero rated" apps. In developing countries the practice of zero rating apps is quite common, with major companies like Facebook and Google (see Facebook Zero or Google Free Zone) offering low-income developing nations access to select Internet services. Except we've discussed how an ad-laden, walled garden, corporation-curated version of the Internet isn't always doing these countries much of a favor, and you have to wonder what that vision of the "Internet" evolves into.


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Calm Down Reddit: No, Mignon Clyburn Is NOT Trying To Undermine Net Neutrality Rules | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Calm Down Reddit: No, Mignon Clyburn Is NOT Trying To Undermine Net Neutrality Rules | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A reminder: you can't always believe what you read on these here interwebs. Yesterday, an article appeared on The Hill which was originally titled "Democratic FCC commissioner balks at net neutrality rules" and claimed that one of the other FCC commissioners was looking to "water down" Tom Wheeler's net neutrality plans. Cue a total freakout -- especially on Reddit, where people started weaving complex conspiracy theories about how Clyburn was bought and paid for by Time Warner (which is, um, somewhat laughable if you know much about Clyburn).


The piece on the Hill, by reporter Julian Hattem, appears to have totally misread what is actually happening, leading to totally unnecessary freakouts. In fact, after many people pointed this out, it appears that The Hill has changed its original headline so that it now reads "Eleventh-hour drama for net neutrality." And it's not even that dramatic. So, hey, Reddit, calm down!

What's actually happening is a bit complex, but Clyburn's concern is not just a reasonable one, it's one that's actually being raised by just about everyone on all sides of the debate. Believe it or not, Clyburn's suggestion is actually supported by everyone from Free Press to Google to AT&T. So calm down.

Remember that old "hybrid plan" that Tom Wheeler had experimentally floated a few months ago? The one that created an entirely new class of services, in which he tried to divide broadband providers into a new classification known as "sender side" so that he could issue rules for that new class of services, rather than having to "reclassify" broadband under Title II? Those rules that everyone hated?


Well, it appears that after being convinced to actually go to full reclassification, Wheeler left in a bit of those rules as a sort of "in the alternative" justification for his new rules. However, just as pretty much everyone argued when the hybrid plan was floated, this attempt to create a new classification for "sender side" providers is fraught with serious legal problems, and would create a huge headache.


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If You Want To See What The U.S. Broadband Market Really Looks Like, Take A Close Look At West Virginia | Karl Bode | Techdirt

If You Want To See What The U.S. Broadband Market Really Looks Like, Take A Close Look At West Virginia | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While sexy Google Fiber deployments get the lion's share of media attention these days, it's the notably less sexy service in states like West Virginia that continue to perfectly exemplify just how broken U.S. broadband really is.


Local Charleston Gazette reporter Eric Eyre has quietly done an amazing job the last few years chronicling West Virginia's immense broadband dysfunction, from the State's use of broadband stimulus subsidies on unused, overpowered routers and overpaid, redundant consultants, to state leaders' attempts to bury reports highlighting how a cozy relationship with companies like Frontier, Verizon and Cisco has led to what can only be explained as systemic, statewide fraud on the taxpayer dime.

It's of course the one-two punch of regulatory capture and the resulting lack of competition that are to thank for West Virginia's problems, which certainly aren't unique across the country.


In state after state, the largest, incumbent ISPs throw cash at the state legislative process, allowing them to literally write state telecom law aimed at protecting their uncompetitive geographical fiefdoms from real competition.


Because the nation's suffering through a particularly nasty bout of partisan nitwit disease, when someone tries to do something about it, they're ironically assailed as anti-business, anti-American, or anti-states' rights.

I tend to focus on West Virginia as a shining example of this dysfunction because things have gotten so bad there, local players have stopped even the slightest pretense that the entire legislative process isn't under the thumb of the country's biggest and wealthiest telecom companies.


Case in point is this latest report by Eyre citing complaints by West Virginia Delegate Randy Smith, who says things have reached the point where nobody, from any party, can get a bill through the West Virginia legislative process if it doesn't first get approval from Frontier Communications. From a recent post to his Facebook page:


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Comcast Now Says It Will Not Sue FCC | Ben Collins | The Daily Beast

Comcast Now Says It Will Not Sue FCC | Ben Collins | The Daily Beast | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The company says the FCC overreached by passing rules to stop Internet service providers from blocking sites and slowing traffic. The problem is, Comcast’s admitted to doing just that.

Despite tens of millions of corporate dollars in last-minute lobbying, the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules Thursday reclassifying the Internet as a public utility and preventing Internet service providers from artificially slowing down the Web.

Now Comcast is calling “inevitable” lawsuits to nullify the rules a “certainty,” and the company says it will pressure legislators to draft a law that will override the FCC’s decision.

“After today, the only ‘certainty’ in the Open Internet space is that we all face inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty challenging an Order that puts in place rules that most of us agree with,” David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, said in a statement. “We believe that the best way to avoid this would be for Congress to act.”

Comcast, Cohen said, has “no issue with the principles of transparency and the no blocking, no throttling, and no fast lanes rules incorporated in today’s FCC Order.”

“[It’s] important to note Comcast supported the 2010 rules [that initially attempted to ban blocking traffic] and currently is the only company in America required to abide by those rules,” Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president of government communications for Comcast, told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

But Comcast’s history of actively blocking, throttling, and creating “fast lanes” is the very reason it is the only company in America required to abide by those rules.


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Cable ISPs Hammer Title II Decision | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Cable ISPs Hammer Title II Decision | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable's Internet service providers were quick to blast the Federal Communications Commission over its 3-2 party-line vote to reclassify Internet access as a telecom service subject to some Title II regulation.

“Today, the FCC took one of the most regulatory steps in its history," said Michael Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, who was FCC chairman in 2002 when the commission classified ISPs as an information service not subject to Title II common-carrier regs.

"[The FCC] began regulating the Internet, abruptly abandoning a bipartisan national commitment to limited government involvement that has reigned for decades," Powell said, adding that it was time for Congress to step in.

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Senator Asks FCC To Explain Its Involvement In The Proliferation Of Stingray Devices | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Senator Asks FCC To Explain Its Involvement In The Proliferation Of Stingray Devices | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite the feds' best efforts to keep IMSI catchers (Stingray devices, colloquially and almost certainly to the dismay of manufacturer Harris Corporation, as they head to becoming the kleenex of surveillance tech) a secret, there's still enough information leaking out around the edges of the FBI's non-disclosure agreements to provoke public discussion.

The discussion appears to have reached the top of the food chain. Sen. Bill Nelson -- following the lead of Senators Leahy and Grassley -- has sent a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler asking the following:


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Uber security breach may have affected up to 50,000 drivers | Tracey Lien | LATimes.com

Uber security breach may have affected up to 50,000 drivers | Tracey Lien | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Thousands of Uber driver names and driver's license numbers may be in the hands of an unauthorized third party due to a data breach that occurred last year, the ride-hailing company announced today.

In a statement, Uber’s managing counsel of data privacy Katherine Tassi said the company discovered on Sept. 17, 2014, that one of its many databases could have potentially been accessed because one of the keys required to unlock it had been compromised. Upon further investigation, it found the database had been accessed once by an unauthorized third party on May 13, 2014.

The company could not say how the security vulnerability was first discovered because the matter is currently under investigation.

According to Tassi, the company immediately patched the security vulnerability. It has not received any reports of misuse of the data.

The database contained only the names and driver's license numbers of approximately 50,000 former and current Uber drivers from various states. Of the affected drivers, about 21,000 are based in California.


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MN Broadband Fund Award: A closer look around Otter Tail County | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN Broadband Fund Award: A closer look around Otter Tail County | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Almost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)

Otter Tail Telcom, Stuart Lake. Awarded $105,364 to expand existing infrastructure to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 47 unserved locations, including 46 homes and one business near Stuart Lake, just north of State Highway 210 and east of Fergus Falls (between Clitherall and Vining). Total project costs are $210,729; the remaining $105,365 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.

Community and Economic Development Impact:Fergus Falls calls itself the “telework capital of Minnesota.” This project will continue the build-out in and around Fergus Falls to make that goal a reality for a growing number of people living, working, and operating and/or starting businesses in the Fergus Falls region.

Otter Tail Telcom, 245th. Awarded $108,553 to serve the northeastern outskirts of Fergus Falls near 245th Street. The project will expand existing infrastructure to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 39 unserved locations, including permanent residences and work-from-home employees. The total project costs are $217,105; the remaining $108,553 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.

Community and Economic Development Impact:Fergus Falls calls itself the “telework capital of Minnesota.” This project will continue the build-out in and around Fergus Falls to make that goal a reality for a growing number of people living, working, and operating and/or starting businesses in the Fergus Falls region.

Otter Tail actually received three awards; these two in Otter Tail and one in Stevens county. As the description states, Fergus Falls and the surrounding area have been focusing on becoming the Telework Capital of Minnesota. They received national recognition for their efforts in 2013 when they were named a smart community. (The have a great telework handbook if you’re looking at telework in your community!) Extending the reach of FTTH home will help extend the telework opportunities to a wider audience. But Otter Tail is more than telework. In 2014, received almost $500,000 for Otter Tail County Public Health to implement e-health programs.


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Cybergeddon: Why the Internet could be the next “failed state” | Sean Gallagher | Ars Technica

Cybergeddon: Why the Internet could be the next “failed state” | Sean Gallagher | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The recent rash of major breaches of corporate networks, including the theft of personal information from the health insurer Anthem and the theft of as much as a billion dollars from over 100 banks are symptoms of a much larger trend of cybercrime and espionage.


And while the issue has been once again raised to national importance by the White House, it could be argued that governments have done more to exacerbate the problem than address it. Fears of digital warfare and crime are shifting budget priorities, funding the rapid expansion of the security industry and being used as a reason for proposals for new laws and policy that could reshape the Internet.

“If we think our kids and grandkids are going to have as awesome and free an Internet as the one we have, we really have to look at why we think that," Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council of the United States, told Ars.

The alternative futures for the Internet are not pretty. In presentations at multiple security conferences, Healey has suggested that the Internet could “start to look like Somalia”—a failed state where security is impossible, going about daily life is hazardous, and armed camps openly wage war over the network.


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Wheeler: Title II Vote Was Independent | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Wheeler: Title II Vote Was Independent | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday that the FCC order reclassifying ISPs as common carriers was made independent of the President and based on the record before it in the proceeding.

There have been questions raised about how influential the President's strong and public support of Title II-based new network neutrality rules was on Wheeler's decision to pivot from a Sec. 706-based, commercially reasonable" standard to a Title II-based "just and reasonable standard."

In particular, Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken to calling it the President's Title II plan after a Wall Street Journal reported on the White House effort to produce strong net neutrality rules.

In a press conference following the Feb. 26 vote, Wheeler said that both he and the President have been on the record for a long time in favor of network neutrality, but that the FCC "produced a set of rules based on our independent assessment of what the record was."


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Getting straight about common carriers and Title II | David Weinberger | Ting.com

Getting straight about common carriers and Title II | David Weinberger | Ting.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you care about an Internet that is open to every idea and every startup, you need to know about common carriage and understand what’s at stake as Internet advocates call on the FCC to reclassify the Internet under Title II.

It’s complex. So, I asked Barbara Cherry to help explain it all.

Cherry knows about this from three decades in the field, including in the telecommunications field for almost twenty years–ten of them at AT&T, five at Ameritech, and almost five at the FCC. Now she is a professor of telecommunications who trained as a lawyer and has a Ph.D. in communications studies.

Cherry explains that the idea of common carriage goes back to the Middle Ages. “If your business is to carry things for others, you have certain legal obligations,” she says. Whether you’re a postal service delivering letters or a ferry delivering people, the basic obligation is “to serve upon reasonable request without unreasonable discrimination at a just and reasonable price and with adequate care.”

There are some big ideas in that legalistic formulation.


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Broadband opens the door to a rural quality of life in Minnesota | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Broadband has been big in 2015 – but it feels like it’s all policy and funding and nuts and bolts. The who, what, when where and how (or how much), so I was pleased to find an article talked about the why.

Furrow – a John Deere publication ran an article on brain gain, the notion that while young people may be leaving rural areas, “older” young people (ages 30-49) are moving to rural areas. The article highlights a few families and communities in rural Minnesota. They spoke to people who were well-educated and were happy to move back home or move to a rural area to bring up kids. It seems like people move for time and community.

Ben Winchester, a leading expert in the idea of brain gain, offer some perspective on the phenomenon…

“We are still losing many of those kids with a high school education,” says Ben Winchester, an Extension rural sociologist with the University of Minnesota. “But we’re gaining people with high education and life experience. This actually isn’t new. It’s been happening since the 1970s.”

The article highlights Lac qui Parle County, and former LqP EDA director Pam Lehmann offers a view on how broadband has opened the door to allowing more families to enjoy the quality of life they seek in rural areas…


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The Content Wars: The Facebook Proposition | John Herrman | The Awl

The Content Wars: The Facebook Proposition | John Herrman | The Awl | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After a week hosting and attending a conference about the future of the media, Walt Mossberg has a conclusion: “How’s the Media Industry These Days? Confused.”

It’s no secret that the media industry has been high on the list of businesses that have been disrupted by the Internet and are struggling to find a new footing.

For a few years, things appeared to be settling down a bit, as the music, written word, and video businesses seemed to be on promising digital paths.

Record labels and artists were selling music on iTunes. TV networks sold new shows there and at Amazon, and sold old ones for streaming to Netflix. Big news organizations churned out iPad apps, and more started charging for their online content, even as some of their star journalists found they could fund their own breakaway sites.

Those tentative paths to digital stability, though, are either faltering, or at least coming under serious question. In their place, media companies and creators seem to be entering a new period of confusion, as the financial, technological and consumer behaviors they counted on are changing rapidly.

This is about right! Internet media companies are behaving in a manner that suggests they are confused. This confusion is passed through many stages of managerial amplification (anxiety’s counterpart to biomagnification) before reaching employees, whose brain-eggs are becoming thin and soft as a result. It’s all very exciting.

So: Here is an informed hypothetical about one way in which things will become less confusing, at least for some publishers.


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Capitol Hill Hails, Pans Title II | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Capitol Hill Hails, Pans Title II | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There was immediate and voluminous response from the Hill Thursday to the FCC's vote to reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service under some Title II regs.

“This is a an enormous victory,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “This is the culmination of years of hard work by countless Americans who believe—just as I do—that the Internet should remain the free and open platform that it’s always been. Net neutrality is important for consumers, for small businesses and startups trying to compete with the big guys, and ultimately, for the innovation that has helped drive our economy for the past several decades.

“The bottom line is this: the Internet is a vital part of our daily lives, and net neutrality is at the core of how the Internet operates. It is critical to our democracy and our economy that it continue to operate this way."

A Republican senator from nearby Wisconsin had a different take.

“Today’s disastrous decision by three unelected bureaucrats at the FCC to regulate broadband services like a public utility speaks more about how broken Washington is than about any need for onerous regulations on the Internet," said Sen Ron Johnson.

“Since the Clinton administration, the FCC has wisely applied a light regulatory touch to broadband services, resulting in a highly successful broadband industry. The FCC reverses that bipartisan policy decision after consulting with outside interests rather than Congress. The complete lack of transparency and refusal to submit to any congressional oversight is corrupting, and consumers of the Internet will ultimately pay for this travesty with higher costs and slower service.”

The comments pretty much broke along political lines.


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FCC Commissioners to Testify in Senate Commerce | John Eggerton | Multichannel

FCC Commissioners to Testify in Senate Commerce | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate Commerce Committee will get to question all five FCC commissioners about their Title II votes.

According to committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), all five commissioners will be testifying March 18 at an oversight hearing on net neutrality.

The commission voted 3-2 along party lines on Feb. 26 to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service subject to some Title II regulations.


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Stakeholders React to FCC Pre-emption Vote | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Stakeholders React to FCC Pre-emption Vote | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission's Title II vote was generating most of the headlines Thursday (Feb. 26), but another vote at the same meeting was also drawing plenty of comment from stakeholders: The similarly partisan 3-2 vote by the Democratic majority to pre-empt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limited municipal broadband buildouts.

In that vote, the FCC signaled that it could not pre-empt laws preventing such buildouts, but that if a state had authorized a city to build out broadband, the state could not limit its expansion beyond the city limits to other neighborhoods.

The FCC made clear its decision was limited to the petitions by Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., asking the FCC to pre-empt, but the vote signaled what the FCC might do in similar circumstances if asked by other cities in other states.

There was plenty of praise and criticism to go around.

"Today, the Federal Communications Commission sided with community-based solutions," the Benton Foundation said in a statement. "Today, the FCC sided with choice. Today, the FCC sided with bringing better broadband everywhere. The FCC’s vote will have direct, concrete meaning in the lives of Americans who have been unable to access the economic, health care, and educational benefits of fiber-based, broadband networks."

Not surprisingly, Jim Baller, lead consel on the Chattanooga and Wilson petitions, was happy.

“This is an important moment for communities in North Carolina, Tennessee, and other states that have barriers to local investments in advanced communications networks," he said. "Not only has the Commission confirmed that it has authority to remove such barriers, but it has also made clear that local Internet choice is critically important to the vitality of our communities and to America’s global competitiveness.”

Heather Gold, president of the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas, said: "The FTTH Council applauds the FCC for taking this step to further enable deployment of fiber to the home. Communities are hungry for bandwidth — for their economies, healthcare, education and quality of life. Citizens should be able to use all available assets to encourage all entities — ILECs, CLECs, utilities and municipalities — to deploy leading edge, future proof networks."

But not everyone was donning party hats.


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President Posts Title II Thank You Note | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

President Posts Title II Thank You Note | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The White House was taking something of a victory lap after the FCC vote to reclassify ISP's under Title II, which the President had urged the FCC to do last fall.

"The FCC just voted in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the Internet open and free," the White House said in thank you note of sorts to the millions of people who "stood up and made your voices heard." The White House said that happened "because millions of Americans across the country didn't just care about this issue: You stood up and made your voices heard, whether by adding your names to petitions, submitting public comments, or talking with the people you know about why this matters. Read a special thank-you message from the President, then learn more about how we got to where we are today.

The White House posted an online timeline of the network neutrality fight beginning with then Senator Obama's 2007 pledge and ending with his call for the "strongest possible rules"--he actually called for Title II by name, followed by the FCC's Feb. 26 vote "in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the internet open and free."

The White House web site included an actual copy of a thank you note from the President to net neutrality supporters.


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MIT researchers building chips to prevent leaky Internet of Things | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com

MIT researchers building chips to prevent leaky Internet of Things | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

MIT researchers this week are demonstrating a design for new radio chips that could be used to efficiently power the Internet of Things.

The researchers, led by MIT Professor in Electrical Engineering Anantha Chandrakasan, are presenting their work at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, where the show theme is "Silicon Systems -- Small Chips for Big Data." The MIT paper is titled "A +10dBm 2.4GHz Transmitter with sub-400pW Leakage and 43.7% System Efficiency."

In an Internet of Things where countless devices are communicating wirelessly with one another via sensors and processors, a key concern for architects is that endpoints are powerful enough but don't suck up too much energy, especially when idle. This goes both for IoT deployments at homes and at enterprises, where IoT is expected to take off.


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