Monthly Archives: March 2008

Revisionism by PRI

pri.jpg This is amusing:
The attempt to force network neutrality on wireless carriers will result in disaster and is based on faulty assumptions, including one that there ever was neutrality on the Internet, according to a newly released analysis from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI).

Researcher Rebukes Wireless ‘Net Neutrality’ Advocates, NewsBreak, Telecomweb – USA, 26 March 2008

Well, I guess that waves away all the well-documented steps the FCC took to strip away common carrier status from each facet of Internet provision

You have to register to read the rest at Telecomweb, but PRI has more, including this rather amusing claim: Continue reading

PR in China: Monks Burst Into International Press Briefing This is what you have to do to get media attention if you don’t have a free press:
A group of uninvited young monks at the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet and a top tourist stop in central Lhasa, stormed into a briefing by a temple administrator.

“About 30 young monks burst into the official briefing, shouting: ‘Don’t believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies’,” USA Today Beijing-based reporter Callum MacLeod said by telephone from Lhasa.

Monks burst in on Tibet news briefing, By John Ruwitch, Reuters, Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:59pm GMT

This may be an extreme, but it is what controled media lead to.


Big picture: Net Neutrality vs. Social Control by Big Media

Most net neutrality discussions get bogged down in details. This video draws the big picture from the beginnings of the Internet, backwards to the “consolidation” of earlier forms of media such as the printing press and radio, to what the duopoly is trying to do to the Internet.

Do we want the Internet to go the way of newspapers, radio, and TV, and even the postal service, with 90+% of content provided by half a dozen big corporations and only op-eds and heavily selected and edited letters permitted from the great unwashed? Hey, they’ve got that in China, and there most of the population believes that Tibetans are barbarian recipients of superior Chinese culture, so Chinese troops are totally justified in squashing any ungrateful opposition. We could return to depending on the traditional media in the U.S.; after all, they only helped lie us into a war of choice in Iraq, costing $2 billion a week that we could be using to deal with education, health care, and preserving the natural world. Or we can fight for Internet freedom.


Arbitrary and Capricious: FCC (says Fox)

mbatonybj.jpg The FCC seems to have no friends these days:
Fox Television said it won’t pay its part of a $91,000 indecency fine levied recently by the Federal Communications Commission for a 2003 episode of a reality TV show that featured strippers and whipped cream.

Fox said in a statement that it won’t pay the fine imposed against five of its stations because it believes the FCC’s decision that the show in question was indecent was “arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional.” The network said it will appeal the FCC’s decision and proposed fine on behalf of 13 stations….

Fox TV Refuses to Pay Indecency Fine by FCC, By Amy Schatz, Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2008

Fox lifted the wording from a 2007 court ruling, apparently about a different show. Oh, right: that one.

Maybe if the FCC would get back to actually dealing impartially with real matters of public policy, it might garner public and Congressional support.


Google Wins by Losing 700Mhz Wireless Spectrum Auction

This interpretation seems good:
The real winner here is Google precisely because it lost. Google committed to bidding the minimum $4.6 billion that would trigger open device and open application rules that it had lobbied for, but nobody seriously thought it actually wanted to win the auction. Building out and operating a wireless network is a much lower-margin business than search advertising, and even leasing out the spectrum would have been a distraction. But by putting its $4.6 billion on the table early, it was able to dictate the new rules of the game. Rules that Verizon is now stuck with. All Google really wants are broadband wireless networks that cannot discriminate against Google mobile apps or Android phones no matter who operates them.

Breaking: FCC Confirms that Big Winner in Spectrum Auction is Verizon. So Why I s Google Smiling? Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch, 20 March 2008

The new rules aren’t as good as one might have hoped, and now somebody has to make the FCC enforce them, but at least they’re better than the old rules.


CBC DRM-Free BitTorrent

cbccngpm.jpg The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) leaps ahead:
On March 24th after the broadcast of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister (airs March 23rd at 7 pm on CBC Television) we’ll be the 1st major broadcaster in North America to release a high quality, DRM-free copy of a primetime show using BitTorrent technology. We’ll also be distributing a version you can put in your iPod.

The show will completely free (and legal) for you to download, share & burn to your heart’s desire.

CBC to BitTorrent Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister, CANADA’S NEXT GREAT PRIME MINISTER NEWS, 19 March 2008

The CBC blog post goes on to say CBC has already been using Facebook to promote the show and they even used YouTube to cast it. They even credit BoingBoing for coming up with the idea, only two weeks ago. BoingBoing seems to have gotten it from a similar move by NRK in Norway. And BoingBoing noted CBC’s move the day before CBC announced it.

CBC asked for comments, and got some: Continue reading

Nacchio Gets New Trial and Judge

nacchio.jpg All guilty counts thrown out, and not just a new trial, but a new judge:
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the guilty verdict in the criminal insider trading case of former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio and ordered a new trial before a different judge.

The 2-1 decision cited U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham’s exclusion of expert testimony by Northwestern University law professor and private consultant Daniel Fischel.

Fischel was allowed to testify on Nacchio’s behalf about the facts behind his stock sales, but was excluded from providing economic analysis.

Nacchio conviction overturned, By Andy Vuong, The Denver Post , Article Last Updated: 03/17/2008 10:33:03 PM MDT

What else will a new trial reveal about the government’s dealings with Qwest about warrantless wiretapping?


7 Percent Solution: How Many Complaints the FCC Enforces

moriarty.gif What would happen if you put Dr. Moriarty in charge of solving Sherlock Holmes’ cases?
The Government and Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that the Federal Communications Commission does nothing with about four out of every five consumer complaints that it puts into a database and investigates. Even worse, the GAO could not discern from its survey of the FCC’s complaint process why the FCC takes no enforcement action with 83 percent of the complaints it looked into from 2003 through 2006. “Without key management tools, FCC may have difficulty assuring Congress and other stakeholders that it is meeting its enforcement mission,” the GAO report warns. That’s putting it mildly. If the FCC does set up some serious net neutrality guidelines for ISPs like Comcast, how can P2P application users and other consumers know that the agency will take their comments seriously?

FCC living in the dark ages; a threat to net neutrality aims, By Matthew Lasar, ars technical, March 16, 2008 – 12:22PM CT

You might get about 7% of them solved, just to make a pretense of credibility.

Indeed, there is an assurance problem. Continue reading

Snooping as Free Speech: Verizon Claims Revealing Sensitive Customer Data is Its Right

Straw+Man.png It’s a good thing I hadn’t had my coffee yet:
Verizon is seeking to have a lawsuit filed against it for allegedly illegally helping the government eavesdrop on its customers and data mine their call records dismissed. The company argues that the suit infringes on the company’s First Amendment rights.

Verizon: Suing Us For Turning Over Customer Call Records Violates Our Free Speech Rights, By Ryan Singel ThreatLevel, May 04, 2007 | 5:59:00 AM

This is so funny I would have sprayed the coffee.

Funny in a gallows-humor kind of way. As in Verizon must be really desperate to try something like this. And as in the U.S. is in a bad way when telcos have apparently been handing over all their traffic to a secret spy agency and a court will even entertain an argument that their doing so is free speech. At least the judge in question has thus far allowed suits against Verizon in these matters to proceed. Maybe he will in this case, too.

If there were a real market for telecoms and ISPs in the U.S., this sort of thing would be less likely to happen, because some of the affected companies would possibly make a point of refusing to spy on their own customers, and would be rewarded by gaining customers.


Jettisoned: 8 Centuries of Common Carriage Law

puzzle-grey-data-header.jpg Someone at CAIDA (presumably kc Claffy by the writing style), went to
an invitation-only intensely interactive workshop on the topic of Internet infrastructure economics. participants included economists, network engineers, infrastructure providers, network service providers, regulatory experts, investment analysts, application designers, academic researchers/professors, entrepreneurs/inventors, biologists, oceanographers. almost everyone in more than one category.

internet infrastructure economics: top ten things i have learned so far, by webmaster, according to the best available data, October 7th, 2007

and wrote up a report including this summary of the political situation:
…and it turns out that in the last 5 years the United States — home of the creativity, inspiration and enlightened government forces (across several different agencies) that gave rise to the Internet in the first place — has thoroughly jettisoned 8 centuries of common carriage law that we critically relied on to guide public policy in equitably provisioning this kind of good in society, including jurisprudence and experience in determining ‘unreasonable discrimination’.

and our justification for this abandonment of eight centuries of common law is that our “government” — and it turns out most of our underinformed population (see (1) above) — believes that market forces will create an open network on their own. which is a particularly suspicious prediction given how the Internet got to where it is today:in the 1960s the US government funded people like vint cerf and steve crocker to build an open network architected around the ‘end to end principle’, the primary intended use of which was CPU and file sharing among government funded researchers. [yes, the U.S. government fully intended to design, build, and maintain a peer-to-peer file-sharing network!]

That’s right folks: “resource sharing” was the buzzword back then, and every node was supposed to be potentially a peer to every other. Continue reading