Monthly Archives: June 2008

Online Everyone: The Internet for Everyone, a new public/private coalition

internetforeveryone.jpg Google’s Vint Cerf, ZIPcar’s Robin Chase, FCC’s Adelstein: Internet for Everyone, a public/private coalition for getting everyone online:
It’s Google’s involvement in the deal that makes the new coalition something to keep an eye on. The company has expanded its Washington DC lobbying group significantly in the past few years.

“When you have a public interest community up against a massive industrial sector like the cable and telco companies, you’re going to likely fail because of the corrupted political system where money buys influence,” said Silver. “However, if you can align the public interest with major industrial sectors that also have an increasing influence in Washington, then you have something formidable, then you actually can beat the cable and phone cartel, and this is going to how its going to play out.”

Net Neutrality Advocates Call For Fast, Universal Access To The Net, By Sarah Lai Stirland, Wired, June 24, 2008,

Access, choice, openness, innovation: yes, those are the points (plus speed), without being weighed down by the albatross of the clunky “net neutrality” malnym.


PS: Free Press: if you’re going to put a video up front, pick a fluent public speaker such as Robin Chase or Jonathan Zittrain to show first, eh? “Collective hallucination,” yes!

Banana Republic, DC: Telecom Lobbying Revolving Door

800px-Banana_republic.svg.png Greenwald notes that AT&T spends more in three months for lobbying than EFF’s entire budget for a year. Then he spells out how the lobbying revolving door works, and concludes:
The “two sides” referenced there means the House Democratic leadership and the telecoms. Congressional leaders are “negotiating” with the telecoms — the defendants in pending lawsuits — regarding the best way for immunizing them from liability for their lawbreaking, no doubt with the help of the former Democratic members and staffers now being paid by the telecoms to speak to their former bosses and colleagues about what they should do. To describe the process is to illustrate its oozing, banana-republic-like corruption, but that’s generally how our laws are written.

None of this is particularly new, but it’s still remarkable to be able to document it in such grotesque detail and see how transparent it all is. In one sense, it’s just extraordinary how seamlessly and relentlessly the wheels of this dirty process churn. But in another sense, it’s perhaps even more remarkable — given the forces lined up behind telecom amnesty — that those who have been working against it, with far fewer resources and relying largely on a series of disruptive tactics and ongoing efforts to mobilize citizen anger, have been able to stop it so far.

How telecoms are attempting to buy amnesty from Congress, Glenn Greenwald,, Saturday May 24, 2008 06:48 EDT

Remember, AT&T and the other telcos and cablecos are the same companies that want to nuke net neutrality in the name of competition and progress; two other flags they behind, just like the banana republic flag of national security.


ATCA Again: Duopoly Against VoIP Long Before Video

TinCanPhone-726651.jpg Back in 1995, an organization calling itself AMERICA’S CARRIERS TELECOMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION (“ACTA”), petitioned the FCC to regulate Voice over IP (VoIP) services. The gist of the matter was:
Permitting long distance service to be given away is not in the public interest.
In other words, if the telcos couldn’t make money off of it, nobody should.

A usually reliable source says:

The ACTA petition was the first time that the FCC confronted VoIP as a policy issue. The FCC, however, never acted on the ACTA petition, and ACTA, the moving party, no longer exists. The question presented by the ACTA petition was whether the FCC had regulatory authority to regulate VoIP Internet software used by individuals to do telephony with each other, with no service provider in the middle.

VoIP: ACTA Petition, Cybertelecom

It’s interesting that the same telcos that now rail against regulation were happy to try to use it back in 1995 when it suit their purposes.

So ATCA failed to control VoIP via FCC regulation. But they can use volume charging to eliminate both VoIP and video they don’t provide themselves.

The duopoly’s claims of a few people using too much traffic are a smokescreen. The real issue is control: they want to control what passes through “their” networks so they can profit by as much of it as possible. I have no objection to telcos and cablecos making a profit. I do object to them squelching everybody else to do so. On the Internet you can connect any two tin cans, unless the duopoly can cut your string.


Byte Charging Rears Its Ugly Head

leakfaucet.jpg Here it is again:
Some people use the Internet simply to check e-mail and look up phone numbers. Others are online all day, downloading big video and music files.

For years, both kinds of Web surfers have paid the same price for access. But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity.

Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic, By BRIAN STELTER, New York Times, Published: June 15, 2008

The article names Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T as the three prospective byte chargers.

I can remember when all the European PTTs charged by the byte. That held the Internet in Europe back by at least four years. The article rightly points out byte charging would interfere with all sorts of business plans. It would also inhibit political speech.

Isn’t it lovely when the duopoly that controls U.S. Internet access considers participation a leak that needs to be fixed?


Speeches: McCain and Obama, TV and the Internet

Al Gore’s home office.
(Time Magazine)
John McCain’s speech in Kenner 3 June 2008 got truncated by the news media when they switched to Obama’s speech that same night. The versions on YouTube reflect that problem, since they were made from TV. They also suffer from TV network labeling and chyrons chatting about the opposition.

Barack Obama’s speech that same night has network logos and chyrons, but at least it is complete. However, when Al Gore endorsed Obama on 17 June, the networks all cut away immediately after Gore finished talking, because only the endorsement was news, and they weren’t interested in what the candidate himself might have to say. But Gore sent out email to supporters earlier that day, and numerous blogs posted it (Huffington Post, DailyKos, Washington Post, etc.). And Obama’s campaign streamed the whole event live, so nobody had to watch network logos, chyrons, commercials, or talking heads, and they could see all of both speeches. Although, oddly, neither the Gore nor the Obama speech seems to be on YouTube yet.

Political campaigns can use the Internet to bypass the traditional media.


An Integral Part: the Internet intertwined with everything else

circle.jpg This is what the Internet is best at:
My blog is an integral part of my life, and I’m neither ashamed of it, nor do I think my online friendships are lesser than physical friendships. And they become physical friendships, a lot of times. I travel all over the place, and whenever there’s anybody in the area I try to meet up with them. I owe almost everything going on in my life right now to blogging and the Internet, and that’s fine with me. The Internet does nothing so well as social networking. The other day, I realized I was living with someone I had met on LiveJournal, spreading jam I had gotten from a friend I met on LiveJournal, and having breakfast at a table I had bought on Craigslist — everything I was doing that day had to do with this glittering network of people I had found through the Internet. The blog doesn’t really interfere with my writing because it comes from a completely different side of the brain. I do feel guilty when I get too busy and haven’t posted, but I would never stop doing it. It’s an integral part of the way I market my books and interact with my audience.

Catherynne M. Valente: Playing in the Garden, Locus, May 2008

Valente writes fiction, yet many companies can attest to the same kind of intertwining of the Internet with everything else they do.

And there was not a word in there about wanting the Internet turned into cable TV.


Vigilantes Against BitTorrent? Revision3 Taken Down by SYN Floods

revision3_f5_dos.jpg Revision3 uses BitTorrent to distribute legal Internet television. It turns out using BitTorrent may be enough to subject a company to crippling online attack.
On the internet, computers say hi with a special type of packet, called “SYN”. A conversation between devices typically requires just one short SYN packet exchange, before moving on to larger messages containing real data. And most of the traffic cops on the internet – routers, firewalls and load balancers – are designed to mostly handle those larger messages. So a flood of SYN packets, just like a room full of hyperactive screaming toddlers, can cause all sorts of problems.

That’s what happened to us. Another device on the internet flooded one of our servers with an overdose of SYN packets, and it shut down – bringing the rest of Revision3 with it. In webspeak it’s called a Denial of Service attack – aka DoS – and it happens when one machine overwhelms another with too many packets, or messages, too quickly. The receiving machine attempts to deal with all that traffic, but in the end just gives up.

A bit of address translation, and we’d discovered our nemesis. But instead of some shadowy underground criminal syndicate, the packets were coming from right in our home state of California. In fact, we traced the vast majority of those packets to a public company called Artistdirect (ARTD.OB). Once we were able to get their internet provider on the line, they verified that yes, indeed, that internet address belonged to a subsidiary of Artist Direct, called MediaDefender.

Inside the Attack that Crippled Revision3, by Jim Louderback in Polemics, on May 29th, 2008 at 07:49 am

The plot thickens from there. Well worth reading. I bet the legal proceedings will be even more interesting.


T-Mobile Lobbying: $700K in Q1 2008

michelle-persaud.jpg T-Mobile hasn’t made the news like AT&T, Comcast, and Cox for violating net neutrality, but has nonetheless been busy lobbying behind the scenes:
WASHINGTON – Telecommunications carrier T-Mobile USA Inc. spent nearly $700,000 in the first quarter to lobby on spectrum matters and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

T-Mobile, which is owned by German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG (nyse: DT – news – people ), also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving wireless taxes, privacy and various consumer protection issues.

The company, the nation’s fourth largest cellular carrier, also lobbied lawmakers on the issue of “Net neutrality,” or the principle that all Web traffic be treated equally. Some Internet providers want to charge content providers extra to get their Web sites to load faster. Lawmakers have proposed legislation to make Net neutrality the law of the land.

T-Mobile spent $700,000 lobbying in first quarter, Associated Press, 05.30.08, 5:26 PM ET

The T-Mobile lobbyist pictured is Michelle Persaud, former Democratic staff council for the House Judiciary Committee.