Category Archives: International acces

Against SOPA and PIPA, for an open Internet

If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA, you will today, as reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist, Free Software Foundation, and many other websites protest those Internet censorship bills today. The so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a House bill (H.R.3261) and the so-called PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is a Senate bill (S.968) (most recently renamed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011). Both have nothing to do with promoting creativity and everything to do with giving a few large copyright holders priority over the Internet, requiring censorship of links to entire domains. Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China? That’s where the Chinese government censors entire domains such as facebook, youtube, and twitter because they contain some content that the Chinese government doesn’t want distributed. SOPA and PIPA would do the same thing, except putting Hollywood in charge of what would be censored. In a perfect example of the DC lobbying revolving door, former Senator Chris Dodd, now Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the anti-SOPA blackout an “abuse of power”. Funny how it’s only an abuse of power when we fight back.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Mythbuster Adam Savage.

Here’s a technical explanation. And here’s a letter of objection many of the engineers who built the Internet.

Here’s where the anti-SOPA blackout started: Continue reading

Why SOPA and PIPA are bad

SOPA and PIPA are not dead, as Mikki Barry reminds us. She points at an excellent writeup on why we should care.

Tom Evslin wrote on Fractals of Change at some unknown data, SOPA and PIPA are Bipartisan Bad Policy, Really Bad Policy

In China you can’t get to some Internet sites: no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter. Search engines can’t find the “Falun Gong” or “Tiananmen Square massacre”. We would never do that kind of blocking here in the US, you say. Well, not so fast. If either House bill SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) or Senate bill PIPA (Protect IP Act) or something in between passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the President, Internet censorship, unreachable websites, and forbidden searches will be the law of this land.

The Arab Spring has been enabled by the inability of some governments to block Internet communication. SOPA and SIPA both require that Internet blocking tools be developed and deployed here. Maybe we trust our own government not to misuse these (I don’t!); but do we really want to be responsible for the proliferation of censorship and blocked communication?

Why, you ask, would our Congresspeople want to impose censorship anywhere? Why would they want to slow down the most vigorous parts of the US economy?

The answer, at least, is simple. These are bills that Hollywood wants to protect its movies from online piracy, and Hollywood makes mega-campaign contributions and even gives Congresspeople bit parts in its movies. There is nothing partisan about campaign contributions.

Why? The DC lobbying revolving door banana republic, of course, made even worse by the SCOTUS Citizens United decision.

As for the Arab Spring, the powers that be here don’t want that here. Remember who propped up Mubarak all those decades.

When even Patrick Leahy pushes PIPA, something is seriously wrong with the U.S. government. SOPA or PIPA or something watered down that their pushers can claim isn’t as bad will pass unless the people stand up and stop it.


Eyes on their lobbyists’ bank accounts

The plutocrats and their bought politicians don’t care about Internet free trade, but we should.

Scott Bradner almost gets it about the opposition to net neutrality in Eyes in their ankles: The congressional view of network neutrality:

If you work at a company that uses the Internet to sell to customers or to buy from suppliers you should care about the net neutrality discussion.
You should, but you probably don’t have the money to buy some politicians to do something about it, and unfortunately the biggest companies do, and they’re busy doing just that: Continue reading

a worldwide social network that has fomented revolution in multiple countries

Who would have thought that twitter and facebook could foment a revolution? Yet Wael Ghonim says it did. He’s one of the people behind the “We are all Khaled Said” facebook page, and he spent a dozen days in jail for it: Here’s his TED Talk:
“Because of the Internet, the truth prevailed.
And everyone knew the truth.
And everyone started to think that this guy can be my brother.”

Here’s a post from that facebook page on 3 March 2011:

“I really want you ALL to understand that your support to Free Egypt & Egyptians is vital. Don’t you ever think that sitting on FaceBook supporting & commenting help help Egypt. A whole revolution started on Facebook & is now bringing Freedom & starting a new modern Egypt.”

Other Egyptian organizers say similar things:

“Online organising is very important because activists have been able to discuss and take decisions without having to organise a meeting which could be broken up by the police,” he said.’
( “Internet role in Egypt’s protests,” by Anne Alexander, BBC, 9 February 2011.)

Many of the Egyptians involved were poor and not usually thought of as Internet users, but David D. Kirkpatrick expalined that in the NY Times 9 Feb 2011, Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt:

The day of the protest, the group tried a feint to throw off the police. The organizers let it be known that they intended to gather at a mosque in an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo, and the police gathered there in force. But the …organizers set out instead for a poor neighborhood nearby, Mr. Elaimy recalled.

Starting in a poor neighborhood was itself an experiment. “We always start from the elite, with the same faces,” Mr. Lotfi said. “So this time we thought, let’s try.” ‘

The NY Times story goes into detail about how the online organizing interfaced with and instigated the initial meatspace protests.

And you don’t need a laptop or a desktop computer to use social media. As Reese Jones points out,

in 2010 75% of the population of Egypt had cell phones (60 million phones in service likely with SMS) possible to message via Facebook via SMS at
And this was all after similar efforts in Tunisia had successfully exiled their tyrant and inspired the Egyptians, who in turn inspired the Lybians, etc. And what inspired the Tunisians to start was Wikileaks posts of U.S. cables showing the U.S. thought the Tunisian dictator was just as clueless and corrupt as the Tunisians thought.

So yes, social networking on the Internet has fomented multiple revolutions.


More Liveblogging from NANOG Net Neutrality Panel

The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010. Notes continued from the previous post. See the pages 37-51 of the NPRM.

Question from a provider: VoIP traffic prioritization from essentially our own service?

Moderator: One thing that won’t be allowed is prioritizing your own service over someone else’s similar service; that’s almost the whole point. FCC person: This is contemplated in the document. Existing services wouldn’t have to be reworked rapidly. Seeking input. Reasons to be concerned. Monopoly over last mile has a position to differentially treat such a service. This is one of the core concerns.

Q: Giving the same priority to somebody else’s similar VoIP service is essentially creating a trust relationship; how much traffic will the other service provider send? Continue reading

Japan Still Far Ahead of US in Internet Connection Speeds

While the U.S. still hopes to get up to 10Mbps Internet connection speeds by 2012, Japan already has such speeds for cable Internet service almost everywhere. And yes, I mean Internet connections, not just broadband.


But in Japan cable Internet service is of declining popularity, because 30 or 40 Mbps for $50 or $60 per month is not really fast there.

DSL in Japan goes up to 50 Mbps for also around $50-$60/month.


But for actual fast, cheap, Internet connections, people in Japan buy Fiber to the Home (FTTH), which actually costs less and delivers from 100Mbps to 1Gbps.


Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A., EDUCAUSE has proposed 100Mbps national broadband using a funding method that already failed in Texas.

Japan didn’t get to 100Mbps by a single government-funded network. It did it by actually enforcing competition among broadband providers. Why did it do this? Because a private entrepreneur, Masayoshi Son, and his company Softbank, pestered the Japanese government until it did so.

Thus it’s refreshing that these graphs laying out how far ahead of the U.S. Japan is come from the New America Foundation. Chair? Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

Not for Sale: Canadian Internet

ralpic.jpg Net neutrality has become a political issue in Canada, where a small and very polite rally occurred in Ottawa the other day.
p2pnet news | Freedom:- Today is the day Canadians are gathering in Ottawa to tell the federal government what they think about Net Neutrality and bandwidth throttling.

Bell Canada was suffering under the delusion it could choke down accounts paid for by some of its customers, wrongly claiming they’re responsible for bandwidth congestion.

Canadians rally for Net Neutrality, P2Pnet news, 27 May 2008


Critics, it’s Time to Stop the Quibbling: Broadband in Other Countries

bio_nate.jpg Ars technica sums it up:
One of the ironies of the current broadband situation in the US is that staunch free marketeers defend the status quo even though the result of their views has been duopoly and high prices. Meanwhile, other countries (including those with a reputation in some quarters for “socialism”) have taken aggressive steps to create a robust, competitive, consumer-friendly marketplace with the help of regulation and national investment.

Critics, it’s time to stop the quibbling: the data collection practices that show the US dropping year-over-year in all sorts of broadband metrics from uptake to price per megabit might not prove solid enough to trust with your life, but we’re out of good reasons to doubt their general meaning.

Broadband: other countries do it better, but how? By Nate Anderson, ars technica, Published: May 11, 2008 – 07:37PM CT

That post includes a table of papers and reports on per-country broadband rankings with corresponding U.S. rankings, from 11 to 24.

Then it gets to lack of political leadership:

Despite the repeated claims of the current administration that our "broadb and policy" is working, the US act ually has no broadband policy and no aggressive and inspiring goals (t hink "moon shot"). The EDUCAUSE model suggests investing $100 billion (a third comes from the feds, a third from the states, and a third from compan ies) to roll out fiber to every home in the country. Whether the particular pro posal has merit or not, it at least has the great virtue of being an ambitious policy that recognizes the broad economic and social benefits from fast broadba nd. 

Here's hoping that the next president, whoever he (or, possibly, she) is, g ives us something more effective—and inspiring—than this. It's telling that the current administration's official page on the President's tech p olicy hasn't had a new speech or press release added since… 2004.

$100 billion may sound like a lot, but the federal government alone spends that much a year on the unnecessary Iraq war. The U.S. needs better priorities.


Kaput: What Your Domain Becomes if U.S. Treasury Says So

henrypaulson.jpg What a reputation:
So that’s that. Register your domain name through a U.S. company and your business goes kaput if the U.S. Treasury Department decides it doesn’t like you. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in Spain, your servers are in the Bahamas, your customers are mostly European, and you’ve broken no laws. No warning. Just kaput.

Just Kaput, Kevin Drum, Political Animal, 4 March 2008

This blogger bases his opinion on a NYTimes story: Continue reading

Back to the Future: 10Mbps by 2012, or, What Japan Had Years Ago

marketshare.gif Creeping ahead:
A study from Texas-based research firm Parks Associates predicts that 33 million US households will have broadband connections of 10Mbps or faster by 2012. As of the end of 2007, that figure stood at 5.7 million, which means that a lot of change will have to occur in the US market for that 33 million figure to become a reality.

Report: 10Mbps broadband in 33 million homes by 2012, By Eric Bangeman, ars technica, Published: March 04, 2008 – 10:20PM CT

Meanwhile, Japan is already doing 100Mbps. But in Japan there is real ISP competition. Unlike in the U.S., where, as shown in the pie chart by Park Associates (via DSL Reports), each of Comcast and AT&T have a fifth of the broadband market, followed by Verizon and Time Warner each with 13%, plus Cox with 7%, and that’s 3/4 of the total market served by only five companies, of whom most people have a choice of only two in any given locality. That’s not competition.