Press review

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The press review catalogues press articles related to la Quadrature's issues, compiled by its volunteers.
See also our French press review.

[MotherJones] Verizon Says It Wants to Kill Net Neutrality to Help Blind, Deaf, and Disabled People

Lobbyists are telling Congress that the administration's plan to create internet fast lanes and slow lanes is important for Americans with disabilities. [...]

Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea. But groups representing disabled Americans, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Association of People with Disabilities are not advocating for this plan. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the AAPD, says that this is the "first time" he has heard "these specific talking points." [...]

Defenders of net neutrality are more cynical. The Verizon lobbyists' argument is "disingenuous," says Matt Wood, a policy director at Free Press, an Internet freedom advocacy group. The FCC says that even if the agency doesn't go through with its fast lane proposal, companies that serve disabled people would still be able to pay internet service providers for faster service. [...]

The decision the FCC makes in the coming months could "change the course of the Internet for a long time to come," says Michael Copps, who served as an FCC commissioner from 2001 to 2011, "perhaps in ways that will be impossible to reverse."

[Arstechnica] Ars tests Internet surveillance - by spying on an NPR reporter

Interesting article that summarises the findings of serious data leakage on mobile devices, google searches and other. A great read if you want to know a bit more about how much data leaking you're probably doing.

[BBC] Deal to combat piracy in UK with 'alerts' is imminent

After years of wrangling, a deal between entertainment industry bodies and UK internet service providers to help combat piracy is imminent. [...]

Instead, letters sent to suspected infringers must be "educational" in tone, "promoting an increase in awareness" of legal downloading services. The rights holders have agreed to pay £750,000 towards each internet service provider (ISP) to set up the system, or 75% of the total costs, whichever is smaller. [...]

In a joint statement, the BPI and MPA said: "Content creators and ISPs, with the support of government, have been exploring the possibility of developing an awareness programme that will support the continuing growth of legal creative content services, reduce copyright infringement and create the best possible customer experience online."

The groups declined to comment specifically on the leaked document. The four ISPs involved all confirmed that they were in discussion. [...]

[PolicyReview] US Communications Commission decision to fuel further fight in the EU

Digital rights activists hailed the European Parliament's April 2014 vote in favour of net neutrality and called it a hard fought success. Yet the dice are still rolling and the much debated US Federal Communication Commission's move of 15 May 2014 favouring a dichotomy of regular and specialised services may well serve those asking for ‘balance’ between the net neutrality principle and the protection of telecom investment, not the least EU governments. The status report of the Hellenic presidency for this week's telecom Council clearly illustrates that net neutrality is far from approved in the EU. [...]

Michael Fries, CEO of UK-based Liberty Global, said at the ANGA Cable opening panel that net neutrality was an important, but misunderstood topic. Certainly nobody wanted to stop users from going wherever they wanted, but at the same time network providers had to calculate the cost for building the highways. Added Fries: “We will never be a dumb pipe because we are investing in that user interface and we are investing in a whole series of activities from broadband to video to mobile.”

[PolicyReview] French parliament forms a committee on digital affairs

After years of being in reactive mode, the French parliament has just decided to set up a Commission du numérique (Committee on digital affairs). This should help French legislators come up with a set of principles meant to guide future legislation impacting the internet’s use and innovation. The timing of the newly-created multi-party and multi-stakeholder committee says everything on the role this committee will play for the future of French and, to a certain extent, European internet policy.

One year after the Snowden revelations on surveillance, in the midst of the European debate on network neutrality (and the latest net neutrality ruling by the US Communications Commission FCC) and as tens of thousands of requests flood Google in the ‘right to be forgotten’ dossier, the government of Premier Manuel Valls is expected to introduce, in the coming year, a bill on the protection of internet-related rights and freedoms. [...]

[TechDirt] The FLOK Society Project: Making The Good Life Possible Through Good Knowledge

One of the most striking and important developments in the world of technology over the last two decades or so has been the rise of an alternative mode of production that is open, collaborative and global. This began in the world of software, with Richard Stallman's GNU project, but has now been extended to the realms of text, data, science and hardware, among others. The free sharing of information to form a kind of digital commons, which lies at the heart of these projects, has also been applied to business, albeit in the modified form of collaborative consumption -- things like Airbnb. These different manifestations of fundamentally similar ideas have sprung up in a largely uncoordinated way, but an interesting question is whether they could be drawn together into a unified approach, applied to a whole country, say. That's what Ecuador's FLOK Society (original in Spanish) has been exploring. "FLOK" is derived from "free", "libre" and "open knowledge"; [...]

Bauwens himself admits that FLOK Society is unlikely to transform an entire nation overnight, or even in the foreseeable future, but sees it as a crucially-important step towards that larger goal of global change: " the publication and the dialogue about the plan itself, and some concrete actions, legislative frameworks, and pilot projects, are the best we can hope for. What this will do is give real legitimacy to our approach and move the commons transition to the geo-political stage. Can we hope for more?"

"Personally, I believe that even if only 20% of our proposals are retained for action, I think we can consider it a relative success. This is the very first time such an even partial transition will have happened at the scale of the nation and, as I see it, it gives legitimacy to a whole new set of ideas about societal transition."

[TorrentFreak] Italy Orders Blockade of Three More Torrent Sites

A telecoms administrative body has ordered a fresh torrent site blockade in Italy. Following decisions against four torrent sites last month, the AGCOM regulator says that three more torrent indexes must now be banned by the country's ISPs. [...]

Instead of legislating against piracy, the Italian government gave the watchdog the power to deal with infringement, up to and including the removal of infringing content and even the blocking of allegedly copyright-infringing domains. [...]

For now it seems that AGCOM are going after sites that are enjoyed more locally, but that could very well change once the regulator runs out of targets.

[TechDirt] Former NSA Lawyer Asks Google To 'Forget' All Of Techdirt's Posts About Him

Former NSA counsel and surveillance/security state hypeman Stewart Baker has had just about enough of Techdirt making "distorted claims" about his statements for the "purposes of making money." [...]

Stewart's takedown request targeting Techdirt is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it does highlight the sort of abuse that should be expected when government bodies attempt to force the internet to bend to their will. Granting a "right to be forgotten" pretty much ensures that a majority of the requests will be no more legitimate than Baker's.

Multiple advocates for the law have compared it with the infamous DMCA takedown notice, something that has also been routinely abused. But at least the DMCA takedown carries with it the (almost never enforced) charge of perjury for issuing bogus takedowns. The RTBF form simply asks for a copy of the submitter's identification. There's nothing in it to discourage abuse of the system. If you don't like something someone has said about you on the web, just fill out a webform. [...]

[TheGuardian] The government ruled for net neutrality. Too bad it wasn't your government

In America and Europe, the internet is going mobile out of convenience. In the developing world, mobile is the internet. Here's what happens when companies take advantage of that.[...]

Chile's telecommunications regulator, the Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, recently imposed some short-term pain on some of the nation's internet users, hoping to ensure a long-term gain: Chileans' ability to make their own choices about how they want to use the internet. Mobile carriers had wanted to partner with giant internet services (including Facebook and Google) to offer what they call "zero-rating" connections: an increasingly common arrangement in which mobile phone customers got no-cost mobile data as long as they used those specific services. But the regulator instead insisted that Chile's network neutrality law meant what it said, and nixed those arrangements. [...]

The non-neutral mobile internet emerges from the assumption that mobile networks are so bandwidth-constrained that carriers must heavily tinker with what users can do and impose penurious data caps. So why do people in Finland pay a small fraction of the price for much more mobile bandwidth – which they use – than people in Germany, Spain and the US? It's simple, according to persuasive research from a Helsinki consultancy, Rewheel: Finland has genuine competition not dominated by an dominant state-preferred (or owned) carrier. According to Rewheel, the dominant European carriers are trying to create a "digital OPEC" – a cartel designed to maintain high prices. [...]

So I'm baffled that we're framing network neutrality in such a constrained way. We definitely need to save it for our wired-line services. But if we ignore the ways in which mobile carriers are trying to create a new cartel of their own, we'll be in even worse trouble.

[EurActiv] Italian Presidency vows telecoms reform by end of 2014

Italy’s incoming presidency of the EU will focus on adopting the entire telecoms reform by the end of the year and will avoid splitting the package to put aside the most controversial issues, a member of the Italian government told EurActiv. [...]

He insisted that the package has been devised as “unitary” and therefore needs to stay as it is, ruling out that some controversial elements of the reform may be taken away, such as the net neutrality. [...]

The digital work programme of the next EU presidency, which will start in July, underlines that it “will focus its work on the legislative proposals related to the Connected Continent package”.
The programme also includes, as top issues, progress on a “high common level of network and information security” and on the directive dealing with the accessibility and usability of the Internet, notably of public administration’s websites. [...]

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