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robertogreco : netneutrality   23

John Perry Barlow gave internet activists only half the mission they need.
"It was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, of all places, where John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996. That might have been an odd place for a poet and former Grateful Dead lyricist to pen a foundational document of internet activism, but it was also an apt one: Barlow’s manifesto, and the movement it undergirds, helped give us the dynamic—but also often deleteriously corporatized—internet we have today.

Barlow died on Wednesday at the age of 71. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the cyber civil liberties organization that he co-founded in 1990—where I used to work—shared in a blog post that he passed quietly in his sleep. He leaves us a legacy that has shaped the mission of the people fighting for the open internet. That mission is an incomplete one."



"I can’t help but ask what might have happened had the pioneers of the open web given us a different vision—one that paired the insistence that we must defend cyberspace with a concern for justice, human rights, and open creativity, and not primarily personal liberty. What kind of internet would we have today?"

[via:https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-252 ]
johnperrybarlow  individualism  californianideology  libertarianism  internet  web  online  2018  open  openness  creativity  liberty  cyberspace  justice  socialjustice  humanrights  race  racism  inclusion  inclusivity  openweb  aprilglaser  government  governance  law  eff  policy  corporatism  surveillance  edwardsnowden  nsa  netneutrality  sopa  pipa  fcc  privilege  power  prejudice 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Can’t give it away | The Economist
"“WHO could possibly be against this?”, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, asked in an editorial in the Times of India on December 28th. The “this” in question is “Free Basics”, a programme that gives its users free access to Facebook and a handful of other online services on their smartphones in 36 poor countries. According to Mr Zuckerberg, Free Basics acts as a gateway drug to the internet: half of those who first experience going online through the service start paying for full internet access within a month. Though the programme is promoted by Facebook, its costs are borne by the mobile-telecoms operators it works with—in the case of India, Reliance Communications, the country’s fourth-largest.

As it turns out, plenty of people are against Free Basics. They include everyone from India’s internet-and-mobile-industry body (of which Facebook is itself a member) to a ragtag group of volunteer activists who mustered almost 400,000 people to write to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as part of a public consultation on whether mobile operators should be allowed to charge different amounts for different forms of data. At stake is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing internet markets outside China, which bars foreign digital services such as Facebook from entering. Around a quarter of the Indian population—or 300m people—were online at the end of 2014, and the number is expected to double by 2020.

Critics of the programme say that Facebook’s generosity is cover for a landgrab. They argue that Free Basics is a walled garden of Facebook-approved content, that it breaches consumer privacy by sucking up all the data generated by users of the service, and that it is anticompetitive to boot. Moreover, critics fear that if new internet users are merely Facebook users, other online businesses will have no choice but to operate within Facebook’s world. Nandan Nilekani, an Indian tech luminary opposed to Free Basics, suggests that, instead, the government subsidise a monthly allowance of free mobile data for each user.

Facebook counters that the programme is open to all-comers that meet certain technical requirements, that user data are stored for only 90 days, and that there is no profit motive: the service does not include advertising. As for suppressing local competition, Facebook argues, “there is no greater threat to local innovation than leaving people offline.” If, as Mr Zuckerberg says, Free Basics users quickly graduate to paying for full internet service, India’s ferociously competitive mobile operators should provide it cheaply. And if Free Basics proved popular there would be little to stop India’s big media and e-commerce groups from creating rival services to attract new surfers to their web offerings.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has run an extensive campaign with full-page ads in Indian newspapers touting Free Basics. Newspapers, blogs and television channels have presented arguments and counterarguments every day. Even All India Bakchod, a popular comedy collective, got into the act. The group’s video arguing against Free Basics has been watched 800,000 times on YouTube—and another 350,000 on Facebook itself.

Activists in India won early victories in 2015, leading Facebook to change the name of its service from internet.org, which they said was misleading, and forcing the company to accept more services than those it handpicks. In December the TRAI suspended Free Basics in India pending the results of its consultation. The TRAI has received 1.4m notes of support for Free Basics as part of this process, driven largely by an automated response tool Facebook used to gather support from its Indian users. But the regulator says it may have to disregard them, since they do not answer the question it is asking. The TRAI itself will deliver its verdict at the end of this month."
facebook  freebasics  india  2016  internet  web  netneutrality  online  designimperialism  humanitariandesign 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Zero Rating: A Modest Proposal | Many Possibilities
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/671018395161128960 ]

"Imagine a world where all phones were automatically connected to the Internet, at no charge. Is this an idle fantasy?

The current worldwide debate about Zero-Rating and Network Neutrality has brought the issue of affordable Internet access into sharp relief. I recently came back from the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil where there were no less than seven sessions on Zero Rating and Network Neutrality. Internet.org, now renamed as Free Basics, continues to be a subject of often emotional debate as to whether it brings greater benefits or harms to those who use it.

This has got me thinking about how we value the Internet and how fast the Internet needs to be in order to qualify as ‘enough’. In one of his sessions at the IGF, Vint Cerf pointed out that we use the word Internet as if it meant the same thing to everyone but this isn’t really true. A feature-phone user browsing the Internet via Opera over a 3G connection does not have the same experience as the San Francisco-based developer on gigabit fibre staring at his/her dual 26 inch monitors.

The “all bits are created equal” debate in Network Neutrality doesn’t really take into account our varied experiences of Internet. On a personal level, it is clear that some bits are more valuable to us than others. A one or a zero that indicates whether your loved one is alive is worth infinitely more than four gigabytes of the latest Hollywood movie.

This leads me to question the assumption, implicit in most national broadband strategies, that the value of Internet increases more or less proportionately with increase in speed. The reality is that even very tiny amounts of data can be enormously valuable and that the value of access goes up dramatically with even a little access and then tapers off.

From a value maximisation perspective then one might conclude that it is more strategic to make a priority of ensuring that everyone has at least some connectivity as opposed to some percentage of the people getting fast Internet.

This got me thinking about the spread of mobile telephony in sub-Saharan Africa. The Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) model implemented by mobile network operators (MNOs) meant that it didn’t cost any money to be part of the network. All phones with a SIM card automatically register on the network and are callable on the network. A credit on the network is not required. Why has this turned out to be a such a phenomenally successful model? Because MNOs recognised that each and every person connected to the network added value to the network whether they made a call or not because they increased the size of the callable network, thereby increasing value to paying users. This phenomenon is known as network effect and while it may have been a somewhat esoteric concept twenty years ago when the mobile industry started, it is now well understood by any Internet entrepreneur.

Registering and managing non-paying customers on the phone network is a significant operational and financial overhead for MNOs, especially now with mandatory SIM registration being more common. Connecting phones to the network for free has obviously proven to be worthwhile. The increase in size of the overall network also helps to transform those non-paying users into paying ones as they see more and more value from the increased number of people to connect to. It is a positive cycle.

This brings me back to an approach I suggested last year: low-bitrate, generic zero-rating. What if it were normal for all MNOs to offer low-bitrate, generic Internet access in the same manner that all MNOs connect phones to their network? Let’s imagine that Internet data were enabled by default for free at GSM (2G) speeds of only 9.6kbps to all users. Let’s also imagine that it is a best-effort service that might not always achieve that speed or may have terrible latency, a bit like real 2G service.

A million users consuming 2G at a modest 4.8kbps would consume about 4.8gbps per second of capacity. Looking at the adult population of South Africa of roughly 35M people, if everyone were consuming that data on their phones at one time, it would amount to 168 gbps of capacity across the entire country. Let’s put this in the context of South Africa’s undersea fibre optic cable capacity, which currently has an aggregate design capacity of 17 tbps, soon to reach 22 tbps when the ACE cable lands. Free 2G data for all would consume less than 0.01% of the design capacity of the international submarine cables landing in South Africa.

That is a very rough and inevitably flawed calculation. It doesn’t take into account whether the existing mobile networks could handle this capacity with their current spectrum allocations and technology. It also doesn’t take into account backhaul limitations where terrestrial fibre is not available. But we do know that MNOs are actively investing in upgrading their networks, which would make this amount of data an increasingly small percentage of their network traffic. But the value to individuals would not diminish. Generic low-speed zero-rating of mobile networks could have multiple impacts. It would:

• Spur adoption of data services. As Clay Shirky has so eloquently put it, “If things are expensive to try, people will hold back from trying them and they’ll spend all their time trying not to fail. If the cost of experimentation falls though, and I mean falls precipitously, then people will spend a lot of time experimenting, and instead of not failing, the goal becomes to fail informatively to learn something from the things you tried.”

• Legitimise data as a means of government/civic communication. If everyone can access basic data services just by having a feature/smartphone, then it is easier to justify government investment in e-services.

• Decrease the digital divide. Democratising access to data through free low-bitrate access would create a true on-ramp to the Internet and its vast diversity of services and interactions.

• Open up vast new markets to data service providers. The network-effects of millions of new data users would dramatically increase the value of data services in general.

• Spur innovation in low data consumption applications. If you know that you can reach *everyone* at a very low speed, it would spur both the public and private sector to develop applications that consume less bandwidth in order to reach more people. Indeed Facebook is already doing this with their application development.

I’ve asked you to imagine a world where mobile phones connect to the Internet in the same way that they simply connect to the mobile phone network, where there are no data charges for very low data speeds. On the surface at least it would seem that the benefits to both the public and private sector would dramatically outweigh the costs of doing this. If we accept that the value of access is not directly proportional to speed of access and that there is huge value in even small amounts of data access, then perhaps a national strategy ought to focus on getting everyone connected at a modest, free rate as opposed to say 80% of the people at say 2Mbps?

It will take more detailed cost modelling to really dig into this idea but I cannot help but think of more consumer benefits at every turn. Even for globe-trotting travellers. Imagine being able to pick up basic text messages and emails as soon as you get off the plane in a new country without having to search for a WiFi hotspot or wonder whether you dare turn on roaming. Always-on mobile data could open up new possibilities for mobile payment services.

Some operators like T-mobile in the US already offer 2G roaming but only for postpaid customers. What if it just made good social and economic sense to have basic rate Internet enabled for all mobile phones?"
zero-rating  freebasics  facebook  affordability  access  accessibility  internet  web  online  mobile  stevesong  2015  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Taking Free Basics in Kenya for a spin. — Hacks/Hackers Africa — Medium
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/669071409851707398 and https://twitter.com/whiteafrican/status/669017213572145152 ]

"I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. At my organisation, we believe in having user experience at the heart of consumer-facing technology. Also, I’ve heard many a Facebook exec counter the backlash with a valid question: how many advocates (for/against) have actually used Free Basics? So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I dug out my Airtel Kenya SIM card (Airtel is the current sole partner) and took the app for a spin. (For the record, I’m testing out Free Basics on a Smartphone — a Samsung Galaxy S3 to be precise, will also test out on a feature phone in coming days)."



"Facebook have been saying that at least 50% of Free Basics users have crossed over to the open and paid-for Internet within 30 days of coming online for the first time. Having pushed a bit further on the stat recently, one of their Heads of Policy said that they stay on the paid Internet, though this isn’t part of the popular narrative on the conversion rates. Who else, other than Facebook, has access to these statistics? Giving the benefit of the doubt, say the statistic is actually true. What norms about what the Internet is, does Free Basics (un)willingly postulate? Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t create a two-tiered Internet and refers to the above statistic. They also say that without such a program, more people are left offline, unable to realise the benefits of the Internet.

We all want as many people, if not all to be connected. But the idea of a ‘free’ Internet is a particularly nefarious one, leaving room for loopholes such as these, and actually creating various tiers to Internet access. This has been compared to tiered access to water and education. While some may say that some water or education is better than none, why is it that there are different forms to access? So some Internet is better than none at all (especially for the developing world). But, what constitutes ‘some Internet’? Who decides on what ‘some Internet’ is, and why are they the ones to decide?

There are many arguments packed into the zero-rating, net neutrality and Free Basics discussions, and it wouldn’t do justice to pack them into one article. I will try to tackle the various domains, from my perspective, in future posts.

Would love to conduct this exercise with first time Internet users. Currently thinking through the research design, to enable unearthing of insights on the Internet they aspire to access, versus versions such as Free Basics issued. For now, I welcome discussion and feedback on the above, and perhaps others to take Free Basics on a spin in their respective territories! After all, advocacy for a free(as in freedom), open and secure Internet will require evidence and not mere opinion."
freebasics  facebook  accessibility  internet  nanjirasambuli  2015  africa  access  online  web  kenya  smarthphones  mobile  connectivity  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Technology Imperialism, the Californian Ideology, and the Future of Higher Education
"This matters greatly for those of us in education technology in several ways (and not simply because Internet.org has partnered with edX to offer free online education). Facebook is really just synecdochal here, I should add – just one example of the forces I think are at play, politically, economically, technologically, culturally. These forces matter at the level of infrastructure, technological infrastructure: who controls the networks, who controls the servers, who controls our personal devices, who controls the software that’s installed on them?

And it matters at the level of ideology. Infrastructure is ideological, of course. The new infrastructure – “the Internet” if you will – has a particular political, economic, and cultural bent to it. It is not neutral. Some of this is built upon old infrastructure. In the United States, for example, networks are layered upon networks: waterways provided the outline onto which we mapped the railroads. Railroads provided the outline onto which we mapped the telegraph. The telegraph for the telephone. The telephone for the Internet. Transportation of people, products, ideas across time and space."



"The first two nodes of what would eventually become ARPANET (which in turn would eventually become “the Internet”) were connected in California in 1969 – from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to SRI International in Menlo Park – from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.
The infrastructure and the ideology of the Internet remain quite Californian."



"Another story from California, one specifically this time about higher education:

It may be that “the beginning of the end of public higher education as we know it” has its roots in an earlier development well before investors and tech entrepreneurs started predicting that we were only a couple of decades away from having only 10 universities in the world, thanks to their MOOCs. The beginning of the end, say Aaron Bady and Mike Konczal: the governorship of Ronald Reagan in the late 1960s, who then vowed he would “clean up that mess in Berkeley.”

At the time, the state had already developed what historian Kenneth Starr has called a “utopia for higher education.” The pinnacle arguably: The Master Plan for Higher Education, signed into law in 1960. The plan was, in essence, a commitment to provide all Californians with access to higher education, something that’s been, as Tressie McMillan Cottom points out in her work, a cornerstone of how Americans have viewed class mobility. The Master Plan was meant to offer three avenues for access to college, a tripartite system where the top 12.5% of high school graduates in the state could attend one of the campuses of the University of California – at Berkeley, for example, or LA – tuition-free. The top one-third were guaranteed a spot at one of the campuses of the California State University system – Cal State, San Francisco State, and so on. Community colleges in the state would accept any students “capable of benefiting from instruction” – that is, both new high school graduates and “non-traditional” students. Upon graduation from community college, those students could then transfer to any Cal State or UC campus in order to finish their Bachelor’s Degree. As Bady and Konczal write,
In theory and to a significant extent in practice, anyone from anywhere in California could, if they worked hard enough, get a bachelor’s degree from one of the best universities in the country (and, therefore, in the world), almost free of charge. The pronounced social and economic mobility of the postwar period would have been unthinkable without institutions of mass higher education, like this one, provided at public expense.

When Reagan took office as Governor of California in 1967, he made it clear: public expenses would be curbed, particularly in the university system. “There are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without,” he told reporters. Taxpayers, he said, should not be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” The purpose of college, in other words, was not to offer what we’ve long construed as a liberal arts education; the purpose of higher education: to learn “job skills.”

The tech industry is just the latest to latch onto this argument. “Everyone should learn to code,” we now hear.

And as the state of California – and elsewhere – has withdrawn its financial commitment to free or subsidized public higher education, who has stepped in to meet the demands? The for-profit sector.

And the tech industry is latching onto this market as well."



"Tim Draper’s (unconstitutional) plan to split up the state of California would have completely reshaped American politics. It failed, but I think it underscores the sort of transformative vision – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” the “Californian Ideology” – that the tech industry has. This vision is not simply about “the virtual world.”

We in education would be naive, I think, to think that the designs that venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs have for us would be any less radical than creating a new state, like Draper’s proposed state of Silicon Valley, that would enormously wealthy and politically powerful.

When I hear talk of “unbundling” in education – one of the latest gerunds you’ll hear venture capitalists and ed-tech entrepreneurs invoke, meaning the disassembling of institutions into products and services – I can’t help but think of the “unbundling” that Draper wished to do to my state: carving up land and resources, shifting tax revenue and tax burdens, creating new markets, privatizing public institutions, redistributing power and doing so explicitly not in the service of equity or justice.

Echoes of imperialism. Imperialism’s latest form."
california  californianideology  capitalism  commodification  education  technology  neoliberalism  2015  audreywatters  timdraper  aaronbady  mikekonczal  ronaldreagan  richardbarbrook  andycameron  libertarianism  inequality  infrastructure  privatization  unbundling  markzuckerberg  facebook  evgenymorozov  connectivity  injustice  losangeles  internet  web  online  netneutrality  politics  policy  economics 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Shape of the Web
"The Web is a living ecosystem that exists in a delicate balance and we all have a role to play in shaping — and ensuring — its future.

At Mozilla, we believe that the more you know about the Web, the easier it is for you to make more informed choices and be a more empowered digital citizen.

That’s why we created this site: to show you where the Web stands today, the issues that impact it and what you can do to get involved."
mozilla  web  internet  online  maps  mapping  accessibility  advertising  adtracking  adoption  affordability  civility  power  data  dataportability  identity  digital  censorship  government  policy  surveillance  content  netneutrality  opensource  security  privacy  patents  software 
may 2015 by robertogreco
All you need is publish — The Message — Medium
"Publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if you got paid.

Copy the bits, it’s what they want. Data wanna be free. Call the Archive Team. Call the Internet Archive. Call the Library of Congress. Ask them for your tweets, Christmas 2009. 140-character drunken grandpa? Yes, please.

This is not the indie web, this is the web. The web itself has and always will be indie at its core. There are no edges here. The web excels at boundless. Everything sparkles intertwingular. Things connect and disconnect and multiply at will, as long as we’re willing. And willing we are."



"Mass Indie

Mass Indie is the zine publishing of web publishing. The everyperson indie. Godaddy a domain, snag a Tumblr, fiddle a DNS and Go Go Go. Don’t have eight bucks? Skip the domain and jump straight to Go Go Go. It’s right there and it’s faster than a Xerox at Kinkos. Don’t like Tumblr? Ghost it up. Livejournal’s still a thing. Wattpad welcomes all. Geo-plaster at hi.co. Kindle Single it and give it away. Toss it on Scribd. Pastebin the notion. Splatter your post across twenty tweets. Heck, Google Doc it. The Web Is Here For You To Use. Post to multiple platforms. Pledge allegiance to no one. You don’t owe ’em nuttin’. Everybody Minecraft — stake your claim. Then restake it again tomorrow. The land’s wide open and there’s always more IPv6 to go around.

***

Craft Indie

Craft Indie is calculated indie. Laborious indie. Tie-your-brain-in-a-knot indie. No easier than it’s ever been. I’m talking about breathing your bits — really possessing, sculpting, caressing, caring for, caring after your bits. Knowing. Takes buckets of effort. And buckets be heavy.

Craft Indie takes you back to the early ’90s hex editing Renegade BBS software. Takes you back to the mid ’90s with a shell account and PPP emulator — pry open Mosaic, cue exploding head. Craft Indie can never be Mass Indie because the required toolkit is too yawning, esoteric, painful for all but those willing to obsess.

Craft Indie is lose your afternoon to RSS 2.0 vs Atom specifications indie. Craft Indie is .htaccessing the perfect URL indie. Craft Indie is cool your eyes don’t change indie. Craft Indie is pixel tweaking line-heights, margins, padding … of the copyright in the footer indie. Craft Indie is #efefe7 not #efefef indie. Craft Indie is fatiguing indie, you-gotta-love-it indie, you-gotta-get-off-on-this-mania indie.

***

Both indies are united by and predicated on openness. Universal accessibility. This is why to impinge on Net Neutrality is to impinge on the very quintessence of what makes the web the web. Lopsided hierarchy woven into the fabric of the web upends the beautiful latent power of online publishing. The dudette should not abide.

Furthermore, the contours of our words published online shimmer. They exist at well defined URLs, yes, but those URLs can be tenuous, disappearing or rendered useless by server failure, a reconfiguration, a missed payment to a domain registrar. And yet those same words are more easily copied and distributed at scale than ever before. Thanks to vast search engines, their precise address is less important than knowing a snippet of the content. Three or four words. That’s all you need. They’re probably somewhere, indexed and waiting.

The ideas of the indie web sits somewhere within these fuzzy contours. With the vast array of online publishing tools comes multiplicity. Multiplicity is our friend."



"To do indie. To be indie. To publish indie. The indie web? To talk about the indie web — Mass or Craft — is to talk about the web itself. Vast and open and universally accessible.

People ask: What software should I use to publish? Where should I publish? Should I build a platform to publish? How should I do it?

And I say: Whether you own your URL or not, your own app or not, whether you Tumblr or Wattpad, just publish. Export often? Yes. Backup feverishly? Of course. But publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if ya got paid."
web  writing  2014  craigmod  publishing  openweb  internet  archiving  independence  adomainofone'sown  indie  publising  hi.co  tumblr  livejournal  rss  urls  search  indexing  multiplicity  open  openness  netneutrality  redundancy  reclaimhosting  indieweb 
september 2014 by robertogreco
What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium
"This isn’t about Facebook per se—maybe it will do a good job, maybe not—but the fact that algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the Internet. Net neutrality (or lack thereof) will be yet another layer determining this. This will come on top of existing inequalities in attention, coverage and control.

Twitter was also affected by algorithmic filtering. “Ferguson” did not trend in the US on Twitter but it did trend locally. [I’ve since learned from @gilgul that that it *briefly* trended but mostly trended at localities.] So, there were fewer chances for people not already following the news to see it on their “trending” bar. Why? Almost certainly because there was already national, simmering discussion for many days and Twitter’s trending algorithm (said to be based on a method called “term frequency inverse document frequency”) rewards spikes… So, as people in localities who had not been talking a lot about Ferguson started to mention it, it trended there though the national build-up in the last five days penalized Ferguson.

Algorithms have consequences.

Mass media, typically, does not do very well covering chronic problems of unprivileged populations, poor urban blacks bear the brunt of this, but they are not alone. Rural mostly white America, too, is almost always ignored except for the occasional “meth labs everywhere” story. But yesterday, many outlets were trying, except police didn’t let them. Chris Hayes says that police ordered satellite trucks off the area so that they could not go live from the area. Washington Post was only one outlet whose journalists were arrested — citizen journalists were targeted as well.

On the scrappy live feed kept up by frequently tear-gassed, coughing citizen journalists, I heard the announcements calling on them to “turn off their cameras.”

But maybe in the future, they don’t have to bother to arrest journalists and force cameras off. In California, legislation is being considered for “kill switches” in phones — a feature I honestly cannot imagine a good use for this in the United States.

The citizen journalists held on, even as choked from the gas, some traditional media started going live from the region, and today, it’s on the front page of many newspapers.

Maybe, just maybe, there can be a national conversation on these topics long-ignored outside these communities. That’s not everything: it may be a first step, or it may get drowned out.

But at least, we are here.

But I’m not quite sure that without the neutral side of the Internet—the livestreams whose “packets” were fast as commercial, corporate and moneyed speech that travels on our networks, Twitter feeds which are not determined by an opaque corporate algorithms but my own choices,—we’d be having this conversation.

So, I hope that in the coming days, there will be a lot written about race in America, about militarization of police departments, lack of living wage jobs in large geographic swaths of the country.

But keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue. It’s also an algorithmic filtering issue. How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.

And despite a lot of dismal developments, this fight is far from over, and its enemy is cynicism and dismissal of this reality.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson."
zeyneptufekci  censorship  internet  netneutrality  twitter  facebook  news  media  2014  ferguson  algortihms  class  race  economics  television  tv  citizenjournalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
When net neutrality backfires: Chile just killed free access to Wikipedia and Facebook - Quartz
"Net neutrality is a sore subject in the United States. Proponents argue that allowing big companies to pay for faster data transfers to their customers would disadvantage start-up business that cannot afford such payments. They also say consumers could be forced to pay more for access to data-hungry services such as Netflix. Opponents of net neutrality say that those who use the most bandwidth should also be the ones paying the most for it. After all, the tubes that ferry data around the world are not public utilities—they are private business concerns.

A surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. This week, Santiago put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies “zero-rating” access to their services. As Quartz has reported, companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia strike up deals with mobile operators around the world to offer a bare-bones version of their service without charging customers for the data.

It is not clear whether operators receive a fee from big companies, but it is clear why these deals are widespread. Internet giants like it because it encourages use of their services in places where consumers shy away from hefty data charges. Carriers like it because Facebook or Twitter serve as a gateway to the wider internet, introducing users to the wonders of the web and encouraging them to explore further afield—and to pay for data. And it’s not just commercial services that use the practice: Wikipedia has been an enthusiastic adopter of zero-rating as a way to spread its free, non-profit encyclopedia.

Designed to woo new users rather than those already connected to the internet, these free programs do not offer the full, whizz-bang version of the service in question. Facebook Zero is largely text-based; Google only provides access to a few of its services. And smartphones generally cannot access these sites. They are aimed squarely at poorer people with pre-paid connections and older phones.

But Chile’s Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones has decided (link in Spanish) that such promotions violate net neutrality laws and must end in two days, on June 1. According to the law (link in Spanish), internet service providers must “not arbitrarily distinguish content, applications or services, based on the source or ownership thereof” (translation by Google).

This is short-sighted. Chile’s mobile internet penetration is low by the standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as the chart below shows. [graph]

Fixed broadband penetration rates are even lower, running at 13%. (Switzerland, at the top of the heap, boasts 44 wired broadband subscriptions per 100 people.)

Still, Chile’s mobile penetration is higher than several European nations: [graph]

That suggests plenty of room for growth. People already have mobile phone connections, even if they are not yet using them to get online. Chile also has the one of the highest rates of pre-paid SIM-card use in the OECD. These pre-paying customers are less likely to pay for expensive phones or newfangled services, and they’re exactly the ones that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia (not to mention local Internet service providers) are trying to coax online.

Chile’s decision means Chileans will now have to pay to find out whether this thing called the internet is really for them. That is one more reason for Chileans to delay adoption of the world’s most transformative technology since electricity."
netneutrality  chile  2014  wikipedia  facebook  internet  broadband  mobile 
june 2014 by robertogreco
As Internet behemoths rise, Chattanooga highlights a different path | Al Jazeera America
"Chattanooga’s municipally run Internet is faster than most connections in the world and could be a sign of the future"
chattanooga  munipalinternet  internet  infrastructure  2014  web  access  digitaldivide  netneutrality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Center for a Stateless Society » A Modest Proposal
"Al Jazeera recently covered Chattanooga, Tennessee’s high-speed Internet service (“As Internet behemoths rise, Chattanooga highlights a different path,” June 6). [http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/29/chattanooga-net-neutrality.html ] The “Gig,” as it’s affectionately known, operates at one gigabyte per second — about fifty times the U.S. average — charging each customer about $70 a month. It uses a preexisting fiber-optic infrastructure originally built for the electrical power utility.

A couple of little-known facts regarding local Internet infrastructure: Telecommunications companies were given billions in subsidies and phone service rate hikes back in the ’90s based on their promise to build local fiber-optic infrastructure for high-speed Internet access — then they simply pocketed the money and never built that infrastructure. The original promise was something like the kind of ultra-high-speed, low-price Internet service available in most of Western Europe.

You can get a lot of the facts at the website Teletruth.org. Today, telecommunications infrastructure construction by these companies is down by about 60%, while revenues are way up. Instead of near-instant page loads for $40 a month, it’s typical to get gouged for more than $100 and suffer slow speeds and wireless connections that constantly fade out. Believe me, I know — I get my wireless service from AT&T U-verse, and they suck more than a galactic-size black hole. This is a classic example of the oligopoly style Paul Goodman described of the companies in an industry carefully spooning out improvements over many years, while colluding to mark up prices. The telecoms, far from building out their infrastructure to increase capacity, are strip-mining their existing infrastructure and using it as a cash cow while using oligopoly pricing to guarantee enormous profits on shoddy service.

Hundreds of cities around the United States have high-capacity municipal fiber-optic networks just like Chattanooga’s, originally built to support local government communication functions, but they’re forbidden by law in most states (passed in response to telecom lobbying) from using those to offer Internet service to the general public. Not only that, the telecommunications industry raises hell in the state legislatures even when local school districts propose using their own fiber-optic infrastructure to provide Internet service to the public schools instead of paying Verizon, Cox or AT&T for their sorry producst. These telecom companies — which received billions on subsidies for a service they failed to deliver — have the nerve to whine that it’s unfair for them to have to compete with a service subsidized by the taxpayers.

So here’s my proposal: In any community like Chattanooga, with an existing fiber-optic infrastructure capable of providing better quality Internet service to a significant part of town, this infrastructure should immediately be put to use for this purpose, with rates set at actual cost of provision. But instead of being administered by the city government, it should be spun off as a consumer cooperative owned and governed by the users.

In Cory Doctorow’s novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, dumpster-diving hardware hackers in Toronto attempt to construct a free wireless meshwork using open-source routers built from discarded electronics, persuading neighborhood businesses to host the routers at the cost of electricity. In the real world, schools, public libraries and municipal buildings could host such routers and provide free wireless access to those in the areas covered.

In fact, why not take it a step further? Forty years ago, in “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle,” Murray Rothbard argued that government property should be treated as unowned, that it should be claimed (via homesteading) as the property of those actually occupying and using it, and that government services should accordingly be reorganized as consumer or worker cooperatives. Further, he argued that the property of “private” corporations that get most of their profits from state intervention should get the same treatment.

The way I see it, the telecom companies that pocketed those subsidies and rate increases back in the ’90s owe customers about $200-odd billion, plus all the profits they’ve subsequently collected via price-gouging. So when local communities with municipal fiber-optic infrastructure organize those Internet service cooperatives like I describe above, they might as well go ahead and void out the telecom companies’ property claims to the “private” infrastructure as well and incorporate that infrastructure into the consumer cooperatives.

Those who follow the “net neutrality” debate are rightly outraged that Internet service providers are threatening to gouge customers based entirely on their ability to pay, simply because they can. But the proper expression of this outrage is not hacking at the branches through regulatory legislation. It’s striking at the root: The ability of the telecom companies, thanks to government subsidies and privilege, to get away with such behavior.

It’s time to expropriate the expropriators."
broadband  telecoms  infrastructure  internet  connectivity  2014  subsidies  law  legal  public  private  chattanooga  isp  teletruth  money  government  policy  internetaccess  digitaldivide  netneutrality  kevincarson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The internet is fucked | The Verge
In a perfect storm of corporate greed and broken government, the internet has gone from vibrant center of the new economy to burgeoning tool of economic control. Where America once had Rockefeller and Carnegie, it now has Comcast’s Brian Roberts, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, and Verizon’s Lowell McAdam, robber barons for a new age of infrastructure monopoly built on fiber optics and kitty GIFs.

And the power of the new network-industrial complex is immense and unchecked, even by other giants: AT&T blocked Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s Hangouts video chat services for the preposterously silly reason that the apps were "preloaded" on each company’s phones instead of downloaded from an app store. Verizon and AT&T have each blocked the Google Wallet mobile payment system because they’re partners in the competing (and not very good) ISIS service. Comcast customers who stream video on their Xboxes using Microsoft’s services get charged against their data caps, but the Comcast service is tax-free.

We’re really, really fucking this up.

We’re really, really fucking this up.

But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as well. "This is a political fight," says Craig Aaron, president of the advocacy group Free Press. "When the internet speaks with a unified voice politicians rip their hair out."

We can do it. Let’s start.

THE INTERNET IS A UTILITY, JUST LIKE WATER AND ELECTRICITY

Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility.

There, you’ve just skipped past a quarter century of regulatory corruption and lawsuits that still rage to this day and arrived directly at the obvious conclusion. Internet access isn’t a luxury or a choice if you live and participate in the modern economy, it’s a requirement. Have you ever been in an office when the internet goes down? It’s like recess. My friend Paul Miller lived without the internet for a year and I’m still not entirely sure he’s recovered from the experience. The internet isn’t an adjunct to real life; it’s not another place. You don’t do things "on the internet," you just do things. The network is interwoven into every moment of our lives, and we should treat it that way.

Yet the corporations that control internet access insist that they’re providing specialized services that are somehow different than water, power, and telephones. They point to crazy bullshit you don’t want or need like free email addresses and web hosting solutions and goofy personalized search screens as evidence that they’re actually providing "information" services instead of the more highly regulated "telecommunications" services. "Common carrier rules are basically free speech," says the Free Press’ Aaron. "We have all these protections for what happens over landline phones that we’re not extending to data, even though all these people under 25 mostly communicate in data."

It’s time to just end these stupid legal word games and say what we all already know: internet access is a utility. A commodity that should get better and faster and cheaper over time. Anyone who says otherwise is lying for money.

THERE IS ZERO COMPETITION FOR INTERNET ACCESS

None. Zero. Nothing. It is a wasteland. You are standing in the desert and the only thing that grows is higher prices."



NO INTERNET PROVIDER DESERVES SPECIAL TREATMENT



THE FCC IS WEAK AND INEFFECTIVE



"So there’s the entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job. The United States should lead the world in broadband deployment and speeds: we should have the lowest prices, the best service, and the most competition. We should have the freest speech and the loudest voices, the best debate and the soundest policy. We are home to the most innovative technology companies in the world, and we should have the broadband networks to match.

We should stop fucking it up.

"There is much greater consensus around the fundamentals of the open internet than this binary up and down debate that’s going on," says former FCC Chairman and current NCTA President Michael Powell. "There is common ground to find an answer."

Free Press president Craig Aaron is blunt. "What we need right now is decisive action," he says. "We can still unfuck the internet.""
broadband  cable  internet  netneutrality  publicutilities  2014  nilaypatel  corruption  regulation  monopolies  monopoly  control  power  access  fcc  competition  us  freespeech 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Intraland—teaser
"Intraland is a videogame dealing with a current political issue : Internet Neutrality.

Internet Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat data on the internet equally.

Intraland is a 3D adventure game taking place in an abstract digital world, a metaphore of the Network.

Intraland is a closed space, under dictatorship, where the inhabitants are generating datas that are constantly analyzed, censored, even rewritten.

The goal is to take control of Intraland, hacking the environment.

This breach is only possible using "command words", a metaphore of programming, tabooed by Intraland's government.

To go forward in the story, the player has to read a paper manual.

This manual contains the Propaganda of Intraland, but also a hidden text written in UV ink by resistants : their Manifesto, and their instructions to take back Intraland."
games  videogames  netneutrality  gaming  books 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Subtel enforces net neutrality
"Chile’s regulator, Sub-Secretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel) has had a set of amendments to the General Telecommunications Law passed by Congress. The amendment states that internet service providers (ISPs) must not interfere with access to content, applications or services except for protective purposes, such as virus protection. The law prevents ISPs from abusing their control over last mile infrastructure by blocking access to certain content. It also stipulates that ISPs must provide parental controls and be more transparent regarding contracts, and make clear the average and maximum speeds available.<br />
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of March 2011 Chile had 1.9 million broadband subscribers, and its household penetration of 39.8% is high for the region."
2011  chile  netneutrality  law  legal  internet  access  broadband 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Steve Wozniak to the FCC: Keep the Internet Free - Steve Wozniak - Technology - The Atlantic
"The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP’s should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don’t destruct them. I don’t want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today’s Internet."
stevewozniak  internet  technology  politics  law  us  freedom  netneutrality  2010 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Información Cívica » Chile: Smart Rules for the 21st Century?
"Chile…just might be the 21st century’s “City upon a Hill” in terms of creating smart rules that bring about innovation and entrepreneurship. In July Chile became the world’s first country to guarantee net neutrality, ensuring small startups as much access to the market of internet users as established, major corporations. Just two months earlier Congress passed the region’s most progressive intellectual property reform, protecting fair use and satire while introducing copyright exceptions for the visually impaired, public libraries, and non-profit archives."
chile  startups  davidsasaki  start-upchile  ip  netneutrality  2010  incubator  funding 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Daring Fireball: Creep Executive Officer
"More and more, I get the feeling that if there’s a rift between the old “Don’t be evil” Google and the new “Let’s do whatever we want” Google, that it’s a rift between Schmidt and Larry/Sergey — if not personally, then at least culturally within the company. On the one side, the Larry/Sergey Google that makes amazing cool things — the search engine, Gmail, Android. On the other, the Schmidt Google that, in its efforts to serve ads as efficiently as possible, no longer seems concerned with the traditional Western concept of personal privacy.<br />
<br />
A lot of people seem surprised by Google’s alliance with Verizon on mobile network neutrality. That stance doesn’t fit with my view of the Larry/Sergey Google. But it fits my idea of the Schmidt Google like a glove."
ericschmidt  daringfireball  google  privacy  internet  netneutrality  2010  culture  management  johngruber 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Joho the Blog » The opposite of “open” is “theirs”
"If we allow others to make decisions about what the Net is for — preferring some content and services to others — the Net won’t feel like it’s ours, and we’ll lose some of the enthusiasm (= love) that drives our participation, innovation, and collaborative efforts.
davidweinberger  netneutrality  open  internet  culture  web 
january 2010 by robertogreco
M-Lab | Welcome to Measurement Lab
"Measurement Lab (M-Lab) is an open platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. By enhancing Internet transparency, we aim to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet."
internet  performance  via:preoccupations  broadband  isp  netneutrality  bandwidth  monitoring  security  analysis  analytics  neutrality  bittorrent  traffic  testing  networking  tools  sysadmin  google 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Why I Support Barack Obama - O'Reilly Radar
"Because this is a tech blog, not a political blog, though, I primarily want to address the subject of why members of the technical community should join me in supporting Barack Obama. (The New York Times has made a compelling case based on the broader issues, as has Colin Powell.) I outline four principal reasons: 1. Connected, Transparent Government 2. The Financial Crisis 3. Climate Change 4. Net Neutrality" ... But he also discusses 9/11, The War in Iraq, and the Growth of Authoritarian Government, Abortion, Character, and Competence in Leadership, some at length. Then his responses to comments are also valuable.
technology  internet  government  barackobama  endorsement  elections  2008  timoreilly  opinion  netneutrality  policy  economics  politics  environment 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Switzerland Network Testing Tool | Electronic Frontier Foundation
"Is your ISP interfering with your BitTorrent connections? Cutting off your VOIP calls? Undermining the principles of network neutrality? In order to answer those questions, concerned Internet users need tools to test their Internet connections and gather evidence about ISP interference practices. After all, if it weren't for the testing efforts of Rob Topolski, the Associated Press, and EFF, Comcast would still be stone-walling about their now-infamous BitTorrent blocking efforts. "
torrent  iff  netneutrality  freeware  privacy  freedom  security  opensource  networking  download  software  internet  web  bittorrent  eff  switzerland  neutrality  isp  analytics 
august 2008 by robertogreco

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