Do You Understand Net Neutrality?

5AllBits RECENTLY, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust task force invited me to be the lead witness for its hearing on “net neutrality.” I’ve collaborated with the Future of Music Coalition, and my band, OK Go, has been among the first to find real success on the Internet — our songs and videos have been streamed and downloaded hundreds of millions of times (orders of magnitude above our CD sales) — so the committee thought I’d make a decent spokesman for up-and-coming musicians in this new era of digital pandemonium.

I’m flattered, of course, but it makes you wonder if Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner sit around arguing who was listening to Vampire Weekend first.

If you haven’t been following the debate on net neutrality, you’re not alone. The details of the issue can lead into realms where only tech geeks and policy wonks dare to tread, but at root there’s a pretty simple question: How much control should network operators be allowed to have over the information on their lines?

Most people assume that the Internet is a democratic free-for-all by nature — that it could be no other way. But the openness of the Internet as we know it is a byproduct of the fact that the network was started on phone lines. The phone system is subject to “common carriage” laws, which require phone companies to treat all calls and customers equally. They can’t offer tiered service in which higher-paying customers get their calls through faster or clearer, or calls originating on a competitor’s network are blocked or slowed.

These laws have been on the books for about as long as telephones have been ringing, and were meant to keep Bell from using its elephantine market share to squash everyone else. And because of common carriage, digital data running over the phone lines has essentially been off limits to the people who laid the lines. But in the last decade, the network providers have argued that since the Internet is no longer primarily run on phone lines, the laws of data equality no longer apply. They reason that they own the fiber optic and coaxial lines, so they should be able to do whatever they want with the information crossing them.

Under current law, they’re right. They can block certain files or Web sites for their subscribers, or slow or obstruct certain applications. And they do, albeit pretty rarely. Network providers have censored anti-Bush comments from an online Pearl Jam concert, refused to allow a text-messaging program from the pro-choice group Naral (saying it was “unsavory”), blocked access to the Internet phone service (and direct competitor) Vonage and selectively throttled online traffic that was using the BitTorrent protocol.

When the network operators pull these stunts, there is generally widespread outrage. But outright censorship and obstruction of access are only one part of the issue, and they represent the lesser threat, in the long run. What we should worry about more is not what’s kept from us today, but what will be built (or not built) in the years to come.

We hate when things are taken from us (so we rage at censorship), but we also love to get new things. And the providers are chomping at the bit to offer them to us: new high-bandwidth treats like superfast high-definition video and quick movie downloads. They can make it sound great: newer, bigger, faster, better! But the new fast lanes they propose will be theirs to control and exploit and sell access to, without the level playing field that common carriage built into today’s network.

They won’t be blocking anything per se — we’ll never know what we’re not getting — they’ll just be leapfrogging today’s technology with a new, higher-bandwidth network where they get to be the gatekeepers and toll collectors. The superlative new video on offer will be available from (surprise, surprise) them, or companies who’ve paid them for the privilege of access to their customers. If this model sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s how cable TV operates.

We can’t allow a system of gatekeepers to get built into the network. The Internet shouldn’t be harnessed for the profit of a few, rather than the good of the many; value should come from the quality of information, not the control of access to it.

For some parallel examples: there are only two guitar companies who make most of the guitars sold in America, but they don’t control what we play on those guitars. Whether we use a Mac or a PC doesn’t govern what we can make with our computers. The telephone company doesn’t get to decide what we discuss over our phone lines. It would be absurd to let the handful of companies who connect us to the Internet determine what we can do online. Congress needs to establish basic ground rules for an open Internet, just as common carriage laws did for the phone system… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

This is an aspect of net-neutrality I have never considered, but it is one we all need to understand and advocate.

Getting net-neutrality on the present system is important. Ten years ago there was virtually no broadband service at all, and what there was was very pricey. Looking ahead ten years, I cannot tell you what new technology will bring. I can only project with confidence that it will be at least as far ahead of today’s tech as today’s tech is ahead of dial-up. Whatever that technology is, the providers have the right to charge for access to it, assuming that there is sufficient competition among access providers, just like today. People pay more for cable than DSL and more for DSL than dial-up. That’s OK. The key here is that on that technology, whatever it is we need to extend net neutrality for content, so that the network providers do not control what content we get to access. That’s what they are attempting to do, and we must stop them.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

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No Net Neutrality With McCain!

mccain_bush_hug

…People who work, advise or raise campaign money for Republican presidential candidate John McCain who have lobbied for telecommunications companies since 1999:

Name

Connection to McCain

Telecom industry ties

Rick Davis

Presidential campaign manager

As a lobbyist at his former firm, Davis Manafort, Davis represented BellSouth (2001-02), SBC Communications (2001-05) and Verizon Corporate Services (2001-05). Davis and other Davis Manafort employees and their spouses gave $36,150 to McCain’s campaigns in the past 10 years. BellSouth political action committees, employees and their spouses gave $78,050. SBC political action committees, employees and spouses gave $41,300. Verizon political action committees, employees and spouses gave $59,650

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Christian Ferry

Deputy campaign manager

Ferry partnered with Davis in representing SBC and Verizon from 2003 to 2005

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Charlie Black

Unpaid chief adviser

Black, chairman of lobbying firm BKSH && Associates, has represented AT&T for the past decade. Black and other BKSH employees gave $9,600 to McCain’s campaigns over the past decade. Employees, spouses and political action committees of AT&T and its subsidiaries and merger partners gave $251,850

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Mark Buse

Senate chief of staff

Buse became a lobbyist for ML Strategies in 2002 after working for McCain on the Senate Commerce Committee staff. Buse represented AT&T Wireless from 2002 to 2005. Buse and his co-workers at ML Strategies gave $3,750 to McCain during the past decade. Employees, spouses and political action committees of AT&T Wireless gave $24,500

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Former congressman Tom Loeffler of Texas

Campaign co-chairman

Loeffler, now a senior partner of the Loeffler Group, has represented AT&T since 2001 and Qualcomm since 1999. Loeffler, his co-workers and their spouses gave McCain’s campaigns $64,908 in the past decade. Qualcomm employees, spouses and political action committees gave $55,600

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Susan Nelson

Campaign finance director

Before joining the campaign last year, Nelson represented AT&T and Qualcomm for the Loeffler Group in 2006 and 2007. She also represented Verizon in 2004 while working at Ogilvy Government Relations

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Wayne Berman

Campaign national finance co-chairman

Berman, the managing director of Ogilvy Government Relations, has represented AT&T since last year, and Verizon and Verizon Wireless since 2004. Co-workers and their spouses at Ogilvy, formerly known as the Federalist Group, gave McCain’s campaigns $38,550 in the past decade

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John Green

Plans to take a leave of absence next month from his job at Ogilvy to work for campaign, coordinating efforts with Republicans in Congress

Green has represented AT&T since last year and Verizon since 2004 and represented the United States Telecom Association (1999-2002), the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (2001) and BellSouth (1999-2006)

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Tim McKone

Campaign fundraiser

McCone, a former lobbying partner with Davis, joined SBC Communications as a lobbyist in 1999 and became a vice president of AT&T after it merged with SBC in 2005. McCone was last listed as an AT&T lobbyist in 2006

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David Crane

Fundraiser and former aide to McCain at the Senate Commerce Committee

Crane’s clients at the Washington Group included BellSouth (2003-05). Crane left the Washington Group to form his own lobbying firm, Quadripoint Strategies, in 2007. Crane and his co-workers and their spouses at the Washington Group and Quadripoint gave McCain’s campaigns $9,350 in the past decade

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Carlos Bonilla

Campaign economic adviser

Bonilla is a lobbyist with the Washington Group, which represented BellSouth 2003-05. The Washington Group’s employees and their spouses gave $7,050 to McCain’s campaigns in the past decade

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John Timmons

Fundraiser for McCain and former aide in his Senate office

Timmons, a lobbyist at Cormac Group, represented AT&T (1999-2005) and Allegiance Telecom (2002-04). Cormac Group employees and their spouses have given $13,600 to McCain’s campaigns in the past decade

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Judy Black

Fundraiser

Black is a lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented Global Crossing Ltd. since 2004 and represented AT&T from 2003 to 2005 and again in 2007. Employees and their spouses have given $17,950 to McCain’s campaigns in the past decade

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Bryan Cunningham

Fundraiser

Cunningham, a lobbyist at Barbour Griffith && Rogers, has represented AT&T since 2007, Qwest Communications since 2006 and Verizon since 2006. Barbour Griffith employees and their spouses gave $24,700 to McCain’s campaigns since 1998. Quest employees, spouses and political action committees gave $53,350

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Juleanna Glover Weiss

Fundraiser and former spokeswoman for Vice President Cheney

Glover Weiss is a lobbyist at the Ashcroft Group, where she registered to lobby for AT&T in 2006. Glover Weiss also represented AT&T from 2004 to 2005 while working at another lobbying firm, Clark && Weinstock. The Ashcroft Group’s employees and their spouses gave McCain’s 2008 campaign $4,600

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Peter Madigan

Fundraiser

Madigan, a lobbyist at Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland &Stewart, represented BellSouth (2003-06), SBC Communications (2003 and 2004), the United States Telecom Association (2001 and 2002) and Verizon (2001-06). Madigan Peck employees and their spouses gave McCain’s campaigns $43,200 in the past decade

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James Pitts

Fundraiser

Pitts, a lobbyist at DC Navigators, has represented Qualcomm since 2006 and AT&T since last year and represented BellSouth (2004-06). DC Navigators employees and their spouses gave McCain’s campaigns $12,100 in the past decade

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Kirk Blalock

Fundraiser

Blalock, a lobbyist at Fierce Isakowitz && Blalock, has represented Sprint Nextel since 2003 and represented the former MCI from 2002 to 2005. Fierce Isakowitz employees and their spouses have given $14,800 to McCain’s campaigns in the past decade. Sprint employees, spouses and political action committees gave $11,750

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Kirsten Chadwick

Fundraiser

Chadwick, a lobbyist at Fierce Isakowitz, represented MCI in 2004 and 2005 and has represented Sprint Nextel since 2004

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Aleix Jarvis

Fundraiser

Jarvis, a lobbyist at Fierce Isakowitz, represented MCI in 2005 and has represented Sprint Nextel since 2005

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Alison McSlarrow

Fundraiser

McSlarrow, who has her own lobbying firm, McSlarrow Consulting, represented Nextel Communications in 2003 and 2004 and Qwest in 1999 and 2000. McSlarrow and her husband gave $8,000 to McCain’s campaigns in the past decade

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Michael Meece of the Meece Group

Fundraiser

Meece has represented Qualcomm since 2006. Meece gave $2,300 to McCain’s 2008 campaign

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Eric Burgeson

Fundraiser

Now a lobbyist with Barbour Griffith, Burgeson registered to lobby for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association in 2001 with Orion Strategies

Sources: U.S. Senate lobbying records, McCain campaign, Center for Responsive Politics, CQ MoneyLine…

Inserted from <USA Today>

McConJob loves to talk about how he is the champion of the people against special interests and how he has no use for lobbyists. Of course, this is just one more GOP lie. Look at all the lobbyists from just one industry, and that industry is critically important to us. Given the compromised state of the right-wing MSM, the Internet remains the one place where we can communicate on an equal footing. Giving the telecoms permission to restrict access would be catastrophic to the left. McConJob must not become President!

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Olbermann on Present and Wanna-be Fuhrers

As usual, Keith does a wonderful job taking apart the Reich. First he takes on the Machiavellian Moron over FISA and Fallon.

Next he examines the man McConJob calls his “spiritual guide”.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

House Holds Secret FISA Session

14GOP_cliff The House held an unusual closed-door session to talk about classified intelligence gathering in anticipation of a vote Friday on a warrantless eavesdropping bill.

The Democratic bill would set rules for the government’s surveillance of phone calls and e-mails. President Bush has vowed to veto it.

The president’s main objection is that the bill does not protect from lawsuits telecommunications companies that allowed the government to eavesdrop on their customers without permission from a court after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

House Republicans succeeded Thursday in delaying the vote by one day by requesting a rare, late-night closed session of Congress to discuss the bill. It was the first secret session of the House in a quarter century.

The last such session was in 1983, on U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua. Only five closed sessions have taken place in the House since 1825… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

I watched this unfold yesterday on C-SPAN, and figured that this hush-hush secrecy was just a GOP ploy to deceive sheeple that they had some compelling information and stall a day to arm-twist Bush Dog DINOs. I was correct, as Steny Hoyer’s statement after the session reveals.

fisa WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight after the House held a secret session to discuss information relevant to the debate on legislation to modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):

I did not hear any new information tonight that dissuades me from my very strong belief that the FISA bill House Democrats have produced – and which the House will vote on tomorrow – is a reasonable, thoughtful, appropriate piece of legislation that will ensure that the intelligence community has all the tools it needs to protect our nation, while also respecting the Constitutional protections that Americans rightfully feel are so important. Tomorrow, I will urge members on both sides of the aisle to vote for this legislation.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Gavel>

Of course, telecom immunity is not and never has been the issue here. The real issue is Bush/GOP immunity from disclosure of their criminal acts in spying on Americans.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Countdown: The World According to W

Keith makes great sport of Potomac Pinocchio’s speech on Friday. Enjoy!

Cross posted from Politics Plus

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs

070712-F-3961R-103.jpg The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word “blog” in its web address. It’s the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value — and hazards — of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so “utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.”

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service’s new “Cyber Command,” took over.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with “blog” in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level …

The idea isn’t to keep airmen in the dark — they can still access news sources that areprimary, official-use sources,” said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. “Basically … if it’s a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it’s fairly cut and dry that that’s a good source, an authorized source,” he said …

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

“Often, we block first and then review exceptions,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites — such as educational databases and some work-related sites — getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Wired>

Do you believe that they aren’t trying to keep airmen in the dark? When they refer to “primary official-use sources” they are referring to the MSM. They want to make sure that all the news the troops get is filtered through the right-wing media. How ironic that the ChickenHawk-in-Chief and his GOP Reich deny First Amendment freedom to the very people tasked with defending it!

Bush/GOP-speak Dictionary:

Support the troops=Use as cannon fodder until dead or severely wounded; then discard.

Cross posted from Politics Plus