open internet

On the grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business, two groups of French publishers are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH. (Les Echos, broke the news in this story, in French).

Plaintiffs are said to be the GESTE (a French organization of editors for online content and services) and the French Internet Advertising Bureau. The first is known for its aggressive stance against Google via its contribution to the Open Internet Project. (To be clear, GESTE said they were at a “legal consulting stage”; no formal complaint has been filed yet.) By their actions, the second plaintiff—the French branch of the Internet Advertising Bureau—is in fact acknowledging its failure to tame the excesses of the digital advertising market.

Regardless of its validity, the legal action misses a critical point. By downloading the plug-in AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users do vote with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. Therefore, suing Eyeo, the company that maintains ABP, is like using aspirin to fight cancer. A different approach is required but very few seem ready to face that fact.

Net neutrality is dead.

Net neutrality is dead

At least that’s the verdict of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which today struck down a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order from 2010 that forced Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable to abide by the principles of network neutrality. These principles broadly stipulate that ISP network management must be transparent, and that ISPs can’t engage in practices that block, stifle or discriminate against (lawful) websites or traffic types on the Internet.

That’s the bare bones story, wrapped in ugly acronyms (FCC, ISP, etc.). But why should you care that network neutrality (“net neutrality”) may be gone for good?

1. No more net neutrality means ISPs can now discriminate against content they dislike.

Everyone gets their Internet from an Internet service provider — an ISP like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or Time Warner Cable. Under net neutrality rules, these ISPs have to treat all content you access over the Internet “roughly the same way" — they can’t speed up traffic from websites they like or delay competitor’s traffic.

Now, with net neutrality gone, ISPs can discriminate, favoring their business partners while delaying or blocking websites they don’t like. Think your cable CEO hates free online porn? Now you’ll know for sure!

2. No more net neutrality means ISPs can now force websites to PAY for faster content delivery.

You know how some sites you go to just load slower than others? Usually, that’s just because the slower site is image heavy, poorly coded, or dealing with intense server load. But with net neutrality gone, ISPs can now start charging hefty fees to websites that want quick content delivery — shifting the long load times to poorer sites that can’t pay up.

Prefer indie retailers to Amazon.com? You may be in for a frustrating future.

3. Destroying net neutrality is bad for small businesses.

Put together items one and two and it becomes clear — negating net neutrality is bad for small businesses. If ISPs force website owners pay for faster load times, tiny retailers and personal websites will be the ones to suffer from slower content delivery.

Alternately — or additionally — ISPs will have no reason not to favor partner sites: Time Warner Cable, for instance, might favor the website of CNN (owned by the Time Warner Corporation) over the websites of competing cable news networks MSNBC and Fox News. Still, it’s the indies again that will lose out here. While Time Warner Cable might favor CNN and Comcast MSNBC, independent news networks almost certainly won’t get special treatment from any ISPs. Expand this out to music sites, web publishing, etc., and you begin to see the problem.

In extreme cases, ISPs may hinder or block content that isn’t produced by partners —much like AT&T did when it owned the telephone networks back in the day.

4. Without net neutrality, entire types of online traffic (like Netflix) may be in jeopardy.

Netflix watchers and BitTorrent users might want to beware — soon your beloved services may not work like they used to. Now that net neutrality’s down for the count, ISPs can discriminate against entire types of traffic: For instance, an ISP could slow or block all peer-to-peer file sharing, or all online video streaming.

Think it sounds unbelievably stupid for an ISP to stifle a certain traffic types indiscriminately? Comcast has seen reason to stifle both streaming video and peer-to-peer in the past.

From an ISP’s perspective, discriminating against some traffic types makes business sense: Many ISPs are also cable television providers, which means the “cord-cutting" enabled by peer-to-peer and streaming online video isn’t good for their bottom line.

5. Without net neutrality, your ISPs can make even more money without actually improving the Internet.

Right now, America’s broadband is slow. It’s slow because ISPs can already make gobs of money by charging the rich a ton for high-quality Internet while leaving the rest of America with subpar (or no) service.

Now, with net neutrality gone, ISPs will be able to make even more money off their existing customer base. They won’t need to improve service or bring broadband to rural areas because they’ll be able to keep growing (financially, at least) by charging content providers more for faster delivery and charging customers more for faster access. In all likelihood, Tuesday’s ruling means the problems with America’s Internet will be magnified.

Did we break the ONA Issues Tumblr? We logged in today and the text on all of our previously published posts was blacked out.

On second look, we saw that Tumblr is raising awareness about the Protect-IP Act and the Stop Online Privacy Act, which are being debated in Congress today. As users log in to their Tumblr dashboards, posts are blacked out as if censored and there is a link at the top of the page which takes users to a post hosted on Tumblr’s site encouraging users to take action. 

True net neutrality means the free exchange of information between people and organizations. Information is key to a society’s well being. One of the most effective tactics of an invading military is to inhibit the flow of information in a population; this includes which information is shared and by who. Today we see this war being waged on American citizens. Recently the FCC has moved to redefine “net neutrality” to mean that corporations and organizations can pay to have their information heard, or worse, the message of their competitors silenced. We as a nation must settle for nothing less than complete neutrality in our communication channels. This is not a request, but a demand by the citizens of this nation. No bandwidth modifications of information based on content or its source.

Nearly 27,000 signatures so far. 73,000 to go.

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The end of the open internet?


John Oliver explains how cable companies are using complex language to obscure the debate over net neutrality.  He also is asking everyone to chime in and leave their comment on the FCC’s website.

But what is the importance of net neutrality and why is it so urgent to keep the internet the way it currently is?  

Stephen Menendian from UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society explains:

Broadband touches almost every facet of modern life from education to employment to entertainment.  Broadband can affect one’s ability to learn about and apply for jobs, research homework assignments, access medical records, pay bills, participate in local government, and much more.   It is a platform for innovation and expression.  It is difficult to imagine opening a business or getting an education without it.

You can read more here 

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30 Days of The Ponds | Day 19: Most Tender Moment(s)

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FCC and Net Neutrality: What You Need To Know

The FCC is meeting today to discuss the future of the “Open Internet.” Here’s how Net Neutrality affects you.

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Today, President Obama called for “the strongest possible rules” to protect the free and open internet - or “net neutrality” for short. Net neutrality is a bit opaque as a term - but watch John Oliver to understand why it really matters, no matter what your politics. Without net neutrality, cable companies and internet providers essentially have a monopoly to do as they wish.

For Obama’s statement: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/10/statement-president-net-neutrality