Jul 19

- How British Spies “Seed the Internet With False Info, Control YouTube Pageviews and Manipulate Online Polls” (Liberty Blitzkrieg, July 16, 2014):

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have proof about an incredible set of tools used by the British equivalent of the NSA, known as the GCHQ, or Government Communications Headquarters. These tools will essentially confirm every single conspiracy theory you could have ever imagined when it comes to propaganda on the Internet. It allows British intelligence officers to: “manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, ‘amplify’ sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be ‘extremist.’”

Being the creative folks that they are, GCHQ even came up with code words to describe each “product.” These include, UNDERPASS (for poll manipulation), SILVERLORD (for censorship), GESTATOR (for the manipulation of YouTube views), PREDATORS FACE (for DDOS attacks), the list goes on…

Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept that: Continue reading »

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Jul 17

Dianne-FeinsteinOrganized crime

- Meet CISA – Dianne Feinstein’s Latest Attack on Privacy, Civil Liberties and the Internet (Liberty, Blitzkrieg, July 15, 2014):

There’s not much good you can count on Congress to accomplish, but when it comes to introducing and passing oligarch protecting, civil liberties destroying legislation, our “representatives” are absolutely relentless in their determination. Unsurprisingly, the only “distinctly native American criminal class,” as Mark Twain described Congress, is at it again when it comes to institutionalizing spying and attempting a legal run around the Bill of Rights.

One thing that has become crystal clear since the Edward Snowden revelations, is that much of Congress has no problem at all with unconstitutional spying. Rather, they are primarily upset it was exposed and are dead set on making sure no other whistleblower can ever do the same. Enter CISA, or The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.

I’ve spent much of today reading about the bill, and have compiled what I think are the most astute observations. First, from the ACLU: Continue reading »

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Jul 15

gchq-spying-internet-tools

- Snowden files: Manipulating polls, netting from LinkedIn and YouTube in GCHQ’s bag of tricks (RT, July 14, 2014):

The UK’s spy agency has developed a number of crafty tools to monitor and comb the web, planting false information when necessary, Glenn Greenwald said while disclosing a fresh batch of Snowden’s files.

The tools were created by the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) within the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), according to the leaked documents.

Previous files have already detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts” and “false flag operations,” as well as “honey traps” and various forms of psychological manipulation of online activists.

But the newly released GCHQ document, titled ‘JTRIG Tools and Techniques,’ gives a more comprehensive view of the scale of the operations, including how invasive they can be and how much online havoc can be caused. Continue reading »

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Jul 13

- Twitter uproar over pic of ‘applauding’ Israelis watching night attacks on Gaza (RT, July 12, 2014)

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Jul 06

NSA intercept 2

- What Your “Startlingly Intimate, Voyeristic” NSA File Looks Like (ZeroHedge, July 6, 2014):

A few days ago, we asked a simple rhetorical question: “Are you targeted by the NSA?

The answer, sadly for those reading this, is very likely yes, as it was revealed that as part of the NSA’s XKeyscore program “a computer network exploitation system, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering nearly everything a user does on the internet” all it takes for a user to be flagged by America’s superspooks is to go to a website the NSA finds less than “patriotic” and that user becomes a fixture for the NSA’s tracking algos.

So assuming one is being tracked by the NSA – or as it is also known for politically correct reasons “intercepted” – as a “person of interest” or worse, just what kind of data does the NSA collect? The latest report by the WaPo titled “In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are” sheds much needed light on just how extensive the NSA’s data collection effort is.

According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans “have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”

The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

Continue reading »

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Jul 04

Flashback:

- Facebook founder called trusting users ‘DUMB FUCKS’ (The Register)

Related info:

- Facebook Mind-Control Experiments Linked To DoD Research On Civil Unrest

- Was The Department Of Defense Behind Facebook’s Controversial Manipulation Study?

- Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment


Facebook's COO Sandberg attends an interactive session organised by the ladies' wing of industry lobby group FICCI in New Delhi
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

- Journal that published Facebook psych study sorry…social network not (RT, July 4, 2014):

The journal that has published the Facebook mood swings study regrets the way the study was conducted. Facebook issued a sorry statement for accessing the content of 700,000 people’s pages, but the company’s second-in-command said she has no regrets.

It was concluded by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal that the move to manipulate the content appearing on the Facebook pages of about 700,000 people without their prior consent may have violated some principles of academic research. Continue reading »

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Jul 03

- Google Has Received 250,000 Article Removal Requests as Internet Censorship Takes Off in Europe (Liberty Blitzkrieg, July 3, 2014):

“In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

– From George Orwell’s 1984

The reason Big Brother and his band of technocrat authoritarians spend so much time and effort erasing history in the classic novel 1984, is because they are a bunch of total criminals and they know it. Their grip on power is made so much easier if the proles are kept ignorant, confused and in the dark. This strategy is not just fiction, it is the philosophy of tyrants and authoritarians throughout history. Continue reading »

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Jul 03

- NSA whistleblowers testify in Bundestag inquiry, disclose ‘totalitarian’ surveillance  (RT, July 3, 2014):

Former NSA agents-turned-whistleblowers are testifying before a German parliamentary committee as the Bundestag investigates America’s wiretapping methods with one of them branding the NSA approach “totalitarian.”

It is hoped that evidence from the two US citizens, William Binney and Thomas Drake, will shed light on the methods of surveillance used by the American National Security Agency (NSA), which eavesdropped on the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leading German and European politicians.

Binney and Drake broke their silence long before ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden leaked revelations about American intelligence agencies’ practices last year.

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Jul 03

How NSA tracks all German Tor users as extremists

- XKeyscore exposed: How NSA tracks all German Tor users as ‘extremists’ (ZeroHedge, July 3, 2014):

The NSA has been revealed to mark and consider potential “extremists” all users of the internet anonymizer service Tor. Among those are hundreds of thousands of privacy concerned people like journalists, lawyers and rights activists.

Searching for encryption software like the Linux-based operating system Tails also places you on the NSA grid, as Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz revealed on the German site Tagesschau. The report is based on analysis of the source code of the software used by NSA’s electronic surveillance program XKeyscore.

Tor is a system of servers, which routes user requests through a layer of secured connections to make it impossible to identify a user’s IP from the addresses of the websites he/she visits. The network of some 5,000 is operated by enthusiasts and used by hundreds of thousands of privacy-concerned people worldwide. Some of them live in countries with oppressive regimes, which punish citizens for visiting websites they deem inappropriate.

But merely visiting Tor project’s website puts you on the NSA’s red list, the report says. But more importantly it monitors connections to so-called Directory Authorities, the eight servers, which act as gateways for the entire system. The NSA was particularly surveilling German-based Tor Directory Authorities. One is operated by the Germany-based hacker group Chaos Computer Club, the other by computer science student Sebastian Hahn, who told journalists that the revelation is “shocking.” Continue reading »

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Jul 02

Sure!


nsa-321

- NSA’s internet surveillance program is constitutional, Obama’s panel of experts insists (RT, July 2, 2014):

A five-person panel handpicked by US President Barack Obama concluded Tuesday that the National Security Agency’s use of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provision to spy on non-Americans is not unjust.

Nevertheless, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s findings — published late Tuesday in a 196-page pre-release report that was approved by the panel early Wednesday — did acknowledge that substantial flaws exist in the way the NSA uses Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to conduct surveillance against not US-persons believed to be located abroad. Continue reading »

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Jul 02

facebook-mind-control-social-engineering

- Facebook mind control experiments linked to DoD research on civil unrest (RT, July 2, 2014):

Facebook’s experiment on over half-a-million unsuspecting users has taken a new twist with the revelation that a researcher connected to a Department of Defense-funded program to use the military to quell civil unrest also participated in the study.

Social media sites exploded over the weekend after it was revealed that Facebook, no stranger to controversy of late, secretly manipulated posts being seen by nearly 700,000 users in 2012 in order to allow researchers to study how emotional states are transmitted over the platform.

Results of the week-long study conducted by researchers at Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California appeared in the June edition of the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists’ (PNAS) under the rather insidious title, ‘Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks’. Continue reading »

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Jul 02

Yes, it is difficult to guess who really is behind CIAbook.

Flashback:

- Facebook founder called trusting users ‘DUMB FUCKS’ (The Register)


- Was The Department Of Defense Behind Facebook’s Controversial Manipulation Study? (Liberty Blitzkrieg, July 1, 2014):

I’ve spent pretty much all day reading as much as possible about the extremely controversial Facebook “emotional contagion” study in which the company intentionally altered its news feed algorithm to see if it could manipulate its users’ emotions. In case you weren’t aware, Facebook is always altering your news feed under the assumption that there’s no way they could fill your feed with all of your “friends’” pointless, self-absorbed, dull updates (there’s just too much garbage).

As such, Facebook filters your news feed all the time, something which advertisers must find particularly convenient. In any event, the particular alteration under question occurred during one week in January 2012, and the company filled some people’s feeds with positive posts, while others were fed more negative posts.

Once the data was compiled, academics from the University of California, San Francisco and Cornell University were brought in to analyze the results. Their findings were then published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found that: Continue reading »

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Jun 26

snooper-charter-uk-powers

- ‘Snooper’s charter’: UK govt pushes for access to social media (RT, June 26, 2014):

Britain’s Home Secretary is pushing for new spying powers to access social media and email accounts. Theresa May argues that it’s a “matter of life and death,” and has dismissed claims the government wants to spy on citizens.

The British Home Office is pushing for changes to the law that would radically expand powers to monitor citizens. The communications data bill, which has been branded ‘the snooper’s charter’ by opponents, would allow authorities access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

In addition, services like Facetime and Skype would also be accessible to the UK authorities. Continue reading »

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Jun 26


Added: Jun 25, 2014

Description:

Message fror Patrick Henningsen regarding UK censorship of UK Column, one of Britains leading alternative news websites…

UK Column is shutting down! British Gov’t has threatened UK Column with 250K in fines to regulate their YouTube channel, govt now claiming YouTube is “video on demand”. Everyone talks about “when they shut down the internet” – and here it is, govt regulation of YouTube content! Please get behind them in this fight… Continue reading »

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Jun 24

google111

- ‘You are unauthorized’: Nearly 50% of EU organizations deny access to personal data (RT, June 24, 2014):

Four out of ten organizations obstruct citizens from accessing their own personal data, says a recent study. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter also fail to fulfill their duty to be transparent.

The international study, conducted by experts from the University of Sheffield, has inspected at least 327 organizations across Europe, including the UK, Norway and Germany. Continue reading »

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Jun 14

- Iraq blocks Twitter, Facebook, YouTube amid growing ISIS threat (RT, June 13, 2014):

The Iraqi government has blocked access to top social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, reportedly to hinder the activities of militants formerly associated with Al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, thousands are signing up to fight the jihadist insurgency in Iraq.

Numerous media reports citing journalists and open-internet advocates said that internet users in Iraq are getting block screens when trying to access top social media sites and Google. Continue reading »

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Jun 14

- Why Online Tracking Is Getting Creepier (ProPublica, June 12, 2014):

The marketers that follow you around the web are getting nosier.

Currently, many companies track where users go on the Web—often through cookies—in order to display customized ads. That’s why if you look at a pair of shoes on one site, ads for those shoes may follow you around the Web.

But online marketers are increasingly seeking to track users offline, as well, by collecting data about people’s offline habits—such as recent purchases, where you live, how many kids you have, and what kind of car you drive.

Onboarding: a ProPublica explainer of how online tracking is getting creepier. Follow ProPublica on Vine for more explainer shorts. (Icons courtesy of Lil Squid, André Renault, Gabriele Garofalo and Patrick Morrison, Noun Project)

Here’s how it works, according to some revealing marketing literature we came across from digital marketing firm LiveRamp: Continue reading »

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Jun 12

- Massive flaw could have exposed every Gmail user’s address (RT, June 12, 2014):

A gaping security bug in Google’s systems may have been used to unearth millions upon millions of users’ email addresses. The activist claimed it took Google a month to rectify the problem after his report to the company.

Tel Aviv-based security researcher Oren Hafif discovered the bug and has informed Google, which has managed to resolve the problem.

However, before Hafif notified Google, he successfully retrieved some 37,000 addresses from the system.

“I have every reason to believe every Gmail address could have been mined,”
Hafif told Wired.

He uploaded a video tutorial to his YouTube account at the beginning of June.

Continue reading »

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May 27

- Snowden, Greenwald, Appelbaum, WikiLeaks ‘blacklisted’ from Stockholm Internet Forum (RT, May 27, 2014):

Key digital rights activists – including Edward Snowden and hacker Jacob Appelbaum – have been blacklisted from the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) on internet openness and freedom. The move has caused a stir at the gathering and outraged Twitter users. Continue reading »

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May 26

Cofounders, from left to right, Jason Stockman, Wei Sun, Andy Yen
Cofounders, from left to right, Jason Stockman, Wei Sun, Andy Yen.

- The Only Email System The NSA Can’t Access (Forbes, May 19, 2014):

When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”

There was a massive response, and of the 40 or so active in the discussion, six started meeting at CERN’s Restaurant Number 1, pooling their deep knowledge of computing and physics to found ProtonMail, a gmail-like email system which uses end-to-end encryption, making it impossible for outside parties to monitor.

Encrypted emails have actually been around since the 1980s, but they are extremely difficult to use. When Edward Snowden asked a reporter to use an end-to-end encrypted email to share details of the NSA surveillance program the reporter couldn’t get the system to work, says Yen. Continue reading »

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May 20

China123

- China summons US envoy over cyber-spying charges, vows retaliation (RT, May 20, 2014):

China has dismissed all US accusations of industrial cyber-espionage against five of its military officials and published proof that Washington is actually stealing data from China. Beijing also summoned the US ambassador for an explanation.

Beijing reacted to Washington’s recent round of industrial espionage accusations by publishing its latest data on US cyber-attacks against China.

China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (NCNERTTCC) reported that during just two months, from March 19 to May 18, the US directly controlled 1.18 million host computers in China using 2,077 Trojan horse networks or botnet servers. Continue reading »

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May 20

- China Publishes Data Claiming US Is World’s Largest Cyber Attacker (ZeroHedge, May 20, 2014):

Well that didn’t take long. Having already responded angrily to the US charging 5 military officers with cyber espionage, China has published details of the US cyber attacks:

  • *CHINA CALLS U.S. THE BIGGEST ATTACKER OF CYBER SPACE: XINHUA

From 3/19 to 5/18, they claim to have found 135 host computers in the US carrying 563 phishing pages targeting Chinese sites that directly controlled 1.18 million computers. But Jay Carney said earlier that “the US does not engage in economic espionage.”

As Xinhua reports, Continue reading »

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May 17

- The FCC Issues its Proposal on Net Neutrality as Protesters Are Tossed from Hearing (Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 16, 2014):

As spring unfolds here in the Northern Hemisphere, the future of the free and open Internet hangs in the balance. As such, I strongly believe everyone should have at least some understanding of what is at stake. When most people hear or read the words “net neutrality” their eyes glaze over with a feeling of confusion and despair: “I can’t remember, am I supposed to be for or against this?” This is exactly how the lawyers and lobbyists in D.C. want it, but unless the citizenry is informed we could lose the most important weapon of free speech in the history of mankind.

Recognizing the convoluted nature of the subject, I did my best to lay out what “net neutrality” is and what is at stake with the current FCC rule-making process in my recent post: Say Goodbye to “Net Neutrality” – New FCC Proposal Will Permit Discrimination of Web Content.
Continue reading »

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May 13

- Internet Freedom’s Expiration Date (Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2014):

Sales taxers are holding hostage the renewal of a rare bipartisan success.

The idea of taxing email is no more popular today than when President Bill Clinton signed the Internet Tax Freedom Act into law. But a dedicated congressional minority now wants to allow states and localities to tax emailunless these governments are given new powers to collect sales taxes on e-commerce.

On Nov. 1—three days before Election Day—the Internet Tax Freedom Act is due to expire. In place since 1998 and renewed three times, it wisely prohibits taxes that discriminate against the Internet. State and local governments can’t impose burdens online that don’t exist offline. And multiple jurisdictions can’t tax the same online transaction—a critical consumer protection in a country with more than 9,600 taxing authorities. The law also bans email taxes and new taxes on Internet access services. Continue reading »

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May 04

obama-laughing

- Obama Administration Launches Plan to Make an “Internet ID” a Reality (Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 2, 2014)

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May 02

- Bill Moyers Essay: What Happened to Obama’s Promised Net Neutrality? (Bill Moyers, April 2, 2014):

Running for president in 2007, Barack Obama pledged to keep the Internet open to all, upholding the principle of Net neutrality. Now his FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, has introduced new rules that have caused an uproar among public interest groups and media reform advocates. They believe Wheeler’s proposed changes break Obama’s campaign promise and will allow providers like Verizon and Comcast to sell faster access to the Web to the highest bidder.

The problem, Bill Moyers says, is that “business and government are now so intertwined that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call ‘the gratitude machine.’” FCC officials, including Wheeler, transit back and forth through the revolving door between public service and lucrative private commerce, losing sight of the greater good. But there’s still time to speak up and make your voices heard.

- Full Show: Is Net Neutrality Dead? (Bill Moyers, April 2, 2014):

For years, the government has upheld the principle of “Net neutrality,” the belief that everyone should have equal access to the web without preferential treatment.

But now, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a former cable and telecommunications top gun, is circulating potential new rules that reportedly would put a price tag on climbing aboard the Internet. The largest and richest providers, giant corporations such as Verizon and Comcast – in mid-takeover of Time Warner Cable — like the idea. They could afford to buy their way to the front of the line. Everyone else — nonprofit groups, startups and everyday users – would have to move to the rear, and the Net would be neutral no more.

Continue reading »

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Apr 25

- Everything You Need To Know About The End Of Net Neutrality (Huffington Post, Updated April 25, 2014):

It may be the end of the Internet as we know it.

That was the reaction from consumer advocates and some websites after the Federal Communications Commission announced new rules governing Internet service on Thursday. The rules effectively put an end to net neutrality, or the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally.

“Definitely, consumers are the losers,” said Todd O’Boyle, a program director at Common Cause, a left-leaning public interest lobbying group. “The sites they rely on on a daily basis may not work in a way they’ve come to rely on.”

The FCC insists, however, that the new rules would not harm Internet users. In a blog post Thursday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said there had been “a great deal of misinformation” about the proposal, which he said would not permit “behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet.”

Here are some key points to understand regarding the changes:

What is net neutrality and why is this happening?

Net neutrality is the idea that your Internet provider must treat all Web traffic equally. A court decision in January struck down FCC rules meant to ensure that Internet providers do not discriminate by blocking or slowing certain content.

That decision opened the door for Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon to cut deals with content providers, which would pay to stream their content in an Internet “fast lane.”

After the ruling, the FCC said it would revise its rules. That’s what happened Thursday.

What do the new rules say?

The new rules would allow companies like Netflix to pay Internet providers to stream their videos and other content more quickly. That could create two lanes on the Internet, fast super-highways that big tech companies can afford and a bumpy backroad where less fortunate websites dwell, consumer advocates say.

Verizon, which sued the FCC for the right to cut such deals, said Thursday that it had no intention of preventing customers from viewing certain sites.

Verizon and other Internet providers “have always made clear that we support an open Internet and we have publicly committed to ensuring that customers can access the Internet content they want, when they want and how they want,” the company said in a statement.

The FCC said these deals would still be fair because Internet providers would be required to reveal how they handle traffic, how much they charge companies for access to fast lanes, and whether they’ve given preferential treatment to their own content.

That last part could become especially important as Internet providers are increasingly becoming entertainment companies. AT&T said this week it plans to launch a new online video service. Comcast owns NBC Universal, which includes 30 cable networks, 26 local TV stations and part of the streaming service Hulu.

Internet providers would be required to act in a “commercially reasonable manner,” according to the FCC, which will vote on the proposed rules later this year.

What could that mean for me, in English, please?

First off, the web could get more expensive. The impact on the average Internet user will likely not be felt right away. But over time, websites would probably pass on to consumers the costs of paying for high-speed access, according to Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the consumer group Public Knowledge.

In addition, it could become difficult to view certain websites owned by companies that can’t afford to pay for access to an Internet fast lane, Feld said.

On top of Internet users potentially paying more, they would also be more confused, Feld said. Under the proposed rules, people would need to make sense of a fragmented Internet landscape where the time it takes to load an online video would depend on whether that website paid extra to their Internet provider. Consumers may start choosing their Internet providers based on which websites they like to visit.

Feld compared the situation to the exclusive deals that AT&T and Apple once made that only allowed AT&T subscribers to purchase the iPhone.

This sounds pretty frustrating.

It would be. Under the FCC’s proposed rules, the quality of online streaming services like Netflix or HBO Go would depend on whether those services are paying your Internet provider or not, Feld said.

“It will become more fragmented and more frustrating,” he added.

The proposed rules could affect not just entertainment, but also education. If schools use an online curriculum made by a company that cut a deal with Verizon, students who subscribe to Verizon’s Internet service at home would have an advantage over other students who subscribe to another provider, Feld said.

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Apr 24

- The FCC is about to axe-murder net neutrality. Don’t get mad – get even (The Guardian, April 24, 2014):

The former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler is re-writing rules in favor of the telecom giants – not you, me or the internet. Here’s what you can do to stop him

In January, a federal appeals court rejected regulations designed to assure some measure of fairness in the way America’s internet service providers (ISPs) handle information traveling through their networks. The problem, according to the court, was not so much that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) couldn’t insist on what is called “network neutrality” – the idea that customers, rather than ISPs, should decide priorities for information they get online. No, the issue was that the FCC had tried to impose broadband rules under the wrong regulatory framework. And the court all but invited the FCC to fix its own mistake and rewrite its own updated rules.

Continue reading »

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Apr 24

The FCC Wants To Break The Internet

- Unless Defeated, New FCC Rules Will Put ‘Stake in Internet’s Heart’ (Common Dreams, April 24, 2014):

Critics of the new rules say that this could be the moment the internet as we know it will die if the people do not rise to its defense

Defenders of an open, innovative and fair internet are up in arms Thursday after learning the Federal Communications Commission is about to issue new rule proposals that will kill the online principle known as “net neutrality.”

The death of net neutrality—which has governed the equal treatment of content since the internet was created—will create, say critics, a tiered internet that allows major internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to cut special and lucrative deals with content providers who can afford to pay for special “fast lanes.” The result will be an internet that will incentivize slower traffic by ISPs and the creation of privatized, corporate-controlled “toll-roads” that will come to dominate a once fair and free environment.

“If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst.”
—Todd O’Boyle, Common Cause

As reported by variousoutlets, the  new rules have been circulated by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to the other members of the commission and will be officially announced on Thursday.

“With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet,” said Craig Aaron, president of the media advocacy group Free Press. “Giving ISPs the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes will be a disaster for startups, nonprofits and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. These users will all be pushed onto the Internet dirt road, while deep pocketed Internet companies enjoy the benefits of the newly created fast lanes.”

Chairman Wheeler defended the new proposals and denied the rule changes were an attack on the open internet, but Aaron rejected those claims and said that trying to argue these new rules protect net neutrality is an insult.

“This is not Net Neutrality,” he stated. “It’s an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise. The FCC had an opportunity to reverse its failures and pursue real Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband under the law. Instead, in a moment of political cowardice and extreme shortsightedness, it has chosen this convoluted path that won’t protect Internet users.”

“Everyday users will all be pushed onto the Internet dirt road, while deep pocketed Internet companies enjoy the benefits of the newly created fast lanes.”
—Craig Aaron, Free Press

Those who have fought hardest to protect the idea of a free and equal digital playing field for all users, however, said Wheeler’s claims don’t pass the laugh test and rebuked the Chairman’s proposals in the strongest possible terms.

“If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst,” Todd O’Boyle, program director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, told the New York Times. “Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes and censorship — corporate or governmental.”

And speaking with Time magazine, Lauren Weinsten, a veteran tech-policy expert and prominent Net-neutrality advocate, said: “This is a stake in the heart for Internet openness.”

She continued: “The nation’s largest Internet service providers have hit the ultimate jackpot. These companies keep secret all of the information needed to evaluate whether violations of Internet openness have occurred, and because the FCC moves so slowly, by the time it acts, a company that’s been victimized could be out of business.”

And Free Press’ Aaron put particular emphasis on the perverse incentives the new rules would create, explaining:

“This is a stake in the heart for Internet openness.” 
—Lauren Weinsten, tech expert

The FCC apparently doesn’t realize the dangerous incentives these rules would create. The routing of data on the Internet is a zero-sum game. Unless there is continual congestion, no website would pay for priority treatment. This means the FCC’s proposed rules will actually produce a strong incentive for ISPs to create congestion through artificial scarcity. Not only would this outcome run counter to the FCC’s broader goals, it actually undermines the so-called Section 706 legal basis for these rules.

This proposal is short-sighted and should be strenuously opposed by the broader Internet community — including millions of Americans who have urged Chairman Wheeler and his predecessors to safeguard the open Internet. The only parties cheering this idea on will be the largest ISPs who stand to profit from discrimination. We urge Chairman Wheeler’s colleagues not to support this item as currently drafted and demand nothing less than real Net Neutrality.

Both Common Cause and Free Press have already posted petitions on their sites where concerned citizens can voice their opposition and join the fight to oppose the FCC’s new rules.

The Free Press petition states, in part:

People everywhere understand that the Internet is a crucial driver of free speech, innovation, education, economic growth, creativity and so much more. They demand real Net Neutrality rules that protect Internet users from corporate abuse.

But the Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules that would kill — rather than protect — Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.

Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And no one could do anything about it.

We must stop the FCC from moving forward with these rules, which would give the green light to ISPs eager to crush Net Neutrality.

The agency can preserve Net Neutrality only by designating broadband as a telecommunications service under the law. Anything else is an attack on our rights to connect and communicate.

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Apr 14

twitter

- 44 Percent of Twitter Accounts Have Never Tweeted (PCMag, April 13, 2014):

Twitter has a ton of users, right? Around 974 million, to be a bit more precise. However, just because a person has taken the time to make a Twitter account doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve used it. And according to the latest stats from Twopcharts, a third-party site that monitors Twitter activity, a surprisingly high number of people have done just that: Made an account and abandoned Twitter forever.

Just how many? According to the site, approximately 44 percent of Twitter’s 947 million accounts or so have never sent a single tweet. Of the number that have — approximately 550 million — just under half of these accounts are reported to have sent their last tweet more than one year ago (43 percent). Only 126 million have sent any kind of tweet at any point in the past 30 days.

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