Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who are you? 20k views a month - from developing countries?

Regular readers will have noticed that since the EC vote on 3 April, there has been a 500% increase in the audience. The main source is Vietnam (.vn), but also various other developing countries: Egypt, Colombia, Uganda. Welcome newbies, enjoy the ride.
What I had not thought hard about was just how Windows-dominated these readers would be - the 2013 audience was only minority IExplorer and in fact Firefox had become browser of choice, and Windows was under 75%. How it has changed. You are now massively dominated by Microsoft, 95% on OS and 76% IExplorer. Get Firefox people! Or ask your sysadmins nicely if you are all on university/school PCs.

NetFlix continuing "interconnection" problems with US fixed ISPs

From Ars Technica: "Verizon last week blamed Netflix for the problem,
saying that the video company is sending traffic over congested links.
That's true, but it's not the whole story. Netflix agreed to pay Verizon
for a direct connection to the ISP's network on April 28, but Verizon hasn't been able to set up enough links yet. Verizon has said the connections will start rolling out incrementally this month and should be completely installed by the end of 2014.

Netflix performance is also getting worse on AT&T, though that's
less of a surprise since Netflix has not yet agreed to pay AT&T for a
direct connection. AT&T U-verse performance dropped from 1.7Mbps in
May to 1.5Mbps in June, while AT&T DSL performance dropped from
1.26Mbps in May to 1.13Mbps in June. Netflix performance on Comcast dropped a bit too, from 2.72Mbps to
2.61Mbps, but it remains far better than on Verizon or AT&T.
Cablevision, which agreed to give Netflix free connections to its
network, leads major ISPs in the US with a rating of 3.03Mbps. The US
average across all ISPs is 2.18Mbps."

To European readers, this is very reminiscent of BBC's 2006-8 issues with BT and others for iPlayer - but back then there were sensible reasons for the problem. This appears much more - calculated?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

UK loses human rights in 2 days; why I research in Brussels on net neutrality

I have given up trying to explain to fellow academics (even constitutional lawyers and human rights lawyers) why I spend my time studying the European institutions not the London ones. This week provided a case study.
The European Parliament on Tuesday elected the President of the European Commission. For all his flaws, he does at least intend to appoint a 'digital' Commission, which will have to support some version of net neutrality. The arguments are public and well attended. Members vote using "buttons", a new fangled 19th century technology...
The European institutions have finally acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The European Court of Justice is haltingly starting to incorporate fundamental rights into its decisions, not least in striking down the disproportionate blanket retention of data in a rushed 2006 Directive railroaded through the European Council by New Labour Britain.
Back in London, the Mother of Parliaments (sic) has slept through the Snowden revelations about Tempora and other programmes. On Thursday last week, the main political parties agreed to rush emergency legislation through Parliament, published in detail on Monday, and now law. Yes, that's right, it is already the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014. It was voted through by shouting 'aye' or 'no', and whipping members through doors at either end of the chamber if the noises were loud enough in opposition. No, I am not joking.
It extends UK law to cover webmail from anywhere in the world. Yes, that is an appalling precedent for other countries.
I signed a letter with other academics that was featured in the press, and has received about 15,000 views on Slideshare and other  places. Today I had to refuse an interview by CCTV because how could I explain to the audience of Chinese dictators how this UK Parliament compares to their own? It is government by decree in London in 2014.
That's why I choose to research the European institutions. In a hyper-power world, they at least act as some check on the Anglo-Saxon corporate-political institutions and their 'Government House' secrecy and lying. See Australia for what can happen without that check.
Parliamentary democracy is a great idea - as Tom Paine told us, we should try it some time, if not in England, then the United States. If not there, then France. If not there, then Brussels?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Draconian

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian | TechCrunch: "“It’s not actually extending the interception power itself — it’s just extending it to a wider group of people. Whether you call that an extension or not I don’t know,” he [Salmon] added. “It is potentially extending it to a wider group of people, which they say they were always trying to cover in the first place. But it depends on how you define all that.”

On the risk of a challenge to the legislation, Salmon points out that the government may well be calculating that the time it would take for any legal challenge to be brought against DRIP would take longer than the lifespan of the bill itself.

“I guess the government probably are thinking well ultimately if it goes to court, then it would potentially get another referral to the ECJ which, as you know, is not exactly a swift process,” he added. “They’re going to get another two years.”" 'via Blog this'

Academics protest emergency surveillance bill (Wired UK)

Academics protest emergency surveillance bill (Wired UK): "Chris Marsden, a signatory and professor of law at the University of Sussex, said there were fundamental problems with the scope of the bill. It may even prove incompatible with European legislation on human rights and privacy.

"Blanket data retention in itself is quite likely to be against the law," he explained, adding, "I think it's unjustified to do this without a proper parliamentary debate, not just an emergency debate. It's pretty shocking."" 'via Blog this'

Monday, July 14, 2014

Carlos Slim's empire not broken up: oligarchs still control Mexico

Carlos Slim's empire broken up but oligarchs still control Mexico:  "The [Ley telecom] reforms do not threaten to disrupt the profits of Latin America’s telecommunications giants; quite the contrary, now they will no longer be confined to dominating one sector of the market. In such a context, smaller competitors will find it hard to enter and establish themselves in the market, given that telecoms giants will extend their share.

 Investors seem to agree with this analysis: América Móvil shares jumped 10% when news of the “breakup” was announced, and Forbes reports Slim is poised to retake his “world’s richest” title from Bill Gates, after gaining US$4 billion this month alone." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on Telecoms Operator Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald on Why the Latest Snowden Leak Matters | Threat Level | WIRED:

"WIRED: One revelation in your book that didn’t get much play was the issue of U.S. telecoms partnering with foreign telecoms to upgrade their networks and in the process help the NSA subvert those networks by redirecting the target country’s communications to NSA repositories. That to me was one of the more shocking allegations because you weren’t just talking about phone companies providing access to their own networks and their own customers but serving as pseudo-contractors and agents of the NSA to help them spy on foreign infrastructure. Why didn’t that get more attention?

 GG: You know, it’s funny because it was a huge issue here in Brazil, before I wrote the book, because the first story we did in Brazil was about the collection of 2 million metadata events and so the question was how was the NSA getting that? The Senate was interested in that…The reason it never took off is because the one thing the NSA holds really close is the identity of their partners. I have a very good idea of who these companies are based on circumstantial evidence, but no one would ever let me say it. But without that, how do you make it stick? The Brazilian government was desperate to know, because they wanted to kick that company out." 'via Blog this'

Friday, July 11, 2014

Internet Governance Forum USA 2014 - net neutrality panel

Internet Governance Forum USA 2014 (IGF-USA) Tickets, Washington - Eventbrite: "Net Neutrality Around the World

Matthew Shears - Center For Democracy and Technology, Director Global Internet Policy and Human Rights

Jeff Campbell - Cisco Systems, Director of Global Policy and Government Affairs

Yves Blondeel - T-REGS bvda

Githalga - Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Moderator -Cheryl Miller, Verizon" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

UK's worst ISP stopped from misleading and incomprehensible 'cheapest unlimited broadband' claim

The execrable TalkTalk has been told to stop advertising broadband as £2.50/month - the catch is that it's an annual contract, line rental is £16/month, and there are on free calls! But if you pay in advance it really is very cheap. Note that existing contracts were hiked about 12-15% in April/May - and TalkTalk's are light broadband users, 34GB per month on average per household.
In fact, get out your calculators to work out what the hell the real cost is...
Adverts should be forced to give the TOTAL annualised price for broadband and line rental, which is about 1000% more than TalkTalk's ads, but as we use useless self-regulation in the UK, it's not the government's job to stop them misleading consumers. The shame of it...