Sunday, December 28, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Article 22: Quality of service
1. Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities are, after taking account ofthe views of interested parties, able to require undertakings that provide publicly available electronic communications services networks and/or services to publish comparable, adequate and up-to-date information for end-users on the quality of their services, including and on measures taken to ensure equivalent comparable access for disabled end-users. The information shall, on request, also be supplied to the national regulatory authority in advance of its publication.
2. National regulatory authorities may specify, inter alia, the quality of service parameters to be measured, and the content, form and manner of information to be published, including possible quality certification mechanisms, in order to ensure that end-users have access to comprehensive, comparable, reliable and user-friendly information. Where appropriate, the parameters, definitions and measurement methods given in Annex III could be used.
3. In order to prevent degradation of service and hindering or slowing of traffic over networks, Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities are able to set minimum quality of service requirements on undertakings providing public communications networks. The Commission may, having consulted the Authority, adopt technical implementing measures concerning minimum quality of service requirements to be set by the national regulatory authority on undertakings providing public communications networks.
These measures designed to amend non-essential elements of this Directive by supplementing it shall be adopted in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny referred to in Article 37(2). On imperative grounds of urgency, the Commission may use the urgency procedure referred to in Article 37(3).
(Amendment 16) A competitive market should ensure that users are able to have the quality of service they require, but in particular cases it may be necessary to ensure that public communications networks attain minimum quality levels so as to prevent degradation of service, the blocking of access and the slowing of traffic over the networks. In particular, the Commission should be able to adopt implementing measures with a view to identifying the quality standards to be used by the national regulatory authorities.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Call for comments: The Commission invites parties to comment on Internet traffic management practices of ISPs, including in particular the issues described below. In their comments, parties should provide full supporting rationale and all evidence on which they rely, and structure their submissions according to the topics and questions identified below.
· A primary reason given for Internet traffic management practices is the increase in Internet traffic volumes caused by end-users.5 This has been attributed to growth in the use of certain applications, as well as growth in online video consumption, which can lead to network congestion.
a) How has Internet traffic grown in the past three years and what are the predictions for its growth in the future? What has been the impact on Canadian ISP networks?
b) How has average end-user bandwidth consumption changed in the past three years and what are the predictions for future changes in Canada?
c) How should congestion be defined in an ISP's network?
d) Are there applications or services that are more likely to cause congestion, and if so, what are they?
e) What are the relative bandwidth requirements for different types of Internet applications?
· The Commission is seeking information regarding technical and economic solutions that are available now, or likely to be available in the future, for the purpose of Internet traffic management. The Commission would also like to understand the impacts of these solutions.
a) What technologies could be employed by ISPs (for example, deep packet inspection) to manage Internet traffic?
b) What developments are under way with respect to traffic protocol (such as modifications to transmission control protocols) and/or application changes (such as changes to P2P file exchange) which could assist in addressing network congestion?
c) What are the specific capabilities offered by the technical solutions identified in (a) and (b) above? For example, would these technologies allow for throttling of individual users or groups of users; would they allow for the collection of information about persons and to what extent?
d) With reference to questions (a) to (c) above, how effective would these solutions be in addressing network congestion in the ISP networks?
e) Also with reference to questions (a) to (c) above, what impact could the implementation of technical solutions have on the Internet Engineering Tark Force standards upon which the operation of the Internet is based? Could these solutions create interoperability challenges for application developers?
f) Describe the advantages and disadvantages (including end-user impacts) of employing the following practices in order to manage Internet traffic: i. monthly bandwidth limits (bit caps), ii. excess bandwidth usage charges, iii. time of day usage pricing, iv. peak period throttling, v. end-user-based throttling, vi. application-based throttling, vii. content caching, viii. upgrading network capacity, and ix. others not listed above.
· In Telecom Decision 2008-108, the Commission directed Bell Canada to develop and file with the Commission, proposed notification requirements to address future changes that impact materially on the performance of GAS.
a) Should these requirements be extended to other ISPs providing wholesale Internet services such as the third party Internet access services offered by cable ISPs?
b) Are similar requirements necessary and appropriate in relation to the provision of retail Internet services?
c) If so, what kinds of practices, and/or changes to practices, should trigger these requirements and what information and how much notice should be provided to end-users?
· Subsection 27(2) of the Act prohibits a Canadian carrier from unjustly discriminating, subjecting any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage or giving an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service.
a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in unjust discrimination, undue or unreasonable preference or advantage?
· Section 36 of the Act states that unless the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.
a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in controlling the content, or influencing the meaning or purpose of telecommunications?
b) For any Internet traffic management practice identified in (a), what criteria should the Commission apply in determining whether to authorize such practice?
· Section 47 of the Act states that the Commission shall exercise its powers and perform its duties under the Act with a view to implementing the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives set out in section 7 of the Act8 (the policy objectives) and ensuring that Canadian carriers provide telecommunications services and charge rates in accordance with section 27.
a) What issues do Internet traffic management practices raise concerning the policy objectives of the Act?
· Section 47 of the Act also states that the Commission shall exercise its powers and perform its duties under the Act in accordance with any orders made by the Governor in Council under section 8. The Governor in Council has issued an Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives, P.C. 2006-1534, 14 December 2006 (the Policy Direction), which requires the Commission to, among other things, rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible and when relying on regulation, use measures in a manner that interferes with market forces to the minimum extent necessary to meet the policy objectives. The Policy Direction also requires the Commission to ensure that non-economic measures are implemented, to the greatest extent possible, in a symmetrical and competitively neutral manner.
a) In light of the Policy Direction, address the requirement for, and the appropriateness of, implementing any regulatory measures in relation to Internet traffic management by ISPs.
b) For each proposed regulatory measure, comment on how such measure would be consistent with the Policy Direction as well as how these measures could be implemented in the least intrusive manner.
· The issue of Internet traffic management practices is increasingly a global issue that is being raised in other jurisdictions.
a) Discuss any initiatives being examined or undertaken in other jurisdictions in relation to the issues raised in this proceeding concerning the Internet traffic management practices of ISPs.
b) With respect to any initiatives described in part (a) of this question, discuss their possible applicability in Canada.
I like the last bit!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"Hello, this is Senator Barack Obama and today is Thursday, June 8th, 2006.
"The topic today is net neutrality. The internet today is an open platform where the demand for websites and services dictates success. You've got barriers to entry that are low and equal for all comers. And it's because the internet is a neutral platform that I can put on this podcast and transmit it over the internet without having to go through some corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship. I don't have to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the internet as we know it. They say they want to create high-speed lanes on the internet and strike exclusive contractual arrangements with internet content-providers for access to those high-speed lanes. Those of us who can't pony up the cash for these high-speed connections will be relegated to the slow lanes.
"Allowing the Bells and cable companies to act as gatekeepers with control over internet access would make the internet like cable. A producer-driven market with barriers to entry for website creators and preferential treatment for specific sites based not on merit, the number of hits, but on relationships with the corporate gatekeeper. If there were four or more competitive providers of broadband service to every home, then cable and telephone companies would not be able to create a bidding war for access to the high-speed lanes. But here's the problem. More than 99 percent of households get their broadband services from either cable or a telephone company.
"So here's my view. We can't have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that's why I'm supporting what is called net neutrality. In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee reached different conclusions on network neutrality. Judiciary Committee members voted to protect net neutrality and commerce voted with the Bells and cable. That debate is going to hit the House floor this Friday. In the Senate, Senators Snowe and Dorgan are leading the fight for net neutrality and I've joined in that effort. Senator Inouye, the ranking Democrat of the Commerce Committee, has joined us in this effort as well and he's working with Senator Stevens to put strong network neutrality into any Senate bill that comes before us. There is widespread support among consumer groups, leading academics and the most innovative internet companies, including Google and Yahoo, in favor of net neutrality. And part of the reason for that is companies like Google and Yahoo might never have gotten started had they not been in a position to easily access the internet and do so on the same terms as the big corporate companies that were interested in making money on the internet.
"I know if you are listening to this podcast that you are going to take an intense interest in this issue as well. Congress is going to need to hear your voice because the Bell and cable companies are going to be dedicating millions of dollars to defeating network neutrality. So I'll keep you updated on this important issue and I look forward to talking to you guys again next week. Bye-bye."
Monday, November 10, 2008
Lecturer in European Union Commercial Law (University of Essex)
The School of Law wishes to appoint a Lecturer in European Union Law with a firm commitment to teaching at LLB and LLM level. The areas of greatest interest include Internal Market law, EU Company law as well as electronic communications/Internet law. We would welcome applications from candidates with the ability to teach some element of French Law.
Candidates should be able to demonstrate an excellent research profile or (in the case of applicants for whom this is a first academic appointment) strong demonstrable research potential.
The School was rated “5” in both the 1996 and 2001 Research Assessment Exercises, and its teaching has been assessed as “Excellent” by HEFCE. The School has a policy that all academics contribute in an equitable manner to its administrative load.
Salary: £36,532-£43,622 per annum; Closing date: 16 November 2008; Apply online (Ref. AC705)
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
1. One more step for France in adopting the graduated response ============================================================
Despite all opposition and debates, on 30 October 2008, a crushing majority of the French Senate voted in favour of the anti-piracy law, the so called Hadopi law, introducing the graduate response against illegal content downloading.
The law enabling the introduction of three-strikes measure against file-sharers and Internet users comes now in contradiction with the European Parliament's opinion which called on the European Commission and all member states to "avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness, and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of Internet access."
Regarding the French Senate's vote, Jeremie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net said: "Inconsistencies, lies, confusion and insults which the creative industries habitually use to blame their clients served as justification for a hurried vote, which ignored the wider public debate which is taking place in France and in Europe."
According to the modified law voted by the Senate, if an illegal downloading case is reported by an authorised body (industry associations, CNC, professional bodies), Hadopi, the body created especially for this purpose, will send the infringer a warning e-mail. If the infringement is repeated in 6-month time, a new e-mail is sent together with a warning by registered letter. In case in the next year the infringement is repeated, the Internet user in cause is penalised according to the gravity of the act. The sanction can be the denial of Internet access ranging from one month (duration decreased by the senators from 3 months as initially in the draft law) to a year during which time the Internet user continues to pay the access subscription and is included on a black list that forbids him
(her) to subscribe to any other operator.
Bruno Retailleau, a Senate member who voted against the legislation, argued that a full cut off of the Internet access is too severe a punishment as Internet access is essential to modern homes. In his opinion, cutting off households might even be considered discriminatory, as Internet access is usually tied to a cable line or phone service.
In case the French National Assembly (the second chamber of the Parliament) also votes in favour of the Hadopi law and the law becomes effective next year, the French government will be at odds with the European Parliament being in direct contradiction with Amendment 138 to the Telecoms Package, voted on 24 September which explicitly states that only the judicial authority can impose restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms.
The European Parliament clearly expressed the opposition against the cutting off of Internet users' access, wishing "a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers", and considering that "that big measures like cutting off Internet access shouldn't be used."
On the other hand, minister Albanel seems confident in the removal of Amendment 138 of the Telecom Package by the European Council having in view the pressure France is putting on the Commission and the Council.
Illegal downloading: the graduate response reviewed and corrected by the Senate (only in French, 1.11.2008) http://www.01net.com/editorial/394828/telechargement-illegal-la-riposte-graduee-revue-et-corrigee-par-le-senat/?rss
"Three strikes" P2P rule inches closer to law in France (2.11.2008) http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081102-three-strikes-p2p-rule-inches-closer-to-law-in-france.html
"Graduated response" - Will France disconnect Europe? (1.11.2008) http://www.laquadrature.net/en/graduated-response-will-france-disconnect-europe
EDRi-gram: French law on 'graduate response' opposed by ISOC Europe
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Pricing plans will range from $29.95 a month for a 5GB cap [ed: on a FIXED line!!!] and 768kbps download speeds to $54.90 for a 40GB cap at 15mbps. There's also a 10GB cap option, but that's only available alongside phone and TV service.
If customers exceed their bandwidth cap - which covers uploads as well as downloads - they'll be charged an extra $1 per extra gigabyte. "It's just a like a cell phone plan," Dudley says. And they can track their usage via a "gas gauge" on the company's web site.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Hidden in the Guardian piece, Ofcom is actually quite sensibly adopting what I call 'net neutrality lite' (and thanks to Martin Cave for popularising the term):
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said today: "We don't think we should bring it over from the US lock, stock and barrel. We have quite often got more competitors in Europe than in the US. The key for us is transparency. Consumers must know whether there are different arrangements for different ISPs and network providers must have the freedom to make commercial decisions about how to run their networks and invest in new-generation networks."
Well, quite. ISPs stop lying, consumers stop abusing, and we will all be happier.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
But never fear:
"I wouldn't worry too much.The current bunch of losers couldnt regulate a tap let alone the web. It would probably involve some outside supplier charging the government squillions to do it and then leave all the work they had done on a 1gb memory stick. Oh dear we sem to have lost all the information but we did do it honestly so can we have the rest of our squillions please." From offensive free speech libertarian comment on Guido Fawkes.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
"There followed two very interesting presentations, by Anthony Rose and Andy Quested from the BBC. Anthony Rose seemed to express fatigue with the iPlayer bandwidth debate, and stated his hope that the industry could now move on to consider issues around ISP incentivization and monetization. The iPlayer team has resisted the temptation to play out HD content so far, due to concerns that the experience would be unsatisfactory for many consumers, due to contention rates on DSL connections. (Unless I misunderstood his remarks during the Q&A panel later, I believe he said we should see some HD content on the iPlayer "this side of Christmas," probably encoded at around 4Mbps.) The iPlayer server farm, which apparently consists of 60 dual/quad core machines, transcodes content into "six or seven" codec/bitrate flavors, with the average in the 500 - 800kbps range (the latter being for H.264). The BBC is starting a trial of 1.5Mbps H.264 on the iPlayer to Virgin Media's 10,000 50Mbps trial customers in Ashford, Kent. The minimum threshold bitrate for true HD is >3Mbps, which would be challenging for a lot of broadband connections and would risk high buffering levels. So there is a necessity to make sure the experience is not out of line with what HD TV viewers have come to expect. An essential ingredient in ensuring this would be an end-to-end dynamic adaptive bitrate system, but this is not a trivial exercise from a technology standpoint.He made a case for the BBC's role in assembling the puzzle pieces for "others" (presumably ISPs) to build a business model around the iPlayer. He expressed an interest in working with ISPs to develop tiered service offerings to more closely align costs with revenues, as well as to cooperate on technology-based strategies to alleviate pressure on networks. Among these is a trial of Velocix network caching in three London suburbs (presumably this is with Virgin Media, but this was unclear)."
"Next came Kevin Baughan from Virgin Media, who highlighted that the Virgin TV iPlayer contributes 1/3 of all iPlayer sessions, at 11m sessions per month. There was other discussion about the "analogue dividend" and the eventual convergence of video and broadband bandwidth under DOCSIS 3.0, but the topic which really intrigued me was the question of storage vs. transmission. Virgin is experimenting with both edge/network caching, and in the Ashford 50Mbps trial area, has provisioned a 10Gbps link directly to Level(3), in an attempt to answer the question of whether storage trumps transmission, or the reverse. He conceded a fair number of unknowns around edge caching, such as predictability of demand and economics. I will be curious to learn what they determine in the process, but one intriguing idea he floated was that perhaps ISPs should be building their own internal CDN capabilities, striking deals with other CDNs and content players to mirror the most popular content."
How this meshes with the costs suggested by Dave Clark at TPRC will be very interesting, as will Project Kangaroo plans.
Ministers are planning to introduce tough new rules to make websites carry age certificates and warning signs on films featuring sex, violence or strong language.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said that tougher content guidance would help parents monitor their children's internet use.
The move is in response to growing fears about the internet's 'dark side'. An influential group of MPs recently warned that many social networking and video-sharing websites contain material unsuitable for children.
Mr Burnham said he wanted online content to meet the same standards required for television and the cinema. At the moment, there is no overall regulation of the internet.
The Culture Secretary said video clips may soon have to carry ratings such as the 'U', 'PG', '12' and '18' ones used by cinemas.
Mr Burnham pointed to the example of the BBC iplayer which carries content warnings on programmes screened after the 9pm watershed and allows parents to turn on a 'parental guidance lock' to stop youngsters accessing inappropriate material.
He said: 'With the 9pm watershed, parents had complete clarity about the content. But with the internet, parents are ensure about what is appropriate and what isn't.
'We have to start talking more seriously about standards and regulation on the internet.
'I don't think it is impossible that before you download something there is a symbol or wording which tells you what's in that content. If you have a clip that is downloaded a million times then that is akin to broadcasting.'It doesn't seem over-burdensome for these to be regulated.'
His comments were backed by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who said she had been 'shocked' at some of the material viewed by her sons.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Topolski also states his opinion on the 250GB cap imposed by Comcast and alluded to by QWest - and rightly points out that at least its transparent whereas the previous 5 years of user management were not. That's the kind of transparency regulators should be demanding.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Thank goodness for the BBC and CBC and other public broadcasters' news channels. There's a special place in hell for the Rick Sanchez/Larry King types, except that the moronic US Old Testament version of Christianity presumably places Democrats and liberals there...
What a tangled web we weave...
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Those good people at Redmond have a fix straight from the 1980s in running some DOS code from the Start prompt: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929833
Disgusting, isn't it? Beta-bloatware and not even a proper idiot (i.e. me)-proof fix. Damn their eyes!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
There's not much point including smaller countries in such comparisons - the combination of scale economies for investment and geographical diversity of the G7 means that you can make somewhat meaningful comparisons. Hong Kong, Iceland and Bermuda may look good on stats, but....
For the future of such stats, I like particularly the price per bandwidth within monthly cap AND the cost per MB of additional bandwidth above the cap: see it here.
"...benefits will only occur if countries in Southern and Eastern Europe expand and upgrade their communications networks. Officials in Brussels may spend their time discussing how to regulate "neutrality" over the Internet, but that is of minimal interest to Italians, Greeks and Czechs who do not have a single option for high-speed access.
"Clearly, the EU -- and Southern and Eastern Europe in particular -- needs to focus on increasing high-speed choices and access. The European Commission had it right last year when it proposed ambitious new goals for broadband penetration in Europe in its review of the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy [i2010]. But, as always, the devil is in the details. Increased investment, not ill-considered new regulation, is the best and only option to bring the Internet's wonders to all Europeans."
Written by two lobbyists: Mr. Bolognini is chairman of the Italian Institute for Privacy. Mr. Pehnelt is a research associate at the European Center for International Political Economy.
Its a huge study I conducted as project manager, with friends (Jonathan Cave, Steve Simmons, Ian Brown, Adam Peake and others) and colleagues from RAND in 2007. There are sections on net neutrality - if rather carefully hidden!
In terms of the hocuspocus what's-happening-in-the-network that Comcast was all about, here's James Enck on France and Germany, and Lessig's compilation of ITU-OECD broadband rankings. All grist to the net neutrality mill...
 Its now the School of Law;
 I'm officially Senior Lecturer as of 1 October - which means I can devote myself to writing on net neutrality and self-regulation for 3-4 years instead of trying for a promotion!
There is also the following news on the new website:
26-28 Septemer 2008: Chris Marsden is presenting a paper at a conference on Internet co-regulation at the Telecoms Policy Research Conference, Washing, USA.
24-25 September 2008: Chris Marsden is presenting a paper at a conference on market failure in communication regulation at GikIII, Oxford.
22-23 September 2008: Chris Marsden is chairing a conference of the SCL Policy Forum at Herbert Smith, London.
18 September 2008: Chris Marsden is presenting a paper at a conference on net neutrality at the Society of Legal Scholars, LSE, London.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
End of the Blog (Prof William Patry, now Google's Senior Copyright Counsel) I have decided to end the blog, after doing around 800 postings over about 4 years. I regret closing the blog and I owe readers an explanation. There are two reasons.
1. The Inability or Refusal to Accept the Blog for What it is: A Personal Blog I have been a full-time copyright lawyer for 26 years. My late mother, aleha ha-shalom, told me repeatedly that I had a religious obligation to learn every day, and I have honored her memory by doing exactly that. Learning also involves changing how you think about things; it doesn't only mean reinforcing the existing views you already have. In this respect, Second Circuit Judge Pierre Leval once said that the best way to know you have a mind is to change it, and I have tried to live by that wisdom too. There are positions I have taken in the past I no longer hold, and some that I continue to hold. I have tried to be honest with myself: if you are not genuinely honest with yourself, you can't learn, and if you worry about what others think of you, you will be living their version of your life and not yours. I started the blog when I was still in private practice with the above goals in mind and one more: I felt there was no blog devoted to the geekery of copyright; meaning a blog where people who loved copyright could come and discuss copyright issues in a non-partisan way.
In order to encourage open discussion I permitted not only comments but anonymous and pseudonymous comments. I did that because I wanted to encourage the largest number of people to participate, and after four years I believe that was the right decision. But it is also the right decision to end the blog. While in private practice I never had the experience of people attributing my views to my firm or to my clients. I moved from private practice to Google I put a disclaimer to the effect that the views in the blog (as in the past) were strictly mine. I also set a policy, which I strictly adhered to, of never discussing cases Google was involved in, and I refrained from criticizing those with whom Google was involved in lawsuits. I did not run ads, including not using Google's AdSense program.
I cannot see what more I could have done to make what was a personal blog more separate from my employer. For the first year after joining Google, with some exceptions, people honored the personal nature of the blog, but no longer. When other blogs or news stories refer to the blog, the inevitable opening sentence now is: "William Patry, Google's Senior Copyright Counsel said," or "Google's top copyright lawyer said... ." There is nothing I can do to stop this false implication that I am speaking on Google's behalf. And that's just those who do so because they are lazy. Others, for partisan purposes, insist on on misdescribing the blog as a Google blog, or in one case involving a think tank, darkly indicating also a la Senator Joe McCarthy, that in addition to funding from Google, there may be other sources of funding too. On Blogger, blogs are free. The blog had no funding because it doesn't cost anything, because I don't run ads, and because it was my personal blog, started before I joined Google.
On top of this there are the crazies, whom it is impossible to reason with, who do not have a life of their own and so insist on ruining the lives of others, and preferably as many as possible. I asked myself last week after having to deal with the craziest of the crazies yet, "why subject yourself to this?" I could come up with no reason why I should: My grandfather chose to be a psychiatrist, but I chose a different professional path, one that doesn't obligate me to put up with such nonsense.
In the end, I concluded that it is no longer possible for me to have a blog that will be respected for what it is, a personal blog. I don't draw any grand conclusions from this and hope others don't either. The decision was 100% mine. No one at Google ever asked, suggested, or hinted that I should end the blog. To the contrary, in keeping with Google's deep commitment to free speech, the company encourages blogs like mine, and has stood completely behind me.
2. The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing This leads me to my final reason for closing the blog which is independent of the first reason: my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries. I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others.
But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage. Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better. Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.
It is profoundly depressing, after 26 years full-time in a field I love, to be a constant voice of dissent. I have tried various ways to leaven this state of affairs with positive postings, much like television news shows that experiment with "happy features." I have blogged about great articles others have written, or highlighted scholars who have not gotten the attention they deserve; I tried to find cases, even inconsequential ones, that I can fawn over. But after awhile, this wore thin, because the most important stories are too often ones that involve initiatives that are, in my opinion, seriously harmful to the public interest. I cannot continue to be so negative, so often. Being so negative, while deserved on the merits, gives a distorted perspective of my centrist views, and is emotionally a downer.
So between the inability or refusal of some people to accept the blog for what it is -- a personal blog --- and my inability to continue to be Cassandra, I decided it was time to pull the plug. I thank profusely all those who have accepted the blog for what it is, and who have contributed so much to it and to my learning over the years. I intend to spend my free time figuring out a constructive way to talk about the difficult issues we face and how to advance toward their solution.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Chairman Martin's FCC ruling is against Comcast's ludicrous attempts to stop P2P - by sending phantom RST reset packets to customers! That's about as smoking gun as it has got since the VOIP blocking in Madison River back in 2005. Its Phorm-abulous....
Kevin makes two points - that have real relevance for the UK. First, that the ruling will be dragged through the courts and overturned because Comcast broke the spirit of the FCC's vacuous 'Four Freedoms' but spirits are not actionable, only rule-breaking.
Second, he decries Martin's political stuntifying, as Martin is not condemning 'metered broadband'. That means caps on usage. Well hold on a minute, isn't that what we have - he says from his 3GB per month, #7.50 Three mobile dongle...
I would expect legal challenges to any Euro-regulator ruling under current laws, and caps? Well, we practise 'safe surfing' by phophylactics against those nasty P2P people...
But to make up for a record of about 2 wins out of 20, their mascot won the 20-20 mascot race...the highlight of the summer!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
10. We found the arguments put forward by Google/You Tube against their staff undertaking any kind of proactive screening to be unconvincing. To plead that the volume of traffic prevents screening of content is clearly not correct: indeed, major providers such as MySpace have not been deterred from reviewing material posted on their sites. Even if review of every bit of content is not practical, that is not an argument to undertake none at all. We recommend that proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user-generated content, and we look to the UK Council proposed by Dr Byron to give a high priority to reconciling the conflicting claims about the practicality and effectiveness of using staff and technological tools to screen and take down material. (Paragraph 96)
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Spoke last night at Sp!ked on the potential Internet investment crisis- here's roughly what I said (video on Friction TV soon):
Slowing Internet? Japan now – and WorldCom's doubling every 100 days in 2000….
1. Truth issue – how did it happen and why? Agree with Rob
a. Mid-2006 – Ofcom conference, Charlie Dunstone on death-threats – Comcast comparison
b. ISPs and fair use – security, blocking, throttling;
c. heavy users and P2P;
d. Ofcom and regulation – can they spot it?
e. City and investment – what incentive to invest in last mile?
f. Govt and rural users – note ITS conversations re. Ethernet
2. Phorm issue – they have to make money somewhere – Google’s cash – but privacy? Not Ofcom
3. Net neutrality issue – Kangaroo, so someone will get net neutrality – Parliament issue
4. European issue – BERT and Brussels
5. Fibre issue – back to DSL? Lets all sign the form 15billion? Wasn’t it 20billion in mid-1990s
6. Govt and regulation and incentives – is there the spectre of the broadband ISP as regulatory panacea? “Be careful what you wish for”
a. Data retention – ISP codes;
b. Personal Internet Security - communication from EC
c. Harmful content however defined – IWF
d. Three strikes French proposals – Ecomms package
e. Co-regulation – government encouraging ISPs to do ‘the right thing’ – but this has been continuing since 1996 and Comms Decency Act
f. E-commerce Directive revision 2011.
Q&A even less clear but:
Mobile – shared sites – wholesaled BT fibre?
Google – uniquely powerful position – but BBC?
Fixed pricing – capping value destruction NL “dysfunctional value chain” – Phorm answer?
Cross-subsidy to mobiles FTM termination – no room for consensus – nb. Japan/Korea electricity infrastructures
VPN in part – ‘last mile’
Public interest? Iplayer – public value test
Audiovisual Media Services Dir. – China co-reg
SMS 21st century telegraph in terms of cost per bit
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Recommendation 1– Define the public value of broadband networksIt will take years for a complete evidence base to emerge to assess the full economicand social value of broadband. However, it should be possible now to define a frameworkto assess the potential public value of broadband, i.e., to identify the factors that should be taken into account when assessing broadband’s impact on society and the economy. Once such an approach is agreed, evidence can be added in as it emerges and a more accurate model developed for assessing the public value of broadband. This should be a collaborative initiative involving industry, academics, the DTI and Treasury.
Recommendation 2– Monitor demand for bandwidthAs a new wave of bandwidth intensive services come online over the next 12-24 months, close attention should be paid to the actual growth in demand for bandwidth by households and businesses both in the UK and internationally. Various approaches could be used to develop data in this area. However, this information should be made publicly available to help inform decision making by stakeholders across the value chain. This should be coordinated by Ofcom.
Recommendation 3– Set a benchmarked target for 2012The UK must have a communications infrastructure that enables it to compete andprosper in the global knowledge economy. The government and Ofcom should, therefore,benchmark the UK’s communications infrastructure with our global competitors.Government should establish a target to ensure that by 2012 the UK remains in theupper quartile of OECD nations in terms of the range of broadband delivered services towhich its people have ready access (Quality) and the proportion of the population served by broadband (Reach). These two aspects of quality and reach should be defined through a basket of metrics, similar to the approach used to define the competitiveness and extensiveness targets in 2001. This work should be undertaken by government, in collaboration with stakeholders, and updates should be published bi-annually.
Recommendation 4– Explore alternative commercial models to support network investmentFurther work should be undertaken by stakeholders to debate and explore alternativecommercial models to support network investment. Good solutions need to be foundthat align the interests of operators with upstream content and service providers andend consumers whilst mitigating concerns about blocking or degrading third partyapplications and services.
Recommendation 5– Develop a regulatory framework for next generation broadband
Discussion on the regulatory challenges posed by next generation access (NGA) networks has only just begun in the UK. Ofcom opened up the debate with its discussion document published in November 2006. This document raised a broad range of complex issues, which need to be explored in more detail. Further informal discussions should be undertaken in advance of a full public consultation by Ofcom. However, Ofcom needs to set out the principles of its regulatory approach to NGA within a 12 month time period, if the inhibiting effects of regulatory uncertainty on investment are to be avoided.
Recommendation 6– Explore options for access to passive infrastructure
As an input into Ofcom’s NGA preconsultation, a more detailed review should be undertaken into the options for access to alternative passive infrastructure in the UK. This work should be taken forward by stakeholders.
Recommendation 7– Identify models for efficient public sector intervention
While the BSG recommends that the public sector should forbear from intervening topromote NGA deployment at this stage, it is highly likely that public sector support will be required in areas where persistent market failure is most likely. Building on the BestPractice Guide published by the DTI and Ofcom in February 2007, further work shouldbe undertaken to identify and experiment in the development of efficient and effectivemodels for public sector interventions in collaboration with commercial stakeholders,government and the regulator.
Recommendation 8– Remove non-sector specific regulatory barriers
The deployment of next generation access infrastructure will inevitably require new civilinfrastructure and will involve significant new street works across the country. DTI should work together with relevant departments and public sector bodies and the industry to develop streamlined approaches to NGA related street works and planning issues tominimise both the disruption caused and the cost to operators of these works. Thegovernment should also review the nondomestic rating applied to optical fibre. Thecurrent approach provides a strong financial disincentive to the use of deployed fibre.
Recommendation 9– Review universal service/universal access
The current universal service directive refers only to functional internet access. However, as the adoption of broadband continues to accelerate, this definition is starting to lookoutdated. Ofcom’s consultation on universal services should address both the definition of universal service and future approaches to funding universal service/ universal access.
Both he and Steve Robertson (CEO: Openreach) want “redefinition of universality” – to “reasonable speeds” – say 2Mbps. “The consumer will be confused if different content comes through a different speeds” – basis “all content on that ISP should be treated equally”
Mike Short (O2) refers to Korean IT 8-3-9 plan and international competitiveness. Broad discussion of ICT-RTD – much more i2010. Discusses “applications think-tank” – and Financial Services Authority role.
Dave Happy support “Pipe Dreams” 9 recommendations
Background paper by Foster, Robin (2007)
“digital and broadband open up the prospect of many new entrants into the media market, and remove the need for intermediation between producers and consumers” – but with 4 caveats:
“Some powerful bottlenecks will remain (even with broadband, there are still only a few alternative distribution platforms to use, and consumers face costs in switching between them);
The rationale for vertical integration that exists today will remain – securing access to content, ensuring that content can get to the consumer, reducing transaction costs, effective planning etc;
Costs of marketing and packaging content (and the risks involved) are likely to rise, putting a premium on scale and access to funding;
Synergies from exploiting content and resources across media will drive companies to operate in related horizontal markets.”
(7.4.23 at p82) Foster, Robin (2007) Future Broadcasting Regulation - An independent report by Robin Foster commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, January, at www.culture.gov.uk
It contains some assumptions: “Broadband might only be used where the extra functionality is sufficiently valued by consumers to cover the extra delivery costs involved;” (at 7.2. 21).
Van der Berg states: “From a regulatory perspective a point-to-point network offers more possibilities for regulatory measures such as Local Loop Unbundling and Wholesale Broadband Access.” OECD (2008) Developments In Fibre Technologies And Investment DSTI/ICCP/CISP(2007)4/FINAL, 3 April at p28
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Link to the film of the event to follow....
Monday, April 14, 2008
HARMFUL CONTENT ON THE INTERNET AND IN VIDEO GAMES
Q210 Helen Southworth: Perhaps I may ask BT how much of its annual budget is spent on online child protection.
Mr Galvin: I do not have the answer to that off the top of my head. There is a considerable investment in online child protection with the facilities we provide within the browser.
Q211 Helen Southworth: If it is considerable what is the approximate figure?
Mr Galvin: You are asking me to make a quick mental calculation. One would be talking of something in the region of six figures. It would include systems like Clean Feed.
Q212 Helen Southworth: What would be the six-figure amount?
Mr Galvin: It is about £1 million, possibly more. You would have to take into account the fact that where we have logos on the home pages, for example, it displaces advertising revenue. It depends on whether or not you take into account that type of cost.
Q213 Helen Southworth: I am focusing on your research and the people who are working directly on the issue of child online protection?
Mr Galvin: We have an abuse desk which deals with issues that come from our customers.
Q214 Helen Southworth: How is that staffed?
Mr Galvin: It has permanent BT staff and is based in the UK. The staff vary but typically it would be in the range of 12 to 15 people.
Q215 Helen Southworth: Is that seven days a week 24 hours a day?
Mr Galvin: It is online and on mail and it is an office hours service. We also have frontline staff providing a service 24 hours a day seven days a week who are trained help desk people, if they are not trained abuse desk people. They would deal with issues that came to them and would take that to the abuse desk.
Q216 Helen Southworth: It would be very helpful if you could let us have the annual budget for specific work on online child protection. What is the position with AOL?
Ms de Stempel: We do not have a figure because it is integrated in any of our products. When we develop a product we look at lots of different functionalities including child protection. For example, we have a reporting mechanism for all our products.
Q217 Helen Southworth: But you do not allocate anything specifically for child online protection; you do not have anything ring-fenced for that specific purpose?
Ms de Stempel: For example, the equivalent to BT's Clean Feed would be part of the cost. We have law enforcement support which would be another part of the cost, but they do other things as well. If we apportion a particular cost to AOL staff, some of their work would concentrate on child protection and some on consumer protection.
Q218 Helen Southworth: I am thinking in terms of what gets measured gets done.
Ms de Stempel: It gets done because it is in the DNA of what we do.
Q219 Helen Southworth: But you cannot quantify it at all?
Ms de Stempel: No. I can ask but we look at this issue globally. For example, like other ISPs we contribute to the IWF and that would be one of the costs.
Q220 Helen Southworth: Does ISPA have a specific budget for child online protection?
Mr Lansman: We do. It is perhaps unfair to judge big corporate companies for failing to split up budget lines into the minutiae of detail. However, I do take your point which is very important.
Q221 Helen Southworth: I do not think child protection online is "minutiae of detail".
Mr Lansman: The big corporates will have multi-billion pound budgets. I think that splitting up--------
Q222 Helen Southworth: I do not know whether their customers would think the same.
Mr Lansman: I volunteer to go back to the membership and suggest that we try to provide the Committee with some information on that. I can see where you are coming from. As to ISPA itself, it is a not for profit trade association and every year it allocates £20,000 out of a sum of between £200,000 and £300,000 which is the turnover from membership fees in the main, so somewhere between 10% of the revenue of ISPA goes to the Internet Watch Foundation as a fee. In addition, a great deal of the time of ISPA staff and members is spent on secondment to various charities, CEOP and work with the Home Office. The problem is one of trying to allocate an enormous amount of time and resource from people whose jobs are to deal with lots of things where child abuse images and child protection are just one of the issues. It is more a problem of unpicking the financials than a lack of willingness to do it.
Q223 Helen Southworth: I want to ask about notice and take down policies for potentially illegal content. Once something has been reported as potentially illegal how long does it take before it is removed?
Ms de Stempel: It is a matter of 24 hours. We have a system similar to that of CEOP and an escalation process, for example, for child abuse images if it is flagged as such. Unless people flag us as to exactly what it is, all abuse might end up in the same box, but that would be removed from our service, so it will no longer be available to anyone else who has not opened an email where it is attached and law enforcement then picks it up for us.
Mr Galvin: It is done in 24 hours. Often to speed up the process when something is reported to us rather than have a debate about whether or not it is illegal it is a lot quicker to say that under our taste and decency policy we have the power to remove it immediately and not get into a debate about the legalities of it. Quite a lot of the notice and take down occurs under our taste and decency policy rather than a debate about whether or not it is illegal.
So BT takes down content and tries to avoid having a discussion! It'll be interesting to see if ISPA does produce a budget!
See the latest stats here: http://www.detini.gov.uk/cgi-bin/downdoc?id=3290
So before they start censoring everyone, consider that only just over 1 in 3 homes has kids in it. Even removing the pensioner households, families are an absolute minority of UK households.
Its worth examining the proposal in full. In her Impact Assessment in the Table (unnumbered) at paragraph 3.121, the civil servants have persuaded the project to adopt six options, including ‘do nothing’, the holy trinity (regulate/co-regulate /self-regulate), and two agency options: a new agency or Ofcom. It dismisses agencies as too independent of government and therefore unable to exercise political influence to engage disparate departments in ‘joined up government’. This also prevents self-regulation, while of course regulation is too inflexible (until 2011?). Therefore, “on balance” – though no formal method is ever revealed for this impact assessment outcome – the decision is to transfer the Home Office Internet Safety Taskforce (“HSTF”) into the “multi-stakeholder council”, the Council for Child Internet Safety. She states at Paragraph 3.122:
“this, broadly speaking, is a self-regulatory approach with industry and government working in partnership”
Crucially, she states that “the Council would need to think carefully about who was best-placed to monitor compliance with industry standards.”
Quite right – and who sets these industry standards? The report considers these in Chapter 4 and it is here that we arrive at the crux of the matter: enforced self-regulation – which Byron admits means that non-UK actors cannot join in the full work of the strategy. Given the preponderance of US-based actors in this sector, including all the major social networks and the large ISPs (excepting French Wanadoo, Italian Tiscali and UK-based BT), one might have thought this is a pretty powerful argument, but the need to link political to regulatory to parental strategy (what a camel this will be with this Council!) overcomes considerations of international political economy.
So what censorship and codification is envisaged? Well, not censorship by ISPs, yet. “I do not recommend that the UK pursue a policy of blocking non-illegal material at a network level at present. However, this may need to be reviewed if the other measures in this report fail to have an impact” on children viewing inappropriate content. It would have helped to have had rather more quantifiable goals, but she leaves it to a measure of opacity that allows for political judgments (Para 4.60).
So what other measures are proposed? Well, in a blithe over-riding of the E-Commerce Directive, she suggests that companies “should not hide behind the law” (P4.18) when they could monitor content beyond the Article 14 protections: “It seems fair for companies to balance the benefits of making their sites safer for children, and the added value this brings to their brand, against the risk of liability”. Yes, but what has it to do with better regulation? Its companies’ own decision until and unless she recommends government drops the guillotine threat in P4.60.
So what else if companies do decide to take advantage of protections against liability offered by a settled decade-old European policy? Well “Having filters set on by default would not make parents engage” – phew! No censorship by default. But all computer buyers must receive the software pre-installed, as in France: “since 2004, the French government has required all ISPs to provide their customers with filtering software”. Note that no French evidence appears to have been presented to the Byron Review, so this is second-hand, it seems (I am happy to be corrected if this is not so).
There is a stick to this voluntary system in P.4.75:
"if these approaches, which seek to engage parents with the issues and available tools fail to have an impact on the number and frequency of children coming across harmful or inappropriate content online within a three year timeframe, I suggest that Government consider pursuing a policy of requiring content filters on new home computers to be switched on by default."
In Search, the review appears to go against the Information Commissioner and Article 29 Working Party attempts to prevent too much tracking by search providers – specifically their recent recommendation that data be deleted or irrevocably anonymised after 6 months. By contrast, Byron wants ‘safe search’ settings applied BY DEFAULT which would require a permanent record by the search provider for that IP address, or by maintaining a permanent cookie. In particular she recommends (P4.81) industry work towards systems that “give users the option of ‘locking on’ safe search on to a particular computer; and develop ways for parental control software to automatically communicate with search engines so that safe search is always on when the child uses the computer”.
Whatever the technical complexity for providers, the complexity for users is likely to increase, and the danger that this is abused broadly is high (its very easy to imagine the child locking the computer so that he can access uncensored results but the parent cannot, to “handcuff” the censor into false information – boy hackers will be boy hackers).