Sunday, November 29, 2009

Net neutrality hits the UK mainstream: NOTW story on iPhone and 02

Its interesting to see even the chavs are now deemed interested in zettafloods and crawling mobile 'broadband' speeds: nice of 02 to point out the difference between video and text traffic, from the richest to the poorest game on network traffic....'O2 technology chief Derek McManus explained: "Watching a YouTube video on a smartphone can use the same capacity on the network as sending 500,000 text messages simultaneously. In the past 12 months the mobile industry has seen an unprecedented change in demand."
Poor mobiles, shouldn't have sold iPhones in the first place...?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kroes will continue to shake up DG INFSO

Now you may have noticed that most senior technologists are male. You may have also noticed that the last Commissioner was a very glamorous (for Brussels and Luxembourg, certainly!) woman - and that the new Commissioner's cabinet is majority women (great touch that she chose to sit on the floor in the photo!). I predict a certain feminising influence being exerted in the first year of the new DG, where almost all the heads of unit are men, especially in Directorate B, the policy Directorate.

Job title creation in Brussels: SEVEN vice-presidents

Its like a US corporation - everyone gets made Vice-President of the European Commission! That includes both Kroes and Reding...note the CV link doesn't work;-)

  • Joaquín ALMUNIA: Competition. Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Baroness Catherine ASHTON: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security and Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Siim KALLAS: Transport. Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Neelie KROES: Digital Agenda. Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Viviane REDING: Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ: Vice-President of the Commission for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration.
  • Antonio TAJANI: Industry and Entrepreneurship. Vice-President of the Commission.

Nellie Kroes: new Commissioner for INFSO

The European Commission announced its reshuffle - and its difficult to say what happened to Reding - was she promoted or pushed aside? She's now Vice-President and responsible for the cross-cutting brief on implementing the Charter of Fundamental Rights that comes in with the Lisbon 'Constitution' but most of her brief seems to be spin-doctoring for Barrroso. In any case, she'll stay involved in the Internet-access-as-human-right meme.
The new Commissioner is formerly of DG COMP, where she was initially considered less than 'adequate' but eventually respected as a tough old bird (she's 68). Her portfolio is reduced by moving the billion-Euro MEDIA programme back to Education&Culture, from which Reding lifted her Audiovisual/Media units in moving back in 2005 (Francophone Audiovisual stays adrift in the telecoms empire). So this is back to a purer neo-liberal techno-economic DG, with its enormous framework research budget and responsibility for implementing the new Telecoms Package.
Does that make Kroes an adjunct of DG COMP on telecoms matters? There's certainly not much significant policy left to fiddle with. She's been shunted out of breaking up the crisis-stricken banking sector. But after beating up Microsoft and Intel, she obviously has an eye for multinational oligopoly - which will now be tested to the full.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Net Neutrality - The Book': out in 2-3 weeks

The book has been in production for a while, but I now have the corrected page proofs and it should be available online by mid-December and in bookshops early in 2010. I will post the link to the CC version here. Any potential reviewers, including blog reviewers (yes, it will be viral) who want a free review copy, email me.
Anyone reading this who wants a hardback copy at 40%, can also email me.

Surveillance-industrial complex: DPI trials for Virgin

I have elsewhere discussed the incentives for ISPs and spooks to work together on DPI and other surveillance techniques, measured in cash terms against ISPs' core business of providing connectivity. Now Virgin has entered a trial with a subsidiary of BAE, the UK's largest arms dealer and most sophisticated large-scale technology exporter, to instigate DPI inspection of aggregated subscriber traffic - identifying pirated material according to copyright industry claims, using both deep and shallow packet inspection.
It will be interesting to see whether Virgin subscribers increasingly resort to encryption in response.

Internet TV without the Internet: from those nice people at D-Telekom

Here's the ultimate anti-NN solution: offer people Internet TV and phone service but no Internet connection. Avoid Internet TV, avoid VOIP, but make them pay through the nose for video and voice. Genius. Wonder who's stoopid enough to subscribe?
‘With Entertain Pur we offer telephone and TV from a single source, reaching new user groups for our Entertain service,’ noted Christian P. Illek, T-Home board member, adding, ‘Customers who are not interested in internet services do not have to miss out on the innovative possibilities of Entertain any longer.’ The package includes over 120 TV channels, as well as access to an online video store, TV archive, time-shift function and HD content.

UK ISP landscape changing

Ofcom's latest market research (yes, 3 months ago! I'm slowly catching up) shows that the SMS texting market is almost as big as the fixed-mobile broadband market. That's really quite stunning, but shows where margins can be made - on 160 character texts. Fixed and wholesale revenues, and fixed lines, continue to decline, as does cable market share, and mobile voice is finally ceasing its growth.
So what happens next? Figure 4.6 shows TalkTalk has 25% market share, BT 26%, Orange (formerly mighty Freeserve) only 5% and cable 22% (down by half in the five years of mergers). Sky has taken its market share of about 13% mainly from cable and the TalkTalk partners.
Well, that means that infrastructure players control over 60% of the retail market - Sky with its satellite infrastructure has plenty of incentive to stop free video jacking up its BT backhaul costs. There is only really one competitive player in the UK: TalkTalk.
Notice who has been the most vocal consumer rights champion in the 'Three Strikes' debate? Yes, that single big  competitive player, the only game in town against the throttlers? But why should TalkTalk be such a consumer advocate - does it make sense? Only if that keeps regulatory costs down, otherwise it might as well throw its lot in with the oligopoly.
This is not an attractive market structure for net neutrality. Competition solves all problems, claims Ofcom...

Co-regulation by law: affected stakeholders all opposed...

Pesky constituents don't want the government's new plan! Both ISPs, who claim they were misrepresented by the minister when they decidedly oppose the 'Three Strikes' proposals, and domain name registrars, are highly critical of the Digital Economy Bill.
The former say its expensive, unworkable and of course inimical to consumer rights, the latter have been in the government's sights for some time and just don't buy any argument for an emergency government takeover threat...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paid peering gets discovered by anti-NN lobbyists....

Sigh, a wonderfully flamed commentary that appears to almost entirely miss the point - lucky that the FCC has Jon Peha and Sharon Gillett to sort the wheat from the chaff...

Rupert and the enemies of openness...

News Corp. and Microsoft is one thing - bada-Bing - but its Murdoch's combination of Hollywood copyright and main street newspapers that makes his influence so critical - particularly in the UK prior to the 2010 Election, but also in the US leading up to the midterms...
Note also that opposing Google is opposing the Democrat White House, but its less certain here. Which way will policy swing? Will Mandelson bend towards copyright industries to prove his love for Rupert's products? How deep is Jeremy Hunt's debt to the Murdoch papers and Sky?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Digital Economy Bill - co-regulation by order

The new Bill was just published and its details will be fascinating to observe - I won't make detailed comments at this stage given that the Three Strikes law may be substantially amended and I won't follow Parliamentary debate in detail (just too busy elsewhere). It will have to shift fast to be finished before Parliament breaks before Easter to hold a General Election.

800lb gorillas of the Internet: Google and China?

Two very interesting pieces on strategy by the biggest players on the Internet - first Google working its 'less than free' strategy, actually subsidising software and hardware developers who work with Google Maps, Chrome OS etc., all based on a split of advertising, notably geo-locational ads. Its a massive challenge to Microsoft, Apple, Nokia.
Secondly, China has both bitch-slapped the IGF and properly rejoined ICANN - so its playing a more insider role in Internet governance discussions.
Watch both gorillas carefully, they could be game-changers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dutch minister on implementing Telecoms Package - courtesy of R. vd berg

I have been following Rudolf's posts on the Dutch net neutrality meeting - and the minister's words seem to confirm that transparency and the one-day switch procedure will be the key to their response, rather than detailed analysis of what 'reasonable network management' means - that may be left to the EC.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Net Neutrality at the IGF

Diplo Foundation has organized a 3-hour workshop that occupies the very end of the IGF, Wednesday at 1400 Egyptian time. The line-up of potential speakers is pretty incredible (we'll see who sticks around;-):
Robert Pepper, Vice President Global Technology Policy, CISCO
Thomas Lenard, President and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
Ian Peter, Internet Governance Caucus
Emmanuel Edet, National Information Technology Development Agency, Nigeria
Andrea Renda, Head of the Regulatory Affairs Programme, CEPS
Dr. Jovan Kurbalija, Director, DiploFoundation
Chuck Kisselburg, Director of Strategic Partnerships, CommunityDNS
Steve Purser, ENISA
Robert Schischka, CERT-Austria
Professor Belhassan Zouari, CEO National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI) and head of CERT-Tunisia
N. Ravi Shanker, CEO, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)
Jacquelynn Ruff, Vice President International Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Verizon Communications
Jake E. Jennings, Executive Director, International External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T
Robert Guerra, Freedom House/Privaterra
Henry Owera, Government of Southern Sudan
Marilia Maciel, Center of Technology and Society - FGV
Chris Steck, Public Policy Directorate, Telefónica, S.A
Dr. Amr Badawi, CEO, NTRA Egypt
Willy Jensen, Director General, NPT Norway
Vanessa Copetti Cravo, ANATEL - Brazilian Telecommunication Agency
Parminder Jeet Singh, Internet Governance Caucus
Michael Truppe, Constitutional Service Media Affairs Coordination Information Society Austria
Vladimir Radunovic, Coordinator of Internet Governance Programmes, DiploFoundation
Chuck Kisselburg, Director of Strategic Partnerships, CommunityDNS
Ambassador David A. Gross, former U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State

Internauts and pharoahs: the Telecoms Package sold to the world

Catherine Trautman MEP (author of the compromise on Amendment 138) and Viviane Reding both were in Sharm el Sheikh this weekend, participating in the 4th Internet Governance Forum - where protests against Chinese firewalls were removed for fear of offending those fearful dictators as Obama just did (and Egypt itself is a ruthless dictatorship) - mildly ironic that they allowed Tim Berners Lee to launch the WWW Foundation devoted to the Web and society in such a place...
"If we are not allowed to discuss topics such as internet censorship, surveillance and privacy at a forum on internet governance, then what is the point of the IGF?" Ron Deibert, co-founder of the OpenNet Initiative told BBC News.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Art Brodsky: net neutrality 'opposite' to Fairness Doctrine

Interesting Huffington Post about the old fairness doctrine (RIP 1949-87), and its similarities - or otherwise - to net neutrality. In truth, one is about internal pluralism in a world of limited channels, the other about external pluralism in a world of only one channel - the Internet - but with billions of routes to the citizen's eyeballs. I wrote about it in a report for the Council of Europe a decade ago, but they didn't notice much!
Call it what you like, it is regulation - which is why free market Taleban-style fundamentalists hate it:
'what both ideas have in common is the notion, which goes back to the beginnings of our telecommunications law, that the interests of the public trump those of businesses or government. The idea that clear in the earliest days of broadcasting, just as it should be clear today. Herbert Hoover said in 1925 that there has to be a "public benefit" to broadcasting. U.S. Supreme Court Justice White in the Red Lion opinion also, said: "It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount."

Christian Sandvig explains why net neutrality is in trouble...

...if Comcast buys NBC Universal, do you think they'll offer Hulu to allcomers? Quite right about how far Francois Bar is ahead of the curve, too!

Commissioner lays down a consumerist manifesto for 2011-15

Mme Reding's new speech emphasizes her consumerist credentials:

'The new rules state explicitly that fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens must be respected by Member States taking measures regarding use of services or applications via the telecoms networks. These measures must be appropriate, proportionate and necessary and in particular, they must respect the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. Let me list some of the concrete changes that will be introduced as a result of the reform.
  • A European consumer, while keeping the same number, will be able to change mobile operator within one day.
  • Under the new telecoms rules , consumers will receive better information to ensure that they understand the services they are subscribing to, what they can and cannot do and the corresponding contracts will have to be specific including reference to being listed in telephone directories.
  • The new rules will ensure that European consumers have an even greater choice of competing broadband service providers.
  • Net neutrality and net freedom as well new transparency requirements are part of the deal.
  • There will also be better protection against personal data breaches and spam...
With the unanimous agreement of the Parliament and of the Council, a strong signal was given to European citizens on internet freedom, consumer rights and consumer choice in the digital environment.'

and also speaks to the place of self-regulation and privacy for e-commerce:

'Privacy must, in my view, be a high priority for social networking providers and for their users. I firmly believe that at least the profiles of minors must be private by default and unavailable to internet search engines. The European Commission has already called on social networking sites to deal with minors' profiles carefully, by means of self-regulation. I am ready to follow this up with new rules if I have to. But only if there is no other way.... The Commission is closely monitoring the use of behavioural advertising to ensure respect for our privacy rights. I will not shy away from taking action where an EU country falls short of this duty. A first example is the infringement action the Commission has taken with regard to the United Kingdom in the Phorm case.'
But what place for trustmarks?
'The Digital Europe strategy could also give a new impetus to the development of a self-regulatory system for European websites to build consumer trust...The issue of trustmarks has been on the agenda for a very long time and I see very little progress towards a European system. That is why industry and consumer associations, I am thinking of the BEUC in particular, must get together to establish a sustainable European trustmark which, I believe, could give our users the confidence needed to "surf abroad" and profit from our large market online. The Commission stands ready to act, if needed.'
Legislation or a Communication to follow? Trustmarks have never taken off properly...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New US legal treatment on First Amendment and net neutrality

There's a new Stanford Press book - refreshingly brief at 151 pages plus voluminous notes - which I can't tell you much about as it focuses entirely on the US debate and the 1st Amendment, but if you're from there, it might be worth a read. Jon Palfrey reviews it here.

Interception Modernisation Programme into background - first Tory privacy test?

Alan Johnson has kicked the IMP legislation into the long grass, with no upcoming Bill meaning it'll be an early test for the Tories in 2010-11 dealing with GCHQ and some pretty serious DPI needed to track all our data. ISPs are - ahem - unconvinced by it...maybe we won't have DPI for breakfast, lunch and dinner after all?

Net neutrality exported by Genachowski? ITU discussion

Those clueless bureaucrats who inhabit most of the dusty telecoms ministries are to be told about the future by the FCC's neutralist-in-chief. I hope he doesn't expect more than polite ignorance - Rudolf van der Berg twitters that those who aren't asleep have no idea what IP interconnection is!
"Our goals are to ensure that consumers and the market can pick winners and losers; to promote competition; and to promote continued investment and innovation as our Internet future unfolds. At the FCC, we have started a proceeding aimed at preserving an open and unfettered Internet. This proceeding is not about government regulation of the Internet. It's about ensuring that no one, not the government and not companies that provide Internet access, restricts the free flow of lawful information and services over the Internet. We believe that broadband is the future of mobile, and also that mobile is a key part of the strategy for broadband."

Where we are: net neutrality lite

Now that the EU, USA and Canada are on the brink of enforcing transparency and reasonableness tests on ISPs (and talking about mobile), here's a reminder of my 'lite' analysis.
Apologies for slow updating - I'm in the UK on 3 mobile 'midband' - useless!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Glass half-full? La Quadrature analysis

A lot of lawyers are scrambling to decipher what the new Article 1.3a means - clearly it allows for adjudication and then potentially a fair trial at a later stage - after being cut off or before? Here's La Quadrature's analysis, which is a lot more balanced than some might expect:

The new provision gives2 "effective judicial protection and due process", guarantees "the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy" and the respect of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
However, the text only speaks of "a prior fair and impartial procedure" instead of a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, guaranteed by the original "amendment 138", and contains loopholes and ambiguities. The invalidation of freedom-killer measures such as "three strikes policies" will now depend on interpretation by the European Court of Justice and national courts. Moreover, the text only relates to measures taken by Member States and thereby fails to bar telecom operators and entertainment industries from knocking down the founding principle of Net neutrality.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Engstrom of Pirate Party hails new language as a victory

This is very interesting - the fact that some kind of prior tribunal needs to hear a disconnection appeal, and the need for judicial hearings after disconnection, is seen as positive by the Pirate and Green parties. That's more explicable when you see what the Council wanted as a sting in the tail of the recital!
"This shall not Affect the competence of a Member State, in conformity with its own constitutional order and with fundamental rights, to establish, inter alia, a requirement of a judicial decision Authorizing the measures to be ceilings."

European Parliament caves in as expected - Telecoms Package will be national law by 2011

That was quick, no messing around pretending to stand on principle!
A review of where we stand:
  • Following a series of Trialogue and CoReper meetings, the Presidency proposed new text to replace Amendment 138/46 for consideration at the first Conciliation Committee meeting last evening 4th November (to be inserted as a new Article 1 paragraph 3a of the Framework Directive 2002/21/EC);
  • The Council (27 member states) fully supported this text ;

  • The Citizens' Rights directive (amending the Universal Service and e-Privacy directives) along with the Regulation establishing BEREC was approved at the General Affairs Council on 26th October - Member States have 18 months to implement these from the the point of publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
  • Here's the new text in the Framework Directive Article 1.3a (subject to a final vote in the European Parliament):
    Any of these measures regarding end-users' access to or use of service and applications through electronic communications networks liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society, and their implementation shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process.

    Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. A prior fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned subject to the need for appropriate conditions and procedural arrangements in duly substantiated cases of urgency in conformity with European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The right to an effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    120,000 poorer households to lose Internet due to Labour tax?

    The maths is simple - raising Internet prices 50p/month to pay for rural connections will not only distort whatever market there may be out there in middle-class rural idylls, but also will increase prices 3%, reducing the market 0.6% and therefore 120,000 households. Charlie Dunstone speaks more sense - and of course has a hotline to David Cameron's team!
    The tax is the 'flagship' with 'Three strikes' of the Digital Economy Bill out this month - the dying flail of the Labour government.