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Friday, April 30, 2010

Taking net neutrality seriously

Canadian regulator Konrad von Finckenstein illuminated what are the usually partisan public FCC hearings back in January and its worth reviewing what he said:
'We expect ISPs offering mobile broadband services to comply with our framework. If problems arise, we will review the regulatory measures that apply to them, or in other words we will lift or cut back the current exemption... Our decision on Internet traffic management practices was well received by all stakeholders: consumers, ISPs, technology companies and other interested groups. The decision came into effect 30 days after its release. ISPs have been disclosing their traffic management practices, as required by the decision. We will review their practices in response to any complaints we receive or if we consider it necessary.'
Also note a nice article on the growth of search neutrality ('Get Google'), tracing its progress via Andrew Odlyzko's 2008 paper - though ignoring Nico van Eijk's earlier work! Europe is across the water...
Speaking of which, I attended the 'Internet security and Internet freedom' seminar at Princeton organised by Stephen Schultze - great gathering, lots of great people including Rebecca MacKinnon, Ian Brown and Ethan Zuckerman. The keynote was by Alec Ross who had a Clinton first term circa 1994 title of 'Senior Advisor for Innovation' to Sec. Clinton. Alec made a lot of good points and is clearly a good guy in a still-authoritarian and 'war of terror' oriented administration. The killer final question to him was how come the administration doesn't practise what it preaches to others about Internet freedom and user rights online. Well...It led to to discussion of Skype and other good encrypted programmes used by dumb users (me) and with hacking attempts by dumb secret agents from evil governments. It made me realize again - yes the Vietnamese can hack their political opponents then throw bloggers in jail, yes the Ruskies can attack Estonia and Georgia but:
[1] we're not at cyberwar - its consultant-speak for outsource infosec and gimme me billions of dollars;
[2] the greatest weapon of freedom for hacktivists may be Tor, yet for ordinary people its Skype - so long as its backdoors only stay open in neutrality is a POLITICAL issue of great merit there
Activists who work with North Korea, Vietnam and China then explained how you can't preach the First Amendment when no-one else cares about it, its Article 19 of the International Convention, which most of them have signed.
As a result, the pathetic political arm-twisting by the EC to enforce kiddie porn site blocking when they should focus everything on removing the websites, is depressing and results in China saying they are part of the global fight to censor the Internet, led by the EC...see Google's explanation of same.

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