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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BEREC publishes its guidelines on transparency and Quality of Service

Documents BoR 53(11) QoS and BoR 67(11) transparency - with much more promised for 2012. This is the type of detailed guidance that the subject called out for, including for instance Network Performance (i.e. what ISPs can actually be monitored for, see p3, BoR53[11]) - and the regulators must have secretly dreaded. They have to implement now, no excuses. However, on transparency, "BEREC states that probably no single method will be sufficient" (p5, BoR67[11]) and points out the limited role of NRAs. So governments' consumer bodies are not off the hook, either.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Telecoms Council conclusions: errr, we'll wait on BEREC for net neutrality


6. WELCOMES (a) The Commission's intention to assess the need, based on BEREC's investigations, for
more stringent measures and to publish additional guidance on net neutrality  [;-)];
b) The Commission’s commitment to monitor the implementation of the EU Regulatory Framework;
c) The Commission’s commitment to issue a Code of existing EU Online Rights by 2012 [hot air].
7. INVITES THE COMMISSION TO (a) Encourage its dialogue with Member States and stakeholders on net neutrality while supporting Member States in ensuring the rapid development of broadband;
b) Monitor, jointly with BEREC, the issue of traffic management to allow for a smooth flow (?) of proportional, necessary and transparent traffic management practices that do not affect net neutrality;
(c) Continue analysing, jointly with Member States, the sharing of costs of traffic and financial flows (????) between players of the Internet value chain;
d) Continue studying, with the support of BEREC's investigations, any aspects of net neutrality where significant and persistent problems are substantiated, including charges and conditions that mobile operators impose on VoIP users (well done, JJ) as well as throttling of content, applications and services;
e) Further assess, jointly with BEREC, the discrepancy between advertised and actual delivery speeds occurring in Member States, and report to the Council and to the European Parliament on the situation thereof by 2012 (I presume not in January...);
f) Provide additional information on traffic management best practices and on how to respond to the requirements of global service providers concerning quality and pricing of services.
8. INVITES MEMBER STATES TO (a) Encourage the application of the principle of net neutrality and continue their dialogue with the Commission and stakeholders on the openness of the Internet and net neutrality, taking into account ongoing analyses;
b) Ensure the open and neutral character of the Internet as their policy objective.
9. INVITES STAKEHOLDERS TO (a) Continue the dialogue with Member States, National Regulatory Authorities, BEREC and the Commission to further the benefits of an open and innovative Internet;
b) Develop behaviours and economic choices that support an open Internet platform, thus preventing the exclusion of small players and innovative models, and enabling access to, or the transmission of, online content, applications and services;
c) Seek wide consensus on the aspects of net neutrality through balanced discussions blah blah."

Internet co-regulation: 2013 letter writing and Ed Vaizey round table, 7 Dec

Internet co-regulation: Notes and thoughts from Ed Vaizey copyright and web blocking round table, 7th December:

'via Blog this'

Neelie's hilarious Christmas joke: 'No disconnect' to be led by least reputable ex-politician in Germany

I presume this is all part of some elaborate sarcasm designed to show the limits of libel law when faced by parody? The disgraced plagiarist zu Guttenberg has been asked to act as an official (unpaid) advisor on net freedom to the Commissioner, despite his extraordinary record - see comments on her reply to the astonished blog reaction.

Friday, December 02, 2011

TelecomTV: The end of the Internet show

Old article but worth a mention: TelecomTV | News | The end of the Internet show: 'via Blog this'

Evidence-gathering: email from RespectMyNet

Dear Mr Marsden,
As you may already know, in September, La Quadrature du Net launched with Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom a website for citizens to report Internet access restrictions and Net neutrality violations, http://RespectMyNet.eu. RespectMyNet's goal is to build a comprehensive and strong case of Net neutrality violations across Europe, and to present the collected and verified data to the European Commission to force Commissioner Neelie Kroes to move away from her wait-and-see approach and start protecting neutrality in law.
So far, the website has been quite successful: over 200 cases have been reported, and several cases have been confirmed and commented on many times. When we met with BEREC last Friday, we used cases from the site as evidence and learned that they were considering data from RespectMyNet as a source for their own study.
However, only a few cases have been reported and commented on for the UK,which is quite surprising given the poor situation neutrality-wise in your country. Here are the cases in the UK so far: http://respectmynet.eu/list/UK
Given your expertise and knowledge of the issue, your help in getting more people to report cases and confirming them using the "me too" function would be particularly useful. To help those willing to help RespectMyNet, we've put together a short how-to: https://pad.lqdn.fr/p/respectmynet-confirmations
Best regards,
Axel Simon
Campaigner / chargé de campagnes – La Quadrature du Net

Fiberevolution: Do data caps punish the wrong users?

Some transparency in the debate? Fiberevolution: Do data caps punish the wrong users?:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 24, 2011

European Court of Justice rules against indiscriminate intermediary filtering

European Court of Justice rules against indiscriminate intermediary filtering | TechnoLlama:

'via Blog this'

Ofcom three wise monkeys: competition/switching mantra even for recalcitrant ISPs

Ofcom is still claiming that self-regulation and switching will solve its problems - but has toughened its language towards blocking-by-other-means. Oddly, I am writing this while Nigel Hickson in Vienna admits the UK claims far too much that self-regulation solves everything on the Internet!
Am i being unfair? Some Ofcom underwhelming edited 'highlights':

1.10 In particular, if ISPs offer a service to consumers which they describe as 'internet access', we believe this creates an expectation that this service will be unrestricted, enabling the consumer to access any service lawfully available on the internet. As a result, if a service does not provide full access to the internet, we would not expect it to be marketed as internet access. [Expect?!] 1.11 It is possible that providers may seek to market a restricted service as 'internet access' by caveating this with a description of the restrictions they have put in place. Consideration needs to be given as to whether this practice is acceptable. [CM: Consideration? By Ofcom? They don't say]
1.13 If there are material changes in traffic management policies once a consumer has purchased a service, ISPs should provide an update as quickly as reasonably possible. If these have a significant impact... we also encourage the ISPs to provide the consumer with the option of switching to another package or another service provider, and provide information to consumers as to how they can exercise this choice. [CM: Encourage?]
1.14 We do not describe what more detailed information might be provided, over and above the desired outcomes set out above. We note, however, that the self-regulatory model recently proposed by major ISPs provides a good foundation. [CM: They go on to explain that the BSG implementation work is embryonic, a tissue, hence] 1.17 We will monitor progress, and keep under review the possibility of intervening more formally in order to ensure that there is sufficient transparency as to the use of traffic management by network operators.
1.22 From the perspective of protecting the citizens' interest alone it will be important to be vigilant in relation to the core connectivity of the 'best-efforts' open internet and the access to information and services which it provides. It is important to note however that we see no concerns in this regard in the UK at present. [CM: How about blocking BBC services? Not enough for Ofcom? then what is?]
1.27 There is, however, a risk that network operators prioritise managed services in a manner that leaves insufficient network capacity for 'best-efforts' access to the open internet. If the quality of service provided by 'best-efforts' internet access were to fall to too low a level, then it may place at risk the levels of innovation that have brought such substantial benefits during the internet's relatively short life so far. This would clearly be a significant concern. 1.28 If there was sufficient reason for concern in relation to this issue then we would need to consider intervening [CM But no 'dirt road' test provided, notably for mobile]
1.29 Any use of a minimum quality of service would need to be considered carefully, balancing the benefits of such an intervention against the associated risks. We are not, at present, aware of any actual concerns which would merit carrying out such an assessment. However, given the importance of 'best-efforts' access to the open internet for innovation, we will keep this issue under review. [CM: Three wise monkeys seeing no evil].
1.30 We will do so as part of the process for reporting on the state of the UK's communications infrastructure...We will use this to keep under review whether there is a case for intervention. [CM: Ofcom will not actively investigate]
1.31 There is also a concern that service innovation would be hindered if providers of internet access blocked services, or applied traffic management in a manner that discriminated against competing providers. As well as being a general concern, there is also a specific current concern that some mobile operators already block services provided by some competing providers. 1.32 We do not have a general objection to models of competition where vertically integrated operators do not provide open access to their networks, provided that there is genuine competition and rivalry among the firms. In such circumstances, we do not necessarily regard the blocking of services provided by competing providers, or discrimination against competing services, as being anti-competitive. We do however have a specific concern in the context of the discussion in this document that restricted access to the internet could have a stifling effect on innovation. 1.33 Our stance as a regulator is therefore that any blocking of alternative services by providers of internet access is highly undesirable... we expect such traffic management practices to be applied in a manner which is consistent within broad categories of traffic. Where providers of internet access apply traffic management in a manner that discriminates against specific alternative services, our view is that this could have a similar impact to outright blocking. 1.34 We recognise that any regulatory intervention in this area must be based on careful consideration of the risks of unintended consequences, and we recognise that the market is dynamic. Our current view is that we should be able to rely on the operation of market forces to address the issues of blocking and discrimination. [CM: Ofcom will not take any formal action to stop blocking, even in the medium term].



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

17 November EParliament votes against SOPA and for net neutrality - will they influence 13 DecTelecoms Council?

MEPs Back Net Neutrality - Tech Europe - WSJ: but read through the small print and you'll see this is a 'meh' motion, with its majority perhaps helped by the anti-SOPA vote the same day (SOPA resolution of EParl here)that may influence the 13 Dec. Telecoms Council but still permits huge delays by the Commission as BEREC's thorough and slow investigation crawls onwards...'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Save the dates: 20 November (US) and 1 January (Netherlands)

It looks like we're in for some real law to regulate network discrimination after the US Senate voted to uphold the FCC ruling - assuming the Netherlands Senate agrees, then Europe will have its first taste too. The fake war is over?
I have not blogged this week as I have been at the superb IDATE DigiWorld summit hearing about co-regulatory moves in Japan (educated users as sommeliers for the rest of us, a wonderful concept), IP interconnect in France and the US, and how the data 'explosion' (sic) only applies to mobile. More soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

You are an educated bunch!

The last six months have seen real competition amongst browser users for this blog, and Explorer sits well below 40% each month. It seems that at least amongst the super-tech savvy users of this blog, it's heart-warming pluralism in the browser (and whisper it, OS though Windows is a rock-solid 67%) market:

Pageviews by Browsers
Internet Explorer
938 (39%)
Firefox
453 (19%)
Safari
423 (18%)
Chrome
276 (11%)
Opera
197 (8%)
firefox
30 (1%)
Mobile
9 (<1%)
NetNewsWire
9 (<1%)
Mobile Safari
8 (<1%)
Instapaper
5 (<1%)

Internet co-regulation: Vaizey, in China: speaking no evil

Internet co-regulation: Nixon, sorry Vaizey, in China: speaking no evil:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Foreign Secretary's closing remarks at the London Conference on Cyberspace

Foreign Secretary's closing remarks at the London Conference on Cyberspace: plus ca change....I believe that most were somewhat underwhelmed by the event, the compromise, the kettled reporters (nice touch!) and the bizarre freedom choice of Hungary for next year's follow-up (even nicer touch!).

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Trans-Atlantic Telecom Dialog 2011 Net Neutrality: Act II...

This will be a deregulatory bunfight...only ARCEP and I likely to argue there's any problem at all, wise monkeys elsewhere.
"An overall consensus appears to be emerging amongst the industry’s leading players (notably telcos and OTT companies) and public authorities, including regulators, to uphold the principles of non-discriminatory access to services and applications, justified and transparent traffic management, the legitimacy of segmenting access offers and even managed services solutions without undercutting the conditions for accessing the open Internet, etc. To this end, the talks for this 7th edition of the Trans-Atlantic Telecom Dialog will focus especially on: [1] Analyzing the positions being upheld by the stakeholders and the status of legislative and regulatory efforts in the United States and in the major European markets; [2] Spotlighting critical points of debate such as the schemes governing traffic management practices, stipulations on tiered pricing, overhauling peering agreement; [3] Forward-looking discussions on the main developments we will see on the Web and in how the major players are positioned."• Nicolas CURIEN, Commissioner, ARCEP • Eli NOAM, Director, CITI, Columbia University Yves GASSOT, CEO, IDATEToshiya JITSUZUMI, Professor, Faculty of Economics, Kyushu University Winston MAXWELL, Partner, Hoogan & Lovells LPP Christian MICAS, Policy Developer, European Commission  
Critical points still in debate: peering, traffic management, “two-lane” model, tiered pricing…
Chair: James H. ALLEMAN, Professor emeritus of Network Economics and Finance, University of Colorado• Vincent BONNEAU, Head of Internet Business Unit, IDATE Sylvie FORBIN, VP Public and European Affairs, Vivendi
Jan KRANCKE, VP, Regulatory Strategy & Economics, Deutsche Telekom J. Scott MARCUS, Director and Head of Department NGN and Internet Economics, WIK Dr. Christopher T. MARSDEN, University of Essex School of Law• Pieter NOOREN, Senior Consultant, TNO ICT • Christopher S. YOO, Professor of Communication and Computer & Information Science – Director, Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, University of Pennsylvania Law School 
Discussants
• Mike CORKERRY, Executive Director EMEA Regulatory Affairs, AT&T Arnaud DECKER, Director of Institutional Relations, Lagardère Active Remy FEKETE, Partner, Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. Marc LEBOURGES, Head of European and Economic Regulation, France Telecom - Orange Lorenzo PUPILLO, Executive Director Public Strategies and Public Affairs, Telecom Italia 

Monday, October 17, 2011

FoI request: Minister Vaizey speech in Beijing 29 September to 4th Annual China-UK Internet Roundtable

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport, I note that the Chinese Communist party newspaper China Daily has made the transcript of their minister's speech to the Internet Roundtable available. Minister Vaizey's speech is not on your website. Please provide a copy - or even more adequate, publish on the speeches section of your website.
Yours faithfully etc...

Astroturfing in London

Astonished at how incredible (literally) junior lobbyists are taken seriously by the Westminster zoo on net neutrality - presumably in the land of the blind...on which subject, apparently (there is absolutely no public information available) a follow-up private "summit" (sic) is to be held soon on UK non-implementation of net neutrality. A little more transparency would help - and as the Chinese Communist party has been more forthcoming on Internet regulation and its 4th Annual Internet Roundtable with the UK (no, I didn't know either), it's a shame that Ed Vaizey's remarks in Beijing are not available.
For all its faults, Brussels policymaking is at least relatively sober when astroturfing makes its claims.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Developments in Brussels...

Various well-meaning MEPs have tabled amendments to the supine original ITRE communication to the Commission by Herbert Reul (a Westphalian EPP educationalist with long experience on the supervisory council of a state broadcaster)  - as well as one or two who seem to have other motives.
Meanwhile, Kroes threw the telcos a bone on net neutrality at the FT CEO Summit, even though she had appalled them earlier in her speech by suggesting they stop milking copper and finally start installing fibre. But she does raise an interesting point - who would know in advance that their needs suit a more limited Internet: the old, the poor, the illiterate? She stated: "requiring operators to provide only "full internet" could kill innovative new offers. Even worse, it could mean higher prices for those consumers with more limited needs who were ready to accept a cheaper, limited package."

YouTube movies hits UK - 1Mbps all you need?

Trailed since its US service launched in early 2010, It's a streaming service, claims a bandwidth just above the BBC iPlayer, and presumably won't be paying ISPs as a managed service, instead competing with Amazon's LoveFilm. It will be interesting to see whether any ISPs are minded to throttle it formally or informally...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Evidence-based NN policy making? Dutch EU politician criticizes Dutch domestic politicians

Neelie criticized the politicization of the process - but aren't Dutch voters entitled to be disgusted by KPN's blocking of WhatsApp, and demand that politicians correct it? (If rather ineffectively...)
Just kicking it into touch with BEREC is what she chose to do when Reding left her the hot potato issue in the in-tray at the end of 2009 to solve within a year. Here we are almost two years later...and nothing concrete has been produced. Those Dutch voters must have got impatient...

Dear telcos: there's no demand for fast broadband without attractive content...

PLUM on behalf of European content producers have put a €155billion price on the obvious - that customers are incented (disgusting word!) to upgrade to VDSL and fibre BECAUSE of the content, stoopid. Hence ISPs would be complete utilities without them.
The potted version has a series of policy recommendations. Obviously, I agree with the FRAND requirement on faster access, though the reliance on switching worries me, given JJ's points re. mobiles in France for instance. I don't know why Brian shilly-shallies around co-regulation - his "self-regulation with oversight" is just that. More to the point, the 2009 Directives have already made co-regulation clearly the preferred option. Phil Weiser said the same.
"Signalling" has been discredited totally in the US (yesterday I was on the plane back from the TPRC in DC, the big telecoms policy conference), as telcos prefer suing - I like the Singaporean version more...in this case.

European consultation on transparency and neutrality - and promises of more to come...

Slowly slowly catchee monkey - BEREC (Euro-regulators' club) has issued the easiest of its 4 documents on net neutrality, while warning that transparency is not enough on its own (obviously). It adds that the real stuff begins next year: "The first item relates to the new discretionary power under the Framework to set QoS requirements: BEREC will publish an initial report into the issues, ahead of the development of guidelines in Q2 2012 on how and when to introduce such requirements. On competition issues related to Net Neutrality, BEREC is carrying out an economic analysis of the potential and theoretical impact on market conditions (competition, innovation, consumer welfare) of discriminatory behaviour." It then has to examine IP interconnection, where the real fun lies as Clark/Lehr/Bauer pointed out in their excellent recent TPRC paper.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Quick Guide For The Upcoming Net Neutrality Rules Challenge | Public Knowledge

Excellent he-says-she-says guide to forthcoming litigation: A Quick Guide For The Upcoming Net Neutrality Rules Challenge | Public Knowledge:

'via Blog this'

TPRC 2011: great papers by Clark/Lehr/Bauer, Cooper/Soppera, Chery, Frieden and others

Well, it turns out there was tons of net neutrality stuff - just under different titles! Main things I learnt:
[1] DPI seems to be bought as single-use, forget security-bandwidth management conspiracy theories..(Mueller)
[2] web video is really growing at zettaflood pace (Cooper);
[3] BITAG was actually used once, last week,
[4] no blocking plus QoS on FRAND terms is gaining ground at least amongst academics as least bad solution (Bauer, Cherry, Frieden);
[5] we have little or no idea how much OTT video bandwidth costs, but we know its important to know (Clark/Lehr/Bauer) and outages on QoS do suggest some recompense for consumers (ditto)!

BEREC to publish ARCEP draft guidelines on reasonable traffic management

After their meeting in Barcelona 30 Sept - it will be BoR (11) 44:
'via Blog this'

Brussels, October 3: Big European Operators Asking for Bit Tax

An end to neutrality? Brussels, October 3: Big European Operators Asking for Bit Tax:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It was ten years ago today...Kieran McCarthy on BT throttling P2P

Ah, those were the days, BT OpenWoe denying throttling bandwidth hungry users until they were caught red-handed. A decade ago...

LibDem UK government junior partner: no net neutrality regulation yet


19 September, Dr Julian Huppert will present the digital economy policy paper for the junior coalition partner (with no ministers in the Culture/telecom Department):
"2.5.2 The Coalition Government has so far taken an ambiguous line on net neutrality. For example, the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries has given a speech that was interpreted by one side as signalling open season on traffic management, and by the other as a reiteration of the importance of neutrality.
2.5.3 We do not consider it liberal to allow competition on the basis of existing service providers offering different packages based on traffic management that favours one company over another. Instead, it is better to provide a level playing field – where traffic flows at the same speed, whatever the content and whoever owns and operates the website.
2.5.4 In order to secure this level playing field, the government must be prepared to regulate. However, we do not at present consider it necessary to do so – merely to make it clear that privileging certain types of content or throttling download speeds on certain websites will lead inevitably to regulation."
Their faith in the market is liberal but....aspirational. Where's the evidence base?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

TPRC 2011 and DigiWorld 2011: what neutrality?

Dates for your diaries:
23-25 Sept is the 39th TPRC (GMU, Virginia);
16-17 November is the 33rd DigiWorld (under various titles) at Montpellier.
DigiWorld is more explicitly abour net neutrality, at least in the session I am speaking in:
Trans-Atlantic Telecom Dialog 2011, Net Neutrality: Act II: the talks for this 7th edition of the Trans-Atlantic Telecom Dialog will focus especially on: Analyzing the status of legislative and regulatory efforts in United States and European markets; schemes governing traffic management practices, stipulations on tiered pricing, overhauling peering agreements…Forward-looking discussions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Mobile discrimination: Korea and AT&T

The mobile networks continue to aggressively pursue their subscribers who have the affrontery to use their data plans properly and therefore save money that they should be giving to the mobile networks. In the US, AT&T is playing the abusive boyfriend by going back on its promise not to cap data plans for heavy users, though it appears that 'heavy' is in this case 12 times the average or perhaps 4GB a month. That amount of data sounds like tethering your phone to your laptop - so customers are sleeping around on them. What is absolutely clear is that the network ids behaving in a totally non-transparent manner.
In South Korea, it's the Netherlands WhatsApp texting problem - in Korea, Kakao Talk (which sounds deliciousbut presumably does not offer free chocolate) offers free texts so the mobiles are determined to stamp on it. The regulator is expected to report in November 2011.
All this demonstrates that it's mobile net neutrality that is the really big problem - they are determined to stop you using the Internet freely on their 'unlimited' (sic) data plans. Now I would always advise you to leave an abusive boyfriend, but when all the other pimps are abusive too...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UK DSL has no congestion problem shock!

While KPN in the Netherlands is determined to do its worst by customers, and certainly has an arguable case that it's set out to provoke the Dutch authorities into deciding whether its mobile division is breaching net neutrality legislation (its defence is that as its screwing everyone on price rises, that's neutral), UK regulator Ofcom continues to monitor customer service.
Below the shouty headlines about the vast difference between real and advertised speeds, about which Ofcom can do very little as advertising is of course self-regulated, is a very interesting set of data produced by SamKnows and broken down by operator. Guess what - almost no discernable difference between peak evening and normal throughput - what we have here is no evidence of congestion and thus no need to throttle?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Internet co-regulation: Ofcom Regulating the Media: Part CXXXVII

Internet co-regulation: Ofcom Regulating the Media: Part CXXXVII: "Ofcom has issued a very useful 'fit and proper person' Q&A based on section 3(3) of the Broadcasting Act . For the avoidance of doubt, let ..."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stuart Kuttner's career: an exercise in self-regulation?

Stuart was managing editor of the News of the World from 1987-2009 - yes, he would be the perfect whistle-blower, except that he stepped down as a sacrificial lamb after the 2009 Guardian story that blew all this open. "News of the World's current editor Colin Myler paid tribute to Kuttner, saying: "His DNA is absolutely integrated into the newspaper which he has represented across the media with vigour." By random chance, my first job after my first law degree was on a short-lived start-up trade title called 'Journalists' Week' (pre-Internet and died in 1991 with its proprietor, but links to its editor here and here), ultimately owned by bouncing-sinking Czech Robert Maxwell - who makes Murdoch look honorable
I went to present the idea to Mr Kuttner, for which I was permitted inside Fortress Wapping - this was only two years after the end of the seige and it looked like Guantanamo. He explained kindly to me - I was 21 years old and very wet behind the ears - that he "used to work on newspapers for grown-ups". He was kind enough to confirm my impression that tabloid journalism was already rotten to the core, which had been the theme of a comedy series of the time - as a later one confirmed Parliamentarians' behaviour, and still later spin doctors
Funny, huh? Well, no - because the 1980s programmes were made by the then-independent television companies London Weekend and Yorkshire, which both disappeared as a result of the decision to auction regional ITV in 1990, and then by both Tories and Labour opposition under Tony Blair to allow media cross-ownership in 1994 ahead of the 1996 Broadcasting Act - think of them as also auctioning their political support ahead of the 1997 election that changed 18 years of Tory rule to 13 years of Labour.
The buyer of a London franchise was Michael Green, whose spin doctor was...David Cameron. it all ended horribly for the horrible Green as his franchise got involved in ITV Digital, a failed rival to Murdoch's BSkyB, which had broken the law but thanks to Thatcher survived its merger between Sky and BSB in 1990. Cameron bailed in 2001, but the writing was on the wall for ITV Digital and its monkey (in any case it was a keeptime job until Cameron got into Parliament).
As for David Cameron, he learned not to take on Murdoch but to become best mates. What could go wrong?
The main whistle blower on Cameron's spin-soulmate, Andy Coulson, has today been found dead. Inconvenient truth.
I used to write a lot in the 1990s about media ownership regulation and its corrosive effect on politics and the media, then moved on to the disasters that would befall the Internet if that political-media poison spread into it, due in part to the teaching of Lawrence Lessig and Mark Lemley (nice link to a failed analysis?). It was described by Wu in 2003 as the abandonment of network neutrality. Interesting times...

Atlantic cousins slipping backwards on neutrality

If the US has decided to kick neutrality into the long grass, despite advocacy groups' attempts to enforce that 2008 Wu/Google-inspired 700MHz auction against the Android-fiddling Googlers in 2011.
In Canada, Shaw Communications nearly did a KPN by revealing a rival-crushing video service during the UBB hearings, but appears to have either back-tracked or clarified that video download via the Internet will screw their consumers no matter how it's downloaded.
This enforcement stuff is tricky, isn't it? Can you blame the Euros for hoping it all goes away...

Kroes-EuroCEO broadband summit: no consensus, non-neutral Internet

The EC policy against net neutrality appears to have hardened, after the Commissioner met 35 CEOs from ISPs and content providers on Wednesday. It is good that she has shared the conclusions and guest list so quickly. In short, the group was guided by router-throttler Alcatel-Lucent under ex-BT CEO Ben Verwaayen, Deutsche Telekom and 'civil Internet' freaks Vivendi (who successfully polarised the OECD High level meeting 2 weeks ago by frothing about piracy). It was almost entirely ISPs, box-makers and exclusive pay-TV operators. Here's the highlights from the EC press release:
"players at different levels of the Internet value chain should be free to reach commercial agreements to innovate and develop new business models. The best way to deal with any perceived imbalance is through commercial negotiations. If there is a need to introduce safeguards and legal certainty to ensure these negotiations are fair, the Commission will study the issue carefully once BEREC finalises its thorough analysis of the situation by the end of this year. The Commission accepts the industry's offer to take self-regulatory initiatives to ensure transparency on the characteristics and performance of broadband offers to European consumers."
It's over - unless you live in the Netherlands.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hacking their way to a fortune

Nick Cohen in the New Statesman 2000, on press ethics:
"Consider the following incident at the 1997 Labour Party conference. Blair was being lunched by the Mirror. The conversation turned to Gordon Brown's decision to freeze the pay of his Cabinet colleagues. Morgan, who was probably earning three times as much as the Prime Minister, found the differential hilarious. He chucked a £20 note at Blair and bellowed: "Hey, Tony, buy the kids some toys." The note lay on the table. Silence descended. It takes a man of extraordinary crassness to bring out the hidden nobility in Alastair Campbell. Morgan was that man. Campbell picked up the crumpled offering and straightened it out. "Why don't you give it to charity, Piers?" he asked quietly."
This is relevant to net neutrality - these people are the enforcers of media ethics...

Ofcom not fit to judge 'fit and proper person'? Colette Bowe' improper' 'disreputable' - Lord Gilbert

Lord Gilbert has just criticized Ofcom chair Colette Bowe in the most corruscating terms in the Lords debate on News Corporation, for her leaking of the Attorney-General's advice re. Westland and collective responsibility. Lord Gilbert repeated several times a finding that she had acted 'disreputably and tendentiously' in both leaking and editing for malicious effect (against Michael Heseltine) the advice. Her behaviour, and that of her Minister who was soon forced to resign, was infamous, though she was also found to have been the only civil servant who protested against being required to leak, and referred inquiries to the PM's spokesman, who was accused - with her Minister - of ordering her to leak
Gilbert reported that he told the Labour Minister responsible for Bowe's appointment that he must have gone "stark staring mad". One might argue that knighting, elevating to the peerage, making Leon Brittan a European Commissioner and then Vice President all AFTER his disgrace and fall was significantly starker...he is now in government again as special advisor and his office in the EC included a young ambitious toady called Nick Clegg...
Needless to say, Gilbert argued that Ofcom can hardly be expected to rule properly on 'fit and proper persons' to own media corporations when its own chair had been 'disreputable' and 'improper'. 
Well, can she be as bad as Richard Desmond or the Barclay brothers? Or David Sullivan (warning: link may contain unsubstantiated gossip)?
He also reported that the Financial Times in 2008 entirely misrepresented the joint Select Committee's report conclusions regarding Bowe, and that the editor only replied to him when he threatened it with the Press 'Totally Compliant' Commission (which makes one rose-tinted nostalgic that an editor gave a damn about it). Pluralism did win out, however, as Stephen Glover in The Independent got the facts right about Bowe/Westland in March 2009.
Another day, another revelation. The debate was generally far more authoritative than rubbish in the Commons.
Frankly, I'd rather be at Sandwich...
UPDATE: I have dug out the link to the debate over that Select Committee report, in which Tam Dalyell attempts to pin the leak authority on Margeret Thatcher, who would have had to resign had that been proved, and this highly sympathetic Toynbee interview which smacks of north London approves of Chair Bowe's constitutionally correct Sphinx-like silence on the matter. She apparently hates 'people who blab' - whistle blowers are clearly not her cup of tea. Given all the blabbing this week from all corners, it must be one of her least favorite weeks. Almost over.
UPDATE2: Lord Gilbert's speech now in today's Hansard. It is worth noting that yesterday he reiterated his view that the tragic Chinook crash in Scotland was in part pilot error - he's not afraid to be contentious...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Internet co-regulation: The Leveson inquiry: plus ca change...

Internet co-regulation: The Leveson inquiry: plus ca change...: "Tonight, News International controls 39% of BSkyB - and the Murdochs control about 36% of News Corporation. Guess what changed today? They c..."

Fox News to keep licences despite 9/11 hacking and bribes paid to British police?

I look forward to Sarah Palin resigning from 'increasingly irrelevant mainstream media' Fox News in disgust at the evidence that Murdoch's empire has gone far beyond the pale in breaking US law. Will the FCC investigate their holder of 263 licences?
Presumably any person of ethics at the Wall Street Journal will have already resigned?
UPDATE: She said 'less and less' - I think she would have said 'increasingly' if she had studied for a degree at a recognised university - though no-one can fault her pluralism of choice in education.
UPDATE 2: A nice Reuters graphic update on the $4,600,000,000US government tax refunds News Corp. has been receiving in the last four years.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Legislation or regulation without enforcement: wisest of monkeys?

In Barcelona keynoting Internet Politics 2011 (proceedings here), an excellent conference with wonderful translation. I find my self returning again and again to Michael Geist's work on the lack of enforcement by the CRTC: "The experience with net neutrality places the spotlight on the limits of guidelines without enforcement and screams out for enforcement transparency with full disclosure of all complaints and resolutions, penalties for violations, and audits of leading ISPs."

Saturday, July 09, 2011

How to ignore net neutrality regulation? The Canadian experience

I bleat on about the need to impose transparent reporting requirements and conduct mystery-shopping type tests on ISPs simply because it is otherwise close to impossible to prove that net neutrality regulation has been breached - unless the CEO of the ISP shoots his mouth off on an investor call.
The net neutrality lite of the CRTC in Canada, announced with some fanfare in October 2009, appears to be gossamer thin. Congratulations to Prof. Michael Geist for unearthing and interpreting the documents - marvellous work.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

British government and Internet regulation: what M...

Internet co-regulation: British government and Internet regulation: what M...: "For overseas readers, it's worth explaining the specific problems in the recent cause celebre - not about the incidents of voicemail hackin..."

EU roaming: only 900euros/GB next year!

The EC will lower EU data roaming charges to 900euros/GB from July 2012 (looking forward to seeing just how much competition will reduce that maximum). That is apparently a big intervention. I suspect that WhatsApp will not expect a lot of roaming use with that kind of charging...and don't use your phone for data in a foreign continent whatever you do!

Monday, July 04, 2011

30 June deadline: Transparency and neutrality - progress?

30 June was the deadline for big European ISPs to present their transparency plan to Commissioner Kroes for conforming to 2009/136/EC and 2009/140/EC via self-regulation.
In the UK, it was the deadline for the big mobile and fixed ISPs to explain their traffic management policies to consumers, based on their commitments in the Broadband Stakeholder Group's Code of Practice and the 'summit' with Ed Vaizey.
30 June was also the deadline for BEREC members to report on their traffic management issues in their own countries.
I do not know if these deadlines have been made, as there is no public reporting requirement and no media announcement. One company has at least appeared to be telling the truth. Progress? The audacity of hope....