Internet Kill Switch Reintroduced as Egypt Shuts Down the ‘Net

Internet Kill Switch Reintroduced as Egypt Shuts Down the
‘Net

January 31st, 2011

Gautham Nagesh, The Hill

The news of Egypt’s crackdown on Web access is raising new concerns over a
comprehensive cybersecurity bill that critics claim gives the president a “kill
switch” for the Internet.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recently indicated
they plan to re-introduce their bipartisan legislation,
which passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee last year only to get mired
in a standoff with Senate Commerce Committee members over which panel should
have oversight of civilian cybersecurity.
Civil rights advocates such as the ACLU also raised concerns about the bill,
which they claim gives the president the ability to shut down the Web in the
event of a catastrophic cyber-attack.
Specifically, observers are concerned the new version of the bill will
reportedly not allow for judicial review when the administration shuts down a
network under attack.
Those concerns have been heightened by the Egyptian government’s move this
week to cut off communications amid ongoing protests against the regime of
President Hosni Mubarak. Both the U.S. government and Web firms like Facebook
have criticized the move.
“Those in Congress who have proposed an ‘Internet Kill Switch’ for the U.S.
should realize the danger of their proposal now that Egyptian President Mubarak
has flipped such a switch to stifle dissent in Egypt,” said Berin Szoka,
president of the libertarian think tank TechFreedom.
“This incident also demonstrates a more subtle point: Maintaining the rule of
law in times of crisis demands judicial review for the president’s decision to
designate something a ‘critical asset’ subject to government diktat in the name
of protecting ‘cybersecurity.’ ”
Read
more
.

Internet Gets New Rules of the Road

Internet Gets New Rules of the Road

Consumers Guaranteed Right to View Content; Service
Providers Allowed to Sell Faster, Priority Speeds for Extra Money

By AMY SCHATZ And SHAYNDI RAICE

WASHINGTON—Consumers for the first time got federally
approved rules guaranteeing their right to view what they want on the Internet.
The new framework could also result in tiered charges for web access and alter
how companies profit from the network.

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted
3-2 to back Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan for what is commonly known as
“net neutrality,” or rules prohibiting Internet providers from
interfering with legal web traffic. President Barack Obama said the FCC’s
action will “help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet.”

The move was prompted by worries that large phone and
cable firms were getting too powerful as Internet gatekeepers.

Most consumers haven’t had a problem viewing whatever
they want online; few instances have arisen of an Internet provider blocking or
slowing services.

Rather, the FCC rules are designed to prevent potential
future harms and they could shape how Americans access and use the Internet
years from now. In the future, the Internet industry will be increasingly
centered around the fastest-growing categories of Internet traffic—online
video, gaming and mobile services, analysts say. Cisco Systems Inc., the
broadband network provider, has forecast those services could quadruple by
2014.

The
FCC has approved rules that would give the federal government authority to
regulate Internet traffic and prevent broadband providers from selectively
blocking web traffic. WSJ’s Amy Schatz explains what the new rules really mean.

Comcast Corp. and other Internet providers have
experimented with ways to handle the growing problem of network congestion.
Recently, Mr. Genachowski suggested that instead of selectively slowing certain
traffic to cope with congestion, providers could consider charging consumers
for how much data they consume. That would be a departure from the flat monthly
fees consumers pay now for Web access. It’s something providers privately say
is one of the only ways to make a profit and fund network infrastructure.

·
Such a system could
pose a challenge to companies like Netflix Inc., which streams movies over
broadband networks to

Public Interest Groups Want Tighter Wireless Provisions

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The new rules will also allow phone and cable companies
to sell to Internet companies like Amazon.com Inc. faster data delivery for
extra money, particularly on wireless networks. That would let a company that
offers streaming video, like Google Inc.’s YouTube, pay a wireless company like
Verizon Communications Inc. a bonus for guaranteed delivery of its videos to
consumers’ smart phones.

But FCC officials said any such priority service must be
disclosed, and they said they would likely probe and reject such efforts. That
could prompt some of the many expected legal challenges to the new rules, since
it is not clear if the FCC has authority to enforce them.

Consumer groups and other organizations, including the
American Library Association, oppose such high-speed toll lanes, arguing all
Americans should have the same quality of Internet access.

  • The FCC’s decision is
    a mixed bag for consumers. The new rules—which haven’t been released in
    full—say that land-line broadband providers can’t block legal content from
    websites, or “unreasonably discriminate” against companies like Skype
    or Netflix that want to use broadband networks to provide video or voice
    services. They also require providers to give consumers

But the rules come with some wiggle room for the
industry. Service providers will be allowed to engage in “reasonable
network management” to cope with congestion on their systems.

Wireless companies are less restricted by the new rules—a
win for the industry because consumers are increasingly accessing the web using
hand-held devices such as iPhones or Blackberries. Mr. Genachowski said mobile
carriers faced more congestion issues than other companies and need more leeway
to manage their networks.

Wireless companies would be prohibited from blocking
Internet voice services but they could block access to many other applications,
citing congestion issues.

Reaction the FCC’s rules was mixed. AT&T Inc. said
the rules were “not ideal” but would bring some “market
certainty so that investment and job creation can go forward.” Verizon
said it was “deeply concerned” because it didn’t think the rules were
needed. A coalition of Internet companies including Google said the rules were
a good first step but stronger regulations on wireless networks were needed to
ensure the same rules apply to both wired and wireless Internet.

View Full Image

Bloomberg News

Steve
Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple Inc. and a staunch proponent of keeping the
Internet unregulated, after an FCC hearing on Tuesday.

 

Some venture capital firms that invest in innovative
applications and wireless technology expressed concern about how the rules will
impact the wireless business. “The problem is that there’s so much
ambiguity in the rules,” said Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures, which
has invested in startups including Foursquare and Twitter Inc.

Internet Access is Not a “Civil Right”

Internet Access is Not a “Civil Right”

December 22nd, 2010

Michelle Malkin, CNSNews.com

When bureaucrats talk about increasing our “access” to x, y or z,   what they’re really talking about is increasing exponentially their   control over our lives. As it is with the government health care   takeover, so it is with the newly approved government plan to “increase”   Internet “access.” Call it Webcare.

By a vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday   adopted a controversial scheme to ensure “net neutrality” by turning   unaccountable Democratic appointees into meddling online traffic cops.   The panel will devise convoluted rules governing internet service   providers, bandwidth use, content, prices and even disclosure details on  internet speeds.

The “neutrality” is brazenly undermined by preferential treatment   toward wireless broadband networks. Moreover, the FCC’s scheme is widely   opposed by Congress — and has already been rejected once in the   courts. Demonized industry critics have warned that the regulations will   stifle innovation and result in less access, not more.

Sound familiar? The parallels with health care are striking. The architects of Obamacare promised to….

Read more.

Congress about to limit political speech of bloggers?

Congress about to limit political speech of bloggers?

posted at 3:35 pm on May 19, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
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The same sloppy legislative writing that created so many unintended consequences in ObamaCare also plagues the DISCLOSE Act, the effort in Congress to tighten spending rules in the wake of the Citizens United decision — and that’s the generous take on the situation.  Reason’s Bradley Smith and Jeff Patch warn that the perhaps-unintended consequences of legislative language will allow the FEC to regulate political speech online.  The fact that media entities like the New York Times have specific exemptions built into the bill makes the intent, or lack thereof, rather murky:

Last week, a congressional hearing exposed an effort to give another agency—the Federal Election Commission—unprecedented power to regulate political speech online. At a House Administration Committee hearing last Tuesday, Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley explained that the sloppy statutory language in the “DISCLOSE Act” would extend the FEC’s control over broadcast communications to all “covered communications,” including the blogosphere.

The DISCLOSE Act’s purpose, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen and other “reformers,” is simply to require disclosure of corporate and union political speech after the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that the government could not ban political expenditures by companies, nonprofit groups, and labor unions.

The bill, however, would radically redefine how the FEC regulates political commentary. A section of the DISCLOSE Act would exempt traditional media outlets from coordination regulations, but the exemption does not include bloggers, only “a communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication…”

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court explicitly rejected disparate treatment of media corporations and other corporations (including nonprofit groups) in campaign finance law. “Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment,” Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

No legitimate justification exists for excluding media corporations from regulations on political speech applicable to other corporations, unless the goal is to gain the support of editorial boards funded by the New York Times Co.

The response to this criticism has been both predictable and instructive.  Instead of actually discussing how Reason got the argument wrong in its initial reporting on the subject, a Public Citizen lobbyist (which supports the legislation) called it a death-panel argument.  Another group attempted to defend Congress by assuring us that the FEC would “most likely … stand by the 2006 Internet rules” and not investigate political bloggers.

Most likely? Color me comforted.  If the Democrats in Congress wanted to ensure that the FEC would not investigate political speech by bloggers, they would have written their exemptions to include bloggers instead of just traditional media outlets.  The purposeful lack of exemption for bloggers looks ominous indeed — and could be used to harass smaller, unfunded bloggers out of the realm of political debate.

Even if bloggers were included in the exemption, why should the law discriminate between two similar corporations producing similar intellectual property simply on the basis of product when it comes to free speech?   As Reason points out, the Supreme Court stated that such discrimination violates the First Amendment, and probably the 14th as well. What about NBC, owned (at the moment) by GE, which produces a myriad of products and services unrelated to speech.  Should their media subsidiaries get that exemption, and if so, why?  Surely NBC has a much more obvious incentive to bolster GE and avoid reporting on its problems, and the politics that impact them, than a blog has in backing a candidate or a bill in Congress.

This isn’t about “good government” or clean elections.  It’s an attempt by Congress to step around the First Amendment and regulate political speech that threatens incumbents, just as McCain-Feingold attempted.

Obama ‘Internet czar’ linked to ‘Net neutrality’ effort

Obama ‘Internet czar’ linked to ‘Net neutrality’ effort

May 7th, 2010

WorldNetDaily

 Susan Crawford Obama’s Internet Czar

President Obama’s “Internet czar,” Susan P. Crawford, is tied to a Marxist-run liberal media think tank that advocates government intervention in the Internet, charges a new book released this week.

“The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists” officially was released Monday.

The new title from WND senior reporter and WABC Radio host Aaron Klein skyrocketed to No. 1 on the non-fiction list at Amazon.com and is now No. 4 on the overall best-seller list.

With nearly 900 citations, the book bills itself as the most exhaustive investigation ever performed into Obama’s political background and radical ties. Klein’s co-author is historian and researcher Brenda J. Elliott.

The book seeks to expose an extremist coalition of communists, socialists and other radicals working both inside and outside the administration to draft and advance current White House policy goals.

Read More:

New U.S. Push to Regulate Internet Access

New U.S. Push to Regulate Internet Access

WASHINGTON—In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks. 

The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates. 

Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt “net neutrality” rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites. 

The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC’s authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski’s proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers’ Internet traffic. 

In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn’t apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set “meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.” 

Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn’t be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections. 

Getty ImagesFCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose authority over broadband lines has been questioned by a federal court, plans to use regulation on traditional phone networks to establish rules for Internet providers. 

FCC

FCC

“The Commission should consider all viable options,” wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D, Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a letter. 

At stake is how far the FCC can go to dictate the way Internet providers manage traffic on their multibillion-dollar networks. For the past decade or so, the FCC has maintained a mostly hands-off approach to Internet regulation. 

Internet giants like Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., which want to offer more Web video and other high-bandwidth services, have called for stronger action by the FCC to assure free access to websites. 

Cable and telecommunications executives have warned that using land-line phone rules to govern their management of Internet traffic would lead them to cut billions of capital expenditure for their networks, slash jobs and go to court to fight the rules. 

Consumer groups hailed the decision Wednesday, an abrupt change from recent days, when they’d bombarded the FCC chairman with emails and phone calls imploring him to fight phone and cable companies lobbyists. 

“On the surface it looks like a win for Internet companies,” said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. “A lot will depend on the details of how this gets implemented.” 

Mr. Genachowski’s proposal will have to go through a modified inquiry and rule-making process that will likely take months of public comment. But Ms. Arbogast said the rule is likely to be passed since it has the support of the two other Democratic commissioners. 

President Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to support regulation to promote so-called net neutrality, and received significant campaign contributions from Silicon Valley. Mr. Genachowski, a Harvard Law School buddy of the president, proposed new net neutrality rules as his first major action as FCC chairman. 

Telecom executives say privately that limits on their ability to change pricing would make it harder to convince shareholders that the returns from spending billions of dollars on improving a network are worth the cost. 

Carriers fear further regulation could handcuff their ability to cope with the growing demand put on their networks by the explosion in Internet and wireless data traffic. In particular, they worry that the FCC will require them to share their networks with rivals at government-regulated rates. 

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton and co-chair of the Arts + Labs Coalition, an industry group representing technology companies, telecom companies and content providers, said the FCC needs to assert some authority to back up the general net neutrality principles it outlined in 2005. 

“The question is how heavy a hand will the regulatory touch be,” he said. “We don’t know yet, so the devil is in the details. The network operators have to be able to treat some traffic on the Internet different than other traffic—most people agree that web video is different than an email to grandma. You have to discriminate in some fashion.” 

UBS analyst John Hodulik said the cable companies and carriers were likely to fight this in court “for years” and could accelerate their plans to wind down investment in their broadband networks. 

“You could have regulators involved in every facet of providing Internet over time. How wholesale and prices are set, how networks are interconnected and requirements that they lease out portions of their network,” he said. 

—Niraj Sheth, Spencer E. Ante, Sara Silver and Nat Worden contributed to this article.

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