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.

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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.

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

  – Associated Press

 – June 18, 2010

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

WASHINGTON — Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

But finding that balance has become more complex as homegrown terrorists have used the Internet to reach out to extremists abroad for inspiration and training. Those contacts have spurred a recent rash of U.S.-based terror plots and incidents. 

“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. 

Napolitano’s comments suggest an effort by the Obama administration to reach out to its more liberal, Democratic constituencies to assuage fears that terrorist worries will lead to the erosion of civil rights. 

The administration has faced a number of civil liberties and privacy challenges in recent months as it has tried to increase airport security by adding full-body scanners, or track suspected terrorists traveling into the United States from other countries. 

“Her speech is sign of the maturing of the administration on this issue,” said Stewart Baker, former undersecretary for policy with the Department of Homeland Security. “They now appreciate the risks and the trade-offs much more clearly than when they first arrived, and to their credit, they’ve adjusted their preconceptions.” 

Underscoring her comments are a number of recent terror attacks over the past year where legal U.S. residents such as Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and accused Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, are believed to have been inspired by the Internet postings of violent Islamic extremists. 

And the fact that these are U.S. citizens or legal residents raises many legal and constitutional questions. 

Napolitano said it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed. 

She added, “We can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances. At the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable.” 

As an example, she noted the struggle to use full-body scanners at airports caused worries that they would invade people’s privacy. 

The scanners are useful in identifying explosives or other nonmetal weapons that ordinary metal-detectors might miss — such as the explosives that authorities said were successfully brought on board the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is accused of trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear, but the explosives failed, and only burned Abdulmutallab. 

U.S. officials, said Napolitano, have worked to institute a number of restrictions on the scanners’ use in order to minimize that. The scans cannot be saved or stored on the machines by the operator, and Transportation Security Agency workers can’t have phones or cameras that could capture the scan when near the machine.

New Bill Gives Obama ‘Kill Switch’ To Shut Down The Internet

New Bill Gives Obama ‘Kill Switch’ To Shut Down The Internet

 

           

overnment would have “absolute power” to seize control of the world wide web under Lieberman legislation

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The federal government would have “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under the terms of a new US Senate bill being pushed by Joe Lieberman, legislation which would hand President Obama a figurative “kill switch” to seize control of the world wide web in response to a Homeland Security directive.

Lieberman has been pushing for government regulation of the Internet for years under the guise of cybersecurity, but this new bill goes even further in handing emergency powers over to the feds which could be used to silence free speech under the pretext of a national emergency.

“The legislation says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines or software firms that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined,” reports ZDNet’s Declan McCullagh.

The 197-page bill (PDF) is entitled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA.

Technology lobbying group TechAmerica warned that the legislation created “the potential for absolute power,” while the Center for Democracy and Technology worried that the bill’s emergency powers “include authority to shut down or limit internet traffic on private systems.”

The bill has the vehement support of Senator Jay Rockefeller, who last year asked during a congressional hearing, “Would it had been better if we’d have never invented the Internet?” while fearmongering about cyber-terrorists preparing attacks.

The largest Internet-based corporations are seemingly happy with the bill, primarily because it contains language that will give them immunity from civil lawsuits and also reimburse them for any costs incurred if the Internet is shut down for a period of time.

“If there’s an “incident related to a cyber vulnerability” after the President has declared an emergency and the affected company has followed federal standards, plaintiffs’ lawyers cannot collect damages for economic harm. And if the harm is caused by an emergency order from the Feds, not only does the possibility of damages virtually disappear, but the US Treasury will even pick up the private company’s tab,” writes McCullagh.

Tom Gann, McAfee’s vice president for government relations, described the bill as a “very important piece of legislation”.

As we have repeatedly warned for years, the federal government is desperate to seize control of the Internet because the establishment is petrified at the fact that alternative and independent media outlets are now eclipsing corporate media outlets in terms of audience share, trust, and influence.

We witnessed another example of this on Monday when establishment Congressman Bob Etheridge was publicly shamed after he was shown on video assaulting two college students who asked him a question. Two kids with a flip cam and a You Tube account could very well have changed the course of a state election, another startling reminder of the power of the Internet and independent media, and why the establishment is desperate to take that power away.

The government has been searching for any avenue possible through which to regulate free speech on the Internet and strangle alternative media outlets, with the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.

Similar legislation aimed at imposing Chinese-style censorship of the Internet and giving the state the power to shut down networks has already been passed globally, including in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted “internet 2″ system. Handing government the power to control the Internet would only be the first step towards this system, whereby individual ID’s and government permission would be required simply to operate a website.

The Lieberman bill needs to be met with fierce opposition at every level and from across the political spectrum. Regulation of the Internet would not only represent a massive assault on free speech, it would also create new roadblocks for e-commerce and as a consequence further devastate the economy.

BIG SIS IN CONTROL: Bill would give ‘Homeland Security’ emergency cyber powers…

Bill would give DHS emergency cyber powers

June 3, 2010

Cybersecurity Update – Tune in weekdays at 30 minutes past the hour for the latest cybersecurity news on The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris (6-10 a.m.) and The DorobekInsider with Chris Dorobek (3-7 p.m.). Listen live at FederalNewsRadio.com or on the radio at 1500 and 820 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

 

  • We’re learning more about the cybersecurity package forming in the Senate. Wired.com reports Sen. Joe Lieberman, (I-Conn.) wants to give the federal government the power to take over civilian networks’ security, if there’s an “imminent cyber threat.” It’s part of a draft bill, co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Susan Collins, that provides DHS with the authority to ensure that critical infrastructure stays up and running in the face of a looming hack attack. (Stay up to date with all the latest cybersecurity news by clicking here.)  
  • The Senate version of the fiscal 2011 Defense authorization bill scheduled to be released later this week is going to include funding for pilot programs that will explore new ways for Defense Department agencies and contractors to have greater access to cybersecurity tools and services. NextGov cites sources from the Armed Services Committee. Their completed markup of its version of the Defense bill will include funding for projects that require the department to partner with industry to track cyber threats, and speed up the acquisition of cybersecurity products and services. The funding would add to the $10 million in the fiscal 2010 supplemental appropriations bill the Senate passed on May 27 for the Defense and Homeland Security departments to conduct cybersecurity pilots. 
  • Agencies looking to establish super-secure Internet hookups under the Trusted Internet Connection program now have a vendor to turn to. The General Services Administration has issued the first certification for a TIC product to AT&T Government Solutions. The company’s Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services are available under GSA’s Networx telecommunications contract. A spokesman says AT&T is the first provider to receive authority to activate trusted connections. 

Check out all of Federal News Radio’s coverage of cybersecurity issues here.