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New submitter aquadood writes: According to the Sunlight Foundation's analysis of recent comment submissions to the FCC regarding Net Neutrality, the majority (56.5%) were submitted by a single organization called American Commitment, which has "shadowy" ties to the Koch brothers' network. The blog article goes on to break down the comments in-depth, showing a roughly 60/40 split between those against net neutrality and those for it, respectively.
169 comments | 2 days ago
HughPickens.com writes: Edward Wyatt reports at the NY Times that the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition have sent representatives, including the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, to tell FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that they think President Obama's call to regulate broadband Internet service as a utility would harm minority communities by stifling investment in underserved areas and entrenching already dominant Internet companies. "We got a lot of poor folks who don't have broadband," said Jackson. "If you create something where, for the poor, the lane is slower and the cost is more, you can't survive." "I think we're all on board with the values embedded in what President Obama said, things like accelerating broadband deployment and adoption," says Nicol Turner-Lee, vice president of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council and a member of the group including Mr. Jackson that met with the F.C.C. chairman. "The question is, will we be able to solve these issues by going so far with stringent regulation?"
Some of the groups that oppose Title II designation, like the Urban League and the League of United Latin American Citizens, have received contributions from organizations affiliated with Internet service providers, like the Comcast Foundation, the charitable organization endowed by Comcast. But those organizations say that the donations or sponsorships do not influence their positions. "We get support from people on all sides of the issue, including Google and Facebook," says Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "We don't let any of them influence our position." For it's part, the NAACP says its formal policy position is that the NAACP neither endorses, nor opposes the formally defined concept of net neutrality but supports the need to particularly focus on underserved racial and ethnic minority and poor communities, while highlighting the importance of protecting an open internet.
127 comments | about two weeks ago
dkatana points out an article arguing that the governments should stop further auctions of 4G spectrum because it reduces infrastructure investment from carriers and makes net neutrality more difficult to regulate. Quoting:
The FCC recently raised more than $34 billion for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is good news for the treasury coffers, but government auctions threaten the ability of the FCC and similar agencies to manage the spectrum, impose net neutrality rules, and allow new businesses to compete.
Carriers and internet companies who won the auction might believe the spectrum is theirs to do as they please, blocking access or charging huge fees to others. Issues such as speed throttling and preferential access come to mind. If governments insist in auctions of the newly available frequencies, it could hurt the industry and potentially destroy any possibility of negotiating universal access and net neutrality.
66 comments | about two weeks ago
itwbennett writes The FTC has reached a proposed settlement with PaymentsMD, an Atlanta health billing company that used the sign-up process for its billing service to surreptitiously seek customers' consent to obtain detailed medical information. The medical information PaymentsMD requested included customers' prescriptions, procedures, medical diagnoses, lab tests performed and their results, and other information, the FTC said. The bright spot in all this: In all but one case, the health care providers contacted for data refused to comply with PaymentsMD's requests.
25 comments | about two weeks ago
blottsie writes If there are two ways in which the Internet is similar in the United States and Canada, it's that it's slow and expensive in both places relative to many developed countries. The big difference, however, is that Canada is looking into doing something about it. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission—the northern equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)— is examining how the wholesale market, where smaller Internet service providers (ISPs) use parts of bigger companies' networks to sell their own services, should operate in the years ahead. The industry reaction to this proposal provides insights to the potential consequences of re-classifying broadband in the U.S. as a Title II public utility.
80 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader notes that Comcast inadvertently posted a bit too much in a blog post today. Earlier today, Comcast published a blog post to criticize the newly announced coalition opposing its merger with Time Warner Cable and to cheer about the FCC's decision to restart the "shot clock" on that deal. But someone at Kabletown is probably getting a stern talking-to right now, after an accidental nugget of honesty made its way into that post. Comcast posted to their corporate blog today about the merger review process, reminding everyone why they think it will be so awesome and pointing to the pro-merger comments that have come in to the FCC. But they also left something else in. Near the end, the blog post reads, "Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not currently compete for customers anywhere in America. That means that if the proposed transaction goes through, consumers will not lose a choice of cable companies. Consumers will not lose a choice of broadband providers. And not a single market will see a reduction in competition. Those are simply the facts." The first version of the blog post, which was also sent out in an e-mail blast, then continues: "We are still working with a vendor to analyze the FCC spreadsheet but in case it shows that there are any consumers in census blocks that may lose a broadband choice, want to make sure these sentences are more nuanced." After that strange little note, the blog post carries on in praise of competition, saying, "There is a reason we want to provide our customers with better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming: we don't want to lose them."
114 comments | about two weeks ago
Lemeowski writes in with this interview of FCC CIO David Bray. "When David Bray took over as CIO of the FCC last year, he found the agency saddled with 207 legacy systems, which is about one system for every eight employees in the 1,750-person agency. Bray, who is one of the youngest CIOs across the federal government, shares his plan for updating those systems to a cloud-based, common data platform, that's "ideally open source." In this interview, Bray shares the challenges the FCC faces as it upgrades its systems, including keeping up morale and finding a way to fit longtime employees into his modernization strategy."
74 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader sends word that the 2014 wireless spectrum license auction has surpassed $34 billion. "A government auction of airwaves for use in mobile broadband has blown through presale estimates, becoming the biggest auction in the Federal Communications Commission's history and signaling that wireless companies expect demand for Internet access by smartphones to continue to soar. And it's not over yet. Companies bid more than $34 billion as of Friday afternoon for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum, being sold by the F.C.C. That total is more than three times the $10.5 billion reserve price that the commission put on the sale, the first offering of previously unavailable airwaves in six years."
85 comments | about three weeks ago
Rambo Tribble writes: The commissioners at the FCC are expected to vote, on December 11, on a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to increase the funding for the nation's largest educational technology subsidy program, E-Rate, by 62 percent. The proposal is intended to be paid for by higher fees on phone service. The increased cost is pegged at $1.92 a year, per telephone line. Support for the proposal, or lack thereof, appears to be falling along partisan lines. To quote Wheeler, however, "Almost two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century."
107 comments | about a month ago
New submitter riskkeyesq writes with a link to a blog post from Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net, about what Jasper sees as the deepest problem in the U.S. broadband market and the Internet in general: "There are a number of threats to the Internet as a system for innovation, commerce and education today. They include net neutrality, the price of Internet access in America, performance, rural availability and privacy. But none of these are the root issue, they're just symptoms. The root cause of all of these symptoms is a disease: a lack of competition for consumer Internet access." Soft landings for former legislators, lobbyists disguised as regulators, hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber sitting unused, the sham that is the internet provider free market is keeping the US in a telecommunications third-world. What, exactly, can American citizens do about it? One upshot, in Jasper's opinion (hardly disinterested, is his role at CEO at an ISP that draws praise from the EFF for its privacy policies) is this: "Today’s FCC should return to the roots of the Telecom Act, and reinforce the unbundling requirements, assuring that they are again technology neutral. This will create an investment ladder to facilities for competitive carriers, opening access to build out and serve areas that are beyond our reach today."
135 comments | about a month ago
blottsie writes with this news from The Daily Dot: "The Federal Communications Commission's seemingly suspicious timing in delaying its net neutrality decision has absolutely nothing to do with recent politics, according to an FCC official. Instead, it's a matter of some people in the agency insisting they be more prepared before going to court to defend their eventual plan. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of Verizon, which challenged the FCC's 2010 Open Internet rules, striking down the agency's net neutrality protections. The court found that the FCC did not use the proper legal structure to establish its regulatory authority over broadband service—something that many legal experts say would not be the case if the FCC invokes Title II. The FCC's move to delay the net neutrality decision, which followed President Obama's support of Title II reclassification, was just a coincidence, according to the FCC official:" Before the president weighed in, several of our staff felt like the record was a little thin in areas, and the last thing you want when you go to court for the third time is for a court to say the record was too thin, or you didn't give adequate notice. We are going to be so careful this time that we have crossed every T and dotted every I. Some of the staff felt we're not quite there yet."
60 comments | about a month ago
Presto Vivace points out this troubling new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Recently, Verizon was caught tampering with its customer's web requests to inject a tracking super-cookie. Another network-tampering threat to user safety has come to light from other providers: email encryption downgrade attacks. In recent months, researchers have reported ISPs in the U.S. and Thailand intercepting their customers' data to strip a security flag — called STARTTLS — from email traffic. The STARTTLS flag is an essential security and privacy protection used by an email server to request encryption when talking to another server or client.
By stripping out this flag, these ISPs prevent the email servers from successfully encrypting their conversation, and by default the servers will proceed to send email unencrypted. Some firewalls, including Cisco's PIX/ASA firewall do this in order to monitor for spam originating from within their network and prevent it from being sent. Unfortunately, this causes collateral damage: the sending server will proceed to transmit plaintext email over the public Internet, where it is subject to eavesdropping and interception.
245 comments | about a month ago
blottsie writes: The Federal Communications Commission will abandon its earlier promise to make a decision on new net neutrality rules this year. Instead, FCC Press Secretary Kim Hart said, "there will not be a vote on open internet rules on the December meeting agenda. That would mean rules would now be finalized in 2015." The FCC's confirmation of the delay came just as President Barack Obama launched a campaign to persuade the agency to reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. Opensource.com is also running an interview with a legal advisor at the FCC. He says, "There will be a burden on providers. The question is, 'Is that burden justified?' And I think our answer is 'Yes.'"
127 comments | about a month ago
vivIsel writes In a move that is sure to generate controversy, the President has announced his support for regulation of broadband connections, including cellular broadband, under Title 2 of the Telecommunications Act. Reclassification of broadband in this way would treat it as a utility, like landline telephones, subject providers to new regulations governing access, and would allow the FCC to easily impose net neutrality requirements.
706 comments | about a month ago
An anonymous reader writes A few weeks ago I noted how security researchers had discovered that Verizon has been injecting a unique new 'stealth cookie' identifier into all user traffic that tracks user online behavior, even if the consumer opts out. Using a unique Identifier Header, or UIDH, Verizon's ham-fisted system broadcasts your identity all across the web — and remains intact and open to third-party abuse — even if you opt-out of Verizon's behavioral ad programs. Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a complaint with the FCC and has strongly indicated that they're considering legal action against Verizon for violating consumer privacy laws.
81 comments | about a month and a half ago
An anonymous reader writes At the Washington Post, Brett Frischmann elaborates on the theory that the continuing flaw with the FCC's Net-Neutrality strategy lies in the perverse distinction between "End User" and "Edge Provider". Succinctly: "The key to an open Internet is nondiscrimination and in particular, a prohibition on discrimination or prioritization based on the identity of the user (sender/receiver) or use (application/content)," and then, "Who exactly are the end users that are not edge providers? In other words, who uses the Internet but does not provide any content, application, or service? The answer is no one. All end users provide content as they engage in communications with other end users, individually or collectively. ... Think of all the startups and small businesses run from people's homes on home Internet connections, using WordPress tools or Amazon hosting services. Are they 'end users' when they email their friends but 'edge providers' when they switch windows to check their business metrics?"
97 comments | about a month and a half ago
An anonymous reader writes John Oliver calls it "cable company f*ckery" and we've all suspected it happens. Now on Steven Levy's new Backchannel publication on Medium, Susan Crawford delivers decisive proof, expertly dissecting the Comcast-Netflix network congestion controversy. Her source material is a detailed traffic measurement report (.pdf) released this week by Google-backed M-Lab — the first of its kind — showing severe degradation of service at interconnection points between Comcast, Verizon and other monopoly "eyeball networks" and "transit networks" such as Cogent, which was contracted by Netflix to deliver its bits. The report shows that interconnection points give monopoly ISPs all the leverage they need to discriminate against companies like Netflix, which compete with them in video services, simply by refusing to relieve network congestion caused by external traffic requested by their very own ISP customers. And the effects victimize not only companies targeted but ALL incoming traffic from the affected transit network. The report proves the problem is not technical, but rather a result of business decisions. This is not technically a Net neutrality problem, but it creates the very same headaches for consumers, and unfair business advantages for ISPs. In an accompanying article, Crawford makes a compelling case for FCC intervention.
243 comments | about a month and a half ago
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.
143 comments | about a month and a half ago
An anonymous reader writes: 2014 was supposed to be the year broadcasters would be allowed to sell off their unused spectrum to mobile carriers. That got pushed back to 2015 in December, and now the Federal Communications Commission has bumped it to 2016 in the face of a lawsuit from the National Association of Broadcasters. The FCC says the legal briefs aren't even due until January 2015, and it will take them until the middle of the year to review the documents and respond in court. The delay is just fine with the NAB, but probably bad news for anyone hoping that spectrum would help to improve mobile communications in the U.S. any time soon.
31 comments | about 2 months ago
HughPickens.com writes: Brian Fung reports at the Washington Post that earlier this year emergency services went dark for over six hours for more than 11 million people across seven states. "The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives." In a 40-page report (PDF), the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. "It could have been prevented. But it was not," the FCC's report reads. "The causes of this outage highlight vulnerabilities of networks as they transition from the long-familiar methods of reaching 911 to [Internet Protocol]-supported technologies."
On April 9, the software responsible for assigning the identifying code to each incoming 911 call maxed out at a pre-set limit; the counter literally stopped counting at 40 million calls. As a result, the routing system stopped accepting new calls, leading to a bottleneck and a series of cascading failures elsewhere in the 911 infrastructure. Adm. David Simpson, the FCC's chief of public safety and homeland security, says having a single backup does not provide the kind of reliability that is ideal for 911. "Miami is kind of prone to hurricanes. Had a hurricane come at the same time [as the multi-state outage], we would not have had that failover, perhaps. So I think there needs to be more [distribution of 911 capabilities]."
115 comments | about 2 months ago