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ACLU Study Wary of Broadband Providers

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the lets-proxy-all-our-users dept.

News 242

An anonymous reader says "The ACLU recently had a study done that suggests that broadband access is a threat to internet freedom. Their study focuses on the control available to broadband providers who don't have to deal with the same level of competition or regulation as ISP providers. The result is the ability to radically control internet access combined with the omnipresent corporate incentive for profit, whatever the cost to free speech."

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242 comments

So True (1, Redundant)

EdMcMan (70171) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926090)

As anyone with low capped connections, bad quality of service, and terrible uptimes, broadband must be opened! Cable companies must be forced to share lines, etc etc, or else they will end up owning the end users on the internet.

The needs of the many... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926174)

...outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

Most of the world is composed of people who are sheep, people who can't, or won't (in the case of religion) think for themselves. In this case, it is unlikely that the internet will be truely open for those few of us who would like it to be.

Get ready to be controlled.

Re:So True (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926223)

This has nothing to do with speed.

It's the fact that if 90% of users are on 1% of the providers. They control everything, this can include blocking of http request to a host they deem "obscene" or "dangerous" if they feel like it. That's bad. They could censor anything they want, and because they control 90% of the users, most will be affected.

Re:So True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926482)

Oh yeah, like that plan has ever worked anywhere in the world.

Why do we constantly get these stories posted that bring out all the crazy communists.

Reports in PDF - why? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926105)

I'd like to read these reports. Too bad they're in PDF. Yes, I'm lazy, but the point is, so are lots of people - I don't want to download a PDF, navigate to it, read it, then remember to delete it so it doesn't clutter up my drive and come back to the site. If it's a text report, and you're going to present it on your website, why on earth not save it as HTML so everybody can quickly get to it and read it?

If someone writes a PDF plug-in for Lynx, let me know. Meanwhile, I guess I'll wait to see if someone translates it here.

Re:Reports in PDF - why? (1)

keefebert (535583) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926116)

Try to search for the report on Google. They often allow PDF documents to open as HTML. While Google does not have this one archived, many of the PDFs I read are available in HTML there.

Re:Reports in PDF - why? (2, Informative)

sstory (538486) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926166)

Here in the year 2002, if you can't easily read a pdf, it's not someone else's fault. You should upgrade to a less primitive system.

Re:Reports in PDF - why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926403)

Primitive?? Definitely not
Stripped to the bone?? Most definitely.
What the visionaries? of the internet business world
have forgotten is that the internet is for everyone.
-
So having a document in a proprietary format pisses me
off to no end. I want documents in text or in HTML.
-
So stick it up your IE using rear. reboot boy.

Re:Reports in PDF - why? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926528)

*nix - xpdf and acroread (sometimes)
Windows - Acrobat Reader
MacOS X - Preview, Acrobat Reader

There are also things you can download to convert it to html.

PDFs are nice because they show up exactly as you want them to (fonts and all). You can't always guarantee that with HTML.

Re:Reports in PDF - why? (1)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926187)

I opened the link, but all I can find is an article titled, "TOO POOPED TO PONTIFICATE: ANONYMOUS POSTER WEARY OF COMMON FILE TYPES."

Must be something wrong with my browser. I'll get 'round to checking it.

but... but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926106)

It's broadband!!! *Hugs monitor and cries*

Re:but... but... (1)

machine of god (569301) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926142)

sweet jesus, I forgot I had an account. And to think all this time I've been an anonymous coward. So anyway, before that last emotional outburst, what I meant to say was that I think that as long as there are universities around things will be ok. I'm pretty sure that most offer some sort of access in their dorms, and elsewhere if you want to pay. Ya. I go to Ohio State and it's mad fast. Maybe I'm just being short sighted, but then again, I don't see myself leaving here any time in the next ten years either...

Re:but... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926236)

Yeah, it fast when UNITS (hehehe... he said unit) isn't deciding to unplug a bunch of ATM fiber at 9:00am for no apparent reason.

There've been huge outages for no apparent reason.

This doesn't bode well for AOL, and Co. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926108)

To all those who have AOL Time Warner stock get out quick. Buy some cable/teleco stocks instead cause they sure as hell will control everything.

Re:This doesn't bode well for AOL, and Co. (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926120)

Uh, Beavith, AOL/TW owns cable companies.

Re:This doesn't bode well for AOL, and Co. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926143)

AOL Time Warner owns less than 20 percent of the cable market. So in essence it's business will be going from #1 in the market to the middle of the pack. Trust me you don't want to be caught in the middle when the big boys take out there money from AOL Time Warner stocks.

AOL Stock (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926135)

To all those who have AOL Time Warner stock get out quick.

Uhhh, you mean someone still owns AOL stock? Have you seen how far the price has dropped? If people haven't sold it by now, they're probably better off holding on to it and hoping for a turnaround.

Peekabooty (3, Interesting)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926111)


Maybe on of the primary markets for PeekaBooty won't be China, but the U.S. Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire" because of a number of things. They stopped travellers and demanded to see ID/papers/etc. The U.S. is doing that now. They controlled information flow and communications. The U.S. is doing that now.

On a more positive note, I think I saw a recent article about Time Warner saying they would not be limiting or regulating use of RoadRunner. Let's hope.

Re:Peekabooty (1)

medeii (472309) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926312)

On a more positive note, I think I saw a recent article about Time Warner saying they would not be limiting or regulating use of RoadRunner. Let's hope. Doesn't their TOS forbid you to run your own server? ... isn't that limiting and regulating use? Last year, my brother-in-law (who lives in Round Rock, near Austin) got a phone call for eating up too much bandwidth when his wife/my sister was playing too much on Napster. Either they're being subjective about it, or else the poster's claim is just BS. (But I hope it's the former.)

Re:Peekabooty (2)

be-fan (61476) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926501)

No, that's perfectly fine. Time Warner is not snooping around our internet connection and teling you what you can and cannot use your bandwidth for. It still makes sense for them to not allow you to run a server or take you to task when you use too much bandwidth. Bandwidth is a shared resource, and one person using too much hurts everyone else. It limits *their* right to use their bandwidth how they choose.

Re:Peekabooty (4, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926509)


Sure. I have no problem not running servers on my residential connection. I agreed not to, and they have valid business reasons for asking us not to. They don't put technological means in place to prevent it -- such as NATting their entire RR customer base, which allows people to play games, etc.

And, Time Warner will let me run a server -- if I buy a "business class" connection. I will add that the business-class RR connection, which allows servers, is still a lot cheaper than other bandwidth alternatives.

They are actually very reasonable about it.

Re:Peekabooty (2, Interesting)

medeii (472309) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926536)

It's not a matter of whether or not they have plans that allow you to do those things. It's a matter of why they sell you no-restrictions service, and then send you threatening notices when you use that service the way you want.

They need to stop advertising "unlimited" internet access, because if you can't run a server (albeit a limited-traffic one) or use your allotment of bandwidth any way you like, it sure as hell ain't unlimited.

Re:Peekabooty (0, Offtopic)

repetty (260322) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926420)

"but the U.S. Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire" because of a number of things. They stopped travellers and demanded to see ID/papers/etc. The U.S. is doing that now. They controlled information flow and communications. The U.S. is doing that now."

Yeah, so are sooo right.

The US today is just like cold-war USSR.

So, lets make it worse! (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926117)

I've always been a DSL proponent, because of the fact that DSL has regulation in place to create competition. Of course, the bush appointees to the FCC wants to take all of that away and allow for monopolies.

Of course, the way phone companies have been screwing independent DSL providers in spite of the law has bankrupted most of them. Its really sick.

Oh, and to those of you who say that only government regulation can cause monopolies, go fuck yourself.

If broadband is too restricting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926121)

Then use dial-up. Or buy a link to someone else with a good net connection. DSL (because it's over phone lines aka common carrier) tends to have more government restriction (ie the companies have less freedom to restrict your access).

But, last time I looked, unrestricted internet access wasn't a constitutional right, anyway.

Re:If broadband is too restricting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926190)

Last time I checked breaking up Bell into Baby Bells didn't exactly create competition. Just because laws are on the books it doesn't mean they are being enforce. Publicly phone companies are welcoming competition but behind the scene they are plotting on how force you out of business. I mean look at all those promising DSL providers. All except for a few are gone. You can't simply say they didn't have good business plans. These Companies were forced out business. And at the bankruptcy hearing the I grantee you a Baby Bell was there to collect.

Don't believe the Hype!

Re:If broadband is too restricting (1)

Kwikymart (90332) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926450)

"I mean look at all those promising DSL providers. "

I am not sure about the US, but here in Canada we have "DSL resellers" that basically just resell DSL to people at the same or greater cost than the telephone companies do. The problem with their business model is that they are reselling something and barely (if at all) getting a discount for their own services so there is really no point of going with them in 99% of cases when the same thing is available for less. I can see very clearly why they are all going out of business (if that is the case, i haven't been paying much attention to it)

Re:If broadband is too restricting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926198)

"But, last time I looked, unrestricted internet access wasn't a constitutional right, anyway."

Maybe it should be!

Constitutional Rights (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926316)

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8 says:
"The Congress shall have Power ... To establish Post Offices and post Roads".

Maybe it's time to realize the fact that "email" and "information superhighway" aren't just empty metaphors. They are the modern implementation of the basic transportation and communication systems that have been mentioned in the US Constitution for 200 years.

Re:Constitutional Rights (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926398)

And... Congress having the right to establish Post Offices and post Roads (even if you take it to mean email/internet) doesn't protect your rights to use the internet how you want. It simply gives them the right to create a national ISP.

Freedom of the speech/press only protects you from government regulation. It doesn't protect you from private businesses restricting your use of their services for those rights. No one forces you to use their service.

Bringing this all together... if Congress chose to create a national ISP, THEN you might be able to claim free speech/press on it. But, since Congress hasn't chosen to operate a national ISP, this is really a non-issue.

not in the UK (4, Insightful)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926130)

There are loads of ISP's offering broadband (ADSL) here in the UK some of which explicitly say you can serve anything legel and have as many pc's as you want hanging off you connection and tell you how to setup nats etc...

The UK regulater makes a hell of a lot of noise, the UK had a public monopoly upuntil a few years ago and the regulator keeps trying to force down prices offered to ISP's for dialup and ADSL access.

Re:not in the UK (3, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926216)

There are indeed loads of ISPs here in the UK offering ADSL conncetions.

However, almost all of them get those connections from BT wholesale. If BT decided to start imposing some draconian conditions, we'd still be screwed.

Sure, oftel (the regulator mentioned - OFfice for TELecommunications, iirc) are making lots of noise about BT opening up their exchanges and allowing other companies to install equipment (for a suitable rental fee, of course), but it's not really happening. Last I heard, only one company had actually done so, and only at a couple of exchanges. BT are not making it easy (that's the reason for all the noise).

The UK has plenty of competition amongst residential-level and business-level ISPs, but only really one backbone provider. There are others, of course, but not to homes, the majority of which already have a BT line.

Cheers,

Tim

BT wholesale (2)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926238)

I thought BT wholesale only provided ADSL connection not internet connection, SFAIK ADSL could be used for anything e.g. direct connection to the office, not just 'the internet' so BT would have a hell of a job restricting the line.

Go with Demon in the UK! (2)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926277)

I tried BT's service, but switched to demon [demon.net] (no I don't work for them) as they have a pretty open policy, plus you get a fixed IP (which is a double edged sword I guess).

Before I signed up I asked about their policy for customers running services on their machines and bandwith limits. I was told I could do anything I liked so long as I didn't cause problems for anyone else.

Service has been great for me, I could never go back to a modem now ;-)

Profit (1, Insightful)

thopkins (70408) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926133)

What is wrong with corporations having an incentive to make profit? That is what they are there for.

Companies have no incentive to support free speech, the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to them. If you don't like what cable companies do then don't use them. Don't try to impose your will on others.

Re:Profit (4, Informative)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926162)

The problem is that you cannot use anybody else.

most broadband providers have a govt sanctioned monopoly.

And after the recent declarations from the FCC the little competition that was coming from small dsl providers will soon evaporate.

Re:Profit (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926293)

most broadband providers have a govt sanctioned monopoly.

Ok, then, so obviously the problem lies with the government, not the broadband providers.

Re:Profit (5, Insightful)

autocracy (192714) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926202)

It is the grand flaw of capitalism. When a company reaches the point where it no longer has to care about how good the service it provides is, and merely tries to maximize it's profit without needing any concern for the trade-off, then it is wrong. Take Microsoft. It's not in there best interest to increase their profit by making a better product - it works better for them to screw their customers. That's what anti-trust laws are for, and that's why we try to keep any one company from having control of a product/service. The unscrupulous among us (and there are many) will stop caring about customers. That's not how it should work.

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926218)

Companies do have an incentive to support free speech, at least if it's something that their customers want. Companies make money by providing the public with something they want, and if customers leave cable companies because they dislike the rules, then they have a reason to change their rules to attract those customers.

That said, I think some of the actions done by cable companies are done for legitimate reasons. It seems fair to cap bandwidth or prohibit certain applications, like servers, from running on cable modems - you are paying for a home broadband connection, not a T-1 line. Furthermore, it seems most of the buyers of services like VPN's are businesses, who are less price elastic (more willing to pay) and it's economically rational to charge them more for services that the average grandmother would never use.

Re:Profit (2)

certron (57841) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926231)

"What is wrong with corporations having an incentive to make profit? That is what they are there for.

Companies have no incentive to support free speech, the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to them. If you don't like what cable companies do then don't use them. Don't try to impose your will on others."

The simple point is this: Corporations are not citizens. While you say that the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to them, the 1st Amendment does apply to the citizens that use the cable company. (I know there have been a number of court cases that give citizen-like rights to corporations, though. One phone company sued a town that wouldn't let them put up a cellphone tower, saying its civil rights had been violated. The town lost.)

Consider this, perhaps... While it might be a flawed analogy, what if the cable provider changed your text en route, attributing things to you that you didn't say. Could you sue the company for libel? Slander? If they are blocking you, would that be denying you your right to free speech?

While it is most likely in their (profitable) interest to promote free speech (sounds like a phone ad...) if there are fewer and fewer companies that provide the service (cable is not a right) they will have de facto control over the medium. The solution is to have more players in the market, so that there isn't one central controlling company or a very small number of controlling companies. Competition helps promote fair play. Usually...

first amendment (3, Informative)

akb (39826) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926427)

Actually, courts have ruled the first amendment does apply to corporations. They are using this to overturn many of the FCC's regulations on ownership, including limits on the percent of the national market that cable companies can own and the TV/newspaper cross ownership ban.

Re:Profit (0)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926243)

What is wrong with greed? That is what common sense is there for.

Companies have no CHOICE but to support free speech if they are in the United States. You don't get to pick and choose when and if the first amendment applies, it always applies.

NO rights to limit my freedoms (2)

mikewas (119762) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926280)

Their goal is to make a profit, but the 1st amendment DOES affect them. They may not actively support my constitutional rights but they cannot limit my rights via their business practices.

This is especially egregious because they have a monopoly. This is the reasoning behind regulation by the FCC (e.g. equal access to radio & TV time, access to incumbent carriers' telephony facilities, the right to erect antennas for TV reception).

Re:NO rights to limit my freedoms (2, Insightful)

kmweber (196563) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926336)

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech"

That means exactly what it says--Congress is not allowed to place restrictions on what ideas or views may be expressed. This does not mean that private entities are not allowed to restrict what may be said or expressed on their own private property--in fact, they MUST be allowed to do so because if they are not, then their property rights are being infringed upon. All the First Amendment guarantees is that you are allowed to express yourself without fear of punishment. It doesn't guarantee you a medium for expressing yourself other than your OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY. Your rights do not trump the rights of others, including rights of property.

Re:NO rights to limit my freedoms (2)

mikewas (119762) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926504)

That's exactly the point. I'm not allowed to purchase a means of expression available to others.

I should have the same access to whatever available forum, including the net. I don't expect it to be given to me, I am willing to pay a reasonable fee, but a cable company has a monopoly in my area. The traditional remedy for such a situation has been regulation. There are charges on your phone bill to fund facilities to assure affordable minimum levels of phone access to areas that would not be commercially served otherwise: remote areas, inner cities.

Free (as in speech, not dollars) access to the net is now as importent a medium as a telephone. So let me buy or rent a bit of the net for my own.

Re:NO rights to limit my freedoms (2)

be-fan (61476) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926533)

True, it is technically their private property. But if you look at it from a broader perspective, we have to realize that the internet is becoming public property. A virtual world just like the one you can go outside in. You're allowed to say what you want in the real world, so why not in the virutal world of the internet? There is significant precedence for this, btw. Even though restaurants and hotels are private property, the government realized that they had many of the characteristics of public places, and thus imposed regulations that limited what rights the property owners had. This was done so property owners could not invoke property rights to deny certain people (namely blacks) of their rights. All of this goes back to the fundemental idea that you have certain rights and can act on them, but only so long as you don't infringe on the rights of others. No, this is not in the Constitution in that exact form, but I dare you to try to disprove this idea as accepted precedent.

Re:NO rights to limit my freedoms (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926514)

You are not correctly understand the word "right". You have a right to exist, and to say and think what you wish. It is an assault against the concept of rights as such to claim that your rights can infringe upon anothers (the cable companies right to do with its equipment as it wishes).

The first amendment was written to protect citizens against sedition laws, such as those imposed upon dissenters of England prior to the signing of the declaration of indepedence.

A company cannot infringe upon your first amendment rights, because it is not the United States Government, to which the constitution applies.

This ridiculous use of terminology is going to be the death of you all. Soon, I am going to sue Slashdot for infringing upon my free speech by moderating this post down and preventing the community at large from reading it.

Of course, that would be ridiculous, but no more so than saying you free speech is being infringed upon simply because you cannot upload porn to folks on kazaa at 1mbps.

The internet is not a right, it is benefit of this free society. The internet could be destroyed tomorrow, and your ability to express yourself will be no different in terms of the end result, ie sharing information with others.

The only absolute way to prevent you from communicating with others is to imprison you, or kill you... The society you advocate will have to use both far more than today in order to impose their will upon the people. The companies you want to nationalize are owned and run by your fellow citizens, who have families to feed, and dreams to live just like yourself. They are not going to lose their jobs willingly. The only way to get them to give their service away free to you is to threaten with imprisonment or death. Be careful what you wish for.

ACLU is powerful (1)

keefebert (535583) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926146)

It is nice to see a very powerful lobby group lobby to start taking control away from the large cable companies. Here in DC, there is actually a broadband competitor to Comcast (Now part of AT&T), StartPower (part of RCN). They are really helping improve service around here from everyone. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Sprint are all facing competiton from them and it is keeping our networks in good shape. I use them, and the customer service is great, cable line-up is good, and prices can't be beat. As soon as RCN gets their mega-modem over here, I won't have to deal with anyone other than Starpower for my communication needs. This is the type of thing that needs to happen elsewhere, and maybe the ACLU can help get some ignorant congress-person to pass some laws that help broadband/cable competitors get running and profitable.

ACLU and the Internet (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926155)



If the ACLU is so concerned about the "freedom" of the Net, and if ACLU think that the broadband providers are a threat to the "freedom", well ...

As the adage goes - If you can't beat 'em, join 'em !

The sure win-win-win way for the ACLU and "freedom-of-the-net" and broadband net access is for ACLU to provide broadband net access to the public !

That way, ACLU will make sure that FREEDOM survives on the net, while people will continue to enjoy the broad bandwidth, and ACLU will become an organization which no longer needs to raise funds to fight for freedom - because THEY ARE THE PROVIDER OF FREEDOM on the net !

Re:ACLU and the Internet (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926161)

Damn, that's not bad. I'd be a customer, provided I could afford it. (Price could be higher, but not by a factor of 10 or anything.) Imagine how unlikely they would be to cave to DMCA "take-down" notifications (at least they'd probably give you a chance to counter-notify before shutting you off) and questionable subpoenas :).

that is impossible (3, Informative)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926179)

how do you suppose that will happen?

thanks to the fcc the telcos can now exclude competitors from their hubs. The cable companies will never let a competitor on their cable. The cable networks were created with large government subsidies and such subsidies will not come for a duplicate cable network.

This government of ours has ensured that telcos and cable companies will have a monopoly on broadband for a loong time.

Slashdot Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926266)

The bright orange banner ad at the top of this page when I loaded it says "Telephone Monopoly is Out!". Now that is what I call irony.

Not to Worry.. Americans. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926170)

I don't think people in the United States have much to worry about. If one shady broadband provider begins to censor content there will always be an alternative solution available to you that does not practice business the same way. If you don't think there will be, have a little faith in the marketplace.

It's places like Canada that need to be concerned. For example. in Western Canada there is only -one- Cable provider and -one- Telco. Granted there are different services providers for DSL, in the end they are all controlled by the telco, each provider simply offers different services with the same DSL packages.

If they start to change accessibility and content to suit their bottom line, those people will have no where to turn. Gotta love government endorsed monopolies eh?

One Cable Provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926451)

At least you folks out west have the better one (Shaw). Count your blessings. Where I live in the 'middle-east', we used to have Shaw until the 'big sawp'. Now we're stuck with the Canadian Evil Empire Builders (rhymes with Dodgers). Trust me, you guys are better off.

My Providor Blocks Sites (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926185)

I used to think /.ers were just being paranoid about this kinda stuff untill I realized that my DSL providor, Bellsouth, was blocking access to biz.yahoo.com and comments.fuckedcompany.com. They do this by not resolving (or somehow blocking the resolving of) these hosts. When I put them in my hosts file they started working again.

Mike

Re:My Providor Blocks Sites (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926340)

If that was happening, it would be better known. What's the IP address of your provider's DNS server, so we can check?

You may have a local problem, like junk in your local DNS cache. Also check for any adware/spyware on your local machine that inserts itself into the TCP/IP stack, like Web3000. Use AdAware to look for such crap. Also turn off any "keyword" type browser features.

Re:My Providor Blocks Sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926436)

works for me.
from raleigh nc

Re:My Providor Blocks Sites (2)

thales (32660) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926497)

Funny, I just accessed Both sites with a Bellsouth DSL account.

The problem seems to be on your end.

Summary is deceptive (5, Informative)

waytoomuchcoffee (263275) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926189)

The ACLU did NOT state that "broadband access is a threat to internet freedom". This is a study on the problem of broadband monopolies being created in the cable market only, due to common carrier restrictions.

Re:Summary is deceptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926380)

Correct, they don't say that broadband access is inherently a threat to internet freedom. Rather,
(a) broadband access is a threat to internet freedom if both broadband access might remain without regulation or competition and broadband access will become the dominant means of internet access;
(b) broadband access might remain without regulation or competition and broadband access will become the moninant means of internet access;
so therefore broadband access is a threat to internet freedom.
The gist of the article is the elaboration and defense of the conditional claim, and the upshot is a call to arms to prevent the truth of the antecedent of the conditional, in particular the conjunct stating that broadband access might remain without regulation or competition.

Re:Summary is deceptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926534)

Summary is also typical of /. posts.

*places firewood around himself*

Jesse... (1, Funny)

NoFX (231408) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926208)

Does this mean we're gonna see JESSE JACKSON on TV screaming about the man running his broadband? God I hope so.. can't get enough of that guy!!!

Re:Jesse... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926227)

Only if he can figure out a way to shake down the broadband providers for a few hundred million.

Else he'll be nowhere to be found.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926259)

this mofo funny!

Jessee hiJackson - HiJacking a corporation near you for keeping his people down. Next he will be hiJacksoning the broadband providers.

Jessee had vision once, now he is out of touch. Maybe he can counsel others on the benefits of marital fidelity.

Re:Jesse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926439)

Jesse Jackson is sooooo last century. Look for Al Sharpton at a protest near you.

i hope so (2)

akb (39826) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926519)

The odds that this subject will make it onto TV at all are slim. The odds that they would interview anyone who would advocate for the position espoused by the ACLU are remote. I would be shocked if they let Jesse Jackson on because he would say something about media consolidation adverserly effecting minorities, but I would be thrilled if they did.

Take that a step further (1, Troll)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926214)

Justify for me a legal reason for broadband. Within your justification leave out anything dealing with Open Source Software. Because the average home consumer like the average home computer user does not use Open Source OS's or software for the most part. It's a broad generalization I know.

What's left to legally justify broadband? Nothing at all. P2P is the only thing that justifies broadband. If you're not using p2p then you can probably get everything you need from a 56K modem and save yourself some money.

I know that there are media enriched sites and game demos that are rather hefty downloads, but with a little patience the average home user could probably save themselves $30 - $60 by just using a modem. But the average home user loves to load up kazaa and download to their hearts desire. The ability to find any movie, music, program, etc file is what the average home user finds as the coolest thing. Thanks to p2p you can now download just about anything you want to download.

It's a catch 22 of mass proportions for ISP's. They want to advertise blazing fast downloads, but they also want to stay in business with as few lawsuits as possible. They aren't censoring information. They are making p2p applications stop working because that's what 99% of the bandwidth for broandband is used for. Cable modems unlike DSL rely on neighborhoods of networks to share bandwidth, if little jimmy 13 year old is constantly downloading full length movies at 900 k/s then that neighborhoods bandwidth is shot.

What's next are we going to go after the department of transportation because they have speed limits up and don't let me drive my porsche as fast as it can go? Blocking p2p is something that I would look for in a broadband company so that I would know that I can have fast downloads. I download OSS software and SDK's all the time that range anywhere from 10megs to 2 gigs. Do you really think I want a 5 k/s download with files that large? Nope, hence why I like blocking p2p.

Everyone who claims that p2p is a right of freedom is the same type of moron that believes handguns are a security device. This is not a violation of America's civil rights and quite frankly I'm getting a little tired of the ACLU always thinking that there is something wrong. Do any of these radical groups ever think that they've won, that the battle is over, that it might be okay to shut the hell up and let people live peacefully.

To those wanting to respond, remember everyone is wrong in someones eyes.

Re:Take that a step further (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926229)

Idiot, most broadband ISP's cap off the bandwidth that any one user can get. If not, they set up the system such that local bandwidth is alotted equally when several people are requesting it. Thus, the "bandwidth hog" issue is IRRELEVANT.

Re:Take that a step further (-1)

Whardie Jones (557451) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926232)

Hey idiot, guns are a legitimate means to self defense. In case you don't realize donut eating cops always come after the crime has been commited fool. And if the criminal has a gun you can bet the cop will be ducking behind the police car while you're dumbass gets shot. Anyway, internet access is what you pay for and you should be able to do whatever you want with it.

Re:Take that a step further (2)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926240)

Nobody said anything about p2p, and nobody has to justify anything to you.

The reason we call them "rights" is because they are not open to discussion. I am free to express myself, and it is not OK for people to deny me that right. Doesn't matter if I'm using my broadband account to host my little web page, or to play Quake...you don't get to decide what I do.

And as far as your codicil that everyone is wrong in someone's eyes, I guess you must be right...cuz you sure are wrong about everything else.

Re:Take that a step further (2)

realgone (147744) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926249)

What's left to legally justify broadband? Nothing at all.

Hmmm... let's see. Gaming? Work? (I'm a designer and regularly transfer large Photoshop/Illustrator files.) Obnoxiously large Flash sites? And lest we forget, the hallowed halls of pr0n. (Or so I've heard.... *cough*)

Should I keep going here? There's a lot more to the high-bandwidth than P2P leeching, despite what the front page of most news sites would have you believe.

Re:Take that a step further (3, Interesting)

ForceOfWill (79529) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926272)

What's left to legally justify broadband? Nothing at all. P2P is the only thing that justifies broadband.
P2P itself, AFAIK, is not illegal, as you imply here.
with a little patience the average home user could probably save themselves $30 - $60 by just using a modem
To paraphrase a quote about linux, a 56k modem is only cheap if your time is worthless.

Re:Take that a step further (3, Interesting)

J. J. Ramsey (658) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926286)

"What's left to legally justify broadband?"

What about Windows Update? What about the free Personal Learning Edition of Maya (an over 100 MB download), or Gmax (21.4 MB just for the installer, and 15.20 MB for the help files)?

Agree 100% about guns. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926291)

The 2nd amendment means that the government has the right to own guns, not the people. The Brady law, assault weapons ban, bans on machineguns, and other policies are a requirement of a free society. People have the right to feel secure. These pro-gun "libertarian" nutcases need to be put in prison for life.

Re:Agree 100% about guns. (1)

Noexit (107629) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926428)

You're wrong. Not once has the Supreme Court ruled that "people" in the 2nd Ammendment refers to the government. Time and again they have upheld that it has the same meaning as "people" in all other ammendments, especially the 1st, to mean the citizenry, the individual.

Re:Take that a step further (0)

NoFX (231408) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926315)

What's left to legally justify broadband? Nothing at all.

You forget high speed access to porn... Don't try to deny it.. we all know you do... we do too..

Re:Take that a step further (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926379)

"Blocking p2p is something that I would look for in a broadband company so that I would know that I can have fast downloads."
versus

" P2P is the only thing that justifies broadband. If you're not using p2p then you can probably get everything you need from a 56K modem and save yourself some money."

OK, so you're a troll, but since this argument gets made even by evident non-trolls, here is a non-comprehensive but adequate response.

- To me (and to many other people I've mentioned this to), the real point of DSL / cable / Merlin / (whatever kind of connection is next) is *not* the high bandwidth. It's that it's always on. The bother of connecting multiple times a day to see if new email has arrived, or to check the local weather forecast, to read a friend's journal or whatever else, is sufficient to discourage doing these things.

Would you argue that a walkie talkie turned on for part of the day was as good as dialtone service?

- Open source or not, there is plenty of stuff online to read, view, listen to, or modify. Always-on connections let people do more and more creative things with their connections than shifting & temporary connections do. (Run a web page about family history, a neighborhood bulletin board, recordings of the family prodigy playing tuba, whatever). You don't have to do those things or like them, and no one can make you, but why impose such a narrow view on other people?

- whether something is "peer to peer" has nothing to do with whether the content violates copyright law. It's true that p2p applications take bandwidth, and that cable providers for instance should be both more honest and more realistic in their service provisions. My neighborhood cable loop is farly quiet, which is nice for downloading ISOs - but that seems to be mostly luck. I ordered on the phone and paid technicians; I have never seen a user guide, documentation, EULA or ToS so much as mentioning what I can do with the connection. I'm not particulary interested in downloading music off the p2p services, though, so I don't.

And handguns are a security device, among other things.

timothy

Re:Take that a step further (1)

teetam (584150) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926448)

For me the biggest reason for broadband is that it doesn't block my phone line.

As far as the speed limit is concerned, there is a speed limit for files that are transferred out of your computer. Since the download speed you get in a P2P system depends on the upload speed of someone else, little Jimmy must be very lucky indeed!!!

Your analogy with the highway system is flawed. Let us say you live in some part of the country where the traffic is very heavy and it takes you a long time to reach anywhere. Then, another private company comes along with its own highway and lures you with the promise of a speed-limitless highway autobahn. Then, it adds speed bumps all over the highway because it doesn't want you going fast. That would be a better analogy.

It still wouldn't be perfect because accessing the Net at high speed doesn't kill anyone else.

Re:Take that a step further (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926502)


Since when does broadband -- or any other product -- need legal justification to exist? Certain products may be restricted due to public-safety concerns (things like guns, radioactive compounds, etc.), but none require "legal justification" to exist, to be created, to be sold, etc.

You ask what's wrong with the ACLU. They start from the premise that we live in a free country and have rights and freedoms.

What's wrong with you? You're assume that the government must provide sanction to citizens for them do do something -- in this case, sell and buy broadband internet connectivity. That's backwards. Citizens give sanction to government. At least, in free societies, they do.

It really sounds like you want to shove people down to slower, less useful connections so that your connection is more useful to you, and you're not shy about using the government to that end.

Re:Take that a step further (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926527)

Hey idiot, guns are a legitimate means to self defense. In case you don't realize donut eating cops always come after the crime has been commited fool. And if the criminal has a gun you can bet the cop will be ducking behind the police car while you're dumbass gets shot. Anyway, internet access is what you pay for and you should be able to do whatever you want with it.

Broadband is the wrong focus... (4, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926241)

Try it this way instead...
Monopolies are a threat to freedom.
Said that way, it seems too obvious to be worth a story, I guess. But monopolies are a threat to freedom wherever they are allowed to exist. That is why they need to be strongly regulated. And who is it that does the regulating? Why the organazition that has a monopoly on the use of force and coercion (the government).

Just because you don't see a good alternative to something, doesn't make it a good thing. Monopolies are inherrently dangerous. Every monopoly is a threat to freedom. Some monopolies push this aggressively, and others don't, but threat analysis isn't about how some group wants to act, it's about how they can act. And even a benign monopoly is subject to a change in policy.

Broadband is easier to monopolize than dial-up. That's because the ISP and the bandwidth provider are either the same company, or are tighly linked together (with the bandwidth provider usually being the dominant party). Dial-up monopolization involves the phone compnay, and the phone companies are closely regulated to prevent the accumulation of tie-in monopolies. So AT&T dial-up can't keep out Earthlink, and it also can't keep out your neighborhood ISP. But AT&T broadband can. That's the way the regulators have set things up, and we know that we can trust them to do what's best for us.

Ahem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926255)

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alarmist (1)

pmineiro (556272) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926256)

All of the points discussed in the article (basic control of the service, control over applications, access to content, and privacy violation) can be dealt with by technical means. IP masquerading, IP tunneling, and IPsec are all relevant.

What about the unwasted technophobic masses? Well, IP masquerading turnkey solid-state boxes already exist for people to hook up multiple computers to a cable modem. If the other stuff becomes a problem that people care about, turnkey IP tunneling / IPsec solutions will proliferate too. Or, people will choose a different broadband technology/provider.

I like the ACLU, contribute $$$ to them regularly, and I think especially in today's environment they are critical to the preservation of the american way of life. But, IMHO, this is a total dumb nonissue that I wish they wouldn't waste their time on.

-- p

Re:alarmist (1)

pmineiro (556272) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926261)

unwasted technophobic masses

well, typo, i meant "unwashed", but actually i think this reads better :)

-- p

Corporate takeover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926257)

The internet is already taken over by corporate interests. The problem is that it has gone so far that corporations are annexing it and marking the turf. This inevitably leads to legislation in favor of corporate interests. THAT is what we should be afraid of. And THAT is what the ACLU should focus on.

If AT&T Broadband chooses to do something like block websites, well, the customer can always sign up with somebody else. Attacking the corporations will only cause them to get mad and hit their elected representatives for legislative action.

Indeed it is a shame, but it's all about the buck these days. The problem is that it's us against them. Only "we" don't stick together enough to hurt them. That's why they get away with this crap.

I have two choices.... (4, Interesting)

H3XA (590662) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926279)

... broadband in China or broadband in Australia

*** CHINA ***
Broadband is taking off in the country. It is fast, cheap, unlimited downloads but government controlled firewall to prevent access to certain sites which is partially meant to prevent "freedom of speech" from what is seen as "troublemakers" or political dissidents. Internet access is also monitored without the user's knowledge as part of this prevention.

*** AUSTRALIA ***
Broadband access is being "withheld"... you are lucky if you can even get broadband as it covers a very limited geographic area in the more densely populated areas of Australia. When you can get it, it is expensive and download capped with the excess usage being even more expensive. No nationwide firewall but government want ISPs to be more proactive in filtering porn and other "unsavoury" content. Still means you can access almost anything that you want without being blocked access.

Both countries have a main, large telecommunications company that controls most access within the country. Australia seems to have more competition but a less "lucrative" population base to get revenue from. Australia doesn't stack people on top of each other which means more infrastructure outlay needed for a similar amount of revenue back.

Once you experience broadband.... you never want to go back. With all the "problems" of Chinese internet.... I would much rather have this fast, cheap access. I don't do anything online that causes the Chinese government alarm.... "freedom of speech" controls have no relevance to me.

- HeXa

The study fails to address Internet freedom (2, Insightful)

LordWoody (187919) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926289)

For a study that is supposed to address the concept of Internet freedom, it appears only to address the poor quality of cable Internet access. It addresses the issue as if cable were the only way to get online. Obviously it is not. I am all for everybody having cheap "high speed" Internet access, but the reality is that Internet freedom is more under threat from governments using laws like the DMCA to restrict speech, expression and innovation and rullings that say linking to controversial content can be illegal.

Technically speaking freedom exists to use the Internet any way you choose. If your cable provider sucks, get DSL, if DSL is not available, get a dial-up, and if your dial-up ISP sucks, there are many more to choose from. You can always make a long distance call if both the national and local providers offer restrictive service. Sometimes the level of freedom you desire comes at a price.

This study should be titled something to the effect of "The Poor State of Cable Internet Access" as that is all it seems to address and not the real reason freedom on the Internet is really being threatened. This kind of mis-titling cheapens the issue of Internet freedom while simply restating what we already know about the horrible service provided by many (most?) cable companies.

I am truly disappointed.

Re:The study fails to address Internet freedom (1)

teetam (584150) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926490)

The word "freedom" is relevant here because of the way the broadband service providers' monopolies restrict our freedom of choice.

In the absence of competition, these companies tend to employ draconian measures to control the end users rather than improve their service.

Imagine if you could buy your car from only one monopoly in your city. Would they offer you a good service? Will there be an incentive for them to come up with better models? Will you then say - "If your available car isn't good enough, walk to work everyday"? I doubt it.

I'm From Tacoma (2, Interesting)

medeii (472309) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926301)

... and as the article says, I pay about $30 a month (plus $5 for a static IP, which AT&T won't let you buy) for cable service. I get 2mpbs down, 256kbps up.

My friend, who lives about 15 miles away in the nearby city of Lakewood, has two choices: Qwest DSL, or AT&T cable. The cable option (which is the lesser of two evils, trust me) is 1.5mpbs down, and 128kbps up, for $42 a month. It used to be 256kpbs down, until last month, when they dropped it in favor of having "comparable rates" across the country.

I've had a lot of people ask me why I like Tacoma as opposed to Seattle. Besides the decreased traffic and the near-ubiquitous availablility of parking (I'm sorry, but I've got something against paying for uncovered parking!), there's just the broadband. Click is the *only* provider in the area that doesn't charge obscene rates for access through their ISPs, they're the only one that allows me a static IP address on consumer-level pricing, and they're the only ones who don't care if I run a server (provided I don't eat up insane amounts of traffic, of course.) I host three low-traffic URLs on my server, and I've never had a complaint from them-- whereas my friend got a nasty e-mail from AT&T the day after he installed Apache.

As a side note, the service is stellar. I've only had one unplanned (meaning I didn't hear about it before) outage in nearly eight months, it lasted less than three hours, and I only had to reboot my cable modem before everything was back online. Installation was totally free. And I get a discounted rate for paying a year in advance.

IMHO, Tacoma is no better case study to see how much of a monopoly cable services have over broadband. The price and quality differences are just insane.

No Freedom? (2)

thales (32660) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926329)

The report's assertation that Cable companies are a threat to freedom of speech is absurd. It's the same tired old BS as "There is no freedom of the Press because everybody dosen't own a printing press", or freedom of speech because everybody dosen't own a TV or Radio station.

Freedom of speech or the press only means one thing, that the government can't stop you from speaking or publishing. It dosen't mean that you have a right to force others to provide you with a Printing Press, or a TV station, or a Broadband connection.

Re:No Freedom? (2)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926371)

there is a difference between "providing every one broadband" and not cencoring the broadband people are already buying.

Re:No Freedom? (2)

thales (32660) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926476)

Censorship is government action to forbid you from publishing or speaking on Any outlet. Editorial control is exercising control over a single area that you own. If the Newspaper dosen't print you letter to the editor that is Editorial control. If A TV Station dosen't grant you airtime on a community forum that is editorial control. If the cable company dosen't allow a certain use of the servers that they own that is exercising editorial control and is no different than the actions of the Newspaper or the TV station. Buying a Newspaper dosen't give you the right to exercise Editorial control over it's pages. Why would buying bandwidth give you editorial control over the cable companies servers?

Re:No Freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3926494)

Bought internet acess I want IP tone. Like dial tone when you pick up the phone where you can call anyone and say anything and the phone company is not in the business of policing you. That is I just want internet connectivity. No bundled services no selective connectivity, no port blocking.

What gives cable companies the right to offer selective IP connectivity? if there are only two broadbband providers in town an neither actually offer IP tone, both block similar sites and don't allow me to publish a web site on my own server how is that editorial control? I don't work for them. they arn't my fucking editor. where do they get off?

Re:No Freedom? (2)

thales (32660) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926523)

An AC wrote:
"What gives cable companies the right to offer selective IP connectivity? if there are only two broadbband providers in town an neither actually offer IP tone, both block similar sites and don't allow me to publish a web site on my own server how is that editorial control? I don't work for them. they arn't my fucking editor. where do they get off?"

Ownership of the servers that you are connecting to gives them the right of editorial control. Not working for the newspaper dosen't mean they can't exercise editorial control over the letter to the editor you send to be printed on their presses.

If you don't like it, then bypass them by hooking your webserver up directly to the internet.

I am a card carrying member of the ACLU (1, Insightful)

mrseth (69273) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926418)

But their idea that "The Government Must Act to Protect the Internet" is just not going to happen. Especially under George II's reign. If anything, the government has gone out of its way to *ruin* the internet starting with the '96 Telecommunications Act, which also encapsulated (IIRC) the CDA. Then they passed the DMCA, COPA and now they want to force DRM down our throats. This congress and this administration is, in large part, squarely in the pockets of the large corps. I wonder if we could get Rick Boucher (D., Va.) to run for president in 2004? I have reviewed his voting record and he has a perfect civil liberties score AND he is entirely against all the above silliness.

It's a good thing that the Bill of Rights was passed when it did. Now it wouldn't even make it out of committee...

Freedom? (2, Flamebait)

dada21 (163177) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926474)

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantees us freedom from government trampling on our rights.

Individuals, corporations, etc have the freedom to do what they please to do, and the market and consumers will decide if they can deal with those issues.

The ACLU are a bunch of morons, all they do is advance socialists race-balancing theories, not protect freedom.

The only organization that actually DEFENDS freedom is the Institute for Justice [ij.org].

Argh.

The almighty buck. (2)

be-fan (61476) | more than 11 years ago | (#3926493)

I think that companies have to get one thing into their head. The internet is not the next big place to make money. The internet is the equivilent of a phone, paper mail, and a library, all of which are extremely personal and non-commercial. I really don't think that people want corporate interests to pervade every aspect of their lives. At some point, people's interest in keeping a vital economy and strong commercial sector have to come to a balance with people's interest in maintaining perspective and sanity. The current situation on the Internet is ridiculous. It is so overly commercialized that what once had the promise to become a powerful medium of information exchange has increasingly become a method for corporations to make money, just like T.V. and mass-market clothing and movies. I'm not saying we should all be communist and kill those evil corporations. All I'm asking for is for people to realize that maybe the current value of the NASDAQ isn't the most important thing in the world, and that keeping corporate America in a constant state of growth does not take precedence to maintaining peoples' quality of life.
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