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First POST: Wheeler Dealer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 24 2014

Wheeler Dealer

  • The Brazilian Congress just passed legislation guaranteeing equal access to the Internet.

  • The FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is reportedly proposing new rules allowing internet service providers to charge companies for preferential treatment for fast-lane service over the public Internet. Net neutrality advocates like Free Press and Public Knowledge fear this will end equal access to the Internet.

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says "there's been no turnaround in policy" and reports that the agency is "gutting" the Open Internet rule are "flat out wrong."

  • Instead, the FCC is saying that under the proposed new rules, "broadband providers would need to act in a commercially reasonable manner subject to review on a case-by-case basis." In a statement issued to Mashable, the agency said the rules would propose "that broadband providers would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers, along with the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers."

  • Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm writes, "The FCC should man up and say exactly what it is doing here: It is implementing a double-sided market for the internet that could allow businesses to enter into commercial relationships with ISPs — who do not operate in a competitive market in the U.S. — for faster delivery of their content. And because capacity on broadband networks is limited, the flip side is that companies that don’t pay will see their content delivered more slowly."

  • Mike Masnick points out that FCC chair Wheeler was previously the head of the cable industry and mobile phone industry's two top lobby groups, which are themselves now run by for FCC top officials. "They're playing a game of musical chairs where no one is ever removed…and they all get fabulously wealthy scratching each other's backs," he writes.

  • Speaking of how we define what is "commercially reasonable," Daniel Denvir rakes up the seamy underside of Philadelphia, also known as "Comcast Country," in a New York Times op-ed. The company, which is on the verge of dominating the US broadband market and is one of the US's top political donors, gets tens of millions in public tax subsidies while providing consistently poor but expensive cable and Internet service to two million area customers, who have been blocked from taking class-action for relief.

  • Don't miss this techPres guest post from Alejandro Alves: "After the #myNYPD 'Bash Tag' How and Why Police Should Continue to Engage Online."

  • In Politico, Kenneth Vogel goes behind the scenes on next week's meeting of the Democracy Alliance, which he describes "a secretive club of wealthy liberals that's the closest thing the left has to the vaunted Koch brothers' political network." That description would be fair, in the sense that Mars is the "closest thing" to Jupiter.

  • Matt Stoller points out that "America is Not an Oligarchy," in that "citizens can matter, but only if they make themselves matter." Amen to that.

  • Chastened by the Heartbleed bug, tech giants are finally stepping up to pledge millions in funding to the open source software community, working with the Linux Foundation, Jon Brodkin of ArsTechnica reports.

  • The Justice Department has filed a brief before the Supreme Court arguing for the right to warrantlessly search cellphones upon the arrest of suspects, Andy Greenberg reports for Wired. Ironically, he notes, many top law enforcement officials are also currently supporting Sen. Amy Klobuchar's bill requiring that smartphones come with kill switches allowing consumers to remotely wipe their phones clean if they are stolen.

  • As many suspected, FBI informant Hector Xavier Monsegur (aka "Sabu") "coordinated hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites" while working for the FBI, suggesting that he was being used to aid other US intelligence agencies, Mark Mazzetti reports for the New York Times.

  • In the Guardian, the EFF's Jillian York traces the long history of anti-censorship protests fostered by the Internet, arguing that global solidarity is rising.

  • Pavel Durov, the deposed founder of Russia's VKontakte social network, is looking for a new country to settle his Telegram developer team in. As he writes on his Facebook page, "To give you an idea of our preferences, we dislike bureaucracy, police states, big governments, wars, socialism and excessive regulation. We like freedoms, strong judicial systems, small governments, free markets, neutrality and civil rights."

  • The entire country of Denmark is now reproduced as a virtual world, in a 1:1 ratio, inside Minecraft. Jorge Luis Borges would rejoice.

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