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First POST: Nerds Biting Back

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, May 12 2014

Nerds Biting Back

  • The net neutrality debate is shifting fast. Late Friday, Mike Masnick of TechDirt wrote that it was significant that the FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, in a written reply to leaders of last week's tech industry letter to the agency, was now saying that this week's vote of the commission will include a request for public comment on whether the Title II of the Telecommunications Act should be invoked to reclassify broadband service.

  • According to Gautham Nagesh's story in Sunday's Wall Street Journal, Wheeler is revising his planned rulemaking draft with more language promising to prevent broadband providers from slowing down their services to customers, while still allowing paid prioritization deals.

  • Also in the Journal, Tim Wu and Berin Szoka debate whether there's real competition in the broadband marketplace.

  • Refresher course: Stanford Law professor Barbara Van Schewick's Atlantic essay on "The case for rebooting the network neutrality debate." By the way, she notes, in a blog post early this morning, that Chairman Wheeler's "revised" proposal "hasn't really changed" in that it still allows "pay to play access fees."

  • New York Times media columnist David Carr predicts that "SOPA II: When Nerds Bite Back," is about to play if the FCC moves forward with Wheeler's proposal to allow paid prioritization and the effective legitimation of a two-tiered Internet. He writes:

    The public has an expectation that the web will work like other utilities: When people turn on a light switch, the room lights up, and when they twist a faucet handle, water comes out. People expect the Internet to operate the same way — always on, always working. We don’t want two Internets — a good one and a bad. We want the money and investment to flow toward a single infrastructure that works rapidly and efficiently, as it does in so many other countries. It should be a medium in which videos of your niece dancing to Beyoncé, streaming coverage of Occupy Wall Street and “House of Cards” all play smoothly when you hit a button.

  • This long NYTimes profile of Tim Wu, the inventor of the term "net neutrality" is worth the read.

  • This advance extract from Glenn Greenwald's new book No Place to Hide describes the day Edward Snowden slipped out of his Hong Kong hotel and went into hiding, with the help of two local human rights lawyers.

  • In the New York Review of Books, David Cole parses what's good about--and what's missing from--the version of the USA Freedom Act that just was adopted 32-0 by the House Judiciary Committee.

  • The pioneering work of the FLOK Society (FLOK=free, libre, open knowledge) to help the Government of Ecuador develop a policy framework to transition to a commons-based peer production economy is starting to bear fruit, writes David Bollier. He says, "It points to a bracingly different vision of how networked digital technologies and open knowledge could produce a better, more equitable society."

  • Catherine Bracy, Code for America's director of community organizing did a reddit AMA on Friday.

  • On the New York Times op-ed page, Gal Beckerman argues that, with Vladimir Putin cracking down on online expression, Russian democracy activists should turn to a new form of "samizdat" using encryption and virtual private networks.

  • Lawrence Lessig's MayDayPac is 88% of its way to its first million in pledges. For "super-secret reasons," he writes, "I REALLY want us to cross [the million threshold] by Tuesday, before 5:30pm."

  • Kristen Meriwether of Gotham Gazette explains how a new system for open freedom-of-information requests will work, under a plan pushed by digitally-savvy city councilor Ben Kallos, chair of the government operations committee.

  • Elections + Dating = Politinder. Unfortunately, only good for European elections.

  • Speaking of which, here's Ben Jones of TorrentFreak's guide to the Pirate Parties running across the Continent.