On the political
I’m in favor of net neutrality for a lot of reasons; a personal reason is that I rely on fair and open transport of my bits to work overseas. If you happen to find this little screed, you can also thank net neutrality for doing so as any argument for neutrality will likely be made unavailable by the ISPs that should charge exorbitant rents for their natural monopolies and would be remiss in their fiduciary responsibility should they fail to take every possible step to maximize shareholder value, for example by permitting their customers access to arguments contrary to their financial or political interests.
I sent the following to the FCC 5. I am not, I’m sorry to say, optimistic.
Please protect Net Neutrality. It is essential to my ability to operate in Iraq, where I run a technical security business that relies on access to servers and services in the United States. If access to those services becomes subject to a maze of tiered access limitations and tariffs, rather than being treated universally as flat rate data, my business may become untenable unless I move my base of operations to a net neutrality-respecting jurisdiction. The FCC is, at the moment, the only bulwark against a balkanization of data and the collapse of the value premise of the Internet.
While I understand and am sympathetic to both a premise that less government regulation is better in principal and that less regulated markets can be more efficient; this “invisible hand” only works to the benefit in a “well regulated market.” There are significant cases where market forces cannot be beneficial, for example, where the fiduciary responsibility of a company to maximize share-holder value compels exploitation of monopoly rents to the fullest extent permitted by law and, where natural monopolies exist, only regulation prevents those rents from becoming abusive. Delivery of data services is a clear example of one such case, both due to the intrinsic monopoly of physical deployment of services through public resources and due to inherent opportunities to exert market distorting biases into those services to promote self-beneficial products and inhibit competition. That this might happen is not idle speculation: network services companies have routinely attempted to unfairly exploit their positions to their benefit and to the harm of fair and open competition and in many cases were restrained only by existing net neutrality laws that the FCC is currently considering rescinding. The consequences of rescinding net neutrality will be anti-competitive, anti-productive, and will stifle innovation and economic growth.
While it is obvious and inevitable that network companies will abuse their natural monopolies to stifle competition, as they have attempted many times restrained only by previous FCC enforcement of the principal of net neutrality, rescinding net neutrality also poses a direct risk to the validity of democracy. While one can argue that Facebook has already compromised democracy by becoming the world’s largest provider of news through an extraordinarily easily manipulated content delivery mechanism, there’s no evidence that they have yet exploited this to achieve any particular political end nor actively censored criticism of their practices. However, without net neutrality there is no legal protection to inhibit carriers from exploiting their control over content delivery to promote their corporate or political interests while censoring embarrassing or opposing information. As the vast majority of Americans now get their news from on-line resources, control over the delivery of those resources becomes an extraordinarily powerful political weapon; without net neutrality it is perfectly legal for corporations to get “their hands on those weapons” and deploy them against their economic and political adversaries.
Under an implicit doctrine of net neutrality from a naive, but then technically accurate, concept of the internet as a packet network that would survive a nuclear war and that would treat censorship as “damage” and “route around it automatically,” to 2005’s Madison River ruling, to the 2008 Comcast ruling, to 2010’s Open Internet Order the internet has flourished as an open network delivering innovative services and resources that all businesses have come to rely on fairly and equally. Overturning that historical doctrine will result in a digital communications landscape in the US that resembles AT&Ts pre-breakup telephone service: you will be permitted to buy only the services that your ISP deems most profitable to themselves. In the long run, if net neutrality is not protected, one can expect the innovation that has centered in the US since the birth of the internet, which some of us remember as the government sponsored innovation ARPAnet, to migrate to less corporatist climates, such as Europe, where net neutrality is enshrined in law.
The American people are counting on you to protect us from such a catastrophic outcome.
Do not reverse the 2015 Open Internet Order.
Yes, how could you not be sure that when somebody offers to host your personal data for free on their servers that nothing could possib-lie go wrong. Uh, PossibLY go wrong.
I’m not sure who decides what apps are blocked on a country by country basis, but an awful lot of apps are blocked in Iraq and it seems like more and more.
OTT apps like Whatsapp and Viber sort of make sense. These apps are at war with the carriers, who claim the app is making money somehow on the backs of the carriers*, and they seem to be largely blocked from install in Iraq. One would imagine that was Asiacell’s doing, but I changed SIMs and that didn’t help.
But then I noticed that weird apps like Angry Birds are not allowed in Iraq—apps that makes no sense for a carrier to block. The advertising model actually works and ad-supported apps show (some) relevant, regional ads, as they should, in theory generating at least some revenue for the developers. Part of the problem may be that there’s no way for in-app payments to be processed out of Iraq and therefore developers of even “freemium” apps may choose to block their apps in the country reasoning that if they can’t make money, why let people use the app?
If so, it seems short sighted: ultimately payment processing will be worked out and even if it isn’t, Iraqis are allowed to travel to countries where in-app payments do work. Establishing a beachhead in the market, even without revenue seems prudent. Blocking users who represent neither revenue nor cost seems arbitrarily punitive.
* The carrier’s business should be to transport bits agnostically. They have no business caring what we do with our bits; no bit costs more than any other bit to carry. If they can’t figure out how to make money carrying bits, they have no business being in the bit carrying business. When they whine about a business like WhatsApp or Viber or Free Conference Call or Skype or Google hurting their profits what they really mean is that these new businesses have obviated a parasitic business that was profitable due to a de facto monopoly over what people could do with their bit carrying business.
In 1998 I gave a talk at DefCon 6 titled “Copyright vs. Free Speech,” the gist of which was that in order to protect the profits of the publishing industry in the face of technology which obsoleted centralized publishing, publishers had begun to buy from congress increasingly draconian legislation to protect their obsolete business model.
They have been patient and effective, implementing a long-term program of carefully designed disinformation to turn an effective method of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts into a weapon to aid extorting profit from the people’s commons.
Due to the success of their propaganda campaigns, it bears repeating that authors have no right to profit from their works. They do not “own” ideas. They, nor their assignees, have any right to control the reproduction, reuse, or dissemination of ideas and inventions once they’ve chosen to make them public. We the people have chosen to gift them with a temporary monopoly on commercial exploitation of their inventions as a mechanism the founding fathers thought would serve to maximize the availability of freely usable ideas in the public domain; that is, to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. A premise they have utterly perverted.
Any law which expands copyright steals from the public domain and gives exclusive right to commercial exploitation to the beneficiary. The copyright industry has been incredibly successful in bribing politicians into allowing them to graze their cattle in our public parks without any additional compensation to the public. Indeed, new copyright laws don’t even pay lip service to the public good and focus entirely on maximizing profits at the expense of the public domain. These legislative disasters are prima facia unconstitutional.
A new agreement, endorsed by the White House, effectively implements the dystopian warnings I gave in my 1998 talk: ISPs will begin to directly enforce copyright, acting as the muscle for the new business model the copyright industry has turned to now that publishing is obsolete: direct shakedowns.
It was clear in 1998 that if our economy was turning to the then touted model of an “information economy” (and not making things) it would become necessary to police the flow of information to block the unauthorized exchanges of ideas lest someone freely share an idea for which a private entity has been granted a monopoly and undermine the profitability of the imaginary economy.
Aside from the loss of privacy and retarding progress and the useful arts, a problematic consequence of the monitoring necessary to ensure the exchange of ideas is taxed is that citizens must always be monitored, and now directly and intrusively by their ISPs. Monitoring has a chilling effect on free speech as people are naturally disinclined to openly dissent, to only speak privately of ideas that challenge entrenched interests. Intrusive monitoring is an effective tool of totalitarianism by destroying the privacy in which informed dissent grows strong enough to overcome the entrenched.
There is no practical way to implement an effective monopoly enforcement scheme at the ISP level without active monitoring of every digital interaction, from every website visited to every message exchanged, lest one hide a privatized bit. ISP monitoring undermines the foundations of democracy, at least the significant portion which has migrated to digital forums. This is a massive implementation of the same monitoring technology and concepts used in Syria and China to control dissidents, applied here merely to further enrich a few petty plutocrats.
While David Pogue’s opinion piece “Put Down the Pitchforks” makes a valid point about the alliance of varied views on the utility and validity of copyright that have come together to oppose SOPA/PIPA, the differences are more subtle than his language indicates.
Everyone, even those characterized (somewhat fairly) as the “we want our illegal movies” crowd, is horrified that the United States would contemplate outright censorship of the web à la North Korea or Iran, something we actively fight quite vigorously, and with USAID and State Department support, to ensure that dissidents can circumvent similar blocking schemes.
There is no way to fix the language of the bills to rule out those abuses. Universal filling a flagrantly illegal DMCA takedown request with YouTube to censor the MegaUploads advertisement video, the pernicious use of malicious prosecution by the RIAA, and the recent MPAA/Chris Dodd bribery flap all demonstrate incontrovertibly how the entertainment industry has been utterly shameless to date and there is no basis for the belief that they would voluntarily refrain from an aggressive and likely illegal extension of whatever new powers they are offered. If anything, we need stronger legislation to discourage the current abuse of litigation and take-down powers.
Thus everyone, including those that believe that copyright needs to be extended (again, further), recognizes that the premise of SOPA/PIPA—that parts of the international internet have to be blocked in the US—are fundamentally flawed and cannot be repaired.
The differentiation between the “ignorant mechanism” and “ignorant goal” camps is, however, unfairly characterized by Pogue when he draws an analogy to shoplifting. Copyright is not a property right—it is a privilege that is granted by we the people, an exchange where we the people voluntarily relinquish our right to copy, and we gift the inventor with a temporary monopoly as an incentive to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.
It is not “stealing” to copy a movie; it may be illegal, but it is not stealing. There is no legal basis to consider such an act theft—not in natural law, not in “denial of utility.”
“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.”
The basis and purpose of copyright is codified in the constitution: it is an agreement between we the people and inventors to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, it is neither a property right nor a human right. If any copyright legislation fails to advance the cause of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts it is simply prima facia unconstitutional. And not a single extension of copyright law, back to and including the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act, has even bothered to pay lip service to the obligation to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.
The problem is that these bills retard progress by hampering important and economically relevant industries for economically irrelevant ones (regardless of how nostalgic they might be). It is fair, still, to frame copyright protections and copyright modifications with respect to the expected actual net contribution to the progress of science and the useful arts, as the constitution requires. It is unlikely that such an analysis would favor complete abolition of copyright but it is clear that only a mechanism closer to the patent model makes sense: a very limited and carefully regulated temporary monopoly granted to inventors and creators in return for fully contributing their efforts to the public domain promptly thereafter.
(Edited and enhanced by Carolyn Anhalt)
Megaupload, the company that enables easy file transfer used by 50,000,000 people every day, was sized by the DOJ. Check www.megaupload.com
This is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure. It is an example of the scum who run entertainment companies like Universal (who illegally got MegaUpload’s video yanked from youtube by filing a false DMCA takedown) turning US law enforcement and the US judicial system into criminal enforcers to create a business model around theft and intimidation to replace their obsolete and irrelevant role as gate keepers and toll collectors between artists and their audiences.
If SOPA/PIPA pass, links to the sized domain would have to be expunged from any site even talking about them. This is intolerable. It is a subversion of democracy and outright theft of the public domain by those who would retard or even reverse progress to protect their profits and wealth.
The constitution grants the privilege of a temporary copyright to artists and inventors as a mechanism to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Laws that extend this privilege in a manner that fails to promote the progress of science and the useful arts are plainly unconstitutional. Record companies have no natural right to stop you from using your hardware, your devices, to rearrange the bits on your systems in any way you like. They have turned the discussion to claim they have a property right to your data through manipulation and outright lies. The only fair response to their illegal and heinous acts is to revoke their privilege and drive them swiftly into bankruptcy so they no longer have the resources to bribe our representatives into ignoring the constitution.
The DOJ should be using RICO to shut down entertainment companies that use intimidation to protect profits, not innovative companies acting to expand the public domain in a manner clearly consistent with the goals of the framers of the constitution.
If you have ever found the internet useful for anything other than browsing corporate web sites, for example if you’ve ever looked up an independent review or enjoyed a post like this one by anyone at all, then you must contact your representative and insist they reject SOPA and Protect IP.
This act is the most inane, repressive, anti-progress, anti-civil-rights, special interest protecting, bought and paid for legislation I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. Every site that has an opinion that might offend anyone with an in-house lawyer will be erased from the DNS system. The primary opponents of the bill point out that sites like Google and Youtube are targets, but the tactic will not be to strike at targets that can afford lawyers, the tactic will be to wipe out small sites that aren’t generating much revenue first and establish precedent before taking out the big guys. First all the fun sites will go, then youtube, but, hey, you’ll still have Hulu and Microsoft.com.
Anyone who is favorable to this bill does not understand the constitution and is not fit to stand in office. It is an absolute rejection of the constitutional mandate to “promote progress and the useful arts” solely to enable short-term profiteering by absurdly wealthy studio execs.
The bills primary sponsors, Patrick Leahy and Lamar Smith: whatever you can do to get these tools of the studio execs out of office, please do. They’re not from my state, but if they were I’d back anyone who challenged them.
Co spononsors must also be ejected as forcefully as possible.
Sen Alexander, Lamar [TN] – 5/25/2011
Sen Ayotte, Kelly [NH] – 6/27/2011
Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] – 7/25/2011
Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] – 10/19/2011
Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] – 5/12/2011
Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] – 5/23/2011
Sen Boozman, John [AR] – 6/15/2011
Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] – 10/20/2011
Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] – 7/13/2011
Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] – 9/7/2011
Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] – 11/2/2011
Sen Cochran, Thad [MS] – 6/23/2011
Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] – 5/12/2011
Sen Corker, Bob [TN] – 6/9/2011
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 6/30/2011
Sen Enzi, Michael B. [WY] – 9/7/2011
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] – 5/12/2011
Sen Franken, Al [MN] – 5/12/2011
Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] – 5/26/2011
Sen Graham, Lindsey [SC] – 5/12/2011
Sen Grassley, Chuck [IA] – 5/12/2011
Sen Hagan, Kay [NC] – 7/5/2011
Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] – 5/12/2011
Sen Isakson, Johnny [GA] – 11/2/2011
Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] – 10/3/2011
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [MN] – 5/12/2011
Sen Kohl, Herb [WI] – 5/12/2011
Sen Landrieu, Mary L. [LA] – 10/17/2011
Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] – 7/7/2011
Sen McCain, John [AZ] – 7/26/2011
Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] – 10/31/2011
Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] – 9/23/2011
Sen Risch, James E. [ID] – 11/7/2011
Sen Rubio, Marco [FL] – 5/26/2011
Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] – 5/12/2011
Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] – 6/30/2011
Sen Udall, Tom [NM] – 7/7/2011
Sen Vitter, David [LA] – 11/7/2011
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] – 5/12/2011
Rep Amodei, Mark E. [NV-2] – 11/3/2011
Rep Barrow, John [GA-12] – 11/14/2011
Rep Bass, Karen [CA-33] – 11/3/2011
Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] – 10/26/2011
Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] – 10/26/2011
Rep Bono Mack, Mary [CA-45] – 10/26/2011
Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] – 11/3/2011
Rep Chabot, Steve [OH-1] – 10/26/2011
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] – 10/26/2011
Rep Deutch, Theodore E. [FL-19] – 10/26/2011
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] – 10/26/2011
Rep Goodlatte, Bob [VA-6] – 10/26/2011
Rep Griffin, Tim [AR-2] – 10/26/2011
Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] – 11/3/2011
Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] – 11/14/2011
Rep Marino, Tom [PA-10] – 11/3/2011
Rep Nunnelee, Alan [MS-1] – 11/3/2011
Rep Owens, William L. [NY-23] – 11/14/2011
Rep Ross, Dennis [FL-12] – 10/26/2011
Rep Scalise, Steve [LA-1] – 11/14/2011
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] – 10/26/2011
Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] – 10/26/2011
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] – 11/3/2011
Rep Watt, Melvin L. [NC-12] – 11/3/2011