Tag Archives: Net Neutrality

FCC Must Provide IP Address to Fake Net Neutrality Comments

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been ordered to provide the server logs that may provide new insight into the allegations of fraud stemming from the agency’s 2017 net neutrality law, Gizmodo reported. The information in the server logs could potentially force the FCC to roll back its decision to kill net neutrality.

The case is titled: The New York Times Company v. Federal Communications Commission. It was filed on September 20, 2018, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The complaint was filed by The New York Times Company, and two of its reporters, Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel Dance.

The beginning part of the complaint is interesting. In it, the plaintiffs note that this litigation “involves records that will shed light on the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest: the government’s decision to abandon ‘net neutrality’. Release of the records will help broaden the public’s understanding of the scope of Russian interference in the American democratic system.”

The complaint also notes that “the FCC has thrown up a series of roadblocks, preventing The Times from obtaining the documents.” It also points out that “the FCC responded to The Times attempt to resolve this matter without litigation with protestations that the agency lacked the technical capacity to respond to the request” (among other excuses).

It appears that District Judge Lorna Schofield (a Manhattan federal court judge), wasn’t buying those excuses. Gizmodo reported that the FCC must release the server logs, which may help clarify whether fraudulent activity interfered with the comment period, as well as whether the FCC’s decision-making process is “vulnerable to corruption.”

Judge Schofield also said: “If genuine public comment is drowned out by a fraudulent facsimile, then the notice-and-comment process has failed.”

I expect that once The New York Times gets its hands on the information that it has requested, it won’t be too long until they publish what they found. This could be extremely embarrassing for the FCC, especially if many of the IP addresses that posted a comment connect to people who are not citizens of the United States. If so, perhaps the FCC can be shamed into doing the right thing and restoring net neutrality.

U.S. Appeals Court Won’t Reconsider Net Neutrality

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided not to reconsider an October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. The court declined without comment. Personally, I think the court’s lack of explanation as to why they chose to ignore the request from 15 states and several advocacy groups – is cowardly.

According to Reuters, petitions were filed by the Consumer & Communications Industry Association, internet trade group INCOMPAS, and others. Members of Amazon.com, Inc. Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc., and Google parent Alphabet also filed petitions.

Free Press, an advocacy group, posted a press release about the court’s denial of the request to rehear the courts decision in Mozilla v. FCC. It stated that in October of 2019, the court upheld the FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal and broadband classification order, but reversed the FCC’s in its attempt to preempt all state Net Neutrality laws.

The court remanded the case to the FCC because the agency failed to address how repeals would impact public safety, the Lifeline broadband-subsidy program for low-income people, and broadband providers’ access to public rights of way.

In December, Free Press filed a petition for the rehearing, along with New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Free Press notes that the denial of rehearing that request “starts the clock on potential further appeals.” Parties have at least 90 days to consider seeking Supreme Court review. According to Reuters, Mozilla, who also fought the net neutrality repeal, said it was considering “next steps”.

In short, this isn’t over yet. But, personally, I’m not sure I trust the current Supreme Court to do the right thing and uphold net neutrality. Reuters notes that in April of 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reinstate net neutrality protections, but the Republican-led Senate refused to consider it.

No matter what political party you prefer, there is one thing we all agree on. No one wants to have their internet throttled. It doesn’t make sense for the courts to go against the will of the American people regarding net neutrality protections.

California’s Net Neutrality Bill is Now a Law

California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 882. This means that California has enacted the strongest net neutrality protections in the United States. The law will go into effect next year. It is a big win for consumers in California.

As you may have expected, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to sue the state of California, claiming that its net neutrality law is “extreme and illegal” and something about states not being allowed to regulate interstate commerce.

Personally, I don’t think the U.S. Justice Department has a case. California has enacted stronger auto emission standards than many other states – and the auto industry has complied. California is among other states that require health insurance providers to cover the preventative health benefits that are part of the Affordable Care Act – and the health care industries are still in the Marketplace. There’s no good reason why internet providers should be allowed to trump state’s rights.

The other reason I think the U.S. Justice Department doesn’t have a case is because of the shenanigans that happened when the FCC had a comment period about their repeal of net neutrality rules. As many as 2 million fake comments appeared, some of which stole the identities of real Americans. Some people found that their deceased relatives had magically posted anti-net neutrality comments from beyond the grave.

It is illogical to assume that a situation that started off with lies and shenanigans could result in a winning court case.

Image from Pixabay

California Legislature Passed a Strong Net Neutrality Bill

The California Legislature has passed SB 822, a strong internet neutrality bill. The vote was 27 -12. Next, the bill goes to Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 822 would restore the net neutrality rules that were enacted federally under former President Barack Obama. Those rules were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December of 2017.

In May of 2018, the United States Senate overturned the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules by using the Congressional Review Act. But, for net neutrality to be reinstated federally, the House of Representatives would also have to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the FCCs repeal of net neutrality – and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.

In my opinion, this is why some state legislatures are passing their own net neutrality bills. It seems to me that states can enact net neutrality legislation faster than the federal government will.

California also has a unique reason to pass a strong net neutrality bill. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s command vehicle faced email delays and challenges updating web-based documents with critical information about deployment during the Mendocino Complex fire.

Their internet provider was Verizon Wireless, who (according to the Los Angeles Times) “throttled down the department’s connection to 1/200 or less than previous speeds because the agency had exceeded its data plan limit.” Verizon says the situation was a “customer support mistake” and has nothing to do with net neutrality.

I live in California, and am hoping that this bill becomes law. Net neutrality is especially important for people who have chronic illnesses and/or disabilities (myself included) who are unable to work a typical job. Many of us are able to earn some income online because we can fit that work around our health issues and doctor appointments.

SB 822 (if signed into law) will prohibit internet service providers from:

  • Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
  • Engaging in zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party.
  • Zero-rating some internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category – but not the entire category.
  • Unreasonably interfering with, or unreasonably disadvantaging, either an end user’s ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service or the lawful internet content, applications, service, or devices of the end user’s choice, or an edge provider’s ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users.

Xfinity on Demand on the Xbox and Net Neutrality

ComcastIf you have an Xbox Gold Member and are a Xfinity (aka Comcast) subscriber you may have noticed a couple of additions to the Xbox app store, MLB, HBO Go and Xfinity on Demand. However if you try to log into HBO Go you will find yourself blocked, because HBO Go is not available on the Xbox if you get your Internet through Comcast. Just in case you think this is a plot against Xbox users by either Comcast or HBO Go, it isn’t HBO Go is also not available on the Roku for Comcast subscribers, although it is available on the iPad. I am sure this makes sense to someone at either Comcast or HBO Go, but I can’t think of a good reason other than someone wants more money, never mind, I just answered my own question.

Which means if you are a Comcast subscriber you can now watch Xfinity on Demand and MLB through your Xbox. (MLB does require a subscription) The difference is any content you watch on the Xbox through the Xfinity on Demand app does not count against the data cap. Comcast says this because it is being streamed through a private network. This has net neutrality advocates crying foul, since all other services including MLB do count against the data cap. Comcast says since they are treating all services that are on the public network equally they are still observing net neutrality. I find this argument difficult to swallow, if we follow their argument on I can see a future where there are two Internets, one for companies who can afford to pay for private networks and offer fast service and another for those who are relegated to the slower public network. Unless Xfinity on Demand because it is a part of the Comcast service takes a different private path to my residence and that path can only be followed by services owned directly by Comcast. If this isn’t true, then a packet coming from Xfinity on Demand is no different from one coming from MLB and uses the same bandwidth ( assuming all other things being equal). It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

However for now the biggest problem for many Xbox users seems to be even connecting to Xfinity on Demand through the Xbox. Many people are receiving error messages, when they try to connect. Are you a Comcast subscriber and an Xbox owner, what do you think of Xfinity on Demand on the Xbox can you even get into it. Does it bother you that its is being treated differently when it comes to your data cap.

GNC-2010-12-27 #638 Raining Cats and Dogs

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Show Notes:
Mobile 3d?
Panasonic AF100
Logitech Google TV still a go!
Spot Beam Internet comes to Europe.
Gift Tips.
300 Million for all the AOL CD’s
iPad App for Disabled Kids.
Chinese Stealth Fighter Outed.
Body Scanner at your Airport?
Paul Colligan Predictions and Outcomes.
Verification Hell.
Apple Suit on Privacy Violations.
RIM iPhon Response in 2007!
US re-opens rare metal mine.
Stuxnet Over-sped Centrifuges :)
Net Neutrality Complaint?
iPad Competition?
Time Warner protects Porn P2P Violators.
CityVille 16.8 Million Daily?
Are we 400,000 years old?
Gas Saving Tech by Ford?
CMCS wants payment of music previews.
Swiss not happy with US forced IPRED.
Get your own Steve Jobs Figure.
TSA Goes after Pilot concerned about Security.
Massive Storm on Saturn.
Geek Culture Dying?
Indian Sat Launch Fails.
Pre-Exchange Gifts?
Twas the Shuttles Last Christmas.
Time Lapse Snow Storm.
Camcorder Software.
Boxee, Roku, Apple TV Debate.
Canadian Airborne Internet in 2011.
Amazon Christmas Stats!

Comcast vs Net Neutrality

“While the network neutrality debate in Washington has focused on what actions a broadband access provider might take to filter, prioritize or manage content requested by its subscribers, Comcast’s decision goes well beyond this. With this action, Comcast is preventing competing content from ever being delivered to Comcast’s subscribers at all, unless Comcast’s unilaterally-determined toll is paid – even though Comcast’s subscribers requested the content. With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content.”

link: Level 3 Communications Issues Statement Concerning Comcast’s Actions | Business Wire

This is a quote from a online article written by Level 3 a tier 1 Internet providers. Who is complaining because Comcast is charging a recurring fee for transmitting online movies and other content to Comcast customers. One of Level 3 main customers is Netflix who is a competes with Comcast on Demand Movie service and Xfinity. As a Comcast customer this behavior is not surprising. Unfortunately this is what happens when the company that owns the pipes also owns content. If Level 3 hadn’t agree to pay I may have been unable to get Netflix streaming even though I had paid for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Comcast tries to do the same thing to other companies who carry video such as Google, Amazon, Apple. The only thing that maybe stopping them is that they are trying to get the FCC to approve their merger with NBC.

As more and more people start to stream video from the Internet and it becomes a bigger competitor to traditional media. I suspect that this kind of action will be more common. Old media will try anything it can to hold on to its territory anyway its can. The FCC needs to hurry up and make their ruling on Net Neutrality. For a long time the argument about net neutrality was an academic one, but now with actions like this its is becomes a real world problem. Just another reason to dislike Comcast.