since 2004

Posts Tagged ‘information policy’

D.C. Court Delivers Bad News for Net Neutrality

In law, net neutrality, open access on April 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

According to the DC Circuit Court, it’s OK for Comcast to block, slow down or otherwise obstruct access to content like YouTube and music sites. This is very bad news for users. Given that telecom corporations have already restricted user access to certain sites, it is not hard to imagine the cascade of censorship corps will now feel emboldened to pursue — for profit and/or political reasons.

Urge the FCC to Continue Fighting for Users’ Rights.
Act Now at SavetheInternet.org.

Read more:

U.S. Court Curbs FCC Authority on Web Traffic
New York Times, by Edward Wyatt

“The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt a sharp blow to the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to set the rules of the road for the Internet, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks. The decision specifically concerned the efforts of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, to slow down customers’ access to a service called BitTorrent, which is used to exchange large video files, most often pirated copies of movies. But Tuesday’s court ruling has far larger implications than just the Comcast case. The ruling would allow Comcast and other Internet service providers to restrict consumers’ ability to access certain kinds of Internet content, such as video sites like Hulu.com or Google’s YouTube service, or charge certain heavy users of their networks more money for access. Google, Microsoft and other big producers of Web content have argued that such controls or pricing policies would thwart innovation and customer choice. Consumer advocates said the ruling, one of several that have challenged the FCC’s regulatory reach, could also undermine all of the FCC’s efforts to regulate Internet service providers and establish its authority over the Internet, including its recently released national broadband plan.” >FULL ARTICLE

Read the decision (US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit)

Additional Coverage (gathered by Benton Foundation):

Court Backs Comcast Over FCC on ‘Net Neutrality’ (WSJ)

FCC’s Net neutrality plans in turmoil (USAToday)

US internet reform plan hit by court ruling (Financial Times)

Google, Skype Set Back as Ruling Puts Web in ‘No-Man’s Land’ (Bloomberg)

Advertisements

Open Internet is Crucial for Equity, Opportunity, Innovation

In information access, media justice, net neutrality, open access, racial justice on January 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

I definitely recommend reading this important brief filed by a broad coalition of racial justice and information freedom groups, including my organizational alma mater. Background:

January 15, 2010 – In an historic day for the Federal Communications Commission and the Internet, the Media Action Grassroots Network, ColorofChange.org, Presente.org, Applied Research Center, Afro-Netizen, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native Public Media and Rural Broadband Policy Group submitted a range of grassroots stories and comments from urban, rural and struggling sub-urban communities in response to the Commission’s notice of proposed rule making “In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet and Broadband Industry Practices.”

The groups’ comments speak to the urgent need for an open and free Internet for low to no income, rural, Native American, African American and Latino communities.

“Like telephones, the Internet is increasingly an essential part of everyone’s daily lives,” says Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of Center for Media Justice, which coordinates the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAGNet). “Ensuring strong rules to keep the Internet free and open for communities in the midst of a widening digital divide is fundamental to a vibrant and representative democracy, and cultural and human rights.”

The groups say without strong “Net Neutrality” rules to keep content on the Internet accessible to all, communities most in need may end up “virtually redlined” from of the innovation and opportunity that springs from a free and open Internet.

“In a democratic society, every idea must have a chance to flourish and all people should be able to access legal content equally and without fear of foul play,” says Amalia Deloney, MAGNet coordinator. “People use [the Internet] to find jobs, access health services, obtain education resources, advocate for representation, increase connection, and its an important tool to build strong and healthy communities in low-income neighborhoods of color.”

The groups’ comments can be found online here.

Grassroots groups speak up for Net Neutrality

In media justice, net neutrality, racial justice, racism on October 29, 2009 at 11:45 am

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Network Neutrality policies that would preserve the open Internet on all wired and wireless networks. While the battle is far from over, this was a positive step forward for grassroots groups who partnered with the Media and Democracy Coalition to collect signatures in support of network neutrality from 40 grassroots groups representing communities of color, low-income communities, and other historically marginalized communities from across the U.S.

Read the coalition’s letter.

Excerpt:

…It is well documented that people of color and low-income individuals are among the least-connected segments of the U.S. population. In 2009, 46% of African Americans had broadband at home, and only 35% of households with incomes $20,000 and under had access, compared to the national average of 63% of adult Americans. That means millions of African Americans and low income individuals fail to get jobs that their connected neighbors get; their children struggle more to complete their homework; and their voices are not heard as loudly in important civic debates.  The very real divides between race and class in U.S. society continue to be perpetuated on the Internet.

[snip]…We are also steadfast in our support for efforts at the FCC that would prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from discriminating content on the Internet.  These network neutrality rules are needed for people of color and low income individuals to be creators of Internet content that is relevant to their communities, not just consumers of content that is profitable for big cable and phone companies.

FISA Court: Privacy Rights Less Important Than Gov Info Gathering

In governance, information policy, intellectual freedom, privacy on January 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

Intelligence Court Releases Ruling in Favor of Warrantless Wiretapping
Washington Post, By Del Quentin Wilber and R. Jeffrey Smith

Excerpt: …The ruling, which was issued in August but not made public until now, responded to an unnamed telecommunications firm’s complaint that the Bush administration in 2007 improperly demanded information on its clients, violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The company complied with the demand while the case was pending.

In its opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled that national security interests outweighed the privacy rights of those targeted, affirming what amounts to a constitutional exception for matters involving government interests “of the highest order of magnitude.”

Read more.

View (heavily redacted) FISA Court ruling here. [PDF] download

New Journal Looks at Media Reform v. Media Justice

In information policy, media justice, social movements, telecommunications reform on January 5, 2009 at 5:54 am

The International Journal of Communication has a new issue critically engaging with the media reform movement (Vol. 3, 2009). It is edited by Dan Berger and C. Riley Snorton, both radical scholars at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.

As a new movement (just over 10 years in the making), media reformers have adopted a centrist lobbying strategy to influence national media and telecommunications rulemaking. While national, this focus on media regulation and D.C. politics makes for a narrow coalition. Berger and Snorton along with Makani Themba-Nixon are just a few of those discussing alternative strategies, notably the work of grassroots media justice organizers who are rooted in social movements led by marginalized communities. As Themba-Nixon writes, “for many activists working for racial and gender justice, addressing the way media content defames and denigrates their constituencies is a central part of their media change agenda” — one that the media reform movement has deliberately sidestepped in favor of bipartisanship.

For radical librarians, issues of national and local information policy along with conversations about equity of access that directly address structural injustice overlap a great deal with the vision and principles of media justice. This journal edition presents a critical history of media reform by Berger and Snorton with responses from four scholars including Themba-Nixon, Robert McChesney, Richard Collins and Peter Dahlgren.

Who Is Eric Holder?

In activism, elections, governance, information policy, library profession, social movements on December 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Eric Holder’s confirmation process for Attorney General should be rigorous. It’s on us to make it so. And by us I mean individual librarians, our associations, policy advocates, and U.S.-based social movements.

This week I spoke with Library Law‘s Mary Minow about the need for renewed advocacy around the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 215 governing FISA Warrants and Section 206 related to Roving Wiretaps both sunset in December 2009, while attempts are also being made to set a sunset on current NSL rules under Section 505). Mary contends, and I agree, “Our best use of focused efforts should be asking senators at Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings to ask the right questions about the expiration.”

I would add: these questions should not focus on patching over the act through more weak revisions. As John Nichols wrote in The Nation, we need “a very serious, very aggressive confirmation process that should not simply presume that Holder will ‘get it’ when questions about the Constitution arise.”

Before we get there, we should all know a bit more about Holder. He is, after all, one of the legal architects for the reauthorized PATRIOT Act (passed in 2006), and he’s had some pretty conflicting things to say surrounding human rights (re: Guantanamo detainees he said in 2002, “…they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.” But last June, he called Guantanamo an “international embarrassment”). That’s some progress.

The standard we hold Holder to should be one of international concern, of human rights and global justice — not mere constitutionality.

So here are some places to start getting to know Holder:

See also Democracy Now:

Net Neutrality? Yes, Please

In elections, media diversity, net neutrality, privacy, telecommunications reform on November 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

imagesNet Neutrality is back in the news after Barack Obama released his comprehensive technology plans last week. And yesterday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) announced plans to bring net neutrality legislation before Congress. Finally. Media activists have kept this issue in the spotlight for years (see SaveTheInternet.org), and now is certainly not the time for advocates of an open Internet to stop advocating. While Obama’s statements on net neutrality have been heartening, let’s not forget his alarming change of heart around FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Let’s remind Obama that digital democracy, information privacy, and diversity in media ownership should all remain top priorities.

GetActive: Write Obama Now

GetEducated: SaveTheInternet.org