Home Net Neutrality: This Week in Online Tyranny

Net Neutrality: This Week in Online Tyranny

Google and Verizon announced a proposal for internet network transparency. It included FCC enforcement with fines of up to $2 for network providers that engage in anti-competitive measures. Verizon’s CEO Ivan Seidenberg said this was not a sweetheart deal. (Net neutrality is the practice of equal delivery speed for content regardless of source.)

“There will be no prioritization of traffic from Google over the internet, period. No paid prioritization of traffic over the public internet.”

Many, however, have called this proposal an attempt to make an end-run around real net neutrality.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called the aspect of the proposal that allows “reasonable network management” troubling and “(t)he cutout for ‘additional online services'” disturbing. They both function as possible loopholes allowing carriers to charge for priority information delivery.

The long and the short of it is: this proposal is inadequate. Terms are ill-defined and in some cases wide-open.

Lebanon gets into the Blackberry-banning business. Just as Saudi Arabia backs down, Lebanon joins the UAE and possibly India and Tunisia in banning the use of the handheld’s services. RIM, Blackberry’s owners, have so far refused to give the governments in question access to its encryption. The possible exception to this withheld cooperation is Saudi Arabia. Representatives of the Saudi government have held off from banning the device’s services due to “positive developments” with the company.

US courts reject “warrantless” tracking of GPS. Personal privacy rights took a substantial and sustained hit in the aftermath of 9/11. But it is receding, to a degree. The US Court of Appeals for DC has rejected law enforcement insistence on a “right” to add GPS trackers to vehicles without a warrant.

Indonesia begins Internet filtering. Some dude got it on, a video made its way onto the Internet. Now, the Internet in Indonesia is filtered. The problem, aside from the filtering itself, is that the authorities have devolved the responsibility onto the individual ISPs. Filtering software is notorious for blocking things like breast cancer health sites when it has been set up to censor hot girl-on-girl action. And that’s when Cisco is guiding the government’s hand like Patrick Swayze’s ghost. Left to ISPs, well, it’s apparently a mess. No blacklists, no guidance, nothing. Just an injunction: block porn. Given that Indonesia is a big, important country, this is extra dreadful, economically as well as politically. There’s nothing like making something illegal, then not enabling a population to know what exactly is illegal to boil what is currently an acquiescent populace.

Iranian blogger in Evin hunger strike. Kouhyar Goodarzi, a blogger, is one of the 17 political prisoners in Evin prison who are currently on hunger strike. Evin is Iran’s Pelican Bay – a place for rapists and murderers. But political prisoners are usually thrown in here to be intimidated, tortured, beaten, raped and, in one case, killed. The strike is to protest the horrifying conditions.

In other Iran news, there has been a report that the government has awarded a contract to an Iranian country to “unify” its filtering regime.

China’s new censorship campaign. China’s has long been the filtering regime of note. The reason it’s so effective is its combination of technical filtering, legal restrictions on free speech and social restrictions. The Internet, especially China’s, is too big to scientifically restrict, so in a sense terror must be used. Self-censorship is more efficient than any other regime. In order to keep that valuable element of the system up and active, the Chinese government has instituted its “Anti-Three Vulgarity Campaign.” The wonderful thing about this campaign is that its use of phrasing – “children” “human rights” – is so Department of Naming Things the Opposite of What They Are that it really deserves some sort of award. (The Orwell, maybe?) By hammering rationale alongside threat, it cows the public into shutting up, then gives them an excuse to use for doing so.

Russian governor sues blogger to shut him up. Aman Tuleev, governor of Russia’s Kemerovo region, is suing Alexander Sorokin, a blogger who was critical of him. This has been tried before and mercifully failed.

Banner photo by Corey Harmon | Net Neutrality graphic from Mark Rabo | Indonesia map from Wikipedia Commons | Kouhyar Goodarzi photo from Persian2English

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