Friday, September 17, 2010

New US "mega kill bill" would give President and DHS even more power to control the Internet

Laws like this is the reason that I am against the FCC or Congress getting involved in any regulation of the Internet especially net neutrality.  This bill, if passed, would give the President and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sweeping powers to shut down parts and the whole Internet or even terminate specific users they deem are threats by executive fiat.  There is no Congressional oversight.  There is little definition of what IS a cyber-threat.  Once again is proves that the current Administration and Congress does not understand the Internet. 

There are several things wrong with this proposed legislation not to mention that it is probably unconstitutional without “war power” authority to go along with it.  This power would allow the Executive branch to interfere with commerce and suppress free speech.  Wasn’t this administration suppose to be “open” and “transparent?”  They are actually more totalitarian than they claimed of the previous administration. 

Next, the legislation allows continued unwarranted surveillance of “suspects” that are deemed “threats” to national security which is an extension of the Patriot Act.  Finally the legislation barely takes into account the fact that the Internet is a global network and not just a U.S. network. 

The philosophy of the bill can be summed up by Senator Joe Lieberman’s comment on CNN that the U.S. needs the same ability to shut down the Internet as China.  So it looks like the current administration and Congress is benchmarking ourselves with the Peoples’ Republic of China.  God help us all. 

The Internet is a global network for commerce, information dissemination, and communications.  There may be a need during war to manage ingress and egress to the United States, but it should not be wholly shut down.  The NSA is better equipped to understand and manage this job than DHS.  The government should recall that open communications did more to bring down Communism than anything else we did during the Cold War.

Senator Lieberman’s legislation is ill conceived and needs to be killed immediately.  This is not a partisan issue, but one of freedom and openness.  Also, there must be checks placed on the application of such a power.  It must not be given unilaterally.  Contact your Senators and urge them not to support S.3480.  When will our industry and tech community realize that as a whole the government does not really understand the Internet and any attempt to control it will have disastrous effects?

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Wrangling on Net Neutrality Continues This Week

The debate on net neutrality rages on this week with AT&T checking with their position on the topic.  Not only did they effectively state their case for differentiated services, they also addressed the inaccuracies in the positions of the political opposition groups.  Mr. Hultquist noted, in his blog post, that the position of net neutrality groups like the Church of Extreme Net Neutrality (CoENN) will make the Internet a “dumb network.”  I applaud AT&T for coming out in support of differentiated services and backhandedly supporting the Verizon/Google principles.  Their article took the direct approach to dispel the myths of political opposition groups.

Declan McCullagh of CNET wrote a rather objective piece on AT&T’s announcement covering the basis for AT&T’s position.  In the article he presented an opposing views from groups like Free Press.  Mr. McCullagh shows the astute reader that AT&T’s position is based in technical facts while the Free Press’ position is based on opinion with no historical or factual basis.   I hope that CNET and the rest of the press will continue to provide objective reporting on the topic and continue to produce well researched articles like this one.

The FCC took some action this week requesting more data from Google and Verizon as reported by ARS Technia.  Anti-differentiated services proponents chastise the FCC for dragging its feet, but I think that it is giving industry time to align itself and reach an agreement.  I am sure that they will not public admit to this strategy, but their passive role and quiet support of differentiated services in their Broadband Performance report seems to support my supposition.  The FCC is treading lightly because it knows that net neutrality is a political hot potato, and if they take no action, then the political opposition groups will utilize the President to put pressure on the FCC.  They realize that their legal authority to implement net neutrality is weak so they will drive the industry through their inquiry process.  If they push the industry to address wireless networks as well then they can claim credit for being an active participant. 

Companies continue to come forth in support of differentiated services.  Hopefully in the coming weeks more content companies will release statements.  I would like to see a content provider like Vonage, Netflix, or Disney chide in the debate.  If these companies realize how differentiated services can allow them to compete and create new content delivery models, then the political opposition groups will not have much ground to stand on.