Giving way to the web world

Congratulations to Public Knowledge for leading the way (gathering together Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, EDUCAUSE, Free Press, Media Access Project and U.S. PIRG) and asking the question::  Why should wireless carriers be permitted to discriminate in their allocation of short codes?:  Their filing is here. It’s a clever piece of work, this filing, saying, in effect, “We think that short codes (and provision of text messaging services generally) should be treated as Title II, common carriage, services.  But even if they’re not, you can apply the nondiscrimination obligations…

Comcast and “network management”

EFF‘s recent report on the Comcast Affair [pdf] is worth paying attention to. It’s a thoughtful and easy-to-understand exploration of Comcast’s injection of “reset” packets into online communications. (I wrote briefly about this here.) EFF is also letting us know how we can see packet spoofing for ourselves – here. There are three myths that EFF pays particular attention to – ways of explaining Comcast’s activity that have been themselves injected into the public discussion of this issue in order to smooth things over. “This is just network management.” EFF…

Unbridled discretion and prior restraint: the Verizon and Comcast stories

Let’s say that providing communications infrastructure is an inherent function of a state.  Most people think of the internet as a telephone system, and most people think the telephone companies aren’t supposed to choose which calls will go through based on their content. :  People think that because they think internet access, like telephone access, is a utility — like electricity conduit, water pipes, etc. — that has something to do with the government, and the government isn’t supposed to discriminate. If it’s true that there’s something about communications infrastructure that…

Economic growth and internet access

I’m on my usual hunt for economic growth citations. Two recent useful ones: 1. UK Competitiveness Minister Stephen Timms says that the UK needs a fiber plan: “Effective use of technology enables economic growth,” . . . . “We have hardly any fibre-to-home connections. As far as I’m aware, we have none. There are 900,000 in the US and eight million in Japan. We’re not suffering yet, but communications applications with higher [bandwidth] needs are not far behind. We need timely take-up.” [Thanks to Dirk van der Woude for the…

How newspapers and broadcasters are different

The advent of the digital age has put both newspapers and television broadcasters — until not too long ago the arbiters of opinion and taste in America — under pressure. It’s hard for hardcopy newspapers to survive in a craigslist time, and they generally can’t force people to pay for their content online. It’s hard for broadcasters to differentiate their offerings, and so they are starting to release shows online. But newspapers (unlike broadcasters) seem to get the idea that they’re better off with an open internet than a closed,…

The big picture: Why the Verizon/NARAL flap matters

I arrived in DC in the middle of last night without a phone charger, having left mine in Manhattan last weekend. So this morning my first stop was a Verizon Wireless store downtown. Right in the store, in a corner, I plugged in my phone and called back someone who had a lot of questions about yesterday’s kerfuffle. Sitting on the floor, I tried to explain why this story matters. [The convenience of the VZ store downtown (and in fact the ubiquitousness of those stores in most cities in the…

Pond-jumping

On April 18, 2006, I was in Oxford (thanks to Jonathan Zittrain) giving a talk at the Oxford Internet Institute that Google Desktop tells me was titled “Seeing the Net: Recent FCC Developments.” The slides I talked through had to do with Bellhead/Nethead differences and the new laws, new institutions, and new asymmetries of information that the telco-incumbent-persuaded FCC was forwarding. Because it was Oxford I wrote out my notes in some detail, and I can see that I talked about net neutrality at length. I tried to convey the…

Tying things together

It’s clear that last week’s Dept. of Justice filing hewed very closely to arguments often made by AT&T and others opposing any form of limitation on their ability to prioritize communications on their networks. But it may be too easy to say that DOJ is in thrall to AT&T. This may be part of something much more significant. The Bells, Hollywood, and law enforcement all have strong interests in controlling online communications. The internet disrupts their business models. We can see this in the AT&T fight against network neutrality (and…