Tag Archives: EFF

Crunch Time for Net Neutrality

On February 26th, the entire fate of the Internet and the future of all humanity will be decided. Or at least, that’s the impression one could get from the wild rhetoric swirling around the upcoming possibly-historic decision by the FCC on Net Neutrality. This is the principle that all data packets on the Internet should be treated the same way, without preferential treatment regarding speed, content, or destination, as they proceed across the Internet. The Commissioners are finally putting the whole contentious issue to an actual vote, but despite the clarions of doom blasting on all sides, the issues are not quite as good v. evil as either side one makes out, whichever side one chooses. The debate has greatly muddled everything, even within the FCC. There are dire warnings of government Internet regulation and worse, taxation, up against fragmenting of the Internet into superhighways with all the goodies for the rich and dirt trails and dustbins for everybody else. The battle will be fought until the very last minute. At issue is whether the Internet should be regulated as an utility instead of as an “information service”. It’s not that simple, of course. But despite all the sound and the fury, the battle lines are clear enough. On the pro-Net Neutrality side are the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation. On the other are the big broadband carriers – Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T in particular – … Continue reading

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CISPA: The Fight for Privacy Continues

The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. That has been demonstrated once again in the ongoing legal struggle over privacy on the Internet. The celebration and congratulations among the people who united to defeat SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act“, the last proposed draconian legislation aimed at protecting copyright and intellectual property, had not even ended before another such bill was proposed. This one is called CISPA, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act“, which indicates it’s a somewhat different beast than SOPA, directed against hackers rather than file-sharers. (You can download a PDF of the actual bill, H.R. 3523, here.) It’s not quite SOPA risen like a zombie from the grave, but it is written in such ambiguous language that many privacy advocates consider it even more insidious and potentially harmful. CISPA, opponents claim, allow “cyber entities” such as ISPs, social networks, and cell phone and other service providers, to circumvent Internet privacy laws. It allows the government to monitor online communications if it suspects any kind of cybersecurity threat to be involved. And since the bill does not really define cybersecurity, that leaves the door wide open, allowing virtually anyone to be spied on for any reason. Not only the government is given this power. If a cyber entity thinks a threat is involved, it can take action. The only safeguard built in is that it cannot be done for “unfair competitive advantage”. All that’s … Continue reading

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