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February 27th, 2015

Net Neutrality Clears Hurdle & Other Things

FOSS Week in Review

Net Neutrality symbolWell, much of the focus for the week was on the Federal Communications Commission vote on increased net neutrality protections, and according to rational news sources reporting on the issue (e.g., just about everyone but Fox News and their wannabes), this is a good thing.

Enough has been written about it, but I did want to point out a post by Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker, where she says, “We just accomplished something very important together. Today, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted for strong net neutrality protections. This happened because millions of people — including many hundreds of thousands
in Mozilla’s community — joined together as citizens of the Web to demand those strong protections.”

Amen.

Oh, and an additional thing or two worth mentioning happened in FOSS news this week too, like:

Switching gears: Much has been said about the ever-closing gap regarding the quality of Free/Open Source Software and proprietary software, and nothing brings it to the fore more prominently than when a tech journalist converts. Columnist Dan Gillmor recently shared why he moved to open source and mostly away from products made by Google, Microsoft and Apple.

“The tools I use now are, to the extent possible, based on community values, not corporate ones,” Gillmor writes in a lengthy, yet interesting, commentary which is well worth a read. It echoes what most of us have been saying for quite some time, in a far more eloquent manner than most of us have been saying it.

An old friend returns: Was that former Linux Outlaw Dan Lynch on FLOSS Weekly 326 earlier this week? It most certainly was. Dan joins regular host Randall Schwartz in talking about the Open Source Initiative with Simon Phipps and Patrick Masson in this particular episode, which is well worth a watch. It’s always great to see Randall on his show, and it’s great that he has such fantastic “guest help” from time to time.

OK, so NOW I’ll shut up about SCALE: One more thing about the phenomenally wonderful FOSS show called SCALE 13x, and then I’ll shut up. I know it’s a joke as old as time itself — “Funny when Gilgamesh told it to Urlugal. Still funny today,” as Jeffrey Osier-Mixon noted (and for those who missed the reference, hit the history books) — but probably the funniest tweet between two folks regarding SCALE 13x comes from Don Marti and Joe Smith:

SCALE 13x

See you next week, when I promise I won’t say anything about SCALE 13x. SCALE 14x, on the other hand…

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Larry Cafiero

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

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9 comments to Net Neutrality Clears Hurdle & Other Things

  • Zeno of Elea

    How exactly is this implementation of net neutrality a good idea? The working draft has yet to been released to the public although Google seems to have modified the proposal at the last minute. How will this not turn into something like the DMCA or SOPA & PIPA or turn into the “fairness doctrine” of the 21st century requiring all websites to host multiple points of view even if that conflicts with the sites principles such as requiring FOSS sites to also explain why closed source is good as well.
    How would this not morph into something discriminatory or damaging to society such as regulations and laws prohibiting alcohol and pot and other drugs. Prohibition was squashing a person’s right to put a substance in one’s body. Look what the “war on drugs”/prohibition has done for society. Incarceration rates skyrocketing due to possession of a substance that was legal for most of human history.

  • W. Anderson

    It is pre-mature for Net Neutrality supporters to start celebratin the recent ruling by the FCC in it’s favour. Most likely Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and other Internet carriers will apply great pressure and spend up to hundreds of millions of $dollars to bend teir dupes in the Congress for repealin these FCC fulings.

    Unfortunately, even if FCC rules remain in place, the USA tax-payer will be responsible for these ridiculous sums of hundreds of $millions expended in such defense. This proves unequivocally that the greedy behemoth companies and their individual heads do controland subvert this country, and are accurately described as the despicable 1 percent – but only because most citizens allow them.

  • Zeno of Elea

    I would be more concerned with the big ISP’s using the regulations to destroy any chance of competition and create defacto monopolies.

    “This proves unequivocally that the greedy behemoth companies and their individual heads do controland subvert this country, and are accurately described as the despicable 1 percent – but only because most citizens allow them.”

    How exactly do they control and subvert the USA? Corporations aren’t fomenting a revolution to overthrow the government.

  • Mike

    @Zeno > “Corporations aren’t fomenting a revolution to overthrow the government”

    They don’t need to, they already control Congress.

    Net neutrality is a good thing.

    Another good thing that came out of the FCC recently that has been missed in all the hoopla is that they approve of allowing cities to control investing in their own broadband networks. The Cable/Telco conglomerates have fought for years to keep that from happening because cities offering inexpensive internet access to citizens would help kill the stranglehold the ISP’s have on their customer’s throats.

  • Zeno of Elea

    If you believe corporations control congress then how can you believe governmental regulations be a good thing? Wouldn’t that mean that same government could use those regulations as a sword to wield against it’s perceived enemies.

  • Mike

    @Zeno

    It’s worth it because there are small parts of the government not completely cowed by corporate power, and frankly there are few alternatives. For example: Wheeler is clearly a frontman/patsy for the cable companies, and yet he has been largely forced by public pressure to go the net neutrality route.

    People still have some power, even if it isn’t as much as it should be. Congress is still a huge threat to net neutrality and will likely try to subvert it to please their corporate overlords by turning it into a partisan debate…an easy way to prevent anything substantial from happening.

  • Zeno of Elea

    I would say the FCC is more of a threat as they are unelected bureaucrats that unilaterally changed the internet. How is that not a threat. I am not saying trust the Congress but they are elected at least and no working by some sort of executive fiat.

  • Timon19

    Again, I don’t understand how centralizing control will solve the problem of rent-seeking. We will now see (and have already seen) the major content providers start to buy favors to to the mere PROSPECT of power being coalesced around an executive agency.

    The ISPs are no angels. Making devils of the content providers, too puts everyone in hell. Net Neutrality advocates have a huge blind spot mostly due to the hatred they have for ISPs, not realizing that big companies will respond to incentives, just as the ISPs had for the last several decades (with their network of local and regional quasi-monopolies and favorable treatment).

    Even the EFF, immediately upon the decision being made issued a statement pleading that the FCC – newly anointed Master of the Internet – doesn’t engage in the things the EFF doesn’t want them to engage in, but nevertheless advocated for the FCC to grab the power to do.

  • Timon19

    This is what you signed up for:

    “But now we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn’t abuse its authority.

    For example, the new rules include a “general conduct rule” that will let the FCC take action against ISP practices that don’t count as blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization. As we said last week and last year, vague rules are a problem. The FCC wants to be, in Chairman Wheeler’s words, “a referee on the field” who can stop any ISP action that it thinks “hurts consumers, competition, or innovation.” The problem with a rule this vague is that neither ISPs nor Internet users can know in advance what kinds of practices will run afoul of the rule. Only companies with significant legal staff and expertise may be able to use the rule effectively. And a vague rule gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence. That means our work is not yet done. We must stay vigilant, and call out FCC overreach.”

    I sense a small bit of foreboding and maybe even reluctant regret in that.

    NN advocates opened the door EVEN FURTHER to allow insiders to influence the regulatory regime. Congratulations.