Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.
Google and Verizon released a proposal relating to net neutrality. They claim their efforts are for an open internet: ?[T]here should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices … Importantly, this new nondiscrimination principle includes a presumption against prioritization of Internet traffic ? including paid prioritization. So, in addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.?
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In this week’s 4MR podcast I look at the recent move by U.S. senators to amend a Federal journalist shield bill to exclude Wikileaks. Many lawmakers are angry at the whistle-blower site for sharing thousands of classified documents about the Afghan war. But what does this mean for a possible shield law, which already passed the House and a Senate committee? I talked with MediaShift legal analyst Rob Arcamona about the move by senators and whether the U.S. could really hold Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange accountable.
The Wall Street Journal today reports that in Saudi Arabia, the government division responsible for telecom oversight has reached a preliminary agreement with BlackBerry maker RIM, based in Canada, over the matter of government access to BlackBerry messaging data.
In the dispute with Saudi Arabia over data monitoring for Blackberry smartphones, the manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) has agreed to set up servers within the Arab kingdom. The compromise may be understandable from a business perspective, but it is a clear defeat for data protection, says the European press.
Recent news has made it abundantly clear that the government uses the Internet and social networking sites as tools for investigation. But what?s not clear, and what the government has been reluctant to reveal, is how this information has been collected and utilized. To get answers, EFF, with help from Berkeley Law?s Samuelson Clinic, made a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests asking various law enforcement agencies to disclose documents detailing their use of social networking sites in their investigations. When the government refused to comply with these requests, we went to court to compel them to respond. The latest disclosures from this litigation reveal just some of the ways the government is obtaining and using information from the Internet.
My colleague Ben Pauker has a great list up of the interesting political uses that people are finding for Google Earth. But judging by today’s headlines, the company’s most controversial product by far is Street View, the feature in Google Maps that provides ground level photographs of any given address.