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How the Kim Dotcom debacle is sidelining issues of government-funded broadband infrastructure

For those in the United States who think that it is a good idea for governments – national, state, or municipal – to fund fiber broadband rollouts, a cogent warning comes from New Zealand.  Political governance processes are subject to popular politicking – which means monitoring and enforcing the performance of network subsidy policies can rapidly get shunted aside by other political priorities. Here in New Zealand, economic and political debate has entered an uncanny ‘twilight zone’ as we count down to the triennial national election due to take place on September 20. This is the time for the incumbent government to trumpet its successes, and for its opponents to take it to task for not delivering on past promises. Just the time, one would think, to put under the microscope the performance of the country’s government-subsidized fiber-to-the-home Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network.
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Event recap: Who governs the Internet?

During yesterday’s morning discussion on “Who governs the Internet,” Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda noted that “The Internet is a platform for the creation and distribution of wealth.” If anyone knows this, it is Ambassador Sepulveda, who through his role as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy actively engages with government officials from all over the world – all of whom seem to have a keen understanding that the Internet brings innovation and creativity that benefit individuals, civil society, and local economies. This universal understanding of the benefits of the Internet is good news seeing as we’ve heard quite a bit lately about challenges the Internet has brought to the diplomatic table

Protecting Wikipedia contributors means protecting the modern Internet

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A ruling last month by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals is a major victory for the openness of today’s Internet. It’s a particular victory for the process that sustains Wikipedia. The case is John Doe No. 1 v. Susan L. Burke. The ruling concerned a pre-trial motion to quash a subpoena, but it will probably end this particular litigation. And if followed by other courts, it would help protect Wikipedia contributors – and others who post anonymously on other sites – from political bullying. Wikipedia is one of the great wonders of the Internet. Actually, one of the great wonders of the modern world. It has some 4 million articles in the English version – 40 times more than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  A study published in 2005 in the British science journal, Nature, found that Wikipedia’s treatment of scientific matters was comparably reliable to that of the Britannica. The online encyclopedia has versions in 286 other languages, offering some 30 million articles in all. This makes it one of the most widely used sites on the Internet, with 500 million unique visitors per month checking some 18 billion pages.
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Individualized bargaining and happy bunny dreams

“Individualized bargaining” is a key pressure point in today’s debate about how the FCC should treat the Internet. The DC Circuit Court struck down the FCC 2010 Open Internet Order’s “anti-blocking” and “anti-discrimination” clauses because they failed to leave ISPs room for individualized bargaining with other service providers (the “edge services” such as Netflix, Amazon, and eBay), inappropriately imposing common carrier regulation. The FCC can only impose common carrier regulation on services that it has already classified as common carriers. The FCC is establishing a pattern of behavior of consistently putting the cart before the horse: in the 2010 Comcast v. FCC case, the FCC tried to enforce regulations on Comcast that had never been through the rule-making process at the agency, and in the Open Internet Order it applied common carrier regulations to a service that is exempt from such treatment per the FCC’s own classification. But the court did say that the FCC can design an anti-discrimination rule without “reclassifying” broadband as a common carrier service: all it has to do is follow the logic of the FCC’s Data Roaming Order and allow carriers to bargain with service providers for levels of service.