By Shane Burley for Waging Nonviolence – For many on the left, the string of appointments that have made up the president’s new administration have been discussed as a horror show. While many have been sent reeling by major appointments like Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon, they are eclipsing others that could have significant policy effects. Trump’s selection of Mark Jamison, a former lobbyist for the telecomm giant Sprint, and Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant for Verizon, to the Federal Communications Commission has made many advocates of “net neutrality” nervous. The fear is that they may represent the interests of telecommunications companies, which have a vested interest in going after the “open Internet.”
By Deji Olukotun and Peter Micek for Access Now – The largest mobile carriers in the U.S. have responded to a joint letter from Access Now and WITNESS asking them to provide adequate internet connectivity during the weekend of the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. The responses — from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular — indicate that the companies will boost capacity to handle the large influx of visitors to the capital, enabling free expression and documentation of any potential rights abuses. Our joint letter (PDF) specifically cites the need for expanded coverage not only at the inauguration but also demonstrations such as the planned Women’s March on Washington.
By James Vincent for The Verge – The Canadian government wants every citizen to have access to download speeds of at least 50 Mbps. Canada has recognized the obvious and declared high-speed broadband internet access a “basic telecommunications service” that every citizen should be able to access. Previously, only landline telephone services had received this designation from the country’s national telecoms regulator, CRTC, and the change is supported by a government investment package of up to $750 million to wire up rural areas.
By Jason Abbruzzese for Mashable – The battle for the future of a free and equal internet is flaring up again, and looks set to take a dramatic turn. The momentous win that net neutrality advocates celebrated in 2015 is on track to be reversed during Donald Trump’s presidency. On Monday, the president-elect named two high-profile opponents of net neutrality to oversee the transition of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which handles federal regulations of companies providing internet access to consumers.
By Lauren McCauley for Commondreams. Though Republican lawmakers have painted this moment in Internet history as ‘doomsday,’ and rallied a last ditch-effort to block it, at midnight on Saturday the U.S. government cede control of the web’s core naming directory to a multi-stakeholder nonprofit. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based group of international stakeholders will now control the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which includes the database that translates website names into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The handover, hailed as “the most significant change in the Internet’s functioning for a generation” by the U.K.-based technology site The Register, was long fought for by open Internet advocates.
By Staff of Detroit Community Technology Project – The Equitable Internet Initiative will accelerate outreach, training and wireless broadband Internet sharing on the neighborhood level in Detroit. Led by the Detroit Community Technology project of Allied Media Projects, the Equitable Internet Initiative will ensure that more Detroit residents have the ability to leverage online access and digital technology for social and economic development.
By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – For his part, Wheeler, who had promoted the policy,said the decision “appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment, and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina,” adding, “The efforts of communities wanting better broadband should not be thwarted by the political power of those who, by protecting their monopoly, have failed to deliver acceptable service at an acceptable price.”
By Ben DeJarnette for Yes Magazine – Seven years ago, Winthrop, Minnesota, population 1,400, decided it needed an internet upgrade. Most local residents were served by companies like Mediacom, whichConsumer Reports consistently ranked among the country’s worst internet providers. Slow connection speeds made work difficult in local schools and businesses, but farmers outside of town, who increasingly rely on connectivity to do business, experienced the worst of it.
By Staff of Access Now – GENEVA — Today the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed by consensus to a resolution supporting human rights online, despite efforts by hostile states to eliminate key provisions in the text. The landmark document specifically condemns internet shutdowns and renews 2012 and 2014 resolutions that declared, unequivocally, that human rights apply online just as they do offline. “The U.N. has boldly spoken against the pressing problem of internet shutdowns. This unanimous statement by the world’s highest human rights body should give governments pause before they order blocking, throttling, and other barriers to information,”
By Timothy Karr for The Seattle Times – NET neutrality advocates can add last week’s court decision to a recent string of victories on behalf of everyday internet users. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the latest broadband-industry bid to kill the open internet — a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 “net neutrality” decision. The FCC rules protect your right to connect with everyone else online without your cable or phone provider blocking websites or carving the internet into fast and slow lanes.
By Tom Ladendorf for In These Times. Under the banners of Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening, thousands of people spent April 11-18 disrupting Washington, D.C., to send a message: Get big money out of politics. Campaign finance reform could do a lot to revive American democracy, but it’s not the only effort afoot to give people a larger voice. Around the world, organizations from political parties to cooperatives are experimenting with new modes of direct democracy made possible by the internet. “The world has gone through extraordinary technological innovation,” says Agustín Frizzera of Argentina’s Net Party. “But governments and political institutions haven’t innovated enough.”
By JPat Brown for Muck Rock – The NSA has a well-earned reputation for being one of the tougher agencies to get records out of, making those rare FOIA wins all the sweeter. In the case of Untangling the Web, the agency’s 2007 guide to internet research, the fact that the records in question just so happen to be absolutely insane are just icing on the cake – or as the guide would put it, “the nectar on the ambrosia.” MuckRock’s Michael Morisy initially requested the guide after finding an entry on Google Books. A month later, the NSA responded with a complete release, minus the author’s names …
By Joseph Torres and Steven Renderos for Free Press – The broadband marketplace isn’t just broken; it’s harming millions of our society’s most vulnerable members, who are unable to afford at-home broadband service. This comes at a time when having Internet access is essential to filling out a job application, completing homework or applying for government services. A recent Pew Research Center report found that U.S. broadband-adoption rates among adults dropped from 70 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2015. The numbers are even more dismal among communities of color: Adoption plummeted from 62 percent to 54 percent for Black households and from 56 percent to 50 percent for Latino homes.
By Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept – On September 5, 2013, The Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica jointly reported — based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden — that the National Security Agency had compromised some of the encryption that is most commonly used to secure internet transactions. The NYT explained that NSA “has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the emails, web searches, internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world.”