All this month, the European Union's "trilogue" is meeting behind closed doors to hammer out the final wording of the new Copyright Directive, a once-noncontroversial regulation that became a hotly contested matter when, at the last minute, a set of extremist copyright proposals were added and voted through. One of these proposals is Article 11, the "link tax," which requires a negotiated, paid license for links that contain "excerpts" of news stories. The Directive is extremely vague on what defines a "link" or a "news story" and implies that an "excerpt" consists of more than one single word from a news-story (many URLs contain more than a single word from the headline).
As the Federal Communications Commission in the Trump era dismantles vital rules protecting net neutrality and users’ privacy, Americans need an internet provider that they can trust and is accountable to the public, not profits. Municipal governments can provide this by offering broadband service themselves and implementing the net neutrality and privacy protections that are no longer required of private companies by federal policies. The internet has become a crucial utility, yet unlike water and electricity, quality broadband service in the U.S. is far from universal. Twenty-four million Americans don’t have access to high-speed internet at home, either because it’s not available or too expensive.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A federal program that helps low-income people afford internet service in their homes is in the Federal Communications Commission's crosshairs. Under changes the FCC recently proposed, fewer people may receive subsidized broadband service under the Lifeline program. Those left out will struggle to do online tasks such as filling out a job application, or paying bills online. About 12.5 million low-income people across the country, and thousands in Ohio, could be affected. There are even health implications, since so much of today's medicine relies on patients having the ability to make appointments, refill prescriptions and view test results online. "There are a lot of unknowns so far," said Liz Lazar, director of programs and partnerships for DigitalC, a nonprofit organization that provides digital literacy and internet access to the under-served.
By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica - Industry groups tried to convince voters to reject the municipal broadband network; the city's mayor called it a "misinformation" campaign by the broadband incumbents. "I was very encouraged with the passage today, and particularly with the headwinds of incumbents trying to misinform the electorate," Mayor Wade Troxell said, according to The Coloradoan. The anti-municipal broadband group, called "Priorities First Fort Collins," spent $451,000 campaigning against the broadband network ballot question. Priorities First Fort Collins received nearly all of its funding from the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association and a group run by the city's chamber of commerce. Comcast is a member of both groups that funded the anti-municipal broadband campaign, while CenturyLink is a member of the chamber. The pro-municipal broadband group in Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee, spent less than $10,000 in the campaign. "This is another David vs. Goliath battle," Glen Akins, who helped lead the Citizens Broadband Committee, told Ars last week.
By Staff of Media Diversified - UN Sustainable Development Goal 9: strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020. Internet for everyone, and more internet in each of our lives, have become near universally accepted objectives. It might initially have seemed like we were getting everything for free but now we’re starting to realise it’s not the case; instead of paying in money we’re paying in data about us. What is the nature of the internet that is being proliferated as a social good? Is it a surveillance network for governments and advertisers to share? A tool of Western economic, social and cultural hegemony? A new sphere for the harassment of women, now with added reach and tracking abilities! Or are these just ethnocentric criticisms that fail to understand the multifarious internets of Southern societies, and how communities make use of them differently? What does digital colonialism mean? Does the combination of the digital and the colonial create something novel? Is it an extension of the colonialism of old using different tools? These were the questions that I asked experts, campaigners and researchers at this year’s Mozilla Festival, an annual London-based event that brings together those interested in an open internet.
By Dana Floberg for Freepress - Internet access is a necessity for engaging in our communities, searching for employment and seeking out educational opportunities — but too many people are still stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. And that divide disproportionately impacts people of color. Indeed, the racial divide in home-internet adoption — including both wired and wireless service — leaves people of color behind the digital curve. People of color comprise 32 million of the 69 million people in the United States who lack any form of home-internet access. On Tuesday, Free Press released a new report, Digital Denied, which exposes this undeniable gap and explains how structural racial discrimination contributes to it. Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner authored the study. Systemic discrimination creates serious income inequality in this country. Whites have far higher average incomes than Blacks or Latinos. Low-income families are less able and willing to buy internet subscriptions. And many families who are willing to pay for service find they can’t due to racially biased barriers like credit scoring. Given how stark racial and ethnic income discrepancies are, it’s no surprise that people of color lag behind in internet adoption.
By Staff of RSF - To ensure net neutrality, the US government must guarantee equal access to the Internet, regardless of which subscription people are using. If this principle is threatened, ISPs could for example, decide to limit the broadband speed allocated to certain users – especially, of course, if they have opted for a cheaper Internet plan. For example, an ISP could decide to slow down the Internet speed of one search engine, i.e. Google, in favor of another search engine, i.e. Bing, because that ISP has a financial stake in promoting Bing over Google. This would impact both news providers and the broader public and make it harder to access a diversity of sources of information on the web. Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director for Public Knowledge, a not for profit organization that promotes freedom of expression and open Internet, told RSF why regulation under Title II is essential for Internet freedom: "the Internet is not open and borderless by an act of god, it’s a political and social construction. It’s about consumer rights, rights as a consumer to get the whole Internet, not a piece that my Internet provider thinks I should access.”
Today is the third day of Copyright Week, and today, we’re focusing on open access. As EFF put it in the Copyright Week principles: "The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime." This is a principle that Creative Commons has always upheld. It’s crucial that the public has free online access to the research it pays for. It’s important, too, not to forget the second part of the principle: “…to be fully used by anyone.” In CC’s opinion, simply giving the public access isn’t enough. It’s impossible to enable full use without communicating the legal rights available to downstream users of those works. The definition in the seminal Budapest Open Access Initiative makes this point clear: "By “open access” … we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."