interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

The First Honest Cable Company

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 29, 2013

This is a very funny video… or it would be if it wasn’t true. So true. And if it wasn’t equally (or more true) for cell phone companies and the big Internet Service Providers.

This issue, like many others, is only an issue because the CRTC (our telecom regulator here in Canada) does the bidding of the industry it is exists to regulate. They mostly don’t even pretend consumer protection is an issue they consider. Under Canada’s inadequate inequitable and antiquated electoral system, this isn’t likely to change soon.

If you want things to change, you have to step up and start doing something about it. Canada needs to adopt Proportional Representation if we’re ever to have a meaningful democracy, where people (not corporations) have a say in our government. How can you do this?

Sign the Declaration of Voter’s Rights at Fair Vote Canada, and look for your local chapter so you can get involved.

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Enemies

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 27, 2013

Enemies-of-the-Internet

Please include attribution to Open-Site.org with this graphic.

Enemies Of The Internet

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The Right To Bear Arms: An Open Letter

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 14, 2012

An open letter to my American friends:

Today’s elementary school shooting has resulted in this petition calling for gun control .

In Canada we don’t have the right to bear arms.  Which doesn’t mean there are no guns here.  There are, but they aren’t easily accessible.  Still, we’ve had some tragedies here, too.  But not as often, and rarely as bad.  Our École Polytechnique massacre was pretty devastating. When I looked it up just now I was surprised to see it happened way back in 1989. I can’t think of anything that bad since. 

Ironically, there was a  similar school attack in China just today.  A knife wielding man injured 22 children and one adult.  Yet there were no fatalities.  Bad stuff still happens, but guns change the equation. Its a question of severity.

An American friend of mine pointed out that the gun used today in Connecticut was legal. It was apparently available in the disturbed young man’s home. The gun’s availability made it easy for him to kill his mother, and then go to the school where she taught and efficiently kill her class full of students, and then himself.

Had the disturbed young man’s family lived here in Canada, there is very little chance there would have been a gun in his home. Absent a gun, today’s outcome would have been very different.

What is the “right to bear arms” for?

People worry that not having the right to carry a gun will somehow infringe on their freedom. But there are plenty of examples of government restrictions on freedom.

American Law restricts the use of motor vehicles.  People need to prove themselves able to handle them safely in order to get a license.  Because misuse of motor vehicles, whether an automobile or an airplane, can have pretty devastating ramifications. Its a question of the public good.

The right to bear arms was intended as a defence from government oppression.  In this day and age, no matter what weapons you have, the government will have more. If you and your friends amass an aresenal to take on the government, you will lose. A handgun won’t help you. Nor will a bazooka.

Rather than fighting to keep a handgun in your kitchen drawer, perhaps citizens might fight for accountable government.

Fight to keep government spyware out of your computers, fight to stop the erosion of your hard won civil rights, fight for free speech, freedom of the press and the rule of law…

Of course, what you all decide to do is up to you. If it was up to me, I would sign this petition. Because bearing arms doesn’t seem to be a good idea to me. I simply don’t see any good outcome.

Clearly, this isn’t the only issue that needs to be looked at, but it would be a good start.

Wishing you all the best,
Laurel


Further Reading:
Wikipedia: School shooting
Wikipedia: School shootings in the United States

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Tell Vic Everything: Stop The ITU Internet Coup

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 2, 2012

ITU Logo a red lightning bolt on a globe Governments around the world are seeking to assume control of Internet Governance through the International Telegraph Union. Oh, wait, the organization changed its name to International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.) in attempt to deal with modern telecommunications issues.

An essential problem, however, is that the organization itself continues to function as it did in the 19th century. This is an antiquated hierarchical international association of countries. The ITU does not welcome, nor even listen to the concerns of citizens. It exists to paternalistically impose the policies it makes in secret, behind closed doors, on the world. This would have the effect of turning the Internet as we know it inside out. The Internet is Mine, and yours, and theirs. It doesn’t belong to governments, but to all users collectively.

An ITU Coup would strip us of our freedom to use the Internet as we wish, whether for recreation, community or business. We would be forced to follow Orwellian authoritarian edicts that would grant local governments unassailable unilateral power to control what is on the Internet. I might be prevented from selling my books, you from selling your songs, she from sharing recipes, while he might locked out of the Internet entirely. Citizens would have no recourse, our governments would just be following orders.

An organization like this is far less accountable than even our supposedly democratic First Past The Post electoral systems we presently struggle with in Canada, the US and the UK.  If this organization assumes authority over the Internet, it would absolve our local governments from any requirement to follow local laws regarding citizens rights.  It would make it so easy to grant Security Forces and Secret Police agencies the wherewithal to pracfrom the ITUtice warrantless surveillance and website takedowns, without any pesky requirement to convince Parliament or Congress that these draconian surveillance are needed.

Governments keep trying to make treaties like ACTA and TPP and laws like SOPA/PIPA.

Canadian Flag - Close up of Maple Leaf

In Canada, we’ve been protesting and pushing back against a majority FPTP government that wants to dispense with due process and allow unprecedented warrantless access into our digital lives without requiring the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Yet Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews keeps trying.  I have no doubt Vic Toews would support an  ITU Internet takeover because it would support his agenda.

If ITU takes over, everything from privacy to free speech could be purged from the Internet.   If this comes to pass, we won’t be able to stop bad laws like SOPA or treaties like TPP or ACTA. Not a very happy thought.

We need to speak out against this now, so 2012 doesn’t become the new 1984.

The Internet Defense League has posted a video.   You can watch the video  below, but if you’re uncomfortble giving up so many javascript permissions you can just read the subtitles as a plain text version underneath.

Fight for the Future and Access collaborated on this short, informative video about a serious threat to the free and open internet that could have devastating effects for human rights and free expression around the globe.

How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.

“The Internet gives us the freedom, to talk with friends, make art, start a business or speak out against our governments, all on an unprecedented scale.

This isn’t a coincidence.

The Internet’s design came out of open inclusive discussions by a global community of scientists and engineers, So there was no pressure from above to lock it down.
But now a government controlled international body is making a play to become the new place where the Internet’s future gets decided. It’s called the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU). And in December the worlds governments will meet, to decide whether to expand its mandate to making important decisions about the net.

The ITU could pose a risk to freedom of expression on-line everywhere.
Here’s why. First the basics.

Nobody owns the Internet.

It’s a collection of independent networks around the world. Anybody can build one.
The common standards on which the Internet was build grew out of open on-line discussions,
not on the priorities of a particular government or company.

But now let’s meet the ITU!
First the ITU is old. Really old. Not CDs old, not rotary phone old, telegraph old, as in Morse code. When founded in 1865 it was called the International Telegraph Union. Unlike the Internet the ITU was not build on open discussion among scientists and engineers. Instead only governments have a vote at the ITU. And these votes take place behind closed doors.

If governments succeed in giving the ITU more power to make decisions about the Internet, we get
an old-school, top-down, government centric organisation replacing the open bottom-up governance
that made the Internet so world-changing. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.

The ITU is not transparent.

The ITU’s draft proposals aren’t public, and its “one country – one vote” model gives governments all the power.
They get to make decisions about our Internet, without us even knowing what they’re discussing, and then tell us, once the decision is made.  What kinds of decisions will be considered at the ITU meeting this December?
Well, here’s some actual proposals that have leaked:

  • cutting of Internet access for a number of broadly defined reasons;
  • violating international human rights norms;
  • giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent;
  • defining Spam so broadly that they could justify blocking anything from photos of cute cats to human rights campaigns.
  • And new rules to charge online content providers to reach users, which could mean less content going to the developing world, and blocking sites that don’t pay up.
  • But the really scary part: the countries pushing hardest for ITU control are the same countries that aggressively censor the Internet.

In Russia, making a YouTube video against the government can get you two years in jail.
In China you can’t even get to most social media websites.
And Iran is trying to build its own national Internet and email network, to keep the entire population under its control.

Now the ITU also does good work:
They help the developing world establish telecommunication networks and expand high speed broadband connections. And existing Internet governance isn’t perfect.  The US has out-sized influence and authority when it comes to this.
But we need to fix these problems in a way that preserves the openness, pragmatism and bottom-up governance, that made the Internet so great.

This December our governments meet to make their final decisions about the Internet’s future.
It’s up to us Internet users, in every country of the world, to tell them: to stand for the open Internet.
If everyone who sees this video speaks out and contacts their government, we’ve got a chance of winning.

Help us share this video and visit this site to speak out and contact your government right now!
Let’s use the Internet’s global reach to save it!
Tell your leaders to oppose handing over key decisions about the Internet to the ITU.”

— “How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.” English Subtitle Text  by Michelle Matthew.

Take action at http://www.whatistheITU.org

Internet cables connected to a router

…giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent…

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EU: Public Consultation on “Open Internet”

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 11, 2012

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle that advocates government regulation of Internet service providers[1], preventing ISPs from restricting consumers’ access to networks that participate in the Internet. Specifically, network neutrality would prevent restrictions on content, sites, platforms, types of equipment that may be attached, and modes of communication. Network owners can’t interfere with content, applications, services, and devices of users’ choice and remains open to all users and uses.[2][3][4]

Wikipedia, Network Neutrality

Here in Canada I first became aware of the idea of Net Neutrality when I began the StopUBB blog. Because I believe in free speech, I oppose censorship, and since the Internet has become so terribly important to us all, we all need to be able to access it.   Net Neutrality seems like a no-brainer to me, but those who want to harvest the Internet don’t agree.

Canadians have not been well served by out telecom regulator, CRTC, which blithely granted permission to the legacy carrier, Bell, to utilize Deep Packet Inspection without even a pretence of oversight.  Although our Canadian Privacy Commissioner warned about it, but most people didn’t hear about it, or understand it.  Most of us still don’t realize that everything Canadians post to the Internet was legally opened to the scrutiny of a private corporation when the CRTC essentially handed Bell the keys to our online privacy.

This ruling gave Bell the legal wherewithal to use its technical DPI capability to look at everything we put online that is not encrypted.

That means they can read our unencrypted email.  Bell employees with access can look at the DMs we send on Twitter or Identica, or what we believe to be “private chats” on Facebook or forums.  They can peruse the “private” baby pictures we post to Flickr, or home movies we post on YouTube, even when set as “private”.

Most of us don’t use encryption because we don’t know how and/or we don’t understand why it’s necessary.

EU Public Consultation

Currently the EU is looking at ISPs and Net Neutrality, by holding a public consultation.  Just to see, I took a look at it, and discovered that the questionaire was huge.  Cumbersome.  It asks the same kinds of questions over and over again, possibly in an effort to get people to eventually provide the desired answers.

Or perhaps the goal is to reduce the number of responses that will have to be dealt with.  If people start the thing but leave half the answers blank, there will be a lot of room to fiddle with the results.

In some ways, it looks very much as though this questionaire is really an instrument of propaganda.  It utilizes biased phraseology and presupposes consumer privacy invasion is both necessary and beneficial.  The questions posed don’t exactly support “Net Neutrality” or an “Open Internet.”

Just Do It!

Everyone in the EU has an opportunity to submit their own answers to this consultation.

If you live in the EU, I very much urge you to fill in this questionaire, so you don’t end up under a regime like ours.

It seems I have a pretty good grounding in all of this, so I thought I would share my answers with you here.  Since I have this blog licensed directly into the Public Domain, please feel free to make use of any of my answers that may help you fill this epic out.

Public consultation on specific aspects of transparency, traffic management and switching in an Open Internet

Questionnaire on one page

Question 1:

a) Please provide a brief description of your interest in open Internet issues.

Answer:  Free speech and a free exchange of ideas is important both for healthy culture and democracy. the protection of privacy, including anonymity is also important for the security of citizens.

b) Please provide your name, postal and e-mail address and if you wish, your telephone number for any questions on your contribution.

[On this I used my name and email address; all you need do is include your own name]

c) In which Member State(s) do you live?

Answer:  Canada … not a member state; but Canada has already started down the slippery slope and I hope to warn the UK against this dreadful error

Does your answer to this question (a,b or c) contain confidential information?

Answer: No

1. Traffic management

Question 2:

Please provide your views on the following ways/situations where traffic management may be applied by ISPs.

Are traffic management measures:

a) applied to deliver managed services (e.g. to ensure a guaranteed quality of service for a specific content/applications)

Answer:  problematic
If this means interfering with other packet traffic to give preferential treatment to some, it is wrong.

b) taking into account the sensitivity of the service to delay or packet loss

Answer: problematic
Neutrality means that all Internet traffic is treated neutralluy … equally. Preferential treatment is inappropriate.

c) used to implement or manage compliance with the explicit contractual restrictions (e.g. on P2P or VoIP) of the Internet access product accepted by the user

Answer: problematic
Contractual agreements between users and 3rd party services are simply none of the ISPs business. If the ISP is providing such services it ought to fall under conflict of interest.

d) targeting types/classes of traffic contributing most to congestion

Answer: problematic
This is not net neutrality, this is the carrier choosing which customers/traffic to discriminate against.

e) targeting heavy users whose use is excessive to the extent that it impacts on other users

Answer: problematic
If heavy users use is impacting on Internet service, the ISP needs to invest in infrastructure. No discriminatory traffic management processes are appropririate. Until the ISP improves the infrastructure, the only appropriate response would be across the board slow downs.

f) applied during busy times and places, when and where congestion occurs

Answer: problematic

This appears to continue the theme of targetting specific Internet traffic.   When and where congestion *actually* appears (not where the ISP alleges it will appear) in conjunction with g) affecting ALL applications/content providers in the same way (application-agnostic) would be acceptable. Targetting specific traffic is always inappropriate.

g) affecting all applications/content providers in the same way (application-agnostic)

Answer: Appropriate

All Internet traffic should be treated equally. (application-agnostic)

h) affecting (similar) applications/content providers of the same category in the same way

Answer: problematic

all traffic should be treated equally

i) used, without other grounds, against services competing with the ISP’s own services

Answer: problematic

Are you serious? Is an explanation actually required to explain that ISPs should not be allowed to discriminate against its competitors? See: Conflict of Interest, Anti-Trust

j) implemented at the full discretion of the ISP

Answer: problematic

Full discretion of the ISP is legally far too both broad and far too dangerous. What about human rights? Human Rights don’t just stop because we’re on the Internet.

k) other differentiation criteria (please specify)

Answer: The very same human rights citizens enjoy in the real world should be enjoyed on the Internet. Citizen privacy should never be legally breached without a warrant, certainly not by a wholly unaccountable corporate entity or quasi governmental service.

Real Net Neutrality means ISP accountability.

Does your answer to this question (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j or k) contain confidential information?

Answer: No

1.2 Traffic management and privacy issues

Question 3:

Where the user’s consent is required for traffic management measures, particularly where such measures might entail access to and analysis of certain personal data by ISPs, please explain how (e.g. in which format) this consent should be sought by the ISP, what prior information needs to be provided by the ISP to the user, and how the user consent should be given, in order to optimise user awareness and user convenience.

Answer:   It is a fallacy that blanket user consent is necessary for traffic management measures. Police can direct traffic without seeing people’s Identification documents, Internet Traffic can be managed in much the same way … that is what neutrality *is*.

There is no reasonable need for this kind of access.  If this access is demanded, it is not for user convenience, but for ISP convenience.  It weakens our personal privacy, by making it easier to spy on Internet users, as well as  improving the ISPs ability to provide preferential treatment to some Internet traffic and discriminate against other Internet traffic.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No


2. Transparency and switching (consumer choice)

Transparency is a key tool in the EU electronic communications framework to protect users and to ensure competition. Transparency enables consumers to optimise their informed choices and thus benefit fully from competition, in particular at a time when ISPs are developing new business models.

The BEREC investigation has revealed that many consumers have Internet access subscriptions with a number of restrictions. Moreover, the development of new business models is likely to lead to a broad range of offers which may contain different traffic management restrictions. These may address the needs or interests of specific consumers at prices which might not otherwise be available. It is, however, not clear whether ISPs are sufficiently transparent about such restrictions allowing consumers to make a deliberate choice. Customers, therefore, need clear, meaningful and comparable information on any limitations of their subscriptions comprehensible to all.

These requirements raise the question whether a restricted Internet access product may still be described, without qualification, as “Internet access” or whether the unqualified label “Internet access” should be reserved to (largely) unrestricted access offers. This debate has already been opened in some Member States and this public consultation seeks also views on this issue.

Another aspect of transparency concerns broadband speed, and in particular possible discrepancies between advertised speeds and actual speeds.

Transparency should be complemented with measures aimed at ensuring easy switching from one provider to another, and from one offer to another offer of the same service provider, to empower consumers to choose the service which best matches their individual needs. The electronic communications framework facilitates switching of operators by imposing the obligation to implement number portability within one day, by limiting the initial commitment period in contracts with consumers or by specifying that the conditions and procedures for contract termination shall not act as a disincentive against changing service provider.

It further specifies that subscribers have a right to withdraw from their contract without penalty upon notice of modification to the contractual conditions. It is also important to ensure that barriers do not arise as a result of the growing trend towards bundled services. This may require that switching processes and contractual arrangements are consistent between services offered in bundled packages, e.g. the most common “triple play” package of fixed voice, broadband and pay-TV.

Question 4:

In order to allow consumers to make informed choices, on the basis of clear, meaningful, and comparable information, which elements should be communicated to consumers?

– Elements related to traffic management practices:

a) Contractual restrictions (blocking, throttling, other restrictions on application use)

Answer: Important
Totally inappropriate.  Unacceptable.  Certainly not Net Neutrality.

This presupposes the right of an ISP to deliberately degrade the service it offers consumers. Why should consumers be forced to accept such restrictions?

b) Traffic management policy applied to prioritise certain traffic in specific circumstances

Answer: Important

Totally inappropriate. Unacceptable. Certainly not Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality can only exist if traffic management is application-agnostic.

c) Whether and to what extent managed services may affect the quality of the best effort Internet (e.g. the possibility of the Internet connection being affected when watching IP-TV or when using other managed services)

Answer: Totally inappropriate. Unacceptable. Certainly not Net Neutrality.

e) Data allowances (caps), download limits

Answer: No. This artificial way to disproportionately increase revenue is both inappropriate and unacceptable.

f) What these data allowances enable customers to do in practice (download x hours of video; upload y photos etc.)

Answer:  Important
Calling this kind of restriction a “data allowance” would make Big Brother proud. These are nothing more than “data RESTRICTIONS” which have the effect of gouging consumers

Elements related to speed and quality:

a) Average speed, typical speed ranges and speed at peak times (upload and download)

Answer: Government needs to ensure that advertised speeds are accurate. After all, if they are not, the ISP is committing fraud. Fraud on the Internet should be just as illegal as fraud in the real world.

b) Respect of guaranteed minimum speed (if applicable)

Answer: Important
If an ISP offers a “guaranteed minimum speed” consumers must have a reliable simple way of measuring, and remedies if such speed is not delivered.

c) What these speeds allow customers to do in practice (video-streaming, audio-download, video-conferences etc.)

Answer: Important
If these speeds are being bought by discriminatory treatment of other Internet traffic, the price is too high. ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised bandwidth speed.

d) Latency/network responsiveness (a measure of traffic delay) and which services would be affected thereby (e.g. certain applications such as IP-TV or videoconferencing would be more seriously impacted by higher traffic delays in the network of the provider)

Answer: Important
ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised service.

e) Jitter (a measure of the variability over time of latency) and which services would be affected thereby (e.g. echoing in VoIP calls)

Answer: Important
ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised service.

f) Packet loss rate (share of packets lost in the network) and which services would be affected thereby (e.g. VoIP)

Answer: Important
ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised service.

g) Reliability of the service (network accessibility and retainability), i.e. measure for successful start and completion of data sessions

Answer: Important
ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised service.

h) Quality parameters for (mobile) voice telephony (call setup success rate, dropped calls, speech quality, other)

Answer: Important
ISPs must have adequate infrastructure to supply advertised service.

i) Other, please specify:

Answer: If the “traffic management” requires taking bandwidth from one customer to supply the needs of another, it is never appropriate.

The real world equivalent would be a Hotel claiming to provide “first class service” by snatching a sandwich from the mouth of the customer in the coffee shop so it can fill the order of the VIP guest seated in the candlelit dining room.

Does your answer to question 12 (or to any of its sub-questions) contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 5:

Some ISPs currently apply ‘fair use policies’, which give them wide discretion to apply restrictions on traffic generated by users whose usage they consider excessive. Do you consider that, in case of contractual restrictions of data consumption, quantified data allowances (e.g. monthly caps of x MB or GB) are more transparent for consumers than discretionary fair use clauses?

Answer: No

Calling a policy “fair use” does not make it so.

Restrictions do not reult in fair use, but in restricted use. These restrictions are not beneficial to consumers, and making them transparent will not make them beneficial to consumers.

Another real world analogy: when I turn on the tap to fill my sink so I can wash dishes, I would be unhappy my flow of water stopped so the public utility could give my neighbor’s dishwashing machine preferential treatment.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 6:

a) When should the elements of information referred to in question 4 be provided to the consumer by the ISP?

Answer:  before signing the contract
IF these elements are going to be allowed under law, consumers must be informed well enough that they can make a reasonable assessment BEFORE signing any contract. Any changes to a legally binding contract necessarily require a new contract, and the ISP should be liable to penalties should the consumer not agree to such after-the-fact changes.

This is not Net Neutrality, but Net Restriction.

Communication to consumers is called “advertising,” and is not the same as contract negotiation.

If the ISP wants to change the contract, the contract needs to be renegotiated. Announcing unilateral changes to a legal contract during the term of such a contract is not acceptable.

b) Which format (e.g. contract, general terms and conditions, separate and specific information, other (please specify)) do you consider appropriate to communicate this information to consumers?

Answer: Communication to consumers is called “advertising,” and is not the same as contract negotiation.

If the ISP wants to change the contract, the contract needs to be renegotiated. Announcing unilateral changes to a legal contract during the term of such a contract is not acceptable.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 7:

a) In order to promote transparency and consumer choice, do you consider it necessary that comparable data on the Internet access provided by ISPs is collected and published by NRAs or another independent organisation?

Answer: Consumers need real data to be able to make informed choices.

Do you think this information should be broken down by geographic areas or different data plans?

Answer: Certainly.

b) What are the advantages and corresponding costs of this data collection and publication being undertaken by NRAs or by another type of organisation (please specify which one). Please provide an estimate at EU-level or for an EU Member State of your choice.

Answer: The advantage is that consumers can make informed choices. That ought to be of great value to any democratic state.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 8:

a) Do you consider it necessary to regulate the labelling as “Internet access” of subscriptions that restrict access to some Internet services, content or applications?

Answer: Yes.
Truth in advertising should be policed and enforced by all governments

b) If yes, which restrictions would be acceptable before a subscription could no longer be marketed, without qualification, as an “Internet access” product”?

Answer: None

c) What would be the consequences (including the cost) for ISPs if they were not allowed to market as ‘Internet access’ an offer with certain restrictions, or if such marketing was subject to mandatory qualification? Please provide quantification for your own company or an ISP of your choice explaining your assumptions and methodology.

Answer: Perhaps consumers would look more kindly on ISPs that employed honesty in marketing.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

2.2 Switching

Question 9:

a) Please explain what barriers to switching ISPs still exist (if any) and how they can be overcome. Please mention in your reply all direct and indirect factors dissuading consumers from switching (e.g. obstacles linked to the terminal equipment, burden of proof regarding a possible breach of contract, etc.)

Answer: If the ISP has not lived up to its end of the contract, it is in breach of contract, no barrier to switching should exist.

b) How should an ISP inform consumers of changes to their packages?

Answer:  After the current contract expires. If the ISP changes the terms during the contract term, but fails to procure consumer acceptance of such change, the ISP is in breach of contract.

c) What actions by an ISP would constitute a breach of contract or modifications to the contractual conditions which would enable a consumer to be released from a contract?

Answer:  The same actions that would trigger breach of contract in the real world; not living up to the terms, and/or changing the terms without the consumer’s agreement.

d) Should customers be able to easily opt out from certain contractual restrictions (up to a completely unrestricted offer) by the same operator?

Answer:  Yes
Consumers should not be compelled to accept restrictions.

If yes, how could this be facilitated?

Answer: That would be up to the ISP to determine, under government oversight, of course.

e) Do you think that a customer should be allowed to switch to another operator within a reduced contract termination period in case his/her current operator does not at all offer an unrestricted Internet access product or does not allow switching to such unrestricted offer?

Answer: Yes, absolutely.
If the consumer’s ISP does not offer unrestricted Internet access, but another ISP does, the consumer should not be penalized for choosing Net Neutrality.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 10:

While there may be valid (technical) reasons why consumers do not always get the advertised service speed or quality, should there be a limit on the discrepancy between advertised and actual service parameters (e.g. speed)?

Answer: Yes
Truth in advertising. Consumer protection.

If you consider that there should be a limit on the discrepancy, how should this limit be defined?

Answer: I would put the question to I would put the question to Christopher Parsons (@caparsons) [http://www.christopher-parsons.com/blog/]

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 11:

Pursuant to Article 30 (6) of the Universal Service Directive conditions and procedures for contract termination shall not act as a disincentive against changing service providers. How could changing of operators be facilitated? Please provide examples and explain your response.

Answer: Governments must enact appropriate legislation to protect consumers.

Question 12:

How could the transparency of bundles (packages including telephony, Internet, TV) be improved for consumers and how could switching be facilitated in the presence of bundles?

Answer: Consumers want — and would be better served by being able — to buy what they want without being forced to take (and thus subsidize) services they do not want.  If ISPs want to mess about with bundles, this is the ISPs decision as part of its business model.  If an ISP doesn’t offer consumers what they want,  it may well fail.  That is the cost of doing business.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 13:

a) How important would be the benefits for end-users of improved transparency and facilitated switching?

Answer: Very important.
Consumer choice is always best for consumers when it is both informed and unrestricted.

b) What would be the expected benefits in terms of innovation by new businesses (content or applications) as a consequence of improved consumer choice and increased competition between ISPs?

Answer: Businesses that cater to consumers and offer real Net Neutrality would prosper, while those seeking to discriminate, throttle and restrict consumers would not.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

3. Process
Question 14:

a) Do you consider that intervention by public authorities is necessary at this stage?

Answer: Yes

If so, what would be the appropriate level of such intervention?

Answer: Get some laws in place to guarantee citizens access to real Net Neutrality.

b) What would be the consequences of divergent interventions by public authorities in the EU Member States?

Answer: If necessary, governments could take over ISPs that do not follow the law.

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Question 15:

Under article 22(3) USD NRAs have the power to set minimum quality of service requirements on undertakings providing public communications networks. In a scenario where in a given MemberState no unrestricted offer is available (for instance because all operators actually block VoIP), do you consider that the “minimum quality of service tool” should be applied by the NRA to require operators to provide certain unrestricted offers?

Answer: Yes
Doesn’t the law (as stated) provide for this?

Does your answer to this question contain confidential information?

Answer: No

Your response must reach the Commission by 15 October 2012!

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ACTA remix: What is the Trans Pacific Partnership ?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 23, 2012

ACTA logo

I’ve fought against ACTA for a long time in this very blog.

Often it seemed futile, as much as anything because no one outside a very small group of people even knew it was happening.

The secrecy was such that Canada’s elected representatives — our Members of Parliament — were not allowed to know anything about what was being negotiated. It was most certainly a very secret treaty. An indication of how abysmal ACTA was is that even under the threat of draconian penalties, the various drafts were too scary not to leak — all the way through the process.

In the Polish Parliament members of the libertarian ‘Ruch Palikota’ donning Guy Fawkes masks

With source material in hand, legal scholars like Michael Geist were able to study various ACTA drafts, and explain the legal language online so that people could understand the ramifications of this treaty that would change our lives. Concerned citizens formed organizations like the excellent La Quadrature du Net which served as a European clearing house for ACTA news. There was an Identica group where I learned about the latest ACTA news and I posted whatever I found there. Like many other ordinary people, I talked to people in my real life as well as sharing ACTA drafts and information on websites and blogs.

And so, over time, many of the worst bits were cut out of ACTA in the face of the negative opinion and outcry. Even so, after the last negotiation, there remained a few irreconcilable differences, and so it went unsigned.

Reasonable people might expect that to have been the end of it, but some months later, after what had to be a good deal of truly secret negotiations, some countries — including Canada — quietly signed the ACTA agreement. But it wasn’t over yet, it still required Europe.

Fortunately for the rest of the world, the European Union did not follow suit. Unlike North America — where most politicians had been kept entirely in the dark with the secrecy provisions in the heavy duty non-disclosure agreement — some EU politicans had been paying attention to ACTA, and enough awareness had been raised to generate an amazing outcry led by Poland.

“A demonstration was to be held there against a secret attempt to sign the ‘ACTA treaty’ by the Polish government, ostensibly to prevent piracy on the web, but in reality, to enable the introduction of the kind of censorship we had in the communist era, and now have in China, (the reading of private e-mails, the tracking of correspondence, the registration of visited web pages visited and network surveillance). Whilst these earlier forms of censorship were designed to perpetuate Communist ideology, those that ACTA would impose have been designed in the U.S. to allow the gradual takeover of states and governments by global corporations.”

— Paweł Łyszczyk, Szczecinian: Opinion: ‘Szczecin says ‘No’ to ACTA’

And amazingly, all the information sharing and Anti-Acta hullabaloo ultimately led the European Union to decline ACTA. Again, this should have been the end of the story, except that the special interests behind these oppressive laws are not about to give up so easily.

What makes the onslaught even worse is that many people are complacent, believing that ACTA—like the US SOPA— has been defeated.

But SOPA was remixed into CISPA and speedily passed into American law. And now, much of the ACTA language is coming back into the shape of other trade agreements, like CETA and the TPP.

The Ghost of ACTA?

Screen Shot : @laurelrusswurm  @majoleink Much ACTA language is being reused - parcelled out in other agreements... look at CETA, TPP

When I said that on Identi.ca the other day I was surprised to be challenged by a Twitter user called @ACTAwebcare:

@ACTAwebcare said:  @laurelrusswurm It's not true. Can you please remove this tweet?

Although I knew it was true, @ACTAwebcare may well have gone to Twitter with a complaint against me to get the Tweet removed. Since I always feel the best way to counter misinformation is with the truth, I responded with some back-up links, quoting reputable sources like:

TechDirt: Son Of ACTA (But Worse): Meet TPP, The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Michael Geist: U.S. Intellectual Property Demands for TPP Leak: Everything it Wanted in ACTA But Didn’t Get

But the best was this line by line comparison of ACTA and TPP language done by infojustice.org TPP vs. ACTA – Line by Line

Setting up a Twitter account in an attempt to rehabilitate ACTA (and spread misinformation about it) is quite telling. Although ACTA may be officially gone, it is anything but forgotten. And we need to understand and fight  the dangers of its new incarnations.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has created the following Infographic to explain just what is wrong with the TPP.  It’s from an American perspective, but the consequences will be just as dire for the rest of the world.   Canada is clamoring to jump on this bandwagon, so we Canadians can write letters to our MPs too.

EFF infographic

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake’s final words on ACTA


What is the Trans Pacific Partnership Infographic by Electronic Frontier Foundation and Lumin Consulting released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0) license

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The Internet Needs to be Free

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on July 18, 2012

Like Spiderman*, the new Batman movie illustrates the world that copyright maximalists want us to live in: one where we watch the same handful of movies over and over again. Less competition and tighter corporate control means the culture industry makes more profit.

The Internet Defense League is a network of people and sites who use their massive combined reach to defend the open internet and make it better. Because it can sound the alarm quickly to millions of users, people are calling it “a bat-signal for the Internet”.

— EFF: July 19: IDL launches, blasting cat signals all over the internet and in real life

The Internet Defense League's "Cat Symbol" projected in the sky

interweb freedom has signed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Internet Defense League.


*Spiderman’s most recent release was this year, a mere decade after the previous outing.

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What Has President Obama Accomplished?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 25, 2012

I stumbled on this blog post:

The Immoral Minority: Fifty two percent of Americans believe the President has not accomplished “very much.” Fifty two percent of Americans are morons.

I had to answer, but I suspect that my comment won’t be posted. Since it’s big enough to be a post of it’s own, I’m publishing my response here.

You say:

“Measured in sheer legislative tonnage, what Obama got done in his first two years is stunning.”

And then you list the things. And it sounds good but is it?

Many of my American friends are horrified at what “Health care reform” actually ended up being (not as advertised).

>>”The takeover and turnaround of the auto industry.”
. . .  I don’t know about this one, but if this is a good thing, why isn’t Michael Moore trumpeting it?

>>”The biggest economic stimulus in history.”
. . . was what, bailing out the banks with no strings?

The banks that went ahead and foreclosed on all those homes of taxpayers. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the taxpayers who had culpability for the erosion of the laws that led to the current Global Depression.

(The same laws that were enacted after the last Great Depression, you know, to prevent it happening again.)

The banks, which *did* have culpability – were given pots of no-strings taxpayer ca$h.

If that bailout money had been given directly to the mortgagees, they would have been able to pay their notes and would still be productive members of society with a roof over their heads. Instead, they are on the streets, many of them in “Occupy” Camps.

Coincidence?

>>Sweeping new regulations of Wall Street.
. . . Uh huh . . . why, then, is “Occupy Wall Street” striking such resonance?

>>A tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. A vast expansion of national service.

. . . I don’t know about these, but in light of previous government largesse to banks, and the virulence of the Obama administration’s attempts to silence Wikileaks (which, oddly enough, promised bank revelations) I would guess this is more “appearance” than “substance”

>>Net neutrality.

. . .  this one I *do* know about, Just because you call it “Net Neutrality” doesn’t mean it *is* “Net Neutrality.” ACTA, TPP, SOPA, CISPA could not exist with actual Net Neutrality… not to mention strong arming the rest of the world to make American dictated laws?

>>The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years.

. . .  oh, really? What about the Enbridge pipeline deal? You know, *that* Enbridge ~ that just had a little accident.

>>A revolutionary reform to student aid. Signing the New START treaty with Russia. The ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

. . .  and lets not forget that while the soldiers who used innocent civilians for target practice walk free while a young man accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video langishes in jail . . .

. . . or that the President has assumed the authority to assassinate American citizens at will.

Okay, maybe, you’re right, perhaps President Obama has accomplished a lot.

Much more than George W. Bush, because Obama understands PR.

It’s kind of ironic that President Obama has done such a great job of fulfilling the Republican agenda. Before Obama, I thought that your two political parties were different. Your country (and mine, whose government panders to yours) is a lot closer to 1984 thanks to your President’s efforts.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a good thing.

Frighteningly apropos for George Orwell’s birthday.

The thing is, Orwell was warning us *against* doublespeak and all the rest.

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U.S. Expanding Cross-border Police Integration With Canada & Asset Forfeiture Sharing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 6, 2012

[Note: this was posted as a comment by Ross Wolf but I thought it deserved its own post.]

Concurrent with Obama’s proposed law legalizing and expanding cross-border police integration in North America, Canadians recently introduced Commons Bill C-30 — touted to protect children on the Internet— which would also give any Canadian police officer — without a warrant — the power to request Internet service providers turn over customers’ information (see section 17 of C-30) and allow Canadian police to seek into Canadians’ private computers.

C-30 was strongly opposed by Canadians in April 2012. Canadians further discovered Canada had signed agreements with the United States for an array of Asset Forfeiture Sharing Agreements, allowing Canada and the U.S. to share Canadian and Americans assets civilly or criminally confiscated using Asset Forfeiture laws that resulted from U.S. and Canada sharing information. This information is to be gleaned from electronic surveillance of Canadian and American Citizens’ communications, (e.g., emails, faxes, Internet actively, phone records).

The Obama Government (now) wants the power (without a warrant) to introduce as evidence in Civil; Criminal and Administrative prosecutions any phone call record, email or Internet activity. Police can take out of context any innocent—hastily written email, fax or phone call record to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, fines and or civil asset forfeiture of their property. There are more than 350 laws/violations that can subject property to Government forfeiture that require only a civil preponderance of evidence.

The U.S. “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (effectively eliminated) the “five year statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture: the statute now runs five years (from the date) government or a police agency allege they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. It is foreseeable should (no warrant) government electronic surveillance be allowed; police will relentlessly sift through business and Citizen’s (government retained Internet data), emails and phone communications to discover possible criminal or civil violations.

Is CISPA A Government Trojan Horse?
U.S. Government Can Use CISPA Internet Spying To Control and Forfeit Businesses—Seize Your Property:

If The Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is passed by Congress, it would allow U.S. Spy and other government agencies to share Americans’ confidential Internet and other information with Government Certified Self Protected Cyber Entities, Certified Cyber Entity Employees and Elements in both government and private sectors to help protect them—against Cyber threats.

However—CISPA would also allow Government agencies, police and government quasi/contractors (WITHOUT WARRANTS) OR LIABILITY to take out of context—any innocent hastily written email, fax or other Internet activity to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, assess fines or civilly forfeit a business or person’s property.

Government can use CISPA to certify any Self Protected Cyber Entity or their employee—to spy on their employers and clients: (CIVIL Asset Forfeiture Incentive). The U.S. Government is not prohibited from paying any Government Certified Cyber Self Protected Entity or Employee; or Element part of government forfeited assets or other compensation that result from the aforementioned providing U.S. Government a corporation’s or clients’ private/confidential information—that (now) require a warrant or court order.

Federal Government currently contracts on a fee/commission-sharing basis with Self Protected Cyber Entities, Elements and Contractors that have security clearances to participate in facilitating arrests and Government asset forfeitures.

It is expected U.S. Government, police and private contractors’— Civil Asset Forfeiture of Americans’ property will greatly escalate if CISPA is passed allowing Government certified private cyber entities and their employees—No Warrant Searches of persons’ and Businesses’ confidential Internet Information—that can be handed over to the government e.g. private emails, faxes, phone and transmitted files for investigation, prosecution and asset forfeiture—circumventing the Fourth Amendment.

CISPA Internet Spying:

Since CISPA was passed by the House, two additional cyber-security bills have been created in the Senate called, “The Cyber Security Act of 2012” and “SECURE IT Act”. Both bills appear unconstitutional; both appear designed to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and public Freedom of Information Requests.

The Cyber Security Act of 2012 formally known as S. 2105 was created by Senate Democrats, Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins. Similar to CISPA, the Cyber security Act of 2012 would abolish legal walls that stop Federal government and private companies sharing information.

The SECURE IT ACT: S.2151 was introduced by Senate Republicans on March 1st 2012: would (require) federal contractors to alert government about any cyber threats, forcing such communications between government regulators and corporations. The SECURE IT Act authorizes sharing of persons’ private Internet information (without a warrant) going beyond what is necessary to report a believed cyber threat.
SECURE It Act fails to create a regulatory system at the Federal level to oversee cyber-security threats opening the door for persons’ and businesses’ confidential information to be misused and misappropriated by government agencies and private sector government certified cyber entities.

Under CISPA: U.S. Government should be prohibited from using so-call (Certified Self Protected Cyber Entities, their Employees) and Elements to circumvent the Fourth Amendment; escape Public Freedom of Information Requests.

CORRUPTED: U.S. Government Certified Self Protected Cyber Entities and Employees, U.S. Government Agencies, Contractors and Police too easily may use someone’s confidential Internet Information, e.g. transmitted files and private emails collected (without warrants) to extort Americans, corporations, politicians; for compensation target a businesses’ competitor; or sell private information gleaned from warrant-less Internet Surveillance.

If CISPA is passed allowing NO Warrant private self protected cyber entity spying, some Internet writers and political activists might be dead-meat under NDAA. Americans who write on the Internet or verbally express an opinion against any entity of U.S. Government or its coalition partners—may under The Defense Authorization Act of 2012—be deemed by U.S. Government (someone likely to engage in, support or provoke violent acts or threaten National Security)— or (Belligerent) to order an American writer or activist’s indefinite prison detention.

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going dark for canada

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 4, 2012

interweb freedom https://stopusagebasedbilling.wordpress.com/ is Blacked Out today,  JUNE 4th to protest Bill C-38 in defense of NATURE and DEMOCRACY ... Our land, water and climate are threatened by the  federal budget; proposed changes will weaken environmental laws and silence the Voices of those who seek to defend the Environment. SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION. Stand up for Democracy CANADA must protect our ENVIRONMENT and our DEMOCRACY

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