Tag Archives: FCC

What’s the i2Coalition, Part 2 of 2: Internet Infrastructure Coalition … Plus Some Jokes

 

English: Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadb...
Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadband Networks in the United States by County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as you might imagine given the title, the second in a 2-part series. The reason we’re covering the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) in some detail is because we are a member of the group and we believe in the values it is dedicated to uphold.

Politics can sometimes be divisive and volatile. However, if you believe fundamentally in liberty and the ability of individuals and companies to make their own decisions online, it’s not difficult to agree with the parameters of the i2Coalition. Our membership places us in good company among Internet heavy-hitters such as Google, Parallels, cPanel, and a slew of top registrars, data centers, and hosting companies.

Please consider what it means for us to stand up for the Open Internet in this way, and that becoming our client or continuing as one means choosing a company that is dedicated to upholding our, your, and all Web users’ Internet freedoms. We like the Internet, generally speaking, the way it is. We don’t want interference to break down its efficient and economically prosperous free-flow of information and resources.

Looking Back & Moving Forward

The first part in this series was on the Open Internet, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – which refers to it, in brief, as “the Internet as we know it.” You probably recognize the FCC as the US federal agency that governs mass media. It’s important to note that the FCC no longer determines the regulations for online copyright: intellectual property online is, instead, the domain of the Department of Homeland Security (yes, you read that correctly).

In the last article, I discussed the three stipulations that are used by the FCC to delimit the Open Internet. The rules are not for individual consumers; rather, they are a simple and basic way to provide guidance for how broadband providers must treat clients and traffic. The codes govern both mobile (ie MiFi, or a mobile hotspot) and fixed Internet (a typical home or business network). In review, here are the FCC’s 3 rules:

  1. Full Disclosure: A company that offers broadband service must make its policies and procedures freely available. These elements of its business practices include the following: a.) general overview of how it manages its network; b.) general overview of how its network performs; and, c.) the terms and conditions of how it functions in commercial relationships.
  2. Anti-Censorship: A broadband firm is not permitted to prevent users from accessing anything online that is within the confines of the law – including apps, content, and downloads. Machines that aren’t dangerous to the network also cannot be restricted. Specific to mobile service, it is not acceptable for broadband companies to restrict access to any online location or to any service that provides the same service as their own video telephony or voice platforms.
  3. Anti-Discrimination: All broadband users must be granted the same ability to visit and interact with whatever online materials they so choose. The flow of traffic must be non-discriminatory. An example of a problem in this regard is when certain sites and online apps perform at a decreased level – at a lesser speed or diminished performance quality.

The Internet Infrastructure Coalition is concerned with the Open Internet because of how these rights (of users) and responsibilities (of Web providers), broadly speaking, are under assault by legislation in the US federal government. We want the Open Internet to remain in effect. A closed, filtered, or censored Web is not how we think the online world should operate; unfortunately, not all individuals and entities agree with us, which is why it’s such an important issue to understand and discuss.

Also, again, there are two sides to every argument. I will look at the other side, then, so we can get a broad view of the subject. To do so, I’ll take a look at perspectives from citizens who don’t want the Internet to remain open (a continuation from Part 1):

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 4:

“I once saw a baby go online for the first time. The baby, granted, already had a pipe in its mouth and was wearing a bowler hat, so it was kind of a strange baby – and it might have even been a demon. Still, the baby — four months old, but big for its age at 6’4” and 260 pounds — logged onto the Web (this was in a laboratory in Mountain View, California) and went straight to Google. There, it searched for several different topics geared toward self-improvement and development of a world hierarchy led by an army of surly, opiate-addicted, and exceptionally large infants. Four hours later, it had created an Internet worm that it used to phish for its dinner for the next twenty-eight years. Then they kicked it out of the lab. Down with the triple-W!” – Jacob Davis, Pierre, SD, USA

The i2Coalition: Basic Mission

Companies that make up the infrastructure of the Web are concerned about recent adjustments toward governance of the Web on the part of the US federal government. Web copyright, as mentioned above, is now under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the 2009 National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) – and that change has generated crackdowns.

Per the i2Coalition, the new way that the Internet is regulated is a major threat to the Open Internet. Congress, it says, is “drafting laws that subvert due process and bring great risk to U.S. based web hosts and their clients.” Essentially, having copyright handled by an executive branch department that was founded to combat terrorism creates a situation that is inflexible and allows for knee-jerk arrests and unfair seizure of websites.

The DHS says that it conferred with “private sector entities,” along with various governmental agencies and departments, to draft the NIPP. The i2Coalition, however, argues that it is being ignored on issues that will have massive impact both on the ways it does business and on the Internet as a whole.

Members of the i2Coalition could be instrumental on steering regulatory committees toward viable pathways to answer legal concerns. The association believes the viewpoints of its members on what proposals might have negative consequences are crucial to allowing the industry to function coherently.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 5:

“One time I went to a website, and they stole money from me. I gave them my credit card information, and instead of charging me $17.95, like it said on the site, I was charged $18.95. I called those fraudsters over 7000 times over the weekend. Their customer service office wasn’t open, but I don’t give up easy. I just kept leaving messages. Their system kept accepting them. I guess they don’t monitor their voicemail over the weekend, so they were basically holding my money hostage for over 48 hours. Then I created a slam site, reported them to the Better Business Bureau, and vomited in a paper bag and mailed it to the owner’s mother – I found her online. What a pain. Now I just keep pre-filled vomit bags in stock so I have one on hand if this happens again.” – Dirk Ventura, Tierra Verde, FL, USA

The i2Coalition: Public Policy & Membership

Now let’s talk about specific policy statements set forth by the i2Coalition. The coalition believes Internet freedom, transparency, and non-interference allow the Web to function most effectively as a segment of the US and world economy. It also believes the Web, if allowed to operate broadly and within an environment characterized largely by self-governance, is fundamentally positive to the nation and the international community.

The group’s “core principles” are six-fold:

  1. Incorporating a variety of stakeholders in the development of laws and codes, with all major affected parties helping to determine what Web controls make sense
  2. Allowing the market to be a determining factor in the creation of policy, so that the Web is understood and governed holistically rather than hierarchically
  3. Adopting a lawmaking and code-enforcement attitude that gives the Web the ability to evolve, change, and flourish as new technologies are released
  4. Protecting individual liberty, privacy, and openness
  5. Involving both the public and private sector leaderships to engage in mutually beneficial policymaking
  6. Advocating that private entities utilize best practices so that all parties’ goals can be simultaneously achieved.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 6:

“I remember the first time I saw a calculator. I said, ‘Mary’ – that’s my cocker spaniel – ‘Mary, it’s just a matter of time before I have to look at some guy’s head with its pie-hole open, spouting off on why his favorite sports team is better than mine. Mary, sadly, is now deceased. But my passion to ensure as many pie-holes as possible stay shut lives on. Let’s close the Internet, the libraries, the mouths, and the minds. Then let’s all have a barbecue at my place and forget about it. I’ll make coleslaw.” – Chester Ford, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Conclusion: Membership & Involvement

The i2Coalition needs support from both industry players and the public to achieve its aims. If you agree with the concept of net neutrality or “the Internet as we know it,” joining forces with the group is one way to make your voice heard.

If you’re interested in membership, you can provide the organization with your contact information; the organization will then be in touch to complete an application; or you can fill one out yourself now. Involvement with the i2Coalition is not just about policy initiatives the group currently has in place. The group also generally wants to, via integration and consideration of the ideas set forth by member companies, “find our collective voice as an industry.”

Keep in mind also that the i2Coalition is not just about membership. It also seeks to involve the public in the Open Internet debate. An example is its petition to the Obama administration to listen to the Internet infrastructure industry and its concerns related to Web regulations. The petition has its basis not just in vested interest but in the skills, expertise, and experience of member organizations. Interested parties can sign up to receive email updates as well.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

What’s the i2Coalition, Part 1 of 2: The Open Internet … Plus Some Jokes

 

Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Superb has joined the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition), an organization concerned with how Internet freedom could be damaged by recent and ongoing changes in federal law. These changes – and additional bills that have been proposed – are far-reaching and threaten the Open Internet, the Web as we have come to understand it since its inception, as originally upheld by FCC mandate (and hopefully this article will not quickly become descriptive of an artifact of the past).

Specifically, the US Department of Homeland Security has been placed in charge of online Copyright protection duties. The i2Coalition believes actions at the federal level are ignoring due process. The organization and its members agree that new regulations could negatively impact not just hosting companies but their clients as well. The group disagrees with changes that make it more difficult for users to gather and exchange ideas and information online.

The i2Coalition includes numerous heavy-hitters from the “Internet infrastructure” community (those firms that form the backbone of the Web, such as registrars, sata centers, and hosts). Its members include Google, Parallels, cPanel, and a number of other high-profile infrastructure companies.

Because we are so proud of that membership and view the cause as so important I thought it would be interesting to explore what exactly the Open Internet is; then I’d like to get into why what the i2Coalition is doing could help make positive change on behalf of the hosting world and the many clients who rely on our services. This article is the first in a two-part series. This piece will focus specifically on the Open Internet.

Additionally, I’ll share perspectives from the opposite side, just so we get a balanced view on the subject.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 1:

“I believe Internet freedom is scary. If it was a book, I would burn it. Unfortunately, it’s nonflammable. I can’t put it in my hands and set it on fire. It’s a spirit of doom. I remember when I first heard of the Internet. I shuddered. Freedom and ability of individual people to communicate openly always makes me shudder, almost like I’m going into anaphylactic shock. On that very first day when I looked around on the Web, I saw a webpage I didn’t like. I immediately grabbed my lighter and tried to torch its pages, and all I did was horribly damage the library computer I was using. They threw me out. End the Internet now!” – Bradley Battaglia, Spokane, WA, USA

Preserving the Open Internet: What is It Anyway?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Open Internet http://www.fcc.gov/openinternet is “the Internet as we know it.” The reason the Internet is open is because the standards and protocols that are used on the Web and that make up its infrastructure are free (accessible) and open to all who want to understand and use them.

Anyone can get online and use the Web; anyone can build a website with a relatively tiny amount of money to get something up and going. Accessibility and prominence of course becomes easier with larger sums of money, but the possibilities are there for anyone to grow something online – just as they are in physical reality (where we can print just about whatever we want and hand it out around town).

Furthermore, Web traffic is treated essentially the same as it travels throughout the network. There are of course exceptions to this, such as when certain IP addresses are found to have malicious intent or when trade limitations have been placed on certain countries (such as Iraq and certain other states that can’t but SSL certificates and other pieces of core Internet functionality from the United States and certain other countries).

The philosophy behind the Open Internet is often termed “net neutrality.” The idea behind net neutrality is that a Web user (an individual sitting at a home computer, for instance, or anyone operating on a business network) can decide for themselves what they want to do. I or you or your cousin Theodore can jump online and go wherever we want, and the Web itself could care less.  That’s an important part of what freedom is about, after all: living and letting live, stepping aside and letting someone repeatedly visit websites with insipidly boring and misinformation-saturated blogs by people who dropped out of high school and don’t know how to conduct research … or not.

People can also link to whatever information they like, sharing what they want. The Web, in this sense, has always been kind of a free-for-all, in a good way. The Open Internet, per the FCC, “promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.”

It’s possible via the Open Internet, virtually wherever a person is, to engage in the Web in whatever way they so choose – not just in the creation of online sites and companies but in the interaction and intercommunication that’s possible with such basic tools as email and social media. Once you’re on the Web (and of course there are charges for a home network), there are no fees to communicate with other people on the Web. You share what you want and engage as you want, no strings attached. You can post whatever you want on a site you build and make it immediately available to the public.

The FCC has not attempted to regulate the Web. The content on the Web and the applications that are used to create the content or allow Web users to share and interact with information have been allowed free reign to flourish. The rules of the Open Internet, under the auspices of the FCC, were set, per their explanation, merely “to ensure that no one—not the government and not the companies that provide broadband service—can restrict innovation on the Internet.”

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 2:

“One time I saw a cat doing something weird on a website. It was unnatural! The cat looked like it was talking. In fact, it looked – out of the corner of my eye – like it was insulting us. By ‘us’ I mean people. I’ve never liked cats. They’re dirty. They’re disgusting. They’re unwholesome. The world of the Internet is a world where cats are given far too much freedom. It’s like they’ve become our gods. Stop the Internet before the cats have completely infiltrated our churches, homes, and hair salons!”– Margaret Scopacasa, Blaine, MO, USA

Open Internet Rules, Proceedings, Considerations & Complaints

Let’s take a look at some of the specs involved with the Open Internet, as established by the FCC.

Open Internet Rules

Three core rules govern the notion of the Open Internet:

  1. The Web must be transparent: Disclosure is required by companies providing broadband pertaining to how their network is managed, how it performs, and its terms of commerce.
  2. The Web must not be blocked: A company providing broadband can’t prohibit any lawful content or service.
  3. The Web must not discriminate: You can’t discriminate in the manner that network traffic is transmitted to or from consumers. No content or application should be decreased in its performance or speed, for any user.

 

The FCC establishes these basic codes in the Open Internet Report and Order (Open Internet R&O). The R&O also mentions that broadband companies should be able to properly administer their networks to prevent such problems as spam and high- traffic users clogging the network and preventing full access to others. Rules #2 and #3 above allow system management to prevent such issues.

Specific to mobile broadband, providers are not able to prevent access to third-party applications that allow transmission of video telephony and voice, overlapping with or replacing the functions of their own applications.

Open Internet Proceedings & Consumer Rights

In 2005 the FCC presented the following consumer rights (applicable within the confines of the law):

  1. right to download, use, and share any online materials desired
  2. right to connect and use any safe and secure equipment desired
  3. right to fair play between providers of networks, applications, and materials.

The FCC announced in 2009 that it would start accepting ideas from citizens regarding Open Internet specifications. Following a number of information-gathering community events and additional collection of individual, external perspectives, the R&O was signed into agreement in 2010 (Dec. 21); it took full effect the following year (Nov. 20).

Open Internet Considerations

The R&O, beyond stating rules and stipulations, allows broadband firms to distribute emergency messages and to comply with the requests of legal entities – regardless if those activities run contrary to any of the three rules. The company is also allowed to take fair steps to protect intellectual property and generally prevent law-breaking.

Open Internet Complaints

Do you think a company or individual is in defiance of the rules presented in the Open Internet R&O? You can state any grievance here http://www.fcc.gov/complaints (although perhaps they will now refer you to the Department of Homeland Security to ensure your complaint isn’t due to an act of terrorism?).

The following is helpful to consider prior to contacting the FCC:

  1. Is your problem in reference to mobile or fixed broadband? (In other words, can you log on to your network away from your home?)
  2. Which of the three R&O rules (stated above) do you believe the broadband company might be breaking?

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 3:

“I saw someone curse on the Internet once. It was in a comment on YouTube. Destroy Google! Let’s all get our pitchforks and torches! Why not? If you don’t have either one, just grab a couple of objects that look somewhat scary. Let’s do this thing!”– Michael Lesser, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

Conclusion

The Open Internet, as established by the FCC, is an important set of rights and responsibilities for providers and users of the Web. For American citizens, knowing our rights as they have been established in the Open Internet R&O can give us a better sense of what we’ve had so good since the Internet first went online.

The R&O has been viewed even by the federal government, until recently, as crucial to the continuation and growth of our online economy, as well as to our ability to use the Internet freely without undo interference. Our membership at Superb Internet in the i2Coalition is a statement of our belief that the Internet operates best in an environment of net neutrality, in adherence to the principles of the “Internet as we know it.”

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood