US lawmaker injects ISP throttle into Obama rescue package

'Network management' meets child porn


US Senator Dianne Feinstein hopes to update President Barack Obama's $838bn economic stimulus package so that American ISPs can deter child pornography, copyright infringement, and other unlawful activity by way of "reasonable network management."

Clearly, a lobbyist whispering in Feinstein's ear has taken Comcast's now famous euphemism even further into the realm of nonsense.

According to Public Knowledge, Feinstein's network management amendment did not find a home in the stimulus bill that landed on the Senate floor. But lobbyists speaking with the Washington DC-based internet watchdog said that California's senior Senator is now hoping to insert this language via conference committee - a House-Senate pow-wow were bill disputes are resolved.

"This is the most backdoor of all the backdoor ways of doing things," Public Knowledge's Art Brodsky told The Reg. "Conference committees are notorious for being the most opaque of all legislative processes."

Obama's stimulus bill sets aside between $6bn and $9bn for expanding American broadband into rural areas, and Senator Feinstein hopes to (PDF) augment this Broadband Technology Opportunities Program so that it "allows for reasonable network management practices such as deterring unlawful activity, including child pornography and copyright infringement."

On one level, Obama's bill is an effort to boost the American economy. On another, it's an opportunity for lobbyists to make a mockery American government.

According to Public Knowledge, the Motion Picture Association of America is behind Feinstein's language. The MPAA doesn't like copyright infringement. And you can bet the child pornography bit was tossed in for added effect.

But the "network management" bit sounds like ISP speak.

As Art Brodsky and his colleagues pointed out, network management is used to manage networks - not filter content. Content filters are used to filter content. But American ISPs - particularly cable ISPs - will take any excuse they can find to throttle certain traffic.

And if they're using copyright infringement and child porn as excuses, they'll have to start sniffing packets. So, Feinstein's amendment would also destroy net privacy - if there's any out there.

Word from Public Knowledge is that Congressman Henry Waxman will back Feinstein's amendment when it turns up in conference committee. Representing a district near Hollywood, Waxman has long backed the MPAA and the Recording Ass. of America in their efforts to crack down on P2P file sharing. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • US, UK, Western Europe fail to hit top 50 cheapest broadband list
    Syria, Sudan, Belarus, Ukraine came top. Are you starting to see a pattern?

    In an analysis of 3,356 fixed-line broadband deals in 220 countries, price comparison website Cable.co.uk found that the UK has the 92nd cheapest internet, beating the US, which came in 134th place.

    Based on 41 packages, the average cost per month for broadband in Britain came in at $39.01. Stateside, this rose to $55, from 34 packages measured.

    For these bulwarks of western democracy, 92nd and 134th place isn't particularly impressive. But if you really want to shave the dollars off your internet bill, you have a number of options.

    Continue reading
  • California's net neutrality law dodges Big Telecom bullet
    Federal appeals court upholds decision not to block connection protection rules

    The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court's refusal to block California's net neutrality law (SB 822), affirming that state laws can regulate internet connectivity where federal law has gone silent.

    The decision is a blow to the large internet service providers that challenged California's regulations, which prohibit network practices that discriminate against lawful applications and online activities. SB 822, for example, forbids "zero-rating" programs that exempt favored services from customer data allotments, paid prioritization, and blocking or degrading service.

    In 2017, under the leadership of then-chairman Ajit Pai, the US Federal Communications Commission tossed out America's net neutrality rules, to the delight of the internet service providers that had to comply. Then in 2018, the FCC issued an order that redefined broadband internet services, treating them as "information services" under Title I of the Communications Act instead of more regulated "telecommunications services" under Title II of the Communications Act.

    Continue reading
  • The right to repairable broadband befits a supposedly critical utility
    A bolt of lightning has caused me days of misery, because the fix requires too much proprietary tech

    Column I heard an electric discharge, a bit like a Jacob's ladder, immediately before a deafening crack of thunder. I'd never been so close to a lightning strike! All of the lights in the house went bright, then dimmed, then went back to normal. "Uh-oh," I thought, "I'm in trouble now." Everything in the house had been hit by a nasty surge and the oft-spoken aphorism that broadband services are now a utility to rank with water and electricity was suddenly very, very, real to me.

    But it was electricity I worried about first. I use top of the line surge protectors so my most sensitive devices – computers and monitors, of which I have many – all seemed fine. But I'd overlooked two other connections that come into nearly every home: the antenna and the phone line.

    My television seemed to have taken a direct hit. It still worked – mostly – but appeared unable to receive any digital broadcasts. That circuit, lying on the other side of the antenna lead, likely took a big hit from the lightning strike. But the rest of the television seemed fine – at first. After a few days, and several spontaneous reboots, I began to intuit that devices don't always immediately fail when hit by lightning. Sometimes they gradually shed their functions and utility.

    Continue reading
  • Telecoms growth forecast for 2022 may be optimistic
    Analyst view: 4Q21 drop plus strains from war mean component shortages drag on

    The telecoms kit market had a good 2021 with revenues close to $100bn, up more than 20 percent since 2017, but growth is now slowing, according to analyst Dell'Oro Group. Huawei is also starting to feel the effect of sanctions, but still leads the global market by a fair margin.

    However, the Dell'Oro Group's prediction of slightly less growth for 2022 may turn out to be optimistic amid warnings that the Ukraine war is already having an impact on the fragile supply chain recovery.

    Dell'Oro's analysis is based on the telecoms market sectors it monitors, including Broadband Access, Microwave & Optical Transport, Mobile Core Network (MCN), Radio Access Network (RAN), and Service Provider Router & Switch.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022