USA


This is stuck at the end of a New York Times article on how the new FCC Chair has been doing in his first months. Worth pondering over. But he has yet to speak plainly about his plans to overcome the net neutrality decision. Critics say that in doing so he has hidden just how much power the F.C.
In 1969, this mid-sized city in the middle of the US was named the most polluted city in the US. Some four decades later, it’s one of the few cities where you can get 1 GB Internet for USD 70 a month. This balanced article in the NYT, lays out the lessons. But so far, it is unclear statistically how much the superfast network has contributed to economic activity in Chattanooga over all. Although city officials said the Gig created about 1,000 jobs in the last three years, the Department of Labor reported that Chattanooga still had a net loss of 3,000 jobs in that period, mostly in government, construction and finance.
John Podesta is no stranger to privacy issues. I can remember some interactions with him in the context of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) during the Clinton Presidency. He has now been tasked with producing a big data-privacy report in 90 days. We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used. The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy, and public policy.
Following the Court of Appeals ruling against its net neutrality order, the FCC is facing an existential challenge, says Tim Wu in an interview with the Washington Post. What could the FCC have done differently? The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority. Other observers seem to think that’ll be hard to do, politically. There’s an effort to define it that way by the carriers, and to get people in Congress excited about that.
An old workaround bites back. Seems little alternative but to classify broadband as a utility. In a decision signed by two judges and joined in part by a third, the appeals court acknowledged that the F.C.C.
One of the reasons we opposed the ill-considered efforts by ETNO and others to impose sending-party-network-pays charging on Internet traffic was the danger of balkanization: differential access to the Internet from different countries or splinternet. We beat back that effort in a temporary alliance with the US State Department, but little did we know that another part of the US government was actively destroying the basis of the Internet. It will cause massive negative economic effects to US tech companies, as described well in a Wired article. Zuckerberg is referring to a movement to balkanize the Internet—a long-standing effort that would potentially destroy the web itself. The basic notion is that the personal data of a nation’s citizens should be stored on servers within its borders.
There was a time when voice telephony was seen as a public utility, requiring government involvement in supply. In most parts of the world, the end result was waiting lists and poor service. Now the same refrain is being sung re broadband. Why not take a look at Hong Kong? Here is where to start.

Anywhere but the USA?

Posted by on December 26, 2013  /  0 Comments

In a recent contribution to a just-published UNCTAD report on cloud computing we said: The other aspect of the problem is whether data are subject to the laws of the jurisdictions where the cloud computing companies are located. For example, take the case of a company in Country A using the services of a cloud computing supplier registered in Country B, which dynamically stores and processes the Country A firm’s data on server farms located in Countries C, D and E. Country A may not be happy to have the laws of Country B apply to the data and that its police may go trawling therein. The applicability of the laws of the country where the storage and processing occurred poses a new set of problems, because even determining which country has jurisdiction may be difficult in light of dynamic resource allocation. This was well before Snowden changed the entire discourse.
This was a central claim in the highly significant ruling made by Federal District Court in Washington DC: In a 68-page ruling, Judge Leon said the N.S.A. program that systematically gathers records of Americans’ phone calls was most likely unconstitutional, rejecting the Obama administration’s argument that a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, was a controlling precedent.
When US competition regulators turned down the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, many thought that would be the end of T-Mobile. Instead, it was the end of business as usual. T-Mobile branded and marketed all this as the “Un-carrier,” rolling out new versions of its plans — already five and counting — even as competitors have struggled to match the previous one. “Surprise is an effective competitive tactic,” Mr. Legere said.
To me, the biggest question arising from the Snowdon affair is why everyone is acting so surprised. “Everyone was so focused on the N.S.A. secretly getting access to the front door that there was an assumption they weren’t going behind the companies’ backs and tapping data through the back door, too,” said Kevin Werbach, an associate professor at the Wharton School.
I remember tweeting several months back about the negative fallout of the drip drip of the Snowden revelations on cloud companies and even on the routing of data traffic (why is it so difficult to find something you’ve written in social media?). In my interactions with industry people across Asia, I could sense the unease of entrusting anything valuable to American companies. But now it seems to have percolated up to the top: But protests from business executives, who told Mr. Obama last week at a White House meeting that they feared the N.
That actually was said by a Verizon executive. Is this the future? Verizon’s move on this sliver of land is a look into the not-too-distant future, a foreshadowing of nearly all telephone service across the United States. The traditional landline is not expected to last the decade in a country where nearly 40 percent of households use only wireless phones. Even now, less than 10 percent of households have only a landline phone, according to government data that counts cable-based phone service in that category.
The US is where most ICTs were invented and put to use. But, it is proving difficult to clearly specify how the benefits flow. If it is difficult in the US, it cannot be easy in our countries. We also have access to far more sophisticated consumer goods, from the iPhone to cars packed with digital devices. And the cost of many basic staples, notably food, has fallen significantly.
Can the telcos work out deals with OTTs about the traffic they carry? Or do they have to be absolutely neutral? These are the questions. The outcome will reverberate across the world. The case, which is expected to be decided late this year or early next year, has attracted enormous interest.
The money comes from everyone with a telecom connection in the US. And the government has trouble pushing it through. Five billion USD is a lot of money to keep unspent. Here, we’ve been griping about India’s USD 4 billion and Brazil’s USD 4 billion plus. The E-Rate program has been faulted for inadequately allocating money in the fund, which is provided through a tax on consumers’ phone bills, a monthly charge between 50 cents and $1.