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  • Mar 6th, 2015 @ 4:12pm

    Market Discipline

    It’s not the “zero rating” that’s the problem; it’s the data caps and over-quota charges—which, as Techdirt often notes, are in turn just symptoms of lack of competition.

    When you can’t treat the disease, it often makes sense to treat the symptoms... but you still want to get as close to the problem as possible.

    Imagine that there were perfect competition among broadband providers. Data caps and over-quota charges, if they existed at all, would have to reflect real operating costs. “Zero rating” would then represent shifting some of those costs from the consumer to the service (for which the consumer also pays in some fashion). Large, established content providers might then be able to avail themselves of some business models not available to small independents... but that’s always the case.

    What makes this a problem is that there is no competition to constrain the use of data caps and over-quota charges. The FCC shouldn’t bother with zero rating; it should require last mile providers to demonstrate that consumer-facing impediments like data caps and over-quota charges reflect real costs of doing business, and do so in the fairest and least disruptive feasible way. Where market discipline is absent, effective regulation must stand in for it.

  • Mar 2nd, 2015 @ 11:03am

    Deeper Problem

    Both apps will notify other app users within a defined area if someone has activated their app, with the exact location of the police action. This may result in officer safety issues if community groups are able to pinpoint various police actions, and respond to the location in the form of a flash mob.
    I.e., If the community were to know where we are and what we’re doing, they might join forces and attack us.

    Have police become so accustomed to thinking of themselves as an occupying force—rather than as community servants—that they don’t even see the problem with that?

  • Feb 21st, 2015 @ 5:01pm

    Actions speak louder than words

    Dear Lenovo,

    If you really regret Superfish (and not just the fact that it was discovered), I have a simple way you can demonstrate your integrity:

    As soon as possible, begin offering all of your Windows computers–every single one–with a “clean install” option that includes nothing but Windows, Windows updates and WHQL-certified drivers. Not so much as a custom desktop background image added.

    If you have software other than WHQL-certified drivers that you believe enhances the operation of the machine, make it a downloadable install, and keep it granular (e.g., don’t bundle uncertified drivers we need with apps we don’t).

    Let us see how much more you have to charge without subsidies from bloatware and adware vendors and make the decision for ourselves which is the better value.

    I think you’d win back a lot of respect... and maybe force some other OEMs to play catch-up.

  • Dec 31st, 2014 @ 9:43pm

    Pirates -> authorized viewers

    Netflix streaming costs less than a good Usenet provider, and it’s much easier to use.

    Netflix streaming costs 2.5-3 times the cost of a decent VPN that will allow one to run BitTorrent in peace... but again, it’s much easier to use.

    If the goal were to convert pirates into authorized viewers, I think even Hollywood could figure out how to do it.

    I suspect the explanation for this paradox is somehow connected to “Hollywood accounting.”

  • Sep 8th, 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Competence

    “It does not matter that Ulbricht intended to conceal the IP address of the SR Server from public view. He failed to do so competently, and as a result the IP address was transmitted to another party – which turned out to be the FBI – who could lawfully take notice of it.”

    So, the next time there is a charge that someone has accessed content by circumventing digital protection measures put it place by the copyright holders... can we argue that they (obviously) failed to do so competently?

  • Aug 6th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Time to call Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau...

    “There was some question as to whether the beggar or his minkey was breaking the leu.”

  • Aug 4th, 2014 @ 10:36am

    Any other crime?

    Imagine any other crime, and think about whether or not you'd have someone say it was okay because there was "enormous pressure" on the people committing the crime. Imagine any other crime, and being told "not to feel too sanctimonious" because of what a "tough job" any other criminal had.

    Homicide in the course of protecting one’s home and family, where there is doubt as to whether the action was excessive, or justifiable homicide by reason of self-defense.

    America went batshit after 9/11; thirteen years later, the “normal” to which we have returned isn’t really normal at all. I’m much more concerned with ending the permanent state of emergency and devising better structures so we don’t lose our shit again the next time something unprecedented happens than I am with identifying scapegoats for a hysteria in which most of the nation was complicit.

    If our President were doing anything to put an end to the permanent state of emergency and to use the lessons of the Bush administration to develop ways to make sure we won’t lose our shit again, I’d happily accept leaving it at that.

  • Jun 22nd, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Re: I'm not really liking this

    If they are working for re-election (what the people want) rather than doing the right thing (what people need) it gets back to the old Roman bread and circuses. What people want is a free lunch. What they need is training on how to make lunch and grow the veggies to make it. One gets you re-elected, the other makes the country better.
    That cuts to the heart of it.

    Can any form of real democracy work? (Real meaning that the idea of rule by the people is implemented seriously; as opposed to Democracy Theater, in which the object is to go through the motions of democratic process in order prop up the peasants belief in the moral authority of government, while keeping things organized so that the ignorant masses cant actually do much damage.)

    If it can, can we find a way to make it work here?

    I agree (at least, I think this is agreement) that there is a disturbing disconnect between what it takes to get elected or reelected and what it takes to do the job for which one is elected. We elect those who campaign best, not those who govern best.

    Is your argument that without the need to maintain the approval of the people, at least once their last campaign is over, elected officials would be free to ignore the foolish folks who voted for them and do the right thing, should the mood strike them? I really cant see that as being much help.

    I can see how one might argue that getting big money out of elections wouldnt do much to help either, because the problem is really with the electorate: the campaigns just reflect that. Our political dysfunction is not a superficial one that will respond to minor procedural tweaks alone.

    I dont think MayDay.us could be the step that makes democracy work here. I think it just might be the first step.

  • Jun 21st, 2014 @ 11:52pm

    Re: I'm not really liking this

    I have trouble understanding how term limits would help anything.

    Surely one of our major influence problems is the revolving door syndrome. So long as a politician can be reelected, he or she has some incentive to please voters. Term limits would assure that no elected representative could hold office long before the primary question of interest would become, What next?

  • May 12th, 2014 @ 5:46pm

    Focus on the last mile, not the Internet

    Focus on the last mile, not the Internet

    Two things (still) bother me:

    1. Everybody is worried about fast lanes. Maybe... Im concerned that no one seems to be thinking about data caps.

    Oh, your service offers unlimited access to beautiful, high definition movies that weigh in at about 4GB an hour? Well, we cap our users at 80GB/month, so if they dont do anything else on the Internet, they can watch one every three days or so before we start threatening to cancel their account. Of course, we could work out a deal where traffic from *your* service is exempt...

    Combine that with special peering arrangements, and it could look commercially reasonable.

    2. Considering what a bang-up job the FCC has done with broadcast TV, radio, etc., the idea of reclassification of broadband Internet service makes me think, Be careful what you wish for. What should be reclassified is the last mileregardless of whether its carrying cable-TV channels, video-on-demand, voice communication, Internet traffic or something we havent even invented yet. Those who operate the physical infrastructure that almost unavoidably monopolizes the best path connecting citizens in their homes to the rest of the world are a prime candidate for tough regulation; the Internet is not, and should be left the hell alone.

    If that requires forcing physical infrastructure providers to be separate from ISPs and content providers... sounds good to me.

    (However, equal access rules made DSL ISPs viable until the FCC dropped them in 2005. Resurrecting those rules and applying them to all forms of last mile connection, for all forms of data that are technologically feasible on the connection in question, might be a good start.)

    Then, forget worrying about paid prioritization or data caps (and probably a few other things we havent thought of yet). If people have a real choice (of ISPs), they can decide what works for them. Its the last mile monopoly that makes everything else a problem. The last mile can, and should, be content-agnostic.

  • May 10th, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Dear Tom Wheeler,

    What you should be asking is whether there's a valid competition reason not to reclassify the last-mile ISPs as common carriers or utilities.

    On the mark, except change ISPs to providers.

    Remember that before 2005, independent ISPs had equal access to DSL lines (though not to cable or fiber). ISPs can exist in a competitive market; its only because the FCC has allowed last-mile providers to use their natural monopoly to control access to their lines that there is essentially no such market.

    At present and for the foreseeable future, physical lines can deliver speeds and capacities unattainable by other means; likewise, fiber outclasses coax and coax outclasses twisted pair. It should not matter what the last mile is delivering. There neednt be a monopoly on Internet service, or television packages, or video on demand, or voice communication or any other kind of one- or two-way information flow, just because there is a monopoly on the physical infrastructure.

    Correct me if Im wrong, economists, but I believe one of the basic steps to take when confronted with a natural monopoly is to isolate it, both to keep it from using its monopoly power to distort other markets and to keep regulators jobs as clear, simple and limited as possible.

    Split them apart! If you provide the line, you should be agnostic as to what travels over it. If you provide an information, communication or entertainment service, you shouldnt have any control over the lines.

  • May 10th, 2014 @ 1:34pm

    Re: FCC complaints

    http://www.fcc.gov/page/fcc-establishes-new-inbox-open-internet-comments

  • May 7th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Why buyers jurisdiction and not sellers?

    Ah. Of course. Its obvious once you see it.
    Thanks.

    Considering that point, I have to admit that this does make sense (granting the notion that sales taxes make sense at all, which is a whole other can of worms). Its still depressing to see that government can only seem to deal with anything, ever, by making things more complicated and increasing the visible footprint of the machinery of control.

  • May 6th, 2013 @ 11:04pm

    Why buyers jurisdiction and not sellers?

    Can someone explain to me the logic of basing sales tax on where the buyer is located, rather than on where the seller is located? It seems like going by the buyers location makes everything much more complex, since its the sellers who have to implement tax collection. Why should they be subject to the regulations of places where they are not located?

    What is so important about buyers locations as opposed to sellers that makes all the added complication worthwhile?

  • Feb 1st, 2013 @ 6:42pm

    It remains to see how many advertisers want to be associated with a system not all that different from one almost universally hated.

    Arent all advertisers associated with a system almost universally hated... advertising?

  • Jan 3rd, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Congratulations!

    Congratulations, Lower Hudson Valley Journal News!

    You just staged a clear demonstration of why some people (e.g., the state of Arizona) believe there should be no registration requirement to own or carry a gun.

  • Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 11:22pm

    Because most of us are not consistently interesting

    Why do so many people rely on closed platforms today, that allow somewhat arbitrary removal of speech?

    I can post nearly anything that isnt illegal or hardcore porn on my personal web site... but no one will see it.

    I could start a blog... there might be two people who even know what RSS is that would add me to their readers.

    Most of us dont generate enough consistently interesting content to hold an audience by ourselves. Facebook is like an open mike night or a community talent showit aggregates the small amount of interest each of us could generate alone into something that can maintain attention.

    Facebook has captured its arena so thoroughly that Diaspora and Friendica and the like have little chance. The successor of Facebook will be something that obsoletes what it does; doing what Facebook does better (more openly, more securely, whatever) will never overcome its head start in user base. At this point, they can (and do) dick us around quite a bit without having to worry much about fallout.

    Anything thats important to me goes on my web site. My biggest complaint about Facebook is that I cant really integrate the content and presentation I control into the feed they deliver to others... but I can see how Facebook has no incentive to make that possible, and good reasons to throw up roadblocks for anyone who isnt a paying sponsor or partner.

  • Oct 19th, 2012 @ 2:00pm

    The problem with free samples

    Instead, they claim that "by providing the first few lines of our stories to Internet users, the service reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our web sites." I'm wondering how they determine this, because I can't see how that would possibly be true.
    Theyre just saying that they figure the odds of an Internet user randomly happening to click on a link to their site are greater than the slim chance that anyone will click once he or she has seen a sample of whats actually there.

  • Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    Empathy, Shmempathy

    What about just asking a question that tests whether you actually read and understood the article?

  • Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Bob says:

    So let's hear it. Or if you can't come up with a legit mechanism, you should just be honest and say, "We don't want ANY prosecution for infringement." This kind of arguing over nits is just a waste.

    Speaking only for myself:

    Yes, I want us to give up the idea of supporting the creative industries by trying to make it very difficult and dangerous for people to obtain copies and derivatives of published works that are not authorized by their creators (or subsequent copyright holders).

    This notion used to work. It doesnt work anymore, because it is too fundamentally inconsistent with the nature of digital media, ubiquitous general-purpose computers and the Internet. The damage caused by this war on reality is too great to be justified just to protect the current way of doing business in certain industries.

    And thats all its protecting. Arts and sciences existed long before copyright, and they will exist long after it. How to integrate that with the business world is a job for business people... generally very inventive sorts, when not lulled into complacency by successful bids for protectionism. Copyright and patent worked for a while; now its time for those laws to get out of the way.

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