Sunday, March 30, 2008


F2C: Freedom to Connect is Monday

I can't believe I have not blogged for a week! There's so much to blog about too, but I've been busy as a one-armed paper-hanger making F2C: Freedom to Connect happen!

Here, for bookmark purposes, are a few items off the top of my head:
The Verizon Open Development Forum, which I attended, was substantially different than I thought it would be, a lot more Henry Chesbrough than Tim Wu. This is not necessarily good, but not necessarily evil either.

The 700 MHz auctions ended, winners announced, same-old same-old.

Comcast recanted! It is trying to manage its network in non-app-specific ways. Yay? Or yeah, right?

Pulvermedia, my one-time partner in F2C, is rumored to be near demise.

There was a great story in the WashPost about Ben Scott, the spark plug of Free Press's Network Neutrality engine.
I'm certainly forgetting several other bloggables . . . Meanwhile, on the F2C Front:
New speakers include Obama Tech Consultant Alec Ross, Vermont FTTH guru Tim Nulty and PublicKnowledge co-founder Gigi Sohn.

Last minute cancellations include, Jonas Birgersson, Tom Evslin and Andrew Rasiej. I'm disappointed . . . I understand that real life sometimes intervenes, but each F2C speaker seems to me a bit like a family member -- it hurts when I lose 'em.

F2C has a new logo -- see the upper left of this post! It works nicely on this year's t-shirts!

F2C will be webcast and there will be a chat-in feature. You can join us even if you can't be there. See for details
See you at F2C on Monday!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008


Clinton girl: "reject politics of fear"

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Quote of Note: Ben Scott

"The auction . . . failed to produce a much-needed competitor to the phone and cable giants. Since Verizon -- winner of the C Block -- is already a dominant provider of DSL, the prospect of a genuine third pipe competitor in the wireless world is now slim to none."

Ben Scott, policy director, Free Press, quoted here.

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The Next President's Internet Policy

[This article, originally written on January 15, appears in VON Magazine, March/April 2008, p. 48 -- David I]

Ten Internet Talking Points for the Next U.S. President
by David S. Isenberg

By the time you read this the race for U.S. President will be more defined than it is as I write it. But Internet policy issues will not change as fast. Here are ten talking points on Internet policy for the next president, no matter who he or she is, no matter what party.

1. Critical Infrastructure: Today's Internet is every bit as important as roads, electricity and clean water for commerce and economic growth. If all sectors of the United States economy are to grow as they did in the 1990s, we must have a world class Internet infrastructure, beginning with fiber to every home, supplemented with spectrum governed according to today's technology, not the technology of 1927.

2. Direct Democracy: Today's Internet is a platform for vigorous discussion of issues that once were available only via broadcast networks and newspapers. Because today's Internet is key not only to an informed electorate, but also to unprecedented citizen participation, it holds the potential to revitalize U.S. democracy and, in so doing, to restore the moral regard the United States once commanded among nations.

3. Freedom: Today's Internet holds a threat of surveillance, suppression and "total information awareness." We must be vigilant to ensure that the Internet supports the freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights rather than undermines them.

4. Innovation: The Internet's succeeds at nurturing new ideas because it carries information without regard for the origin, destination, form, content or meaning of the information it carries. This keeps barriers to innovation low, so new ventures like Google, Amazon and eBay can be discovered and grow. Companies that provide Internet access and transport must preserve this essential property; they must not impede or privilege packets based on what is in those packets, where they came from or where they're going.

5. Leadership: The United States invented the Internet. But today the U.S. is somewhere between 15th and 25th most wired nation, down from #3 in 2000. President Bush pledged to bring universal, affordable broadband to all Americans by 2007, yet today many Americans don't have broadband, or can't afford it. Competition has shrunk to three giantcompanies, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, and a handful of smaller ones. This is not acceptable; we need real competition or policy that enforces public duty when market power is great.

6. National Broadband Policy: The United States is the only developed nation today without a national broadband policy that ensures state-of-the-art Internet access for all citizens in their homes, places of business, schools, hospitals, libraries and on the go. Other nations have shown the way; we must learn from them.

7. Patents and Copyrights: The Internet changes how Intellectual Property is used. The rights of information owners must be protected, but not at the expense of the public's rights to know and the people's rights to create culture. The United States needs intellectual property law reform to harmonize it with today's technological advances.

8. Malware: Spam, viruses and spyware are growing problems, but they need not be! It should be a crime to install software on a computer without the informed consent of its owner. The polluters of the Internet must be tracked down and brought to justice. Technology exists to do this but there have been only a few prosecutions. Existing law should be enforced so the threat of jail is real.

9. Internet Crime: The Internet is a place where fraud, child abuse and exploitation, and other already-criminal activities occur. Criminals perpetrating these crimes should not get a free pass just because their crimes occur in cyberspace. They should be prosecuted. Our police and prosecutors should have sufficient technology expertise to track and prosecute criminals in cyberspace.

10. Rebuild Network Research: Bell Labs used to be a national treasure, spinning off such ideas as the laser, the transistor, and the digital signal processor, which are the heart of today's Internet technology. Now that Bell Labs has shrunk to be a mere development arm of Alcatel- Lucent, the United States must rebuild its network research capabilities. We should invest ten billion dollars over ten years in a National Institute of Network Research modeled on the National Institutes of Health so the U.S. can reclaim its role as the leader in Internet technology.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Contest: Best punch line.

What's the difference between Wall Street and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans?

The best punch line will be chosen for special recognition. Winner(s) -- selected by isen in his sole discretion -- get free admission to F2C: Freedom to Connect, March 31 & April 1. Maybe even a prize on stage.

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Quote of Note: Henry Paulson

"We've got strong financial institutions . . . Our markets are the envy of the world. They're resilient, they're...innovative, they're flexible. I think we move very quickly to address situations in this country, and, as I said, our financial institutions are strong."

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Sunday, 3/16, quoted here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Best book on . . .

I'm writing this post for myself, as a control-shift-meta-hyper-bookmark.

Aaron Swartz recently invited his blog readers to tell him about . . .
books which a) try to explain a whole subject with b) clarity and even joy while making c) no strong assumptions of prior knowledge and d) not dumbing the subject down. It's an extremely rare combination
One commenter noted that Metafilter has actually done this already.

Link to Aaron's posting (and contributions from his readers).

Link to Metafilter's rather awesome list.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


John McCain's 4-Word Broadband Plan

Cisco CEO John Chambers: Broadband. We need to put the rhetoric on the back burner and need to focus on making broadband a priority in the United States. We need a national broadband plan. We need to change the current FCC broadband measurement of 200Kpbs to 100 or even 500 times faster. The U.S. is falling behind on broadband and without leadership and focus we will continue to do so.

John McCain: I agree with John.

[Source] Thanks to Jim Baller & Casey Lide for the pointer [.pdf].

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New York Times Headline Misdirects

Steve Lohr has written a great article about how the Internet is doing, but Steve's editors got the headline wrong. The headline screams,

Video Road Hogs Stir Fear of Internet Traffic Jam

and the article opens quoting Jonah Johna Till Johnson, author of a badly spun recent study, and citing "Industry Groups" singing "a rising chorus of alarm about the surging growth in the amount of data flying across the Internet."

But the story should have bean headlined,

Internet Experts Debunk "Road Hog" Fears

At the core of the article, sanity prevails.
Others [that is, those other than Jonah Johna Till Johnson and "industry groups"] are less worried — at least in the short term. Andrew M. Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota, estimates that digital traffic on the global network is growing about 50 percent a year, in line with a recent analysis by Cisco Systems, the big network equipment maker.
“The long-term issue is where innovation happens,” Professor Odlyzko said. “Where will the next Google, YouTube, eBay or Amazon come from?”
Reporter Lohr goes on to explain that country-to-country differences are shaped by . . .
. . . local patterns of corporate investment and government subsidy. Frederick J. Baker, a research fellow at Cisco, was attending a professional conference last month in Taiwan where Internet access is more than twice as fast and costs far less than his premium “high speed” service in California.
The article ends with a quote from Bob Metcalfe, who famously predicted the Internet's catastrophic collapse under the weight of too much traffic way back in 1996. Today Metcalfe says,
"The Internet has proven to be wonderfully resilient,” said Mr. Metcalfe, who is now a venture capitalist. “But the Internet is vulnerable today. It’s not that it will collapse, but that opportunities will be lost.”
That's the real threat, opportunities lost. But that's an abstract fear that's demonstrably hard for the American Public -- maybe even for New York Times editors -- to grasp. How about,

Internet Experts Fear Lost Opportunities

UPDATE: Thanks to anonymous commenter for catching the misspelling of Johna Till Johnson's name. Duh. I know her, and how to spell her name. Blush.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"Outraged Diatribe" by Isenberg

Richard Martin missed my measured analytic approach in my Ecomm talk today in his article today in Information Week, where he wrote:

The issue of "network neutrality" . . . was the subject of an outraged diatribe from David Isenberg, former research scientist at AT&T (NYSE: T) Laboratories and the author of an influential 1997 paper called "The Rise of the Stupid Network." Isenberg pointed out that political developments quashed the "Competitive Local Exchange Carriers in the early 2000s and that the national Internet service business is in many ways an oligopoly, with the network providers now "trying to move up the stack" to control the applications that run over their networks.

"We need to have a neutral network," said Isenberg to applause from the audience, "where the owners of the physical infrastructure can't exercise discriminatory practices against applications they don't participate in and shut out the competition.

Remarking that the eComm audience represents "several hundred apps," Isenberg concluded, "If you guys care about your jobs you should care about the politics in Washington D.C., because the phone companies will shut you down or buy you out and you won't exist."

California is too far from Washington. I wanted the innovators in the audience to wake up and smell the coffee burning.

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Monday, March 10, 2008


Memo to Male Democrats

They've got the Quantico Circuit and Room 641A, so keep it zipped [.pdf].

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Quote of Note: Studs Terkel et alia

The House and Senate should resist the bullying tactics of the Bush White House and ensure that we have our day in court to vindicate our rights and reveal any illegality engaged in by the telecoms. We need to know about the Bush White House's secret program.

Studs Terkel and three other authors, "Why we sued the phone company," Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2008. [link]

More on "the bullying tactics of the Bush White House" here. (worth reading!)

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The Whistleblower's Tale . . . and other FISA folly

Another affidavit [.pdf] has surfaced that gives further credence to tales of spying without a warrant by our nation's telephone companies, in this case Verizon Wireless, according to a story in Wired's Threat Level Blog.

Babek Pasdar, CEO of communications security firm Bat Blue, and a "Certified Ethical Hacker," testified that the Verizon Wireless East Coast Data Center had a circuit called "The Quantico Circuit" that was excepted from his firewall and fraud detection work. Quantico, Virginia, is headquarters for the FBI's electronic surveillance operations.

When Pasdar asked where the Quantico Circuit went, one of the other consultants on the job (named "C1" in the affidavit)smiled, "a very telling smile [that indicated] we were discussing something unusual," but did not answer the question. Later in the conversation, when Pasdar suggested that everything should be at least logged, another consultant, "C2," showed "body language [that] showed that he was very uncomfortable discussing the matter."

Then, by surprise, the Verizon Wireless Director of Security showed up. Pasdar testifies,

The tentative, uncertain DS I had known was transformed into a man wagging his finger in my face and telling me to "forget about the circuit" and move on with the migration, and if I couldn't do that then he would get somebody who would.

I politely and in a low-key manner informed the DS that my intention was to deliver security in line with industry-acceptable use scenarios, and although I am not intimately familiar with their security policy, it was reasonable to think that having a third party with completely open access to their network core was against organizational policy.

DS did not want to hear any of it and re-doubled his emphatic message to move on. This was serious stuff. He had let me know in no uncertain terms that I was treading above my pay grade.

When DS left, I asked C1, "Is this what I think it is?"

"What do you think?" he replied again, smiling.

I shifted the focus. "Forgetting about who it is, don't you think it is unusual for some third party to have completely open access to your systems like this? You guys are even firewalling your internal offices, and they are part of your own company."

C1 said, "Dude, that's what they want."

I didn't bother asking who "they" were this time. "They" now had a surrogate face -- DS.
Pasdar then testifies that the Quantico Circuit,

. . . was tied to the organization's core network. It had access to the billing system, text messaging, fraud detection, web site, and pretty much all the systems in the data center without apparent restrictions.

Pasdar concludes that not only is it possible for a third party to gain sensitive information using such a circuit, but also -- and this was missed by the Wired Threat Level -- to exert control over the network. Boy, I'd like to see some scenarios for what's possible . . .

A letter [.pdf] from Representatives Dingell, Markey and Stupak, dated March 6, also misses the possibility that the Quantico Circuit could be used to control the Verizon Wireless network. The letter renews the call to not pass a retroactive telco amnesty law until Congress gets the facts it has requested from the Bush Administration, and asserts that the Bush Administration has prohibited the telcos from talking to Congress.

Negotiations on FISA and retroactive telco immunity seem to have gone behind closed doors. Will the Democrats capitulate, as Glenn Greenwald reports? Or won't they?

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If you're not nauseated, you're not paying attention

Finally, a majority of US Senators and Congressmen are sufficiently repulsed by US torture tactics to pass an intelligence authorization bill limiting all US government agencies to interrogation tactics approved by the Army Field Manual [news story].

Bush vetoed this bill.

If you're not repulsed by torture committed in the name of each US citizen (yes, they're doing this in my name and yours) then please watch this video showing new photos of the Abu Ghraib horror. The video is disgusting, yes, but it shows things (a) that our tax dollars pay for every day, and (b) that our president continues to assert are right.

Bush's veto does not only asserts that the practices shown in the video are right, it also asserts that protecting them is more important than supporting all other US intelligence activities..

Gentle reader, please for just one moment suspend your active impulse to deny the impact of torture on a human being. Just for one moment imagine that you are stripped of your dignity and autonomy like one of the people in the video. Just for one moment imagine your life is under control of a person who likes it when you hurt, has fun making you so scared you lose control of your sphincters, and doesn't care if you die. Imagine that this has gone on for weeks . . . or years. Imagine you have no recourse and no hope of getting out alive.

Repulsed yet?

Torture. Is. Wrong. Too bad our president, and a significant minority in Congress, do not grasp this fact.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008


Just in case we forget . . .

This video keeps getting better and better with every remix.

Thanks to Dean Collins and Four-eyed Monsters!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


More good stuff from FCC@Harvard

John Sundman has a great eyewitness account of the FCC's history-making hearing at Harvard, and Harold Feld has a detailed analysis of it. Both are at Wetmachine.

Susan Crawford points out that the framing was all wrong. She writes:
Even the most pro-public interest of the five commissioners, Cmmr. Copps, talks only about a case-by-case adjudication by the FCC of the "rules of the road" for "reasonable network management."
. . . and she concludes . . .
The idea of keeping these networks subject to nondiscrimination obligations isn’t some crazy newfangled heavyhanded overreach - it’s the way we have run communications for hundreds of years. These are communications networks (or should be), transport functions - not “media.” We subject communications networks to regulation for the good of all; if we hadn’t acted that way, the internet would never have come into being.

Then there's David Weinberger's complete live-blogging coverage here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Altogether, it is much more than a first draft of history. It is history.

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Monday, March 03, 2008



Source, via Billboard Liberation Front.

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