In the post-Snowden era the idea that government agencies are spying on us is no longer the real of Movies/TV or conspiracy theorists. It is fairly well documented that this is happening every day. The question has moved from what if this happens, to what we are going to do to change it. Well one of the biggest hurdles has been trying to find people in power that even want this to change. When you consider the fact that the people with the power to stop the mass spying are likely to be the ones that voted to put it in place. This has meant that the average person must try to prove their case in the courts.
The FCC has published a very interesting report. The report which is called Measuring Broadband America is a survey of broadband companies in the US that spanned several months. The purpose is to gauge how well these companies are meeting the speeds their customers are paying for. Overall the industry has done quite well with most true broadband providers meeting or exceeding their advertised speeds even at peak hours. There is one company that, well let’s just say is not doing what it should be. The fact that they have been in the news about this lately only makes the information more damning.
When last we left our arguing couple Verizon had a few demands for Netflix, including a cease and desist letter that had some pretty strong wording. In the letter Verizon was trying to shift blame from themselves to Netflix and their choice of backbone carriers. On top of that Verizon demanded to know exactly who Netflix had sent messages to and the data that justified them. The message we are talking about is one that claimed “The Verizon network is crowded right now”. Failure to comply with the demands, so the letter went, would result in Verizon seeking legal remedies.
Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard all about ISPs asking the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for the right to charge premium fees for prime access across their networks. The argument started when Comcast was punished by the FCC for throttling certain types of traffic. This behavior was originally defended under the blanket of preventing piracy, but it was soon discovered that Comcast had other plans.
Snapchat lately came under criticism after it was revealed that their services are not entirely what they appear. The case went before the U.S. Trade Commission, which has accused the company that messages sent via Snapchat can easily be saved even though the application claims that they are only temporary.
Times they are a changing... There once was a time when the FCC working to make sure that the cable companies were not trying to take advantage of consumers. We saw them push a series of regulations that prohibited the cable companies that were also ISPs from throttling bandwidth. These were followed by more regulations that prevented the same companied from favoring their own services when it came to traffic caps. It really looked like the consumer had a friend in the FCC. Unfortunately all of that changed in the last few months. We have seen them reverse some of the same decisions that they made only a year ago. Now they have done it again and are allowing cable companies to force you to pay rent on the set-top boxes that are required to view premium channels.
The US Government has gone and done something that they have been trying to claim they would never do. They have put forward an Executive Order that outlines their ability to control communications in the event of an “emergency”. The new order has the interesting title of “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions”. You could say that the new Executive Order does assign functions to different offices in the government and also assigns duties to the rest of the country including “the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public”. If you read the new EO in its entirety (and we highly recommend you do) you will see that this is a precursor to the enablement of the US Government to require surveillance and control measures all across the internet. So it looks like the big content holders have managed to get their way all in the name of “National Security”.