Sunday, November 23, 2008

Copyright infringement

Professor Tomas Lipinski hinted at a great research topic during a visit to the seminar class I am taking this semester. However, it was the consensus of the seminar class that the information for the research may not be available because of legal or public relations issues.

So I have come to the blogospere to ask if anyone has any information about the following data or how to obtain the data.

Under 17 U.S.C 512(c)(3)(a), "a notification of claimed infringement must be a written communication provided to the designated agent of a service provider". In this case I am specifically looking only for data from higher education institutions; colleges, universities, etc. I would like to know the number of notices and, though I doubt possible, the outcome of those notices. How many instances was 17 U.S.C 512(c)(3)(g) asserted.

My immediate thought it that the various Freedom of Information Acts from state to state can be used to obtain this data. Has/does anyone have any information or knowledge of gathering this data?

The goal of this investigation is to see how the process is working for analysis purposes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act

For one of my classes we were to go through our 'home' state's confidentiality/privacy statutes pertaining to libraries and identify any changes we would like to see made. Originally I was going to analyze Oklahoma's statute, but decided to look into the statute for Illinois. From this exercise I discovered a few changes that I would like to see made to the statute.

First, the statue limits confidentiality to only registration and circulation records in the library. The issue is that patrons use many items and services provided by the library without the resource being circulated. For instance if you were to browse/read through a book without circulating the item, then that would not be considered confidential. Thus some expansion is needed. Especially as the statute does not contain any protections for electronic access to resources. As the statute reads search logs and logs of websites would not be considered confidential and thus would not need a court order for law enforcement personnel to obtain.

Second, the immunity provision given in Section 1(b-5) grants libraries immunity, but sounds as if it also grants law enforcement immunity as well. If a law enforcement officer were to ask for confidential information in a nefarious manner, the statute reads as if it also provides immunity to the law enforcement officer. This is troubling from the standpoint that an officer could abuse their power to obtain information without consequence from this statute.

Overall, the statute seems very well written. With some of the updates that I have made for my class report, I think the statute would fall into line with current thinking on confidentiality in a library.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Google 2009 Policy Fellowship

It is that time again to apply for the 2nd incarnation of Google's Policy Fellowship. I would urge everyone to apply if their interests fall into their fellowship categories. Although, the fellowship is only in its second year, the partner organizations on board are very good. This could be an excellent opportunity for aspiring students and/or advocates. More information can be found at the URL below.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why open access may not work

This past week in my doctoral seminar class we had a very good discussion about the research process and research reporting process. In this context we talked about open access journals. But also got a bit into the tenure process.

From this conversation I had to ask my professor if he knew of anyone that had used open access journals for tenure. To his knowledge he could not think of a person that had exclusively used open access journals in higher education to make tenure.

This got my mind churning and somewhat perplexed. I have this belief that knowledge should be available for anyone, not just those that can afford access to the knowledge. Further, I believe that the producers of that knowledge should not, in most publication cases, give up their copyright ownership in order to be published. After many years of education and hearing the positive, and negative sides of open access publication, I have gotten the sense that most people in higher education are proponents of open access. If this is the case then why is so much of our knowledge hidden behind the locked doors of the publication industry, where one only gets entry by producing money?

Thus after mulling over this for a few days, I have finally come to a conclusion. It is not that higher education people do not like open access, as I said before they seem proponents of it, but rather the system of higher education that limits the adoption of open access. Mainly the tenure process at most colleges and universities have a strong held belief that publications must be in well respected academic journals. For some reason though, most open access journals are viewed as less than or slightly inferior to academic journals.

Perhaps if colleges and universities were to revisit the concept of tenure as it relates to publication we would see a growth in open access journals. There are open access journals with peer review and quality controls comparable to best academic journals that sell for large sums of money. Just maybe if the rules of the tenure process were altered, or dare I say updated to the times, knowledge would flow a bit more easily, become more accessible to anyone with Internet access, and allow the producers of that knowledge to maintain control of their work.

Unfortunately for me, at least at this time, it looks that if I want to attain tenure I may have to compromise my position on open access to knowledge. Perhaps in the next few years the situation may change.

Monday, October 13, 2008

IP Addresses as private information?

For my semester project I have decided to focus on exploring if IP addresses are personal information (personally identifiable information) or fair game. Luckily I have chosen a topic which I have not fully made up my mind. So this paper will reflect my own curiosity in the matter and be, at least I hope, very balanced.

At the heart of my paper I am hoping to examing differing opinions on whether or not IP addresses are PI or not. To be followed by a comparitive analysis of US law relating to IP addresses and EU laws.

My searching is progressing, all be it slowly. For some reason now that I am actually looking for information on the topic, I cannot find very many quality works on the topic. How I wish I would have not deleted all those Google feeds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finally a broadband inventory

For quite some time I have been suggesting that the only way to solve disparities in broadband penetration across the country is to make a better accounting of the current status of the infrastructure. Finally, it seems that the US Congress has had a eureka moment, in which they also see that merely talking about increasing broadband penetration is not working.

So now we have the Broadband Data Improvement Act, S. 1492. Maybe now, after all of these years, we can finally lay the ground work for a broadband policy. A policy driven by national need and not private corporations.

I know that I, and many others, will be eagerly awaiting the data and reports that come from this act.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UWM OneWeb Day Videos

Even though you might not have been able to view UWM's OneWeb Day live, the recordings are below. Each is thought provoking and covers a different aspect of the Web.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Palin e-mail hack

ArsTechnica has another good bit of information on the Palin e-mail hacking case. If you are not aware of the newest updates, it is a quick read to catch you up.

Which brings me to my thought of the hour/day. Why is this such a big deal? If this were any other person, the FBI would surely not be 'raiding' an apartment already. Sure she is a governor mired in controversy and a vice-presidential candidate, but why all the hub bub, bub?

Now I can understand that this case might be of concern because she is a governor and there could be some very sensitive information in her e-mail account. However, no one is questioning why she was using an e-mail account other than her state e-mail account. The old cliche of you get what you pay for probably applies in this instance. What if, instead of Yahoo, Palin had been using GMail. Since GMail scans e-mails for advertising purposes (not a jibe at Google) conceivably Google would be going to the fighting ring. *side note: Which would be interesting since Google still has not been charged with copyright violations stemming from digital scanning operations*

This is case is incredibly whimsical in my mind. If this had happened to anyone else there would not be such an urgency to prosecute or rectify the situation. If, instead of Palin, a CEO or other higher up in an organization had use Yahoo for official organizational business they would have been fired by now. Maybe this is another way of showing there are two sets of laws in the US, one for the elite and another set for the rest of us which go unenforced. Most importantly this entire escape shows two things.

First, the US needs to implement better privacy standards for Internet users. When insurance companies are selling anti-identity theft insurance, you know the government has failed to protect 'our' personal information by lack of legislation.

Second, it shows that if you are important enough in some one's eye, the entire resources of the federal government will come to your aid. On a less satirical note, this shows that the tools are present for catching such privacy violations. It remains unclear how willing the government is to prosecute, but my guess is that since this is such a famous case, the defendant will be made very unhappy.


It has finally arrived, OneWebDay. Billed as Earth Day for the Web, the day will have multiple events around the world speaking about the Web. Many of these events will also be broadcast online.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I wanted to call attention to this

There is an interesting report from ArsTechnica about a bill that could potentially reverse the open access the NIH just mandated last year.

Discussing higher education

A recurring theme that my fellow students and I return in our doctoral seminar class is whether or not online, distance education, is suitable for doctoral level education. Though I am a product of one completely online masters program and another hybrid program, I must say that working towards a doctorate online would not be for me.

First, the synchronous interaction that I have with my fellow classmates is extraordinary. Sadly for our professor/moderator, we usually end up taking up the entire time discussing the topic of the day. Of course at this level of study the time for lectures should be at an end. It should be up to the students to drive the learning experience.

Second, being on a campus presents wonderful opportunities not afforded to distance students. Most doctoral programs provide some source of income for their students. Usually it is some sort of assistantship for teaching, research, or both. The key is that this experience exposes and familiarizes the student with academe. How well this can be accomplished online is still open to future technological developments, however at this point in time, I cannot see the online programs holding up against on-site programs. At least for me anyway.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fascinating book

My first assignment for my new program was to read an item by Ernest L. Boyer Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.

What a good book. Even though the publication date was a decade ago, the book is still very much relevant to higher education. If you have a few hours one dreary day and are interested in higher education, read this book. It is extremely fast to read and very understandable.

Break time is over

So for the past two months I forced myself to not blog. It was actually much easier than I had thought. As the new school year approaches, there is some news to report.

1) I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a MLS from the School of Library and Information Studies.
2) I have begun to work on a PhD in Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
3) I am playing catch up to the blogosphere...two months off and stories are the same, but with some differences.

That is it, yes what a wonderful life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

ISPs and download caps

The download cap debate by ISPs has been swirling around the blogosphere of late. Is there another motive why ISPs would like to see download caps imposed?

Over the past few years the amount of entertainment media on the Internet has exploded. From downloading music posted on discussion boards to watching CBS's Jericho and ABC's Lost online. The amount of entertainment available is staggering, I have only named two of my favourites.

The purpose of download caps is to help ISPs manage their respective networks. After all a report from Sandvine shows that the P2P traffic accounts for 44% of Internet traffic, and 14.8% of Internet traffic is a result of streaming media. (I am not sure where iTunes or Netflix online videos fit into this picture.) ISPs have also argued that network management would help other users, by freeing up some bandwidth from the P2P users. (Wise assumption that we need to test).

However there could be anther reason why ISPs are pushing for download caps. Most of the progams I have seen have a limit, one was for 5GB and another for 40GB total for a month. But each plan has a mechanism in place to allow for more data to be downloaded, for a price. So if you watch a lot of TV online (like me), play a lot of online games (me again), download lots of files (me again, you have to love researching and articles in PDF that are 12MB), or have a particular amount of fun with digital photography which you must share with friends and family(me yet again) you could be in some trouble.

The download caps amount to nothing more than a potential new revenue stream for ISPs, especially if the download caps are small. It should be interesting how the future unfolds.

Gaming consoles and libraries

USA Today had an interesting story over the holiday weekend. HERE. I thought I would bring it up since libraries are starting to using gaming nights to draw in young patrons. Maybe libraries should consider blocking gaming nights, just as many blocked the use of social networking sights. (Severe sarcasm!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google and Book Scanning

Coming out of my comprehensive examination preparation last week, I had to reach out to friends to figure out what the deal is with Google and book scanning.

If you don't know already, Google is attempting to scan in the contents of libraries for various reasons. (I don't know them all, and I am not sure anyone does truly). Here is the issue.

Google is scanning in some copyrighted books, along with works in the public domain. How has Google not been shut down for violating copyright? There are certain provisions in the Copyright Act for libraries, Section 108. I would call attention to this section as it seems that Google is violating the copyright arrangements since Google is neither a public library, a non-commercial entity, not open to the public, nor has the format of the book become obsolete.

Thought I do not know what Google plans to do with the vast amount of information it has already scanned, the section I call attention to seem to show that it is not protected and is infringing on copyright. Google has recognized this in some ways by attempting to reach agreements with publishers.

Joyfully, my comprehensive examination did not have a question about Google book scanning or the copyright implications. Though I would have loved to take a stab at answering the question.

In the library profession, it seems there are three facets to the Google book scanning situation. First, is the group of librarians that love the idea. It will keep libraries relevant. How will it keep libraries relevant if patrons can simply go to and find all the books.. Second, is the group that Google is evil and stealing away from the public, while also breaking the law. I somewhat agree, but by virtue of this being my blog, I am in a third group. Those who see that the Google book scanning project has issues pertaining to libraries, copyright, and various other issues.

So I am interested in seeing Google move forward, only to see how the situation develops for all those involved.

Cox Communtions and computer scanning

The term scanning may be incorrect, but I cannot think of a better adjective at the moment. Please note this is a story about a friend, not myself. I am a reformed 'pirate' or 'patriot for free information'.

Last week my friend received a telephone call concerning his Internet connection. It seems that he had finally been busted for downloading the newly released movies and music from other users of Limewire. Cox informed him that they would turn off the Internet connection until they could verify that he had deleted the infringing copyrighted works.

They went so far as to tell him what the file names were and a general time line pertaining to when they were downloaded. Shocked, my friend complied and deleted the files.

When he called Cox back, they activated his Internet service. After about 5 minutes of my friend waiting on hold, Cox confirmed that he had deleted the files.

Here is the conundrum floating around in my head. How did Cox know that he deleted the files? I am pretty sure I know how they discovered they were shared, but how did they know he deleted them? Unless all they did was activate the Internet service and analyze the traffic of Limewire.

My other puzzle is how can they legally monitor the traffic of a user. Obviously they knew the files were there, they had the exact file names. I have read about the services of companies that monitor and download copyrighted work to identify copyright infringement. How is Cox involved though.

So not only do we have the US Government potentially sniffing our communications, but also our ISPs looking into the packets of our communications. (Though some have said this has been going on for a long time).

It should make anyone uneasy. The situation does highlight the need for privacy reform in the United States.

No response

Unfortunately, it appears that Senator McCain will not be responding to my inquiry relating to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Illinois Senator Richard Durbin's Thoughts on FISA Amendments Act of 2008

June 25, 2008

*Edited out my full name and address*

Thank you for your message regarding the surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue and share your concerns.

Protecting both the security and the freedom of the American people is among my highest priorities. We must ensure that the federal government defends the people of the United States from external threats while preserving the civil liberties that have helped make the United States the greatest and most enduring democracy in the world.

President Bush authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance of communications made by American citizens living within the United States. At the time of the President's authorization, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) required the government to seek a warrant from a special court in order to conduct electronic surveillance of communications between American citizens and anyone outside the country. The NSA did not obtain approval from the FISA court or from any other court before initiating its domestic surveillance program.

For most of its existence, the NSA's program has operated without meaningful oversight. Few members of Congress were briefed about the program until its existence was revealed by the media, and those members who were aware were sworn to secrecy. The majority of the members of Congress still have not been fully briefed about the program's operational details. The Administration also has shut down its own Justice Department investigation into the NSA's program. In essence, the Administration has attempted to operate this program without any supervision or oversight. The lack of a mechanism for correcting potential abuses in the program undermines our Constitutional system of checks and balances and raises serious concerns about the possibility of excessive intrusion.

Congress has tried to work with Administration officials to update FISA in light of technological advances in communications. Too often, however, the Administration has taken advantage of the program's secrecy in its negotiations with Congress. In August 2007, the Administration proposed amending FISA through legislation known as the Protect America Act. I voted against the measure because I believed the bill provided too much opportunity for abuse by the NSA and other intelligence officials. Nonetheless, Congress passed the bill and the President signed it into law.

Congress currently is engaged in a debate about the appropriate scope of FISA. At the center of this debate is the issue of whether telecommunications companies that assisted in illegal surveillance should receive retroactive immunity from prosecution.

I oppose retroactive immunity for these companies and supported an amendment to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 2248) that would have prevented them from obtaining retroactive immunity. This amendment, however, was unsuccessful. After the amendment failed, I voted against the bill, but it passed by a vote of 68-29.

The House of Representatives has refused to support any similar bill containing a retroactive immunity provision, and negotiations on this matter are continuing. Any legislation amending FISA should hold telecommunications companies responsible for their unlawful actions. The legislation should bring to light the role telecommunications companies played in the Administration's unlawful attempts to listen in on the communications of American citizens.

When the President and his Administration order surveillance of American citizens, these actions must be conducted in a manner consistent with the rule of law and the Constitution's commitment to civil liberties. I am deeply concerned about the manner in which the Executive Branch has initiated and conducted the NSA surveillance programs. I will keep your thoughts in mind as Congress continues to debate this issue.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.


Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My mind seems to be failing as my comprehensive examination for graduation nears.

John Shimkus represents the 19th Illinois Congressional District, not the 15th.

My apologies for any confusion.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Response from Senator Obama concerning the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

Dear Wyatt:

Thank you for contacting me concerning the President’s domestic surveillance program. I appreciate hearing from you.

Providing any President with the flexibility necessary to fight terrorism without compromising our constitutional rights can be a delicate balance. I agree that technological advances and changes in the nature of the threat our nation faces may require that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), enacted in 1978, be updated to reflect the reality of the post 9/11 world. But that does not absolve the President of the responsibility to fully brief Congress on the new security challenge and to work cooperatively with Congress to address it.

As you know, Congress has been considering the issue of domestic surveillance since last year. Just before the August recess in 2007, Congress passed hastily crafted legislation to expand the authority of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to conduct surveillance of suspected foreign terrorists without a warrant or real oversight, even if the targets are communicating with someone in the United States. This legislation was signed into law by the President on August 5, 2007.

As you are aware, Congress has been working on reforms to FISA. On November 15, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3773, the “Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007” (RESTORE Act) by a vote of 227-189. The House bill did not provide retroactive immunity for private companies that may have participated in the illegal collection of personal information, nor does it provide immunity for Administration officials who may have acted illegally.

On February 12, 2008, the Senate passed S. 2248, making its own reforms to FISA. During consideration of this bill, I was proud to cosponsor several amendments, including the Dodd-Feingold amendment to strike the immunity provision, which would have enhanced privacy protections while maintaining the tools to fight terrorism. However, with the defeat of this amendment, the bill did not provide for a mechanism that would allow the American people to learn exactly what the Bush Administration did with its warrantless wiretapping program and provided for no accountability.

The House and Senate worked out a compromise, reconciling differences between the two versions of the bill before it can be signed into law. While I recognize that this compromise is imperfect, I will support this legislation, which provides an important tool to fight the war on terrorism and provides for an Inspectors General report so that we can finally get to the bottom of the warrantless wiretapping program and how it undermined our civil liberties. However, I am disappointed that this bill, if signed into law, will grant an unprecedented level of immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the President's warrantless wiretapping program, and I will work with my colleagues to remove this provision.

The American people understand that new threats require flexible responses to keep them safe, and that our intelligence gathering capability needs to be improved. What they do not want is for the President or the Congress to use these imperatives as a pretext for promoting policies that not only go further than necessary to meet a real threat, but also violate some of the most basic tenets of our democracy. Like most members of Congress, I continue to believe that the essential objective of conducting effective domestic surveillance in the War on Terror can be achieved without discarding our constitutionally protected civil liberties.

Thank you again for writing. Please stay in touch as this debate continues.


Barack Obama
United States Senator
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I would like to thank Senator Obama for the very fast response. Now I want to know what Senator Durbin of Illinois has to say, but also give Senator McCain the ability to respond.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The saga of telecom immunity continues

On June 20th, the US House passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Among those amendments is immunity for telecommunications companies for their cooperation of potentially violating the 4th Amendment rights of US citizens in an effort to preserve national security. Unfortunately the calls I placed to my Representative were unsuccessful. Thank you John Shimkus of the 15th Illinois Congressional District (Correction should have been the 19th Illinois Congressional District. My mistake, apologies)..Luckily election time is just around the corner.

Now the saga moves onto the US Senate. Which should be interesting. Considering our two presidential contenders will need to vote on the issue. If they do not take a stand on this issue, then how can we trust their leadership and decision making skills. Fortunately for me, Senator Obama is one of my senators. Unfortunately for him I have already called and e-mailed his office. (I had to make sure you heard me Senator Obama!).

If you are interested in the bill then you can find some more information at the following locations.

The legislation

Roll call vote of the US House

Sorry I only have the information for the Illinois senators...if you need to find out your senator's contact information you can go here and search by state.

Senator Obama

Phone: (202) 224-2854

District Phone: (312) 886-3506

Web page

Senator Durbin

Phone: (202) 224-2152

District Phone: (312) 353-4952

Web page

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tiered Internet service

If you have been around the blogs or the technology news websites, you would have seen that Time-Warner Cable has finally begun their tiered Internet testing in Texas.

First, I would like to applaud TWC for taking this step in my own way. *Golf claps*. Seriously though at least TWC is attempting to find a solution to a potentially bad problem.

Time for the criticism. Most of us don't know how much data we transmit in any given month. The service in Texas does provide a metering device to track the usage, but where did the 40GB number come into play as the limit? I cannot say for certain, because I really have no idea what my data download statistics are, but 40GB seems fairly small. Especially when TWC is also including uploading traffic in the data count. What about advertising, sure it may be small amounts, but why should ISP subscribers pay for advertisements? Especially the annoying advertisements that pop up and slide across your screen, not allowing you to accurately hit the 'close' option? These are some smaller, perhaps even trivial aspects that have not been fully explored. Hopefully that the TWC experiment will allow that exploration and for adjustments.

Generally for any ISP exploring pay-per-byte(PPB)...

My understanding is that there is an issue with network management and that certain people are, perhaps, abusing or taking full advantage of a system. For me I am wanting some sort of trade-off from the ISPs. If consumers can move to pay-per-byte with hard limits, from pay-per-month with few limits, what is left to bargain with other than the guarantee of service levels. Part of the reason this is being tested is to examine network effects and hopefully cut down on the high bandwidth users. If consumers make that trade, then there should be some return for their business rather than restrictions on downloads .

Friday, May 16, 2008

Personally Identifiable Information

Just this week Oklahoma State University announced a security breach (see here). Though these types of breaches seem to be few, the number of people adversely affected by them is quite large. Unfortunately the laws concerning Personally Identifiable Information are obviously quite lax.

One question that I have not been able to answer is why did the parking office need social security numbers? Why had the office not switched over to student ID's?

The sad fact is that most students are trusting, especially of their universities. That the university will protect the information that students must provide for financial aid and in this case too much information needed to obtain a parking permit rarely enters a student's mind. I know that I never cared until I entered my first graduate program.

The privacy laws are wholly inadequate and in need of desperate revision. Organizations that have such privacy breaches need to be dealt with harshly. The loss of information in these cases is not the fault of the person, but the organization. However the person is left to pick up the pieces of the organization's mistakes.

It would be interesting to know if and how Oklahoma State University has dealt with the persons responsible for data security. Were they reprimanded or released? Or is the university now just determined to 'fix' the problem?

Monday, May 5, 2008

How the RIAA, MPAA etc..want to use education funding to fight their battles

I thought I had posted this some time ago...Unfortunately it looks like my mind forgot to tell the rest of my body to actually 'post' this.

There is a movement to tie together copyright enforcement with federal education monies. The US House has their version, HR 4137. But the backlash is less on the state level. Therefore, you can now see similar legislation at the state level (Illinois).

The purpose of the legislation is to fight copyright infringement, as both the attached bills explain. If a university/college receives a certain number of copyright notices, they would be obligated to fight copyright infringement and/or install technological measures to protect copyrights. However, there is/are provisions for technological solutions to analyze the data traffic in an effort to determine if data transiting the network is copyrighted. Now I am not positive on the particulars of the technology, but it would require the network to look into the data packets and view the 'real' data. For the postal analogy, the postal carrier would now be authorised to open and read your post to your grandmother. Not surprisingly the backlash is relatively low at the state level as it is almost being sneaked in the 'back door'.

Now, we have had reports of a large increase in the number of DMCA Copyright notices...One can only wonder if there is a link between the increase in RIAA notices and the pending legislation. Maybe it is a way to perhaps show there is a quantifiable need for universities/colleges to do the work of the recording industry. As dollars for education are continuing to dwindle from the federal and state governments, this amounts to nothing more than "passing the buck" of copyright protection to cash strapped educational institutions.

Monday, April 21, 2008

$/MB: Pay per bit----Coming Soon?!

There was a very interesting article written by Leslie Cauley, for USA Today.

The question of whether paying per bit, ppb, will work is up to the consumers in as much as they may or may not go for the plan. Americans have been sold so well on the idea that Internet access is unlimited to download amounts or content (except the illegal content). What is the benefit for consumers of going to ppb? At the moment it is just chitchat, but what improvements would consumers obtain?

For my own part, I am not too worried about ppb. However, I do not know how much data I transmit on my connection. Three computers and a roommate, may create more traffic than I believe. However, I would want to see incredible strides in download speeds and network uptime in exchange for ppb. That is just for starters though. As talk increases about switching to this business model, further discussion would need to be had concerning the requirements that consumers would place on ISPs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

FTTH in the US

The FTTHCouncil of North America recently released a report on the status of FTTH in North America. One of the biggest surprises was that Verizon accounts for a very large percentage of FTTH.

So the troubling question is, why is Verizon the only provider building out their network in any perceptable amount? Surely other service providers are building out their systems. If you know of any please post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Google Policy Blog has voiced concern over the "artificially low cap" in place on H-1B visas.

Since Google is unable to find qualified Americans for the jobs. Then why doesn't Google start voicing a concern over education in the US? Instead of simply looking elsewhere, Google can be part of the overall solution to its own problem of insufficient staff.

As Google has noted in their post the H-1B visa holder contribute to the economy. Why not let Americans contribute to the American economy, instead of relying on foreign nationals to support the American economy.

I would be interested to known what the salary of an American vs a H-1B visa holder is at Google. Given that both employees have the same job/job description and time with the company. There have been some accusations that the pay for one is lower than the other. If Google would like to volunteer this information in order to dispel this notion that Google wants to higher H-1B visa workers because they can be paid less than Americans.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Broadband Census

The website is attempting to inventory the broadband status of the country. By providing some information and performing a speedtest you can help to inventory broadband deployment in you area.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

AT&T Samples cable modems

AT&T sampled the advertised vs the realised download speeds in a market. John Stankey discusses this at the following audio/slide presentation.

Thanks to Cynthia Brumfield for calling attention to this presentation

Wouldn't it be nice?

As I read the reports from varying blogs about the recent FCC meeting at Harvard, I tend to become jealous. Of the recent past, most important policy matters and open hearings take place on either one of the coasts. Rarely does the government solicit input from the rest of the country. You know the "fly over" states.

This comes to my mind after reading the reports that Comcast paid for people to attend the FCC meeting. Yes, I agree completely that paying for a person to attend a government policy event is akin to voter fraud. However, at least someone got to attend the meeting while the rest of us are left out. Out in the middle of the nation.

The point that I am attempting to pice together is that policy meetings such as these should not have limits to those that may attend. If a room fills, move to another facility. The University of Oklahoma has learned this lesson really well, when a visitor such as Al Gore and his global warming speech come to campus. The other real question to ask is why did the FCC only have one meeting? Why were there only a limited number of people allowed?

I am not convinced Comcast destroyed the democratic process of this meeting, I was not there and have not seen the proverbial smoking gun. Maybe the FCC destroyed the democratic process by excluding those that showed up at Harvard or those of us who live in the rest of the nation. Maybe the FCC should go to the people in more than one instance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Undersea Middle East and Asia Cables cut

Saboteurs may have cut Mideast telecom cables

The article suggests that foul play may have been involved in the recent telecommunications issues of the Middle East and parts of Asia. Of lesser importance is the need to know how the cables were discovered in deep waters to have been purportedly sabotaged?

Over the years countries have tried to secure telecommunications with increasing layers of security. Internet backbone maps are even difficult to find at present. So how were the cables found? However why was sabotage used instead of terrorism? Is it believed a disgruntled employee did the act?

More questions than answers come from this announcement by the ITU. I think many supposed the line failures were more than just failures.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Managed Networks

Earlier this week the FCC announced that a hearing would be held to gather input on managed networks. If you are unaware, Comcast has recently been derided by ISP subscribers and others for their network management practices. At issue is the delay of data, falsification of computers, and disruption of certain protocols.

After some time, the FCC has finally become involved in the ongoing debate of whether ISPs should be allowed to manage their own networks.

The basic point of view of a user, at least the vocal users on blogs etc, is that network management is bad. That the management of a network can lead to other 'management' methods like filtering information or 'snooping', looking into, data packets running across a network.

On the other hand the ISPs are, surprisingly (sarcasm), for network management. It would allow for the ISP to better maintain, secure, and guarantee service to its customers.

My point of view is this. If the ISPs can agree to oversight of their 'managemenet' then I do not see much of a problem. However, I mean oversight based not on political appointees or government employees, but by everyday users. Don't hold my breath I know.

The next guarantee that I would like ISPs to agree to is the improvement of customer service. My ISP advertises and I pay for the top tier of service. Supposedly I receive 15Mbps. From the test I have run, even the test my ISP provides, I am lucky to break 9Mbps. If network management is allowed on the basis for improved customer service, there should be a way to show that customer service is increasing.

The issue is not as complicated as we might think. The complications enter to make sure customers are protected against possible negative actions and ISP might take.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pay Per Use/Unit

Over the past few months I have been looking into the pay per use/unit system that Internet service providers in other nations have adopted. Recently, Time Warner Cable in Beaumont, Tx will begin charging users a flat rate for access that includes certain levels of upload and download amounts. However, it will also start charging subscribers a fee for every unit they exceed their base amount. (This is an pilot program.)

The positive side, as some point out, is that those users that download heavily will be able to stay connected to the Internet and not just be cut off. Additionally, the ISP network may operate better.

The negative side, those users that are not cut off are now subjected to perhaps a higher bill, if they exceed their limits. Networks may not operate any better than current levels.

My questions:

-How will such a pricing scheme affect streaming media and online games?

-Why would a cable company, Time Warner, start per unit pricing when it is also providing such television stations as HBO, owned by Time Warner, to its own Internet subscribers?

-How will users know the amount of data they have downloaded?

-Will bandwidth be increased to subscribers?

-Subscribers are moving from unlimited to limited download amounts, what benefit(s) do subscribers obtain for this switch?

These are a few questions that I have come up with over the past few days. Hopefully, after the Beaumont, TX experiment we will be able to see answers to these questions, at least on a small scale.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

International broadband policy recap

There are several very good books on the recent history of broadband policies around the globe. However, for those not interested in reading several books, there is an excellent synopsis from the Economist. You can read it here.

The increase in broadband penetration and speeds, generally, comes from overtures of governments into the realm of private busines, id est policy.

Need for broadband policy...

The following story is very well written. It also calls for a national broadband policy for the United States. The idea of a national policy has been in my mind for years, and in some others, perhaps by charging per quantity of data downloaded Americans will see a need for a broadband policy instead of a band-aid policy to keep customers satisfied year by year.

Here is the story

Monday, January 14, 2008

MySpace and protecting children

Today the MySpace and several states attorneys general commented on a comprehensive plan to protect the safety of minors on MySpace. The plan calls for monitoring MySpace for inappropriate materials, the creation of new technologies to determine and assign the age of users, and user education.

How does this affect MySpace users? The details are not all that clear, of course providing details would allow people to circumvent the plan. However, a concern that needs to be raised is why do we as a society keep limiting free expression in earnst to protect children? Most commonly cited are cyberbullying cases or child abuse cases all caused by technology. Perhaps, as this plan finally takes into account, educating the users is better than limiting the ability and speech of users. It is a touch subject to discuss, especially when children are involved, but society and elected officials seem to be a step behind or misinformed about the abilities of technology. Protection measures are needed, but they need to be done by the parents not the State.

Friday, January 11, 2008

FCC to investigate Comcast

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said on January 8th, 2008 that the FCC would investigate Comcast Corporation. Recently Comcast had been investigated by several groups for blocking and/or dealying packets associated with the software program BitTorrent.

The blogs are going crazy...

Today it seems that the ICT policy blogs and Internet blogs are going crazy with news about Connect Kentucky. I believe the original article is here, as I said the blogs are going crazy.

The debates and opinions, to put it nicely, seem to claim that Connect Kentucky is a sham. Some go so far to claim that several pesidential candidates are in league with telecommunications companies. Read what you can and make your own conclusions.

The silly thing about all of this is that there is currently a bill, H.R. 3919 , that will inventory broadband penetration. Perhaps more effort should be put into H.R. 3919, than polarizing Internet policy by political party.