Netflix and Net Neutrality — Ben Thompson at Stratechery:
“This [Comcast-Netflix] deal is in many ways a win-win for Netflix: they are likely paying less for better quality . . . . Currently non-Netflix broadband subscribers are effectively subsidizing Netflix viewers; they use much less capacity, yet pay the same price. This needs to change for the sake of true net neutrality, and if it results in Netflix losing subscribers, so be it. Unfortunately, this agreement and the others that are soon to follow makes such an arrangement unlikely. Comcast and company are getting paid, so they’re happy, and Netflix is disguising their true cost to end users so they are happy as well. It’s non-Netflix users, and, more distressingly, the startups and services that have yet to be created who are ultimately paying the price”
Should We Worry that Netflix is Buying Transit Rights from Comcast? — Tyler Cowen says no, at Marginal Revolution
Inside The Netflix/Comcast Deal and What The Media Is Getting Very Wrong — Dan Rayburn at StreamingMedia.com
Here’s How The Comcast and Netflix Deal Is Structured, With Data & Numbers — Dan Rayburn at StreamingMedia.com
Comcast’s Deal with Netflix Makes Network Neutrality Obsolete — Timothy B. Lee at The Washington Post
The Internet is F*cked (but we can fix it) — Nilay Patel at The Verge:
“[T]he entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job. The United States should lead the world in broadband deployment and speeds: we should have the lowest prices, the best service, and the most competition. We should have the freest speech and the loudest voices, the best debate and the soundest policy. We are home to the most innovative technology companies in the world, and we should have the broadband networks to match.”
You Won’t Have Broadband Competition Without Regulation — Felix Salmon at Reuters:
“[W]e already have perfectly adequate pipes running into our homes, capable of delivering enough broadband for nearly everybody’s purposes. Creating a massive parallel national network of new pipes (or pCells, or whatever) is, frankly, a waste of money. The economics of wholesale bandwidth are little-understood, but they’re also incredibly effective, and have created a system whereby the amount of bandwidth in the US is more than enough to meet the needs of all its inhabitants. What’s more, as demand increases, the supply of bandwidth quite naturally increases to meet it. What we don’t need is anybody spending hundreds of billions of dollars to build out a brand-new nationwide broadband network. What we do need, on the other hand, is the ability of different companies to provide broadband services to America’s households. And here’s where the real problem lies: the cable companies own the cable pipes, and the regulators refuse to force them to allow anybody else to provide services over those pipes. This is called local loop unbundling, it’s the main reason for low broadband prices in Europe, and of course it’s vehemently opposed by the cable companies.”
America’s 10-Year Experiment in Broadband Investment Has Failed — Brendan Greeley at Bloomberg:
Why Super-Fast Internet Is Coming Super Slowly; The FCC Could Change this Overnight by Focusing on What’s Best for the Economy, Not Just for Those it Regulates. — Andy Kessler at The Wall Street Journal
Cyber Law, Tech and Policy
Comcast and Us — Jean-Louis Gassee at MondayNote.com:
“We need a set of rules that would allow Microsoft, Google, Roku, Samsung, Amazon, Apple — and companies that are yet to be founded — to provide true alternatives to Comcast’s set-top boxes. Today, you have a cable modem that’s so dumb it forces you to restart everything in a particular sequence after a power outage. You have a WiFi base station stashed in among the wires. Your set-top box looks like it was made in the former Soviet Union . . . . You have to find your TV’s remote in order to switch between broadcast TV, your game console, and your Roku/AppleTV/Chromecast…and you have to reach into your basket of remotes just to change channels. Imagine what would happen if a real tech company were allowed to compete on equal terms with the cable providers.”
The Real Problem with the Comcast Merger — Tim Wu at The New Yorker
Comcast’s Time Warner Deal Is Bad for America — Susan Crawford at Bloomberg Opinion
How Slow, Expensive Internet Is Holding Back Our Economy — Alexis Caffrey at The American Interest
Fast Internet Is Chattanooga’s New Locomotive — Edward Wyatt at The New York Times
Why People Work For Rewards They’ll Never Get to Enjoy – a/k/a Why Do Rich People Work So Much? — Nicholas Hune-Brown at Hazlitt:
“The researchers call this behaviour ‘mindless accumulation’—the tendency for people to forgo leisure to work towards rewards they’ll never be able to use. They argue that it’s a distinctly modern problem. For much of human history, earning rates were low and people needed to work as much as possible just to survive. The idea that you could ‘overearn’ simply wasn’t realistic. If you’re one of today’s highly paid office workers, however, earning comes comparatively easily, yet the drive to hoard as much as possible remains.”
Moving South and West? Metropolitan America in 2042 — Wendell Cox at NewGeography.com
“The NSA has become too big and too powerful. What was supposed to be a single agency with a dual mission — protecting the security of U.S. communications and eavesdropping on the communications of our enemies — has become unbalanced in the post-Cold War, all-terrorism-all-the-time era . . . . The result is an agency that prioritizes intelligence gathering over security, and that’s increasingly putting us all at risk. It’s time we thought about breaking up the National Security Agency.” Bruce Schneier at CNN.Opinion with practical suggestions for reform.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s “Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court” (pdf; 238 pages). Also separate statements of Board members Elisebeth Collins Cook (pdf; 6 pages) and Rachel Brand (pdf; 8 pages)
Some additional background:
“Liberty and Security in a Changing World – December 12, 2013 Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” (pdf; 308 pages)
Supplemental Chapter on NSA from Professor James Grimmelmann’s “Internet Law: Cases and Problems” (downloadable pdf; 37 pages) offered on freemium basis.
The federal appeals court decision strking down parts of the FCC’s open internet (a/k/a “net neutrality”) rules, which were originally issued in 2010: pdf.
“Net Neutrality Quashed – New Pricing Schemes, Throttling, and Business Models to Follow; A court loss for ‘net neutrality’ could mean either a new era of innovation or preferential treatment and higher costs.” MIT Technology Review.
“[T]he law seems really interesting to me. It’s a system of rules, like computers are and you can hack it by finding the implications of those rules. Go to a judge, show your hack, and the judge has the power to change the world based on your conclusions.” – Aaron Swartz
Opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin ruling in favor of Google over the Authors’ Guild in the long-running Google Books dispute: pdf
“Why Google’s Fair Use Victory In Google Books Suit Is A Big Deal–And Why It Isn’t.” Professor Eric Goldman in Forbes.
No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.: New York Times
Cyber Law, Tech and Policy
Spying for the Sake of Spying: an Op-Ed in the Washington Post by Anne Applebaum, lauded author of “Gulag” and “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956″:
“But Bismarck couldn’t tap phones. We can. And that, as far as I can tell, explains why we were doing it. White House spokesman Jay Carney declared this week that the president is anxious to ensure ‘that we are not just collecting information because we can but because we should.’ Yet almost everything publicly known about the NSA to date indicates the opposite: The United States collects information because it can, whether or not it is moral to do so, violates the trust of allies or is a monumental waste of time and money.”
Senate Committee Votes in Favor of NSA Phone-Records Snooping at Wired, and Feinstein Releases Fake NSA Reform Bill, Actually Tries To Legalize Illegal NSA Bulk Data Collection at TechDirt. The original sources: Senator Feinstein’s press release and her draft bill (pdf) which has been approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Want To Avoid Defaming Someone Online? Link To Your Sources: Law Professor Eric Goldman at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog. See also, his recent post on California’s new “do-not-track” law: How California’s New ‘Do-Not-Track’ Law Will Hurt Consumers.
Tech Companies Are Better Off Targeting Geezers Instead Of Youngsters at Business Insider.
Memo to Workers: The Boss Is Watching; Tracking Technology Shakes Up the Workplace: The Wall Street Journal.
Who Made that Coffee Lid?: New York Times Magazine.
How to Succeed as an Author: Give up on Writing; The Rancid Smell of 21st Century Literary Success: Lionel Shriver in the New Republic.
What’s Twitter Worth? — NYU finance professor, Aswath Damodaran, takes a shot at valuing and pricing Twitter (and explains the value/price distinction) at his Musings on the Market blog. Also by Damodaran: The Twitter IPO: Thoughts on the IPO End Game.
The Case for NSA Reform – by Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner:
“[W]e were the primary authors of the USA PATRIOT Act . . . . [W]e strongly agree that the dragnet collection of millions of Americans’ phone records every day — whether they have any connection at all to terrorism — goes far beyond what Congress envisioned or intended to authorize. More important, we agree it must stop. [Today] we will introduce bicameral, bipartisan legislation that will put an end to the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of personal information. Our proposal, the USA FREEDOM Act, provides stronger privacy safeguards with respect to a range of government surveillance programs. While the USA FREEDOM Act ends the dragnet collection of telephone records, it preserves the intelligence community’s ability to gather information in a more focused way, as was the original intent of the PATRIOT Act. Our bill also ensures that this program will not simply be restarted under other legal authorities, and includes new oversight, auditing and public reporting requirements. No longer will the government be able to employ a carte-blanche approach to records collection or enact secret laws by covertly reinterpreting congressional intent. And to further promote privacy interests, our legislation establishes a special advocate to provide a counterweight to the surveillance interests in the FISA Court’s closed-door proceedings.”
The USA Freedom Act: pdf
The White House on Spying: New York Times Editorial Board
Counterpoint: We Need an Invasive NSA by Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith
“The NSA spied on other people too much, and it bungled the protection of its own secrets. Imprudence matched with incompetence doesn’t lead to anything good. We need a thorough airing out of this mess, with personnel changes where appropriate, so that the NSA can stop doing things it ought not to be doing and instead spend its energy making sure that it does a good job on what we really need it to do . . . . It’s time to call in some grown ups to clean up the mess: we would suggest a series of congressional hearings combined with a blue ribbon, bipartisan commission to review what’s happened, to consult with our key allies, and to make recommendations. We need to do this not because intelligence gathering is bad and NSA surveillance is unnecessary. We need to do it because intelligence gathering and surveillance are so important, but so dangerous, that they must be done right.”
– Walter Russell Mead at ViaMedia
15 Years Ago, Congress Kept Mickey Mouse Out of the Public Domain. Will They Do It Again? At the Washington Post, Timothy B. Lee recounts the history of copyright term extensions.