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Digital Liberty blog

US Must Take More Steps to Advance the Internet By Daniel Savickas | June 23, 2016

The United States has a unique opportunity to seize control of its Internet future. In our modernizing and technologically advanced world, there is no reason to think that the Internet is not going to have a place at the forefront of society in the years to come.

In order to ensure that the US is leading the charge on this front, it is vitally important that we continue to open up swaths of broadband spectrum.

There is currently a wireless auction of 600 mHZ spectrum happening, but this is merely the first step in what needs to be a grand spiral staircase in the pursuit of bold innovation. If the FCC manages to keep a constant flow of spectrum to data providers, the possibilities will be endless.

There is currently bipartisan agreement amongst the Commissioners at the FCC that the success of the 4G LTE networks needs to be replicated for future 5G networks. This success came from the FCC’s willingness to auction off 4G spectrum.

Cruz, Others Rally to Preseve Integrity of the Internet By Daniel Savickas | June 13, 2016

The Obama administration took another step forward on Thursday to ensure the US loses its key oversight role in ensuring the Internet stays open, and out of the hands of authoritarian governments.

Multiple bills dropped this week to delay and stop this transition. Senators Ted Cruz (Tex.), James Lankford (Okl.), and Mike Lee (Ut.) introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act in the Senate, accompanied by a companion bill sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (Wis.). Senator Cruz recently hailed this bill as "the last chance to save the Internet."

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently has control of domain name oversight, but is responsible to the US government. Under the current plan, this would change.

FCC Set Top Box Proposal Fails to Stand Up to Scrutiny By Daniel Savickas | June 09, 2016

In a press conference earlier today, in the Cannon House Office Building, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), along with Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) voiced their support for the FCC’s set top box proposal. Eshoo claimed it was “time to set the record straight” with regards to the proposal.

However, all of the talking points obscure the reality that the free market is working wonderfully as it is. The “virtual content shopping mall” they claim will be created by this proposal already exists in places like the App Store, and in video streamers like Netflix, and Hulu who already offer consumers a plethora of options.

This “reset” of the record amounted to little more than a parade of colorful poster boards, and a line of speakers cheering on the proposal. Noticeably absent from the talking points were significant addresses of any counterpoints or facts and statistics beyond those reported by Senators Markey and Blumenthal.

Impatience Grows for Net Neutrality Ruling By Daniel Savickas | June 07, 2016

Many in the tech policy field are becoming increasingly restless waiting for the DC Circuit Court to hand down a ruling on the FCC’s recent net neutrality regulations. We are now nearing seven months since the Court heard US Telecommunications Association v. FCC, and no verdict has been rendered on the FCC’s latest regulations against Internet service providers (ISPs).

This ruling holds great importance for the tech industry and advocates against government regulation of the Internet. While the Court drags its feet on this case, the FCC’s regulations remain firmly in place, and the FCC continues to maintain its illegitimate authority over the Internet.

These months of waiting are also not the first installment in this back-and-forth saga between Net Neutrality belligerents. In 2014, the Court overturned FCC regulations in Verizon v. FCC, which held that the FCC didn’t have the authority to regulate ISPs as “information services”. Now the FCC is trying even more stringent regulations to skirt this 2014 ruling.

Wheeler vs. free markets and the rule of law By Alison Basley | May 31, 2016

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals came through for the free market and consumers when they threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2014 regulations on broadcast TV advertising Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) on May 25th, 2016.

The Court’s decision defends the freedom of businesses to enter into JSAs with their competitors in which they help each other with operating costs. The decision to protect this free market solution to high operating costs and limited choice for consumers should be celebrated.

Lifeline Make Over By Cecelia Mitchell | March 31, 2016

Originally created in 1985, the FCC’s Lifeline program was established to help low-income Americans gain access to basic telephone service. At the time of its origin, telephone communications were a necessary component of life, vastly expanding ways for people to communicate across the country and the globe. Since the 1980s, the necessity of telephone communications has been replaced by the Internet. The Internet has changed the way the world communicates, making it an easier and instantaneous process. Besides communications purposes, the Internet has also made its way into every other aspect of life. Research, entertainment, and news are just a few of the many things the world relies on the Internet for.

Lack of Bipartisanship and Transparency Plagues the FCC By Cecelia Mitchell | March 30, 2016

On March 22, 2016 the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission”. The hearing examined various policy decisions and the processes by which the FCC reaches decisions. Many of the criticisms surrounding the FCC are about lack of transparency and lack of listening to opposing viewpoints. 

In his opening statement, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden made the following remarks: “These are significant matters that will define how we communicate for years to come. It will not serve the American people if they are resolved in a manner that ignores opposing views, discredits opposing input on its face, and gives short shrift to collaboration in favor of expediency. Good process – openness, transparency, and accountability – honest policy debate, and compromise are the catalyst for balanced, sustainable, outcomes.”

South by Southwest: Meet Some of the Brilliant and Diverse Female Panelists By Cecelia Mitchell | March 14, 2016

Katie McAuliffe, Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform and Executive Director of Digital Liberty, will be moderating a panel on diversity in the technology field at the music, film, and technology conference South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

The panel is titled “Making Our Tech Look More Like Our Country” and will focus on the topic of diversity in the technology field and how to encourage more women and minorities to enter the field.

Who is Watching You Watch T.V.? By Katie McAuliffe | March 09, 2016

Over the past few years, Internet service providers have less and less access to the data that their subscribers browse.

These days, the prevalence of encryption prevents Internet service providers from knowing much about their subscribers' habits at all.  Any website you visit with “https” at the beginning is encrypted.

In response to new privacy concerns regarding identity theft, and fears of the government or companies peaking in to our Internet habits, encryption is used on 49% of websites, and most Aps can only get data that you give them permission to access.

In April 2014, this is what the traffic to “http” (un-encrypted) v “https” (encrypted) looked like:

Fraudsters Love Weak Government Technology By Cecelia Mitchell | February 24, 2016

As technology advances in some sectors, others are left behind in the dust. This is exactly what happened to the U.S government. The Internet became more advanced, and people learned how to master the advancement, but the government was unable to keep up. The technology capabilities of the government became laughable and even more so the government’s cyber security techniques became an embarrassment.