Posts with tag "Time Warner"

Strong arming service providers into censorship

strongarm How many of you out there reading this post know what USENET is?

Raise your hands.

Good. Now how many of you are Time Warner customers throughout the US?

Well you bunch can kiss any USENET access via your provider good-bye.

Now, how many of you are Verizon customers?

Good. You bunch can kiss good-bye to all the ALT.* hierarchy of USENET.

This is because the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo knowing that there is no way he could get a law to standup in to any court challenges has effectively bullied Verizon, Time Warner and Sprint into pulling the service. He pulled this off by basically threatening these billion dollar corporations with public conferences that would insinuate that the companies via providing USENET access were nothing more than purveyors of child pornography.

The thing is that out of the 100,000 plus discussion groups in USENET probably less than 1% contains any child related pornography. As pointed out by Declan McCullagh on his blog

That amounts to an odd claim: stopping the spread of child porn on a total of 88 newsgroups necessarily means coercing broadband providers to pull the plug on thousands of innocuous ones. Usenet’s sprawling set of hierarchically arranged discussion areas include ones that go by names like sci.math,, and comp.os.linux.admin. It has been partially succeeded by mailing lists, message boards, and blogs; AOL stopped carrying Usenet in 2005, but AT&T still does.

In what is apparently nothing more than a politically motivated move the NY AG has decided that rather than using those dangerous areas to actually track down offenders and prosecuting them it is better to totally remove our access to a valuable resource. Granted there are still third party companies that provide access on a subscription basis but one has to wonder how long it will be before they become a target because of less than 1% of the total newsgroup usage.

The real Web 2.0 shows its face

Isn't all this new stuff cool man Everyone is under the impression that this whole Web 2.0 thing that has a narrow section of the Internet world all a flutter is about freedom of data and living on the web full time with absolute transparency. The advocates of this electronic hippy movement float around the world content in their ideological bliss that everyone wants to share everything everywhere and all the time. Whether they be swimming in the river of news or paddling around tidal pools of noise while hooking themselves into the great world wide web talk show there is a shadow starting to drape itself over our illusions of electronic equality.

Without even paying attention to a world outside of their cozy terms of social media and incessant 140 character quips of their daily lives they don’t realize that there is a movement afoot that will slap them back to their electronic ashrams to wonder what went wrong. This movement is the real and breathing North American Web 2.0 and it is going to be run by those gatekeepers to the Internet – your local cable company and their brethren the equally greedy telcos.

While the rest of the world might glory in unmetered and constantly increasing speeds of their broadband lifeline here in the U.S.; and if it happens there trust me it will happen north of the border as well, we are seeing cable companies beginning to experiment with metered access. As well others since they got caught with their fingers in the traffic shaping cookie jar are now calling it protocol agnostic bandwidth management. Up here in Canada Bell just calls that deep packet monitoring and shaping but in either case it all boils down to the same thing – making the most amount of money for the least amount of service.

This is all happening at a time when the web is under the illusion that everyone has fast cheap access to the Internet 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. It is through this imagined ubiquitous connection to the new world of electronic freedom that they believe things like free web software and common meeting grounds will change the world. Well it must be an illusion because we are being told by the real power of the internet that unless we are willing to pay up in increasingly larger amounts for even lesser access we can forget this dream world.

As this rolling wave of greed moves across the landscape there are many folks calling out for change suggesting that the web is now no longer a luxury but rather a utility that we can not live without. Others suggest that this model is nothing more than the death knell for cable companies going down that road and will fail. There are those that suggest that users will become pissed off because they have to constantly figure out what they have used and what is left.

The reality is as my fellow Canadian Mark Evans suggests that none of these moves should come as a surprise and that like Michael Arrington; along with Mike Masnick, believe that this move will do nothing less than kill off any future innovation. I have written before how I Web 2.0 - the boardroom version feel that the current idealistic version of Web 2.0 culture is something that will never happen as long as the cable companies and telcos hold the power over the very access to that new world.

That view is re-enforced on an almost daily basis as I see moves like the ones from Time Warner, Comcast and our own Bell to further erode the ability of all people to be able to access what has become the new utility. The real Web 2.0 has shown its face and it’s not about all the goodie two shoe nonsense being spouted around. No .. the real version is all about power and money.

I told you so’s have to suck

Imposing speed limits In this past weekend’s Elite Tech News podcast the subject of data caps came up while we were discussing the move to more web based applications as a part of our daily lives especially with the idea of a web OS. During our back and forth on the subject I pointed out that there was talk of U.S. internet providers looking at instituting data caps on their users which had the rest of the panel members basically say that this would suck if such a thing were to happen.

While the U.S. has pretty well enjoyed a free ride as far as data caps and bandwidth speed are concerned the rest of the world hasn’t been so lucky. Regardless of the fact that ISPs regularly trot out the unlimited access advertising bullshit the fact remains that many ISP around the world do in fact have some pretty stringent data caps as well as ridiculous speed limitations. I know of friends in both New Zealand and Australia who constantly have to monitor their downloads – which by the way in all cases include things like email.

Bell - king of Canadian companies screwing its users Even here in Canada this is something that we have always had if you were a Bell customer even though they tried to couch it in cutesy terms like Network Fairness. Now however Rogers Communications has jumped on the bandwagon with caps for home and office based DSL accounts.

It now appears that the rumors I heard being floated around in the past little while could very well turn out to be being instituted by the major internet providers like Time Warner and Comcast to start with. Not that this is anything new when it comes to the mobile market which JR Raphael of The Inquisitr blog (Duncan Riley’s new project) points out today where Verizon is trying out new plans that are charging by the meg.

Even though people like Dave Winer; a Comcast customer, might be happy knowing now at least what limitations they are facing as customers and acknowledging the company for its so-Comcast - internet users least favorite company called new effort at transparency the fact is this move is coming at a pivotal time. In my opinion this move by Internet providers to start instituting data caps and charging outrageous overage fees is nothing more than a move to capitalize on our increasing reliance on the web as a part of our daily lives.

As we begin to use the web more and more for our acquisition of movies, old style television shows and as a part of a concerted effort to webify our business activities our bandwidth usage is climbing radically to keep up. Where once we might have only used the web to handle our email and visit our favorite web sites we are now using it for our entertainment and social interaction. This means we are active on the web for an increasing portion of our day whether it be listing to streaming radio or downloading music right through to handling out financial transactions and all this stuff is taking an increasing amount of bandwidth to do.

As Mike Masnick of Techdirt pointed out in a post on the Comcast news that while it might be nice that the company is finally acknowledging the secret fuzzy caps the fact is that at the very time when we need true web innovations these moves by ISP could literally kill off any initiatives to bring new things to market. This won’t necessarily be because companies won’t try but because the consumer can’t afford it.

The Internet has become such an integrated part of our lives that in some aspects it could be argued that it is no longer a luxury relegated to only those that can afford it but in fact it has become a necessity of life in our modern world. This move by companies like Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner to name a few will do nothing more than line their pockets with billions more and further widen the technological divide. Along with that it will also validate the practice so that ISPs in other countries will continue to shackle their users with prohibitive costs.

It is my feeling that with the ever increasing weaving of the Internet in our daily lives and the push for new services; some of which are still on the horizon, the time is quickly approaching where companies that also provide internet access should not have the hammerlock on access that they do. When you have a companies whose primary business is that of A growing divide television, communication or even movies should not be the ones to dictate the rules of the road. The very nature of their primary business is in direct conflict with anything web based and as such they will do whatever needs to be done to protect their primary business.

When this happens along with a concerted effort to nullify any idea of network neutrality the only losers are you and I. This will be especially prevalent among the section of society who already are finding it difficult to be a part of this new world. A technological divide already exists and moves like this by the real gatekeepers of access will only deepen that growing divide.