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Internet Freedom

The FCC’s Kid-Vid Rules Meet the 21st Century

For those who don’t follow the communications industry closely, you may not know that the Federal Communications Commission has undertaken the herculean and laudable task of reviewing all its regulations applying to TV and radio broadcasters, cable TV operators and satellite TV providers, and repealing or modifying any outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome rules. In July, the FCC will start the formal process of reforming its rules requiring broadcast TV stations to air government-specified amounts of children’s educational programming. Frontiers of Freedom supports the FCC’s proposals – released in draft form on June 21 – here – to bring its rules into the 21st century.

From its draft, the FCC clearly recognizes that the children’s TV rules, originally adopted in 1996, must be updated. The current rules betray their analog-era origins, a time when consumers had restricted viewing options and most viewers watched only a handful of broadcast channels. But in today’s digital world, consumers enjoy video programming on multiple platforms via multiple devices at the time and location of their choice – the concept of “appointment viewing” has become meaningless to most consumers, especially younger ones. Children’s programming is now available from 24/7 children’s cable channels and on-demand from cable providers, via major internet sites and popular apps, like the PBS app, and streamed from sources such as YouTube and Netflix. Clearly, the market has not failed to provide abundant amounts of children’s video programming. And this leads to an obvious question – are the FCC’s current rules requiring broadcast TV stations to offer three hours of children’s educational programming every week per every channel they air (including all multicast channels) still necessary? We don’t believe so.

At the very least, the existing “kid vid” rules are overly rigid, causing serious unintended consequences including forcing broadcasters to run programing that meets regulatory criteria but isn’t attractive to parents and their children.  Just one example, for any program to “count” under the FCC’s rules, it must, among other requirements, be regularly scheduled, aired during certain hours and last 30 minutes or longer. Predictably enough, these mandates have killed off differently scheduled and formatted children’s programs. Many of us still remember CBS network’s In the News, short-form news stories aimed at children, and ABC’s popular Schoolhouse Rock and Afterschool Specials. But specials aren’t regularly scheduled, and apparently short news isn’t good news, and thus those programs disappeared from the airwaves – a direct result of nonsensical regulation and government overreach.

For all these reasons, Frontiers of Freedom welcomes the FCC’s draft notice proposing changes to its outdated and harmful children’s TV rules. We support the FCC’s proposals – here – and its overall effort to reduce unnecessary and burdensome government regulation.


‘Net Neutrality’ is Dead; Long Live the Internet

By Washington Examiner

“URGENT,” read the popular meme on social media on Monday, “If you’re not freaking out about Net Neutrality right now, you’re not paying attention.”

Well, we have some good news. If you can read this editorial, it means you’ve survived the first 24 hours without the regulations that the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission decided were necessary to preserve net neutrality. Your Internet provider has not yet gotten around to censoring the Internet.

CNN, absurdly reported “the end of the Internet as we know it” in a news piece after the FCC voted in December to repeal the Obama-era regulation. That headline was later changed, perhaps because someone figured out that the Internet was only going back to the way it had been pretty much right up until June 12, 2015.
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Activists are Wrong About How to Protect an Open Internet

By Drew Johnson • Fox News

Some activists are urging Congress to use a little-known procedural tool to overturn a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision called the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. This misguided approach would only handcuff the internet and saddle it with Depression-era rules that have been proven to hurt consumers.

Instead, lawmakers should ensure a free and vibrant internet through real legislation that permanently enshrines clear consumer protections, while respecting the more hands-off approach that has allowed the internet to flourish.

The FCC voted in December to repeal Title II regulations on the nation’s broadband networks, which were applied in 2015 under the Obama administration. Title II rules were created during the 1930s to regulate the telephone industry like a utility.

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Coalition Letter Urging Strong IP Protections for Any Renegotiated NAFTA Deal

December 18th, 2017

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Executive Office of the President
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

“Intellectual property is a driving force in today’s global economy of constant innovation. It is the wellspring of American economic growth and job creation. With the rise of the digital economy, it has become even more critical that we protect intellectual property rights and preserve freedom of contract rather than create regulatory barriers to creativity, growth, and innovation. …We call for strong action by Congress and a new Republican president to enforce intellectual property laws against all infringers, whether foreign or domestic.” Continue reading


How Ditching Net Neutrality Will Give Consumers More and Better Options

by Georgi Boorman • The Federalist

Could you bear to live in a world where parts of the Internet might be bundled and sold to you monthly in the form of subscriptions? Apparently, some people can’t. A representative from California shared this graphic on social media, supposedly to demonstrate how terrible lifting net neutrality would be. To me, it demonstrates the exact opposite.

If you add up the subscriptions, the “no net neutrality” model costs 4 cents less. Continue reading


Internet Could Thrive Under Trump

By George LandrithNewsmax

Perhaps nowhere has President Trump’s roll-back of eight years of Obama’s presidency been more successful, early on, than in his efforts to unshackle the Internet from the hands of the federal government.

Fueled by $200 million in money from the Ford Foundation and George Soros, a cottage industry of activists and groups were funded to help transform the Internet into a government-run and monopolized utility. Among them was one called Free Press, operated by neo-Marxist Robert McChesney. McChesney has openly bragged about the need to transform the media to be “part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism,” and has cited Venezuelan strong-man Hugo Chavez as the exemplar of “free press.”

Rather than treat McChesney’s comments as the rantings of a mad-man, the FCC cited him as “remarkable” 46 times in justifying their decision to enact disingenuously named “Net Neutrality,” a key step in transforming the Internet under the thumb of government control. Continue reading


Obama Should Not Put Free Speech on Internet at Risk by Giving Up US Oversight

by Senator Ted Cruz • The Daily Signal

The incredible ingenuity of the American people invented the internet—one of the most transformational technologies in human history. But even though we created and paid for the internet, we did not keep it for ourselves; we shared it for the benefit of all humanity. That spirit of freedom and generosity is the very essence of our great nation.

Since the internet’s inception, the United States government has played a critical role in supervising the core internet functions that allow websites to interface with the internet. If any other country had created the internet, this power could have been used to deny internet access to websites that were deemed politically undesirable, unpopular, threatening, or disfavored by the ruling elite.

But not here in the United States. The internet is an oasis of freedom today because of our First Amendment, which is unparalleled in the protection it affords free speech. So long as the U.S. government is involved in internet governance, it cannot deny any website internet access on account of the ideas it espouses. Continue reading


An Internet Giveaway to the U.N.

By L. Gordon CrovitzWall Street Journal

When the Obama administration announced its plan to give up U.S. protection of the internet, it promised the United Nations would never take control. But because of the administration’s naiveté or arrogance, U.N. control is the likely result if the U.S. gives up internet stewardship as planned at midnight on Sept. 30.

On Friday Americans for Limited Government received a response to its Freedom of Information Act request for “all records relating to legal and policy analysis . . . concerning antitrust issues for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” if the U.S. gives up oversight. The administration replied it had “conducted a thorough search for responsive records within its possession and control and found no records responsive to your request.”

It’s shocking the administration admits it has no plan for how Icann retains its antitrust exemption. The reason Icann can operate the entire World Wide Web root zone is that it has the status of a legal monopolist, stemming from its contract with the Commerce Department that makes Icann an “instrumentality” of government. Continue reading


Is online free speech under attack?

By Rudy Takala     •     Washington Examiner

Internet World Wide WebRegulators in Washington are showing increasing interest in tightening rules on political speech on the web, arguing that the dissonant voices enabled by “new media” have become too influential. If that effort is successful, experts wonder whether it could impact more traditional media as well, especially in how it relates to conservatives.

“The best example we can give is going back a few years to when the [Federal Communications Commission] was looking at trying to silence talk radio, which was obviously a realm of conservatism,” said Drew Johnson, executive director of the nonprofit group “Protect Internet Freedom.” He was referring to the agency’s “Fairness Doctrine,” which required broadcasters to grant equal time to opposing political candidates.

Democrats on the Federal Election Commission demonstrated a similar regulatory ambition in February, when they voted unsuccessfully to apply campaign finance laws, which are traditionally intended to govern paid political advertisements, to unpaid political accounts on Twitter. Continue reading


U.S. government reveals breadth of requests for Internet records

By Dustin Volz     •     Reuters

Internet World Wide WebThe Federal Bureau of Investigation has used a secretive authority to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data including an individual’s complete web browsing history and records of all online purchases, a court filing released Monday shows.

The documents are believed to be the first time the government has provided details of its so-called national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval.

The filing made public Monday was the result of an 11-year-old legal battle waged by Nicholas Merrill, founder of Calyx Internet Access, a hosted service provider, who refused to comply with a national security letter (NSL) he received in 2004. Continue reading


Russia ‘tried to cut off’ World Wide Web

A failed experiment to cut Russia from the World Wide Web stokes fears of Chinese-style online censorship

Internet1

The objective was to see whether the Runet – the informal name for the Russian internet – could continue to function in isolation from the global internet.

by Roland Oliphant     •     The Telegraph

Russia has run large scale experiments to test the feasibility of cutting the country off the World Wide Web, a senior industry executive has claimed.

The tests, which come amid mounting concern about a Kremlin campaign to clamp down on internet freedoms, have been described by experts as preparations for an information blackout in the event of a domestic political crisis.

Andrei Semerikov, general director of a Russian service provider called Er Telecom, said Russia’s ministry of communications and Roskomnadzor, the national internet regulator, ordered communications hubs run by the main Russian internet providers to block traffic to foreign communications channels by using a traffic control system called DPI. Continue reading


Voluntary initiative to stop ad-supported piracy

The winners:  consumers, content providers, and advertisersIntellectual Propery Piracy

The losers:  pirates, malware, viruses, and thieves

The internet has been a huge engine for commerce. You can go online to by just about anything and have it delivered to your home. You can also legitimately buy and download music, movies, and television shows from a incredible array of legal services. But where there are legitimate businesses, there are also pirates trying to make a quick buck selling that which they do not own. The truth is they make more than a quick buck — they steal billions every year pirating content belonging to others.

GroupM, a leading global media investment management company, recently announced that they will require all their partners to become certified by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a voluntary initiative by the advertising industry to fight internet piracy of copyrighted material — typically movies, music, and television programing. Many piracy sites make their money from advertisements on their websites. Indeed, the Digital Citizens Alliance conducted a report concluding that piracy sites made over $209 million selling ads in 2014. So the initiative is aimed at stopping advertisements from legitimate companies running on illegitimate pirate sites. By stopping the flow of advertising dollars to the pirate sites, piracy itself will be reduced, thereby incentivizing creativity, innovation, investment, and jobs. Continue reading


Ted Cruz’s Fight to Protect the Open Internet

The Texas senator blocks legislation that could lead to world-wide censorship of the Web.

by L. Gordon Crovitz      •     Wall Street Journal

Sen. Ted Cruz wants to safeguard the open Internet from authoritarian regimes. You’d think that would be an easy position to take, but it’s not. The Texas senator and presidential candidate is bucking the leadership of his Republican Party to push hard against the Obama administration plan to abandon America’s protection of the Internet from political interference.

This became an issue in March 2014, when the Commerce Department announced it would give up its Internet oversight by September 2015. Commerce exercises oversight through its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which keeps the engineers and network operators who manage the Internet free from political interference. China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes can censor websites only within their own countries, not globally as they have long desired.

Congress used its budget power to block Commerce from giving up the Icann contract during 2015, which should mean a two-year renewal into the next presidency. The Obama administration ignored that timetable and set the new date of July 2016 to give up control. Meanwhile, no alternative has emerged to protect the open Internet. Continue reading


ICANN submits plan for US to cede control of ICANN

Proposal recommends role played by government be replaced by ICANN itself, an oversight committee and a review process involving many interested parties

The Guardian

icannAn international group of internet experts has released a proposal for how the US can cede oversight of the non-profit that manages the internet’s names and addresses.

The 199-page document follows the US commerce department’s controversial announcement last year that it would transfer its stewardship of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a global network of interested parties.

The details of how ICANN would run on its own have been eagerly awaited around the world and especially in the US, where some Republican lawmakers have raised concerns that the transition may allow other countries to take control of the internet.

Since 1998, ICANN has held the contract to manage the master database for top-level domain names such as .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses. The functions are collectively known as Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA). Continue reading


ICANN needs to return to its Root(s)

by John Kneuer     •     Washington Times

internet-censorship-ICANNIn a little-noticed corner at the intersection of technology and policy, big changes are underway that could have a profound impact on the Internet as we know it.

Unless government policy makers are careful, the role of the Internet as a global engine of innovation and free expression could be at risk.

As is widely acknowledged—but perhaps not fully appreciated—the Internet began in the 1970s as a U.S. government-funded project to establish an efficient and survivable network of networks that could operate outside of the public-switched telephone network. While today the Internet represents trillions of dollars of infrastructure investments made by global public and private network operators, its functioning still relies on the coordination and execution of four discrete technical functions collectively referred to as the IANA functions. For an admittedly gross over-simplification, think of the IANA functions as a “yellow pages” of sorts, which allows computers to know where and how to direct traffic to its final destination, and to allow human beings to understand these directions by converting computer language (e.g. a series of numbers 123.4.5.67) into recognizable words and letters (e.g. www.icann.org). Continue reading