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News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

The Federal Communications Commission authorized the use of LTE-U, a technology that promises improved connections for mobile carriers. Some critics warn it could interfere with Wi-Fi networks. On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission gave the go-ahead to several companies to begin activating a wireless technology called LTE-for-unlicensed devices—better known as LTE-U. The concept behind LTE-U is to allow mobile carriers to use the unlicensed 5GHz band that is currently used by Wi-Fi devices. Some frequencies within the band go unused, and the FCC decision will allow carriers to make use of that spectrum to boost coverage and improve short-range connection speeds within their network. T-Mobile will be the first carrier to make use of the new technology, with the intention of deploying it as early as this spring. The carrier has been testing LTE-U technology since December 2016, and T-Mobile customers will be able to make use of the underutilized, unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band. Customers won’t notice any change other than the potential promise of improved speeds and increased capacity across network. According to T-Mobile, its embrace of LTE-U will also help the company bring its Gigabit LTE to fruition across the country. Qualcomm, one of the major backers of LTE-U technology, told International Business Times, “We are extremely pleased with today’s FCC actions, which represent a major step forward for American consumers, demonstrate strong US leadership in mobile broadband, and recognize years of research and development and inventions by Qualcomm and its partners.” According to the company, the FCC decision will “ensure that unlicensed spectrum remains open for permission-less innovation to enable faster, better mobile broadband and that new technologies will demonstrably co-exist successfully with incumbents.” While mobile carriers and wireless equipment makers like Qualcomm have been pushing for deployment of LTE-U, not everyone has been enthused by the idea. In 2015, when conversations about LTE-U were just getting started, the Wi-Fi Alliance argued the technology would interfere with Wi-Fi networks. The Wi-Fi Alliance—which includes companies like Apple, Microsoft and Intel among its sponsors—is industry trade group that is tasked with certifying equipment and making sure wireless equipment doesn’t interfere with other devices operating in the same frequency. The group asked the FCC in 2015 for more time to evaluate potential interferences of LTE-U. Microsoft also raised concerns over the technology, noting that it worried LTE-U would "degrade the performance of services delivered over Wi-Fi and other technologies that rely exclusively on unlicensed spectrum." The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) presented its belief that widespread deployment of LTE-U and related technologies like Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) would “severely decrease” Wi-Fi network performance. Cable industry research showed LAA would lower the Wi-Fi transmission success rate "by 77 percent with 15 nearby consumer Wi-Fi devices, and by 88 percent with 20 nearby consumer devices." Qualcomm’s own testing did not find this to be the case. According to the company, not only does LTE-U not interfere with Wi-Fi, but it found Wi-Fi access points actually experienced improved throughput when sharing a channel with LTE-U as opposed to sharing it with another Wi-Fi access point. The FCC authorization of LTE-U will put these studies to the test. According to Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at open internet advocacy group Public Knowledge, it’s not clear how exactly LTE-U will impact consumers at this point. "It is unclear how permitting LTE-U operations in the 5 GHz band will impact consumers," he told IBT. "What is clear is that the FCC has decided to take this calculated risk with no plan if LTE-U operations drastically alter the ability of consumers to continue to relieve both their wallets and their ISPs networks by offloading traffic to Wi-Fi. " While the FCC noted that its decision took into account the views of LTE-U and Wi-Fi stakeholders, Berenbroick noted the FCC’s plan “only requires LTE-U devices to share fairly with Wi-Fi where Wi-Fi signals are already strong, but weak Wi-Fi signals can be used often by consumers." He pointed to examples of low-income students who only have access to broadband—a necessity for some homework assignments—through public hotspots.

News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Republicans in Congress are preparing to blow up federal rules protecting consumers from broadband privacy abuses, and there's virtually nothing Democrats can do to stop them. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican, plans to use a rare legislative vehicle called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to roll back the Federal Communications Commission's broadband privacy regulations, he told Politico on Wednesday. The CRA allows Congress to nullify recent regulations with a simple majority vote, and Flake has reportedly lined up at least 12 co-sponsors. Importantly, the CRA process would block the FCC from issuing "substantially similar" regulations in the future. In other words, forget about FCC broadband privacy protections for the foreseeable future. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who has received colossal sums of campaign cash from the telecom industry, is reportedly taking the lead on the privacy roll-back in the House. Blackburn was recently tapped to lead a key Congressional subcommittee with broad jurisdiction over cable, phone, and internet issues. The Republican effort is part of a comprehensive campaign to dismantle regulatory safeguards across broad swaths of the US economy, including rules protecting the environment, internet freedom, and consumer safety and labor rights. Broadband giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon loathe the FCC's privacy rules, which require them to obtain "opt-in" consent from consumers before they use or sell sensitive consumer data, including online browsing activity, mobile app data, and emails and online chats. This "opt-in" rule jeopardizes these companies' ability to make money by displaying hyper-targeted advertising based on private user preferences and internet browsing habits. "The big broadband barons want to turn back the clock and undo these fundamental consumer protections so they can freely collect and profit from customer's sensitive personal information," Sen. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat, said in a recent statement. "I will strongly oppose any efforts to roll back the broadband privacy rules either by Congress or at the FCC." Unfortunately for Markey and other privacy advocates, policy experts say there is virtually nothing they can do to stop the privacy rollback, short of whipping up enough grassroots political anger to make the Republicans back off. A CRA resolution cannot be stopped by a filibuster in the Senate. The CRA, which was passed in 1996 as part of former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich's so-called "Contract With America," is an extremely rare legislative maneuver. Until this week, it had only been deployed successfully once, to overturn a Clinton administration ergonomics rule in 2001. With Republicans now in control of Congress and Donald Trump in the White House, there are no less than ten CRA actions winding their way through the legislative branch. These measures include resolutions that would ease regulations on mining companies, and loosen financial transparency rules for oil and gas companies. The nation's big internet service providers (ISPs) have complained that the FCC's privacy rules don't apply to websites like Google and Facebook, which are regulated under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission. As a result, the telecom industry argues that the FCC's policy puts it at a competitive disadvantage relative to the Silicon Valley giants, which also collect huge amounts of user data. Public interest groups argue that the real reason companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, want to loosen the privacy rules is to gain access to vast quantities to sensitive user data, which they can then use or sell in order to fatten their bottom lines. "The cable, telecom, wireless, and advertising lobbies' request for CRA intervention is just another industry attempt to overturn rules that empower users and give them a say in how their private information may be used," a coalition of public interest groups including the the ACLU, the Center for Media Justice, and Public Knowledge, wrote to lawmakers last month. "These groups now ask Congress to create a vacuum and to give ISPs carte blanche, with no privacy rules or enforcement in place," the coalition added. "The CRA is a blunt instrument and it is inappropriate in this instance, where rules clearly benefit internet users notwithstanding ISPs' disagreement with them."

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: INCO-2009-2.2 | Award Amount: 597.73K | Year: 2010

ERA-Can II aims to increase opportunities for cooperation and greater coordination between Canadian and European researchers in areas of common priority by improving the level of knowledge, quality of strategic information and practical assistance available to Canadian policy-makers, researchers and research managers on FP7 programs, networking tools and research activities. To that end, it adopts a strategic approach that: (a) complements, through close collaboration, the efforts of federal, provincial and private sector research funding agencies, organizations and networks in Canada and the work of the European Commission, trans-national, national and private sector research funding agencies, organizations and networks in Europe; (b) focuses on areas and sub-areas of strategic importance to Canada, Canadian stakeholders and the European Commission; (c) builds on the successes and lessons learned from past and continuing initiatives. It applies this approach in pursuing the following strategic objectives: (1) improving the processes for obtaining timely strategic information on FP7 programs, networking tools and activities, in areas of common priority, for Canadian policy makers, researchers and research managers; (2) improving the processes for providing timely strategic information and practical assistance to Canadian policy-makers, researchers and research managers that encourages and facilitates international coordination for policy-makers and the participation of researchers and research managers in FP7 programs, networking tools and activities in areas of common priority; (3) improving Canadian and European knowledge of Canada-Europe S&T cooperation, identifying issues and advancing best practices in the field.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: INCO-2009-5.1 | Award Amount: 586.02K | Year: 2009

The Access2Canada project is based on the need to solve the lack of awareness among EU researchers about the opportunities and obstacles for European researchers to access Canadian research and innovation programmes. The objective of this project is therefore to strengthen and increase EU-Canada S&T and innovation cooperation by supporting the access to these programmes for EU researchers. In order to achieve this main objective, the project intends to reach the following four goals: 1. Map Canadian R&D programmes and EU-Canada S&T agreements, and identify opportunities and obstacles for the EU research community to access Canadian research and innovation programmes; 2. Raise awareness amongst EU researchers about Canadian research and innovation programmes and encourage EU researchers to participate; 3. Assess European researcher participation in Canadian research and innovation programmes; and 4. Provide feedback to the EC and JSTCC about the opportunities and obstacles for EU researchers and present suggestions to improve the S&T cooperation. Added efforts will be made to identify and assess any opportunities provided by Canadian innovation programmes and players that might support cooperation in innovation with Europe The results of the project will be publicly available on a (proposed common ACCESS4EU) website, and presented during information days, (online) conferences and relevant events in Europe. The expected impact of the project will be the reinforcement of the current bilateral S&T agreement between Canada and the EU, an increased participation of EU researchers in Canadian research and innovation programmes, and a better understanding of the reciprocity of research and innovation programmes on both sides.

News Article | February 26, 2017
Site: www.wired.com

Earlier this month, in a classic late Friday afternoon news dump, the Federal Communications Commission announced a rollback of two key decisions made during the Obama administration. In another era, few besides policy wonks and internet activists would have noticed such a thing. But these changes drew intense attention. These days, politics isn’t just what happens on the internet—it’s what happens to the internet. “Trump’s FCC Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules,” the New York Times declared. “FCC blocks 9 companies from providing low-income internet access,” CNN reported. Mignon Clyburn, the only remaining Democratic commissioner at the FCC, published sharp rebukes to the moves, complaining that her colleagues had acted “without a shred of explanation.” The agency that regulates the internet is becoming as sharply divided as the internet itself. Of particular concern were a series of FCC decisions made after the election last year allowing nine companies to participate in the government’s Lifeline program that subsidizes phone and internet service for low income families. At first, Ajit Pai, President Trump’s pick to lead the agency, offered no explanation for reversing those decisions. But by the following Tuesday, widespread criticism forced him to publish a lengthy explanation for a move that seemed to fly in the face of his stated objective of closing the digital divide. The president’s tumultuous first month has brought intense scrutiny and publicity to agencies such as the National Park Service and Department of Education that until now rarely made news. But the FCC’s rise from relative obscurity to big headlines corresponds not just with the Trump’s arrival in Washington, but with the ever-greater centrality of the internet to American life, political and otherwise. From its start in 1934, the FCC has played a crucial role in determining how Americans communicate and gather information. But for most of its existence, it’s been a boring, technocratic agency tasked with granting broadcast licenses and divvying up the wireless spectrum. It occasionally waded into controversies like obscenity laws, media consolidation rules, or the Fairness Doctrine, but even when decisions followed party lines, they rarely became political firestorms. But these days, the FCC has grown increasingly polarized—and polarizing. The agency that regulates the internet is becoming as sharply divided as the internet itself. This polarization became undeniably apparent during the tenure of chairman Tom Wheeler, the head of the FCC under President Obama. The five-member panel frequently split along party lines on proposals such as cable box reform, privacy rules, and reclassifying internet providers as common carriers akin to utilities. You could blame partisan split on Wheeler for pushing an aggressive agenda opposed by the two Republicans on the panel, but that’s only part of the story. Wheeler didn’t start out as a friend-of-the-consumer crusader when Obama appointed him in November 2013. The following April he proposed a new set of rules that critics argued would have allowed internet service providers to accelerate or throttle traffic from specific websites. This runs counter to an essential principle of the internet called net neutrality, which states that internet service providers must provide equal access to all websites, content, and applications. The idea that the FCC might sacrifice net neutrality outraged activists. Encouraged by their success defeating the draconian intellectual property reform bills known as SOPA and PIPA, these activists launched a campaign to flood the FCC with comments opposing the proposal. Even comedian John Oliver joined the cause, dedicating an episode of his HBO show Last Week Tonight to the topic. (He said appointing Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, to head the FCC was akin to hiring a dingo to babysit your kids.) Netflix, Reddit, Twitter, and others throttled their platforms to protest the proposal. Even Obama weighed in. Ultimately, the FCC received a record 3.7 million comments in support of net neutrality, more than the previous record of 1.3 million comments complaining about Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004. Maybe that popular uprising emboldened Wheeler to be the crusader he always wanted to be. Or maybe being called out on national television inspired him to take a more consumer-first approach to running the agency. Either way, Wheeler pursued an agenda more in line with that of consumer advocacy groups, regardless of what the telco industry wanted. First, Wheeler embraced reclassifying internet providers to increase the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Then, under his leadership, the FCC passed strict privacy rules for internet providers, expanded the Lifeline program to subsidize internet access in addition to phone service, and was set to vote on a proposal that could have ended pay TV’s providers’ cable box monopoly. Republicans on the commission opposed each of these acts. Not every decision the agency made was so polarizing, of course. But when there were disagreements, critics argue that Wheeler relied on the Democratic majority on the commission to pass regulations rather than finding a middle ground with Republicans. “Wheeler stopped trying to reach compromise with his colleagues,” says Randolph May, founder of the Free State Foundation. Wheeler has implied that the polarization stemmed from Republican stonewalling. “When I came in, I set up with each commissioner a date every other week — an hour for the two of us just to sit without staff and talk,” he said during an appearance at Harvard Law School last month. “For the last 18, 24 months he [Pai] canceled every meeting. It’s hard to work for consensus when you won’t sit down with each other.” Pai, who Obama appointed to the FCC in 2012, started reversing those polarized decisions almost immediately after Trump promoted him to chairman. In just four weeks, he has reversed the Lifeline decision, dropped the cable box reform proposal, and looks set to block at least some of the new privacy rules. Yes, most issues the commission votes on remain uncontroversial. But certain decisions remain polarizing. For example, this week the Republican commissioners voted to exempt smaller internet providers from the agency’s transparency rules, over objections by Clyburn. Once again the agency is cleaving along party lines on contentious issues. At first, Americans of all political stripes supported net neutrality. That changed as Republican lawmakers pushed back. Republican senator Ted Cruz went so far as to call net neutrality a “Obamacare for the internet.” By the end of 2015, GOP voters were less likely than Democrats oppose allowing internet providers to charge some websites extra to for faster speeds. A majority still oppose the idea the idea of fast lanes for the internet, but Wheeler has come to look less like a populist hero in Republican eyes, and more like a Big Government meddler. Still, you can’t blame petty politics alone for the mess the FCC finds itself in. Debates over net neutrality and cable boxes stem from an ideological shift in Washington. In earlier days, it was “good regulation versus bad regulation,” says Chris Lewis, vice president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. Now it’s “more regulation versus less regulation.” No one is well served by regulations that yo-yo back and forth as the political seasons change. Fair enough. After all, “everyone across the spectrum agreed that Ma Bell should have been regulated,” says May. He’s referring to the original AT&T monopoly, which the government divided into “baby Bells,” including Verizon and the modern AT&T, in 1982. “It’s clearly a different communications landscape now.” Free market advocates like May argue that the telecommunications sector enjoys robust competition and that the government should step aside to let the market do its thing. Republicans tend to agree with him. But privacy and consumer advocates—and many Democrats—fear increasing consolidation as telecoms buy each other and media companies. Fewer players, they argue, will lead to the erosion of competition and ultimately more restrictions on speech. The Trump administration has signaled a hard shift in the direction of deregulation, though it may occasionally come down in favor of government intervention when politically desirable—such as in the case of AT&T’s attempt to merge with Time Warner merger. Pai’s outlook is clearly in line with administration. But he, like the president and Congress, have an obligation to the public, not just to the Republican base or to free market ideology. No one, not even the telecommunication industry, is well served by regulations that yo-yo back and forth as the political seasons change. The internet, at least in this case, should really be above politics.

News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

President Trump's newly-installed Federal Communications Commission chief moved to halt a key policy protecting online privacy and data security on Wednesday, in what public interest advocates called the latest Trump-era attack on FCC consumer safeguards. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's action, which was expected, suspends a rule opposed by internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon that requires broadband giants to take "reasonable measures" to protect consumer information from "unauthorized use, disclosure, or access." The data security rule was approved last year by the Obama-era FCC as part of a suite of privacy safeguards designed to give consumers more power over how ISPs use their personal information. The full privacy package, which is now on the Trump FCC's chopping block, requires ISPs to obtain "opt-in" consent from consumers before they use or sell sensitive personal information, including browsing activity, mobile app data, and emails and online chats. Consumer advocates say the FCC's data security rule, along with the broader privacy policy, is necessary at a time of increasing cyberattacks against internet users. Wednesday's FCC action drew a strong rebuke from the agency's lone Democratic commissioner and other public interest advocates. "After finally gaining basic privacy protections for broadband providers last year, it's outrageous that Chairman Pai will now remove the simple rule that internet service providers must take reasonable data security measures to protect their customers' information," Chris Lewis, vice president at DC-based consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said in a statement. The nation's largest ISPs, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have lobbied vigorously for the FCC to scrap the privacy policy, which they claim is an example of "regulatory overreach." Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who has made no secret of his distaste for the FCC's privacy rules, appears more than willing to oblige. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the sole remaining Democrat at the agency following the departure of her two Democratic colleagues earlier this year, blasted the move as a "proxy for gutting the Commission's duly adopted privacy rules." "With a stroke of the proverbial pen, the Federal Communications Commission—the same agency that should be the 'cop on the beat' when it comes to ensuring appropriate consumer protections—is leaving broadband customers without assurances that their providers will keep their data secure," Clyburn said in an emailed statement. "Another day, another blow to internet users, struck yet again by the Trump FCC." The FCC's decision, which was approved by a 2-1 vote with Clyburn as the lone dissenter, is the latest move aimed at rolling back the pro-consumer policies championed by Pai's predecessor, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, according to public interest advocates. And there's much more to come, they say, including an expected attempt to kill the FCC's landmark policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible. "Another day, another blow to internet users, struck yet again by the Trump FCC on behalf of the giant media conglomerates that the president's new chairman is hell-bent on protecting," Matt Wood, policy director at DC-based public interest group Free Press, said in a statement. Last week, the FCC took a major step toward killing the agency's net neutrality policy by scrapping open internet transparency protections for millions of consumers served by hundreds of small and medium-sized ISPs around the country. That rule required ISPs to provide consumers with detailed information about internet prices, speeds and service. And last month, Pai halted the FCC's inquiry into zero-rating, a controversial practice in which ISPs exempt certain services from data caps, effectively favoring those offerings at the expense of rivals. Open internet advocates say such practices create the kind of discriminatory online environment that the FCC's net neutrality policy was designed to prevent. So what was Pai's rationale for halting the broadband data security rule? Pai, echoing ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, argues that because the FCC's privacy policy doesn't apply to websites like Google and Facebook, which are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCC's policy puts ISPs at a competitive disadvantage relative to the Silicon Valley giants. So it should be scrapped. In a statement, which was joined by Republican Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Pai expressed his belief that broadband privacy oversight should be "returned to the FTC," which the pair asserted is "the nation's expert agency with respect to these important subjects." This statement amounts to the death knell for the FCC's broadband privacy policy. Not surprisingly, the broadband industry praised Wednesday's FCC action, with NCTA, the nation's main cable industry trade group, calling the move "a welcome recognition that consumers benefit most when privacy protections are consistently applied throughout the internet ecosystem." Matt Wood of Free Press said that Wednesday's decision amounts to a huge gift to ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, at the expense of consumers. "The simple fact is that the FCC's abdication of its responsibility leaves internet users with no protections today against such broadband providers' negligence," Wood said. "Today's vote is yet another sign that the new majority at both commissions will do anything and everything they can to hand over your private data to the country's biggest cable, telephone and internet gatekeepers, no questions asked."

The Federal Communications Commission, now led by Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai as its chairman, has started chipping away at the net neutrality rules that the Obama administration implemented. Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, before he stepped down from his post last month, warned against the planned pushback by the Trump administration on the net neutrality laws. Pai, if he is indeed planning to repeal all net neutrality laws, will not be able to do so quickly due to the processes involved. The new chairman, however, has the support of the majority of the commissioners of the FCC, and while there has been no outright statement that net neutrality will be dismantled, the moves to weaken its policies have already started. The FCC on Feb. 23 voted 2-1 along party lines for the suspension of net neutrality transparency requirements for broadband providers with less than 250,000 customers. With the suspension, more ISPs will no longer have to publicly disclose information to customers regarding the price of their service, other fees such as service charges, and any data caps that they will implement. Such information helps customers in making informed decisions on which broadband provider to sign up with. Under the Obama administration, the exemption from the transparency requirements was only given to ISPs with less than 100,000 subscribers. The vote by the FCC, however, protects ISPs of up to 250,000 subscribers from what Pai refers to as "needless regulations," and presents the first major regulatory action against the Obama administration's net neutrality laws. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the lone Democrat in the FCC, was the one who voted against the move, claiming that it would exempt billion-dollar companies from being transparent with their customers. The ruling only expanded the exemption from transparency rules to ISPs to those with less than 250,000 subscribers, which meant that it would not apply to major companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, but many ISPs owned by conglomerates will be involved, Clyburn noted. "Many of the nation's largest broadband providers are actually holding companies, comprised of many smaller operating companies," said Clyburn, adding that the new order by the FCC will affect even major broadband companies as the connection count requirement is not checked at the holding company level. Pai, however, defended the ruling by saying that the ISPs, instead of focusing on the paperwork previously required by the transparency rules, should now spend their resources on building out better broadband services to the rural parts of the United States. The FCC has actually just released the rules for its rural broadband fund auction, wherein $2 billion worth of funds is available for ISPs to develop broadband networks in rural areas. Consumer advocates, meanwhile, argue that the expanded exemption will significantly hurt consumers. Customers should know the details behind the pricing practices of ISPs, and have the right to know if a broadband provider is throttling internet traffic. "How can it be good for consumers if companies conceal anything about the price, speed, and data caps for their broadband service?" asks Public Knowledge general counsel Ryan Clough. Pai is seemingly just starting though, and supporters of net neutrality should prepare for more of such moves from the current FCC chairman. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: phys.org

As I've written recently, the Federal Communications Commission under President Donald Trump and its new chairman, Ajit Pai, looks set to roll back or kill off its net neutrality rules. In response, many readers have written me, wondering what, if anything, they can do. Activists working on the issue have numerous suggestions. But they all boil down to this: Make your voice heard. Hard as it may be to believe sometimes, policymakers do actually listen to the public. "The short answer is to raise hell," said Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that helped champion the net neutrality rules. That's how net neutrality was saved before. Millions of everyday citizens made their voices heard, and the FCC responded. In 2014, an appeals court struck down a previous version of the FCC's net neutrality rules. In trying to figure out how to respond to the ruling, the agency proposed to replace the defunct rules with new ones that would have gutted net neutrality by allowing broadband providers to create fast lanes on the internet for their content and those of their paid partners. The conventional wisdom in Washington was that fast lanes were pretty much a done deal. But then the citizenry got involved. Average citizens wrote to the FCC demanding that it bar fast lanes and reclassify broadband as a "common carrier service," which would allow it to put strong new net neutrality rules in place. The agency ended up receiving some 4 million comments, an unprecedented number. That outpouring of support helped turn the FCC around. It ended up ditching the fast lane proposal, reclassifying broadband, and putting in place strong rules to safeguard net neutrality. "Net neutrality is an issue that a lot of people care about - millions and millions more than the FCC ever expected," Aaron said. "We need to hear from those people again." So how exactly can you make your voice heard? Here's what the advocates recommend. -Call or send a snail mail letter to your senators and congressional representative. Ever since the FCC put its new net neutrality rules in place, there have been rumblings in Congress about overturning them and neutering the agency. Those efforts may pick up speed now that President Barack Obama, who strongly supported net neutrality, is no longer in office. Many in Congress receive campaign donations from the big telecommunications companies that would love to get rid of the rules. They need to hear that their constituents care about this issue, advocates say. "Everyone should contact their lawmakers to tell them that the net neutrality protections we have now are what makes the internet great, and we should leave them alone," said Evan Greer, a campaign director at Fight for the Future, a consumer advocacy group that focuses on internet issues. -Call and leave a message for Chairman Pai. It's much easier for policymakers to change rules if they don't think anyone's paying attention. Free Press is encouraging citizens to call Pai and let him know they care about this issue. It has a web page that provides Pai's number, offers a suggestion for a message to leave and ask citizens to let it know how the call went. -Sign a petition. Fight for the Future has put together an online petition that people can sign to show their support for net neutrality. The organization is encouraging people when they sign to declare what political party they belong to. It's trying to "show lawmakers that voters from across the political spectrum want to keep the internet free from throttling and censorship," Greer said. -Sign up for alerts. Free Press, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, a progressive advocacy group, are each strong advocates for net neutrality and are staying on top of the latest developments on the issue. Each offers a free email newsletter that offers updates. -Join and donate to an advocacy group. Numerous other groups also are championing net neutrality. They include Public Knowledge, the Center for Media Justice and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. They all will need financial support to counter the lobbying of the big telecommunications companies and get their message out, advocates say. "I strongly encourage people who want to get involved to connect with one of the many great organizations working to protect the free and open internet, and stay involved for the long term," Greer said. -Encourage others to get involved. It took a broad-based, popular coalition to convince policymakers to put in place the current strong net neutrality rules. Defenders of those rules say they're going to need just as much support - or more - to keep them in place. So they're hoping net neutrality fans can get their family members, friends and neighbors to join in. "We'll welcome all the friends we can get in these fights," said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. Be prepared to send in comments. Before Pai's FCC can kill off the net neutrality rules, it will have to go through a formal rule-making process. That process - like those before it - will require the agency to solicit comments from the public. Those comments proved decisive in the past and could prove crucial in the future. Explore further: Net neutrality should be Silicon Valley's next fight

News Article | January 23, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Donald Trump has just established how he wants to move forward when it comes to the internet. By appointing Ajit Pai last Jan. 23 as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, he seems intent on eliminating key regulations that the agency has established under the Barack Obama administration. Particularly, Trump is keen on seeing that net neutrality is obliterated, methodically dismantled as soon as possible to pave way for a deregulated telecoms industry. Pai, who has been sitting as a commissioner at FCC since 2012, has announced that tearing down net neutrality is on top of this administration's objectives. In a recent pronouncement, he has told a number of telecom players that he will be revisiting the Title II Net Neutrality proceedings immediately. Under Pai, the FCC, an agency known for policymaking that closely follows the agenda of the president's party, is expected to lead the charge in undoing the Open Internet Order, the body of rules that established net neutrality in the United States. "In the months to come, we also need to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations," Pai declared after Trump's election. "The regulatory underbrush at the FCC is thick. We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation." Pai has not been shy about his disdain for net neutrality in the past. His position rests on the argument that the problems that net neutrality is trying to address do not exist. Net neutrality proponents are naturally concerned. Although Pai's appointment has been expected, his elevation to the FCC chairmanship still sent chills to activists and consumer groups. "Some of the things we've seen in his record are certainly problematic for consumers and for competition," Chris Lewis, vice president of the communications advocacy nonprofit Public Knowledge, told The Verge. "Whether it's his opposition to open internet rules, or opposition to basic privacy online, or opposition to the effort to extend the Lifeline program subsidies to broadband." For those wondering what the hoopla is all about and how Pai's appointment will impact their internet usage, net neutrality is a policy that requires ISPs to treat all data on the web equally, banning any form of discrimination as well as variations on charges imposed on users, content, website, application, and platform, among others. The idea behind it is that the internet is a public utility, hence, the need for regulation. Without this regulatory mechanism, ISPs are free to manipulate a user's internet speeds, throttling the speed for those who are consuming high bandwidth. They could also discriminate in favor of those who can pay more according to IP address and communications protocol, among other practices. These are the reason why critics argue that Pai is only out to protect corporate interests. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

As health intervention, vaccination has had a tremendous impact on reducing mortality and morbidity caused by infectious diseases. Traditionally vaccines were developed and made in the western, industrialised world and from there on gradually and with considerable delay became available for developing countries. Today that is beginning to change. Most vaccine doses are now produced in emerging economies, although industrialised countries still have a lead in vaccine development and in manufacturing innovative vaccines. Technology transfer has been an important mechanism for this increase in production capacity in emerging economies. This review looks back on various technology transfer initiatives and outlines the role of WHO and other public and private partners. It goes into a more detailed description of the role of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Bilthoven, the Netherlands. For many decades RIVM has been providing access to vaccine technology by capacity building and technology transfer initiatives not only through multilateral frameworks, but also on a bilateral basis including a major project in China in the 90 s of the previous century. Looking forward it is expected that, in a globalizing world, the ambition of BRICS countries to play a role in global health will lead to an increase of south-south technology transfers. Further, it is argued that push approaches including technology transfer from the public domain, connecting innovative enabling platforms with competent developing country vaccine manufacturers (DCVM), will be critical to ensure a sustainable supply of affordable and quality vaccines to national immunization programmes in developing countries. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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