Washington, DC, United States
Washington, DC, United States

Time filter

Source Type

News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said Monday it's upholding its earlier decision that the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules, which prevent broadband and wireless companies from blocking or slowing access to the internet, are lawful. A three-judge panel in June upheld the FCC's 2015 regulation and ruled the agency could reclassify broadband as a public utility. Opponents of the rules, which sued the FCC, can now appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court. Daniel Berninger, a network engineer who joined several internet service providers in suing the FCC over the rules, told The Washington Post he intends to file an appeal. Industry trade groups USTelecom and the NCTA, which were also involved in the suit, said they're still evaluating their legal options. Those involved in the case have 90 days to decide if they want to pursue further. The court's decision comes less than a week after new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, introduced his plan for unwinding the Obama-era regulation. Pai says the rules discourage investment in broadband networks and have resulted in job losses. Even though Pai has repeatedly said he's in favor of an open internet, his proposal guts the legal foundation of net neutrality and asks whether there should be any rules at all. Supporters of net neutrality say without the regulation broadband and wireless companies, which provide access to the internet, will abuse their power and favor their own services over competitors' offerings. They say this will hurt innovation and result in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers. Net neutrality supporters, who have promised to sue the FCC when changes to the rules become official, saw Monday's ruling as a victory. "The DC Circuit has once again confirmed that the FCC's Open Internet rules are lawful and supported by the evidence," said John Bergmayer, senior counsel at Public Knowledge. Pai said in a statement Monday that he wasn't surprised the DC Circuit decided not to review the case given his proposal to roll-back the rules. Most experts agree that it's unlikely the Supreme Court will take up the case, given the FCC's plans to repeal the rules. Paul Gallant, an equities analyst with Cowan and Company, put the chances of the Supreme Court hearing the case only at 25 percent. "Net neutrality is major national policy," he said in a research note. "But the actual legal question is less exciting -- did the agency have a reasonable basis to change its earlier policy? That's not usually Supreme Court material." Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech." CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.

News Article | April 4, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

So it finally happened, to no one's surprise but against everyone's opposition: internet privacy is no more. U.S. President Trump has signed the controversial resolution that repeals internet privacy rules protecting consumers that required internet service providers to obtain permission before using and possibly selling their online data. The rules were adopted by the Federal Communications Commission during the previous Obama administration but had yet to take effect. The repeal is a victory for internet service providers and a loss for consumer groups. The then-bill prompted a spike in the search for VPNs as people looked for ways to protect their online privacy. The repeal would allow internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to get a free reign on consumers' online data. These include web browsing history, geolocation, financial information, app usage, health information, and other personal data. Before, the ISPs would need permission to use these data. But with the scrapping of the rules, the companies could sell the data to advertisers and interested parties like insurance companies without users' consent and with little government oversight. According to tech experts, self-regulation may not protect consumer privacy at all. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai welcomed the repeal, saying it effectively "invalidated one part" of the efforts of Obama in regulating the internet. "Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers," Pai said in an official statement. Pai echoed the contention of opponents of the privacy rules, such as the ISPs. For them, the rules excluded internet companies like Facebook and Google, which could use its users' online data. Instead of drafting rules that would address this contention and apply to all businesses, both houses of Congress decided to scrap the rules altogether. Broadband companies and internet companies vary in terms of their position in the market, according to experts. While Google and Facebook are market leaders in their own fields, they are not used to access the internet per se, unlike the nature of internet service providers. Moreover, there is little or no competition among the handful of broadband companies in many markets. "You can live without Google or Facebook," said Dallas Harris, a legal fellow at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit consumer group. "It's pretty difficult to walk away from internet service altogether." Internet providers found an ally in Trump, who earlier expressed support for the bill. "This will allow service providers to be treated fairly and consumer protection and privacy concerns to be viewed on an equal playing field," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

HBO comedian John Oliver is a strong supporter of net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be treated equally. He made that clear in 2014 when he urged viewers to flood the Federal Communications Commission's website with comments supporting robust open internet safeguards. The resulting deluge crashed the FCC's website. Three years later, Oliver is at again, and this time he's targeting President Trump's recently installed Republican FCC Chairman, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, who last month announced a plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality protections. Public interest advocates call Pai's plan a brazen corporate give-away that will allow giant broadband companies like AT&T and Verizon to favor their own online services, discriminate against rival offerings, and sell access to internet "fast lanes" to the highest bidder. During Sunday night's episode of "Last Week Tonight," Oliver urged viewers to visit his recently-purchased URL gofccyourself.com, which redirects to the FCC's comment submission page, and express opposition to Pai's plan. Apparently, many people did just that, because the FCC's website promptly crashed. (Comments can also be submitted via this website.)"Every internet group needs to come together like you successfully did three years ago," Oliver declared. "Every subculture must join as one. Gamers, YouTube celebrities, Instagram models, and even Tom from MySpace, if you're still alive." Oliver also implored "Donald Trump's internet fans on sites like 4Chan and Reddit" to join the fight. "This subject is one of the things that we actually really agree on," Oliver said. And of course, the comedian couldn't resist taking a few light hearted shots at Pai himself, specifically the FCC Chairman's dorky habit of quoting lines from "The Big Lebowski" on Twitter, as well as his strange fascination with an "infamous" oversized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups coffee mug that Pai totes around the office. Open internet advocates argue that the FCC's net neutrality policy is necessary for maintaining the internet as an open platform for economic growth, online innovation, citizen empowerment, political organizing and free speech. And these activists are mobilizing a grassroots effort to resist Pai's plan, which will face an initial vote during the Republican-controlled FCC's May meeting later this month. The nation's largest broadband companies oppose the FCC's policy because it treats them as "common carriers" under the Title II of the Communications Act, a strict regulatory classification that subjects the industry to strong FCC oversight. Pai has argued that the FCC's policy has caused a decrease in broadband capital investment, but public interest groups vigorously dispute that assertion. Open internet advocates, who face an uphill battle in their effort to resist Pai's plan to roll back the FCC's net neutrality protections, were grateful to have Oliver's support. "Once again, John Oliver nails it on the importance of strong open internet rules for our democracy and to prevent broadband price gouging," Chris Lewis, Vice President at DC-based digital rights group Public Knowledge, said in a statement late Sunday. "His wit revealed the hypocrisy of FCC Chairman Pai's effort to pad the pockets of cable and broadband monopolies by dismantling essential protections against internet discrimination." "It's time for the public to weigh in and tell Chairman Pai, Congress and the White House to keep their hands off the open internet," Lewis added. Subscribe to Science Solved It , Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.

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

A top US court on Monday upheld the legality of federal rules protecting net neutrality, the internet's open access principle, providing a much-needed boost to activists who are resisting efforts by Trump's top telecom regulator to dismantle the Obama-era FCC's policy. Net neutrality means that the nation's largest internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon can't favor their own content, block rival services, or sell online "fast lanes" to the highest bidder. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission codified the principle through its landmark Open Internet order, in a major victory for public interest advocates. Broadband giants like AT&T and Verizon oppose the FCC's policy because it subjects them to utility-style regulation, and they promptly sued the agency to kill the rules. Last summer, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the policy, in a bitter defeat for the broadband giants. In response, the ISPs asked for a rare "en banc" review by the full DC Circuit. On Monday, that request was denied. Open internet advocates cheered the latest decision, even as they vowed to resist efforts by Trump's FCC chief Republican Ajit Piai to overturn the US net neutrality policy through a FCC rule-making process. The DC Circuit's ruling was important—and emboldening to activists—because it reaffirmed that the FCC is on solid legal footing with the Open Internet order, effectively knee-capping the legal arguments of net neutrality opponents. "The DC Circuit has once again confirmed that the FCC's Open Internet rules are lawful and supported by the evidence," said John Bergmayer, senior counsel at DC-based digital rights group Public Knowledge. "Now, the primary threat to these important consumer protections is FCC Chairman Pai's determination to roll them back, and to hand more power to monopolistic internet access providers." "The case against net neutrality and Title II is weak, and it should be settled by now." Pai's crusade to overturn the FCC's net neutrality policy is consistent with the latest Republican ideology that has led to dramatic efforts by the Trump administration to roll back consumer protections across broad swaths of the economy, including safeguards protecting online privacy, public health and the environment. The nation's largest ISPs oppose the FCC's policy because it classifies them as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act, thereby requiring them to ensure open and equal access to their networks. Despite the fact that the FCC declined to apply many of the more onerous features of Title II to the ISPs, like rate regulation, the industry still views Title II as a gross regulatory overreach. That's why they want to see the policy dead. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, appears more than happy to oblige, despite broad opposition from consumer advocates, technical experts, online startups, and Silicon Valley giants. Last week, Pai launched a campaign to dismantle the net neutrality policy—and potentially replace it with unenforceable, voluntary commitments by ISPs. This process is expected to take several months, starting with the FCC's open meeting in May. "The case against net neutrality and Title II is weak, and it should be settled by now," said Matt Wood, policy director at DC-based public interest group Free Press. "The rules are working, and the only uncertainty is coming from Ajit Pai and his industry friends. It's too much to hope that they'll get the memo this time around, but the most important thing today is that internet users have notched yet another legal victory for their rights." In dismissing the broadband industry's request for an "en banc" hearing, the DC Circuit majority, led by Judge Sri Srinivasan and Judge David Tatel, rejected the two main claims advanced by opponents of the FCC's policy. First, the DC Circuit affirmed that the FCC had ample authority to reclassify ISPs as common carriers. Second, the court dismissed the much-ridiculed argument that the FCC's policy somehow infringes the free speech rights of broadband companies. Big Telecom now must decide whether to appeal the DC Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court—or simply wait for Pai to do the industry's bidding. Even if the high court grants certiorari, which many experts believe is unlikely, the case would not be heard until next year. By then, Pai's FCC may have successfully repealed the net neutrality policy, setting up yet another legal showdown if public interest advocates can show that Pai acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Open internet activists want to defeat Trump and Pai now, which is why they're organizing a grassroots effort to oppose Pai's plan at the FCC, in Congress, and in the streets, if necessary. In 2014, some 4 million people filed comments with the agency, most supporting strong net neutrality protections. Activists hope the forthcoming uprising in support of the FCC's Title II rules will improve upon that showing. "Chairman Pai's anti-net neutrality proposal, backed by the country's largest ISPs—the same industry whose petition was just denied—would dismantle this framework and undermine Americans' ability to rely on the internet as an open forum for speech, commerce, and other important uses," said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, a progressive organizing group. "In the months ahead activists and the public have every intention to continue to mobilize and oppose Pai's plan each step of the way."

News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

President Trump's recently-installed Federal Communications Commission chief, Republican Ajit Pai, has made clear that he wants to roll back US rules protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers. But the forthcoming Republican assault on net neutrality is just one component of an escalating effort by Trump's FCC to deregulate the broadband industry in ways that benefit corporate giants like AT&T and Verizon, and hurt consumers, according to public interest advocates. For example, the FCC voted today to approve a controversial plan to deregulate the $45 billion market for business-to-business broadband, also known as Business Data Services (BDS), by eliminating price caps that make internet access more affordable for thousands of small businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals. The price caps, which have been in place for years, are designed to protect small businesses and other community institutions from predatory behavior by monopoly broadband providers like AT&T and Verizon. FCC Chairman Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, justifies the BDS rollback by claiming price caps aren't necessary in markets where "sufficient competition" exists. So how does Pai define "sufficient competition"? Believe it or not, Pai's FCC claims that "sufficient competition" exists if a local BDS market is served by one broadband provider, as long as there is a second broadband provider within a half-mile. Public interest advocates say the removal of the BDS price caps will deliver a massive financial windfall to broadband giants like AT&T and Verizon, while driving up costs for consumers. That's because every time you use an ATM or a credit card at the gas pump or grocery store, the transaction takes place over a BDS network. Higher costs for businesses inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers. "This is crony capitalism that favors broadband giants, is anti-business, and kicks consumers," Chip Pickering, CEO of pro-competition tech industry trade group INCOMPAS, said in a recent statement. According to Pickering, Pai's BDS proposal is likely to result in a 25 percent broadband price increase for small businesses, ultimately costing consumers billions of dollars per year—dollars that will flow straight into the corporate coffers of companies like AT&T and Verizon. "Instead of looking out for millions of 'little guys,' the majority has again chosen to side with the interests of multi-billion dollar providers," Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who voted against the measure, said at Thursday's FCC open meeting. "Communities where competition is unlikely to ever develop will see substantial deregulation, so rural and poor areas will see prices go up without the hope of any relief." "Today is a sad day for the proud small business owners across this great nation, for rural hospitals, schools, libraries, and police departments, indeed, for all consumers," Clyburn added. Pai's plan to deregulate the BDS market is particularly troubling for public interest advocates because, contrary to the Trump FCC's assertions, the market for BDS services is already woefully uncompetitive, and has been for many years, hence the need for price caps to prevent monopoly broadband providers from jacking up prices to sky-high levels. In 2016, the Obama-era FCC cited research showing that 73 percent of BDS locations are served by only a single broadband provider, and only 24 percent of BDS locations are served by two providers. That means 97 percent of the tens of thousands of BDS locations across the country—small businesses, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other local institutions—face monopoly or duopoly market conditions. And yet Trump's FCC under Pai blithely asserts that there is "strong competition in the business data services market," hence the need to "ease the regulatory burdens" on BDS broadband providers like AT&T and Verizon, a contention that is vigorously contested by public interest advocates. In fact, as a result of the lack of competition in the BDS market, US businesses are forced to pay an estimated $20 billion annually in market failure-driven overcharges, according to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which argues that Pai's plan will increase BDS overcharges by as much as an additional $20 billion per year. These business costs will be transferred to consumers, to the tune of $300 per household every year, according to the CFA. "This is a huge rip-off," Mark Cooper, CFA Research Director, told reporters earlier this week on a conference call. Cooper said that the FCC proposal, which relies on what he called "contradictory data," likely violates several sections of the federal Communications Act, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. Pai's BDS plan is just the latest example of Trump's FCC putting the interests of corporate giants like AT&T and Verizon ahead of the interests of the American people, according to Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at DC-based digital rights group Public Knowledge. "The BDS order is another in a long list of issues on which Chairman Pai has chosen to side with the biggest telcos and cable companies possessing market power, instead of the public interest and consumers," Berenbroick told reporters. "The common theme of Chairman Pai's young tenure as head of the FCC is that his FCC will stand up for the biggest companies that are regulated by the agency, rather than consumers." Pai has only been in charge of the FCC for three months, but his record of anti-consumer actions is already substantial. For example: What's next on Pai's anti-consumer hit list? You guessed it: Net neutrality, the internet's open access principle. Pai is expected to soon launch a formal FCC proceeding designed to roll back the agency's net neutrality rules, which in turn will give Republican lawmakers in Congress political cover to pass legislation stripping away the FCC's power to enforce strong net neutrality protections. Trump's "crony capitalism" agenda is picking up steam—and FCC Chairman Pai appears more than willing to do the president's bidding. The question now is whether open internet activists can organize enough grassroots opposition to stop Pai's forthcoming assault on net neutrality in its tracks. This story was updated after initial publication to reflect that the FCC indeed voted to eliminate the BDS rate caps.

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.

Agency: European Commission | 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.

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.

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.

Loading Public Knowledge collaborators
Loading Public Knowledge collaborators