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Internet, Broadband Companies Admit to Tracking User Behavior Without Explicit Consent

According to a letter released recently by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, several Internet and broadband companies have admitted to using targeted-advertising technology without explicitly informing customers. Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reports: "Google, in its letter to committee Chairman John Dingell, Markey, Stearns and Rep. Joe L. Barton, stressed that it did not engage in potentially the most invasive of technologies -- deep-packet inspection, which companies such as NebuAd have tested with some broadband providers. But Google did note that it had begun to use across its network the 'DoubleClick ad-serving cookie,' a computer code that allows the tracking of Web surfing." more»

U.S. Internet Speed Growth Too Slow, Will Take Over 100 Years to Catch Up With Japan

According to a recent study by Communications Workers of America's (CWA's), United States has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet. U.S. continues to fall far behind other countries. "...between 2007 and 2008, the median download speed increased by only four-tenths of a megabit per second (from 1.9 mbps to 2.3 mbps), and the median upload speed barely changed (from 371 to 435 kbps). At this rate, it will take the United States more than 100 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan." more»

Blocking or Metering Broadband Access is a False Choice, Says New Report

n a report released today by the Free Press, Derek Turner, Research Director argues that, in light of recent FCC ruling against Comcast, it is a "false choice" to believe that "because application blocking is out of bounds, providers now will be forced to use some type of 'metering' to control network congestion." In other words, if ISPs are not allowed to block applications, then usage-based pricing is NOT their only other viable option, asserts Turner. more»

Google's Cerf Offers Alternate Strategy to Metered Broadband Billing

In follow up to Friday's FCC ruling against Comcast, Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist questioned what a reasonable approach would be for broadband networks to manage their Internet traffic? "The real question," he says, is not whether broadband networks need to be managed, "but rather how." Cerf has also expressed concerns over metered billing and suggests "transmission rate caps" instead. more»

EFF Releases New Tool for Internet Users to Test ISP Interference

In light of today's FCC ruling against Comcast, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a software tool dubbed, "Switzerland," for internet users to check ISP interference of their connections. Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney says: "The sad truth is that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection. It's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations, and EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, ISP to meddle surreptitiously with its subscribers' Internet communications for its own benefit." more»

U.S. Lawmakers Demand Telcos and Internet Companies to Disclose Web Tracking Practices

U.S. lawmakers have broadened their investigation of Internet advertising, asking nation's largest telecommunications and Internet companies whether they target ads based on consumers' Web surfing habits. Companies receiving the letter include Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Qwest and AOL among others. According to Joelle Tessler of the Associated Press, the "letters seek details on how many consumers have been tracked, whether those people have been notified and whether they were given the option to 'opt out' of it. The committee also wants to know how the collected information is used and how it is gathered -- for example, whether the companies aggregate data from different online applications." more»

FCC Reprimands Comcast for Internet Traffic Throttling

Comcast has been ordered to change how it manages its broadband network after U.S. communications regulators concluded some of its tactics unreasonably restrict Internet users who share movies and other material. In a precedent-setting decision, the five-member Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to uphold a complaint accusing Comcast of violating the FCC's open-Internet principles by improperly hindering peer-to-peer traffic. more»

Broadband Adoption Slowest in Years Among U.S. Providers

Broadband adoption among U.S. consumers seems to be slowing, with the three largest broadband providers in the U.S. posting the lowest subscriber increases in years during the second quarter of 2008.
AT&T and Verizon, in particular, reported increases in broadband subscribers that were a small fraction of numbers in past quarters, with growth in the tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands. Comcast reported a less dramatic drop-off. The three providers deliver service to more than half of the broadband subscribers in the U.S. more»

China Installs Internet-Spying Equipment in Hotels, Suspected of Spying on Olympics Hotel Guests

U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today has condemned the Chinese government's plans to spy on hotel guests during the Olympic Games. "The Chinese government has put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying," said U.S. Senator Sam Brownback. The conservative Republican from Kansas, citing hotel documents he received, added that journalists, athletes' families and others attending the Olympics next month "will be subjected to invasive intelligence-gathering" by China's Public Security Bureau. He said the agency will be monitoring Internet communications at the hotels. more»

FCC Majority Vote Set to Punish Comcast on P2P Blocking

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is on the verge of finding Comcast violated federal policy by hampering the ability of customers to share large files online, a decision that would set a precedent over how much control phone and cable companies have over how consumers use the Internet. (see FCC Calls for Sanctions Against Comcast for Blocking Internet Traffic from earlier this month) Three out of five FCC commissioners have voted in favor of punishing Comcast for blocking subscribers' Internet traffic. A move that most likely guarantees approval of the item, even if two other FCC commissioners voted against it. Final FCC approval is expected Aug. 1 at a previously scheduled commission meeting. more»

17 Countries to Reach 60% Household Broadband Penetration by 2012, Says New Study

Worldwide consumer broadband connections will grow from 323 million connections in 2007 to 499 million in 2012, according to latest research by Gartner. Worldwide consumer broadband connections penetrated 18 percent of households in 2007, and by 2012, households with a broadband connection are expected to reach 25 percent. Five countries exceeded 60 percent broadband penetration into the home in 2007; and, this is expected to grow to 17 countries by 2012. The five countries with broadband penetration into the home above 60 percent are Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea and Hong Kong. more»

All Major U.S. Senate Democratic Challengers Announce Support for Net Neutrality

Eevery single U.S. Democratic challenger with more than $500k in cash on hand has announced their support for net neutrality, reports Matt Stoller of OpenLeft -- "This is a milestone for the fight for internet freedom." Also noted is that, with the exception of three individuals, there is no organized telecom or cable money going to any of these candidates. Included in the report are statements reacting to this news from Senator Byron Dorgan, Speaker Pelosi, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Google public policy director Alan Davidson, and Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu... more»

Six Largest ISPs in UK Agree to Send Warning Letters to Illegal Music, Movie Downloaders

The music and film industries have launched a fight back against online piracy today, persuading Britain's six biggest Internet providers, BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse, to send warning letters to those suspected of illegal file-sharing. The plan is aimed at an estimated 6.5 million Britons who have downloaded files illegally over the past year. ISPs had previously argued they were mere conduits and not responsible for content. But they agreed to the deal after the government said it would impose legislation if they did not work to curb illegal file-sharing. more»

Cablecos, Telcos Childish Behavior Harmful to National Interest, Says Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf has blasted telephone and cable companies for harming national interests by holding investments in their networks to ransom. A long-time advocate of keeping the internet free from control by service providers, Cerf, a current senior vice-president for search giant Google Inc., told the Silicon Valley Watcher blog that the companies are being childish by threatening to withhold upgrading networks unless they get breaks from regulators. more»

Google Talks About Owning Your Internet Connection

Derek Slater, Google's policy analyst, is asking "What if you could own your own Internet connection?" In other words, proposing a very different model where residentials, businesses, or other institutions would pay for the installation and maintenance of their own "last mile" link to the Internet, thus improving broadband reliability and choice. Although the idea may seem far fetched, Slater points out that in Ottawa, Canada, a trial experiment is already underway trying out the consumer-owned model for a downtown neighborhood of about 400 homes... more»

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