A panel of judges ruled today to uphold the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules—which prohibit blocking legal content or throttling based on type, as well as disallowing the so-called “fast lanes” for preferred content. Although the rules do not include mobile services that do not include streaming that does not count against a user’s data cap, they nonetheless protect the basic concept of an Internet that “plays fair”, allowing users free choice of the legal content they choose without artificial, marketing-based restrictions. Score one for us! (and keep watching in case we need to defend this further)
. . . but that does not mean that we are not aware of what is happening, fighting on our own. Speaking for myself, I came here a couple of days ago to figure out how to put up the banner for “The Day We Fight Back”, yesterday (ugh!) and failed miserably—tech challenged. My time would have been better spent writing a post, as I am doing now.
The letter that was sent by those who clicked on the links presented in that banner hit on various Internet issues, including our own FISA, but also SOPA, the TPP, etc.
I hope everyone has been following the TPP information—TransPacific Partnership. It seems that, from what has been leaked/reported about these secret negotiations, the main elements of SOPA—the Stop Online Piracy Act that was defeated by public outcry last year—are included in the TPP. This takes it out of U.S.A. jurisdiction, makes it global and gives our government a pass—they can say that their hands are tied, they are just following the international agreement. Please, get involved—there are weekly conference calls on Sundays, “TPP Tuesday” Twitter storms weekly, and probably more where you live.
Yes, we still care—we are also very busy, but let’s all find a bit of time to keep abreast of these issues, and communicate wherever we are.
Here we are, about midway between our 5th birthday, June 26, and Independence Day, July 4. This post is overdue, as I have been reflecting on the anniversary just passed despite not getting over here to comment. But what to say? I’m not feeling very optimistic. There is not much to applaud in the fact that the president (once the candidate for whom we who cofounded this blog had so much hope) is “not going to scramble jets” to capture a patriot who released data to the United States public, not to an enemy; to know that Bradley Manning’s trial is going on right now, but that details are available only through a very few online sources* (Reader Supported News, FireDogLake, etc.), to see The New York Times call the woman whose coverage they are quoting not a journalist, but an activist, is distressing—no cause for celebration.
Then one hears an interview with the husband of Lynne Stewart, the New York lawyer and activist now in a Texas prison, approved by the Texas warden for compassionate release. One learns that the paperwork for her release is now held up in Washington, and when her team asks for a more-legible copy on which to make their case, they are brushed off with “go through FoIA [Freedom of Information Act]”. And one—if lucky—finds in the press (or in a blog’s responsive comment) a mention of James Clapper, who admittedly lied to Congress, on the record—where is Attorney General Eric Holder’s commitment to prosecution?
Finally, one reads speculation on how the press takes its cues from the federal government in their coverage of those who leak information (http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/18164-focus-ten-ways-the-press-will-treat-cartwright-different-from-snowden, which includes the following: “High government officials in Washington routinely leak classified information, as part of turf battles inside the government. . . . That such leaks are so routine, and are part of Washington’s way of doing business, is what makes the harsh espionage charges against people like Edward Snowden so hypocritical. He who is without leaks should cast the first stone.).”
So am I hopeful this year? No, not very. However, there are 2 recent posts here that are encouraging—a new group called Restore the 4th has taken up the mantle, with a couple of our own involved. Let’s make a noise this 4th of July! Let’s start some meaningful conversations—at the parades, at the picnics, before the fireworks go off, let’s talk about what the holiday really means, beyond a day off from work midweek and sales at the malls. Despite understandable criticisms of slavery and limited voter enfranchisement in the 1700s, I prefer to focus on the radical aspects of the events surrounding 4 July 1776, when this country began in revolution against the tyranny of taxation without representation, the “divine right” of kings, and for the “unalienable rights [of] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. It is time—well past time!—for our nation to remember and demand that our current government honor its founding principles.
*in contrast to the Watergate hearings in 1974, to which I sat glued every afternoon upon returning home from my college classes
Thanks everybody who voted for and tweeted about our Ask the President question:
Before you were elected, you committed to having your attorney general review domestic surveillance policy. What are your plans and timeframe to get FISA right?
We wound up with 268 yes votes, 16 no for +252 net and an astonishing 94% approval rating. Depending on how you look at it, we finished #7 (in terms of net votes) or #1 (in terms of approval rating). Bob Fertik’s special prosecutor question was at 1020 yes, 371 no, 73% approval, and finished #3 in net votes at +640. Congratulations all!
Of course Ask the President was just a vehicle. Our goals were getting more coverage of FISA and domestic wiretapping issues, and resuming our dialog with President Obama.