Your Internet, Your Moment: Sending a Message about Net Neutrality to the FCC
The United States has come to a critical point regarding how the Internet works, as the Federal Communications Commission has opened a public-comment period surrounding the very nature of the way users access and experience the web.
One version of the future: it will include so-called fast lanes, meaning bandwidth purchased at a premium, allowed under certain conditions. Future two, you get regulations that prevent that kind of priority access to online bandwidth.
So, what does this all this mean, how did it happen, and what can you do about it? Let's look at the basics of how we got to this fork in our digital road, and let's outline some practical steps you can take to potentially influence the FCC as it envisions the future of the web.
Net Neutrality: The Basics and Backstory
On the one hand we're talking about an Internet that can play favorites, presumably if you've got the dough to pay your way into a better version of it. The other hand, however, holds what proponents say is a promise of neutrality, at least in theory — so that whether you subscribe to a broadband or a wireless product, your Internet service provider isn't allowed to meddle with the performance of the sites you access and the speed at which you navigate.
So who wouldn't want the latter? Well, in essence, it's two different takes on what's the best long game for the web. The arguments for and against net neutrality break down as follows.
- Proponents of neutrality say it encourages entrepreneurship and fosters human progress, potentially minimizing the impact of money when it comes to how users employ the Internet to create, promote — and succeed at — a whole spectrum of present and future online endeavors.
- Opponents argue that too much regulation of ISPs means that the companies that provide your service won't have enough control and/or incentive to improve the infrastructure the allows for Internet access in the first place. So, long term, the whole web would potentially suffer from decay and slower technological advancement.
That's it, in a nutshell (and leaving out a ton of nuance). And the way we got to this juncture can also be encapsulated by two main points, taking a similarly thumbnail approach.
- Regulations regarding network neutrality have been in play for years, but the most recent go-round started to come to a head in 2010, when President Barack Obama introduced the Open Internet Order. As the FCC implemented it, the order said that network owners couldn't take "unreasonable" action to make access to the web problematic for users. (Note: packed into that word, unreasonable, was just the sort of gray area that lawyers tend to love/hate.)
- In January 2014, a court ruled that the Open Internet Order went too far, based in part on the what the FCC is empowered to do, based in part on what unreasonable means, and also due, in part, to what kind of system the Internet actually represents, under the law. Is the web more like a telecommunications system — and so, regulated, as in the case of phone carriers — or is it an information service that is largely exempt from typical telecom constraints?
No matter how you view it, a key result of these arguments and developments is that we're in the realm of public comment before the FCC. Later this year, the Commission is expected to issue a new directive, replacing the court-vacated order of 2010. And so, if you're ready to have your say about what such a directive should entail, let's look at how you can send a considered opinion to the FCC.
Comments: The Hows and Whens of Public Comment
The upshot of the FCC's comment period is that it runs in two phases, with two deadlines. The public, as well as industry stakeholders, have until July 15 to submit initial comments in writing, and then until September 10 for reply comments.
- To make your initial comments, go to the FCC's proceedings page.
- Click on Proceeding # 14-28 — Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet.
- Fill in the fields on the form, including your name, addresses, and your comment.
- If you want to submit something lengthy, as in several pages long, you can do that by going to the FCC's page for submitting longer filings. Enter the same proceeding number — 14-28 — and then fill in the fields. Upload the document that contains your comments.
On the proceedings page, you can also read through public comments already filed. Just click on the link at the end of the 14-28 row. (After you submit your comments, they'll end up here as well.) Following initial comments, you can also submit a reply comment, based on what you've read in this section of the FCC's site.
Of course, if you've some time, resources — and presumably a bit of clout — you might take your comment-making even further.
"Depending on your stake in the proceeding and your ability to get to Washington, D.C., you can request a meeting with the FCC commissioners and/or their staff to discuss the issue," said Ross Buntrock, an attorney and partner with Arent Fox LLP, in Washington, D.C., and nationally recognized for his work in communications-media and technology law. "If you do have such a meeting, you need to file a notice of ex parte, which is a letter filed in the docket, using the ECFS system, and disclosing the substance of the discussions of your meeting and the officials with whom you met."
However the process plays out for you, if you use the Internet and you think it important to help shape it — one way or the other — this is the time to speak.
Heartbleed leaves our Servers alone BUT this is what you need to know.
Heartbleed is an exploit that promtps servers to send back sensitive information via inquiries made on secure certificate connections. Most servers run Open SSL which was written a long time ago in the programming language C. The hacker can specify a large number of characters to come back via a query. The computer being queried sends back information in it's short term memory - called a "buffer." In the text returned the hacker might find strings of text like passwords or credit card numbers that were supposed to be encrypted but are now sent back in the open.
This is why it is important that you change your passwords for all accounts as soon as you can.
The Heartbleed exploit has been active for at least a couple of years now. If you use the same password to check your email as you do to login to google or facebook or twitter or your bank or any other site, it is important that you change your email password and the password to the admin level of your site, as that password may have been compromised. This is important because if your password is out there, a spammer could log in to your mail account and send out spam. No one wants that.
You can change the password for your email at mail.pair.com - under settings > password. You can change your password for your admin account under Slab Menu > Change My Password.
Additionally, you may want to use an SSL server bigslab.mail.pairserver.com for your incoming mail server. Make sure you check the Use SSL box in your mail program account settings. If you get a warning during initial connection, just click "connect." The certificate is valid, but you may see this message regardless. This will encrypt your incoming mail using the newly set secure certificates. If you are already using outgoing.slabmedia.com for your outgoing mail, there may be an issue while the certificate is reset. Restarting your computer should take care of this. Settings are all on the LEARN section of our site.
I hope this helps. Again, our servers were not affected by this exploit, but it is important that you begin to think up new passwords. Here is a good page on that.
Thanks for being part of the Slab family,
Slab partners with Knittlr.com! The new slow wave in Social Networking
You may have heard of the slow food movement. Now it's happening in social networking!
Sending messages with knittlr is as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,....9472!
Spend a week or three knitting your own personal message (called a kneet) to a friend. 2 colors of yarn are preferred so you can read the letters. Make sure to knit your knittlr name and the name of the knittlr recipient at the top of the finished square, scarf, hat or sweater. Kneets are grouped together by knottags. Adding a knottag to your kneet is as easy as knitting a word or phrase (no spaces please) and tying it to the kneet with a knot.
Get up from your rocking chair, walk and hand the knitted message to another knittlr, who will hand it to another, and so on until it finally gets delivered to your intended target. (usually takes a month or more)
Your friend can then knit you a message back, or add on to your kneet, and deliver it back to you the same way.
Once you are done, send the message you receive, through the knittlrverse to Knittlr and they will knit them all together to knit the social fabric of the knittlrsphere.
Knittlr can tell a lot about who you are by the kind of stitches and yarn you use. Knittlr collects that informtion to send you knitted advertising, by adding a knitted message onto your kneet.
So grab some yarn and some knitting needles and start kneeting! You will be growning your knittlr network in no time! Okay, well, maybe several months or maybe years.
Happy April 1 from Slabmedia.