Difficult-to-control internet has already lost its neutrality

first_imgThat kind of regulatory uncertainty does not generally foster innovation, or for that matter, sound business decisions.Unsurprising, then, that under Pai, the commission quickly announced a proposal to roll back the Obama-era innovations.WHAT COULD HAPPEN?A contentious public comment period followed, but today, the FCC announced the final word: Tier II regulation of ISPs is going away, and the net neutrality rules with it.The internet will be filled today with denunciations of this move, threats of a dark future in which our access to content will be controlled by a few powerful companies.And sure, that may happen.But in fact, it may already have happened, led not by ISPs, but by the very companies that were fighting so hard for net neutrality. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWhen President Donald Trump’s critics have demanded to know what his supporters got in exchange for voting for him, thus far those supporters have had only one concrete achievement they could point to: Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court.Now it looks as if they will have another: the end of the Federal Communications Commission’s push into “net neutrality.”NET NEUTRALITY HISTORYA brief history of that effort is in order.Under the Obama administration, the FCC looked to write regulations that would limit the ability of internet service providers to play favorites with certain services on their network. Fifteen years ago, when I started blogging, it was common to hear that “the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”You don’t hear that so often anymore, because it’s not true.China has proven very effective at censoring the internet, and as market power has consolidated in the tech industry, so have private firms.Meanwhile, our experience of the internet is increasingly controlled by a handful of firms, most especially Google and Facebook. The argument for regulating these companies as public utilities is arguably at least as strong as the argument for thus regulating ISPs, and very possibly much stronger; while cable monopolies may have local dominance, none of them has the ability that Google and Facebook have to unilaterally shape what Americans see, hear, and read.In other words, we already live in the walled garden that activists worry about, and the walls are getting higher every day. Is this a problem? I think it is. The administration was haunted by the specter of ISPs blocking political content, accepting payments from big content providers like Netflix to prioritize their services (thus making it difficult-to-impossible for upstarts to compete), and otherwise turning the internet into a closed garden rather than the open frontier its architects envisioned.Unfortunately, the FCC ran into a problem: Courts kept telling the commission that it didn’t have the legal authority to force ISPs to keep their networks equally open to all comers.So a couple years ago, the FCC moved to reclassify ISPs as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.That offered much more scope for regulation, and finally allowed the FCC to realize the dreams of internet activists everywhere.Too much scope for regulation, said critics — including then Commissioner Ajit Pai, now FCC chairman. Pai wrote a blistering dissent to the FCC’s decision, summing up the major problem with the FCC’s move.It forced ISPs into an 80-year-old framework designed for the telephone monopolies of a much different era.Those regulations were more concerned about things like controlling market power than, say, promoting innovation. Consider what happened to the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi publication, after Charlottesville.One by one, hosting companies refused to permit its content on their servers. The group was forced to effectively flee the country, and then other countries, too, shut it down.Now of course, these are not nice people.Their website espoused vile hate.But the fact remains that what they were publishing was not illegal, merely immoral, and their immoral speech was effectively shut down by a small number of private companies who decided to exercise their considerable control over what we’re allowed to read.And what is to stop them from expanding this decision to other categories, forcing the rest of us to conform to Silicon Valley’s idea of what it is moral and right for us to see?CENSORSHIP FEARScenter_img More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? And while the advocates for net neutrality stressed the benefits for competition among content providers, the critics asked what would happen to competition among ISPs, since heavy-handed regulation often acts as a barrier to entry for new startups, which can’t afford to negotiate the regulatory apparatus.REGULATION CONCERNSThose of us old enough to remember the telephone service looked like in the 1970s, before the FCC unwound a little — which is to say, pretty much like the service our parents had when they were children, down to the astronomical prices for long distance calls, and the chunky plastic rotary telephones — can see why critics were concerned about giving the FCC that kind of power to block innovation.No problem, retorted advocates: The FCC just won’t use much of its regulatory power.The technical term is “forbearance,” and the FCC offered to do a lot of it when it brought ISPs under Title II, for example by forgoing its statutory authority to set rates.But offering not to use the power is not the same thing as not having it.A future commission might change its mind, and in the meantime ISPs would have to plan their investments accordingly — knowing that the revenue they’d counted on to make some new project pay off might vanish at the stroke of a commissioner’s pen. But that doesn’t mean that the internet would get better if Google and Facebook and Apple and Amazon were required to make every decision with a regulator hanging over their shoulder to decide whether it was sufficiently “neutral.”The fact that these firms were able to cement their power at the moment when regulators were most focused on keeping the internet open tells you just how difficult it is to get that sort of regulation right; while you are looking hard at one danger, an equally large one may be creeping up just outside the range of your peripheral vision.Indeed, you may be making one problem bigger while trying to solve another.We may indeed be facing a future of less choice and less consumer power.But this decision is unlikely to be what brings us there.Megan McArdle is a Bloomberg View columnist.last_img read more

Taking stock

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Good work ethics

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Cardiff regeneration: Arts desire

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Channel four casts wider net

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PREMIUMIndonesia prepares for the worst in coronavirus outbreak

first_imgIndonesia stands almost alone in Asia in defying the coronavirus global outbreak, but the government is nevertheless preparing the nation for the eventuality.While it has no ready answer for this exceptionalism, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ordered a meeting between the Health Ministry and the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister on Friday to discuss how far the country of 270 million people is prepared when the day Indonesia has its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus flu.Given how rapid the virus is spreading around the world, the first Indonesia case could immediately multiply many times over in a short time. By Saturday, more than 34,800 people in 28 countries have been infected and the number keeps growing. China, where the virus was first detected, leads with 99 percent of the cases. Singapore, Malaysia, T… Topics : Linkedin LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Google coronavirus Wuhan-coronavirus Wuhan-coronavirus-in-Indonesia Wuhan-coronavirus-Indonesia-zero-case health-ministry Forgot Password ? Log in with your social account Facebooklast_img read more

Indonesian worker in Hong Kong sentenced to jail for stealing face masks

first_imgA migrant worker from Indonesia has been sentenced to jail for stealing face masks in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.A statement from the Indonesian Consulate General in Hong Kong revealed that an Indonesian worker identified as Masriki had stolen face masks and resold them to others.Masriki was sentenced to four weeks in jail. The court also ordered him to return the HK$12,000 (US$1,540) he had earned from selling the face masks.  “The Indonesian Consulate General is observing this case closely and [will] make sure that the defendant receives a translator and legal advisors throughout the trial process,” Consul General Ricky Suhendar said in a written statement received by The Jakarta Post on Friday. “Based on our observation, the defendant has admitted to his action and received a fair punishment.”With the Hong Kong penitentiary closed down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indonesian Consulate General has yet to visit the worker in jail.The Consulate General gave assurances that Indonesian workers in Hong Kong would not experience a face mask shortage because it was constantly supplying them with face masks. The Consulate General has thus far provided 150,000 face masks for free to Indonesian workers in Hong Kong.Topics :last_img read more

E-money transactions in Indonesia skyrocket 173% in January

first_imgElectronic money (e-money) transactions in Indonesia’s retail market skyrocketed by 173 percent in January from a year earlier, with nonbank fintech dominating the scene as the country works its way toward a cashless society, the central bank says.Bank Indonesia (BI) senior deputy governor Destry Damayanti said that the growth of e-money in retail transactions had especially picked up in the past two years, as consumers shifted to the ease of noncash options. “Last January, the growth of e-money was 173 percent year-on-year. So, it is growing in dominance,” Destry said during a panel discussion on CNBC Indonesia’s Economic Outlook 2020 in Jakarta on Wednesday.  In addition to that, the number of electronic platforms has grown steadily in the past couple of years. The latest data from BI recorded 41 licensed e-money platforms as of February 2020, up from 38 last year.This shows that a growing number of players is trying to benefit from e-wallet transactions, which were already valued at $1.5 billion in 2018, according to the joint study. Indonesia’s consumers are the driving force behind this growth. Between 2017 and 2018, digital consumers in Indonesia grew from 64 million to 102 million, 53 percent of the total population in Indonesia, according to a recent study done by Facebook in collaboration with Bain & Company. With the growth of digital consumers, online shopping is predicted to increase 3.7 times from $13.1 billion in transactions in 2017 to $48.3 billion in 2025, the study says. A JP Morgan report on Indonesia’s e-commerce insights in 2019 explains that the e-commerce market growth in Indonesia will be driven by its youthful population, where the average age of the country’s population is just 30.5 years. “Indeed, half of all Indonesians are aged under 30, and there is a rising middle class,” the report stated. Out of the total 264 million population, internet penetration amounted to 32.3 percent and 40 percent for smartphone penetration, another contributing factor in the growing adoption of digital payments.The developments bode well for Indonesia’s move toward a cashless society, which started many years ago. In 2014, the central bank initiated the national noncash movement (GNNT) as Indonesia eyed becoming Southeast Asia’s digital hub. (ydp)Topics : E-money transactions reached Rp 15.8 trillion (US$1.1 billion) in January this year, close to tripling last year’s Rp 5.8 trillion transactions, according to BI data.“The possibility, if we look [ahead], is that the players change, from banks to nonbanks for the retail [market],” Destry added, explaining how Indonesia’s consumers were moving away from ATM and debit cards as payment options. The top-five e-wallet mobile applications in Indonesia based on the number of monthly active users between 2017 until 2019 were Gojek, OVO, DANA, LinkAja and Jenius, according to a joint study between iPrice Group and App Annie. Most of them are nonbank players.Read also: Fintech payments triumph as GoPay, OVO dominate scenelast_img read more

PREMIUMCOVID-19: Indonesia expands travel restrictions

first_imgGoogle Forgot Password ? Linkedin Facebook LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Topics : Log in with your social account The government announced on Thursday new travel restrictions for people with a history of travel from coronavirus-hit regions of Iran, South Korea and Italy in the wake of a significant surge of COVID-19 cases globally.The temporary ban, which will come into effect on Sunday, would prevent people who had visited certain regions in the three countries in the last 14 days from visiting or transiting in Indonesia, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said.“After reviewing a report from the World Health Organization, there has been an increase of cases outside China, especially in three countries: Iran, Italy and South Korea,” Retno told journalists in her office on Thursday.“Therefore, Indonesia is to temporarily impose a new policy for travelers from those countries,” she added.The policy will affect people who have a recent history of travel to Tehran,… travel travel-restriction travel-advice Iran South-Korea Italy coronavirus COVID-19 Wuhan-coronavirus-in-Indonesialast_img read more

US says probing if coronavirus came from Chinese lab

first_img“We’re doing a full investigation of everything we can to learn how it is the case that this virus got away, got out into the world and now has created so much tragedy — so much death — here in the United States and all around the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News.He did not reject the reports and said that the United States knew that the Wuhan laboratory “contained highly contagious materials.””In countries that are open and transparent, they have the ability to control and keep them safe and they allow outside observers in to make sure all the processes and procedures are right,” Pompeo said.”I only wish that that had happened in this place. We would know more about it and we would know more about what has transpired there, if anything, today.” Trump, asked about the laboratory theory at a news conference on Wednesday, said that “more and more, we’re hearing the story” and that the United States was “doing a very thorough investigation.”Trump, who has faced wide criticism at home for his handling of the pandemic that has killed more than 30,000 people in the United States, has repeatedly blamed China and the World Health Organization.The origin of the virus is a popular topic on social media, with conspiracy theorists suggesting it is a Chinese bioweapon and a Chinese official outraging Washington by saying that US troops may have brought it to Wuhan.Neither Fox News nor The Washington Post said that the virus was spread deliberately or that the laboratory was definitively determined as the source.A column by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin said that US Embassy officials visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology two years before the pandemic and warned of inadequate safety at the laboratory, which studied bats blamed for the SARS coronavirus in 2003.Fox News said that “patient zero” in the new pandemic may have been infected by a bat at the laboratory and gone into the population in Wuhan.Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian — the official who had suggested that the US army may have brought the virus into China — rejected the Fox News report, saying the World Health Organization has said there was no evidence the virus was produced in a lab.”Many well-known medical experts in the world also believe that the so-called laboratory leak hypothesis has no scientific basis,” Zhao said at a regular press briefing. President Donald Trump’s administration is investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it doesn’t rule out that it came from a laboratory researching bats in Wuhan, China.Chinese scientists have said the virus, which has killed more than 138,700 people worldwide, was likely transmitted to humans late last year at a Wuhan “wet market” that slaughtered exotic animals — a longtime focus of concern for public health experts.But The Washington Post and Fox News both quoted anonymous sources who voiced concern that SARS CoV-2 may have come — accidentally — from a sensitive bioresearch center in the metropolis.center_img Topics :last_img read more