Don’t Wait For Google, Netflix Or Facebook’s Help If You Want To Save Net Neutrality

So if you’ve not been paying attention, broadband ISPs (with help from new FCC boss Ajit Pai) are slowly but surely working to eliminate oversight of one of the least-competitive sectors in American industry. It began with Pai killing off a number of FCC efforts piecemeal, including plans to beef up cable box competition, investigate zero rating, and FCC attempts to stop prison telco monopolies from ripping off inmate families. From there, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to kill FCC privacy protections for broadband consumers. Next up: reversing the FCC’s 2015 Title II reclassification and gutting net neutrality.

Between this, cable’s growing monopoly over broadband (including the rise in usage caps), the sunsetting of Comcast NBC merger conditions and a looming wave of new megamergers and sector consolidation, you should begin to notice there’s a bit of a perfect storm brewing on the horizon when it comes to broadband and media competition, anti-competitive behavior, and oversight — one that’s not going to be particularly enjoyable for broadband consumers, or the numerous companies that compete and/or do business with the likes of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

To that end, most of the internet industry’s heaviest hitters — including Reddit, Google, Amazon, and Netflix — under the umbrella of the Internet Association (IA) — met with the FCC this week to urge Ajit Pai to keep the existing net neutrality rules in place. At the meeting, IA CEO Michael Beckerman and General Counsel Abigail Slater argued that things are working well with the rules in place, and that the long-standing industry claim that net neutrality hurt broadband investment is a canard:

“IA continues its vigorous support of the FCC’s OI [Open Internet] Order, which is a vital component of the free and open Internet,” Beckerman wrote in an ex parte filing that summarized the meeting. “The Internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online. In other words, existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact. The OI Order is working well and has been upheld by a DC Circuit panel. Further, IA preliminary economic research suggests that the OI Order did not have a negative impact on broadband Internet access service (BIAS) investment.”

Unfortunately, the plea is likely to fall on deaf ears. Pai has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t think that broadband competition, rampant consolidation, or net neutrality are real problems — whatsoever. In fact, when Pai has spoken on net neutrality, he’s gone to rather comic lengths to try and claim that content companies like Netflix are the real villains, while downplaying any and all anti-competitive ISP behavior. At one point, Pai actually went so far as to claim that the fact that Netflix ran a CDN was proof positive that Netflix was the real threat to the internet.

The second major problem here is that while companies like Netflix, Google and Facebook are gently lobbying against the FCC’s plan via the IA, independently they’ve been less active than ever in protecting net neutrality. Like Amazon and many other tech giants, Facebook has never really been particularly vocal on net neutrality — and in places like India they’ve consistently undermined the entire concept. Google has, contrary to public perception, also been arguably absent from the conversation since around 2010 when it began getting into fixed (Google Fiber) and wireless (Android, Project Fi) services. And as Netflix has grown more powerful, it’s been notably less vocal on the subject as well.

Yes, these companies may still remain quietly active behind the scenes, but if you’re hoping they come to the rescue in the same vocal way they did in the early days of the net neutrality feud, it’s likely you’re going to be disappointed. And with potentially less corporate firepower backing up their flanks, net neutrality supporters are going to have a steeper uphill climb this go round.

That brings us to the third major problem we’re facing: the onus to save net neutrality this time is going to fall largely on the shoulders of consumers, small companies, and the startup community. But many of them, bored after a decade of often hyperbolic debate, were happily under the impression that once we had net neutrality rules — the fight was over. Many still don’t understand that net neutrality is a fight that never really ends. Net neutrality (the symptom) certainly isn’t getting better until you shore up broadband competition (the disease) — and there’s exactly zero indication that’s happening anytime soon.

That’s not to say net neutrality can’t be saved as the fight heats up over the next few months. But unless heavy hitters like Netflix and Google ramp up their opposition, and smaller companies and consumers shake off their apathy and begin waking up to the stage play currently underway in Congress and at the FCC, we’re going to enter a new “golden era” of Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon cross-industry dominance that will make the media and internet issues of the last decade seem arguably quaint.

— source techdirt.com

RSS, which doesn’t believe in Constitution, is in power today

Activist Teesta Setalvad termed the Narendra Modi government “more dangerous” than the Trump administration saying the RSS “is in power today” in the country and “does not believe” in the Constitution.

“We may curse the US for all we like, but look at the protests taken out in America everyday. The media, the women, the workers and all sections of the society are challenging the extremely crass president.

“But the leadership here is more dangerous. Trump doesn’t have the RSS behind him. The RSS is in power in India today. RSS is a proto-facist force and it does not believe in the Indian constitution,” Setalvad said during the launch of her book ‘Foot Soldier of The Constitution’ here today.

The journalist-turned-social-activist also pointed out the recent violence at Delhi University and several such instances across universities in the country to buttress her point.

“Look at what is happening in our universities now. Young leaders are increasingly charged with sedition. The kind of violence perpetrated against women in DU should shock all of us…but nobody is willing to come out as we all are scared,” Setalvad said.

The society is being “gripped by a stupor”, Setalvad said, adding, “This sense of fear and isolation is really in the favour of the perpetrator and we need to think about it.”

The book was originally scheduled to be launched at the Oxford Bookstore on March 6 here, but the bookstore cancelled the launch apprehending “disruption” by “external elements”.

Setalvad had called the bookstore’s move an “act of self-censorship”.

“It appears to be an act of self-censorship. There was absolutely no need for it. It is sad that such things are happening in the capital of the country. We are dealing with forces that cannot tolerate dissent of any kind, particularly political dissent,” Setalvad had told PTI.

The activist’s book chronicles her life as a journalist and later as an activist during the communal riots in Delhi in 1984, in Mumbai (1992), and Gujarat (in 2002).

— source economictimes.indiatimes.com

How to Protect Your Privacy From Your Internet Service Provider

[The best way to protect your privacy is by organising politically and forcing governments to make rules to protect your privacy.]

We pay our monthly internet bill to be able to access the internet. We don’t pay it to give our internet service provider (ISP) a chance to collect and sell our private data to make more money. This was apparently lost on congressional Republicans as they voted to strip their constituents of their privacy. Even though our elected representatives have failed us, there are technical measures we can take to protect our privacy from ISPs.

Bear in mind that these measures aren’t a replacement for the privacy rules that were repealed or would protect our privacy completely, but they will certainly help.

Pick an ISP that respects your privacy

It goes without saying: If privacy is a concern of yours, vote with your wallet and pick an ISP that respects your privacy. Here is a list of them.

Given the dismal state of ISP competition in the US, you may not have this luxury, so read on for other steps you can take.

Opt-out of supercookies and other ISP tracking

In 2014, Verizon was caught injecting cookie-like trackers into their users’ traffic, allowing websites and third-party ad networks to build profiles without users’ consent. Following criticism from US senators and FCC action, Verizon stopped auto-enrolling users and instead made it opt-in. Users now have a choice of whether to participate in this privacy-intrusive service.

You should check your account settings to see if your ISP allows you to opt-out of any tracking. It is generally found under the privacy, marketing, or ads settings. Your ISP doesn’t have to provide this opt-out, especially in light of the repeals of the privacy rules, but it can never hurt to check.

HTTPS Everywhere

EFF makes this browser extension so that users connect to a service securely using encryption. If a website or service offers a secure connection, then the ISP is generally not able to see what exactly you’re doing on the service. However, the ISP is still able to see that you’re connecting to a certain website. For example, if you were to visit https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere, your ISP wouldn’t be able to tell that you’re on the HTTPS Everywhere page, but would still be able to see that you’re connecting to EFF’s website at https://www.eff.org.

While there are limitations of HTTPS Everywhere when it comes to your privacy, with the ISP being able to see what you’re connecting to, it’s still a valuable tool.

If you use a site that doesn’t have HTTPS by default, email them and ask them to join the movement to encrypt the web.

VPNs

In the wake of the privacy rules repeal, the advice to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your privacy has dominated the conversation. However, while VPNs can be useful, they carry their own unique privacy risk. When using a VPN, you’re making your internet traffic pass through the VPN provider’s servers before reaching your destination on the internet. Your ISP will see that you’re connecting to a VPN provider, but won’t be able to see what you’re ultimately connecting to. This is important to understand because you’re exposing your entire internet activity to the VPN provider and shifting your trust from the ISP to the VPN.

In other words, you should be damn sure you trust your VPN provider to not do the shady things that you don’t want your ISP to do.

VPNs can see, modify, and log your internet traffic. Many VPN providers make promises to not log your traffic and to take other privacy protective measures, but it can be hard to verify this independently since these services are built on closed platforms. For example, a recent study found that up to 38 percent of VPN apps available for Android contained some form of malware or spyware.

Below, we detail some factors that should be considered when selecting a VPN provider. Keep in mind that these are considerations for someone who is interested in preventing their ISP from snooping on their internet traffic, and not meant for someone who is interested in protecting their information from the government — a whistleblower, for instance. As with all things security and privacy-related, it’s important to consider your threat model.

Is your VPN service dirt-cheap or free? Does the service cost $20 for a lifetime service? There’s probably a reason for that and your browsing history may be the actual product that the company is selling to others.
How long has your VPN provider been around? If it is relatively new and without a reliable history, you’d have to trust the provider a great deal in order to use such a service.
Does the VPN provider log your traffic? If yes, what kind of information is logged? You should look for one that explicitly promises to not log your internet traffic and how active the VPN provider is in advocating for user privacy.
Does the VPN provider use encryption in providing the service? It’s generally recommended to use services that support a well-vetted open source protocol like OpenVPN or IPSec. Utilizing these protocols ensures best security available.
If your VPN provider uses encryption, but has a single shared password for all of the users, it’s not sufficient encryption.
Do you need to use the VPN provider’s proprietary client to use the service? You should avoid these and look for services that you can use with an open source client. There are many clients that support the above-mentioned OpenVPN or IPSec protocols.
Would using the VPN service still leak your DNS queries to your ISP?
Does the VPN support IPv6? As the internet transitions from IPv4 to the IPv6 protocol, some VPN providers may not support it. Consequently, if your digital device is trying to reach a destination that has an IPv6 address using a VPN connection that only supports IPv4, the old protocol, it may attempt to do so outside of the VPN connection. This can enable the ISP to see what you’re connecting to since the traffic would be outside of the encrypted VPN traffic.

Now that you know what to look for in a VPN provider, you can use these two guides as your starting point for research. Though keep in mind that a lot of the information in the guides is derived from or given by the provider, so again, it requires us to trust their assertions.

Tor

If you are trying to protect your privacy from your internet company, Tor Browser perhaps offers the most robust protection. Your ISP will only see that you are connecting to the Tor network, and not your ultimate destination, similar to VPNs.

Keep in mind that with Tor, exit node operators can spy on your ultimate destination in the same way a VPN can, but Tor does attempt to hide your real IP address, which can improve anonymity relative to a VPN.

Users should be aware that some websites may not work in the Tor browser because of the protections built in. Additionally, maintaining privacy on Tor does require users to alter their browsing habits a little. See this for more information.

It’s a shame that our elected representatives decided to prioritize corporate interests over our privacy rights. We shouldn’t have to take extraordinary steps to limit how our personal information can be used, but that is clearly something that we are all forced to do now. EFF will continue to advocate for internet users’ privacy and will work to fix this in the future.

— source eff.org by Amul Kalia

The Boundless Thirst for Surplus-Labor

QUESTION. This is from Mr. White, Warren, Mich.

What is your stand on the 32-hour workweek?

Vice President NIXON: Well, the 32-hour workweek just isn’t a possibility at the present time. I made a speech back in the 1956 campaign when I indicated that as we went into the period of automation, that it was inevitable that the workweek was going to be reduced, that we could look forward to the time in America when we might have a 4-day week, but we can’t have it now. We can’t have it now for the reason that we find, that as far as automation is concerned, both because of the practices of business and labor, we do not have the efficiency yet developed to the point that reducing the workweek would not result in a reduction of production. The workweek can only be reduced at a time when reduction of the workweek will not reduce efficiency and will not reduce production.

It’s inevitable… but we can’t have it.

Dick Nixon’s turnaround on the issue of the four-day workweek was epic. His original prediction of a four-day week “in the not too distant future” came in a prepared speech, not in some unguarded moment of overheated campaign hyperbole. He even disclaimed that his “projections” were not “dreams or idle boasts” but were based on the continuation of President Eisenhower’s economic policies.

Following up on Nixon’s 1956 prediction, United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther responded with a telegram calling on the administration to outline a legislative program to achieve the shorter workweek. Nixon sent a telegram in reply and President Eisenhower endorsed Nixon’s reply in a press conference on September 28.

Nixon’s reply was that “mere artificial legislation” would not accomplish a four-day workweek. What was necessary was “dedicated joint efforts of labor, management, government and research.” For his part, Eisenhower “saw nothing wrong with” Nixon’s answer, which he thought also represented his own view that it would be “wonderful” to have more leisure time, but that “no man can say it is going to come about because I say so.” A month after his first comment, Nixon reaffirmed his expectation of a shorter workweek, based on partnership between government, business and labor.

The adamant wording of Nixon’s 1960 dismissal of the idea takes on added resonance in the context of Eisenhower’s earlier caveat that “no man can say it is going to come about because I say so.” Four years later, it “just isn’t a possibility… we can’t have it now. We can’t have it now… [because I say so].”

This wouldn’t be the first time that self-contradiction has appeared in the rhetoric of opposition to shorter work time. The Sandwichman has amassed the world’s largest collection of lame excuses offered by opponents. I assembled 21 of them and sorted them into eight categories having to do with productivity, new consumer wants, unsatisfied needs, labor costs, government policy, self-adjusting markets, history and inevitability, and the devious motives of proponents.

To be kind, the rationales are opportunistic. Mostly, they are jejune partial equilibrium statements invoked as if they were eternal verities. More bluntly, they are mendacious. Every single reason given for not shortening the hours of work is complemented by a contradictory reason for not shortening the hours of work. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Regard the vagaries: the hours of work cannot be reduced because that would lower productivity; but if they were reduced, it wouldn’t lower unemployment because the shorter hours would be just as productive as the longer hours. The hours of work don’t have to be reduced because new consumer demands will create more jobs; but they cannot be reduced because there are so many unmet needs of those living in poverty. The economy will adjust automatically to reabsorb workers displaced by automation; and there is no need for government intervention because government policy will lubricate the self-adjustment process. History gives proof that future reductions are inevitable because in the past they always have occurred; but history shows that the economy has always generated sufficient jobs, implicitly without any need for reducing the hours of work. Contemplate the inconsistencies:

Productivity

The workweek can only be reduced at a time when reduction of the workweek will not reduce efficiency and will not reduce production.
It would throttle at the source the gains in productivity made possible by technological progress, thus shutting off the abundance through which the eventual abolition of poverty must come. Its end result would be fewer jobs, not more.
…the illusion [job creation] arises, first, from simply not observing or apparently caring to observe the important alteration which the introduction of shorter hours itself exerts on the productive capacity of the workpeople…
The natural effect of shortening the hours of work to eight a day, therefore, is not in the least to diminish production; it is really the exception when that event supervenes, and as for the most part the same staff does about the same work as before, there is nothing to create any change in the situation of the unemployed…

New Consumer wants

This view ignores the possibilities for new consumer wants and new industries in stimulating growth and creating more jobs.
In fact, if people worked fewer hours, demand would drop, and so fewer working hours would be on offer.
Over the long run, technological improvements create new products and services, raise national income, and increase demand for labor throughout the economy.

Unsatisfied needs

What the drive to shorten the work week ignores is that the country cannot afford it, either in terms of production costs or of unsatisfied national and world needs.
…by working less, we will throw away the opportunity automation and other improvements in technology afford to banish poverty at home or abroad.

Labor costs

This view ignores the possibility that the demand for labour may depend on the relation between wage rates and the value of work to employers.
However, if restrictions on hours make labor less attractive to employers, they will substitute to other inputs, and there will also be a scale effect reducing use of all inputs.
The unemployed are apparently to obtain employment from capital which only comes into being as the result of their employment; they are to provide a handle to their axe from the tree they hew with it…

Government policy

If proper monetary, fiscal, and pricing policies are being vigorously promulgated, we need not resign ourselves to mass unemployment.
Though technological unemployment can’t be shrugged off lightly, its optimal solution lies in combining expansionary macroeconomic programs (fiscal and monetary policies) with retraining policies that create adequate job opportunities and new skills, rather than restrictions on production.
So what will happen if we use shorter hours to cut unemployment? Inflation will rise more than it would otherwise. Two responses are then possible. One could say, ‘Bravo We have cut unemployment and we are willing to accept the rising inflation.” But if this is the reaction, it would obviously have been better to cut unemployment by expanding output than by simply redistributing a given amount of work over more people. So there is no case for shorter working hours along that route. Along the alternative route the outlook is even bleaker. In this scenario the government sees inflation rising, decides it is unacceptable, and allows unemployment to rise back to its original level (so as to control inflation). The net result of shorter working hours is then no reduction in unemployment, but a reduction in output.

Self-adjusting markets

…a permanent and a more or less general reduction in hours will cut down the amount of technological unemployment. … The transition will without any doubt lessen the amount of unemployment for the time being. But when once the new level is reached and the necessary adjustments in industry have been made, there is no reason for believing that the volume of unemployment will continue to be less than it had been.
Trade is not hemmed in by great walls, beyond which it cannot go. By bringing our goods cheaper and better to market, we open new markets, we get new customers, we encrease the quantity of labour necessary to supply these, and thus we are encouraged to push on, in hope of still new advantages. A cheap market will always be full of customers.

History and inevitability

By 1980, the thirty-hour work-week should be widely established and some progress made toward the twenty-five-hour week.
History provides little support for this gloomy view… that the economy can generate only a fixed amount of work.

Devious motives of advocates

Their aim and object is, in every case which we have been enabled to investigate, to stint the action of superior physical strength, moral industry, or intelligent skill; to depress the best workman in order to protect the inferior workman from competition…
…motives very different from these [proclaimed reasons] actuate many who most earnestly appeal to the State to impose a legal limit upon the days work.

Implicit in much of this pretentious double talk is the notion that consumer demand is utterly independent of wages, so “the economy” can become more prosperous by lowering wages. Apparently, economists are still so enamored of Say’s Law that they haven’t paused to consider the implications of Say’s other law — that “misery is the inseparable companion of luxury.”

But there is one perspective from which coherence can be divined from all this self-serving ad hocery. Unwittingly, the opponents of work time reduction adopt a theory of surplus value very much like that elaborated by Karl Marx in Capital. It is not a matter of whether such a theory adequately describes the determination of value or of prices. Right or wrong, the theory guides opponents’ attitude toward the reduction of working time. They are accidental Marxists!

Replace “collective capital” with “the economy” and “collective labor” with “fallacy adherents” in the following declaration and we have a fine slogan for The Economist’s unrelenting campaign against the lump of labor fallacy.”Hence it is that in the history of capitalist production, the determination of what is a working day, presents itself as the result of a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the class of capitalists and collective labor, i.e., the working class.”

Marx summarized the relationship between the production of absolute surplus value and of relative surplus value in the following passage:

Assuming that labour-power is paid for at its value, we are confronted by this alternative: given the productiveness of labour and its normal intensity, the rate of surplus-value can be raised only by the actual prolongation of the working-day; on the other hand, given the length of the working-day, that rise can be effected only by a change in the relative magnitudes of the components of the working-day, viz., necessary labour and surplus-labour; a change which, if the wages are not to fall below the value of labour-power, presupposes a change either in the productiveness or in the intensity of the labour.

Of course labor is not always “paid for at its value” and neither the length of the working-day nor the productiveness of labour are givens. There is a continuous tension between efforts to lengthen or shorten the working day and to increase or relax the productiveness and/or intensity of work. Although analytically separable, these two processes are actually always simultaneously in play.

Thus, in the capitalist form of society in which exchange values predominate, rather than use values, there arises from the nature of production itself a “boundless thirst for surplus-labour.” To emphasize: this “boundless thirst” does not arise from the needs or wants for goods and services of consumers but from the compounded compulsion of the capital accumulation process.

From the standpoint of this boundless thirst for surplus-labor, any attempt to limit the length of the working day or to impede the intensification of work, or hold onto part of the proceeds from it, must indeed appear as a irksome fixation on a “fixed amount of work,” especially if “work” is understood to refer precisely to that portion of the working day that is expropriated by capital.

Let us now revisit Nixon’s 1960 repudiation of the four-day workweek with a slight amendment.

— source angrybearblog.com

Mother of All Bombs Hit CIA-Built Tunnels

The tunnels used in Afghanistan by the Islamic State group that were blown up on Thursday by the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb were built by the CIA, according to whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks tweeted out a screenshot and a link from a 2005 article from The New York Times which explained how the intricate tunnel networks of the Tora Bora in Northern Afghanistan were used by former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“Those tunnels the U.S. is bombing in Afghanistan? They were built by the CIA,” WikiLeaks tweeted with the screenshot.

The article, written by Mary Anne Weaver, detailed how the Tora Bora tunnel networks dated back to the Cold War battle between the Soviet Union and Afghan mujahedeen fighters, whom bin Laden was previously a part of.

During the 1980s, the CIA sent huge amounts of military aid and training to Afghan forces pitted against the Soviet military in an attempt to halt the spread of Soviet power in the region. Part of this CIA support for the mujahedeen included building tunnel complexes complete with bunkers and base camps that were built deep into the Tora Bora mountains of Eastern Afghanistan.

The tunnel networks had later been used by the Taliban and in 2001 as part of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. forces targeted the complex with the belief that bin Laden and al-Qaida troops were hiding deep within the tunnels.

Now the U.S. believes that the Tora Bora caves were being used by other Islamic militant groups, most notably the Islamic State group, and was used as justification for Thursday’s drop of the “mother of all bombs” on the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the media after the attack.

The bomb which was used for the first time in battle, “targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely,” Spicer continued.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan claim that in dropping the US$16 million bomb, they took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties.” On Thursday evening, the Afghan Defense Ministry said that 36 Islamic State group militants were killed in the attack and that there were no civilian casualties.

The huge blast from the 21,600-pound GPS-guided bomb was likely to be felt by at least 95,000 people and locals recounted a deafening blast and earthquake-like tremors. Other reports citing locals said that the area was no long under the control of Islamic State group militants.

In other tweets, WikiLeaks noted that amid the hype of the MOAB being dropped, in 2016 the Obama administration on average per day dropped more bombs than the weight of a MOAB.

— source telesurtv.net