Software tycoon John McAfee, whom I had previously endorsed for the 2016 US presidential election, is out of the race after the Libertarian Party re-nominated former Republican governor Gary Johnson as its candidate. Johnson has strongly supported the right to privacy against governmental surveillance but has also opposed net neutrality rules which are meant to protect consumers against powerful, largely unaccountable ISP duopolies which control nearly all wireline Internet access in the United States.
Reopening old battles over free speech online, Utah legislator Todd Weller (R) is proposing a measure which would require that ISP’s block Utah customers from accessing adult content unless they specifically opt in. Further, he proposes that all smartphones sold in the state must come with adult-content filters enabled.
In view of the US Supreme Court’s rejection of previous attempts to censor online speech, the Utah proposal seems to me little more than political grandstanding which would burden the state’s taxpayers with court costs for fruitless litigation.
Pete Ashdown, the founder of Xmission, a local ISP provider in the state, called the proposal “unrealistic,” comparing it to censorship in China.
Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, who led the successful charge to declare pornography a public health crisis, is planning to introduce legislation designed to heavily restrict access to porn across the state.
In a busy week for infosec news, BBC reports that “traceable data,” including members’ IP and e-mail addresses, was stolen from an unnamed fetish forum. (Update: According to Fortune.com, the forum was “The Rosebutt Board.”) The breach was due to outdated software:
A hardcore fetish web forum has been hacked, with more than 100,000 accounts exposed, according to a prominent security researcher.
Next, as I suspected, failed Republican presidential primary candidate Ted Cruz has already resurfaced, hinting that he could restart his campaign if he considers it viable again. If elected, he would likely appoint FCC commissioners who would reverse the hard-fought, if rather weak, Open Internet and Common Carrier regulations (“Title II”) which are intended to provide American consumers with at least minimal protection from abusive practices by the ISP duopoly.
Related to the above, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testified before a US Senate committee about why ISP’s should be required to follow the same privacy rules as telephone companies in their use of customer data:
“Most of us understand that the social media we join and the websites we visit collect our personal information, and use it for advertising purposes,” Wheeler told the committee in his prepared testimony. … “[However,] we can choose not to visit a website or not to sign up for a social network, or we can choose to drop one and switch to another in milliseconds. But broadband service is fundamentally different. Once we subscribe to an ISP—for our home or for our smartphone—most of us have little flexibility to change our mind or to do so quickly.”
After a stunning loss today in the Indiana Republican primary, Ted Cruz has decided to suspend his presidential campaign. Although this does not guarantee that Cruz won’t resurface in the event of a contested GOP convention, it reduces the risk that Cruz will be the Republican nominee. As a senator, Cruz has repeatedly supported legislation to attack the open Internet, weaken the ability of the FCC to protect consumers, and block competition for incumbent ISP’s.