Trump Appoints Another Net Neutrality Opponent as Advisor

Via DSL Reports:

Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic to FCC Advisory Team

President-elect Trump today added yet another fierce critic of net neutrality to his FCC transition team. The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy.

What Trump Win Means for Adult Biz and the Internet

Impact on the adult industry:

Studio Heads Weigh In on Trump as President

Donald Trump triumphed last night, and now the adult entertainment biz is trying to figure out what it all means. Read more>>

“… Trump went on record saying that pornography should be illegal,” (Penthouse owner Kelly) Holland said. “Face it, Trump is the puppet. The strings will be pulled by his ultra-conservative vice president, [Mike] Pence, his presumptive attorney general, [Rudy] Giuliani and the rest of the alt-right that will pull the strings.

Impact on the Internet:

From DSL Reports:

Trump Could Spell Big Trouble for Broadband, Net Neutrality

While Hillary Clinton was seen as overly-cozy with telecom in her own right, new President elect Donald Trump is already laying the ground work for an administration that could spell major trouble for broadband consumers, broadband competition, and the nation’s new net neutrality rules. Trump has made it clear he vehemently opposes net neutrality, despite repeatedly making it clear he’s not entirely certain what net neutrality even is.

More from DSL Reports

On a positive note for companies like AT&T, Trump has given every indication that he opposes net neutrality — despite seemingly not understanding what it is. And while his telecom policy proposals have been murky at best, a Republican-controlled FCC is likely to kill numerous policy efforts including cable box reform and efforts to bring additional competition to bear on industry incumbents.

More from Gizmodo:

Donald Trump does not support net neutrality. Actually, he thinks it will lead to the censorship of conservative media. “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media,” he tweeted in 2014.

US Candidates on Internet Policy

Ars Technica has posted the most comprehensive article I have seen thus far about the four US presidential candidates’ positions on Internet law and policy. I was surprised that Donald Trump confuses Net Neutrality with the completely unrelated 20th century radio and television “Fairness Doctrine,” and I am disappointed that he feels that ISP’s can effectively self regulate on price and service in the absence of meaningful competition. Hillary Clinton says that she champions Net Neutrality and consumer protection, but the fact that she accepts money from anti-competition ISP lobbyists calls into question the sincerity of her commitment.

Libertarian Gary Johnson strongly opposes governmental surveillance but otherwise believes that ISP’s should be completely unregulated, regardless of the potential harm to consumers. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, although a medical doctor, promotes pseudoscience claims including the dubious assertion that WiFi radiation is a health hazard. She also holds peculiar views on gender and censorship.

US Presidential Candidates on Net Neutrality

With Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) having now endorsed his rival, Hillary Clinton, Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the Benton Foundation describes the two remaining US major-party presidential candidates’ positions on Net Neutrality:

The presumptive nominees have already staked out positions supporting (Hillary Clinton) and opposing (Donald Trump) network neutrality. A Trump-appointed FCC would presumably stop utilizing Title II powers and refrain from enforcing the network neutrality rules, but a formal recision of the FCC’s decision would take some time and would require some legal gymnastics. There is plenty of time to address that scenario if and when it happens.

Nonetheless, according to DSL Reports, even Mrs. Clinton continues to accept money from anti-Neutrality Internet providers such as AT&T:

AT&T’s Top Lobbyist Backs Hillary Clinton

Net Neutrality Now

Net Neutrality Now

Court Upholds FCC Net Neutrality Plan

In a huge victory for Internet users, a US appellate court today upheld the FCC’s classification of Internet service as a common carrier, that is, a utility like telephone service rather than an “information service” like pay TV. This leaves in place the FCC’s Open Internet rules which protect, among other things, Net Neutrality.

Despite this win, however, the ruling still could be reversed on further appeal to the Supreme Court, or a new US president could appoint FCC commissioners who would undo these consumer protections and hand power back to the ISP’s.

Court Fully Upholds FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has fully upheld the FCC’s net neutrality rules, dismantling multiple lawsuits filed by broadband providers in the hopes of killing the rules — and FCC authority over them. In the full ruling (pdf), the court sided with the FCC not only in terms of the rules, but fully supported the FCC’s decision to classify ISPs as common carriers under the Communications Act.

See also: AT&T Threatens Appeal After Net Neutrality Court Loss

Net Neutrality upheld

McAfee Out: Johnson Wins LP Nomination

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.

Gary Johnson 2016

Gary Johnson 2016

Fetish Forum Breached; Ted Cruz Returns; FCC Chair Proposes Privacy Rules

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, 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.”

GOP Politicians vs. Internet Users

DSL Reports recently noted that US presidential contender Ted Cruz and former candidate Marco Rubio had proposed a bill to kill consumer protections for Internet users in Februrary. They hilariously called it the “Restoring Internet Freedom Act,” although the only “freedom” it would restore would be the ability of phone and cable companies to abuse customers and charge exorbitant fees for mediocre Internet service without having to answer to the FCC.

House Republicans have also promoted a newer bill with the same goal, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” which would completely eliminate the FCC’s ability to protect Internet consumers from any bad acts by ISP’s. The White House has said that it would veto the bill.


Political Updates

Although my medical recovery has not been going as smoothly as I had hoped, I wanted to post some updates about the US political situation.

First, the Brookings Institution has issued a new report analyzing the views of major US presidential candidates about the Internet. As expected, Senator Ted Cruz still actively opposes consumer protection rules such as Title II classification for ISP’s, preferring that the high-speed Internet duopoly essentially self-regulate. Senator Rubio holds similar views.

While Senator Sanders advocates net neutrality and consumer protection, he also calls for adding a new Internet sales tax! This surprised me, because consumption taxes are regressive, meaning they most negatively affect lower income people. Further, this tax would hurt e-commerce companies and consumers who live far from physical shopping locations. One might also speculate that high taxes on Internet purchases would encourage consumers to drive to stores rather than buying online, amplifying urban problems such as pollution, noise, and traffic congestion.

Based on the Brookings report, Secretary Clinton actually seems to be the least horrible candidate in terms of Internet policy and consumer rights. (My previously preferred candidate, John McAfee, has disappointed by deleting his health care policy position statements from his website after declaring his intent to run with the Libertarian Party, causing me to reconsider my endorsement.)

Related to the above, DSL Reports notes that the unexpectedly pro-consumer “FCC Boss Hints He May Not Resign Under New President

Unrelated, but important:

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(Completely rewritten 2016/03/06 to expand and clarify.)