When it comes to Facebook’s real names policy, it’s really clear—something needs to change. Over the last few weeks, we’ve joined dozens of advocates in saying so. And in a meeting with LGBTQ and digital rights advocates, Facebook agreed. Of course, admitting there’s a problem is always the first step towards a solution. But what’s not clear is what that solution will be.
Is the United Nations trying to take over the internet? Read anything in much of the western media about the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and you might think so, especially in the lead-up to the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 just wrapping up in Busan, Korea.
Today, across the United States, Internet users are gathering for an emergency vigil calling on the FCC to protect the open Internet. According to news reports, the FCC is leaning towards a proposal that would protect the relationship between ISPs and big web companies, but not the relationship between ISPs and users. This “hybrid” approachwould leave the door open for all kinds of discriminatory practices against end-users and is less likely to hold up in court than the clean proposal we’ve been supporting. Even rules that sound good aren’t going to help anyone if they wind up being struck down. And it doesn’t even make sense to differentiate between users who are “subscribers” and users who run websites; all users send and receive information online and any “subscriber” could start a website tomorrow. At best, such a distinction is factually incoherent, and at worst it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, legally assigning “subscriber” and “provider” roles to people and companies on the Internet.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in a strong net neutrality policy statement, has given the Federal Communications Commission the political cover it needs to move ahead with new rules by reclassifying broadband as a regulated utility.
Recent reports that China has imposed further restrictions on Gmail. This loophole has now been closed, which means determined Chinese users have had to turn to more advanced circumvention tools.
And it’s not just the Chinese. A new law that came into effect last summer obliges all internet companies to store Russian citizens’ data on servers inside the country. This has already prompted Google to close down its engineering operations in Moscow. The Kremlin’s recent success in getting Facebook to block a page calling for protests in solidarity with the charged activist Alexey Navalny indicates that the government is rapidly re-establishing control over its citizens’ digital activities.
Brazil toyed with the idea of forcing American companies to store user data locally – an idea it eventually abandoned. However, Russia, China and Brazil are simply responding to the extremely aggressive tactics adopted by none other than the US.
The Knight Foundation released a report on net neutrality, analyzing recent development and debates.