Ajit Pai accused of conflict for helping former client »

Via Ars Technica:

A prisoners’ rights group has accused Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai of having a conflict of interest because he used to represent a prison phone company as a lawyer.

Under Pai’s direction, the FCC dropped its court defense of rules capping the intrastate phone rates charged to prisoners. The decision helped prison phone companies—including Pai’s former client, Securus Technologies—continue to charge high prices.

Nothing to see here.

EFF argues border agents need warrants to search digital devices »

“Our cell phones and laptops provide access to an unprecedented amount of detailed, private information, often going back many months or years, from emails to our coworkers to photos of our loved ones and lists of our closest contacts. This is light years beyond the minimal information generally contained in other kinds of personal items we might carry in our suitcases. It’s time for courts and the government to acknowledge that examining the contents of a digital device is highly intrusive, and Fourth Amendment protections should be strong, even at the border,” said EFF Staff Attorney Sophia Cope.

It’s ludicrous that a warrant is not currently required for these searches. If a search is truly necessary, the authorities in question should be able to obtain a warrant with ease.

FCC is ignoring public interest in net neutrality repeal »

Via Ars Technica:

Although ISPs have claimed that the net neutrality rules harm investment, the cable industry’s top lobbying group recently boasted that US Internet speeds are continuing to soar and that the cost of data per megabit has gone down. ISPs have also told their investors that the rules have not harmed network investment, an important factor because publicly traded companies are required to give investors accurate financial information, including a description of risk factors involved in investing in the company.

ISPs and the FCC have been pushing this misleading argument for the entirety of the current debate around net neutrality. You can’t argue to the FCC that net neutrality has harmed investment while making the opposite claim to investors. Proponents of repealing title II regulations are either lying or being deliberately disingenuous.

Without the rules against blocking and throttling websites and online services, ISPs “will be subject to economic and political pressures to choke off unpopular conversations or speed up viewpoints supported by the politically dominant,” Democrats wrote.

ISPs are already guilty of consumer-hostile behavior, even with the current rules in place. Their abuses would only get worse should those protections be rolled back.

While the Republican-controlled Congress recently eliminated privacy rules that protect consumers from ISPs, the Title II authority over common carriers that the FCC uses to enforce net neutrality rules still imposes some basic privacy protections.

This goes without saying, but losing even more privacy protections only benefits ISPs. Invasive tracking and advertising is bad enough without granting large companies the freedom to take it further.

The net neutrality rule that forbids ISPs from charging websites for faster access to consumers is important for small businesses that won’t be able to afford paid prioritization, the Democrats wrote.

This is, perhaps, one of the most compelling arguments for leaving net neutrality protections in place. ISPs should not be able to hamper new potential competitors that depend on network access simply due to their market position. If ISPs want to compete against, say, Netflix they should make a service that actually appeals to consumers.

You can add your comment opposing net neutrality repeal at the FCC’s site.

We Should All Care About Encryption

Andy Yen, via TED.com:

If we squander privacy by allowing back doors or building illicit vulnerabilities into encryption tools, there is nothing to protect us from prying corporations, spying governments or even criminals bent on abusing our data. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a back door that only lets the good guys in.

Data must always be encrypted, end-to-end, period — before it leaves your computer. Privacy is a fundamental right. Let’s not squander it in the name of security.