Ced Kurtz's Techman Texts: Netflix upgrades fight for net neutrality

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The proposal by the FCC to establish a higher-priced “fast lane” on the Internet has met with the expected howl of protest from supporters of net neutrality, the dictum that all Internet users should be treated the same.

Netflix, the streaming video provider, is one of those that would be forced to take the more expensive path to compete. In fact, Netflix recently cut a deal with Comcast and Verizon to pay a surcharge to ensure smooth delivery of its videos, but it argues these agreements weaken the principle of net neutrality.

Now, according to Reuters, Netflix has taken its case directly to the Federal Communications Commission, meeting with advisers to the commissioners.

“Tolls coming for the Web, thanks to FCC. What is the FCC thinking?” Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings posted on his Facebook page when the news of the proposal leaked out.

In a blog post March 20, Mr. Hastings took a sharp stance against allowing Internet providers to charge fees for connections, including in deals known as “interconnection” or “peering,” agreements that have traditionally been outside the scope of net neutrality as regulated by the FCC.

If Netflix and other high bandwidth users are forced to pay more for special treatment on the Web, the cost is sure to trickle down to the subscriber.

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The death of Do Not Track: Yahoo, the first major company to support Do Not Track signals that Web browsers send on behalf of users who wish not to be monitored for advertising purposes, has announced that it will stop complying, according to Ars Technica.

“While some third parties have committed to honor Do Not Track, many more have not,” DoNotTrack.us states. “In February 2012, the major online advertising trade groups pledged at the White House to support Do Not Track by year-end; that promise remains unfulfilled. Efforts to standardize Do Not Track in the World Wide Web Consortium have resulted in deadlock, despite frequent urging by American and European policymakers.”

All the major browsers developed a Do Not Track feature, but only Internet Explorer turned it on by default, according to Computerworld. Advertisers can accept Do Not Track signals at their sites.

What critics of the 2010 FCC proposal said when it was announced has come true. Since it is voluntary, advertisers who wish to track you are simply ignoring it.

Embrace the badger: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog of Internet privacy, has developed a new extension for Firefox and Chrome called Privacy Badger, the company announced Thursday. It detects and blocks spying ads around the Web, and the invisible trackers that feed information to them. Privacy Badger is an alpha, which means it is an early version that may have bugs. The EFF is asking people to install it and report bugs. You can download it at eff.org/​privacybadger.

To use the Internet, please deposit 25 cents: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has revived a plan to convert unused pay phone booths into Internet hot spots, according to Time. The city has issued a request for proposals designed to create a network of Internet hot spots that will blanket the Big Apple’s five boroughs with free wireless Internet access.

Patch it: Microsoft has released a patch to fix a serious security flaw in the Internet Explorer browser, according to DirWell.com. The patch can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website.

Using the bug, which installs malware after tricking the user into visiting infected websites, bad guys can sneak into computers, steal personal data and even take control of your computer, DirWell.com reports. Hackers exploiting this bug have endangered many companies across United States. If you do not have automatic updates turned on (and you should), you should download this fix at Microsoft's website.


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