Last week on the Internet: US new net neutrality rules, two pirate victories, the conservative case against copyright, EFF’s Privacy Badger browser plugin

  • Net Neutrality

May 15th is the day when the FCC will have an initial vote for a new net neutrality rules in the US. While it will not be a final decision, the situation is quite confusing  mainly because the FCC cannot decide if it wants to preserve neutrality or not. For the past weeks, the institution seems to have decided that it would be a good idea to allow ISPs to charge their customers for the right to “premium” access. FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, assures us that the institution will not permit the creation of a fast lane. Public Knowledge is one organization that welcomed the new proposed rules; Mozilla, on the other hand, offered the FCC a plan which would better protect net neutrality; and Netflix, which is already experiencing the downside of a fast lane, has expressed its concerns regarding the issue.

For a less technical or law informed reader, Vox’s Tim Lee has an extensive and easy to understand explanation for the net neutrality situation. Or you can watch this new amazing video from CGP Grey explaining why we need to defend net neutrality:

One last thing: wouldn’t it be hilarious if these new net neutrality rules would fuel piracy?

  • Copyright

US vice president Biden suggests that new trade agreements will curb piracy and hinderthe theft of American intellectual property“. Given the fact that trade agreements, like the TPP, increase the duration of copyright, I cannot help but wonder how would they actually help curb piracy? On the other hand, a new and really interesting policy paper from the think tank R Street explains the conservative business/market case for limits to copyright.

In 2010, one alleged pirate which was sued for, well, piracy, turned the tables around and sued the copyright trolls for fraud, abuse and extortion. After more than 3 years, the pirate, Dmitriy Shirokov, won the case. A similar victory was registered in Spain, where Bluebster service, the “Spanish Napster“, was deemed technological neutral and legal. Meanwhile, the UK based Industry Trust, an anti-piracy organization, released a study which indicates that 90% of piracy websites feature cyber scams.

In Australia, the lobbying against online piracy intensified and two anti-piracy measures were taken into consideration by the government: blocking pirate sites and sending letter warnings to pirates.

The Aaron Swartz movie, The Internet’s Own Boy, will soon be released. Until then, you need to watch the movie’s new and powerful trailer:

  • Surveillance

The EFF has launched a new extension for Firefox and Chrome which automatically detects and stops spying-ware, the Privacy Badger. You can download it from their website. The extension is an alpha release, so the digital organization really needs us to use and help test all of its features.

That was good news number 1. Good news number 2 is that more and more tech companies start informing their users when law enforcement comes asking for their data. Facebook, for example, introduced two new features which give users more control over their privacy; and Verizon was last week‘s unnamed company which challenged an order to hand over their phone data. Meanwhile, Yahoo, who is still ignoring their users’ privacy requests; the US government is still babbling on why warrantless cellphone search is good; and Germany blocked Snowden from traveling to Germany and giving a personal testimony against NSA.

Cover image: derivative of Defend Net Neutrality by CGP Grey.