Urban Internet inequalities reinforce social inequalities

Marcos Martinez, Seattle Digital Justice Coalition

The message couldn't have been more clear last month when FCC staff sat in a crowded Seattle conference room with about 80 local folks, gathered to share our opinions on preserving a fair and open Internet. Even in the tech capital of Seattle, urban communities need broadband access that is more fair, more affordable, and more reliable—and we need consumer protections from Internet providers who would keep many of us stuck in Internet slow lanes rather than treating us all fairly.

In Seattle, our local Digital Justice Coalition, led by Reclaim the Media and other MAG-Net member organizations, is calling for both local and national solutions for expanding digital rights. We're pushing our city government to build a publicly-owned fiber broadband network, in order to provide affordable, fast broadband to every home/office in Seattle. But for the long term, federal policies are needed to protect our digital rights--not just in tech centers like Seattle, but in all urban and rural communities. That's why MAG-Net member organizations across the country are continuing to push the FCC and our elected officials to enact policies that make high-quality broadband access truly universal, maintain a fair and open Internet, and encourage all people to become fully engaged participants in our digital democracy.

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Washington Post TV critic Shales has a lady problem

Irin Carmon, Jezebel

Tom Shales isn't done hating on Christiane Amanpour: His follow-up is trashing her haircut. Actually, a retrospective suggests Shales' assessment of female journalists often hinges on whether or not he wants to sleep with them.

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Rep. Waters announces support for Comcast-NBC merger hearings

Office of Rep. Maxine Waters

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced today that 23 additional Members of Congress signed on to her letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, urging the FCC to hold public hearings on the merger of the Comcast Corporation with NBC Universal (NBC). The original letter, sent last week, was signed by Congresswoman Waters and 45 of her colleagues. It included a series of questions about diversity, distribution, cable rates, labor relations and advertising for Comcast and NBC to answer.

The additional signatures, sent to the FCC in an addendum letter today, further reflect the geographically, ideologically and racially diverse group of Members of Congress who all recognize that a merger of this size Comcast is the largest provider of internet and cable in the country will affect virtually every American and therefore deserves thorough scrutiny through a public hearings process.

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Community groups urge FCC to protect local community media

Alliance for Communications Democracy

Hundreds of community groups and local residents from across the country urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week to strengthen local democracy, media diversity and public safety by supporting the nation's largest network of community-based media organizations -- Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access cable TV centers.

"As local newspapers close, media companies consolidate, and national broadcasters dominate radio & television, PEG Access centers are increasingly the only source of community news, civic programming, diverse views and local emergency information," said Alliance for Communications Democracy (ACD) President Rob Brading of MetroEast Community Media in Gresham, Oregon.

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NAACP calls for hate crime charges after police beating caught on film


The head of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday called a videotape, showing a Seattle police officer stomping on and using racially charged language toward a Latino man, evidence of a hate crime.

James Bible says the NAACP is calling on the King County Prosecutor's Office to file malicious harassment and assault charges against Det. Shandy Cobane.

"Anytime, when civil rights are violated, when human rights are violated of any person within our county, within our city and within our nation, we must take a stand," said Bible.

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Net neutrality? How about affordability?

Bill Schrier, Chief Seattle Geek Blog

The FCC and a large portion of the nation are wringing our collective hands about net neutrality. But the real issue is not “neutrality” but “affordability” and even “accessibility”. Clearly the future of the Nation depends upon the Internet, but a large portion of households and small businesses can’t afford Internet access at true broadband speeds. And, as cool new applications such as high-definition video develop, the gaps will only widen, and even more Americans will be left in the dust of the Net. Net Neutrality doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford a connection in the first place.

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Telecoms' secret plan to attack net neutrality

Lee Fang, Think Progress

Net neutrality, a guiding principle for preserving a free and fair Internet, means that Internet service providers are not allowed to discriminate based on content for its customers. However, telecommunications firms — like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others — are firmly against net neutrality because they would like to increase their profits by deciding which websites customers can see, and at what speed. The telecom industry has dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into a lobby campaign against net neutrality. As the FCC now takes up net neutrality rule making, the industry is pushing an “outside approach” of hiring front groups and astroturf operatives.

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GOP bill aims to slow or stop FCC broadband reclassification

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

A U.S. lawmaker has introduced legislation to require the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to deliver a detailed cost-benefit analysis to Congress before moving forward with a plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated common-carrier service.
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The bill, authored by Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, would also require the FCC to conduct a market study to show “market failure” in the broadband industry before moving forward with the plan to reclassify broadband.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated service is a mistake, Stearns said at a press conference Tuesday organized by Americans for Prosperity, an antiregulation advocacy group. The effort will hurt the FCC’s goal of making broadband available to all U.S. residents, he said.

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The Internet is not just a privilege--it's a necessity

Bryan Mercer, Media Mobilizing Project

The Internet as a Universal Service, the Conservative and Corporate Backlash, and the Struggle Over How We Communicate.

For the past month the most important telecommunications platform of our time, the Internet, has gone without any form of regulation or government oversight. This situation didn't cause some downward spiral collapsing email and leading to tolls for visiting pages across the web - thank goodness. But, after the ruling in the Comcast Bit Torrent case an opening was presented for Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to brush off government authority. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn't have the authority to impose regulation on ISPs. If this situation sticks ISPs have clearly stated what they intend to do - charge whatever they like for any content they like, while limiting traffic for those who don't pay high premiums.

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Washington UTC may penalize Qwest for consumer protection violations

via the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission:

Qwest faces stiff fines for repeatedly disobeying state rules

State regulatory staff today recommended $69,000 in penalties against Qwest, saying the phone company repeatedly violated numerous consumer protection regulations in 2009.

Staff members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) recommended the fine, alleging that Qwest failed to comply with UTC rules designed to protect telephone customers in Washington. A commission administrative law judge will review the matter and decide whether to impose penalties.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey