Quick Hits

FCC wants to reclassify Internet services

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Last week brought some good news for pro-net neutrality activists like myself, as the FCC revealed that they plan to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.  This is important because common carriers are not allowed to discriminate between potential customers.  As long as they have the capacity to transmit data and customers pay a reasonable fee, they are required to provide their services equally to everyone.  It would also allow the FCC to regulate and set rules for these carriers.  ISPs had originally been classified under Title I of the Act, which meant that they were unregulated.

The FCC hasn’t released a ton of information regarding what rules they might set for ISPs once they are reclassified, but the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) says that the few statements they have made concentrate on three main rules:

  • “No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes” – including fast lanes for affiliates.”

In my opinion, these are three very good rules.  They go a long way toward preserving the Internet’s free and open spirit, and largely avoid the nightmare scenario I portrayed in my previous post on this topic, where a user only has access to certain websites or services depending on which ISP they use and what affiliation agreements they have signed.  The EFF’s post suggests the FCC should also adopt a rule regarding transparency, so that consumers have the power to hold companies accountable for providing the services they have promised, which I think might also be a good idea.  Jonathan Strickland gave a great summary of the implications of this decision in his TechStuff podcast on HowStuffWorks.com as well, so I’d encourage you to check that out if you want more information.  The podcast is available on iTunes.

Kennesaw city council reconsiders mosque rejection

The shopping center on Jiles Road in Kennesaw, GA, where the proposed mosque would be located.
The shopping center on Jiles Road in Kennesaw, GA, where the proposed mosque would be located.

Although this is old news by now, I still wanted to follow up on this story for interested parties.  The city council of Kennesaw, GA reversed its decision in December denying a request for a temporary mosque to be built in a shopping center on Jiles Road.  Amid weak justification for its initial denial of the mosque, the US Justice Department had threatened to investigate and possibly file a lawsuit against the city if it believed the Muslim group’s First Amendment rights had been violated.  Anyone investigating this issue for two seconds could see that such violations were indeed occurring, and I’m glad the city council has decided to allow the mosque after all.

Virginia basketball having sensational season

Hurry back, Justin.
Hurry back, Justin.

In case you missed it, last year was a historic year for Virginia men’s basketball.  The team won the second ACC tournament title and the sixth ACC regular season title in history, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995.  Only a razor-thin loss to Michigan State prevented the Cavaliers from soaring to greater heights.

This season, though, Virginia’s team might just be better.  Always stalwart on defense, this year’s Cavaliers also ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency as well, lifting the team to a superb 23-1 (11-1 ACC) start.  Better yet, these Hoos don’t just rely on one or two star players.  Every game is a true team effort, with players such as Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, and London Perrantes all making key contributions.  Even freshman Marial Shayok has gotten in on the action and chipped in good minutes.  All these factors have caused many pundits to declare Virginia capable of winning the national championship.

Though there have been chinks in the Cavaliers’ armor of late.  Guard Justin Anderson, thought of by many as Virginia’s best player, went down with broken fingers in the team’s win over Louisville.  Immediately before and since his injury, the team has had trouble closing out games, and has struggled offensively.  The still-stifling defense has bailed out Virginia and enabled them to keep winning, but they will need Anderson back in order to have a good shot at making their first Final Four since 1984.

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for a great summary of the net neutrality issue. Despite widespread coverage in the news, you managed to boil it down to its essence. I note that an industry group has launched an ad campaign suggesting that regulation would lead to “taxes on the middle class”. That strikes me as babble. What the sponsors mean is, “Net neutrality prevents us from cashing in.”

    As to the Kennesaw City Council’s decision on the mosque: the city is lucky the congregation has not filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. This law makes a deprivation of constitutional rights under color of state law illegal. The City could have faced a lawsuit in which it would have paid damages and the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. Moreover, another federal law makes it difficult to enforce zoning decisions against religious institutions. Perhaps Kennesaw’s City Attorney convinced the Council to reverse a very dubious decision.

    I hope UVA keeps on winning, but it will be tougher without its best player. That said, Tony Bennett is a defensive genius. Whether there is enough offensive steam to keep winning remains to be seen. Florida State looks like a relatively weak opponent for tomorrow, so I would expect the Cavs to be 24-1 tomorrow.

    • Glad you thought I made the net neutrality issue understandable. The TechStuff episode was a big help with that, so credit goes to them.

      I think that’s exactly what happened in Kennesaw. It probably would’ve been an open-and-shut case. Leave it to the city that requires all heads of household to own a gun to make stupid decisions like that.

      While Virginia hasn’t played great lately, I don’t get why they’re getting knocked off the 1-seed line. Doesn’t seem like they deserve it.

  2. […] kicks off today, and the Virginia Cavaliers are looking to make some noise.  About a month ago in this space, I talked about the scorching start the Cavaliers got off to before star guard Justin Anderson’s […]

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