Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Chance to Reinvent Local Media and Combat Fake News

Most voting-age Americans list local news as a primary source for political information — an important statistic in a year when more than 125 million of us voted in a presidential race where honesty was in short supply while fake news ran rampant on social media.

Often our ability to separate fact from fiction about competing candidates rests on what we learn about them from credible news sources. If you’re like many voters, you found answers in your local news — be it the paper that arrives on your front step each day, the radio station you listen to during morning commutes or the 11 p.m. newscast before you tuck in for the night.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Filling the Swamp: Trump's Plan to Turn Over the FCC to Telecom Industry Insiders

One of Donald Trump's top tech policy advisers has a plan: Do away with the main agency that protects the rights of internet users and media consumers in America.

You heard that right. Mark Jamison, who Trump chose to help oversee the tech-policy transition team, thinks that getting rid of the Federal Communications Commission would be a good thing for this country.

"Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away," Jamison wrote last month, claiming that a heavily consolidated media marketplace would discipline itself to benefit ordinary people.

He's dead wrong.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's Rise, The Media's Fall and the Way Forward

If we've learned anything from this, it's that traditional media failed at their job to inform people about what was really at stake in this election. Instead we were treated to a horserace-cum-reality-TV-show where pollsters judged winners and losers in hourly increments as know-nothing pundits shouted over one another for a moment in the spotlight.

All the while, old media executives like Jeff Zucker and Les Moonves reveled in all things Trump, serving up unblinking wall-to-wall coverage of this profoundly despicable con artist to juice ratings and drive revenues. So much for "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." The show must go on.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How the AT&T/Time Warner Deal Could Hurt Low-Income Families

Originally published by

AT&T executives think their plan to take over Time Warner is too big to fail. But the proposed merger’s astronomical cost may prove them wrong.

The $85 billion deal, combining the nation’s largest phone, Internet and pay-TV provider with an entertainment and news colossus whose holdings include CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT and Warner Bros. Studios, would be one of the largest media mergers ever…

Friday, September 23, 2016

Donald Trump Doubles Down on Internet Ignorance

Hello, internet?
Donald Trump wants to make the internet great again. Problem is, the GOP nominee doesn’t know enough about the internet to understand what, if anything, that means.

On Wednesday, Trump's campaign came out against an Obama administration plan to relinquish U.S. control of one important aspect of the internet: the supervision of domain names. The plan is to remove the U.S. government control of that function and transfer it more fully to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a global body.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Europe's Net Neutrality Triumph

On Tuesday, the global fight for Net Neutrality leapt forward, again.

On Tuesday, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published guidelines ensuring that the region’s internet users receive strong protections for open and nondiscriminatory access to the internet.

The victory is a monumental part of the global push to advance everyone’s online rights. Over the last 18 months, internet users have fought and won Net Neutrality protections in India, South America and the United States.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Black Lives and the Facebook Censor

Originally published at The Root

Earlier this month, Baltimore County police tried to serve a black mother with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court for a traffic violation. But the picture many saw told only one side of the story.

Police killed the woman, Korryn Gaines, while her 5-year-old son was wounded in the altercation. She had attempted to share her encounter with police using Instagram. The police urged Facebook, which owns Instagram, to deactivate her accounts. In response, Facebook cut Gaines’ live stream from its feed.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In July, Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to record the immediate aftermath of the horrific police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. Once footage hit 1 million views, Facebook temporarily removed the video. A Facebook spokesperson claimed this was due to a “technical glitch,” but many media reports suggest otherwise

Read the rest at The Root >>

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Democrats, Republicans and the Internet

Reading between the lines of the party platforms

Party platforms are the wallflowers of the four-day infomercials we’ve come to know as national conventions. During the run-up to these events, partisan functionaries and delegates pore over drafts and tweak language only to see the candidates too often ignore the resulting policy statements in their march to Election Day.

Consider Donald Trump’s convention-closing attempt at a peace offering to the LGBT community in light of the Republican Party platform’s call to abolish gay marriage and nationalize state laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.

To read too much into a platform would be a mistake, especially when trying to predict the policies of the next administration. Still, platforms establish a benchmark against which we can measure the success of any president. They also reveal important shifts in party culture, offering us a glimpse at the evolving priorities of the body politic. This year, for the first time, internet policy is prominent in both major-party platforms.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Is Winning Net Neutrality Enough to Save the Internet?

Originally published in the Seattle Times

Net neutrality advocates can add last week’s court decision to a recent string of victories on behalf of everyday internet users.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the latest broadband-industry bid to kill the open internet — a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 “net neutrality” decision. The FCC rules protect your right to connect with everyone else online without your cable or phone provider blocking websites or carving the internet into fast and slow lanes.

The ruling last year was itself a major victory — the product of 10 years of activism involving millions of Americans who lobbied their elected representatives and urged the agency to adopt online safeguards.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Still Waiting for America's First Tech President

Originally published at The Guardian

As Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have shown, any candidate hoping to connect with voters in the 2016 election can’t do so without a strong online presence.

But embracing the internet as an organizing tool isn’t enough. To become the nation’s first genuine tech president, a candidate must also champion internet policies that safeguard users and ensure the network’s survival and continued growth.

Shortly after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the White House in late 2007, he took to the stage at Google headquarters to unveil a set of policies on key tech issues, including net neutrality. Later in his campaign, he promised to “strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and … harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy”...

Read the rest at The Guardian

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Why Cable Mergers Are Bad News for the Internet

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the Internet: Big cable companies hate it.

That’s a bad thing because big cable companies are the on-ramps to the wired world for most Americans.

And big cable companies are getting even bigger. Just last week, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intention to approve the merger of Charter Communications with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

If Presidential Candidates Love the Internet, They Must Set It Free

What has the Internet done for presidential candidates lately?
All the presidential candidates se the Internet as a tool for
their campaigns. But some would like to see it restricted.
See the 2016 Internet Voter Guide.

In a recent Nation article, civic technology advocate Micah Sifry heralds the Clinton and Sanders campaigns for using the network to organize potential voters in a way “that has never existed before in American politics.” Leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones and Facebook accounts, they’ve managed to reach millions of people outside traditional politics.

Vox’s Timothy B. Lee credits the Internet for disrupting establishment politics and giving rise to outsider candidates like Sen. Sanders and Donald Trump. Trump’s success “was aided as much by his popularity on cable television as on social media,“ writes Lee.

But it’s the candidates’ use of direct-to-voter platforms like Twitter that is “only going to accelerate in the next few elections.

Friday, February 26, 2016

One Year Later: Hanging Tough for Net Neutrality

Originally published by

At the conclusion of the FCC's historic vote. Feb. 26, 2016
(photo: Timothy Karr)
A year ago, on February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission voted to restore real Net Neutrality protections for Internet users across the United States.

The FCC action, reclassifying high-speed Internet access as a telecom service under Title II of the Communications Act, prohibits phone and cable companies from blocking and throttling Internet content or giving priority access to rich companies while relegating the rest of us to online slow lanes.

It would be hard to overstate just how important this decision is for Internet users. After years of debate in Washington and beyond, the issue came down to one agency, and one crucial vote.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Journalists Can Save Themselves by Advocating for Their Sources

Originally published by OtherWords.

The Obama administration’s ongoing crusade against government whistleblowers — which culminated last year in the imprisonment of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling — has reignited a debate over the role journalists should play in defending their profession and the sources and networks on which it depends.

Sterling’s serving a three-and-half-year prison term for a conviction built primarily on circumstantial evidence — a heavy sentence, though less than the draconian 24 years the government originally sought.

Sterling’s alleged crime was divulging a botched CIA operation to New York Times journalist James Risen. While the Times and other news organizations fought for their own — hiring a team of lawyers to defend Risen against a government subpoena in the case — they did much less to advocate for the rights of whistleblowers, or to denounce the severe punishment meted out to Sterling himself.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Candidates, Lies and the Internet

"The Internet and technology are incredibly important," Carly Fiorina said in response to an audience member on a snowy Friday in New Hampshire.

Of course it is, but what would Fiorina do as president to ensure that Internet access is more affordable?

That's when Fiorina fishtailed into a ditch. "The first thing I would do, honestly, is roll back the 400 pages of regulation that the FCC just rolled out over the Internet," she said, referring to the agency's 2015 Net Neutrality decision, which protects Internet users by preventing access providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking, throttling or otherwise interfering with our connections.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

It’s the Internet, Stupid

People are asking the candidates intelligent questions about the Internet. If only the candidates’ answers were as smart.

I've got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that presidential candidates are starting to talk about Internet issues.

The bad news is that presidential candidates are starting to talk about Internet issues.

Since the 2012 election, the Internet has emerged as a widely discussed political issue. Advocates of an open and accessible Internet number in the tens of millions and include people of every political stripe living in every part of the United States.

This growing community supports Net Neutrality, worries about violations of their privacy by government spies and corporations too, and believes the Internet is a crucial platform that everyone should be able to access at affordable prices.

Whether you're one of the more than 10 million people who protested congressional efforts to pass Internet-censoring copyright legislation or one of the millions more who urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt real Net Neutrality protections, you're part of a growing political base that expects our elected leaders to support our rights to connect and communicate.

That's a good thing, right? Here's the problem. Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle haven't caught up with the rest of us. When facing intelligent questions about their views on important Internet issues, they just plain get it wrong most of the time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Truth-Testing Ted Cruz’s Latest Net Neutrality Gibberish

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz slammed the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 decision to protect the open Internet. His comments were captured in a video now being circulated by Protect Internet Freedom, an anti-Net Neutrality Astroturf group made up of GOP public relations staffers.

The question itself fails the truth test. And Cruz’s response is so full of whoppers that it has to be taken apart, sentence by sentence, to fully demonstrate the depth of his dishonesty.