Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Secret Back Room Deal for Big Corporations

The Wall Street Journal just revealed that the FCC has been convening secret backroom meetings with phone and cable lobbyists to cut a deal on Net Neutrality.

The closed-door meetings have included a small group of lobbyists from AT&T, Verizon and Google. The goal, according to insiders, is to "reach consensus" on rules of the road for the Internet.

This is outrageous. The FCC can’t ignore the public's demand for Net Neutrality and then quietly give control over the Internet to a few massive corporations.

Tell Obama and the FCC: Stop These Secret Meetings

President Obama pledged to "take a back seat to no one" in his support for Net Neutrality. To head the FCC, he appointed Julius Genachowski, the man who crafted his pro-Net Neutrality platform in 2008.

But even after millions of people joined Obama’s call for Net Neutrality, FCC staff is huddling with industry lobbyists in secret to cut a deal that could leave the free and open Internet in jeopardy.

This plot is all too familiar. We've seen it before, during the BP oil disaster and the subprime mortgage meltdown, when government officials put the interests of big business ahead of those of the public.

Now, the same thing is happening to the Internet. We can’t let the one agency tasked with oversight of communications strike secret deals that undermine Net Neutrality.

Don’t Let Lobbyists Determine the Future of the Internet

Sign our letter to President Obama and the FCC to end the secret meetings and guarantee that the public -- including the tens of millions of Americans who use the Internet every day and in every way -- is given a seat at the table.

Thank you,

Josh Silver
President and CEO
Free Press

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Hosts Inishitive

Next Thursday (6/17) and Friday (6/18) the Harvard Law School Library and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will host two workshops focused on the initiative, a proposed registry and repository of all primary legal materials of the United States. The workshops, organized by Carl Malamud, President of Public.Resource.Org, aim to convene advocates for the public domain, lawyers, policy makers, librarians, archivists, students, and all those interested to discuss issues around access to primary materials in Massachusetts, and also to reflect on the national series of workshops held in the past year in order to identify core principles and policy mechanisms for public information.

The workshops will feature Carl Malamud, Berkman Faculty Co-Director John Palfrey, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the Honorable Dina E. Fein, Boston College Librarian Joan Shear, Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic Director Phil Malone, and many more.

We hope you will join us for one or both of these events. To learn more or register, please visit, More about the workshops.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are cell phone cameras the most dangerous weapon against police?

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway.

When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop.

Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. "Arrest those who record the police" appears to be official policy, and it's backed by the courts.

The selection of video "shooters" targeted for prosecution do, indeed, suggest a pattern of either reprisal or an attempt to intimidate. The only people who seem prone to prosecution are those who embarrass or confront the police, or who somehow challenge the law. If true, then the prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.

Read More ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

San Diego News Network apparently out of business.

According to reports in the San Diego Reader and The Voice of San Diego - Neil Santuria is calling it quits and selling out.
SDNN got the engine running then ran out of gas.

"This has happened before. Neil will say one thing publicly but privately you know it is not as rosy as what he is making it out to be," says William Yelles, former managing editor of SDNN. Some think SDNN may have resembled a Potemkin Village all along; it was never what it was made out to be, and was being prettified for the public offering and/or sale of the enterprise. - said the Reader

One SDNN writer blithly commented:
"I think I will go into the lemonade business. The little girl across the street made $75 for the day selling lemonade for 3 hours on Memorial Day... a vast improvement over the big $25 per weekly column I was paid at SDNN...after 8 months of pro bono...the things you do for charity!"
William Yelles, former managing editor of the online SDNN, says that one year ago, in May of 2009, the founder, Neil Senturia, called Yelles to La Jolla and said the company was broke and would lay off everybody except Yelles and somebody on the advertising side. The next month, however, Gary Jacobs, son of the Qualcomm founder, put in some money. Yelles believes Jacobs put $500,000 in twice, and an Orange County investor put in at least $750,000. In fall of 2009, Senturia said the online operation in San Diego had exceeded expectations, and the company (the parent is named U.S. Local News Network) would expand to 40 markets. However, Yelles does not believe the company ever had a profitable month. Early this year, the company said it had raised $3.18 million from investors to be used for its expansion to the outlying markets. One source says that investors (besides Jacobs and the Orange County angel) put in $100,000 each. Senturia and his partner Barbara Bry are said to have contributed $140,000. (That is not pinned down.) U.S. Local News Network talked of an initial public offering.

I have heard from a reliable source that Senturia initially asked a million dollars for the enterprise, but at the end of talks, the price was down to zero. I reached Mike McKinnon, majority owner of the company controlling KUSI. "We've had discussions with him [Senturia]," says McKinnon. "He's a nice fellow, working hard, but we are not ready to make a move in that direction." Continues McKinnon, "We will probably be in that business within a year," but, from what he says, I don't think he would enter by buying SDNN. I also talked with Nancy Sullivan, vice president of communications of the Los Angeles Times. "We have undertaken a couple of ventures" with the parent of SDNN (particularly the La Jolla/Del Mar paper), she says, but she tells me I will have to get information from the San Diego company, which did not respond to repeated calls and emails over the weekend. I do not see how it would be possible to continue putting out that paper without the creators of content, who have been severed.