Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Under Pressure, FCC Stops Asking Questions About Media Diversity

Under Pressure, FCC Stops Asking Questions About Media Diversity

by Carla Murphy
Friday, March 14 2014, 7:00 AM EST.
This article is part of topic: 
Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced the end of its “Critical Information Needs” (CIN) pilot study. The study, which was supposed to have been field-tested in “ethnically diverse” Columbia, S.C., was going to explore whether local news outlets were meeting the information needs of their communities—in particular, people of color and women. The CIN instead met a “quiet” end as FCC watchers described it, following a raucous blitz.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Holder Urges States to Repeal Bans on Felon's Voting

The good folks at the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana are working on similar issues locally. One of their projects is a Ban the Box campaign in which employers would not be able to learn of their applicants' recorders until after initial interviews and screens.

From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday urged states to repeal laws that prohibit felons from voting, a move that would restore the right to vote to millions of people.
The call was mostly symbolic — Mr. Holder has no authority to enact these changes himself — but it marked the attorney general’s latest effort to eliminate laws that he says disproportionately keep minorities from the polls. “It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Mr. Holder said at civil rights conference at Georgetown University. These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”
African-Americans represent more than a third of the estimated 5.8 million people who are prohibited from voting, according to the Sentencing Project, a research group that favors more liberal sentencing policies. And in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, more than one in five African-Americans has lost the right to vote.
The United States is unique in the democratic world for barring people from voting in such large numbers. Mr. Holder said the laws stemmed from the late 1800s, when states tried keep blacks from voting.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Internet Policies, Monopoly and Global Positioning

I'm listening to Fresh Air where communication scholar Susan Crawford is talking about Net Neutrality and other policies that allow for communication monopolies, lack of consumer choice and poor but expensive service. One thing she noted that struck me was that Stockholm, South Korea, Japan and a number of other countries (including China) have much faster internet access that carries much more data for a fraction of the cost of what we pay in the US. She noted how this puts the US at a global disadvantage in terms of innovation and creativity and threatens our economic and social standing in the world. She wrote the book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.

From the book jacket: (see below)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Net Neutrality, Race, Inequality

I took this from Scholars Strategy Network and posted it verbatim below. The title is a bit misleading, as most of the article is more directly about Net Neutrality. It's impact on communities of color, the poor, and those who live in rural areas is not integrated well.  Regardless, the information on Net Neutrality is important.


by Roderick Graham, Rhode Island College
Advanced technologies spread unevenly to different groups of Americans, with low-income people and minorities lagging behind whites on most measures of access and usage. But recently African Americans and Latinos have been narrowing the digital divide. A 2010 study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project showed that minorities are increasingly active purchasers of Internet enabled phones; two years later, another Pew report documented that minorities are outpacing whites not just in mundane activities like talking on the phone and texting, but also in more sophisticated applications like Internet-banking.

But progress toward closing America’s digital divides could be stalled or reversed by adverse federal government regulations or restrictive interpretations by the Federal Communications Commission. The regulatory details at issue are quite specific, but they have potentially momentous social consequences.

Property Rights and Internet Flexibility
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1996 protects the intellectual property rights of inventors and entrepreneurs who create new computer hardware and software programs and content. Producers typically use embedded codes to prevent the copying or modifying of their products, and federal law makes it a crime for users to get around – or “circumvent” – such codes to make modifications beyond those allowed by the original producer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Net Neutrality Matters

Marguerite Reardon over at CNET answers some questions on why net neutrality matters for consumers.

Why you should care about Net neutrality (FAQ)

CNET's Maggie Reardon explains what a recent federal appeals court decision to throw out the FCC's Net neutrality rules means to the average consumer -- and why it matters.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down on Tuesday rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010 that would protect the openness of the Internet.

To help readers get a better understanding of what the court decision means and to get a handle on what the potential outcomes might be, CNET has put together this FAQ.What does all this mean to the average Internet user? While the legal arguments may seem complicated and arcane, the reality is that this court decision has the potential to alter the future of the Internet as we know it. Whether you think these changes will harm consumers or benefit them depends on who you choose to believe in this ongoing debate.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Court Ruling Overturns Net Neutrality: Get Ready to Pay More for Less

This Just In (courtesy of Fox News):

The folks at the FreePress have been working long and hard to protect Net Neutrality. If you're looking to get involved this may be a place to start. Here's a link to an online petition to restore Net Neutrality.

Court ruling overturns Net Neutrality, threatens online access, experts warn

Published January 14, 2014
| FoxNews.com

Thanks for watching that YouTube video! That will be 50 cents, please.
Sound unrealistic? It's actually a distinct possibility, after a Federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down an FCC ruling meant to prevent an Internet service provider -- the company you pay for online access -- from prioritizing some website traffic over others.
And because that rule was wiped off the books, those ISPs are suddenly able to do just that. With service providers suddenly able to charge based on the type of content you watch or the sites you visit, it's easy to imagine a system like that of today's cable television market. Want HBO? It's an extra $5. Want our streaming video package, with YouTube, Hulu, TV.com, and more? That's $5 too.
Don't pay and you can't watch. Period.
The so called “net neutrality” rule, put in place by the FCC in 2010, was intended to ensure equal access to all types of content. Regulators and politicians feared a tiered access to premium content or that ISPs might unfairly fast-track access to their own content over competitors.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Alabama Farmers and Prison Labor

From Project Censored:
Alabama farmers turn to forced prisoner labor to replace the loss of cheap labor experienced due to changes in the state's immigration laws.  Tell me this isn't consistent with The New Jim Crow, as well as Angela Davis' work.