631: Micro Propaganda

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 6m
July 3rd, 2014
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Executive Producers: Steven Fettig, Sir Simon Bennet

Associate Executive Producers: Michael Andrews, Zachary Zeisler, Aaron Ramroth, Wesley Young

Cover Artist: MartinJJ

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NEW NoAgendaCd.COM content
In the Morning!
Two new No Agenda CDs are now available on the site. They are heavy on 'tech' reporting because Steve and I are going to DEF CON in August and are having a No Agenda meetup. We'll have it the first day of the con so we can give away boxes of discs to hand out during the convention. If you mention the meetup on the show, let people know that I need to get an idea of how many people will be involved so we can choose a venue that makes sense. It will not be IN the convention so anyone in Las Vegas is invited, not just Con attendees. People can email me at noagendacd@gmail.com and get info at the DEF CON page on noagendacd.com.
If you don't mention the meetup on the show... well, it is just going to be me and Steve at a Denny's with several thousand CDs, so... Thanks in advance?
TYFYC,
Ramsey Cain
Peerage Map Updated
First, the map has been updated to reflect recent changes.
And on to Baronetcies...
From the Book of Knowledge:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baronet#Territorial_designations
"All Baronetcies are distinguished by having a territorial designation."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_designation#Peerages_and_baronetcies
"A territorial designation is an aspect of the creation of modern peerages that links them to a specific place or places, at least one of which is almost always in the United Kingdom. It is given in the patent of creation after the actual peerage title itself, of which it is not a part. It is also an integral part of all baronetcies."
That should settle the discussion on whether or not Baronets get protectorates.
Sir A.J. Rystad, Bt.
1st Baronet of the Treasure Valley, in Idaho, in Gitmo Nation.
TODAY
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New Hams
Monitoring REF033C
JCD REF014C on the San Jose Repeater - Old Dudes!
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How "news' can affect your 'mood' and overall health - See FB emotions study
FACEBOOK IMMUNITY-EUR-Lex - 32000L0031 - EN
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:17
Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market ('Directive on electronic commerce')Official Journal L 178 , 17/07/2000 P. 0001 - 0016
Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 8 June 2000
on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce)
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Articles 47(2), 55 and 95 thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission(1),
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee(2),
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(3),
Whereas:
(1) The European Union is seeking to forge ever closer links between the States and peoples of Europe, to ensure economic and social progress; in accordance with Article 14(2) of the Treaty, the internal market comprises an area without internal frontiers in which the free movements of goods, services and the freedom of establishment are ensured; the development of information society services within the area without internal frontiers is vital to eliminating the barriers which divide the European peoples.
(2) The development of electronic commerce within the information society offers significant employment opportunities in the Community, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises, and will stimulate economic growth and investment in innovation by European companies, and can also enhance the competitiveness of European industry, provided that everyone has access to the Internet.
(3) Community law and the characteristics of the Community legal order are a vital asset to enable European citizens and operators to take full advantage, without consideration of borders, of the opportunities afforded by electronic commerce; this Directive therefore has the purpose of ensuring a high level of Community legal integration in order to establish a real area without internal borders for information society services.
(4) It is important to ensure that electronic commerce could fully benefit from the internal market and therefore that, as with Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities(4), a high level of Community integration is achieved.
(5) The development of information society services within the Community is hampered by a number of legal obstacles to the proper functioning of the internal market which make less attractive the exercise of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services; these obstacles arise from divergences in legislation and from the legal uncertainty as to which national rules apply to such services; in the absence of coordination and adjustment of legislation in the relevant areas, obstacles might be justified in the light of the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities; legal uncertainty exists with regard to the extent to which Member States may control services originating from another Member State.
(6) In the light of Community objectives, of Articles 43 and 49 of the Treaty and of secondary Community law, these obstacles should be eliminated by coordinating certain national laws and by clarifying certain legal concepts at Community level to the extent necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market; by dealing only with certain specific matters which give rise to problems for the internal market, this Directive is fully consistent with the need to respect the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty.
(7) In order to ensure legal certainty and consumer confidence, this Directive must lay down a clear and general framework to cover certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market.
(8) The objective of this Directive is to create a legal framework to ensure the free movement of information society services between Member States and not to harmonise the field of criminal law as such.
(9) The free movement of information society services can in many cases be a specific reflection in Community law of a more general principle, namely freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10(1) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which has been ratified by all the Member States; for this reason, directives covering the supply of information society services must ensure that this activity may be engaged in freely in the light of that Article, subject only to the restrictions laid down in paragraph 2 of that Article and in Article 46(1) of the Treaty; this Directive is not intended to affect national fundamental rules and principles relating to freedom of expression.
(10) In accordance with the principle of proportionality, the measures provided for in this Directive are strictly limited to the minimum needed to achieve the objective of the proper functioning of the internal market; where action at Community level is necessary, and in order to guarantee an area which is truly without internal frontiers as far as electronic commerce is concerned, the Directive must ensure a high level of protection of objectives of general interest, in particular the protection of minors and human dignity, consumer protection and the protection of public health; according to Article 152 of the Treaty, the protection of public health is an essential component of other Community policies.
(11) This Directive is without prejudice to the level of protection for, in particular, public health and consumer interests, as established by Community acts; amongst others, Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts(5) and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts(6) form a vital element for protecting consumers in contractual matters; those Directives also apply in their entirety to information society services; that same Community acquis, which is fully applicable to information society services, also embraces in particular Council Directive 84/450/EEC of 10 September 1984 concerning misleading and comparative advertising(7), Council Directive 87/102/EEC of 22 December 1986 for the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning consumer credit(8), Council Directive 93/22/EEC of 10 May 1993 on investment services in the securities field(9), Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours(10), Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 on consumer production in the indication of prices of products offered to consumers(11), Council Directive 92/59/EEC of 29 June 1992 on general product safety(12), Directive 94/47/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 1994 on the protection of purchasers in respect of certain aspects on contracts relating to the purchase of the right to use immovable properties on a timeshare basis(13), Directive 98/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests(14), Council Directive 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions concerning liability for defective products(15), Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees(16), the future Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services and Council Directive 92/28/EEC of 31 March 1992 on the advertising of medicinal products(17); this Directive should be without prejudice to Directive 98/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products(18) adopted within the framework of the internal market, or to directives on the protection of public health; this Directive complements information requirements established by the abovementioned Directives and in particular Directive 97/7/EC.
(12) It is necessary to exclude certain activities from the scope of this Directive, on the grounds that the freedom to provide services in these fields cannot, at this stage, be guaranteed under the Treaty or existing secondary legislation; excluding these activities does not preclude any instruments which might prove necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market; taxation, particularly value added tax imposed on a large number of the services covered by this Directive, must be excluded form the scope of this Directive.
(13) This Directive does not aim to establish rules on fiscal obligations nor does it pre-empt the drawing up of Community instruments concerning fiscal aspects of electronic commerce.
(14) The protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data is solely governed by Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(19) and Directive 97/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector(20) which are fully applicable to information society services; these Directives already establish a Community legal framework in the field of personal data and therefore it is not necessary to cover this issue in this Directive in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market, in particular the free movement of personal data between Member States; the implementation and application of this Directive should be made in full compliance with the principles relating to the protection of personal data, in particular as regards unsolicited commercial communication and the liability of intermediaries; this Directive cannot prevent the anonymous use of open networks such as the Internet.
(15) The confidentiality of communications is guaranteed by Article 5 Directive 97/66/EC; in accordance with that Directive, Member States must prohibit any kind of interception or surveillance of such communications by others than the senders and receivers, except when legally authorised.
(16) The exclusion of gambling activities from the scope of application of this Directive covers only games of chance, lotteries and betting transactions, which involve wagering a stake with monetary value; this does not cover promotional competitions or games where the purpose is to encourage the sale of goods or services and where payments, if they arise, serve only to acquire the promoted goods or services.
(17) The definition of information society services already exists in Community law in Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on information society services(21) and in Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access(22); this definition covers any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by means of electronic equipment for the processing (including digital compression) and storage of data, and at the individual request of a recipient of a service; those services referred to in the indicative list in Annex V to Directive 98/34/EC which do not imply data processing and storage are not covered by this definition.
(18) Information society services span a wide range of economic activities which take place on-line; these activities can, in particular, consist of selling goods on-line; activities such as the delivery of goods as such or the provision of services off-line are not covered; information society services are not solely restricted to services giving rise to on-line contracting but also, in so far as they represent an economic activity, extend to services which are not remunerated by those who receive them, such as those offering on-line information or commercial communications, or those providing tools allowing for search, access and retrieval of data; information society services also include services consisting of the transmission of information via a communication network, in providing access to a communication network or in hosting information provided by a recipient of the service; television broadcasting within the meaning of Directive EEC/89/552 and radio broadcasting are not information society services because they are not provided at individual request; by contrast, services which are transmitted point to point, such as video-on-demand or the provision of commercial communications by electronic mail are information society services; the use of electronic mail or equivalent individual communications for instance by natural persons acting outside their trade, business or profession including their use for the conclusion of contracts between such persons is not an information society service; the contractual relationship between an employee and his employer is not an information society service; activities which by their very nature cannot be carried out at a distance and by electronic means, such as the statutory auditing of company accounts or medical advice requiring the physical examination of a patient are not information society services.
(19) The place at which a service provider is established should be determined in conformity with the case-law of the Court of Justice according to which the concept of establishment involves the actual pursuit of an economic activity through a fixed establishment for an indefinite period; this requirement is also fulfilled where a company is constituted for a given period; the place of establishment of a company providing services via an Internet website is not the place at which the technology supporting its website is located or the place at which its website is accessible but the place where it pursues its economic activity; in cases where a provider has several places of establishment it is important to determine from which place of establishment the service concerned is provided; in cases where it is difficult to determine from which of several places of establishment a given service is provided, this is the place where the provider has the centre of his activities relating to this particular service.
(20) The definition of "recipient of a service" covers all types of usage of information society services, both by persons who provide information on open networks such as the Internet and by persons who seek information on the Internet for private or professional reasons.
(21) The scope of the coordinated field is without prejudice to future Community harmonisation relating to information society services and to future legislation adopted at national level in accordance with Community law; the coordinated field covers only requirements relating to on-line activities such as on-line information, on-line advertising, on-line shopping, on-line contracting and does not concern Member States' legal requirements relating to goods such as safety standards, labelling obligations, or liability for goods, or Member States' requirements relating to the delivery or the transport of goods, including the distribution of medicinal products; the coordinated field does not cover the exercise of rights of pre-emption by public authorities concerning certain goods such as works of art.
(22) Information society services should be supervised at the source of the activity, in order to ensure an effective protection of public interest objectives; to that end, it is necessary to ensure that the competent authority provides such protection not only for the citizens of its own country but for all Community citizens; in order to improve mutual trust between Member States, it is essential to state clearly this responsibility on the part of the Member State where the services originate; moreover, in order to effectively guarantee freedom to provide services and legal certainty for suppliers and recipients of services, such information society services should in principle be subject to the law of the Member State in which the service provider is established.
(23) This Directive neither aims to establish additional rules on private international law relating to conflicts of law nor does it deal with the jurisdiction of Courts; provisions of the applicable law designated by rules of private international law must not restrict the freedom to provide information society services as established in this Directive.
(24) In the context of this Directive, notwithstanding the rule on the control at source of information society services, it is legitimate under the conditions established in this Directive for Member States to take measures to restrict the free movement of information society services.
(25) National courts, including civil courts, dealing with private law disputes can take measures to derogate from the freedom to provide information society services in conformity with conditions established in this Directive.
(26) Member States, in conformity with conditions established in this Directive, may apply their national rules on criminal law and criminal proceedings with a view to taking all investigative and other measures necessary for the detection and prosecution of criminal offences, without there being a need to notify such measures to the Commission.
(27) This Directive, together with the future Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services, contributes to the creating of a legal framework for the on-line provision of financial services; this Directive does not pre-empt future initiatives in the area of financial services in particular with regard to the harmonisation of rules of conduct in this field; the possibility for Member States, established in this Directive, under certain circumstances of restricting the freedom to provide information society services in order to protect consumers also covers measures in the area of financial services in particular measures aiming at protecting investors.
(28) The Member States' obligation not to subject access to the activity of an information society service provider to prior authorisation does not concern postal services covered by Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service(23) consisting of the physical delivery of a printed electronic mail message and does not affect voluntary accreditation systems, in particular for providers of electronic signature certification service.
(29) Commercial communications are essential for the financing of information society services and for developing a wide variety of new, charge-free services; in the interests of consumer protection and fair trading, commercial communications, including discounts, promotional offers and promotional competitions or games, must meet a number of transparency requirements; these requirements are without prejudice to Directive 97/7/EC; this Directive should not affect existing Directives on commercial communications, in particular Directive 98/43/EC.
(30) The sending of unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail may be undesirable for consumers and information society service providers and may disrupt the smooth functioning of interactive networks; the question of consent by recipient of certain forms of unsolicited commercial communications is not addressed by this Directive, but has already been addressed, in particular, by Directive 97/7/EC and by Directive 97/66/EC; in Member States which authorise unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail, the setting up of appropriate industry filtering initiatives should be encouraged and facilitated; in addition it is necessary that in any event unsolicited commercial communities are clearly identifiable as such in order to improve transparency and to facilitate the functioning of such industry initiatives; unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail should not result in additional communication costs for the recipient.
(31) Member States which allow the sending of unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail without prior consent of the recipient by service providers established in their territory have to ensure that the service providers consult regularly and respect the opt-out registers in which natural persons not wishing to receive such commercial communications can register themselves.
(32) In order to remove barriers to the development of cross-border services within the Community which members of the regulated professions might offer on the Internet, it is necessary that compliance be guaranteed at Community level with professional rules aiming, in particular, to protect consumers or public health; codes of conduct at Community level would be the best means of determining the rules on professional ethics applicable to commercial communication; the drawing-up or, where appropriate, the adaptation of such rules should be encouraged without prejudice to the autonomy of professional bodies and associations.
(33) This Directive complements Community law and national law relating to regulated professions maintaining a coherent set of applicable rules in this field.
(34) Each Member State is to amend its legislation containing requirements, and in particular requirements as to form, which are likely to curb the use of contracts by electronic means; the examination of the legislation requiring such adjustment should be systematic and should cover all the necessary stages and acts of the contractual process, including the filing of the contract; the result of this amendment should be to make contracts concluded electronically workable; the legal effect of electronic signatures is dealt with by Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures(24); the acknowledgement of receipt by a service provider may take the form of the on-line provision of the service paid for.
(35) This Directive does not affect Member States' possibility of maintaining or establishing general or specific legal requirements for contracts which can be fulfilled by electronic means, in particular requirements concerning secure electronic signatures.
(36) Member States may maintain restrictions for the use of electronic contracts with regard to contracts requiring by law the involvement of courts, public authorities, or professions exercising public authority; this possibility also covers contracts which require the involvement of courts, public authorities, or professions exercising public authority in order to have an effect with regard to third parties as well as contracts requiring by law certification or attestation by a notary.
(37) Member States' obligation to remove obstacles to the use of electronic contracts concerns only obstacles resulting from legal requirements and not practical obstacles resulting from the impossibility of using electronic means in certain cases.
(38) Member States' obligation to remove obstacles to the use of electronic contracts is to be implemented in conformity with legal requirements for contracts enshrined in Community law.
(39) The exceptions to the provisions concerning the contracts concluded exclusively by electronic mail or by equivalent individual communications provided for by this Directive, in relation to information to be provided and the placing of orders, should not enable, as a result, the by-passing of those provisions by providers of information society services.
(40) Both existing and emerging disparities in Member States' legislation and case-law concerning liability of service providers acting as intermediaries prevent the smooth functioning of the internal market, in particular by impairing the development of cross-border services and producing distortions of competition; service providers have a duty to act, under certain circumstances, with a view to preventing or stopping illegal activities; this Directive should constitute the appropriate basis for the development of rapid and reliable procedures for removing and disabling access to illegal information; such mechanisms could be developed on the basis of voluntary agreements between all parties concerned and should be encouraged by Member States; it is in the interest of all parties involved in the provision of information society services to adopt and implement such procedures; the provisions of this Directive relating to liability should not preclude the development and effective operation, by the different interested parties, of technical systems of protection and identification and of technical surveillance instruments made possible by digital technology within the limits laid down by Directives 95/46/EC and 97/66/EC.
(41) This Directive strikes a balance between the different interests at stake and establishes principles upon which industry agreements and standards can be based.
(42) The exemptions from liability established in this Directive cover only cases where the activity of the information society service provider is limited to the technical process of operating and giving access to a communication network over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored, for the sole purpose of making the transmission more efficient; this activity is of a mere technical, automatic and passive nature, which implies that the information society service provider has neither knowledge of nor control over the information which is transmitted or stored.
(43) A service provider can benefit from the exemptions for "mere conduit" and for "caching" when he is in no way involved with the information transmitted; this requires among other things that he does not modify the information that he transmits; this requirement does not cover manipulations of a technical nature which take place in the course of the transmission as they do not alter the integrity of the information contained in the transmission.
(44) A service provider who deliberately collaborates with one of the recipients of his service in order to undertake illegal acts goes beyond the activities of "mere conduit" or "caching" and as a result cannot benefit from the liability exemptions established for these activities.
(45) The limitations of the liability of intermediary service providers established in this Directive do not affect the possibility of injunctions of different kinds; such injunctions can in particular consist of orders by courts or administrative authorities requiring the termination or prevention of any infringement, including the removal of illegal information or the disabling of access to it.
(46) In order to benefit from a limitation of liability, the provider of an information society service, consisting of the storage of information, upon obtaining actual knowledge or awareness of illegal activities has to act expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information concerned; the removal or disabling of access has to be undertaken in the observance of the principle of freedom of expression and of procedures established for this purpose at national level; this Directive does not affect Member States' possibility of establishing specific requirements which must be fulfilled expeditiously prior to the removal or disabling of information.
(47) Member States are prevented from imposing a monitoring obligation on service providers only with respect to obligations of a general nature; this does not concern monitoring obligations in a specific case and, in particular, does not affect orders by national authorities in accordance with national legislation.
(48) This Directive does not affect the possibility for Member States of requiring service providers, who host information provided by recipients of their service, to apply duties of care, which can reasonably be expected from them and which are specified by national law, in order to detect and prevent certain types of illegal activities.
(49) Member States and the Commission are to encourage the drawing-up of codes of conduct; this is not to impair the voluntary nature of such codes and the possibility for interested parties of deciding freely whether to adhere to such codes.
(50) It is important that the proposed directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society and this Directive come into force within a similar time scale with a view to establishing a clear framework of rules relevant to the issue of liability of intermediaries for copyright and relating rights infringements at Community level.
(51) Each Member State should be required, where necessary, to amend any legislation which is liable to hamper the use of schemes for the out-of-court settlement of disputes through electronic channels; the result of this amendment must be to make the functioning of such schemes genuinely and effectively possible in law and in practice, even across borders.
(52) The effective exercise of the freedoms of the internal market makes it necessary to guarantee victims effective access to means of settling disputes; damage which may arise in connection with information society services is characterised both by its rapidity and by its geographical extent; in view of this specific character and the need to ensure that national authorities do not endanger the mutual confidence which they should have in one another, this Directive requests Member States to ensure that appropriate court actions are available; Member States should examine the need to provide access to judicial procedures by appropriate electronic means.
(53) Directive 98/27/EC, which is applicable to information society services, provides a mechanism relating to actions for an injunction aimed at the protection of the collective interests of consumers; this mechanism will contribute to the free movement of information society services by ensuring a high level of consumer protection.
(54) The sanctions provided for under this Directive are without prejudice to any other sanction or remedy provided under national law; Member States are not obliged to provide criminal sanctions for infringement of national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive.
(55) This Directive does not affect the law applicable to contractual obligations relating to consumer contracts; accordingly, this Directive cannot have the result of depriving the consumer of the protection afforded to him by the mandatory rules relating to contractual obligations of the law of the Member State in which he has his habitual residence.
(56) As regards the derogation contained in this Directive regarding contractual obligations concerning contracts concluded by consumers, those obligations should be interpreted as including information on the essential elements of the content of the contract, including consumer rights, which have a determining influence on the decision to contract.
(57) The Court of Justice has consistently held that a Member State retains the right to take measures against a service provider that is established in another Member State but directs all or most of his activity to the territory of the first Member State if the choice of establishment was made with a view to evading the legislation that would have applied to the provider had he been established on the territory of the first Member State.
(58) This Directive should not apply to services supplied by service providers established in a third country; in view of the global dimension of electronic commerce, it is, however, appropriate to ensure that the Community rules are consistent with international rules; this Directive is without prejudice to the results of discussions within international organisations (amongst others WTO, OECD, Uncitral) on legal issues.
(59) Despite the global nature of electronic communications, coordination of national regulatory measures at European Union level is necessary in order to avoid fragmentation of the internal market, and for the establishment of an appropriate European regulatory framework; such coordination should also contribute to the establishment of a common and strong negotiating position in international forums.
(60) In order to allow the unhampered development of electronic commerce, the legal framework must be clear and simple, predictable and consistent with the rules applicable at international level so that it does not adversely affect the competitiveness of European industry or impede innovation in that sector.
(61) If the market is actually to operate by electronic means in the context of globalisation, the European Union and the major non-European areas need to consult each other with a view to making laws and procedures compatible.
(62) Cooperation with third countries should be strengthened in the area of electronic commerce, in particular with applicant countries, the developing countries and the European Union's other trading partners.
(63) The adoption of this Directive will not prevent the Member States from taking into account the various social, societal and cultural implications which are inherent in the advent of the information society; in particular it should not hinder measures which Member States might adopt in conformity with Community law to achieve social, cultural and democratic goals taking into account their linguistic diversity, national and regional specificities as well as their cultural heritage, and to ensure and maintain public access to the widest possible range of information society services; in any case, the development of the information society is to ensure that Community citizens can have access to the cultural European heritage provided in the digital environment.
(64) Electronic communication offers the Member States an excellent means of providing public services in the cultural, educational and linguistic fields.
(65) The Council, in its resolution of 19 January 1999 on the consumer dimension of the information society(25), stressed that the protection of consumers deserved special attention in this field; the Commission will examine the degree to which existing consumer protection rules provide insufficient protection in the context of the information society and will identify, where necessary, the deficiencies of this legislation and those issues which could require additional measures; if need be, the Commission should make specific additional proposals to resolve such deficiencies that will thereby have been identified,
HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:
CHAPTER I
GENERAL PROVISIONS
Article 1
Objective and scope
1. This Directive seeks to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market by ensuring the free movement of information society services between the Member States.
2. This Directive approximates, to the extent necessary for the achievement of the objective set out in paragraph 1, certain national provisions on information society services relating to the internal market, the establishment of service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts, the liability of intermediaries, codes of conduct, out-of-court dispute settlements, court actions and cooperation between Member States.
3. This Directive complements Community law applicable to information society services without prejudice to the level of protection for, in particular, public health and consumer interests, as established by Community acts and national legislation implementing them in so far as this does not restrict the freedom to provide information society services.
4. This Directive does not establish additional rules on private international law nor does it deal with the jurisdiction of Courts.
5. This Directive shall not apply to:
(a) the field of taxation;
(b) questions relating to information society services covered by Directives 95/46/EC and 97/66/EC;
(c) questions relating to agreements or practices governed by cartel law;
(d) the following activities of information society services:
- the activities of notaries or equivalent professions to the extent that they involve a direct and specific connection with the exercise of public authority,
- the representation of a client and defence of his interests before the courts,
- gambling activities which involve wagering a stake with monetary value in games of chance, including lotteries and betting transactions.
6. This Directive does not affect measures taken at Community or national level, in the respect of Community law, in order to promote cultural and linguistic diversity and to ensure the defence of pluralism.
Article 2
Definitions
For the purpose of this Directive, the following terms shall bear the following meanings:
(a) "information society services": services within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Directive 98/34/EC as amended by Directive 98/48/EC;
(b) "service provider": any natural or legal person providing an information society service;
(c) "established service provider": a service provider who effectively pursues an economic activity using a fixed establishment for an indefinite period. The presence and use of the technical means and technologies required to provide the service do not, in themselves, constitute an establishment of the provider;
(d) "recipient of the service": any natural or legal person who, for professional ends or otherwise, uses an information society service, in particular for the purposes of seeking information or making it accessible;
(e) "consumer": any natural person who is acting for purposes which are outside his or her trade, business or profession;
(f) "commercial communication": any form of communication designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of a company, organisation or person pursuing a commercial, industrial or craft activity or exercising a regulated profession. The following do not in themselves constitute commercial communications:
- information allowing direct access to the activity of the company, organisation or person, in particular a domain name or an electronic-mail address,
- communications relating to the goods, services or image of the company, organisation or person compiled in an independent manner, particularly when this is without financial consideration;
(g) "regulated profession": any profession within the meaning of either Article 1(d) of Council Directive 89/48/EEC of 21 December 1988 on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three-years' duration(26) or of Article 1(f) of Council Directive 92/51/EEC of 18 June 1992 on a second general system for the recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC(27);
(h) "coordinated field": requirements laid down in Member States' legal systems applicable to information society service providers or information society services, regardless of whether they are of a general nature or specifically designed for them.
(i) The coordinated field concerns requirements with which the service provider has to comply in respect of:
- the taking up of the activity of an information society service, such as requirements concerning qualifications, authorisation or notification,
- the pursuit of the activity of an information society service, such as requirements concerning the behaviour of the service provider, requirements regarding the quality or content of the service including those applicable to advertising and contracts, or requirements concerning the liability of the service provider;
(ii) The coordinated field does not cover requirements such as:
- requirements applicable to goods as such,
- requirements applicable to the delivery of goods,
- requirements applicable to services not provided by electronic means.
Article 3
Internal market
1. Each Member State shall ensure that the information society services provided by a service provider established on its territory comply with the national provisions applicable in the Member State in question which fall within the coordinated field.
2. Member States may not, for reasons falling within the coordinated field, restrict the freedom to provide information society services from another Member State.
3. Paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not apply to the fields referred to in the Annex.
4. Member States may take measures to derogate from paragraph 2 in respect of a given information society service if the following conditions are fulfilled:
(a) the measures shall be:
(i) necessary for one of the following reasons:
- public policy, in particular the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences, including the protection of minors and the fight against any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality, and violations of human dignity concerning individual persons,
- the protection of public health,
- public security, including the safeguarding of national security and defence,
- the protection of consumers, including investors;
(ii) taken against a given information society service which prejudices the objectives referred to in point (i) or which presents a serious and grave risk of prejudice to those objectives;
(iii) proportionate to those objectives;
(b) before taking the measures in question and without prejudice to court proceedings, including preliminary proceedings and acts carried out in the framework of a criminal investigation, the Member State has:
- asked the Member State referred to in paragraph 1 to take measures and the latter did not take such measures, or they were inadequate,
- notified the Commission and the Member State referred to in paragraph 1 of its intention to take such measures.
5. Member States may, in the case of urgency, derogate from the conditions stipulated in paragraph 4(b). Where this is the case, the measures shall be notified in the shortest possible time to the Commission and to the Member State referred to in paragraph 1, indicating the reasons for which the Member State considers that there is urgency.
6. Without prejudice to the Member State's possibility of proceeding with the measures in question, the Commission shall examine the compatibility of the notified measures with Community law in the shortest possible time; where it comes to the conclusion that the measure is incompatible with Community law, the Commission shall ask the Member State in question to refrain from taking any proposed measures or urgently to put an end to the measures in question.
CHAPTER II
PRINCIPLES
Section 1: Establishment and information requirements
Article 4
Principle excluding prior authorisation
1. Member States shall ensure that the taking up and pursuit of the activity of an information society service provider may not be made subject to prior authorisation or any other requirement having equivalent effect.
2. Paragraph 1 shall be without prejudice to authorisation schemes which are not specifically and exclusively targeted at information society services, or which are covered by Directive 97/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 April 1997 on a common framework for general authorisations and individual licences in the field of telecommunications services(28).
Article 5
General information to be provided
1. In addition to other information requirements established by Community law, Member States shall ensure that the service provider shall render easily, directly and permanently accessible to the recipients of the service and competent authorities, at least the following information:
(a) the name of the service provider;
(b) the geographic address at which the service provider is established;
(c) the details of the service provider, including his electronic mail address, which allow him to be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner;
(d) where the service provider is registered in a trade or similar public register, the trade register in which the service provider is entered and his registration number, or equivalent means of identification in that register;
(e) where the activity is subject to an authorisation scheme, the particulars of the relevant supervisory authority;
(f) as concerns the regulated professions:
- any professional body or similar institution with which the service provider is registered,
- the professional title and the Member State where it has been granted,
- a reference to the applicable professional rules in the Member State of establishment and the means to access them;
(g) where the service provider undertakes an activity that is subject to VAT, the identification number referred to in Article 22(1) of the sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC of 17 May 1977 on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes - Common system of value added tax: uniform basis of assessment(29).
2. In addition to other information requirements established by Community law, Member States shall at least ensure that, where information society services refer to prices, these are to be indicated clearly and unambiguously and, in particular, must indicate whether they are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.
Section 2: Commercial communications
Article 6
Information to be provided
In addition to other information requirements established by Community law, Member States shall ensure that commercial communications which are part of, or constitute, an information society service comply at least with the following conditions:
(a) the commercial communication shall be clearly identifiable as such;
(b) the natural or legal person on whose behalf the commercial communication is made shall be clearly identifiable;
(c) promotional offers, such as discounts, premiums and gifts, where permitted in the Member State where the service provider is established, shall be clearly identifiable as such, and the conditions which are to be met to qualify for them shall be easily accessible and be presented clearly and unambiguously;
(d) promotional competitions or games, where permitted in the Member State where the service provider is established, shall be clearly identifiable as such, and the conditions for participation shall be easily accessible and be presented clearly and unambiguously.
Article 7
Unsolicited commercial communication
1. In addition to other requirements established by Community law, Member States which permit unsolicited commercial communication by electronic mail shall ensure that such commercial communication by a service provider established in their territory shall be identifiable clearly and unambiguously as such as soon as it is received by the recipient.
2. Without prejudice to Directive 97/7/EC and Directive 97/66/EC, Member States shall take measures to ensure that service providers undertaking unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail consult regularly and respect the opt-out registers in which natural persons not wishing to receive such commercial communications can register themselves.
Article 8
Regulated professions
1. Member States shall ensure that the use of commercial communications which are part of, or constitute, an information society service provided by a member of a regulated profession is permitted subject to compliance with the professional rules regarding, in particular, the independence, dignity and honour of the profession, professional secrecy and fairness towards clients and other members of the profession.
2. Without prejudice to the autonomy of professional bodies and associations, Member States and the Commission shall encourage professional associations and bodies to establish codes of conduct at Community level in order to determine the types of information that can be given for the purposes of commercial communication in conformity with the rules referred to in paragraph 1
3. When drawing up proposals for Community initiatives which may become necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal Market with regard to the information referred to in paragraph 2, the Commission shall take due account of codes of conduct applicable at Community level and shall act in close cooperation with the relevant professional associations and bodies.
4. This Directive shall apply in addition to Community Directives concerning access to, and the exercise of, activities of the regulated professions.
Section 3: Contracts concluded by electronic means
Article 9
Treatment of contracts
1. Member States shall ensure that their legal system allows contracts to be concluded by electronic means. Member States shall in particular ensure that the legal requirements applicable to the contractual process neither create obstacles for the use of electronic contracts nor result in such contracts being deprived of legal effectiveness and validity on account of their having been made by electronic means.
2. Member States may lay down that paragraph 1 shall not apply to all or certain contracts falling into one of the following categories:
(a) contracts that create or transfer rights in real estate, except for rental rights;
(b) contracts requiring by law the involvement of courts, public authorities or professions exercising public authority;
(c) contracts of suretyship granted and on collateral securities furnished by persons acting for purposes outside their trade, business or profession;
(d) contracts governed by family law or by the law of succession.
3. Member States shall indicate to the Commission the categories referred to in paragraph 2 to which they do not apply paragraph 1. Member States shall submit to the Commission every five years a report on the application of paragraph 2 explaining the reasons why they consider it necessary to maintain the category referred to in paragraph 2(b) to which they do not apply paragraph 1.
Article 10
Information to be provided
1. In addition to other information requirements established by Community law, Member States shall ensure, except when otherwise agreed by parties who are not consumers, that at least the following information is given by the service provider clearly, comprehensibly and unambiguously and prior to the order being placed by the recipient of the service:
(a) the different technical steps to follow to conclude the contract;
(b) whether or not the concluded contract will be filed by the service provider and whether it will be accessible;
(c) the technical means for identifying and correcting input errors prior to the placing of the order;
(d) the languages offered for the conclusion of the contract.
2. Member States shall ensure that, except when otherwise agreed by parties who are not consumers, the service provider indicates any relevant codes of conduct to which he subscribes and information on how those codes can be consulted electronically.
3. Contract terms and general conditions provided to the recipient must be made available in a way that allows him to store and reproduce them.
4. Paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not apply to contracts concluded exclusively by exchange of electronic mail or by equivalent individual communications.
Article 11
Placing of the order
1. Member States shall ensure, except when otherwise agreed by parties who are not consumers, that in cases where the recipient of the service places his order through technological means, the following principles apply:
- the service provider has to acknowledge the receipt of the recipient's order without undue delay and by electronic means,
- the order and the acknowledgement of receipt are deemed to be received when the parties to whom they are addressed are able to access them.
2. Member States shall ensure that, except when otherwise agreed by parties who are not consumers, the service provider makes available to the recipient of the service appropriate, effective and accessible technical means allowing him to identify and correct input errors, prior to the placing of the order.
3. Paragraph 1, first indent, and paragraph 2 shall not apply to contracts concluded exclusively by exchange of electronic mail or by equivalent individual communications.
Section 4: Liability of intermediary service providers
Article 12
"Mere conduit"
1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, or the provision of access to a communication network, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information transmitted, on condition that the provider:
(a) does not initiate the transmission;
(b) does not select the receiver of the transmission; and
(c) does not select or modify the information contained in the transmission.
2. The acts of transmission and of provision of access referred to in paragraph 1 include the automatic, intermediate and transient storage of the information transmitted in so far as this takes place for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission in the communication network, and provided that the information is not stored for any period longer than is reasonably necessary for the transmission.
3. This Article shall not affect the possibility for a court or administrative authority, in accordance with Member States' legal systems, of requiring the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement.
Article 13
"Caching"
1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the automatic, intermediate and temporary storage of that information, performed for the sole purpose of making more efficient the information's onward transmission to other recipients of the service upon their request, on condition that:
(a) the provider does not modify the information;
(b) the provider complies with conditions on access to the information;
(c) the provider complies with rules regarding the updating of the information, specified in a manner widely recognised and used by industry;
(d) the provider does not interfere with the lawful use of technology, widely recognised and used by industry, to obtain data on the use of the information; and
(e) the provider acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information it has stored upon obtaining actual knowledge of the fact that the information at the initial source of the transmission has been removed from the network, or access to it has been disabled, or that a court or an administrative authority has ordered such removal or disablement.
2. This Article shall not affect the possibility for a court or administrative authority, in accordance with Member States' legal systems, of requiring the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement.
Article 14
Hosting
1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the storage of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, on condition that:
(a) the provider does not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information and, as regards claims for damages, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which the illegal activity or information is apparent; or
(b) the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information.
2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply when the recipient of the service is acting under the authority or the control of the provider.
3. This Article shall not affect the possibility for a court or administrative authority, in accordance with Member States' legal systems, of requiring the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement, nor does it affect the possibility for Member States of establishing procedures governing the removal or disabling of access to information.
Article 15
No general obligation to monitor
1. Member States shall not impose a general obligation on providers, when providing the services covered by Articles 12, 13 and 14, to monitor the information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively to seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity.
2. Member States may establish obligations for information society service providers promptly to inform the competent public authorities of alleged illegal activities undertaken or information provided by recipients of their service or obligations to communicate to the competent authorities, at their request, information enabling the identification of recipients of their service with whom they have storage agreements.
CHAPTER III
IMPLEMENTATION
Article 16
Codes of conduct
1. Member States and the Commission shall encourage:
(a) the drawing up of codes of conduct at Community level, by trade, professional and consumer associations or organisations, designed to contribute to the proper implementation of Articles 5 to 15;
(b) the voluntary transmission of draft codes of conduct at national or Community level to the Commission;
(c) the accessibility of these codes of conduct in the Community languages by electronic means;
(d) the communication to the Member States and the Commission, by trade, professional and consumer associations or organisations, of their assessment of the application of their codes of conduct and their impact upon practices, habits or customs relating to electronic commerce;
(e) the drawing up of codes of conduct regarding the protection of minors and human dignity.
2. Member States and the Commission shall encourage the involvement of associations or organisations representing consumers in the drafting and implementation of codes of conduct affecting their interests and drawn up in accordance with paragraph 1(a). Where appropriate, to take account of their specific needs, associations representing the visually impaired and disabled should be consulted.
Article 17
Out-of-court dispute settlement
1. Member States shall ensure that, in the event of disagreement between an information society service provider and the recipient of the service, their legislation does not hamper the use of out-of-court schemes, available under national law, for dispute settlement, including appropriate electronic means.
2. Member States shall encourage bodies responsible for the out-of-court settlement of, in particular, consumer disputes to operate in a way which provides adequate procedural guarantees for the parties concerned.
3. Member States shall encourage bodies responsible for out-of-court dispute settlement to inform the Commission of the significant decisions they take regarding information society services and to transmit any other information on the practices, usages or customs relating to electronic commerce.
Article 18
Court actions
1. Member States shall ensure that court actions available under national law concerning information society services' activities allow for the rapid adoption of measures, including interim measures, designed to terminate any alleged infringement and to prevent any further impairment of the interests involved.
2. The Annex to Directive 98/27/EC shall be supplemented as follows:
"11. Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects on information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market (Directive on electronic commerce) (OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1)."
Article 19
Cooperation
1. Member States shall have adequate means of supervision and investigation necessary to implement this Directive effectively and shall ensure that service providers supply them with the requisite information.
2. Member States shall cooperate with other Member States; they shall, to that end, appoint one or several contact points, whose details they shall communicate to the other Member States and to the Commission.
3. Member States shall, as quickly as possible, and in conformity with national law, provide the assistance and information requested by other Member States or by the Commission, including by appropriate electronic means.
4. Member States shall establish contact points which shall be accessible at least by electronic means and from which recipients and service providers may:
(a) obtain general information on contractual rights and obligations as well as on the complaint and redress mechanisms available in the event of disputes, including practical aspects involved in the use of such mechanisms;
(b) obtain the details of authorities, associations or organisations from which they may obtain further information or practical assistance.
5. Member States shall encourage the communication to the Commission of any significant administrative or judicial decisions taken in their territory regarding disputes relating to information society services and practices, usages and customs relating to electronic commerce. The Commission shall communicate these decisions to the other Member States.
Article 20
Sanctions
Member States shall determine the sanctions applicable to infringements of national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are enforced. The sanctions they provide for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
CHAPTER IV
FINAL PROVISIONS
Article 21
Re-examination
1. Before 17 July 2003, and thereafter every two years, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee a report on the application of this Directive, accompanied, where necessary, by proposals for adapting it to legal, technical and economic developments in the field of information society services, in particular with respect to crime prevention, the protection of minors, consumer protection and to the proper functioning of the internal market.
2. In examining the need for an adaptation of this Directive, the report shall in particular analyse the need for proposals concerning the liability of providers of hyperlinks and location tool services, "notice and take down" procedures and the attribution of liability following the taking down of content. The report shall also analyse the need for additional conditions for the exemption from liability, provided for in Articles 12 and 13, in the light of technical developments, and the possibility of applying the internal market principles to unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail.
Article 22
Transposition
1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive before 17 January 2002. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.
2. When Member States adopt the measures referred to in paragraph 1, these shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such reference at the time of their official publication. The methods of making such reference shall be laid down by Member States.
Article 23
Entry into force
This Directive shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
Article 24
Addressees
This Directive is addressed to the Member States.
Done at Luxemburg, 8 June 2000.
For the European Parliament
The President
N. Fontaine
For the Council
The President
G. d'Oliveira Martins
(1) OJ C 30, 5.2.1999, p. 4.
(2) OJ C 169, 16.6.1999, p. 36.
(3) Opinion of the European Parliament of 6 May 1999 (OJ C 279, 1.10.1999, p. 389), Council common position of 28 February 2000 (OJ C 128, 8.5.2000, p. 32) and Decision of the European Parliament of 4 May 2000 (not yet published in the Official Journal).
(4) OJ L 298, 17.10.1989, p. 23. Directive as amended by Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 202, 30.7.1997, p. 60).
(5) OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29.
(6) OJ L 144, 4.6.1999, p. 19.
(7) OJ L 250, 19.9.1984, p. 17. Directive as amended by Directive 97/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 290, 23.10.1997, p. 18).
(8) OJ L 42, 12.2.1987, p. 48. Directive as last amended by Directive 98/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 101, 1.4.1998, p. 17).
(9) OJ L 141, 11.6.1993, p. 27. Directive as last amended by Directive 97/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 84, 26.3.1997, p. 22).
(10) OJ L 158, 23.6.1990, p. 59.
(11) OJ L 80, 18.3.1998, p. 27.
(12) OJ L 228, 11.8.1992, p. 24.
(13) OJ L 280, 29.10.1994, p. 83.
(14) OJ L 166, 11.6.1998, p. 51. Directive as amended by Directive 1999/44/EC (OJ L 171, 7.7.1999, p. 12).
(15) OJ L 210, 7.8.1985, p. 29. Directive as amended by Directive 1999/34/EC (OJ L 141, 4.6.1999, p. 20).
(16) OJ L 171, 7.7.1999, p. 12.
(17) OJ L 113, 30.4.1992, p. 13.
(18) OJ L 213, 30.7.1998, p. 9.
(19) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(20) OJ L 24, 30.1.1998, p. 1.
(21) OJ L 204, 21.7.1998, p. 37. Directive as amended by Directive 98/48/EC (OJ L 217, 5.8.1998, p. 18).
(22) OJ L 320, 28.11.1998, p. 54.
(23) OJ L 15, 21.1.1998, p. 14.
(24) OJ L 13, 19.1.2000, p. 12.
(25) OJ C 23, 28.1.1999, p. 1.
(26) OJ L 19, 24.1.1989, p. 16.
(27) OJ L 209, 24.7.1992, p. 25. Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 97/38/EC (OJ L 184, 12.7.1997, p. 31).
(28) OJ L 117, 7.5.1997, p. 15.
(29) OJ L 145, 13.6.1977, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 1999/85/EC (OJ L 277, 28.10.1999, p. 34).
ANNEX
DEROGATIONS FROM ARTICLE 3
As provided for in Article 3(3), Article 3(1) and (2) do not apply to:
- copyright, neighbouring rights, rights referred to in Directive 87/54/EEC(1) and Directive 96/9/EC(2) as well as industrial property rights,
- the emission of electronic money by institutions in respect of which Member States have applied one of the derogations provided for in Article 8(1) of Directive 2000/46/EC(3),
- Article 44(2) of Directive 85/611/EEC(4),
- Article 30 and Title IV of Directive 92/49/EEC(5), Title IV of Directive 92/96/EEC(6), Articles 7 and 8 of Directive 88/357/EEC(7) and Article 4 of Directive 90/619/EEC(8),
- the freedom of the parties to choose the law applicable to their contract,
- contractual obligations concerning consumer contacts,
- formal validity of contracts creating or transferring rights in real estate where such contracts are subject to mandatory formal requirements of the law of the Member State where the real estate is situated,
- the permissibility of unsolicited commercial communications by electronic mail.
(1) OJ L 24, 27.1.1987, p. 36.
(2) OJ L 77, 27.3.1996, p. 20.
(3) Not yet published in the Official Journal.
(4) OJ L 375, 31.12.1985, p. 3. Directive as last amended by Directive 95/26/EC (OJ L 168, 18.7.1995, p. 7).
(5) OJ L 228, 11.8.1992, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 95/26/EC.
(6) OJ L 360, 9.12.1992, p. 2. Directive as last amended by Directive 95/26/EC.
(7) OJ L 172, 4.7.1988, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 92/49/EC.
(8) OJ L 330, 29.11.1990, p. 50. Directive as last amended by Directive 92/96/EC.
FACEBOOOK LIABILITY-Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:16
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (a common name for Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) is a landmark piece of Internet legislation in the United States, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 230. Section 230(c)(1) provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an "interactive computer service" who publish information provided by others:
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:
The defendant must be a "provider or user" of an "interactive computer service."The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must "treat" the defendant "as the publisher or speaker" of the harmful information at issue.The information must be "provided by another information content provider," i.e., the defendant must not be the "information content provider" of the harmful information at issue.History[edit]Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was not part of the original Senate legislation, but was added in conference with the House of Representatives, where it had been separately introduced by RepresentativesChristopher Cox (R-CA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) as the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act and passed by a near-unanimous vote on the floor.[citation needed] Unlike the more controversial anti-indecency provisions which were later ruled unconstitutional, [1] this portion of the Act remains in force and allows ISPs and other service providers to restrict customers' actions without fear of being found legally liable for the actions that are allowed. The act was passed in part in reaction to the 1995 decision in Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co.,[2] which suggested that service providers who assumed an editorial role with regard to customer content, thus became publishers, and legally responsible for libel and other torts committed by customers. This act was passed to specifically enhance service providers' ability to delete or otherwise monitor content without themselves becoming publishers. In Zeran v. America Online, Inc., the Court notes that "Congress enacted § 230 to remove the disincentives to self-regulation created by the Stratton Oakmont decision.[3] Under that court's holding, computer service providers who regulated the dissemination of offensive material on their services risked subjecting themselves to liability, because such regulation cast the service provider in the role of a publisher.[citation needed] Fearing that the specter of liability would therefore deter service providers from blocking and screening offensive material, Congress enacted § 230's broad immunity "to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material."[citation needed] In addition, Zeran notes "the amount of information communicated via interactive computer services is . . . staggering. The specter of tort liability in an area of such prolific speech would have an obviously chilling effect. It would be impossible for service providers to screen each of their millions of postings for possible problems. Faced with potential liability for each message republished by their services, interactive computer service providers might choose to severely restrict the number and type of messages posted. Congress considered the weight of the speech interests implicated and chose to immunize service providers to avoid any such restrictive effect."[citation needed]
Section 230's coverage is not complete: it excepts federal criminal liability and intellectual property law.[4] In Perfect 10, Inc. v. CCBill LLC,[5] the Court of Appeals ruled that the exception for intellectual property law applies only to federal intellectual property law, reversing a district court ruling that the exception applies to state right of publicity claims.[6] The Friendfinder court specifically discussed and rejected the Ninth Circuit's reading of "intellectual property law" in CCBill and held that the immunity does not reach state right of publicity claims.[7]
Controversy[edit]Section 230 is controversial with certain people[who?] because several courts have interpreted it as providing complete immunity for ISPs with regard to the torts committed by their users over their systems. See, e.g.,Zeran v. AOL, 129 F.3d 327, 330 (4th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937 (1998), which held that Section 230 ''creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service.'' This rule effectively protects online entities, including user-generated content websites, that qualify as a "provider or user" of an "interactive computer service." However some[who?] criticize Section 230 for leaving victims with no hope of relief where the true tortfeasors cannot be identified or are judgment proof. For example, the plaintiff in Zeran was allegedly defamed by an unidentified user of AOL's bulletin board, but was unable to bring suit against the original poster due to missing records. Since Section 230 barred Zeran from obtaining damages from AOL, he obtained no redress for the harms the messages caused, including death threats that required the involvement of the FBI.
Case law[edit]Defamatory information[edit]Immunity was upheld against claims that AOL unreasonably delayed in removing defamatory messages posted by third party, failed to post retractions, and failed to screen for similar postings.
Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44, 49-53 (D.D.C. 1998).[9]The court upheld AOL's immunity from liability for defamation. AOL's agreement with the contractor allowing AOL to modify or remove such content did not make AOL the "information content provider" because the content was created by an independent contractor. The Court noted that Congress made a policy choice by "providing immunity even where the interactive service provider has an active, even aggressive role in making available content prepared by others."
The court upheld immunity for an Internet dating service provider from liability stemming from third party's submission of a false profile. The plaintiff, Carafano, claimed the false profile defamed her, but because the content was created by a third party, the website was immune, even though it had provided multiple choice selections to aid profile creation.
Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).[11]Immunity was upheld for a website operator for distributing an email to a listserv where the plaintiff claimed the email was defamatory. Though there was a question as to whether the information provider intended to send the email to the listserv, the Court decided that for determining the liability of the service provider, "the focus should be not on the information provider's intentions or knowledge when transmitting content but, instead, on the service provider's or user's reasonable perception of those intentions or knowledge." The Court found immunity proper "under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the position of the service provider or user would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet or other 'interactive computer service'."
Green v. AOL, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003).[12]The court upheld immunity for AOL against allegations of negligence. Green claimed AOL failed to adequately police its services and allowed third parties to defame him and inflict intentional emotional distress. The court rejected these arguments because holding AOL negligent in promulgating harmful content would be equivalent to holding AOL "liable for decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network -- actions quintessentially related to a publisher's role."
Immunity was upheld for an individual internet user from liability for republication of defamatory statement on a listserv. The court found the defendant to be a "user of interactive computer services" and thus immune from liability for posting information passed to her by the author.
MCW, Inc. v. badbusinessbureau.com(RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC) 2004 WL 833595, No. Civ.A.3:02-CV-2727-G, (N.D. Tex. April 19, 2004).[14]The court rejected the defendant's motion to dismiss on the grounds of Section 230 immunity, ruling that the plaintiff's allegations that the defendants wrote disparaging report titles and headings, and themselves wrote disparaging editorial messages about the plaintiff, rendered them information content providers. The Web site, www.badbusinessbureau.com, allows users to upload "reports" containing complaints about businesses they have dealt with.
Hy Cite Corp. v. badbusinessbureau.com (RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC), 418 F. Supp. 2d 1142 (D. Ariz. 2005).[15]The court rejected immunity and found the defendant was an "information content provider" under Section 230 using much of the same reasoning as the MCW case.
False information[edit]Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 830 (2002).[16]eBay's immunity was upheld for claims based on forged autograph sports items purchased on the auction site.
Ben Ezra, Weinstein & Co. v. America Online, 206 F.3d 980, 984-985 (10th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 824 (2000).[17]Immunity for AOL was upheld against liability for a user's posting of incorrect stock information.
Immunity upheld against claims of fraud and money laundering. Google was not responsible for misleading advertising created by third parties who bought space on Google's pages. The court found the creative pleading of money laundering did not cause the case to fall into the crime exception to Section 230 immunity.
Immunity for Orbitz and CheapTickets was upheld for claims based on fraudulent ticket listings entered by third parties on ticket resale marketplaces.
Sexually explicit content and minors[edit]Doe v. America Online, 783 So. 2d 1010, 1013-1017 (Fl. 2001),[20] cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 208 (2000)The court upheld immunity against state claims of negligence based on "chat room marketing" of obscene photographs of minor by a third party.
Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore, 87 Cal. App. 4th 684, 692 (2001)[21]The California Court of Appeal upheld the immunity of a city from claims of waste of public funds, nuisance, premises liability, and denial of substantive due process. The plaintiff's child downloaded pornography from a public library's computers which did not restrict access to minors. The court found the library was not responsible for the content of the internet and explicitly found that section 230(c)(1) immunity covers governmental entities and taxpayer causes of action.
The court upheld immunity for a social networking site from negligence and gross negligence liability for failing to institute safety measures to protect minors and failure to institute policies relating to age verification. The Does' daughter had lied about her age and communicated over MySpace with a man who later sexually assaulted her. In the court's view, the Does' allegations, were "merely another way of claiming that MySpace was liable for publishing the communications."
The court upheld immunity for Craigslist against a county sheriff's claims that its ''erotic services'' section constituted a public nuisance because it caused or induced prostitution.
Discriminatory housing ads[edit]The court upheld immunity for Craigslist against Fair Housing Act claims based on discriminatory statements in postings on the classifieds website by third party users.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appealsrejected immunity for the Roommates.com roommate matching service for claims brought under the federal Fair Housing Act[26] and California housing discrimination laws.[27] The court concluded that the manner in which the service elicited information from users concerning their roommate preferences (by having dropdowns specifying gender, presence of children, and sexual orientation), and the manner in which it utilized that information in generating roommate matches (by eliminating profiles that did not match user specifications), the matching service created or developed the information claimed to violate the FHA, and thus was responsible for it as an "information content provider." The court upheld immunity for the descriptions posted by users in the ''Additional Comments'' section because these were entirely created by users.
Threats[edit]A California Appellate Court unanimously upheld immunity from state tort claims arising from an employee's use of the employer's e-mail system to send threatening messages. The court concluded that an employer that provides Internet access to its employees qualifies as a "provider . . . of an interactive service."
Legislation in other countries[edit]European Union[edit]Directive 2000/31/EC establishes a safe haven regime for hosting providers:
Article 14 establishes that hosting providers are not responsible for the content they host as long as (1) the acts in question are neutral intermediary acts of a mere technical, automatic and passive capacity; (2) they are not informed of its illegal character, and (3) they act promptly to remove or disable access to the material when informed of it.Article 15 precludes member states from imposing general obligations to monitor hosted content for potential illegal activities.Australia[edit]In Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick,[28] the High Court of Australia treated defamatory material on a server outside Australia as having been published in Australia when it is downloaded or read by someone in Australia.
Gorton v Australian Broadcasting Commission & Anor (1973) 1 ACTR 6
Under the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW),[29] s 32, a defence to defamation is that the defendant neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known of the defamation, and the lack of knowledge was not due to the defendant's negligence.
New Zealand[edit]Failing to investigate the material or to make inquiries of the user concerned may amount to negligence in this context: Jensen v Clark [1982] 2 NZLR 268.
France[edit]Directive 2000/31/CE was transposed into the LCEN law. Article 6 of the law establishes safe haven for hosting provider as long as they follow certain rules.
In LICRA vs. Yahoo!, the High Court ordered Yahoo! to take affirmative steps to filter out Nazi memorabilia from its auction site. Yahoo!, Inc. and its then president Timothy Koogle were also criminally charged, but acquitted.
Germany[edit]In 1997, Felix Somm, the former managing director for CompuServe Germany, was charged with violating German child pornographylaws because of the material CompuServe's network was carrying into Germany. He was convicted and sentenced to two years probation on May 28, 1998.[30] He was cleared on appeal on November 17, 1999.[31]
The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Cologne, an appellate court, found that an online auctioneer does not have an active duty to check for counterfeit goods (Az 6 U 12/01).[32]
In one example, the first-instance district court of Hamburg issued a temporary restraining order requiring message board operator Universal Boards to review all comments before they can be posted to prevent the publication of messages inciting others to download harmful files. The court reasoned that "the publishing house must be held liable for spreading such material in the forum, regardless of whether it was aware of the content." [33]
United Kingdom[edit]The laws of libel and defamation will treat a disseminator of information as having "published" material posted by a user and the onus will then be on a defendant to prove that it did not know the publication was defamatory and was not negligent in failing to know: Goldsmith v Sperrings Ltd (1977) 2 All ER 566; Vizetelly v Mudie's Select Library Ltd (1900) 2 QB 170; Emmens v Pottle & Ors (1885) 16 QBD 354;
References[edit]^Reno v. ACLU, 521 844, 885 (United States Supreme Court 1997).^Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., 31063/94, 1995 WL 323710, 1995 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 712 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995).^Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 331 (4th Cir. 1997)^47 U.S.C. §§ 230(e)(1) (criminal) and (e)(2) (intellectual property); see also Gucci America, Inc. v. Hall & Associates, 135 F. Supp. 2d 409 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (no immunity for contributory liability for trademark infringement).^481 F.3d 751 (9th Cir. Mar. 29, 2007; amended opinion issued May 31, 2007).^Cf. Carfano, 339 F.3d 1119 (dismissing, inter alia, right of publicity claim under Section 230 without discussion). But seeDoe v. Friendfinder Network, Inc., 540 F.Supp.2d 288 (D.N.H. 2008) (230 does not immunize against state IP claims, including right of publicity claims).^"Doe v Friendfinder". Harvard.edu. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2014. "United States District Court, D. New Hampshire. Jane DOE v. FRIENDFINDER NETWORK, INC. and Various, Inc. Civil No. 07-cv-286. Opinion No. 2008 DNH 058." ^Zeran v. AOL, 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997).^Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44, 49-53 (D.D.C. 1998).^Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, 339 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2003).^Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).^Green v. AOL, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003).^Barrett v. Rosenthal, 40 Cal. 4th 33 (2006).^MCW, Inc. v. badbusinessbureau.com, L.L.C. 2004 WL 833595, No. Civ.A.3:02-CV-2727-G, (N.D. Tex. April 19, 2004).^Hy Cite Corp. v. badbusinessbureau.com, 418 F. Supp. 2d 1142 (D. Ariz. 2005).^Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 830 (2002).^Ben Ezra, Weinstein & Co. v. America Online, 206 F.3d 980 (10th Cir. 2000).^Goddard v. Google, Inc., C 08-2738 JF (PVT), 2008 WL 5245490, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101890 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2008).^Milgram v. Orbitz Worldwide, LLC, ESX-C-142-09 (N.J. Super. Ct. Aug. 26, 2010).^Doe v. America Online, 783 So. 2d 1010 (Fl. 2001)^Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore, 87 Cal. App. 4th 684 (2001)^Doe v. MySpace, 528 F.3d 413 (5th Cir. 2008)^Dart v. Craigslist, 665 F. Supp. 2d 961 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2009).^Chicago Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. 519 F.3d 666 (7th Cir. 2008).^Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc).^42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).^Cal. Gov. Code § 12955.^Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick, Aust Torts Reports ¶81-682, (2003)^Defamation Act 2005^http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/fsomm.htmlhttp://www.kuner.com/data/reg/somm.html^http://www.digital-law.net/somm/commentary.htmlhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/524951.stm^http://www.heise.de/newsticker/BGH-Online-Auktionshaeuser-muessen-Angebote-von-Plagiaten-sperren--/meldung/45495^http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/67029External links[edit]
Facebook COO tells users she deliberately tried to upset: ''We never meant to upset you'' | PandoDaily
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:49
By Nathaniel MottOn July 2, 2014
I feel like we've written this since about 2007 or so, but Facebook really needs to work on its apologies.
In the company's first official statement after its terrifyingly unethical study on the emotional effect the News Feed can have on its users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg apologized for the way it communicated the research to the world. But she also defended the study as ''ongoing research companies do to test different products'' '-- which is pretty much the same sentiment that Facebook spokespeople and supporters have been expressing since the backlash began late last week.
''It was poorly communicated,'' Sandberg said. ''And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.''
Well, actually, in the case of a few hundred thousand users unwittingly included in the study, that's exactly what Facebook intended to do. As part of the study, 300,000 Facebook users had their News Feed changed to include more negative items, with the specific goal of upsetting them.
It's a classic example of a non-apology meant to placate consumers without Facebook accepting any responsibility for its actions.
The idea that Facebook was merely tweaking the News Feed to make it a better product is just ludicrous, as I wrote in a blog post countering that argument from the company's supporters:
The problem is that conflating Facebook's experiment with the changes tech companies make to countless other algorithms every day is a bit like saying that a doctor shoving poison pills down a person's throat is okay because other doctors were writing legitimate prescriptions at the same time. It's a willful misrepresentation of a disconcerting experiment that should be discussed instead of being accepted as part of the modern, algorithm-driven world in which we've decided to live.
This wasn't a simple tweak to News Feed's algorithms. It also wasn't an example of researchers using the data that companies like Facebook collect to improve their products or better serve advertisements. If the company had just given the researchers access to anonymized data that didn't result from a product change made specifically to have an emotional effect on its users, or if it had asked for consent before experimenting on them, things would be a little different.
Put another way: This wasn't analysis of existing data. I'm not suggesting that this study has made people more wary about the vast amounts of information companies like Facebook have amassed over the years. (They should be worried about that, but not because of this study.) It was a study in which Facebook had a hypothesis (that the News Feed can affect emotions) and a way to test it (changing the News Feed and seeing what happens). That is an experiment.
Facebook can't pretend that this was a test to improve News Feed. It can't claim that its users had given their permission to be experimented upon when they signed up for its service. And it can't even claim that it attempted to protect those users, as it didn't even bother to exclude minors from the study. This was an experiment designed to affect the emotions of hundreds of thousands of people without their consent with no regard for their wishes, ages, or histories.
That's what Sandberg should be apologizing for. Not for the way Facebook has talked about the study. Not for the fact that people are upset about knowing that the company manipulated their emotions without telling them. (It still hasn't told the affected users that their News Feed was changed as part of the experiment, by the way.) Not for gathering unfathomable amounts of data. For experimenting on people and allowing Facebook's culture of contempt to reach the point where it can't even admit to itself that this research was more than just a product tweak.
[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]
Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits - WSJ
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:29
Facebook operating chief Sheryl Sandberg says the company's experiment on user emotions was 'poorly communicated.'
Thousands of Facebook Inc. users received an unsettling message two years ago: They were being locked out of the social network because Facebook believed they were robots or using fake names. To get back in, the users had to prove they were real.
In fact, Facebook knew most of the users were legitimate. The message was a test designed to help improve Facebook's antifraud measures. In the end, no users lost access permanently.
The experiment was the work of Facebook's Data Science team, a group of about three dozen researchers with unique access to one of the world's richest data troves: the movements, musings and emotions of Facebook's 1.3 billion users.
The little-known group was thrust into the spotlight this week by reports about a 2012 experiment in which the news feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users were manipulated to show more positive or negative posts. The study found that users who saw more positive content were more likely to write positive posts, and vice versa.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Wednesday during a trip to India that the study was "part of ongoing research companies do to test different products" and was "poorly communicated."
The company said that after the feedback on the study, "We are taking a very hard look at this process to make more improvements."
Until recently, the Data Science group operated with few boundaries, according to a former member of the team and outside researchers. At a university, researchers likely would have been required to obtain consent from participants in such a study. But Facebook relied on users' agreement to its Terms of Service, which at the time said data could be used to improve Facebook's products. Those terms now say that user data may be used for research.
"There's no review process, per se," said Andrew Ledvina, a Facebook data scientist from February 2012 to July 2013. "Anyone on that team could run a test," Mr. Ledvina said. "They're always trying to alter peoples' behavior."
He recalled a minor experiment in which he and a product manager ran a test without telling anyone else at the company. Tests were run so often, he said, that some data scientists worried that the same users, who were anonymous, might be used in more than one experiment, tainting the results.
Facebook said that since the study on emotions, it has implemented stricter guidelines on Data Science team research. Since at least the beginning of this year, research beyond routine product testing is reviewed by a panel drawn from a group of 50 internal experts in fields such as privacy and data security. Facebook declined to name them.
Company research intended to be published in academic journals receives additional review from in-house experts on academic research. Some of those experts are also on the Data Science team, Facebook said, declining to name the members of that panel.
A spokesman said Facebook is considering additional changes.
Since its creation in 2007, Facebook's Data Science group has run hundreds of tests. One published study deconstructed how families communicate, another delved into the causes of loneliness. One test looked at how social behaviors spread through networks. In 2010, the group measured how "political mobilization messages" sent to 61 million people caused people in social networks to vote in the 2010 congressional elections.
Many of Facebook's data scientists hold doctoral degrees from major universities in fields including computer science, artificial intelligence and computational biology. Some worked in academic research before joining Facebook.
Adam Kramer, the lead author of the study about emotions, said in a 2012 interview on Facebook's website that he joined the company partly because it is "the largest field study in the history of the world." Mr. Kramer, who has a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Oregon, said that in academia he would have had to get papers published and then hope that someone noticed. At Facebook, "I just message someone on the right team and my research has an impact within weeks, if not days."
Much of Facebook's research is less controversial than the emotions study, testing features that will prompt users to spend more time on the network and click on more ads. Other Internet companies, including Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Google Inc., conduct research on their users and their data.
The recent ruckus is "a glimpse into a wide-ranging practice," said Kate Crawford, a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Civic Media and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research. Companies "really do see users as a willing experimental test bed" to be used at the companies' discretion.
Facebook's team has drawn particular interest because it occasionally publishes its work in academic journals that touch on users' personal lives, including the study about positive and negative posts.
"Facebook deserves a lot of credit for pushing as much research into the public domain as they do," said Clifford Lampe, an associate professor at the University of Michigan's School of Information who has worked on about 10 studies with Facebook researchers. If Facebook stopped publishing studies, he said, "It would be a real loss for science."
Dr. Lampe said he has been in touch with members of the Data Science team since the controversy erupted. "They've been listening to the arguments and they take them very seriously," he said.
Mr. Ledvina, the former Facebook data scientist, said some researchers debated the merits of a study similar to the one that accused users of being robots but there was no formal review, and none of the users in the study were notified that it was an experiment.
"I'm sure some people got very angry somewhere," he said. "Internally, you get a little desensitized to it."
Write to Reed Albergotti at reed.albergotti@wsj.com
Sandberg: Facebook Study Was 'Poorly Communicated' - Digits - WSJ
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:36
Facebook 's psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 unwitting users was communicated ''poorly,'' Sheryl Sandberg, the company's No. 2 executive, said Wednesday.
It was the first public comment on the study by a Facebook executive since the furor erupted in social-media circles over the weekend.
''This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,'' Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said while in New Delhi. ''And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.''
Sandberg was in India meeting with smaller-sized businesses that advertise on Facebook. The company is working with advertisers outside the U.S. to launch campaigns that are more tailored to local markets. She was meeting with entrepreneurs and businesswomen as part of her ''Lean In'' campaign when she commented on the study.
The uproar centered on Facebook's one-week experiment in 2012, in which the company's data scientists enabled an algorithm to determine whether lowering the number of positive or negative posts in users' news feeds could prompt them to post more positive or negative content.
The research, published in the March issue of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, sparked soul-searching and questions among researchers and ethicists over the social network's ability to tweak its users' emotions.
''We take privacy and security at Facebook really seriously because that is something that allows people to share'' opinions and emotions, Sandberg said.
'' Reed Albergotti contributed to this article.
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Facebook offers explanation for controversial News Feed psychology experiment | The Verge
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:54
Facebook caused a stir over the weekend with the revelation that it had been altering the content of some users' News Feeds in an attempt to study the psychology behind what causes people to post emotional material. Now Adam Kramer, Facebook data scientist and co-author of the study, has posted an explanation of the motivation behind the research, which he says serves as Facebook's statement on the matter.
"The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product," says Kramer. "We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends' negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook."
"In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety."
Kramer notes that the study affected 0.04 percent of users over one week in 2012, though at Facebook's scale that covers hundreds of thousands of people. The study's findings contradicted conventional wisdom, according to the scientist, as seeing positive emotions on Facebook was found to encourage similarly positive content. In a separate statement provided to The Guardian, Facebook said the research was designed to "improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible."
"Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone," says Kramer. "I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety." Kramer says that Facebook has improved its internal review practices since 2012, and future research will take the reaction to this study into account.
Facebook Added 'Research' To User Agreement 4 Months After Emotion Manipulation Study
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:15
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Facebook's Psychological Experiments Connected to Department of Defense Research on Civil Unrest
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:15
There has been quite a bit of chatter this past week after it was revealed that a recent Facebook outage was the result of a psychological experiment that the company conducted on a portion of its users without their permission. The experiment, which was described in a paper published by Facebook, and UCSF, tested the contagion of emotions on social media by manipulating the content of personal feeds and measuring how this impacted user behavior.
Over 600,000 users were used as guinea pigs without their consent, which raises a number of serious ethical and legal questions (particularly due to the fact that this study received federal funding), however there is an even more disturbing angle to this story. It turns out that this research was connected to a Department of Defense project called the Minerva Initiative, which funds universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world.
In the official credits for the study conducted by Facebook you'll find Jeffrey T. Hancock from Cornell University. If you go to the Minerva initiative website you'll find that Jeffery Hancock received funding from the Department of Defense for a study called "Cornell: Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes". If you go to the project site for that study you'll find a visualization program that models the spread of beliefs and disease.
Cornell University is currently being funded for another DoD study right now called "Cornell: Tracking Critical-Mass Outbreaks in Social Contagions" (you'll find the description for this project on the Minerva Initiative's funding page).
The Department of Defense's investment in the mechanics of psychological contagion and Facebook's assistance, have some very serious implications, particularly when placed in context with other scandals which have broken in the past two years.
First of all we know that Facebook willingly participated (and presumably is still participating) in the NSA's PRISM program by giving the agency unfettered access to user communications. We also know that the U.S. government has invested heavily in technology used to track and model the spread of opinions on social media.
The U.S. government hasn't sought these capabilities for the sake of science. We know from the Cuban Twitter scandal, where the U.S. State Department where got caught red handed attempting to topple the Cuban government through social media, that these capabilities are already being used for offensive operations. Combine that with the fact that the U.S. Military got exposed in 2011 for developing 'sock puppet' software to create fake online identities and spread propaganda and an ominous picture snaps into focus.
The U.S. government is militarizing social media through a combination of technology and social sciences, and Facebook is helping them.
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Facebook's Emotional Manipulation: Fail | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:38
The fact is, Facebook manipulation doesn't work, or we wouldn't be writing about it.
There is an interesting uproar over the emotion manipulation study done by some researcher using unknowing Facebook users as guinea pigs. Everyone is outraged, but they should be happy.
Think about it. With a few minor changes in various feeds and photos, you can manipulate the average Facebook user like a puppet. Feed them happy news with a positive slant and they will reflect joy and a positive attitude. Give them negative downer news and suddenly they are mired in a new-found depression.
This is valuable insight. Users should be happy to learn that propaganda works! Doesn't the government do this to get people to join the Army during a crisis? Don't newspapers and news networks slant things in subtle ways to get us to become liberal or conservative? Entire public relations industries are built around the fact that the public is malleable. Now there's proof it all works.
Did the Facebook community, which is irked by the revelation that a study was done without their collective approval, ever think they were immune from such research? Do users of Facebook think they own the product?
One commentator on The New York Timessuggested that for all we know, someone out there among the nearly 700,000 stooges tested got an unwarranted downer story and immediately took out a gun and killed themselves. Puh-leeeze. The users are not that fragile.
Everyone, as usual, is missing the point. The problem is the ease in which such manipulation can be done. This is the important aspect to this story, not the supposed violation of one's Facebook civil rights.
Many of the cynics watching this unfold have always thought that the public is too easily led astray by clever promotion of certain ideas and memes.
That said, how does any of this research or knowledge positively benefit the company? The users are now distrustful of Facebook as they were told by outsiders that they were tricked.
Facebook could have as easily promoted the whole process with the headline "Good News" and explained the importance of the study by telling the community about this "fun" project. People would want more! But, instead, the company apologized.
So the good news is, as easily as the average Facebook user might be exploitable through micro-propaganda, nobody actually knows how to do it yet. If they did, this episode would have easily been spun the other way. Facebook's own apology proves it can't manipulate very well.
A problem remains. To do a good sociological test you cannot always get workable results if you tell people what you are doing. The subjects get suspicious and do not react honestly. So there was probably no other way to get the results of this study other than just running the experiment.
But these sorts of things should be operated as "market research." For some reason the public is all-in when it comes to market research and accepts it. In fact, it looks like market research to me. Why else would Facebook be doing it? As such, it is very defensible.
In the end, this entire episode looks like an epic fail, if you ask me.
For more, check out Why Facebook's 'Emotional Contagion' Experiment Makes Me So Happy.
Main/Emotional Torque - Television Tropes & Idioms
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:45
"Once you decide that you're going to have the death of Spock, then how does that affect the other people? Why is it there? I got a lot of stick from a lot of people from the very beginning about the idea of killing Spock. Somebody said, 'You can't kill him.' And I said, 'Sure you can; the only question is whether you do it well."The overriding goal of all storytelling is to get a reaction from the audience '-- a laugh,a tear, a desire to change, or maybe a desire to kill the storyteller. There is nothing more saddening than a story that gets an apatheticreaction. A story should influence and affect us. The storyteller wants to see their audience pay attention, hang on their words, and applaud with a standing ovation when it is all done. Why do you think Superman has lasted so long as a character? It is escapism; you dream of doing what Superman is doing, flying around with a cape rustling behind you. Ancient myths also entranced the world. These stories have entire religions based upon them. Even today there are storytellers who have created their own devoted worshipers. As far back as Ancient Greece, people have wondered, Why are we drawn to tragedy? Why would people willingly watch something they know is going to make them feel sad, angry, or scared? Because art isn't about making you feel good. It's about making you feel. Aristotle suggested, "A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself ... with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions." Catharsis is a concept that relieving your emotions in one format can influence other components of your psyche. It is a hard experience to describe; it isn't quite like joy or happiness, neither is there an emotion called "epic." The best way to describe your favorite moments is satisfaction. Here, we'll call it emotional torque. Think a little about Fridge Logic and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. They work and exist solely because we are caught up in the story. We should be so caught up in the moment of what is happening that we don't think about the illogical, the unhistorical or the faulty science. Right beside this is going the distance required by the story. The story and characters have to do the needed actions to establish themselves and their use. The Butt Monkey has to get beaten up, the villain has to do something villainous, etc. If there is a war going on and no one gets hurt, no blood gets spilled, and there isn't even a smudge of dirt on them, then it is rendered ineffective and gives the wrong impression. It's like a Jerk Ass that doesn't do one mean thing. These tropes are Tropers trying to catalogue their emotional reactions:These tropes are when the emotional reaction overrules more common sensibilities:When the use of Emotional Torque fails, the following things tend to happen:
Crowd manipulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:46
Crowd manipulation is the intentional use of techniques based on the principles of crowd psychology to engage, control, or influence the desires of a crowd in order to direct its behavior toward a specific action.[1] This practice is common to politics and business and can facilitate the approval or disapproval or indifference to a person, policy, or product. The ethicality of crowd manipulation is commonly questioned.
Crowd manipulation differs from propaganda although they may reinforce one another to produce a desired result. If propaganda is "the consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group",[2] crowd manipulation is the relatively brief call to action once the seeds of propaganda (i.e. more specifically "pre-propaganda"[3]) are sown and the public is organized into a crowd. The propagandist appeals to the masses, even if compartmentalized, whereas the crowd manipulator appeals to a segment of the masses assembled into a crowd in real time. In situations such as a national emergency, however, a crowd manipulator may leverage mass media to address the masses in real time as if speaking to a crowd.[4]
Crowd manipulation also differs from crowd control, which serves a security function. Local authorities use crowd-control methods to contain and defuse crowds and to prevent and respond to unruly and unlawful acts such as rioting and looting.[5]
Function and moralityEditThe crowd manipulator engages, controls, or influences crowds without the use of physical force, although his goal may be to instigate the use of force by the crowd or by local authorities. Prior to the American War of Independence, Samuel Adams provided Bostonians with "elaborate costumes, props, and musical instruments to lead protest songs in harborside demonstrations and parades through Boston's streets." If such crowds provoked British authorities to violence, as they did during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, Adams would write, produce, and disperse sensationalized accounts of the incidents to stir discontent and create unity among the American colonies.[6] The American way of manipulation may be classified as a tool of soft power, which is "the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments".[7] Harvard professor Joseph Nye coined the term in the 1980s, although he did not create the concept. The techniques used to win the minds of crowds were examined and developed notably by Quintilian in his training book, Institutio oratoria and by Aristotle in Rhetoric. Known origins of crowd manipulation go as far back as the 5th century BC, where litigants in Syracuse sought to improve their persuasiveness in court.[8][9]
The verb "manipulate" can convey negativity, but it does not have to do so. According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, for example, to "manipulate" means "to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage."[10] This definition allows, then, for the artful and honest use of control for one's advantage. Moreover, the actions of a crowd need not be criminal in nature. Nineteenth-century social scientist Gustave Le Bon wrote:
It is crowds rather than isolated individuals that may be induced to run the risk of death to secure the triumph of a creed or an idea, that may be fired with enthusiasm for glory and honour, that are led on--almost without bread and without arms, as in the age of the Crusades--to deliver the tomb of Christ from the infidel, or, as in [1793], to defend the fatherland. Such heroism is without doubt somewhat unconscious, but it is of such heroism that history is made. Were peoples only to be credited with the great actions performed in cold blood, the annals of the world would register but few of them.[11]
Edward Bernays, the so-called "Father of Public Relations", believed that public manipulation was not only moral, but a necessity. He argued that "a small, invisible government who understands the mental processes and social patterns of the masses, rules public opinion by consent." This is necessary for the division of labor and to prevent chaos and confusion. "The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion", wrote Bernays.[12] He also wrote, "We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized."
Others argue that some techniques are not inherently evil, but instead are philosophically neutral vehicles. Lifelong political activist and former Ronald ReaganWhite House staffer Morton C. Blackwell explained in a speech titled, "People, Parties, and Power":
Being right in the sense of being correct is not sufficient to win. Political technology determines political success. Learn how to organize and how to communicate. Most political technology is philosophically neutral. You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win.[13]
In brief, manipulators with different ideologies can employ successfully the same techniques to achieve ends that may be good or bad. Crowd manipulation techniques offers individuals and groups a philosophically neutral means to maximize the effect of their messages.
In order to manipulate a crowd, one should first understand what is meant by a crowd, as well as the principles that govern its behavior.
Crowds and their behaviorEditThe word "crowd", according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, refers to both "a large number of persons especially when collected together" (as in a crowded shopping mall) and "a group of people having something in common [as in a habit, interest, or occupation]."[14] Philosopher G.A. Tawny defined a crowd as "a numerous collection of people who face a concrete situation together and are more or less aware of their bodily existence as a group. Their facing the situation together is due to common interests and the existence of common circumstances which give a single direction to their thoughts and actions." Tawney discussed in his work "The Nature of Crowds" two main types of crowds:
Crowds may be classified according to the degree of definiteness and constancy of this consciousness. When it is very definite and constant the crowd may be called homogeneous, and when not so definite and constant, heterogeneous. All mobs belong to the homogeneous class, but not all homogeneous crowds are mobs. '... Whether a given crowd belong to the one group or the other may be a debatable question, and the same crowd may imperceptibly pass from one to the other.[15]
In a 2001 study, the Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Studies at Pennsylvania State University defined a crowd more specifically as "a gathering of a multitude of individuals and small groups that have temporarily assembled. These small groups are usually comprised of friends, family members, or acquaintances."
A crowd may display behavior that differs from the individuals who compose it. Several theories have emerged in the 19th century and early 20th century to explain this phenomenon. These collective works contribute to the "classic theory" of crowd psychology. In 1968, however, social scientist Dr. Carl Couch of the University of Liverpool refuted many of the stereotypes associated with crowd behavior as described by classic theory. His criticisms are supported widely in the psychology community but are still being incorporated as a "modern theory" into psychological texts.[16] A modern model, based on the "individualistic" concept of crowd behavior developed by Floyd Allport in 1924, is the Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM).[17]
Classic theoryEditFrench philosopher and historian Hippolyte Taine provided in the wake of the Franco Prussian War of 1871 the first modern account of crowd psychology. Gustave Le Bon developed this framework in his 1895 book, Psychologie des Foules. He proposed that French crowds during the 19th century were essentially excitable, irrational mobs easily influenced by wrongdoers.[18] He postulated that the heterogeneous elements which make up this type of crowd essentially form a new being, a chemical reaction of sorts in which the crowd's properties change. He wrote:
Under certain given circumstances, and only under those circumstances, an agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their conscious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed, doubtless transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics.
Le Bon observed several characteristics of what he called the "organized" or "psychological" crowd, including:
submergence or the disappearance of a conscious personality and the appearance of an unconscious personality (aka "mental unity"). This process is aided by sentiments of invincible power and anonymity which allow one to yield to instincts which he would have kept under restraint (i.e. Individuality is weakened and the unconscious "gains the upper hand");contagion ("In a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious, and contagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest."); andsuggestibility as the result of a hypnotic state. "All feelings and thoughts are bent in the direction determined by the hypnotizer" and the crowd tends to turn these thoughts into acts.[11]In sum, the classic theory contends that:
"[Crowds] are unified masses whose behaviors can be categorized as active, expressive, acquisitive or hostile.""[Crowd] participants [are] given to spontaneity, irrationality, loss of self-control, and a sense of anonymity."[19]Modern theoryEditCritics of the classic theory contend that it is seriously flawed in that it decontextualises crowd behavior, lacks sustainable empirical support, is biased, and ignores the influence of policing measures on the behavior of the crowd.[20]
In 1968, Dr. Carl J. Couch examined and refuted many classic-theory stereotypes in his article, "Collective Behavior: An Examination of Some Stereotypes." Since then, other social scientists have validated much of his critique. Knowledge from these studies of crowd psychology indicate that:
"Crowds are not homogeneous entities" but are composed "of a minority of individuals and a majority of small groups of people who are acquainted with one another.""Crowd participants are [neither] unanimous in their motivation" nor to one another. Participants "seldom act in unison, and if they do, that action does not last long.""Crowds do not cripple individual cognition" and "are not uniquely distinguished by violence or disorderly actions.""Individual attitudes and personality characteristics", as well as "socioeconomic, demographic and political variables are poor predictors of riot intensity and individual participation."According to the aforementioned 2001 study conducted by Penn State University's Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies, crowds undergo a process that has a "beginning, middle, and ending phase." Specifically:
The assembling processThis phase includes the temporary assembly of individuals for a specific amount of time. Evidence suggests that assembly occurs most frequently by means of an "organized mobilization method" but can also occur by "impromptu process" such as word of mouth by non-official organizers.The temporary gatheringIn this phase, individuals are assembled and participate in both individual and "collective actions." Rarely do all individuals in a crowd participate, and those who do participate do so by choice. Participation furthermore appears to vary based on the type and purpose of the gathering, with religious services experiencing "greater participation" (i.e. 80-90%).The dispersing processIn the final phase, the crowd's participants disperse from a "common location" to "one or more alternate locations."A "riot" occurs when "one or more individuals within a gathering engage in violence against person or property." According to U.S. and European research data from 1830 to 1930 and from the 1960 to the present, "less than 10 percent of protest demonstrations have involved violence against person or property", with the "celebration riot" as the most frequent type of riot in the United States.[21]
Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM)EditA modern model has also been developed by Steve Reicher, John Drury, and Dr Clifford Stott[22] which contrasts significantly from the "classic theory" of crowd behavior. According to Dr. Clifford Stott of the University of Leeds:
The ESIM has at its basis the proposition that a component part of the self concept determining human social behaviour derives from psychological membership of particular social categories (i.e., an identity of a unique individual), crowd participants also have a range of social identities which can become salient within the psychological system referred to as the 'self.' Collective action becomes possible when a particular social identity is simultaneously salient and therefore shared among crowd participants.
Stott's final point differs from the "submergence" quality of crowds proposed by Le Bon, in which the individual's consciousness gives way to the unconsciousness of the crowd. ESIM also considers the effect of policing on the behavior of the crowd. It warns that "the indiscriminate use of force would create a redefined sense of unity in the crowd in terms of the illegitimacy of and opposition to the actions of the police." This could essentially draw the crowd into conflict despite the initial hesitancy of the individuals in the crowd.[23]
Planning and techniqueEditCrowd manipulation involves several elements, including: context analysis, site selection, propaganda, authority, and delivery.
Context analysisEditHistory suggests that the socioeconomic and political context and location influence dramatically the potential for crowd manipulation. Such time periods in America included:
Prelude to the American Revolution (1763''1775), when Britain imposed heavy taxes and various restrictions upon its thirteen North American colonies.;[24]Roaring Twenties (1920''1929), when the advent of mass production made it possible for everyday citizens to purchase previously considered luxury items at affordable prices. Businesses that utilized assembly-line manufacturing were challenged to sell large numbers of identical products;[25]The Great Depression (1929''1939), when a devastating stock market crash disrupted the American economy, caused widespread unemployment; andThe Cold War (1945''1989), when Americans faced the threat of nuclear war and participated in the Korean War, the greatly unpopular Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis.Internationally, time periods conducive to crowd manipulation included the Interwar Period (i.e. following the collapse of the Austria-Hungarian, Russian, Ottoman, and German empires) and Post-World War II (i.e. decolonization and collapse of the British, German, French, and Japanese empires).[26] The prelude to the collapse of the Soviet Union provided ample opportunity for messages of encouragement. The Solidarity Movement began in the 1970s thanks in part to courageous leaders like Lech Walesa and U.S. Information Agency programming.[27] In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan capitalized on the sentiments of the West Berliners as well as the freedom-starved East Berliners to demand that Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down" the Berlin Wall.[28] During the 2008 presidential elections, candidate Barack Obama capitalized on the sentiments of many American voters frustrated predominantly by the recent economic downturn and the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His simple messages of "Hope", "Change", and "Yes We Can" were adopted quickly and chanted by his supporters during his political rallies.[29]
Historical context and events may also encourage unruly behavior. Such examples include the:
In order to capitalize fully upon historical context, it is essential to conduct a thorough audience analysis to understand the desires, fears, concerns, and biases of the target crowd. This may be done through scientific studies, focus groups, and polls.[25]
Site selectionEditWhere a crowd assembles also provides opportunities to manipulate thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Location, weather, lighting, sound, and even the shape of an arena all influence a crowd's willingness to participate.
Symbolic and tangible backdrops like the Brandenburg Gate, used by Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton in 1963, 1987, and 1994, respectively, can evoke emotions before the crowd manipulator opens his or her mouth to speak.[31][32]George W. Bush's "Bullhorn Address" at Ground Zero following the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is another example of how venue can amplify a message. In response to a rescue worker's shout, "I can't hear you", President Bush shouted back, "I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" The crowd erupted in cheers and patriotic chants.[33]
PropagandaEditThe crowd manipulator and the propagandist may work together to achieve greater results than they would individually. According to Edward Bernays, the propagandist must prepare his target group to think about and anticipate a message before it is delivered. Messages themselves must be tested in advance since a message that is ineffective is worse than no message at all.[34] Social scientist Jacques Ellul called this sort of activity "pre-propaganda", and it is essential if the main message is to be effective. Ellul wrote in Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes:
Direct propaganda, aimed at modifying opinions and attitudes, must be preceded by propaganda that is sociological in character, slow, general, seeking to create a climate, an atmosphere of favorable preliminary attitudes. No direct propaganda can be effective without pre-propaganda, which, without direct or noticeable aggression, is limited to creating ambiguities, reducing prejudices, and spreading images, apparently without purpose. '...
In Jacques Ellul's book, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes,it states that sociological propaganda can be compared to plowing, direct propaganda to sowing; you cannot do the one without doing the other first.[35] Sociological propaganda is a phenomenon where a society seeks to integrate the maximum number of individuals into itself by unifying its members' behavior according to a pattern, spreading its style of life abroad, and thus imposing itself on other groups. Essentially sociological propaganda aims to increase conformity with the environment that is of a collective nature by developing compliance with or defense of the established order through long term penetration and progressive adaptation by using all social currents. The propaganda element is the way of life with which the individual is permeated and then the individual begins to express it in film, writing, or art without realizing it. This involuntary behavior creates an expansion of society through advertising, the movies, education, and magazines. "The entire group, consciously or not, expresses itself in this fashion; and to indicate, secondly that its influence aims much more at an entire style of life."[36] This type of propaganda is not deliberate but springs up spontaneously or unwittingly within a culture or nation. This propaganda reinforces the individual's way of life and represents this way of life as best. Sociological propaganda creates an indisputable criterion for the individual to make judgments of good and evil according to the order of the individual's way of life. Sociological propaganda does not result in action, however, it can prepare the ground for direct propaganda. From then on, the individual in the clutches of such sociological propaganda believes that those who live this way are on the side of the angels, and those who don't are bad.[37]
Bernays expedited this process by identifying and contracting those who most influence public opinion (key experts, celebrities, existing supporters, interlacing groups, etc.).
After the mind of the crowd is plowed and the seeds of propaganda are sown, a crowd manipulator may prepare to harvest his crop.[34]
AuthorityEditThe manipulator may be an orator, a group, a musician, an athlete, or some other person who moves a crowd to the point of agreement before he makes a specific call to action. Aristotle believed that the ethos, or credibility, of the manipulator contributes to his persuasiveness.
Prestige is a form of "domination exercised on our mind by an individual, a work, or an idea." The manipulator with great prestige paralyses the critical faculty of his crowd and commands respect and awe. Authority flows from prestige, which can be generated by "acquired prestige" (e.g. job title, uniform, judge's robe) and "personal prestige" (i.e. inner strength). Personal prestige is like that of the "tamer of a wild beast" who could easily devour him. Success is the most important factor affecting personal prestige. Le Bon wrote, "From the minute prestige is called into question, it ceases to be prestige." Thus, it would behoove the manipulator to prevent this discussion and to maintain a distance from the crowd lest his faults undermine his prestige.[38]
DeliveryEditThe manipulator's ability to sway a crowd depends especially on his or her visual, vocal, and verbal delivery. Below is advice from two famous statesmen, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler, who made personal commitments to become master rhetoricians.
At 22, Winston Churchill documented his conclusions about speaking to crowds. He titled it "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric" and it outlined what he believed to be the essentials of any effective speech. Among these essentials are:
"Correctness of diction", or proper word choice to convey the exact meaning of the orator;"Rhythm", or a speech's sound appeal through "long, rolling and sonorous" sentences;"Accumulation of argument", or the orator's "rapid succession of waves of sound and vivid pictures" to bring the crowd to a thundering ascent;"Analogy", or the linking of the unknown to the familiar; and"Wild extravagance", or the use of expressions, however extreme, which embody the feelings of the orator and his audience.[39]Adolf Hitler believed he could apply the lessons of propaganda he learned painfully from the Allies during World War I and apply those lessons to benefit Germany thereafter. The following points offer helpful insight into his thinking behind his on-stage performances:
Appeal to the masses: "[Propaganda] must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses", rather than the "scientifically trained intelligentsia."Target the emotions: "[Propaganda] must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect."Keep your message simple: "It is a mistake to make propaganda many-sided'...The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous."Prepare your audience for the worst-case scenario: "[Prepare] the individual soldier for the terrors of war, and thus [help] to preserve him from disappointments. After this, the most terrible weapon that was used against him seemed only to confirm what his propagandists had told him; it likewise reinforced his faith in the truth of his government's assertions, while on the other hand it increased his rage and hatred against the vile enemy."Make no half statements: "'...emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly."Repeat your message constantly: "[Propagandist technique] must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success."[40][41] (Le Bon believed that messages that are affirmed and repeated are often perceived as truth and spread by means of contagion. "Man, like animals, has a natural tendency to imitation. Imitation is a necessity for him, provided always that the imitation is quite easy", wrote Le Bon.[42] In his 1881 essay "L'Homme et Societes", he wrote "It is by examples not by arguments that crowds are guided." He stressed that in order to influence, one must not be too far removed his audience nor his example unattainable by them. If it is, his influence will be nil.[43]ApplicationsEditPoliticsEditThe political process provides ample opportunity to utilize crowd-manipulation techniques to foster support for candidates and policy. From campaign rallies to town-hall debates to declarations of war, statesmen have historically used crowd manipulation to convey their messages. Public opinion polls, such as those conducted by the Pew Research Center and www.RealClearPolitics.com provide statesmen and aspiring statesmen with approval ratings, and wedge issues.
BusinessEditEver since the advent of mass production, businesses and corporations have used crowd manipulation to sell their products. Advertising serves as propaganda to prepare a future crowd to absorb and accept a particular message. Edward Bernays believed that particular advertisements are more effective if they create an environment which encourages the purchase of certain products. Instead of marketing the features of a piano, sell prospective customers the idea of a music room.[44]
The entertainment industry makes exceptional use of crowd manipulation to excite fans and boost ticket sales. Not only does it promote assembly through the mass media, it also uses rhetorical techniques to engage crowds, thereby enhancing their experience. At Penn State University-University Park, for example, PSU Athletics uses the Nittany Lion mascot to ignite crowds of more than 100,000 students, alumni, and other visitors to Beaver Stadium. Among the techniques used are cues for one side of the stadium to chant "We are..." while the other side responds, "Penn State!" These and other chants make Beaver Stadium a formidable venue for visiting teams who struggle to call their plays because of the noise.[45]World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) employs crowd manipulation techniques to excite its crowds as well. It makes particular use of the polarizing personalities and prestige of its wrestlers to draw out the emotions of its audiences. The practice is similar to that of the ancient Roman gladiators, whose lives depended upon their ability to not only fight but also to win crowds.[46] High levels of enthusiasm are maintained using lights, sounds, images, and crowd participation. According to Hulk Hogan in his autobiography, My Life Outside the Ring, "You didn't have to be a great wrestler, you just had to draw the crowd into the match. You had to be totally aware, and really in the moment, and paying attention to the mood of the crowd."[47]
Flash mobsEditA flash mob is a gathering of individuals, usually organized in advance through electronic means, that performs a specific, usually peculiar action and then disperses. These actions are often bizarre or comical'--as in a massive pillow fight, ad-hoc musical, or synchronized dance. Bystanders are usually left in awe and/or shock.
The concept of a flash mob is relatively new when compared to traditional forms of crowd manipulation. Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper's Magazine, is credited with the concept. He organized his first flash mob in a Macy's department store in 2003.[48] The use of flash mobs as a tool of political warfare may take the form of a massive walkout during a political speech, the disruption of political rally, or even as a means to reorganize a crowd after it has been dispersed by crowd control. A first glance, a flash mob may appear to be the spontaneous undoing of crowd manipulation (i.e. the turning of a crowd against its manipulator). On September 8, 2009, for example, choreographer Michael Gracey organized'--with the help of cell phones and approximately twenty instructors'--a 20,000+-person flash mob to surprise Oprah Winfrey during her 24th Season Kick-Off event. Following Oprah's introduction, The Black Eyed Peas performed their musical hit "I Gotta Feeling". As the song progressed, the synchronized dance began with a single, female dancer up front and spread from person to person until the entire crowd became involved. A surprised and elated Oprah found that there was another crowd manipulator besides her and her musical guests at work. [1] Gracey and others have been able to organize and manipulate such large crowds with the help of electronic devices and social networks.[49] But one does not need to be a professional choreographer to conduct such an operation. On February 13, 2009, for example, a 22-year-old Facebook user organized a flash mob which temporarily shut down London's Liverpool Street station.[50]
ReferencesEdit^Adam Curtis, "The Century of the Self" (documentary), British Broadcasting Cooperation (United Kingdom: BBC4, 2002). [BBC published a webpage for this documentary, which is available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/century_of_the_self.shtml].^Edward L. Bernays and Mark Crispin Miller, Propaganda (Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing, 2004): 52.^Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965): 15.^Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Kindle Edition, Book I, Chapter 1 (Ego Books, 2008).^John M. Kenny, Clark McPhail, et al, "Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons", The Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies, The Pennsylvania State University (2001): 4-11.^Waller, Michael (2006). ""The American Way of Propaganda", White Paper No. 1, Version 2.4". Institute of World Politics4. ^Nye, Jr, Joseph S. (2005). Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Cambridge, MA: PublicAffairs. ^Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric, translated with an introduction by H.C. Lawson-Tencred (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2004): 1-13.>^Cheryl Glean, Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Reniassance (Illinois: SIU Press, 1997): 33, 60.>^"manipulate" in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2010), Retrieved March 24, 2010, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manipulate.^ abLe Bon, Book I, Chapter 1.^Bernays, 109.^Morton C. Blackwell, "People, Parties, and Power", Adapted from a speech to the Council for National Policy on February 10, 1990. [Available on the Leadership Institute website: http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/resources/files/People_Parties_&_Power.pdf]^"crowd" in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2010) Retrieved March 24, 2010, from http://www.merriam webster.com/dictionary/crowd.^G. A. Tawney, "The Nature of Crowds", Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 2(10) (October 15, 1905): 332.^Kenny, et al., 13.^John Drury, Paul Hutchinson, and Clifford Stout, "'Hooligans abroad? Inter-Group Dynamics, Social Identity and Participation in Collective 'Disorder' at the 1998 World Cup Finals", British Journal of Social Psychology, 40 (Great Britain: The British Psychological Society, 2001): 359-360.^Clifford Stott, "Crowd Psychology & Public Order Policing: An Overview of Scientific Theory and Evidence", Liverpool School of Psychology, University of Liverpool (2009): 4. An electronic version is available online at: http://www.liv.ac.uk/psychology/staff/CStott/HMIC%20Report%20Crowd%20Psychology%20-%20Final%20Submission%20Draft%20(14-9).pdf.^Kenny, et al., 12.^Stott, 12.^Kenny, 12-20.^Drury, J., Reicher, S. & Stott, C. (2003) Transforming the boundaries of collective identity: From the 'local' anti-road campaign to 'global' resistance? Social Movement Studies, 2, 191-212^Stott.^Waller, 1-4.^ abCurtis.^Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. , 2001): 11-44; 231-2; 435, 489, 495-543, 582, 614, 632, 685, 757, 768.^Wilson P. Dizard, Jr., Inventing Public Diplomacy: The Story of the U.S. Information Agency (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004): 204.^Smith-Davies Publishing, Speeches that Changed the World (London: Smith-Davies Publishing Ltd, 2005): 197-201.^David E. Campbell, "Public Opinion and the 2008 Presidential Election" in Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier and Steven E. Schier, The American Elections of 2008 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009): 99-116.^Kenny, et al.^John Poreba, "Speeches at the Brandenburg Gate: Public Diplomacy Through Political Oratory," StrategicDefense.net, 2010. http://www.strategicdefense.net/brandenburg-gate.html^Melissa Eddy, "Obama to speak near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate" Associated Press, July 20, 2008.^American Rhetoric, "George W. Bush, Bullhorn Address to Ground Zero Rescue Workers", American Rhetoric, http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911groundzerobullhorn.htm.^ abBernays, 52.^Ellul, 15.^Ellul, Jacques (1973). Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, p. 62.Trans. Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner. Vintage Books, New York. ISBN 978-0-394-71874-3.^Ellul, Jacques (1973). Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, p. 65.Trans. Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner. Vintage Books, New York. ISBN 978-0-394-71874-3.^Le Bon, Book II, Chapter 3.^Winston S. Churchill, "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric", in Randolph S. Churchill, Companion Volume 1, pt. 2, to Youth: 1874-1900, vol. 1 of the Official Biography of Winston Spencer Churchill (London: Heinmann, 1967): 816-21.^Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (Mariner Books, 1998): 176-186.^John Poreba, "Tongue of Fury, Tongue of Fire: Oratory in the Rise of Hitler and Churchill," StrategicDefense.net, 2010, http://www.strategicdefense.net/oratory-churchill-hitler.html.^Le Bon, Book II, Chapter 4.^Gustave Le Bon, "L'Homme et Societes", vol. II. (1881): 116."^Bernays, 19-20.^J. Douglas Toma, Football U.: Spectator Sports in the Life of the American University (University of Michigan Press, 2003): 51-2.^Rachael Hanel, Gladiators (Mankato, MN: The Creative Company, 2007): 24.^Hulk Hogan and Mark Dagostino, My Life Outside the Ring (New York, NY: Macmillan, 2009): 119-120.^Anjali Athavaley, "Students Unleash A Pillow Fight On Manhattan", Wall Street Journal (April 15, 2008)^"Oprah's Kickoff Party Flash Mob Dance", Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/11/oprahs-kickoff-party-flas_n_283298.html, September 11, 2009.^"Facebook flashmob shuts down station", www.CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/02/09/uk.station.flashmob/index.html, February 19, 2009.Further readingEditAlinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage Books, 1989.Bernays, Edward L., and Mark Crispin Miller. Propaganda. Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing, 2004.Curtis, Adam. "The Century of the Self" (documentary). British Broadcasting Cooperation, UK, 2002.Ellul, Jacques. Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes. Trans. Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner. New York: Knopf, 1965. New York: Random House/ Vintage 1973Humes, James C. The Sir Winston Method: The Five Secrets of Speaking the Language of Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.Johnson, Paul.Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001.Lasswell, Harold. Propaganda Technique in World War I. Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press, 1971.Smith, Jr., Paul A. On Political War. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1989.
The Zen TV Experiment
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 05:49
"How Many of You Know How to Watch Television?""How many of you know how to watch television?" I asked my class one day. After a few bewildered and silent moments, slowly, one by one, everyone haltingly raised their hands. We soon acknowledged that we were all "experts," as Harold Garfinkel would say, in the practice of "watching television."
The purpose of our un-TV experiment was to provoke us into seeing television as opposed to merely looking, and to stop the world as the first step to seeing. Here we engage in stopping the world by stopping the television.
For the experiment, students were asked to watch TV consciously. Insofar as this is sort of "Zen and the art of TV watching," I said to them, "I want you to watch TV with acute awareness, mindfulness and precision. This experiment is about observing television scientifically, with Beginner's Mind, rather than watching television passively with programmed mind. Ordinarily, if you are watching TV you can't also observe and experience the experience of watching TV. When we watch TV we rarely pay attention to the details of the event. In fact, we rarely pay attention."
Count the Technical EventsIn this particular experimental odyssey, we are going to be exploring how we subject ourselves on a daily basis to the overwhelming sirens' song of TV entertainment (the great electronic cyclops) and, like Homer's Odysseus, we will need to strap ourselves to the mast--in this case, the mast of counting technical events. For 10 minutes simply count the technical events that occur while you are watching any show. This is a TET or Technical Events Test as Jerry Mander discusses it in Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. What is a technical event? We've all seen TV cameras in banks and jewelry stores. A stationary video camera simply recording what's in front of it is what I will call "pure TV." Anything other than pure TV is a technical event: the camera zooms up, that's a technical event; you are watching someone's profile talking and suddenly you are switched to another person responding, that's a technical event; a car is driving down the road and you also hear music playing, that's a technical event. Simply count the number of times there is a cut, zoom, superimposition, voice-over, appearance of words on the screen, fade in/out, etc.
Now proceed with these experiments:
Watch any TV show for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.Watch any news program for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.Watch television for one half hour without turning it on.The time requirements in these experiments are extremely important. I would urge you, the reader, to undertake the experiment personally rather than merely going on to read the results.
Anger and Resistance: What's the Meaning of This?!In examining the results of this experiment, one of the first things that consistently comes up is students' anger and resentment at being made to do such a thing--an anger and resentment very different from what comes up, say, in regard to the reading load or the writing requirements of the course. This anger, I think, is quite good and useful--not per se, but insofar as students notice their anger and then inquire into and examine the sources of that anger. For, in studying society, we often unconsciously assume we are studying "them"--but we are not. We are studying ourselves and we resist that, we dislike that. It makes us uncomfortable and it makes us angry. Socrates wasn't given a medal and a tickertape parade after all. As the Russian existentialist philosopher Shestov said, "It is not man who pursues truth, but truth man."
One expression of this anger that comes up repeatedly is "I wasted 30 minutes of my time." Is it possible that this is a very valuable waste of time? Is it possible that "wasting time" is a very valuable thing to do in studying society? Pursuing this experience puts us smack in the middle of the infamous Protestant Ethic in a very direct and personal way. We are almost re-creating through verstehen Max Weber's deep intellectual perplexity and fascination with what he saw as Benjamin Franklin's codification of the Protestant Ethic: "Remember that time is money." After some discussion it invariably turns out that all the students admit to having wasted a lot more than a half hour in front of the TV set. So why this anger about watching TV for 30 minutes without turning it on?
Labor in the Mode of RelaxationWhen you turn the TV on, in effect, you turn the world off. The TV is only two feet high or so, yet we are fooled into thinking we are watching life-sized things. How is it that everything on it appears real and life-like?
Technical events produce the illusion of being natural and realistic. They produce the feeling of being non-produced (a good cut is one you don't notice, as the editors say). In the same way, we are unaware that the practice of watching TV is a practice because we have never experienced it as a phenomenon in its own right. Doing the Technical Events Test forces us to notice that watching TV is a practice, an active, ongoing achievement that we accomplish "for another first time through" each time. We see what the texture of the experience of watching TV consists of. We are shocked into seeing what it is we've been doing all these years.
Counting the technical events brings about what Thomas Kuhn would call a "paradigm shift." When you focus on the technical events you can't focus on the plot or storyline. You learn very quickly how difficult it is to divide your attention. Either you watch the program or you count the technical events. You are unable to do both at the same time. In terms of the phenomenology of perception, this is a little like the famous demonstration of either seeing-the-vase or seeing-two-profiles, but not seeing both simultaneously in any sustained manner.
In doing the TET, we notice the discrete segments of independent footage that are presented with a rapid-fire quality. As we watch, we, the "passive" viewers, apparently put together, synthesize and integrate the scenes: we link, we knit, we chain, we retain the past and anticipate the future. We methodically weave them all together into a coherent narrative. A high-speed filling-in-the-blanks and connecting-the-dots occurs. Our actively synthesizing mind, our labor, goes on while we sit back, relax and absorb. This high-speed integration of often wildly disconnected phenomena (angles, scenes, persons, music) is experienced in the mode of blank and passive absorption. It would seem that our minds are in high gear without our knowing. Mander addresses this pointedly:
This difference between internally generated and imposed imagery is at the heart of whether it is accurate to say that television relaxes the mind.
Relaxation implies renewal. One runs hard, then rests. While resting the muscles first experience calm and then, as new oxygen enters them, renewal.
When you are a watching, absorbing techno-guru, your mind may be in alpha, but it is certainly not "empty mind." Images are pouring into it. Your mind is not quiet or calm or empty. It may be nearer to dead, or zombie-ized. It is occupied. No renewal can come from this condition. For renewal, the mind would have to be at rest, or once rested, it would have to be seeking new kinds of stimulation, new exercise. Television offers neither rest nor stimulation.
Television inhibits your ability to think, but it does not lead to freedom of mind, relaxation or renewal. It leads to a more exhausted mind. You may have time out from prior obsessive thought patterns, but that's as far as television goes. The mind is never empty, the mind is filled. What's worse, it is filled with someone else's obsessive thoughts and images.
TV and the Social Construction of RealityThe Technical Events Test dramatically reveals the functions of the political institution of television in (a) training us to shorten our attention span, (b) making ordinary life appear dull, (c) injecting a hypnotic quality into our ordinary awareness and (d) coercing us into its reality.
Television is the quintessential short-term medium. Like jugglers, television lives for the split second. Its relationship to viewers is measured in tiny fractions. Solemn hierarchies of men and women react to overnight program ratings with something approaching nervous breakdowns, because one percentage point can mean $30 million a year. The result of this manic concern is to design programming that will serve attention-getting rather than the humanistic substance that will stay with the viewer. The ratings race serves the advertisers, not the audience.
It is easier to shorten attention spans and increase distraction than to lengthen attention spans, increase concentration, and calm, quiet and still the mind. There is an old Zen analogy that the way to calm, clear and quiet the mind is similar to the way to clear a muddy pool--not by action, by doing, by stirring it up, but by stillness, by letting it be, by letting it settle itself. The function of TV is to create, maintain and constantly reinforce what--in the Zen tradition--is often called "monkey-mind." The question to ask is: What is the good of a jumpy, volatile, scattered and hyper monkey-mind?
Hypnosis UnlimitedSince the emergence of long-term space flight in orbit above the earth, a new physiological phenomenon has arisen among our astronauts. They found that as a result of long-term weightlessness, some rather drastic physical changes began to occur in their bodies. They experienced a marked and dramatic reduction of muscle size. Even their hearts became markedly smaller. The astronauts also experienced a loss of co-ordination abilities -- such as the ability to focus on and follow moving objects with their eyes. All of this seems to be due to taking the human organism outside the experience of gravity. In order to preserve their earthbound physiology in conditions of weightlessness, astronauts need to do two to three hours of custom-designed exercises per day. Perhaps watching TV produces the equivalent mental condition of weightlessness for the human mind, together with the attending shrinkages and deteriorations. The normal, invisible, all-pervasive pressure of mental gravity, of our ordinary, active, inncessntly thinking mind is suspended when we turn on the television.
Coercing Us Into RealityOur culture and education conspire to condition us, to create a reliance on media to reinforce our actions, feelings and self-perceptions. When we seek media confirmation we acknowledge and assume that our personal experiences are not qualified as reality any longer. We lose the drive to pursue direct experience as well as the drive to participate in co-creating reality. We no longer do, we watch, and reality is someone else's creation. As Todd Gitlin has said, it's not until an event (institution, thought, principle, movement, etc.) crosses the media threshold that it takes on a solid reality for us. Stretched out across our world is the media membrane, over the threshold of which--and only over the threshold--lies legitimate, confirmed reality, and though we don't have to believe what the media tell us, we can't know what they don't tell us.
TV Without SoundJust as Charles Tart talks about us being caught up in a consensus trance, we can talk about a narrative trance, a narrative-consciousness. We have been programmed to become narrative subjects, subjected to the developmental narrative mode, intertwined with the storyline. In the TET we're suspending our narrative consciousness and hence de-stabilizing the narrative subject. We identify not with a character, nor with the omniscient author, but with the camera. During usual viewing, however, our eyes do not see what is actually there because our narrative-trained mind overrides our eyes. We don't see with our eyes, we see with our programming, and we are programmed to see stories. TV programs are made so that we don't notice the "technical events," the details -- so that we don't pay attention. We are programmed to be unaware of the programming, the non-narrative structure and possibilities of that structure. To watch TV programs is to be lifeless and unresisting. This is the state that allows the commercials to take full effect and operate our minds for us.
The Nature of the NewsAs a usual daily routine, only the unusually tragic or triumphant is shown--not the ordinary routines and day-to-day reality of our lives. It is true that the news show has fewer technical events. There is a good reason for this. With fewer technical events the news show appears realistic relative to other shows in the TV environment. Further, it appears super-realistic relative to the commercial shows in this environment. As earlier, we witnessed the joining of technical events in a coherent narrative. Here, we witness the reduction of worldly events into a narrative.
The problem is not that TV presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that TV presents all subject matter as entertaining. This transcends TV and spills over into our post-TV life experiences. TV trains us to orient toward and tune in to the entertainment quality of any experience, event, person. We look for that which is entertaining about any phenomenon rather than qualities of depth, social significance, spiritual resonance, beauty, etc. In this sense TV doesn't imitate life, but social life now aspires to imitate TV.
Further, we become greedy. Not greedy in the traditional sense in reference to material wealth, rather, we experience a greed to be entertained. It's not just a need for entertainment, but a downright greed for entertainment, and it becomes a 24-hour obsession. In the absence of entertainment, we usually entertain ourselves with plans for future entertainment.
As one formula puts it, Media Power = Political Power Squared The TV has shown us that politicians can't be trusted but TV can. That is, according to Joshua Meyrowitz in No Sense of Place, implicit in showing us this about politicians is the message, "We who are showing you this, the TV, can be trusted." We can trust TV, and the institution of TV, to reveal how politicians and the institution of politics can't be trusted.
Discoveries About SelfTV has become such a mechanical friend, such a substitute for social interaction, that one's solitude becomes acutely magnified, doubly experienced and doubly reinforced if one is deprived of its glowing, life-like presence (as if one wouldn't still be alone if it were on). If one is alone in one's room and turns on the TV, one actually doesn't feel alone anymore. It's as if companionship is experienced, as if communication is two-way. We have achieved a new level of isolation, solipsism and withdrawal. "It's just an object when it's turned off," hundreds of students have bemoaned. When it is turned off it more clearly reveals itself as an object, as an appliance--rather than as a friend, a companion. It is shocking after all these years to discover this. Mander captures the phenomenology of the situation well:
Television is watched in darkened rooms ... it is a requirement of television viewing that the set be the brightest image in the environment or it cannot be seen well. To increase the effect, background sounds are dimmed out just as the light is. An effort is made to eliminate household noises. The point, of course, is to further the focus on the television set. Awareness of the outer environment gets in the way... . Dimming out your own body is another part of the process. People choose a position for viewing that allows the maximum comfort and least motion ... thinking processes also dim. Overall, while we are watching television, our bodies are in a quieter condition over a longer period of time than in any other of life's nonsleeping experiences. This is true even for the eyes ... the eyes move less while watching television than in any other experience of daily life.
Almost every household's living room is arranged around the television set. As a weight room is arranged for weight training, our living rooms are arranged for TV training. The furniture is purposely arranged for the transcendent practice of "watching TV," rather than for the immanent, human practice of communication or interaction. The interior design of the average American living room with its lines of attention, hierarchy, and transcendent TV is very similar to the interior design of the average American church with its transcendent altar, lines of homage and gestures of genuflection.
TV and the Illusion of KnowingMarshall McLuhan says TV opens out onto an electronic global village. It would seem, rather, that it gives us only the illusion of being. It reinforces security by presenting danger, ignorance by presenting news, lethargy by presenting excitement, isolation by promising participation. The media confines reality to itself. And it limits knowledge by giving the illusion of knowledge. In the same way that the most effective way to deflect, diffuse and terminate a social movement is to announce that it has been achieved (the feminist movement must contend with this on an almost daily basis), the most effective way to deflect inquiry is to present it as fulfilled. TV acts in this guise as a thinking presentation device which offers non-experience as experience and not-knowingness as knowing.
In the words of Mat Maxwell, "Television becomes the world for people... . The world becomes television." The overall and cumulative effect of the media is to heighten our insensitivity to reality. Rather than breaking the chains of ignorance, political domination and illusion in our Platonic cave, something insidiously similar yet different is going on. Instead of actually turning away from the shadows to see the realities, instead of actually leaving the darkness of the cave and going up into the sunlight, we merely watch an image of ourselves doing this, we fantasize about doing it and think it's the same.
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Presidential Actions
Letter from the President -- Change in Export Controls for High Performance Computers
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:48
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 01, 2014
Dear Mr. Chairman:
In accordance with the provisions of section 1211(d) of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85), I hereby notify you of my decision to establish a new level for the notification procedure for digital computers set forth in section 1211(a) of Public Law 105-85. The new level will be 8.0 Weighted TeraFLOPS; the current level is 3.0 Weighted TeraFLOPS. The attached report provides the rationale supporting this decision and is in accordance with the requirements of Public Law 105-85, sections 1211(d) and (e).
I have made this change based on the recommendation of the Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, and Energy.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
Remarks by the President at Pride Month Celebration
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2014
East Room
5:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. (Applause.) Well, I want to thank Jim and Patrick. First of all, I think they supported me in my state Senate campaign. (Laughter.) Those were some early supporters, and we might not be here if it hadn't been for them. Congratulations on finally tying the knot after 51 years. (Applause.) I looked it up, and depending on how you count, the traditional gift for your next anniversary is either paper, for year one -- or whatever you want, because there is no traditional gift for 52 years. (Laughter.) But I think it's so important to understand how rare relationships like yours are. And however you celebrate, we hope you have many, many more years together.
And with that, why don't you guys sit down, because that knee is acting up. (Laughter.)
I want all of you to know how much it means to us for you to be able to join here at this year's Pride Celebration. We've got some terrific public servants who are here today, including our Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. (Applause.) We've got mayors, and we've got state legislators, and we've got LGBT members of my administration. We also have three judges that I was proud to name to the federal bench: Todd Hughes, Judy Levy, and Nitza Quinones Alejandro. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Before I took office, we had only one openly gay federal judge to be confirmed by the Senate. Now, along with Todd, Judy, and Nitza, that number is 11. So we're making some progress. (Applause.)
Three other people I want to mention. First of all, Tobias Wolff, who's been advising me since my first presidential campaign and has had a great impact on my administration and how we've thought about a bunch of issues. Please give Tobias a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Number two -- a special treat for me -- my college professor when I was a freshman in college at Occidental, Dr. Lawrence Goldyn is here. I want to just talk a little bit about Lawrence. When I went in as a freshman -- this is 1979 at Occidental College -- and according to Lawrence, I guess there were maybe a couple of other gay professors, but they weren't wildly open about it. Lawrence was not shy. (Laughter.) And I took a class from him, and because he was one of the young professors, we became really good friends. But also, he was the first openly gay person that I knew who was unapologetic, who stood his ground. If somebody gave him guff, he'd give them guff right back, and was I think part of a generation that really fought so many battles that ultimately came into fruition later. And he also played a huge role in advising lesbian, gay and transgender students at the school at a time when that was still hard for a lot of young college kids. And he went on to become a doctor and ran an AIDS clinic, and now is the head of a health center.
But I just wanted to acknowledge him because he helped shape how I think about so many of these issues, and those sort of quiet heroes that sometimes don't get acknowledged. So give Lawrence a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Finally, I have to mention a man who's made life at the White House very sweet. This is one of Michelle and my favorite people -- our executive pastry chef Bill Yosses -- (laughter) -- who's here tonight with his husband, Charlie. (Applause.) Where's Bill?
MRS. OBAMA: But he's leaving.
THE PRESIDENT: He's -- this is the problem. We call Bill the ''Crustmaster'' because his pies -- I don't know what he does, whether he puts crack in them, or -- (laughter) -- but --
MRS. OBAMA: No, he doesn't. (Laughter.) There is no crack in our pies. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I'm just saying that when we first came to the White House, I don't know if some of you remember this -- the first year, like, my cholesterol shot up. (Laughter.) And the doctor was like, what happened? You had like this really low cholesterol. You were really healthy. And I thought, it's the pie. (Laughter.) It's the pie. So we had to establish like a really firm rule about no pie during the week. (Laughter.)
But he's also just a wonderful person. And after seven years, he's leaving the White House. So we just want to give Bill and Charlie the best of luck. And we love them. Thank you. (Applause.)
So a lot has happened in the year since we last gathered here together. Same-sex marriage has gone into effect in 10 more states -- (applause) -- which means that 43 percent of Americans now live in states where you're free to marry who you love. The NFL drafted its first openly gay player. (Applause.) Harvey Milk got a stamp. (Applause.) Laverne Cox was on the cover of TIME. (Applause.) Coca-Cola and Honeymaid were unafraid to sell their products in commercials showing same-sex parents and their children. (Applause.) And perhaps most importantly, Mitch and Cam got married, which caused Michelle and the girls to cry. (Laughter and applause.) That was big. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: It was big.
THE PRESIDENT: This year, we mark the 45th anniversary of Stonewall. And I know some of you were there. And this tremendous progress we've made as a society is thanks to those of you who fought the good fight, and to Americans across the country who marched and came out and organized to secure the rights of others. So I want to thank all of you for making the United States a more just and compassionate place.
I want to thank you for offering support and guidance to our administration. Because of your help, we've gone further in protecting the rights of lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender Americans than any administration in history. (Applause.)
In 2009, I told you at this reception that I would sign an inclusive hate crimes bill with Matthew Shepard's name on it, and I did -- because hate-driven violence has taken the lives of too many people in this community, and it has to end.
When we came together in 2010, I told you we'd repeal ''don't ask, don't tell.'' Some of you didn't believe me. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We did that, too ''- because nobody should have to hide who you love to serve the country you love. (Applause.)
That same year, we released the first-ever comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy to unite our entire government behind fighting this disease and helping those most at risk. (Applause.)
In 2011, I said my administration would no longer defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And thanks to Edie Windsor, and Robbie Kaplan, and the Department of Justice, that law was overturned, and we've extended benefits to legally married same-sex couples across the country. (Applause.)
In 2012, I promised that my administration would do more to address and prevent bullying and discrimination in our classrooms. And we have ''- because it's not enough just to say it gets better; we have to actually make it better, like so many Americans are trying to do every day.
We've got here today Pete Cahall, who is the principal of Woodrow Wilson High here in Washington. (Applause.) At a school Pride event this month, inspired by brave students, Pete stood up and said something he'd never said at the school before, which is: ''I am a proud gay man.'' And the students all cheered. Pete is here today. Because of his example, more young people know they don't have to be afraid to be who they are; no matter who they love, people have their backs. So we're proud of you. (Applause.)
Last year, I promised to implement the Affordable Care Act so this community could get quality, affordable health care like you deserve. And we did that, too. (Applause.) And thanks to that law, you can no longer be denied health insurance on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity. (Applause.)
We've still got a little more work to do. I've repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Right now, there are more states that let same-sex couples get married than there are states who prohibit discrimination against their LGBT workers. We have laws that say Americans can't be fired on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability. But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -'' not because of anything they've done -- (baby cries) -- I know, it's terrible -- (laughter) -- but because of who they are. It's upsetting. It is wrong.
The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it's the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won't act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. (Applause.)
And I've asked my staff to prepare a second executive order so that federal employees ''- who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation ''- will now formally be protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well. (Applause.)
So we've got a lot to be proud of, but obviously we can't grow complacent. We've got to defend the progress that we've made. We've got to keep on reaching out to LGBT Americans who are vulnerable and alone, and need our support ''- whether it's teenagers in rough situations to seniors who are struggling to find housing and care. (Baby cries.) I know, it's tough. (Laughter.)
We've got to keep fighting for an AIDS-free generation, and for the human rights of LGBT persons around the world. (Applause.)
And I would also ask all of us to direct some of the energy and passion and resources of this movement towards other injustices that exist. Because one of the things that I think we should have learned -- (applause) -- Dr. King said an ''injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'' And that means that we've got to be able to set up a community that extends beyond our own particular narrow interests; we've got to make sure that we're reaching out to others who need our help as well. (Applause.)
And that means fighting for poor kids. And it means fighting for workers to get a decent wage. It means showing compassion for the undocumented worker who is contributing to our society and just wants a chance to come out of the shadows. (Applause.) It means fighting for equal pay for equal work. It means standing up for sexual -- standing up against sexual violence wherever it occurs. It means trying to eliminate any vestige of racial or religious discrimination and anti-Semitism wherever it happens.
That's how we continue our nation's march towards justice and equality. That's how we build a more perfect union ''- a country where no matter what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love, you've got a chance to make it if you try. You guys have shown what can happen when people of goodwill organize and stand up for what's right. And we've got to make sure that that's not applied just one place, in one circumstance, in one time. That's part of the journey that makes America the greatest country on Earth.
So thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
END5:53 P.M. EDT
Presidential Proclamation -- 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2014
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Few achievements have defined our national identity as distinctly or as powerfully as the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It transformed our understanding of justice, equality, and democracy and advanced our long journey toward a more perfect Union. It helped bring an end to the Jim Crow era, banning discrimination in public places; prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; and providing a long-awaited enforcement mechanism for the integration of schools. A half-century later, we celebrate this landmark achievement and renew our commitment to building a freer, fairer, greater society.
Through the lens of history, the progress of the past five decades may seem inevitable. We may wish to remember our triumphs while erasing the pain and doubt that came before. Yet to do so would be a disservice to the giants who led us to the mountaintop, to unsung heroes who left footprints on our National Mall, to every American who bled and died on the battlefield of justice. In the face of bigotry, fear, and unyielding opposition from entrenched interests, their courage stirred our Nation's conscience. And their struggle helped convince a Texas Democrat who had previously voted against civil rights legislation to become its new champion. With skillful charm and ceaseless grit, President Lyndon B. Johnson shepherded the Civil Rights Act through the Congress -- and on July 2, 1964, he signed it into law.
While laws alone cannot right every wrong, they possess an unmatched power to anchor lasting change. The Civil Rights Act threw open the door for legislation that strengthened voting rights and established fair housing standards for all Americans. Fifty years later, we know our country works best when we accept our obligations to one another, embrace the belief that our destiny is shared, and draw strength from the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on Earth.
As we reflect on the Civil Rights Act and the burst of progress that followed, we also acknowledge that our journey is not complete. Today, let us resolve to restore the promise of opportunity, defend our fellow Americans' sacred right to vote, seek equality in our schools and workplaces, and fight injustice wherever it exists. Let us remember that victory never comes easily, but with iron wills and common purpose, those who love their country can change it.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 2, 2014, as the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate this accomplishment and advance civil rights in our time.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA
Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution Letter regarding Iraq
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:45
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2014
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENTTO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESAND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
June 30, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
As I previously reported on June 16, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. In light of the security situation in Baghdad, I have ordered up to approximately 200 additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel to
Iraq to reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy, its support facilities, and the Baghdad International Airport. This force consists of additional security forces, rotary-wing aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support.
This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.
This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
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BTSync
In response to the recent BTSync events, I would like to formally request immediate Podcast License revocation for anyone violating the following rules:
1) Not clicking on a checkbox to see if it fixes the problem
2) Believing Tech Support
Those violating the above rules may have their license reinstated after paying the standard fine.
Love the show,
Sir Brian
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Book Club
Middle East recommendation from Knight
Adam,
After listening to the past few shows, your desire to learn more about middle east history really hit home with me.
In 2006 or 2007 I came across "United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11 by Professor Salim Yaqub." Its about 12 hours of lectures dealing with the US/Middle East relations over the past 100 years (stopping at 2003).
I'd like to recommend this "book" for the NA Book Club. I hope you and other producers find this a valuable tool to understanding current US/Middle East relations.
Professor Salim Yaqub is an Associate Professor at UC Santa Barbra.
http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/Courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=8593
Also on Audible.
Sir Andrew Greene (of Florida, not UK)
Founding Producer (since March 2009)
ITM LGY TYFYC
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Iraq
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Isis & Al Nusra Merge & Announce Islamic Caliphate - Obama to Send them $500 Million
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:06
ISIS and Al Nusra have decided to join forces, and have announced the formation of an Islamic Caliphate covering much of Iraq and Syria. As if to congratulate them (or as a housewarming gift), the Obama administration is planning to send them an additional $500 million dollars.
Sound like an exaggeration? It's not.
ISIS began as a branch of Al Qaeda. In February of 2014 the official leadership of Al Qaeda disavowed the group in an attempt to distance themselves from the bad press ISIS attracts for itself (ISIS does after all have a predilection for mass executions), however by merging with Al Nusra ISIS has effectively nullified this. Al Nusra pledged their allegiance to Al Qaeda in April of 2013 (Al Nusra is often referred to as Al Qaeda's official branch in Syria), which means that ISIS and Al Qaeda have effectively reunited (to reverse this Al Qaeda would have to cut all ties with Al Nusra).
Now the Obama administration is seeking an additional $500 million dollars for what they are referring to as the "moderate" Syrian rebels. Trouble is, the so called "moderate" rebels regularly conduct joint operations with Al-Nusra, and refuse to classify Al Qaeda as an enemy. By the way, isn't it technically a crime to provide material support to a terrorists organization?
It's a little tricky to keep up on who is on whose side, but for now ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Syrian Revolutionary Front (aka FSA) are working together, and that means that any weapons or money that the U.S. government sends to the Syrian rebels are going to end up helping ISIS.
There has been been a lot of talk about "vetting" the rebels to insure that U.S. support doesn't end up in the wrong hands, but this is just public relations. The idea that Washington can control the flow of weapons and money after it enters a war zone dominated by Islamic extremists is almost as ludicrous as the claim that this support will stabilize the region. As pathetic as the official line may be, what else could we expect? It's not like they can tell the truth.
Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma'an - 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:38
Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma'an - 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready
''Ma'an is the Falluja of Jordan!'' shouted thousands of Bedouin Saturday, June 28, in the southern Jordanian town of Ma'an. This legend was inscribed on the placards and flags they bore aloft with one hand in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). In the other, they waved automatic rifles.
Ma'an (pop: 50,000) is in a sensitive location: 218 km south of Amman, it also lies 104 km from the Israeli port town of Eilat and some 60 km from the main artery cutting south from northern Israel to the south.
But although pro-Al Qaeda riots have been going on for days in Ma'an, capital of the southern province of the Kingdom of Jordan, military and security personnel have not been seen in its vicinity.
The town has a history of violent unrest. It has in the past suffered curfew and was even, when the rioting got out of hand, stormed by soldiers firing live rounds and leaving dozens dead.
For now, King Abdullah is conferring urgently with his army and intelligence chiefs on how to suppress the Islamist revolt in Ma'an without it spilling over into other Jordanian towns, especially Salt, Irbid and Zerka, which have large clusters of Al Qaeda followers.
There was anxious talk in Washington Sunday about the prospect of Abdullah's throne being rocked by an Islamist revolt, in which case the Obama administration would have no option but to approve the intervention of American and Israeli special operations forces to defend the king, and push back against an Al Qaeda-ISIS invasion. However the domestic Islamist peril may be more immediate and acute than the external one.
A US military source consulted by debkafile revealed that the Jordanian army is now concentrated in three sectors: The Syrian border in the north, the Iraqi border in the east and the capital.
In the first case, Jordanian troops are ranged to head off a possible incursion by ISIS forces concentrated in eastern Syria. They are also prepared to withstand a possible Syrian army assault to dampen Jordan's military support for the Syrian rebels operating in southern Syria in defense of the Jordanian and Israeli borders.
In the second case, the Jordanian army is deployed directly opposite the ISIS forces which have seized control of most of Iraq's Anbar province adjacent to the Jordanian border.The army's third sector is the capital, Amman, where it acts as the guardian of the royal regime.
Should the Islamist conflagration spread from Ma'an to other corners of the kingdom, its army will be short of fighting manpower for simultaneous defense against internal and external threats.Our Washington sources report that Brig. Gen. Dennis McKean, commander of the joint US-Jordanian-Israeli underground Centcom-Forward war room established near Amman, has already received instructions to place the 12,000 US soldiers and USAF F-16 fighter squadron positioned in Jordan on the ready.
They also disclose that Brig. McKean is in direct communication with Israel's Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the commander of Israel's Deep Operations command, Maj. Gen. Shay Avital and Israel Air Force chief Maj. Gen. .Amir Eshel.The Deep Operations command was established in case it was necessary to launch operations against Iran or the Lebanese Hizballah in alien territory. This unit may find itself operating against Al Qaeda's ISIS in Jordan instead
Washington, Jerusalem and Amman are mulling over whether to wait for the trouble in Jordan to escalate further before intervening, or to act preemptively before matters get out of hand by punching hard at ISIS forces concentrated along the Iraqi-Jordanian border. In the latter case, there would have to be a second decision as to which army would inflict the punch, its location and a forward estimate of the potential repercussions on Jordan's internal security.
Breaking: ISIS Declares Itself Caliphate, Changes Name To ''IS'''...Update: Calls On Al Qaeda To Join Them, Declares ''International Jihad''
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:35
It depends on what IS is'...
Via RT:
ISIS jihadists have declared the captured territories from Iraq's Diyala province to Syria's Aleppo a new Islamic State '' a 'caliphate.' They removed 'Iraq and the Levant' from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance.
ISIS announced that it should now be called 'The Islamic State' and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as ''the caliph'' of the new state and ''leader for Muslims everywhere,'' the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday.
This is the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 that a Caliph '' which means a political successor to Prophet Muhammad '' has been declared. The decision was made following the group's Shura Council meeting on Sunday, according to ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.
Update:
Via RT:
The jihadist group has also claimed that they are now a legitimate state.
The Islamic State has called on Al-Qaeda and other radical Sunni militants in the region to immediately pledge their allegiance, ushering in ''a new era of international jihad.''
ISIS militants outline chilling five-year plan for global domination | Mail Online
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:25
Sunni militants have announced formation of Islamic state in Middle EastThey demand Muslims around the world swear allegiance to the caliphateClaim leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now has authority over all MuslimsGroup has also now changed its name from ISIS to just the Islamic StateAnnouncement described as 'most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11'.By John Hall
Published: 02:06 EST, 30 June 2014 | Updated: 04:51 EST, 1 July 2014
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ISIS has formally declared the establishment of a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast stretches of the Middle East that have fallen under its control, and has outlined a vision to expand into Europe.
The announcement was described as the 'most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11'.
Upon declaring a caliphate, the Sunni militants - whose brutality in attempting to establish control in Iraq and Syria has been branded too extreme even by Al Qaeda - demanded allegiance from Muslims around the world.
With brutal efficiency, ISIS has carved out a large chunk of territory that has effectively erased the border between Iraq and Syria and laid the foundations of its proto-state.
Scroll down for video
Caliphate: A map purportedly showing the areas ISIS plans to have under its control within five years has been widely shared online. As well as the Middle East, North Africa and large areas of Asia, it also reveals ISIS' ambition to extend into Europe. Spain, which was Muslim-ruled until the late 15th Century, would form part of the caliphate, as would the Balkan states and eastern Europe, up to and including Austria
Announcement: ISIS militants (pictured) have formally declared the establishment of a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast stretches of the Middle East that have fallen under its control
Leader: ISIS declared the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (pictured left and right), the head of the new caliphate under the name Caliph Ibrahim and called on all Muslims around the world to swear loyalty to him
Extremist: A gun-brandishing Islamist loyal to ISIS celebrates the announcement of the Islamic State by waving an Islamic flag in the Syrian city of Raqqa yesterday. The area is considered ISIS' main operational base
Baghdad residents dismiss Islamic 'caliphate' as illusion
The announcement, made on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, could trigger a wave of infighting among Sunni extremist factions that have until now formed a loose rebel alliance.
A spokesman for ISIS declared the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the leader of the new caliphate, or Islamic state, and called on Muslims everywhere, not just those in areas under the organization's control, to swear loyalty to him.
'The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph's authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas,' said Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.
'Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day,' he added in an audio statement posted online.
Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the announcement was likely the 'most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11'.
Al-Adnani loosely defined the state territory as running from northern Syria to the Iraqi province of Diyala - a vast stretch of land straddling the border that is already largely under ISIS control.
He also said that with the establishment of the caliphate, the group was changing its name to just the Islamic State, dropping the mention of Iraq, Sham and the Levant.
However, in a map widely-shared by ISIS supporters on social networks, the Islamist group outlined a five-year plan for how they would like to expand their boundaries beyond Muslim-majority countries.
As well as plans to expand the caliphate throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and large parts of western Asia, the map also marks out an expansion in parts of Europe.
Spain, which was ruled by Muslims for 700 years until 1492, is marked out as a territory the caliphate plans to have under its control by 2020.
Elsewhere, ISIS plans to take control of the the Balkan states - including Greece, Romania and Bulgaria - extending its territories in eastern Europe as far as Austria, which appears to be based on a pre-First World War borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
ISIS regularly makes statements and releases propaganda calling for the return of the geographical boundaries in place before the Great War .
The group insist the carving up of the Ottoman Empire by Allied forces after the conflict - commonly known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement - was a deliberate attempt to divide Muslims and restrict the likelihood of another caliphate being established.
Muslim extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic state, or caliphate, that ruled over the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in various forms over the course of Islam's 1,400-year history.
ISIS posts taunting video of police station demolition in Iraq
Support: Following ISIS' demands that Muslims around the world declare their allegiance to the caliphate, some already appear to be doing so. This photograph, apparently taken in the Netherlands, has been share online by ISIS supporters
Execution: With brutal efficiency, ISIS has carved out a large chunk of territory that has effectively erased the border between Iraq and Syria and laid the foundations of its proto-state
IN DECLARING A CALIPHATE, ISIS NOW CLAIMS TO LEAD ALL MUSLIMSA caliphate is an Islamic state ruled by a 'caliph' - in this case Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - who is seen as the successor to Prophet Mohammed by those swearing allegiance.
In much the same way as the Pope is considered the head of the Catholic church, a caliph would consider themselves leader of the world's Muslims.
They would hold themselves responsible for establishing policy - based strictly on the Quran - for all Muslims and territories.
One of the first things ISIS did after announcing a caliphate was to declare all emirates and sultanates illegal.
Therefore anybody swearing oath to the new Islamic state would simultaneously be declaring that they no longer recognise either the borders, laws or authority of current Muslim-led states.
On announcing the Islamic state, the militants repeatedly described it as being 'restored'.
This is a reference to the last widely-acknowledged caliphate - which existed under the Ottoman Empire and effectively ended with the founding of Turkey in 1923.
Many Islamists - including ISIS - blame this collapse on the geographical carving-up of the Ottoman Empire by Allied Forces after the First World War.
In declaring a caliphate, ISIS now claims to partly 'corrected' the century-old dispute.
It was unclear what immediate impact the declaration would have on the ground in Syria and Iraq, though experts predicted it could herald infighting among Sunni militants who have joined forces with the Islamic State in its fight against Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite-led government.
'Now the insurgents in Iraq have no excuse for working with ISIS if they were hoping to share power with ISIS,' said Aymenn al-Tamimi, an analyst who specializes in Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. 'The prospect of infighting in Iraq is increased for sure,' he added.
The greatest impact, however, could be on the broader international jihadist movement, in particular on the future of Al Qaeda.
Founded by Osama Bin Laden, the group that carried out the September 11 attacks on the U.S. has long carried the mantle of the international jihadi cause.
But the Islamic State has managed to do in Syria and Iraq what Al Qaeda never has - carve out a large swath of territory in the heart of the Arab world and control it.
'This announcement poses a huge threat to al-Qaida and its long-time position of leadership of the international jihadist cause,' said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
'Taken globally, the younger generation of the jihadist community is becoming more and more supportive of [ISIS] largely out of fealty to its slick and proven capacity for attaining rapid results through brutality,' he added.
Al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi militant who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, took the reins of ISIS in 2010 when it was still an Al Qaeda affiliate based in Iraq.
Brazen: An ISIS fighter holds a jihadist flag in one hand and an assault rifle in the other in a public square in the Iraqi city of Mosul last week
Protests: The group has called for Muslims around the world to swear their allegiance to the Islamic state. In Shi'ite-dominated Iran, however, there have been widespread demonstrations against the Islamist militants
Fighting back: Members of Kurdish security forces sit in a vehicle as they keep guard during clashes with ISIS militants in the village of Basheer in Iraq yesterday
ISIS declares itself a caliphate as unrest continues in Iraq
Since then, he has transformed what had been an umbrella organization focused mainly on Iraq into a transnational military force.
Al-Baghdadi has long been at odds with Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, and the two had a very public falling out after al-Baghdadi ignored al-Zawahiri's demands that the Islamic State leave Syria.
Fed up with al-Baghdadi and unable to control him, al-Zawahiri formally disavowed ISIS in February.
But al-Baghdadi's stature has only grown since then, as his fighters strengthened their grip on much of Syria, and have now overrun large swathes of Iraq.
Following his appointment as head of the caliphate, ISIS demanded al-Baghdadi be referred to as Caliph Ibrahim - using the name given to the son of the Prophet Muhammad in order to strengthen the claim that he is now the leader of the Muslims and a direct successor to the prophet himself.
The Islamic State's declaration comes as the Iraqi government tries to wrest back some of the territory it has lost to the jihadi group and its Sunni militant allies in recent weeks.
On Sunday, Iraqi helicopter gunships struck suspected insurgent positions for a second consecutive day in Tikrit - the predominantly Sunni hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi military launched its push to wrest back Tikrit - a hotbed of antipathy toward Iraq's Shiite-led government - on Saturday with a multi-pronged assault spearheaded by ground troops backed by tanks and helicopters.
MORTAR SHELLS KILL 15 AND WOUND 50 OTHERS IN NORTHERN SYRIA A barrage of mortar shells hit government-held areas of the northern city of Idlib today, killing 14 people and wounding at least 50, Syrian state media said.
Idlib is the provincial capital in northwestern Syria and it has been under the control of President Bashar Assad's troops since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011.
Rebels trying to overthrow Assad's government control the areas around the city.
They have been besieging the city for more than two years, firing mortars into the government-held areas and clashing with Assad's troops at its outskirts.
Conflict: Idlib is the provincial capital in northwestern Syria. Intense fighting has taken place in and around the city in recent days, with the Free Syrian Army (pictured) among those taking part
The state-run SANA news agency said mortars shells fell on several parts of Idlib this afternoon, including a residential area and a market. State TV said children were among those who died in the attacks, and at least 50 people were wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.
State TV blamed 'terrorists' for the attacks, a term the Syrian government uses for rebels trying to overthrow Assad's government.
Also this morning, activists reported heavy clashes between several Syrian rebel factions and an al-Qaida breakaway group fighting for control of a border crossing with Iraq in eastern Syria.
The fighting in the town of Boukamal, on the border between Syria and Iraq, between rebel groups and members of ISIS comes just hours after the jihadi group declared the establishment of a transnational Islamic caliphate.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the infighting was concentrated in the town and the nearby border crossing as different factions sought control of the frontier.
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ISIS Announces New State in Iraq, Syria; Names Leader Caliph
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:32
Reflecting its virtually uncontested control over a broad swath of land in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has announced the formation of a new nation, dubbed simply The Islamic State (TIS).
According to the announcement, TIS has been determined by Shura councils to be the ''restoration of the Caliphate,'' and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been declared the Caliph.
While TIS has been a de facto state for quite some time, albeit one with ill-defined borders engaged in multiple wars, the declaration of themselves as the new Caliphate is likely to fuel controversy around the world, and a direct challenge to Islamist factions.
That's because a Caliphate claims to be the direct successor of the Prophet Muhammad, and its Caliph would at least claim to be the consensus final religious authority for all of Sunni Islam.
Caliphates have a long history across the Middle East, with dominant Caliphates ruling significant territory and wielding broad influence through much of history. For centuries, Ottoman sultans also held the position of Caliph. In 1924, Turkey dissolved the institution of Caliphate, and there has been no consensus Caliph since. In recent decades several Islamist factions have called for the restoration of the Caliphate, though naturally each has envisioned itself at the head, and none has gained anywhere near this much traction.
With the declaration, ISIS is making an enormous power play, aiming to put itself formally in command of all ''faithful'' Sunnis on a religious level. While that's unlikely to matter across the broader Sunni world, except as a slap in the face, among Salafist factions like al-Qaeda this is a direct challenge, and a call for al-Qaeda and other such factions to submit to a position under Baghdadi's rule.
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Sunni militants declare new Islamic state -NHK WORLD English-
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:59
Sunni militants have declared the establishment of an Islamic state for the territories they control in Iraq and Syria.
The founders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant made the declaration in an online audio statement posted on Sunday.
The group calls its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, caliph -- ruler of the Muslim community. It urges Muslims everywhere to swear loyalty to him and support him.
Al-Baghdadi is wanted by the US government for alleged involvement in many militant attacks.
The Al-Qaeda breakaway group also said it is changing its name to just the Islamic State, dropping the mention of Iraq and the Levant.
The group has been fighting the government forces of Iraq and Syria. It has seized Iraq's 2nd largest city of Mosul and other areas.
The declaration comes on the 1st day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The move is apparently aimed at underlining the Sunni militant group's expanding influence and calling more fighters to Iraq and Syria.
Jun. 30, 2014 - Updated 01:37 UTC
Rome will be conquered next, says leader of 'Islamic State' - Telegraph
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:35
"This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills."
Having claimed the title of "caliph", Baghdadi appealed to "judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields."
He also called on jihadi fighters to escalate fighting in the holy month of Ramadan, which began on Sunday. "In this virtuous month or in any other month, there is no deed better than jihad in the path of Allah, so take advantage of this opportunity and walk the path of you righteous predecessors," he said. "So to arms, to arms, soldiers of the Islamic s, fight, fight."
In a reflection of the havoc wreaked the past month by the Sunni insurgency led by the group, the United Nations said more than 2,400 people were killed in Iraq in June, making it the deadliest month in the country in years.
Baghdadi's claims to control vast territority have yet to be tested by an Iraqi government counter attack. Many Muslim groups dispute his putative caliphate. However some experts fear his rise could transform the appeal of extremist Islam, partly by harassing social media to build a global following.
Hassan Hassan, an analyst at Abu Dhabi's Delma Institute, wrote that Baghdadi provided the most radical challenge since the emergence of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. "The whispers of support to a caliph in Afghanistan are now replaced by clear words and acts, amplified by social media," he said. "Jihadism has evolved significantly. It is no longer limited to narrow ''elitists'' who travel to distant countries to wage jihad. Today's jihad is more sophisticated and individualised and can be waged everywhere."
The Sunni insurgents' advance, which has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since US troops left in 2011 puts it up against avowed enemies in Shia areas.
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Netanyahu urges Kurdish independence
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:55
TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the international community on Sunday to support Jordan in the fight against ''Islamic extremism'' and to back the independence of Iraq's Kurds.
''We need to support efforts by the international community to strengthen Jordan and support the aspirations of the Kurds for independence,'' Netanyahu said in a speech to the Institute of National Security Studies think-tank in Tel Aviv.
''I think it's our common interest to make sure that a moderate, stable regime like (Jordan) is able to defend itself.'' His remarks follow reports in Israeli media that officials in Tel Aviv fear Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants may extend their control to areas of Jordan after seizing parts of Iraq in recent weeks.
In Syria, ISIL's fighters already control large swathes of territory in Deir Ezzor near the Iraq border, Raqa in the north, as well as parts of neighbouring Aleppo province.
In Iraq, they have spearheaded a lightning offensive, capturing sizeable territories in the north and west of the conflict-torn country.
Netanyahu also called for independence for Iraq's Kurdistan region, where Kurdish peshmerga security forces have mobilised in an unprecedented deployment to fight against ISIL. The premier voiced concern over ''the powerful wave triggered by ISIL, which could reach Jordan in a very short time.''
He added: ''We must be able to stop the terrorism and fundamentalism that can reach us from the east at the Jordan line and not in the suburbs of Tel Aviv.''
US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted talks with Gulf Allies and Jordan last week, emphasising the Hashemite kingdom's key role in helping to stem the regional gains of ISIL, who had earlier seized control of a Jordanian border crossing in Iraq.
ISIL on Sunday declared it had established a ''caliphate,'' or Islamist state, straddling Iraq and Syria.
The jihadists said the state would spread from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in eastern Iraq, ordering Muslims in those areas to pay allegiance to the group.
Separately, Israel's interior minister said he will no longer permit Tel Aviv supermarkets to stay open on the Jewish Sabbath, drawing a chorus of criticism on Monday from liberal Israelis who see the regulation as religious coercion against secular society.
In his ruling, Minister Gideon Saar said he is rejecting the city's proposed bylaws to allow supermarkets to remain open from Friday evening to Saturday evening.
Agencies
Kurd Oil Sales Seen by Deutsche Bank Gaining Market Acceptance
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:55
Kurdish crude oil is poised to gain acceptance after the semi-autonomous region delivered a cargo and received a payment, according to Deutsche Bank AG.
''We expect trading houses to become increasingly comfortable handling Kurdistan Region of Iraq crude and steady-state exports to emerge,'' analysts led by Lucas Herrmann wrote in an e-mailed report dated today.
The Kurdistan Regional Government started to export crude to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan through its own pipeline last month, without approval from Iraq's central government. Four tankers have so far loaded cargoes of Kurdish crude in Ceyhan, with one shipment sold, according to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
Turkey's Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, or Halkbank, received $93 million for a shipment, Yildiz said on June 23. The destination of the crude isn't of interest to Turkey, the minister said.
''Despite regional conflict and the threat of legal action from Baghdad, significant milestones have been achieved,'' Hermann said.
Iraq's government has warned that it will prosecute any buyers of the Kurdish oil and sought arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce. The Kurdistan Regional Government says it's abiding by the Iraqi constitution.
The Kurdistan Regional Government controls 45 billion barrels of oil reserves, according to its estimates.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net Rachel Graham, James Herron
Israel buys Smuggled Iraqi Oil, Joins U.S. Push for Kurdish State | nsnbc international
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:43
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The creation of an independent Kurdish State is a foregone conclusion, said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whose attempt to push Iraq's al-Maliki administration to ''create'' an unconstitutional ''national unity government'' was rejected by al-Maliki. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey's capital Ankara is said to be supervising the ISIL war on Iraq. Turkey's AKP government ''supports'' an independent Kurdish State and turns a blind eye to the smuggling of stolen Iraqi oil to Israel.
Kurdish militants from Iraq's U.S.-created Kurdish Administrated North seized the region around Kirkuk while the Iraqi armed forces and the government of P.M. Nouri al-Maliki were fending of ISIS brigades push towards the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Image '' Kerry And Netanyahu '' shehab.ps
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Kurdish ''president'' Massoud Barzani, Turkey's AKP government as well as western and Gulf-Arab press agencies are peddling the ISIS campaign and Massoud Barzani's''push for Kurdish independence'' as two loosely related phenomena. The situation in Iraq is largely peddled as based on sectarian and ethnic conflicts.
Omissions and Distortions. Peddling the Balkanization of Iraq. Media are omitting information about the involvement of all of the above in planning both the ISIS campaign and the Kurdish ''push for independence'' for over one year.
A person close to the former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri revealed that the campaign, which was already planned for August 2013, was stalled when the U.K. parliament voted against bombing Syria, giving the Syrian Army a chance to dislodge ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusrah from the oil rich region around Deir Ez-Zor in August '' September 2013.
U.S. Neo-Con & Neo-Lib '' Israeli Alliance and Atlantic Council Compare Current Situation with 1914 and 1945. The final green light for the 2014 ISIS campaign was reportedly given in November 2013 at the Atlantic Council's Energy Summit in Ankara, after the al-Maliki administration in 2012 and 2013 failed to respond to U.S. blackmail attempts with regards to Syria and with regards to Kurdish ''independence''.
A person close to former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri said during an almost two-hour-long conversation, that Saad Hariri, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, Kurdish Energy Minister Hawrami, former Clinton security adviser and Atlantic Council member Scowcroft and others were expecting that the Kurdish State could have been established in 2013 already.
In 2013 the project failed when the U.K. Parliament voted against bombing Syria which gave the Syrian government the possibility to defeat ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusrah in Syria's oil-rich eastern region around Deir Ez-Zor. He added that al-Maliki had been put under intense pressure from both Ankara and Washington to stop aiding Syria by controlling Iraq's border to Saudi Arabia, and under a lot of pressure to accept Kurdish independence. The project should have been completed in 2013. The final decision for the ISIS campaign in 2014, was taken at the Atlantic Council's Energy Summit in November 2013 in Ankara, he stressed, describing the network behind the initiative and asserting that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara is the headquarter for the ISIS operation against Iraq.
''Who exactly pressured Obama? I don't know who delivered the message to Obama. I suspect Kerry had a word. It's more important from where the message came, Kissinger, Scowcroft, Nuland and the Keagan clan, Stavridis, Petreaus, Riccardione, and the neo-con crowd at the [Atlantic] Council. '... As far as I know ´someone` told Obama that he'd better pressure al-Maliki to go along with Kurdish autonomy by November or else. Who exactly ´advised` Obama is not as important as the fact that those people let him know that they would go ahead, with, or without him''.
It is against the background of these disclosures, against the background of the ongoing ISIS campaign, the seizure of Kirkuk by Kurdish militants, that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, earlier this week, attempted to pressure al-Maliki into establishing an unconstitutional ''unity government''.
After Kerry left Baghdad, al-Maliki addressed the Iraqi people in his weekly, televised speech, saying:
''The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process. '... It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the voters of the votes''.
Kerry's and the U.S.' response to al-Maliki's rejection was to stress that the U.S., in this case, would not send additional military advisers. It is noteworthy that these ''advisers'', whose only task is to monitor the Iraqi forces battles against ISIS militants, are a potential security risk for Iraq. A less euphemistic way of describing these ''advisers'' would be to say '' 300 U.S. military personnel who monitor the Iraqi military's fight against U.S. backed ISIS brigades''.
Israel Joins the Choir for Kurdish Independence, Imports Stolen, Smuggled Iraqi Oil via Turkey. On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman joined the international effort to peddle the Balkanization of Iraq as ''Kurdish Independence''. Addressing the press after a meeting with John Kerry in Paris, Avigdor Lieberman said:
''Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish State is a foregone conclusion''.
Lieberman was preceded by Israeli President Shimon Perez on Wednesday, when he styled a message to U.S. President Obama and a misinformed Western public, saying:
''The Kurds have de facto created their own state, which is democratic. One of the signs of democracy is the granting of equality to women''.
Perez' statement came after ABC and CNN top-propagandist Christine Amanpour interviewed ''president'' Massoud Barzani, peddling the creation of an independent Kurdish State as unavoidable and ''fulfillment of long-held aspirations''.
The British ''the guardian'' joined the choir, quoting the Kurdish head of the economic committee in Iraq's national parliament as saying:
''Kirkuk will finally produce oil for Kurds, For 70 years oil has been used to buy weapons to kill us, finally we have our oil and it will only be for the Kurds''.
Being a good guardian, ''the guardian'' forgot to mention that Israeli clients have bought Iraqi oil that was smuggled via the Kirkuk '' Ceyhan pipeline to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey without the permission of the Iraqi government for some time; more specifically, since the plans adopted at the Atlantic Council's Energy Summit in Ankara, in November 2013 became implemented by Irbil and Ankara.
In May 2014 the Israeli import of stolen and smuggled Iraqi oil became so blatantly obvious that even the Reuters news agency could no longer omit the theft of Iraqi resources. May 15, 2014, Julia Payne and Ron Bouso published in Reuters:
Israeli and U.S. oil refineries have joined the growing list of customers for crude from Iraqi Kurdistan, a region locked in a bitter struggle with the central government in Baghdad that says the sales are illegal.
Kirkuk '' Ceyhan pipeline. Photo, Aydinlik Daily
Israel's Energy Ministry refused to comment. The Kurdish Energy Ministry under Energy Minister Hawrami, who participated in the Atlantic Council's Energy Summit in November, and who according to the informant close to Hariri was part of planning the ISIS operations since 2013, rejected that the Kurdish administration had sold the oil to Israel, directly or indirectly.
Payne and Bouso, however, cite the Geneva-based Mocoh trading company as stating that the Baltic Commodore arrived in the Israeli port of Ashkelon with Iraqi Shaikan crude on January 31, 2014. Mocoh refers to the vessel's tracking record. Payne and Bouso also report that Trafigura sent a cargo of Kurdish crude to Israel on the Hope A, which first went to Ashkhelon and then to Haifa between February 10 '' 15.
The Kriti Jade, loaded with ''Kurdish'' crude in Turkey, sailed to Ashkhelon on March 3 and to Haifa a few days later. The Kriti Sea reportedly picked up ''Kurdish'' oil from Turkey around Mach 5, and anchored off Limassol, Cyprus without discharging crude, report Payne and Bouso, adding that Petraco lifted both cargoes. The Kriti Sea then, still laden, headed towards Israel. The ship's tracking was switched off between May 17 '' 20 near the Israeli coast. When it reappeared, still close to the Israeli coast, the tanker was empty.
Ch/L '' nsnbc 27.06.2014
Related:
ABC & CNN Top-Propagandist Prepares Kurdish ''Independence'' from Iraq
U.S. Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq '' Hariri Insider
Atlantic Council Energy Summit in Istanbul and Regional Balkanization
Iraq Rejects U.S. Blackmail for ''Salvation'' Government
Resource: Vessel Finder '' Free Ship Tracking, Worldwide.
Genel Energy - Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:36
Our existing Kurdistan Region of Iraq portfolio, across our seven PSC licences, offers an attractive spectrum of geological risk by running through diverse geographies with different hydrocarbon systems, from Peshkabir in the north to Chia Surkh in the south.
Genel has interests in the two largest producing fields in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Taq Taq and Tawke, with access to local and international markets. These fields have a currently estimated gross proven and probable (2P) reserves of 1.3 billion barrels of oil (bbls) (453 mmbbls net to Genel Energy) and gross proven, probable and possible reserves of 1.8bn boe (639 mmbbls net to Genel Energy).
We are targeting material production capacity growth at both fields to achieve production of 200,000 gross bopd at both fields in 2014.
Supporting InfrastructureDuring 2013, the KRG completed the construction of its export pipeline infrastructure, giving it an independent route to export its oil production to world markets. The first section, a 20 inch diameter pipeline from the Taq Taq field to Khurmala, became operational in the first half of 2013. This section has initial capacity of 150,000 bopd, with the potential to increase to 200,000 bopd. The second section, from Khurmala to Dohuk, involved the conversion of a 36 inch pipeline which originally was intended to be a gas pipeline. The final section, from Dohuk to the KRI border with Turkey, was completed in the third quarter of 2013. This was tied into the existing 40 inch section of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline through a new metering station within KRI territory. Commissioning work has been progressing since the fourth quarter of 2013. This process has identified the needfor an upgrade to pumping stations in KRI territory. These works are expected to be completed in time to allow for full commissioning of the pipeline infrastructure during the second half of 2014.
In January 2014, the KRG announced that initial quantities of crude oil from the Tawke field had flowed through the pipeline system and arrived into storage at the port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.
1) Tawke included from 2009 when Genel Energy farmed-in to the license
WebcastPreliminary Results 2013
Genel Energy - Share Price Chart
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:16
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Genel Energy - Board of Directors
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:10
Mehmet –ÄŸ¼t§¼ was appointed to the Board as an Independent Non-Executive Director on 21 November 2011.
Committee memberships: Member of the Nomination Committee and the Health, Safety, Security and Environment Committees.
Skills and experience: Mehmet is currently Chairman of the Global Resources Partnership, a regional energy finance, investment and strategy Group. He also serves as an Independent Non-Executive Director on the Board of Yasar Holding Group, a leading Turkish conglomerate. Mehmet was appointed in March 2013 as the Energy Charter Secretary-General's special envoy for the MENA region. He leads Bosphorus Energy Club, a gathering of top energy, investment and geopolitical executives in Eurasia, MENA and Southeast Europe since September 2013.
Previously, Mehmet served as Director for International Government and Corporate Affairs at BG Group, the head of the OECD's Global Forum on international investment and regional outreach programmes (2000-2005), the Principal Administrator for Asia-Pacific and Latin America at the International Energy Agency (1994-2000), a Turkish diplomat in Ankara, Beijing, Brussels and Paris (1986-1994), Deputy Inspector at Is¸ Bankasi, NATO Research Fellow, the EU's Jean Monnet Fellow and adviser to the late President Turgut Ozal.
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AIVD krijgt 25 miljoen per jaar extra
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:06
Minister Ronald Plasterk (Binnenlandse Zaken) heeft dat aan de Tweede Kamer gemeld.
Het extra geld wordt vrijgemaakt vanwege ''toegenomen dreigingen'', aldus Plasterk in zijn brief.
''Jihadisten en terugkeerders uit oorlogsgebieden vormen een substantile bedreiging voor ons land. Ook de onrust bij de buitengrens van Europa - zoals Oekra¯ne - en cyberdreiging zijn toegenomen.''
SlagkrachtEerder afgesproken maatregelen die moesten leiden tot een bezuiniging door efficiencyverbetering blijven wel van kracht, aldus Plasterk. Dat betrof een besparing van 34 miljoen euro per jaar vanaf 2018, waarvan een groot deel al is ingevuld.
Overeind blijven 9 miljoen euro in 2017 en vanaf 2018 structureel 11 miljoen per jaar aan besparingen. Die moeten naast meer doelmatigheid ook worden gehaald doordat de AIVD en de militaire inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdienst MIVD samen in een gebouw komen te zitten. De 25 miljoen euro die er vanaf 2015 extra bijkomen, worden toegevoegd aan ''de operationele slagkracht'', stelt een woordvoerder van het ministerie in een toelichting.
Slagkracht"Ingestelde maatregelen zoals efficiencyverbetering en de voorgenomen verhuizing van de AIVD naar een locatie samen met de MIVD blijven staan", schrijft Plasterk maandag. "Met deze intensivering wordt de operationele slagkracht van de AIVD versterkt."
"Jihadisten en terugkeerders uit oorlogsgebieden vormen een substantile bedreiging voor ons land. Ook de onrust bij de buitengrens van Europa - zoals Oekra¯ne - en cyberdreiging zijn toegenomen", aldus een persbericht van Plasterks ministerie. Het dreigingsbeeld is sinds de start van dit kabinet in 2012 "steeds negatiever" geworden.
Eerder afgesproken maatregelen die moesten leiden tot een bezuiniging door efficiencyverbetering blijven wel van kracht, aldus Plasterk. Ook is het nog steeds de bedoeling dat de AIVD en de militaire inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdienst MIVD samen in een gebouw komen te zitten.
HennisPlasterks besluit, dat hij mede namens minister van Defensie Jeanine Hennis (verantwoordelijk voor de MIVD) bekendmaakt, komt nadat de AIVD maandagochtend meldde dat de afgelopen twee jaar al veertien Nederlandse jihadstrijders zijn omgekomen in Syri en Irak.
Volgens Dick Schoof, de Nationaal Co¶rdinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid (NCTV), is de dreiging van teruggekeerde jihadisten in Nederland zorgelijker dan ooit.
Minister Ivo Opstelten (Veiligheid en Justitie) kondigde maandag al aan dat het kabinet alle beschikbare middelen in zal zetten om de "veelomvattende" terroristische dreiging van jihadisten aan te pakken.
KamerledenToch zijn de zorgen van de Tweede Kamer nog niet helemaal weggenomen. Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD) noemt de investering ''verstandig'', maar benadrukt dat het geld ten goede moet komen aan operaties van de AIVD. De VVD is nog steeds voorstander van de bezuinigingen op de niet-operationele posten, zoals huisvesting en een efficintere organisatie.
Het CDA wijst erop dat de door Plasterk aangekondigde investering betekent dat er nog steeds 9 miljoen wordt bezuinigd op de AIVD. De christendemocraten willen dat de bezuinigingen ongedaan worden gemaakt en er extra middelen vrijkomen voor de dienst.
Gerard Schouw (D66) beschouwt de investering als een ''verstandige eerste stap'', maar is ook nog enigszins wantrouwig. Volgens Schouw is de AIVD door de bezuinigingen zo uitgekleed dat het water de dienst inmiddels aan de lippen staat.
Regeringspartij PvdA en de grootste oppositiepartij SP toonden zich wel tevreden.
Woensdag vindt er een debat plaats tussen Plasterk en de Tweede Kamer over de AIVD.
Dutch warned of posb. terrorist attacks
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:05
NetherlandsTop StoriesNetherlands counter-terrorism coordinator AIVD has warned that the threat of a terrorist attack in the country is ''bigger than ever before.'' The secret service is taking a possible attack against the Dutch democratic society very seriously, De Telegraaf reports.
On Monday, the AIVD presented a somber report on the rising power of jihadists in the country. The report, named 'Transformation of Jihadism in The Netherlands' warns that the Jihadist movement in The Netherlands counts several hundred loyal members and several thousand sympathisers at the moment.
According to the service, the attracting power of the extremist movement has become so large that ''many muslim youths will grow from 'joiner' sympathisers to hardened fighters who take part in gruesome acts in Syria such as summary executions, mass murders and the beheading of opposers.''
The AIVD is now afraid that such extreme attacks on Dutch and further European cities will occur before long. Not only societies, but also specific groups such as Jews, Shiite muslims or other muslim groups who speak out with criticism against these jihadists.
Sources tell De Telegraaf that there are currently several people who cannot go out into the open without protection. Among this group under threat are former radicalized muslims who have turned away from the ideology of violence, and well-known muslims in the country. The AIVD also says that muslims who openly protest the jihadist road to Syria, and who are ''against the extreme intolerance and anti-democratic conceptions of jihadism are being virtually and physically intimidated more often''. The service says that this is a telling sign that an attack is imminent.
The jihadist movement is difficult to counter, the AIVD states, as there is rare mention of a central leader. This makes the movement more flexible, and less vulnerable. Because there is such fluid and widespread communication possibilities for jihadists and sympathisers, any ''holes that come about as a result of, for example, arrests of jihad travel of certain persons with specific roles with media campaigns, logistics activities or fundraising, can quickly be filled.''
The service also points a finger at social media for allowing the explosive growth of the number of Dutch jihadists. ''Next to the increased professionalism and stronger orientation on an open and provocative activism, another development has brought about an entirely new dynamic within Dutch jihadism in a short time: the widespread use of social media.
''Jihad propaganda is available in every form and in every language, from classic jihadist works in writing to audio recordings of readings from ideologists and films from the jihadi struggle. It is more professional every time, and therefore made to look more appealing.''
Now, the AIVD is calling for a ''Delta plan against jihadism.'' The secret service urges for new measures to enlarge the resistance against jihadism. ''Preventative and repressive measures will have to assume the new structure and the changing character of the jihadist movement in The Netherlands.''
The secret service is calling on the government and the Islamic community to develop counter-measures ''that can offer effective counter-balance against the jihadist movement in The Netherlands, to prevent that this forms a steadily larger threat for the Dutch democratic legal order, national security and society.''
DutchNews.nl - Urgent action needed to stem radical Islam risk: Dutch security service
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:05
Urgent action needed to stem radical Islam risk: Dutch security serviceMonday 30 June 2014
The conflict in Syria has become a catalyst for radical Muslims in the Netherlands, with messages becoming more explicit and widespread, the Dutch security service AIVD said on Monday.
Radical texts spoken by young preachers and social media are leading to jihadist propaganda being spread more quickly, leading to 'further radicalisation on a wider scale,' the AIVD said in a new report.
The Dutch authorities estimate 130 Dutch citizens, including 20 girls and young women, have so far left to fight in Syria's civil war and around 80 are there at present.
Some 30 have returned to the Netherlands and 14 have been killed. Last week, police stopped a 15-year-old girl from travelling to Syria via Germany after a tip-off.
Not a hype
The growth in radicalism is not a hype and poses a risk to the Netherlands, AIVD head Rob Bertholee is quoted as saying.
Dick Schoof, head of the Dutch counter terrorism service said earlier on Monday that the threat risk in the Netherlands remains 'substantial' and repeated earlier warnings about the risk posed by people returning from Syria.
Even if the conflict in Syria is solved, the threat will remain, Schoof said. 'This is not something that will just blow over.' In Europe as a whole, some 3,000 people have gone to fight with radical groups. This means the entire continent is at risk, he said.
In particular, the role of social media and internet in spreading radical messages requires tackling, he said. He urged internet providers which host websites that spread hatred to take action.
Last week, an 18-year-old suspected recruiter was arrested and radical website De Ware Religie (the true religion) was taken off the air.
ISIS
In an interview with the NRC, Schoof said several thousand Muslims in the Netherlands are known to sympathise with the radicial ISIS movement and their number is growing.
For too long there has been a romantic image about youngsters joining the struggle in Syria, he said. 'They are not going to profit help. That is nonsense,' he said.
He stopped short of criticising the government, the NRC said.
Measures
Meanwhile, justice minister Ivo Opstelten said in a written briefing to parliament that the Netherlands will take 'very wide-ranging' measures to combat the terrorist threat posed by returnees from Syria and other conflict zones.
The Netherlands is involved in a 'very intensive' exchange of information at a national and international level, in particular about travel movements and contacts between known extremists.
'Every possible measure' will be used to prevent people travelling to conflict zones, including freezing their assets, stopping benefits and withdrawing passports, he said.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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About ISIS in Arizona
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:00
ISIS is headquartered outside Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Our Washington D.C. office is located in the Ronald Reagan Building. We are dedicated to supporting our national defense and security departments, as well as government contractors and private business, with mission-critical services performed by highly skilled experts in their fields. ISIS professionals can be found working side by side with the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government and Prime Contractors on the ground in such strategic environments as the Middle East. See Our Locations Map at the bottom of the page.
ISIS ManagementThe members of our management team have extensive industry experience, supervising, managing and serving on numerous OGA contracts operating in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa in the protection of U.S. national interests.Collectively, we've served as army intelligence officers; in special operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Panama and Haiti; as consultants for the U.S. Government on the Counter-Narcotics and Drug Interdiction Task Force, and more. Over the last 10 years, our leadership has successfully obtained and managed millions of dollars worth of government and corporate security contracts. READ MORE
Mission and ValuesISIS delivers critical services and support to help government and private organizations achieve mission success in demanding environments around the world. READ MORE
FBI: Colorado woman aimed to go to Syria for jihad
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:15
DENVER (AP) '-- FBI agents tried more than once to discourage a 19-year-old suburban Denver woman who said she was intent on waging jihad in the Middle East before arresting her in April as she boarded a flight she hoped would ultimately get her to Syria, court documents unsealed Wednesday show.
Shannon Maureen Conley had told agents that she wanted to use her American military training from the U.S. Army Explorers to start a holy war overseas, even though she knew that it was illegal, according to the newly released federal court records. Her "legitimate targets of attack" included military facilities, government employees and public officials, the documents say.
Conley, a Muslim convert, was arrested April 8 at Denver International Airport, telling agents she planned to live with a suitor she met online, apparently a Tunisian man who claimed to be fighting for an al-Qaida splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The militant group also known as ISIL or ISIS has recently overrun parts of Iraq and Syria.
Conley has been charged with conspiring to help a foreign terrorist organization. Her federal public defender did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
A nurse's aide, Conley told investigators she planned to fly to Turkey and then travel to Syria to become a housewife and a nurse at the man's camp, providing medical services and training.
FBI agents became aware of Conley's growing interest in extremism in November after she started talking about terrorism with employees of a suburban Denver church who found her wandering around and taking notes on the layout of the campus, according to the court documents. The church, Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, was the scene of a 2007 shooting in which a man killed two missionary workers.
She spoke with agents several times after that, telling them of her desire for jihad, the records state. The agents tried openly to dissuade her, urging her instead to support Muslims through humanitarian efforts, which she told them was not an option.
"Conley felt that Jihad is the only answer to correct the wrongs against the Muslim world," the documents say.
Agents encouraged Conley's parents to get her to meet with elders at her mosque to find more moderate options. Her parents knew she had converted to Islam but were apparently unaware of her extremism, authorities said.
Her father told an agent in March that Conley and her suitor had asked for his blessing to marry and were surprised when he declined. Her father later found a one-way plane ticket to Turkey.
Four days before her arrest, she told agents "there was nothing they could do to change her mind and that she was still going." They stopped her as she was walking down the jetway.
Meer meisjes van plan op jihad-reis naar Syri te gaan - Burgeroorlog in Syri - VK
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:28
Door: Janny Groen '' 03/07/14, 06:21
(C) ap. De extremistische organisatie ISIS houdt een parade van scuds en ander zwaar wapentuig in de Syrische stad Raqqa, enkele nadat zij het kalifaat heeft uitgeroepen in de gebieden die ze in handen heeft.
De vijftienjarige Moezdalifa el A. uit Hilversum wilde niet in haar eentje naar Syri afreizen. Het meisje, dat in juni in Duitsland werd opgepakt, maakte deel uit van een grotere meidengroep. Volgens meerdere bronnen in de moslimgemeenschap hadden nog vier of vijf minderjarige meisjes voorbereidingen getroffen voor de jihadgang.
Ze kan gesignaleerd worden met zusters! Aub help ons. Ze heeft haar paspoort, telefoon en haar laptop meegenomen. Ze heeft contacten met mensen uit Syri en Belgi. Zij vertellen haar dat dit de beste manier is van leven en dat ze daar kan trouwen
Noodoproep van de familie van MoezdalifaMoezdalifa werd op 21 juni door haar familie als vermist opgegeven. Haar broer en zus verspreidden noodoproepen via sociale media om haar op te sporen. Daarin stond al dat ze van plan was naar Syri te gaan. Ze had een briefje met die boodschap achtergelaten. Een dag later kon ze op het vliegveld van D¼sseldorf worden aangehouden door Nederlandse agenten.
In de noodoproep hield Moezdalifa's familie er rekening mee dat ze niet in haar eentje op reis was gegaan. 'Ze kan gesignaleerd worden met zusters! Aub help ons. Ze heeft haar paspoort, telefoon en haar laptop meegenomen. Ze heeft contacten met mensen uit Syri en Belgi. Zij vertellen haar dat dit de beste manier is van leven en dat ze daar kan trouwen.'
Niet in haar eentjeWoordvoerder Thomas Aling van de politie Midden-Nederland zegt dat nog wordt uitgezocht of Moezdalifa deel uitmaakt van een groter uitreisgezelschap. 'We willen exact weten wat er gebeurd is. Ineens verdwijnen, een ticket kopen via Vliegwinkel.nl, dat doet een tiener meestal niet in haar eentje.'
Volgens Aling wordt Moezdalifa nu 'als getuige gehoord'. Of andere meisjes elders in het land worden ondervraagd, kan hij niet zeggen. 'Wij zijn specifiek met haar bezig.'
Geen verdachteBerichten in de media dat het meisje na tien dagen verhoor nog steeds niet naar huis mag, bevestigt Aling. 'Maar ze zit niet in een cel en is ook geen verdachte. Ze heeft als getuige, via de Raad voor de Kinderbescherming, een advocaat toegewezen gekregen.'
Haar tijdens de verhoren thuis laten wonen is volgens Aling geen optie. 'Ze is vertrokken zonder dat iemand ervan wist, dat kan nog eens gebeuren. Ze zit nu op een plek waar ze niet zomaar weg kan, anders hebben we straks het nakijken.' Of haar ouders daarvoor toestemming hebben gegeven, is onduidelijk.
Voorzitter Abou Dhar van de Hilversumse stichting World Wide Relief is een 'waarschuwingscampagne' onder ouders begonnen, meldt hij in De Gooi en Eemlander. 'Hersenspoelen van meisjes komt steeds vaker voor', zegt Dhar. 'Pak desnoods de smartphone af en geef nooit zomaar haar paspoort mee.'
Sociaal wenselijk gedragPotentile jihadgangers vertonen thuis sociaal wenselijk gedrag en voor je het weet zijn ze weggeglipt, zeggen bronnen in de Haagse Schilderswijk. Ouders hanteren inmiddels 'code rood'. Zo wordt een 15-jarig meisje 'intensief begeleid' dat vorig jaar november tijdens een bijeenkomst in buurthuis De Mussen een boodschap kwam overbrengen van haar vriendinnen die al in Syri zijn. Gevreesd wordt dat ze, zodra ze de kans krijgt, zelf ook zal vertrekken.
'Code rood' geldt vooral voor de zomervakantie. Jongeren gaan niet naar school en zijn veel moeilijker in de gaten te houden. Bovendien lonkt nu het kalifaat, dat afgelopen weekeinde in delen van Irak en Syri is uitgeroepen.
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Hobby Lobby
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In A Nutshell
This is only about 4 of 20 contraceptives, that they believe are 'birth control'
Corporations are people and vice versa
As we noted above, RFRA applies to “a person’s” exer-
cise of religion, 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b), and RFRA
itself does not define the term “person.” We therefore look
to the Dictionary Act, which we must consult “[i]n deter-
mining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the
context indicates otherwise.” 1 U. S. C. §1.
Under the Dictionary Act, “the wor[d] ‘person’ . . . in-
clude[s] corporations, companies, associations, firms,
partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well
as individuals.” Ibid.; see FCC v. AT&T Inc., 562 U. S.
___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 6) (“We have no doubt that
‘person,’ in a legal setting, often refers to artificial entities.
The Dictionary Act makes that clear”). Thus, unless there
is something about the RFRA context that “indicates
otherwise,” the Dictionary Act provides a quick, clear, and
affirmative answer to the question whether the companies
involved in these cases may be heard.
It is about Religious non-profit vs Religious for-propfit companies
There are already provisions for religious exemption, but the burden falls to the health insurer- it was part of the deal they agreed to with ACA. So in fact, fighting against this is fighting FOR the insurancer companies
Relevenat passge from the SCOTUS decision:
HHS also authorized the HRSA to establish exemptions
from the contraceptive mandate for “religious employers.”
45 CFR §147.131(a). That category encompasses “churches,
their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associ-
ations of churches,” as well as “the exclusively religious
activities of any religious order.” See ibid (citing 26
U. S. C. §§6033(a)(3)(A)(i), (iii)). In its Guidelines,
HRSA exempted these organizations from the requirement
to cover contraceptive services. See http://hrsa.gov/
womensguidelines.
In addition, HHS has effectively exempted certain
religious nonprofit organizations, described under HHS
regulations as “eligible organizations,” from the contracep-
tive mandate. See 45 CFR §147.131(b); 78 Fed. Reg.
39874 (2013). An “eligible organization” means a nonprofit
organization that “holds itself out as a religious organi-
zation” and “opposes providing coverage for some or all of
any contraceptive services required to be covered . . . on
account of religious objections.” 45 CFR §147.131(b). To
qualify for this accommodation, an employer must certify
that it is such an organization. §147.131(b)(4). When a
group-health-insurance issuer receives notice that one of
its clients has invoked this provision, the issuer must then
exclude contraceptive coverage from the employer’s plan
and provide separate payments for contraceptive services
for plan participants without imposing any cost-sharing
requirements on the eligible organization, its insurance
plan, or its employee beneficiaries. §147.131(c).8 Al-
though this procedure requires the issuer to bear the cost of
these services, HHS has determined that this obligation
will not impose any net expense on issuers because its cost
will be less than or equal to the cost savings resulting
from the services. 78 Fed. Reg. 39877.9
In addition to these exemptions for religious organiza-
tions, ACA exempts a great many employers from most of
its coverage requirements. Employers providing “grandfa-
thered health plans”—those that existed prior to March
23, 2010, and that have not made specified changes after
that date—need not comply with many of the Act’s re-
quirements, including the contraceptive mandate. 42
Why it infringes on religuous freedom: it comes down to the benjamins
The court concluded that the contra-
ceptive mandate substantially burdened the exercise of
religion by requiring the companies to choose between
“compromis[ing] their religious beliefs” and paying a
heavy fee—either “close to $475 million more in taxes
every year” if they simply refused to provide coverage for
the contraceptives at issue, or “roughly $26 million” annu-
ally if they “drop[ped] health-insurance benefits for all
employees.” Id., at 1141.
Elizabeth Warren's Weird scentence on FaceBook
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The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg's Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision | Mother Jones
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 19:43
On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the government can't require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, "in a decision of startling breadth," would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find "incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."
Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg's dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:
"The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would'...deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage""Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.""Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby's or Conestoga's plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman's autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.""It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.""Would the exemption'...extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]'...Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision.""Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.""The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."You can read the full dissent here. (It starts on page 60.)
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Supreme Court Rules for Religious Liberty in Hobby Lobby Case.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:08
In a 5-4 decision Monday June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some for-profit companies can cite religious convictions to opt out of the contraception mandate that would have required all businesses to provide free contraceptives '-- including those that can cause abortion '-- to their employees. The decision represents a huge blow to President Obama's ''Affordable Health Care'' law, and a victory for scores of businesses that have claimed that the mandate would require them to violate their belief that all life is sacred.
The ruling came in favor of two family-held companies '-- Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by the Hahn family '-- both of whom had said that the mandate would represent an unacceptable moral obstacle to their businesses. Both companies faced millions of dollars in fines for refusing to make available abortion-inducing contraceptive drugs to their employees. Hobby Lobby and another company owned by the Greens faced as much as $1.3 million in fines for CEO David Green's resolute refusal to bow to the mandate. ''This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only,'' said Green when his company first filed suit to stop the mandate '-- ''the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution.''
Five Supreme Court justices sided with the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga owners, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to reject the efforts of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force the owners of the Christian-based businesses to violate their consciences in order to fulfill the requirements of the mandate.
''In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS's argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships,'' wrote Justice Alito for the majority in the two cases. ''The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.''
Alito wrote that the RFRA ''applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for profit corporations like Conestoga and Hobby Lobby,'' noting that the ''HHS contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion.''
In a concurring opinion Justice Kennedy wrote: ''Among the reasons the United States is so open, so tolerant, and so free is that no person may be restricted or demeaned by government in exercising his or her religion.''
Alito emphasized, however, that the decision is not overarching, but limited only to the contraceptive mandate issue. ''Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fail if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs,'' he wrote.'¨
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg '-- joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer '-- insisted that the government has a ''compelling interest'' to force companies to provide free birth control. ''Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence,'' she wrote. ''To recapitulate, the mandated contraception coverage enables women to avoid the health problems unintended pregnancies may visit on them and their children.''
In a separate dissent Justice Elena Kagan wrote, ''Congress has made a judgment and Congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage, and when an employer says, 'No, I don't want to give that,' that woman is quite directly, quite tangibly harmed.''
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest complained that the decision ''jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies,'' but insisted that the Obama administration would respect the ruling. He added that ''we will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else.''
Predictably, Cecile Richards of abortion giant Planned Parenthood expressed her outrage at the High Court's decision, accusing it of ruling ''against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage. This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.''
As for the victors, Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby and the Green family in the case, called the ruling ''a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business. This ruling will protect people of all faiths. The Court's reasoning was clear, and it should have been clear to the government. You can't argue there are no alternative means when your agency is busy creating alternative means for other people.''
In a statement for the Green family, Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green said that her family was ''overjoyed by the Supreme Court's decision. Today the nation's highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country's founding principles. The Court's decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.''
In a press release the Becket Fund predicted that the decision would also have ''important implications for over 50 pending lawsuits brought by non-profit religious organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, which are also challenging the mandate. In two different respects, the Supreme Court strongly signaled that the mandate may be struck down in those cases too. First, it rejected the government's argument that there was no burden on the Greens' religious exercise because only third parties use the drugs. Second, it held that the government could simply pay for contraception coverage with its own funds, rather than requiring private employers to do so.''
David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which assisted in representing the Hahn family and Conestoga Wood Specialties, said after the ruling that ''Americans don't surrender their freedom by opening a family business. In its decision today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all Americans, including family business owners, must be free to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment. In a free and diverse society, we respect the freedom to live out our convictions.''
Among the Christian, pro-life, and pro-family leaders applauding the ruling was Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, who called the ruling a ''great victory for religious liberty.... In living out our religious convictions, there are certain things we must not do. This is why we are at a watershed moment. Religious people will no longer be ordered to take action that our religion says we must not take.''
In a statement Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said that the High Court had delivered ''one of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation. We are thankful the Supreme Court agreed that the government went too far by mandating that family business owners must violate their consciences under threat of crippling fines.''
'¨And Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission called the ruling ''exhilarating,'' declaring that ''as a Baptist I am encouraged that our ancestors' struggle for the First Amendment has been vindicated. This is as close as a Southern Baptist gets to dancing in the streets with joy.''
Photo: AP Images
Hobby Lobby's Hypocrisy: The Company's Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers | Mother Jones
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:56
When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, the company's owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm's owners cite in their lawsuit.
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012'--three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit'--show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).
Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby's retirement plan have stock holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby's health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.
These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.
In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the Greens object to covering Plan B, Ella, and IUDs because they claim that these products can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus'--a process the Greens consider abortion. But researchers reject the notion that emergency contraceptive pills prevent implantation the implantation of a fertilized egg. Instead, they work by delaying ovulation or making it harder for sperm to swim to the egg. The Green's contention that the pills cause abortions is a central pillar of their argument for gutting the contraception mandate. Yet, for years, Hobby Lobby's health insurance plans did cover Plan B and Ella. It was only in 2012, when the Greens considered filing a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, that they dropped these drugs from the plan.
A website Hobby Lobby set up to answer questions about the Supreme Court case states that its 401(k) plan comes with "a generous company match." In 2012, Hobby Lobby contributed $3.8 million to its employee savings plans, which had 13,400 employee participants at the beginning of that year.
The information on Hobby Lobby's 401(k) investments is included in the company's 2013 annual disclosure to the Department of Labor. The records contain a list, dated December 31, 2012, of 24 funds that were included in its employer-sponsored retirement plan. MorningStar, an investment research firm, provided Mother Jones with the names of the companies in nine of those funds as of December 31, 2012. Each fund's portfolio consists of at least dozens if not hundreds of different holdings.
All nine funds'--which have assets of $73 million, or three-quarters of the Hobby Lobby retirement plan's total assets'--contained holdings that clashed with the Greens' stated religious principles.
Hobby Lobby and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the conservative group that provided Hobby Lobby with legal representation, did not respond to questions about these investments or whether Hobby Lobby has changed its retirement plan.
In their Supreme Court complaint, Hobby Lobby's owners chronicle the many ways in which they avoid entanglements with objectionable companies. Hobby Lobby stores do not sell shot glasses, for example, and the Greens decline requests from beer distributors to back-haul beer on Hobby Lobby trucks.
Similar options exist for companies that want to practice what's sometimes called faith-based investing. To avoid supporting companies that manufacture abortion drugs'--or products such as alcohol or pornography'--religious investors can turn to a cottage industry of mutual funds that screen out stocks that religious people might consider morally objectionable. The Timothy Plan and the Ave Maria Fund, for example, screen for companies that manufacture abortion drugs, support Planned Parenthood, or engage in embryonic stem cell research. Dan Hardt, a Kentucky financial planner who specializes in faith-based investing, says the performances of these funds are about the same as if they had not been screened. But Hobby Lobby's managers either were not aware of these options or chose not to invest in them.
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Frank Schaeffer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 01:10
Frank Schaeffer (born August 3, 1952) is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels depicting life in a strict fundamentalist household including Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.
Life and career[edit]In 1990 Schaeffer became a member of the Orthodox Church, which he said "embraces paradox and mystery".[citation needed] He converted in 1992 at a Greek Orthodox church in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
In 2006 Schaeffer published Baby Jack, a novel about a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq. He is also known for his non-fiction books related to the Marine Corps, including Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps, co-written with his son John Schaeffer, and AWOL: The Unexcused Absence Of America's Upper Classes From Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country, co-authored with former Bill Clinton presidential aide Kathy Roth-Douquet.
In 2007 Schaeffer published his autobiography, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, in which he goes into much more detail regarding what it was like to grow up in the Schaeffer family and around L'Abri. In 2011, he published another memoir, called Sex, Mom, and God, in which he discusses growing up with his parents and their role in the rise of the American religious right and argues that the root of the "insanity and corruption" of this force in U.S. politics, and specifically of the religious right's position on abortion, is a fear of female sexuality.[3]
The two memoirs form the first and third book of what Schaeffer calls his "God trilogy". The second one, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) (2010), describes his spirituality as it exists since abandoning conservative evangelicalism. The first half contains critiques of both the New Atheists and of Christian fundamentalism.
Political views[edit]Schaeffer has written: "In the mid 1980s I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how very anti-American they are, (the theme I explore in my book Crazy For God)."[4] He added that he was a Republican until 2000, working for SenatorJohn McCain in that year's primaries, but that after the 2000 election he re-registered as an independent.[4]
On February 7, 2008, Schaeffer endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, in an article entitled "Why I'm Pro-Life and Pro-Obama."[5] The next month, prompted by the controversy over remarks by the pastor of Obama's church, he wrote: "[W]hen my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr."[6]
After the 2008 Russian-Georgian War, Schaeffer described Russia as a resurgent Orthodox Christian power, paying back the West for its support of Muslim Kosovar secessionists against Orthodox Serbia.[7]
On October 10, 2008, a public letter to Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin from Schaeffer was published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper.[8] The letter contained an impassioned plea for McCain to arrest what Schaeffer perceived as a hateful and prejudiced tone of the Republican Party's election campaign. Schaeffer was convinced that there was a pronounced danger that fringe groups in America could be goaded into pursuing violence. "If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters ... history will hold you responsible for all that follows."[8]
Soon after Obama's inauguration, Schaeffer criticized Republican leaders:
How can anyone who loves our country support the Republicans now? Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan defined the modern conservatism that used to be what the Republican Party I belonged to was about. Today no actual conservative can be a Republican. Reagan would despise today's wholly negative Republican Party.[4]
Books[edit]Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to give love, create beauty and find peace, self-published, 2014. ISBN 978-1495955013And God said, "Billy", Colorado: Outskirts Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-478-70001-2Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics'--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway, Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-306-81928-5Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-306-81854-7How Free People Move Mountains: A Male Christian Conservative and a Female Jewish Liberal on a Quest for Common Purpose and Meaning (with Kathy Roth-douquet), New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-0-06-123352-4Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, (September) 2007. ISBN 978-0-7867-1891-7Baby Jack: A Novel, New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, (October) 2006.AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service'--and How It Hurts Our Country (with Kathy Roth-Douquet), New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-0-06-088859-6Voices From the Front: Letters Home From American's Military Family, New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, 2004. (Third of Military Trilogy) ISBN 978-0-7867-1462-9Faith of Our Sons: Voices From the American Homefront '-- The Wartime Diary of a Marine's Father, New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, 2004. (Second of Military Trilogy)Zermatt: A Novel, New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, 2003. (Third of Calvin Becker Trilogy) ISBN 978-0-7867-1259-5Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the U.S. Marine Corps (with son John Schaeffer), New York: Carol & Graf Publishers, 2002. (First of Military Trilogy)Saving Grandma: A Novel, New York: Berkley Books, 1997. (Second of Calvin Becker Trilogy)Letters to Father Aristotle, Salisbury, MA:Regina Orthodox Press, 1995.Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross, 1994.Portofino: A Novel, New York: Macmillan, 1992. (First of Calvin Becker Trilogy) ISBN 978-0-7867-1716-3Sham Pearls For Real Swine, Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1990.Is Capitalism Christian? (Editor), Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1985. ISBN 978-0-89107-362-8Bad News For Modern Man as Franky Schaeffer, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984.A Modest Proposal (with Harold Fickett), Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984.A Time For Anger: The Myth of Neutrality, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982.Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982.Films[edit]See also[edit]References[edit]Notes
^Schaeffer, Frank (2008). Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. Da Capo Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-306-81750-0. ^ abcFrancis Schaeffer at the Internet Movie Database^Smiley, Jane (July 8, 2011). "Jane Smiley reviews Frank Schaeffer's 'Sex, Mom, and God'". Washington Post. ^ abcSchaeffer, Frank (March 8, 2009). "Open Letter to the Republican Traitors (From a Former Republican)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-03-09. ^Schaeffer, Frank (February 7, 2008). "Why I'm Pro-Life and Pro-Obama". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-17. ^Schaeffer, Frank (March 16, 2008). "Obama's Minister Committed 'Treason' But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-17. ^Schaeffer, Frank (August 12, 2008). "Why Russia Invaded Georgia: Payback Time from the Orthodox World to the West". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-17. ^ abSchaeffer, Frank (October 10, 2008). "McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2008-10-10. External links[edit]PersondataNameSchaeffer, FrankAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican film directorDate of birthAugust 3, 1952Place of birthChamp(C)ry, SwitzerlandDate of deathPlace of death
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SnowJob
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A New Cybersecurity Bill Could Give the NSA Even More Data
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:32
Privacy groups are sounding the alarm that a new Senate cybersecurity bill could give the National Security Agency access to even more personal information of Americans.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act would create a "gaping loophole in existing privacy law," the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and dozens of other privacy groups wrote in a letter to senators late Thursday.
"Instead of reining in NSA surveillance, the bill would facilitate a vast flow of private communications data to the NSA," many of the same privacy groups warned in a second letter to lawmakers.
The goal of the bill, authored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and ranking member Saxby Chambliss, is to allow the government and private sector to share more information about attacks on computer networks.
Business groups have been complaining for several years that they could better protect their systems from hackers if Congress removed legal barriers to information-sharing. The companies want to make it easier to share information about attacks with each other and the government.
Read More...
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board 02-july-2014-public-meeting
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:55
The Board will meet at 10 am in public session on July 2nd at the JW Marriot Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC in Salon III. At the meeting, the Board will vote on the formal issuance of its report to the President, Congress and the public. Additional information on the Board's review of the surveillance program, such as its prior public hearings, is available at www.pclob.gov. The July 2nd meeting is open to the public and a meeting notice has been published in the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/a/2014-14603. Pre-registration is not required.
The Board's report will contain a detailed analysis of the Section 702 program, with a focus on increasing transparency to the public regarding the surveillance program. It will address the Section 702 program's development and operation, statutory basis, constitutional implications, and whether it strikes the right balance between national security and privacy and civil liberties, and will make recommendations for policy reforms. The report will be unclassified and available to the public. Previously, on January 23, 2014, the Board released a separate unclassified report regarding operation of the telephone records program under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as on the operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Board's review of these surveillance programs has included three public meetings, receipt of dozens of public comments, meetings with congressional committee staff, advocates and private sector representatives, analysis of classified materials, and briefings by government agencies.
For Further Information Contact: Sharon Bradford Franklin, Executive Director, 202-296-4129, info@pclob.gov.'‹
Report MaterialsReport on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Some NSA data collection is 'legal and effective', says independent board | World news | theguardian.com
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:54
An independent board has declared a set of National Security Agency data collection programs both "legal and effective in protecting national security", despite expressing concern about "intrusions" into individuals' privacy.
As the NSA's troves of ostensibly foreign emails and Americans' international communications come under heavy scrutiny, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board dealt the NSA a victory on Tuesday night by calling the information reaped "valuable". It pointedly rejected similar claims for the bulk collection of US call data in a January report.
Under the so-called "702 program" '' named after section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008 '' the NSA can harvest large amounts of ostensibly foreign digital information, including Americans' international communications.
But the board did question the NSA's intrusion into Americans' data and recommended limits to the government's ability to access large amounts of American communications data that the NSA inevitably collects and searches through without a warrant.
More than 25% of NSA's terrorism reporting is based on information taken under 702, the PCLOB found. The section also allows it to collect data from telecommunications and internet providers, known as Prism, and, less frequently, data in transit "upstream" across the internet itself.
"It has played a key role in discovering and disrupting specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States and other countries," the PCLOB found in a 200-page report released in draft form late on Tuesday, endorsing a central NSA claim since Edward Snowden leaked information revealing the scope of the surveillance agency's powers.
Yet the board stopped short of endorsing the NSA's claim last year that information gleaned under section 702 led to the disruption of 54 terrorist plots. In "approximately 30 cases," 702 information was the "catalyst" for such disruption, and in another 20, such information aided an existing investigation. Most plots, as the NSA has itself said, occurred overseas; and the PCLOB said the successful disruptions began with "narrowly focused surveillance of a specific individual."
In another vindication for the NSA, the PCLOB assessed that the NSA's massive amounts of data collected under section 702 is not "bulk" collection, describing itself as "impressed with the rigor" of government surveillance targeting.
The NSA defends its Prism and "upstream" communications troves long after it has accepted divestiture of US phone records. Representatives from the intelligence agencies and the Obama administration sternly defend both the legality and the wisdom of retaining those content and metadata databases as a measure to defend the US against terrorism, espionage and even crime.
But the PCLOB also found elements of the mass communications collection "push the program close to the line of constitutional reasonableness".
Those privacy concerns centre overwhelmingly on the rules by which the NSA and its partner agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, can search through the NSA communications data troves for Americans' email addresses and references to Americans, as well as the sheer volume of US person data "incidentally" caught in the NSA's massive data troves.
The PCLOB found that when the NSA takes data directly in transit from the internet, its technical filters permit the capture of "as many as tens of thousands" of "purely domestic communications," although the scale of the Internet collection renders such harvesting a microfraction. Still, the NSA appears not to have solved the technical problem nearly three years after a judge blasted the agency for it, revised the NSA's rules "minimising" its dissemination or use of such data and prompted what the PCLOB called "the purging of several years of prior collection."
While wary, the PCLOB largely considered legitimate the NSA's broad leeway in collecting a huge amount of foreigners' data '' a single order in 2013 from a surveillance court resulted in collection of internet communications from 89,138 "targets" '' despite widespread global outrage over the scope of NSA surveillance and entreaties from US internet businesses who consider it an economic liability. It will, however, review presidential procedures aimed at limiting foreigners' vulnerability to the surveillance dragnets.
The PCLOB has yet to formally adopt the report and will vote on doing so at a hearing Wednesday morning in Washington.
While Congress granted the NSA broad powers to collect data in the 2008 law, it barred the agency from intentionally targeting Americans under false pretenses, called "reverse targeting". Yet civil libertarians have long considered the inevitable collection of US data within NSA's foreign-focused dragnets to render the reverse-targeting ban quaint.
Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, often points to NSA's ability to search through the troves for Americans' information without a warrant as a "backdoor search" around constitutional privacy protections. In August, thanks to leaks from Snowden, the Guardian identified the secret provision permitting such searches.
A previously secret 2011 opinion of a judge on the Fisa Court found widespread overcollection of Americans' emails. The PCLOB report found that the secret court has limited independent visibility into how the NSA actually implements its Prism and upstream data collection. It also noted that neither the NSA nor the FBI has fulsomely declassified their targeting procedures, but the PCLOB panelists also vouched for the NSA taking affirmative steps to determine in murky cases that a target is a non-American abroad.
While obscured by the NSA's bulk collection of US call records, an issue that has consumed most of the legislative and media oxygen owing to its reach into the privacy of US citizens, the PCLOB report points to the new scrutiny that the mass collection of ostensibly foreign emails, calls, texts and other communications content has received in recent weeks '' albeit largely owing to NSA's abilities to siphon and search through Americans' international communication inside that enormous trove.
In late June, the House of Representatives unexpectedly passed a measure to defund the government's ability to warrantlessly search through those communications content troves for Americans' information. It was a legislative route around a major surveillance reform bill, belatedly championed by the White House and NSA, that excluded a prohibition on the so-called "backdoor search" '' an exclusion that helped cement the administration's support.
Significantly, the PCLOB's recommendations stop far short of the House's action. Instead of banning the warrantless querying of Americans' data, it says such queries should only occur "based upon a statement of facts showing that the query is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information", a determination it pointedly does not recommend a judge making.
Not only did the PCLOB find that the public law authorising the mass communications collection, section 702, "publicly outlines the basic structure of the program", it blessed the NSA's controversial practice of collecting emails and calls that reference a surveillance target, even though such so-called "about" collection does not necessarily come from surveillance targets themselves. It did, however, recommend a "periodic" assessment of the NSA's "filtration" techniques to prevent overcollection.
On Monday, Wyden released a letter from the office of the director of national intelligence specifying that the NSA had performed searches within those databases in 2013 alone for 198 "identifiers" of Americans, such as an email address or a phone number, and another 9,500 queries for associated metadata. No such searches were conducted pursuant to a warrant.
The PCLOB did not limit its scrutiny of section 702 data collection to the NSA. The CIA and FBI come in for, in some cases, greater privacy criticisms than does the widely-vilified NSA.
Both the FBI and CIA conduct their own searches through the troves '' and can even access the raw Prism data on their own, the PCLOB confirmed, although they do not have direct access to "upstream" data. Additionally, the PCLOB confirmed that while the NSA purges Prism and upstream data if it determines communications involving Americans do not provide foreign intelligence, neither the FBI nor the CIA has any such requirement.
Indeed, the board found that the FBI can disseminate US person information acquired under section 702 "that reasonably appears to be foreign intelligence information" or even data deemed "necessary to understand foreign intelligence information."
IC ON THE RECORD ' DNI Clapper Statement on the FISA Section 702...
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:43
DNI Clapper Statement on the FISA Section 702 Report of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
July 2, 2014
We welcome the report of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In this important report, the PCLOB confirms that Section 702 has shown its value in preventing acts of terrorism at home and abroad, and pursuing other foreign intelligence goals.
The board notes that it was ''impressed with the rigor of the government's efforts to ensure that it acquires only those communications it is authorized to collect, and that it targets only those persons it is authorized to target.''
We take very seriously the board's concerns regarding privacy and civil liberties, and we will review the board's recommendations with care.
The Intelligence Community and the Department of Justice provided full access to the board, supplying documentation, briefings, and access to personnel and facilities that it requested to prepare this report.
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
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Remaining Snowden docs will be released to avert 'unspecified US war' '' 'ªCryptome'¬
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:58
Boost IT visibility and business value
All the remaining Snowden documents will be released next month, according t'ªo'¬ whistle-blowing site 'ªCryptome, which said in a tweet that the release of the info by unnamed third parties would be necessary to head off an unnamed "war".'¬
'ªCryptome'¬ said it would "aid and abet" the release of "57K to 1.7M" new documents that had been "withheld for national security-public debate [sic]".
The site clarified that will not be publishing the documents itself.
Transparency activists would welcome such a release but such a move would be heavily criticised by inteligence agencies and military officials, who argue that Snowden's dump of secret documents has set US and allied (especially British) intelligence efforts back by years.
As things stand, the flow of Snowden disclosures is controlled by those who have access to the Sn'ªo'¬wden archive, which might possibly include Snowden confidants such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. In some cases, even when these people release information to mainstream media organisations, it is then suppressed by these organisations after negotiation with the authorities. (In one such case, some key facts were later revealed by the Register.)
"July is when war begins unless headed off by Snowden full release of crippling intel. After war begins not a chance of release," Cryptome tweeted on its official feed.
"Warmongerers are on a rampage. So, yes, citizens holding Snowden docs will do the right thing," it said.
"For more on Snowden docs release in July watch for Ellsberg, special guest and others at HOPE, July 18-20: http://www.hope.net/schedule.html," it added.
HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) is a well-regarded and long-running hacking conference organised by 2600 magazine. Previous speakers at the event have included Kevin Mitnick, Steve Wozniak and Jello Biafra.
In other developments, 'ªCryptome'¬ has started a Kickstarter fund to release its entire archive in the form of a USB stick archive. It wants t'ªo'¬ raise $100,000 to help it achieve its goal. More than $14,000 has already been raised.
The funding drive follows a dispute between 'ªCryptome'¬ and its host Network Solutions, which is owned by web.com. Access to the site was bl'ªo'¬cked f'ªo'¬ll'ªo'¬wing a malware infection last week. 'ªCryptome'¬ f'ªo'¬under J'ªo'¬hn Y'ªo'¬ung criticised the host, claiming it had 'ªo'¬ver-reacted and had been sl'ªo'¬w t'ªo'¬ rest'ªo'¬re access t'ªo'¬ the site, which 'ªCryptome'¬ criticised as a form of cens'ªo'¬rship.
In resp'ªo'¬nse, 'ªCryptome'¬ plans to more widely distribute its content across multiple sites as well as releasing the planned USB stick archive. ®
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
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Sarah Harisson to write kiss and tell on Wikileaks, Assange & Snowden?
Today, 28 June 2014, appeared unsubstantiated allegation that Sarah Harrison
has had a falling out with Julian Assange, and that she was preparing a book
on the Snowden affair.
http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/the-critics/632/another-assange-foot-soldier-sarah-
harrison-missing-in-action/30393/
Another Assange Foot Soldier (Sarah Harrison) Missing In Action
We just love Assange gossip, its the stuff that makes the world go round:
Back in 2010 we had a pretty good incite into just what was going on within
[at]wikileaks. Some of the leaked "Insiders"stuff was questionable, however,
with the passage of time some of it was absolutely spot on. Remember this
was 2010 when Assange was being treated as some sort of Messiah by an adoring
and unquestioning media. In a series of "Wikileaks Insider" messages that
were run at www.cryptome.org forwarded by PGPBOARD Assange was exposed as
an untrustworthy and arch manipulator, and [at]Wikileaks a virtual one man
band.
Over the years we have maintained casual contact with the source of these
2010 Insiders leaks, who I might add has nothing to do with Wikileaks any
more, and has a professional career in Germany.
SARAH HARRISON
OK having set the scene; let's continue. The parting of the ways between
Assange and Sarah Harrison WAS NOT as amicable as Wikileaks aka Julian Assange
would have one believe. Firstly Assange was intensely jealous of firstly
Snowden for effectively freezing him out of the NSA leaks and his collaboration
with Greenwald, and even more so with Sarah Harrison, who he suspected of
becoming more of a personal advisor to Snowden than he anticipated!!
True to his colours, Assange's paranoia got the better of him, the relationship
turned toxic and they eventually broke up. This was prior to Harrison leaving
Russia.
Her next stop was Berlin, this was not by accident or fear of arrest in the
UK, or anywhere else for that matter. This was yet another smoke screen.
Sarah had something else on her mind, and that was the writing and publication
of a kiss and tell book about her tenure at Wikileaks. Berlin would be prime
choice, since many of the characters that were actively involved in Wikleaks
early days, and subsequent schism were resident in Germany. Sarah needed
no help concerning the later developments in the Swedish sex case issues,
she was front and centre here.
We have been told that Sarah found or was contacted by the Berg's; they met
in Berlin and was extensively briefed in detail about Assange and his early
engagement of Wikileaks and donor funding irregularities.
Finally; as far we are concerned, this will be the DEFINITIVE tome about
Assange and the disaster that became Wikileaks. I cannot wait for its
publication, or details about who will publish...
Regards
AT
FAQs | Courage Foundation
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:48
What is Courage and what do you do?The Courage Foundation is an international organisation that supports those who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record. We raise funds for the legal and public defence of specific individuals who fit this criteria and are subject to serious prosecution or persecution. We also campaign for the protection of truthtellers and the public's right to know generally.
Courage is based in Germany, the UK and the US, and we have plans to extend our reach internationally. We host the official defence fund for Edward Snowden, who is our first beneficiary. We will do the same for others in the future, taking on additional beneficiaries, who have put themselves at risk in order to expose and document wrongdoing.
Why protect whistleblowers?Whistleblowers expose institutional misconduct and illegal activity that is otherwise withheld from the public at large. Whistleblowers are essential in organisations that operate within cultures of secrecy '-- they act as the public's regulators of last resort, when other systems of accountability are broken.
Without these conscientious objectors, we would know far less about international diplomacy, offshore banking and the excesses of the War on Terror. Whistleblowers were responsible for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and international publicity of torture at Abu Ghraib.
Why can't whistleblowers use official channels?Many institutions have established 'official channels' for employees to voice their concerns '-- ranging from internal policies to legislative protections to formal ombudsmen '-- with various degrees of efficacy. For many, official channels simply do not work - and, by their very nature, internal avenues are unavailable to conscientious outsiders who wish to bring secret wrongdoing to light.
Existing internal mechanisms are important and Courage will campaign for their improvement, but there are many reasons why internal channels may not be appropriate or effective, and why such avenues will never '' can never '' be sufficient. Filing an internal complaint offers no adequate recourse when a problem is systemic in nature.
Official channels can also siphon off dissent while giving the appearance of accountability and transparency, without giving the person making a report any guarantee against reprisal.
What kinds of threats do whistleblowers face?Whistleblowers around the world face a range of consequences and reprisals including:
prosecution: state secrecy laws forbidding public interest defences and carrying heavy penaltiesimprisonment: lengthy detention without trial, torturous conditionsfinancial: burden of extensive legal costs and the loss of incomepersonal: alienation, isolation, maligned reputation, threats against their livesprofessional: employer retaliation, ranging from dismissal to blacklistingCourage prepares legal defence funds, lawyers and campaigns to defend whistleblowers in court and campaign for their freedom and protection. Courage will publicise any negative consequences imposed on these truthtellers and ensure their plight is not ignored in the press. If sufficiently funded and prepared, Courage can prevent the next whistleblower from becoming the next political prisoner.
What can I do to support Courage?Donating is the easiest, fastest and most tangible way you can support Courage now. We're working to develop our staff in the US, UK and Germany to broaden our scope, and we're establishing a defence fund that will serve as a long-term safety net for whistleblowers-in-peril to come. We need to finance legal teams because persecuted clients often can't afford to pay their own court costs, but we also need to build networks of activists, legal advisors and writers to keep whistleblowers' cases in the public sphere.
For other ways to help Courage, see here.
What is the JSPDF, and is it related to Courage?Courage was formally founded as the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund (JSPDF) on 9 August 2013. It expanded to become the Courage Foundation in June 2014. Courage defends whistleblowers and other types of journalistic sources from persecution and prosecution. The Courage trustees are Julian Assange, Publisher of WikiLeaks; Gavin MacFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism; and Barbora Bukovsk, Senior Director for Law and Policy at Article 19.
I've found another website raising funds for Edward Snowden, is it related to your organisation?No. Courage hosts the only legal defence fund endorsed by Edward Snowden and his lawyers, so imitators are likely scams. Should you find a separate site claiming to raise funds for Snowden's legal fees, pleasealertthe Courage trustees by email at courage.trustee@couragefound.org.I am organising an event in support of Edward Snowden, can Courage help?We're always interested to hear about new campaigning efforts in support of our beneficiaries. Please get in touch and let us know what you have planned.
The Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund - Rothera
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:23
Derek Rothera & Company is appointed to administer this Fund which has been established to receive donations that will be used to cover the legal defence fees of journalistic sources.
Donations can be sent to:
DR&Co - JSPDF a/c Country: United Kingdom Account number: 30807160 Sort code: 30-94-57 BIC/Swift code LOYDGB21158. IBAN: GB73 LOYD 309457 30807160
Alternatively, Cheques made out to "DR&Co - JSPDF" can be sent to
Derek Rothera & CompanyChartered AccountantsUnits 15 & 167 Wenlock RoadLondon N1 7SL
Also, you can donate via PayPal using the login link
where you can make your payment to action@rothera.com.
The Terms of the Fund can be found here. No payments can be received into this account other than in accordance with its Terms.
Advisory Board | Courage Foundation
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:24
Courage has a growing Advisory Board, meet some of our first members:
Renata AvilaRenata Avila is a human rights lawyer from Guatemala. She worked as one of the lawyers representing the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum in Guatemala in the genocide case before Spanish Courts. She joined Sir Tim Berners-Lee as lead of the Web We Want campaign at the Web Foundation, dedicated to preserving and upholding digital rights and to responding to threats to the future of the Web and is one of the Citizen Lab Cybestewards researchers uncovering surveillance in the global south. She currently serves as a Board Member of Creative Commons Board of Directors.
John Perry BarlowA former Grateful Dead lyricist, poet, and rancher, John Perry Barlow has spent the last few decades of his life devoted to digital activism. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, committed to 'Defending Your Rights in the Digital World.' Barlow serves on EFF's board of directors, and he co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation, dedicated to opposing government crackdowns on journalism and to raising funds for independent media projects, including WikiLeaks.
Thomas DrakeThomas Drake is a former senior executive at the National Security Agency where he blew the whistle on massive multimillion dollar fraud, waste and abuse, the failure of 9/11, as well as the widespread violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11. As a material witness he provided extensive documented evidence for two 9/11 Congressional investigations and the US DoD Inspector General before going to the press with what he knew. In 2010, he was charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama Administration, facing 35 years in prison. In 2011, the government's case against him collapsed and he went free in a plea deal with no jail time or fine. He is the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize, and a joint recipient with Ms. Jesselyn Radack of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. Since his case closed, Drake has been an outspoken defender of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. He is now dedicated to the defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Daniel EllsbergA former US military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg disclosed the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000-page top secret study of US decision-making, to the US Senate in 1969 and to various press outlets in 1971, revealing how the American public had been misled about the Vietnam War. He was tried on 12 felony counts, but his case was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him. In December 2006 he was awarded the Right to Livelihood Award, ''for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example.'' The author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg is a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and sits on the advisory board for the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
Annie MachonAnnie Machon is a former MI5 British intelligence officer who in the 1990s helped blow the whistle on a range of illegal spy activities, including files on government ministers, illegal phone taps on journalists, IRA bombs that should have been prevented, innocent poeple being thrown in prison, and an illegal assassination attempt against Colonel Gaddafi of Libya in 1996. As a result she had to pre-emptively go on the run around Europe, live in hiding for a year, and face arrest. Her partner was imprisoned twice for exposing the crimes of the spies. She is the author of Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5 and the David Shayler Affair. She is now a writer, media commentator, political campaigner, and international public speaker on a variety of related issues: the war on terrorism, the war on whistleblowers, the war on drugs, and the war on the internet. She is also the European director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. She blogs at anniemachon.ch.
Mwalimu MatiMwalimu Mati is co-founder of Mars Group Kenya, an internet web portal dedicated to exposing, documenting, and indexing information on corruption in Kenya. The project combines official public reports and original research, fact-checking government claims and encouraging leaks about injustice and corruption in pursuit of government accountability. Mati is a lawyer and has published widely on corporate and governmental corruption.
Ray McGovernRay McGovern is a retired CIA analyst of 27 years, who in January 2003 helped create VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) to expose the falsification of intelligence used to 'justify' war on Iraq. In 2002, McGovern founded the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, which recognises intelligence professionals who demonstrate ''courage, persistence and devotion to truth '-- no matter the consequences''. Recipients include Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. McGovern is on the advisory board for the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
Mairead MaguireMairead Maguire is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has spent the majority of her adult life in peaceful activism. In the 1970s, Maguire joined the Northern Ireland peace movement, bringing together tens of thousands of people marching against war between the Provisional IRA and Ulster loyalists. She co-founded Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and nonviolent society in Northern Ireland, and continues to serve as its honorary president. Maguire has spent the last few decades fighting on behalf of political prisoners around the world. A graduate from Irish School of Ecumenics, Mairead, a pacifist, works with interchurch and interfaith organizations and is a councillor with the International Peace Council. She is a Patron of the Methodist Theological College and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education.
Eben MoglenEben Moglen is a lawyer, historian and computer programmer. After clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall at the US Supreme Court, he joined Columbia Law School, where he has taught law and legal history for twenty-seven years. He helped to prevent Philip Zimmerman from being prosecuted for making PGP in the early 1990s and has represented Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation since 1993. In 2005, Moglen formed the Software Freedom Law Center, which now has offices or affiliates in New York City, New Delhi, and Seoul. In autumn 2013, he gave a series of lectures at Columbia, entitled ''Snowden and the Future''. Moglen earned his law degree and a PhD in History at Yale, and in 2003 was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award.
Andy M¼ller-MaguhnAndy M¼ller-Maguhn has been a member of the Chaos Computer Club since 1986 and a member of its board since about 1995. In 1998, he founded the Data Travel Agency, a research and conceptual thinktank in the area of network architecture. From 2000 till 2003 he was european user elected director of the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers (ICANN), which is responsible for global policies and administration aspects of IP-numbers and Domain-Names. For a better enforcement of human rights in the digital age, M¼ller-Maguhn helped create the European Digital Rights (EDRi) in 2002. In 2011, he created buggedplanet.info as a wiki tracking the surveillance industry and allowing a country-specific view on telecommunication interception issues. Since 2012 M¼ller-Maguhn been a member of the board of the Wau Holland Foundation which supports projects for freedom of information, informational self-determination and civil courage in various forms.
Sana SaleemSana Saleem co-founded Bolo Bhi, a rights group focusing on gender, privacy and censorship in Pakistan. Foreign Policy listed her among the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2012. She won the Best Activist Blogger award by CIO and Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award in 2011. Saleem also co-founded Stories Beyond Borders, a crowd-sourced storytelling platform for policy advocacy. She blogs at Global Voices, Asian Correspondent, the Guardian, Dawn and her personal blog, Mystified Justice. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter. (Sana's photo: courtesy of Onnik Krikorian.)
Vaughan SmithVaughan Smith is an freelance video journalist, known for his war reporting, who founded the Frontline Club in London in 2003 as an institution to champion independent journalism. Since 1988 Vaughan has filmed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and elsewhere, acquiring the only uncontrolled footage of the Gulf War in 1991 while disguised for two months as a British Army officer. During the 1990s, Vaughan ran Frontline News TV, a pioneering news agency that represented the interests of freelance video journalists. In 2010, his home became Julian Assange's refuge for 13 months.
Kevin ZeeseKevin Zeese has been an attorney in Washington DC since 1980. He is an organizer of Popular Resistance which is an outgrowth of his work with Occupy Washington DC at Freedom Plaza. He codirects It's Our Economy which is working to create economic democracy in the United States. He co-hosts Clearing The FOG on We Act Radio in Washington DC. Zeese serves as the Attorney General for the Green Shadow Cabinet, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy and on the steering committee of the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
Snowden Rejects German Request for Meeting in Moscow - WSJ
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:22
June 20, 2014 1:34 p.m. ET
BERLIN'--Edward Snowden has rejected German parliamentarians' request that he answer questions on foreign spying on Germans at a meeting in Moscow, a lawmaker said Friday.
In a letter to the head of the parliamentary committee investigating the affair seen by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Snowden's lawyer in Germany wrote that there was "currently neither scope nor need" for an "informal meeting" between the lawmakers...
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WikiLeaks Offer and Sarah Harrison Likely a Hoax
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:35
29 June 2014. Correction of host offer initiation.
28 June 2014
WikiLeaks Offer and Sarah Harrison Likely a Hoax
Previous: http://cryptome.org/2014/06/wikileaks-fails/wikileaks-offer-fails.htm
On 25 January 2014, by Tweet and by Twitter Direct Message, "WikiLeaks" offered to host Cryptome on its servers. Cryptome by DM asked "WikiLeaks" for preferred means to transfer a USB of the Cryptome Archives, requesting an answer by encrypted email to assure "WikiLeaks" was not an imposter.
To assure the proposal was legitimate Cryptome sent an encrypted email to Jacob Appelbaum asking if he could authenticate the offer. Appelbaum has not responded.
The next day an encrypted email arrived from "Sarah Harrison "
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:14:19 +0000From: sarah[at]wikileaks.orgTo: cryptome[at]earthlink.netSubject: GPG Encrypted Message
The decrypted message:
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----Hash: SHA512Hi,I am writing regarding collection details. I can confirm who can do so later today. Can you please let me know where they should go and timing possibilities?Many thanks. BestSarah-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)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Q8AC-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----Attached: key.ascThe "key.asc" PK provided (this key was not found on keyservers) and a PGPdump analysis:
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)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cfop-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----PGPdump ResultsOld: Public Key Packet(tag 6)(525 bytes) Ver 4 - new Public key creation time - Thu Jun 26 13:34:00 UTC 2014 Pub alg - RSA Encrypt or Sign(pub 1) RSA n(4096 bits) - ... RSA e(17 bits) - ...Old: User ID Packet(tag 13)(36 bytes) User ID - Sarah Harrison Old: Signature Packet(tag 2)(567 bytes) Ver 4 - new Sig type - Positive certification of a User ID and Public Key packet(0x13). Pub alg - RSA Encrypt or Sign(pub 1) Hash alg - SHA256(hash 8) Hashed Sub: signature creation time(sub 2)(4 bytes) Time - Thu Jun 26 13:34:00 UTC 2014 Hashed Sub: key flags(sub 27)(1 bytes) Flag - This key may be used to certify other keys Flag - This key may be used to sign data Hashed Sub: preferred symmetric algorithms(sub 11)(4 bytes) Sym alg - AES with 256-bit key(sym 9) Sym alg - AES with 192-bit key(sym 8) Sym alg - AES with 128-bit key(sym 7) Sym alg - CAST5(sym 3) Hashed Sub: preferred hash algorithms(sub 21)(4 bytes) Hash alg - SHA512(hash 10) Hash alg - SHA384(hash 9) Hash alg - SHA256(hash 8) Hash alg - SHA224(hash 11) Hashed Sub: preferred compression algorithms(sub 22)(4 bytes) Comp alg - ZLIB (comp 2) Comp alg - BZip2(comp 3) Comp alg - ZIP (comp 1) Comp alg - Uncompressed(comp 0) Hashed Sub: features(sub 30)(1 bytes) Flag - Modification detection (packets 18 and 19) Hashed Sub: key server preferences(sub 23)(1 bytes) Flag - No-modify Sub: issuer key ID(sub 16)(8 bytes) Key ID - 0x01B7BA88530CA418 Hash left 2 bytes - c8 2a RSA m^d mod n(4095 bits) - ... -> PKCS-1Old: Public Subkey Packet(tag 14)(525 bytes) Ver 4 - new Public key creation time - Thu Jun 26 13:34:00 UTC 2014 Pub alg - RSA Encrypt or Sign(pub 1) RSA n(4096 bits) - ... RSA e(17 bits) - ...Old: Signature Packet(tag 2)(543 bytes) Ver 4 - new Sig type - Subkey Binding Signature(0x18). Pub alg - RSA Encrypt or Sign(pub 1) Hash alg - SHA256(hash 8) Hashed Sub: signature creation time(sub 2)(4 bytes) Time - Thu Jun 26 13:34:00 UTC 2014 Hashed Sub: key flags(sub 27)(1 bytes) Flag - This key may be used to encrypt communications Flag - This key may be used to encrypt storage Sub: issuer key ID(sub 16)(8 bytes) Key ID - 0x01B7BA88530CA418 Hash left 2 bytes - e2 63 RSA m^d mod n(4095 bits) - ... -> PKCS-1The PGPDump shows the key was generated a few hours before the message was sent.
Cryptome provided a location and time frame by encrypted email to "Sarah Harrison" using a public key provided by "Harrison." The decrypted message:
Hi Sarah,Anytime today, 11AM to 5PM, the parcel can be picked up at our front desk. No need for face to face with us. However wewould appreciate the person leaving a simple sign of receipt.Any kind will do that indicates legitimacy. Let me know whatform that sign will be. This will help us avoid being spoofed by an imposter, all too common these days as you know.Address:251 West 89th Street Northwest corner of Broadway, No. 1 subway, 86th Street stopWill be in grey envelope with material inside. Name on envelope:Margaret Mead FoundationOur tel: 212-873-8700Regards,JohnThere was no answer to this email and nobody came for the pick-up. Cryptome then sent an encrypted email to "Harrison" stating the handover did not occur. The decrypted message:
Dear Sarah,The collection is canceled due to not receiving confirmation by encrypted email within proposed time frame. Concerned about being spoofed by animposter. And cannot authenticate your PK.Regards,JohnThis email was not answered.
Yesterday Cryptome sent an encrypted email to Trevor Timm asking if he could request Sarah Harrision to authenticate the "Harrison" public key. He emailed he would attempt to do so. No answer has been provided by Timm.
Yesterday Cryptome sent an encrypted email to Sarah Harrison describing the receipt of an encrypted email from a party claiming to be her, provided details of the public key provided -- email used, key ID, date and time of generation -- and asked if she could verify the key. No response has been received. The decrypted message:
*** PGP SIGNATURE VERIFICATION ****** Status: Good Signature*** Signer: Cryptome (0x8B3BF75C)*** Signed: 6/27/2014 1:23:46 PM*** Verified: 6/28/2014 12:37:52 PM*** BEGIN PGP DECRYPTED/VERIFIED MESSAGE ***Dear Ms. Harrison,Yesterday we received an encrypted email from a partyidentified as Sarah Harrison We were able to decrypt the message.However sent an encrypted response to the email addressbut have not received an answer.We have been unable to verify the public key providedas an attachment for responding to the email.Public key creation time - Thu Jun 26 13:34:00 UTC 2014 User ID - Sarah Harrison Key ID - 0x01B7BA88530CA418Do you recognize this email address and public key?We are concerned that the email may be a forgery.Thanks very much,John YoungCryptome.orgNew York, NY212-873-8700*** END PGP DECRYPTED/VERIFIED MESSAGE ***Today, 28 June 2014, appeared unsubstantiated allegation that Sarah Harrison has had a falling out with Julian Assange, and that she was preparing a book on the Snowden affair.
http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/the-critics/632/another-assange-foot-soldier-sarah-harrison-missing-in-action/30393/
Another Assange Foot Soldier (Sarah Harrison) Missing In Action
We just love Assange gossip, its the stuff that makes the world go round: Back in 2010 we had a pretty good incite into just what was going on within [at]wikileaks. Some of the leaked "Insiders"stuff was questionable, however, with the passage of time some of it was absolutely spot on. Remember this was 2010 when Assange was being treated as some sort of Messiah by an adoring and unquestioning media. In a series of "Wikileaks Insider" messages that were run at www.cryptome.org forwarded by PGPBOARD Assange was exposed as an untrustworthy and arch manipulator, and [at]Wikileaks a virtual one man band.
Over the years we have maintained casual contact with the source of these 2010 Insiders leaks, who I might add has nothing to do with Wikileaks any more, and has a professional career in Germany.
SARAH HARRISON
OK having set the scene; let's continue. The parting of the ways between Assange and Sarah Harrison WAS NOT as amicable as Wikileaks aka Julian Assange would have one believe. Firstly Assange was intensely jealous of firstly Snowden for effectively freezing him out of the NSA leaks and his collaboration with Greenwald, and even more so with Sarah Harrison, who he suspected of becoming more of a personal advisor to Snowden than he anticipated!!
True to his colours, Assange's paranoia got the better of him, the relationship turned toxic and they eventually broke up. This was prior to Harrison leaving Russia.
Her next stop was Berlin, this was not by accident or fear of arrest in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter. This was yet another smoke screen. Sarah had something else on her mind, and that was the writing and publication of a kiss and tell book about her tenure at Wikileaks. Berlin would be prime choice, since many of the characters that were actively involved in Wikleaks early days, and subsequent schism were resident in Germany. Sarah needed no help concerning the later developments in the Swedish sex case issues, she was front and centre here.
We have been told that Sarah found or was contacted by the Berg's; they met in Berlin and was extensively briefed in detail about Assange and his early engagement of Wikileaks and donor funding irregularities.
Finally; as far we are concerned, this will be the DEFINITIVE tome about Assange and the disaster that became Wikileaks. I cannot wait for its publication, or details about who will publish...
Regards
AT
Last Edit: Today at 12:32:14 AM by Alan Taylor >>
(Cryptome is familiar with Alan Taylor's skeptical views of Assange and WikiLeaks.)
Based on the lack of response to our emails to "Harrison" and Harrison and if the allegations are credible, it suggests the true Sarah Harrison did not send the encrypted email to Cryptome, that instead her identity was forged as hoax. This may also suggest the "WikiLeaks" offer to host Cryptome was forged or a hoax.
A reader has warned that the hoax may have been perpetuated by Robert David Graham [at]ErrataRob (and associates) who first taunted WikiLeaks to host Cryptome (it is easy to forge Twitter Direct Messages as well as public keys):
The reader's warning message:
I just read "June 26, 2014 2014-0923.htm WikiLeaks Offer to HostCryptome Fails"http://cryptome.org/2014/06/wikileaks-fails/wikileaks-offer-fails.htmYou refer to a trusted third party [Appelbaum]? I hope this is not:Robert David Graham [at]ErrataRob.I'm certain that he has very very close links with GCHQ. If you rememberFull-Disclosure.pdf, he was basically the mouth piece ofGCHQ at the time. I addressed his comments and opposition in the lastupdate of Full-disclosure.http://cryptome.org/2013/12/Full-Disclosure.pdfTo be continued, or not.
Greenwald's Fireworks Finale Postponed | The Rancid Honeytrap
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:17
After a good tarnishing by the non-disclosure of Country X, Greenwald's billionaire-backed, Pulitzer prize-winning, hagiography-inspiring, ''fearless, adversarial'' brand is taking another hit.
In May, Greenwald promised his biggest story yet, while at the same time coming clean about being an entertainer as opposed to a journalist:
There's a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I'm saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale'...
Elsewhere he suggested that this story would impart the names of people targeted by the NSA for surveillance.
Yesterday, with his customary flair for drama, he promised to publish this story at midnight, and also announced that he and his co-author Maz Hussain would be available today to discuss the story via a Reddit AMA.
But alas, less than three hours before the gray sky of our elite-mediated dissent was to be set ablaze, he tweeted this:
After 3 months working on our story, USG [the United States government] today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing
The obvious question is, why not go forward with the story and publish a follow-up? A more transparent sort of transparency advocate might have used the scheduled AMA to answer that question and others, but, unsurprisingly, that was canceled too.
Enter Cryptome '' lately reinventing itself as Greenwald's (pseudo)-nemesis and no slouch itself in the drama department '' to tweet that all Snowden documents would be released on July 27. Cryptome clarified that it would not be publishing the documents, but would aid and abet their publication. They disclosed their reason:
July is when war begins unless headed off by Snowden full release of crippling intel. After war begins not a chance of release.
A year ago I might have found this all terribly interesting, but I can't help feeling this is just more silly theatre, or a dustup between competing elites whose interests have little in common with my own. Has there ever been a major whistleblowing event with this kind of mainstream traction that wasn't about elites sparring with other elites? This is not to say that one elite faction's and my interests can't coincide, but don't expect me to get too worked up about it. The war business is worrying, certainly, but the basis for that remains to be seen. Whatever the case, it seems hard to believe that a full document dump could impede anything the imperialist establishment is bent on doing.
As for Greenwald, it's fashionable to see each of his many concessions to power as something horribly and and disappointingly new, at least for those who don't laughably argue for their secret savvy that only knowing knowers and Greenwald understand. But the fact is, the US and British government have been in the loop from day one, a fact that Greenwald and Snowden have made no secret of. Snowden counts them among 'the stakeholders', even insisting that he is still working for the intelligence establishment.
Extract Greenwald's chest-beating from the whole affair and what you have is a mediocre journalist effectively writing the same story over and over again while tirelessly lecturing on the proper harm-minimizing, elite-blessed and highly profitable way to blow whistles. He and his fellow Leak Keepers have, at most, rather harmlessly inconvenienced one of eighteen Federal agencies in a gigantic surveillance apparatus, while helpfully stealing the spotlight from other crimes. Set against his clownish self-mythologizing and self-aggrandizement, this latest capitulation in advance of his ''finale'' should make him a laughingstock. That it hasn't attests to how desperate people are for a spectacle of dissent and the illusory freedom it implies.
Related
What a Fucking Asshole
In Conclusion
What We Learned from the Snowden Affair
Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect
Oligarchs Approve the NSA Debate. I Guess We're #Winning
Take Your Drip and Stick It
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The BIG dump & Fireworks
ggreenwald FIERWORKS tweets
After 3 months working on our story, USG today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing
Tomorrow at 9am ET, I'm doing a @reddit_AMA with @MazMHussain about our new NSA story to be published tonight at midnight on @the_intercept
cryptomeorg tweest
Will @EFF publish withheld Snowden docs to forestall war by releasing all docs to go beyond polite public debate of court and NGO hectoring.
RT @Cryptomeorg Looks like a military build-up is planned for the Asia Pacific. Page 3, paragraph 2. http://t.co/gWevKR3jS8
July is dump spy docs time.
July 20, 1604: Dump gunpowder
July 4, 1776: Dump royalty
July 22, 2010: Dump ban of declaration of independence.
Court gave NSA broad leeway in surveillance, documents show
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:44
Virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorized to intercept information ''concerning'' all but four countries, according to top-secret documents.
The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries '-- Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand '-- in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.
The certification '-- approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden '-- lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The NSA is not necessarily targeting all the countries or organizations identified in the certification, the affidavits and an accompanying exhibit; it has only been given authority to do so. Still, the privacy implications are far-reaching, civil liberties advocates say, because of the wide spectrum of people who might be engaged in communication about foreign governments and entities and whose communications might be of interest to the United States.
''These documents show both the potential scope of the government's surveillance activities and the exceedingly modest role the court plays in overseeing them,'' said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, who had the documents described to him.
NSA officials, who declined to comment on the certification or acknowledge its authenticity, stressed the constraints placed on foreign intelligence-gathering. The collection must relate to a foreign intelligence requirement '-- there are thousands '-- set for the intelligence agencies by the president, the director of national intelligence and various departments through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework.
Furthermore, former government officials said, it is prudent for the certification to list every country '-- even those whose affairs do not seem to immediately bear on U.S. national security interests or foreign policy.
''It's not impossible to imagine a humanitarian crisis in a country that's friendly to the United States, where the military might be expected on a moment's notice to go in and evacuate all Americans,'' said a former senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. ''If that certification did not list the country,'' the NSA could not gather intelligence under the law, the former official said.
The documents shed light on a little-understood process that is central to one of the NSA's most significant surveillance programs: collection of the e-mails and phone calls of foreign targets under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.
The foreign-government certification, signed by the attorney general and the director of national intelligence, is one of three approved annually by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, pursuant to the law. The other two relate to counterterrorism and counterproliferation, according to the documents and former officials.
Under the Section 702 program, the surveillance court also approves rules for surveillance targeting and for protecting Americans' privacy. The certifications, together with the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, serve as the basis for targeting a person or an entity.
The documents underscore the remarkable breadth of potential ''foreign intelligence'' collection. Though the FISA Amendments Act grew out of an effort to place under statute a surveillance program devoted to countering terrorism, the result was a program far broader in scope.
An affidavit in support of the 2010 foreign-government certification said the NSA believes that foreigners who will be targeted for collection ''possess, are expected to receive and/or are likely to communicate foreign intelligence information concerning these foreign powers.''
That language could allow for surveillance of academics, journalists and human rights researchers. A Swiss academic who has information on the German government's position in the run-up to an international trade negotiation, for instance, could be targeted if the government has determined there is a foreign-intelligence need for that information. If a U.S. college professor e-mails the Swiss professor's e-mail address or phone number to a colleague, the American's e-mail could be collected as well, under the program's court-approved rules.
Even the no-spy agreements with the Five Eye countries have exceptions. The agency's principal targeting system automatically filters out phone calls from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But it does not do so for their 28 sovereign territories, such as the British Virgin Islands. An NSA policy bulletin distributed in April 2013 said filtering out those country codes would slow the system down.
''Intelligence requirements, whether satisfied through human sources or electronic surveillance, involve information that may touch on almost every foreign country,'' said Timothy Edgar, former privacy officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and now a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Affairs.
Those efforts could include surveillance of all manner of foreign intelligence targets '-- anything from learning about Russian anti-submarine warfare to Chinese efforts to hack into American companies, Edgar said. ''It's unlikely the NSA would target academics, journalists or human rights researchers if there was any other way of getting information,'' he said.
A spokeswoman for the NSA, Vanee Vines, said the agency may only target foreigners ''reasonably believed to be outside the United States.''
Vines noted that in January, President Obama issued a policy directive stating that U.S. surveillance ''shall be as tailored as feasible.'' He also directed that the United States no longer spy on dozens of foreign heads of state and that sensitive targeting decisions be subject to high-level review.
''In short, there must be a particular intelligence need, policy approval and legal authorization for U.S. signals intelligence activities, including activities conducted pursuant to Section 702,'' Vines said.
On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a transparency report stating that in 2013 the government targeted nearly 90,000 foreign individuals or organizations for foreign surveillance under the program. Some tech-industry lawyers say the number is relatively low, considering that several billion people use U.S. e-mail services.
Still, some lawmakers are concerned that the potential for intrusions on Americans' privacy has grown under the 2008 law because the government is intercepting not just communications of its targets but communications about its targets as well. The expansiveness of the foreign-powers certification increases that concern.
In a 2011 FISA court opinion, a judge using an NSA-provided sample estimated that the agency could be collecting as many as 46,000 wholly domestic e-mails a year that mentioned a particular target's e-mail address or phone number, in what is referred to as ''about'' collection.
''When Congress passed Section 702 back in 2008, most members of Congress had no idea that the government was collecting Americans' communications simply because they contained a particular individual's contact information,'' Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has co-sponsored ­legislation to narrow ''about'' collection authority, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. ''If 'about the target' collection were limited to genuine national security threats, there would be very little privacy impact. In fact, this collection is much broader than that, and it is scooping up huge amounts of Americans' wholly domestic communications.''
Government officials argue that the wholly domestic e-mails represent a tiny fraction '-- far less than 1 percent '-- of the volume collected. They point to court-imposed rules to protect the privacy of U.S. persons whose communications are picked up in error or because they are in contact with foreign targets.
In general, if Americans' identities are not central to the import of a communication, they must be masked before being shared with another agency. Communications collected from companies that operate high-volume cables '-- instead of directly from technology firms such as Yahoo or Google '-- are kept for two years instead of five. Some of the most sensitive ones are segregated and may not be used without written permission from the NSA director.
Privacy advocates say the rules are riddled with exceptions. They point out that wholly domestic communications may be kept and shared if they contain significant foreign intelligence, a term that is defined broadly, or evidence of a crime. They also note that the rules allow NSA access to certain attorney-client communications, pending review by the agency's general counsel.
Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, expressed concern about the prospect of capturing e-mails and phone calls of law-abiding foreigners. ''The breadth of the certification suggests that the court is authorizing the government to spy on average foreigners and doesn't exercise much if any control beyond that,'' she said.
Some former officials say that the court's role has been appropriately limited when it comes to foreign targeting decisions, which traditionally have been the purview of the executive branch. The court generally has focused on ensuring that domestic surveillance is targeted at foreign spies or agents of a foreign power.
''Remember, the FISA court is not there to protect the privacy interests of foreign people,'' the former defense official said. ''That's not its purpose, however noble the cause might be. Its purpose is to protect the privacy interests of persons guaranteed those protections under the Constitution.''
The only reason the court has oversight of the NSA program is that Congress in 2008 gave the government a new authority to gather intelligence from U.S. companies that own the Internet cables running through the United States, former officials noted.
Edgar, the former privacy officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said ultimately he believes the authority should be narrowed. ''There are valid privacy concerns with leaving these collection decisions entirely in the executive branch,'' he said. ''There shouldn't be broad collection, using this authority, of foreign government information without any meaningful judicial role that defines the limits of what can be collected.''
Barton Gellman writes for the national staff. He has contributed to three Pulitzer Prizes for The Washington Post, most recently the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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TOR not Anonymous in Germany
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:19
Von:
Nach:
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Edward Jay Epstein: Revisiting Snowden's Hong Kong Getaway - WSJ
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:32
June 29, 2014 5:04 p.m. ET
One year ago this month an Aeroflot plane brought Edward Snowden to Russia. He has since said that his finding asylum in Moscow was an accident. "I personally am surprised," he told Brian Williams in an hour-long interview on NBC last month. "I never intended to end up in Russia."
Whatever the truth of his claim that Russia was intended as a stopover on the way to Latin America, it has shifted attention away from...
Snowden Applies to Extend Asylum in Russia, Report Says.
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:24
Elena Polio / FlickrU.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden applies to extend his asylum in Russia.
U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has filed an official petition to extend his asylum in Russia for another year, a news report said Tuesday.
An unidentified official at the Federal Migration Service told Izvestia that Snowden had submitted the petition to the Moscow region branch of the agency by the June 30 deadline, a month before his current one-year asylum status expires.
If the request is granted, Snowden's asylum will be extended for another year, the official was quoted as saying.
Snowden said in an interview with NBC in late May that given the choice, he would have preferred to return to the U.S., but that he would ask Russia to extend his stay "if the asylum looks like it's going to run out."
He also told Brazilian television channel Globo in early June that he had formally applied "to several countries, including Brazil" with asylum requests. But the Brazilian Foreign Ministry denied having received an official petition, Gazeta.ru reported at the time.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency employee, has been living in Russia since he fled the U.S. last year after leaking thousands of highly classified documents.
See also:
Edward Snowden Hopes to Renew Russian Visa in June
Snowden Applies to Brazil With Asylum Request
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Smart Lights: New LEDS Allow NSA To Spy On Your Every Movement (video)
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:53
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F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
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BBC News - Russia and Ukraine 'agree steps' towards new truce
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:54
2 July 2014Last updated at 17:09 ET The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France say they have agreed on steps aimed at ending hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
Germany's Walter Steinmeier said they agreed in talks in Berlin on a "package of measures" that paves the way for a bilateral ceasefire.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine has increased since a shaky 10-day ceasefire expired on Monday.
Hundreds have been killed since a pro-Russian rebellion began in the east.
At least nine civilians were reported dead in an attack on a village in the Luhansk region on Wednesday, which the Ukrainian army and rebels blamed on each other.
Saturday deadlineFollowing talks in the German capital on Wednesday, the foreign ministers said they had agreed to hold three-way talks that includes the pro-Russian rebels "no later than 5 July".
"We propose to achieve this through a meeting soon of the Contact Group, which - we hope - will hold a meeting in coming days and agree on the conditions for truce that would satisfy all sides," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after talks concluded.
The contact group represents Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin, however, warned that all hostages must be released and that Ukraine should be given greater control of its borders to stop insurgents receiving fresh fighters and weapons.
"The de-escalation of the situation will happen when the peace plan of the Ukrainian president is respected in its totality," Mr Klimkin said.
The talks were called by Mr Steinmeier, who warned that in the past 48 hours the situation had "dramatically escalated... and might get totally out of control".
Violence has worsened in eastern Ukraine since the 10-day unilateral ceasefire, called by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, ended on Monday, with both sides accusing the other of violations.
The civilian deaths in the village of Luhanska came in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with amateur videos on YouTube showing ruined buildings and bodies on a street. Neither the reports of casualties nor the videos could be verified independently.
The rebels said nine people died when the Ukrainian army shelled and bombed the village, but Ukrainian officials deny that their forces were in the area, blaming the deaths on the rebels.
In other developments:
Two Ukrainian TV journalists taken hostage by eastern separatists in Luhansk on Monday were released Rebels in Donetsk say two of their fighters died in fighting on Wednesday at Nikolayevka and three members of the same family were killed in the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk area (Donetsk) by government shelling Ukraine says it lost one soldier after its troops fought off rebel attempts to break an army encirclement in Sloviansk A Su-25 ground attack jet crashed at Dnipropetrovsk airport, reportedly after mechanical failure The violence erupted in eastern Ukraine in April as separatists declared independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March.
The crisis was triggered last November when, under pressure from Russia, Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych decided not to sign a deal bringing Ukraine closer to the EU. This led to protests in Kiev and his eventual overthrow.
President Poroshenko signed the free trade part of the EU deal in Brussels last Friday, after earlier signing the political co-operation clauses.
Did the U.S. Just Lose Europe?
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 01:21
Very interesting turn of events in the Ukraine crisis. Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine just agreed to a ceasefire and structuring of a working group moving forward. Absent from the discussions was the United States. One can only speculate at the conversations taking place in Washington right now as two of America's European allies just turned their back and embraced Russia. '' JC
From RT
A roadmap of measures that will point a way out of the Ukrainian crisis has been agreed during four-way talks between the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
In their joint statement, the ministers called for the Contact Group to resume its work ''no later than July 5 with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed, sustainable ceasefire.''
The group should include representatives of both Kiev and the self-defense forces of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said.
While Russia only has limited influence over the self-defense forces in southeast Ukraine, Lavrov said that their representatives, including Donetsk People's Republic leader Aleksandr Boroday, have already ''publicly stated that they are ready to answer Russia's and the OSCE's calls to start consultations on a ceasefire.''
''The ceasefire should be monitored by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine in conformity with its mandate,'' the statement reads.
Lavrov, said that the ceasefire was essential to prevent further casualties among the civilian population, and to provide a chance of reaching an agreement between the sides in the conflict.
Moscow is ready to grant Ukraine border guards access to Russian territory so that they can control border crossings at several checkpoints, while the mutually agreed ceasefire is in place.
The Russian FM insisted that the ceasefire must in no way be used as a chance to redeploy forces by the sides involved in the Ukrainian conflict.
''All sides must contribute to a secure environment,'' the statement concluded, emphasizing the need to ensure the safety and security of journalists working in the conflict zone.
Steinmeier expressed hope that by working together the sides will be able to stop ''the escalation of the conflict, which has taken place in recent days.''
Ukraine's foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, confirmed that during the Berlin talks the parties agreed ''the establishment of a bilateral ceasefire, which will be monitored by the OSCE.''
However, he added that de-escalation will only happen when the Ukrainian president's peace plan is respected in its totality.
Klimkin also expressed hope that ''the effectiveness of control over the border regime between the Ukraine and Russia will be strengthened'' as a result of the Berlin agreements.
French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, has described the outcome of Tuesday's talks as ''missing accomplished.''
''Our task is, first of all, to achieve peace and security. I think that the agreement the four countries reached is a step in the right direction,'' he said.
According to Fabius, the most important issues to be addressed in Ukraine are ''ceasefire; release of hostage and border settlement.''
The meeting in Berlin took place two days after the situation in Ukraine was discussed in a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin, German chancellor Angela Merkel, head of the French state Francois Hollande and Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko.
The four heads of state have supported the idea of urgently staging the third round of consultations between Kiev and the self-defense forces and have briefed their foreign ministers accordingly.
The violence has again escalated in Ukraine after president Poroshenko terminated the ceasefire in the south-east of the country on June 30.
Chairman of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Andrey Lysenko, said that Kiev troops and self-defense forces engaged in combat on 19 occasions during the last 24 hours. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 other injured in those gunfights, he added.
The self-defense forces speak of a deadly airstrike by Kiev forces, which saw five people dead and completely destroyed a street in the village of Staraya Kondrashovka northeast of the city of Lugansk.
''We will completely clean out the separatists and free the east of Ukraine. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions will again live in peace,'' Aleksandr Turchinov, Ukraine's parliamentary speaker, is cited by Euronews as saying.
At least, 200 people have been killed and another 600 injured since the start of Kiev's so called ''anti-terrorist operation'' in eastern Ukraine, the country's national security service announced.
The number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has reached 110,000 people, while 54,400 others have been internally displaced, the UN's refugee department stated.
Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, says Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is now personally responsible for all the victims of Kiev's military campaign.
''By breaking the truce [with self-defense forces in the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk] President Poroshenko has made a dramatic mistake. It'll bring new victims. And for all of them, he'll be personally responsible,'' Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page.''It will be much more difficult to revive talks. These are the rules of a war,'' he added.
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Ruzie over Russische varkensban loopt verder op - AD.nl
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:08
Ruzie over Russische varkensban loopt verder op - AD.nl
Bewerkt door: Redactie30-6-14 - 12:48 bron: ANP(C) afp.De ruzie tussen de Europese Unie en Rusland over het Russische importverbod voor varkens loopt verder op. De Wereldhandelsorganisatie (WTO) wordt gevraagd om een bindende uitspraak te doen over de kwestie. Intensief overleg tussen de EU en Rusland heeft niet tot een oplossing geleid. Ook is er geen oplossing in zicht. Daarom besluit Brussel nu de WTO definitief in te schakelen, zo maakte de Europese Commissie vandaag bekend.
Sinds eind januari importeert Rusland geen varkens of varkensvlees meer uit de EU. Aanleiding was de vondst van Afrikaanse varkenspest in Litouwen en Polen. Volgens de EU is het importverbod buitenproportioneel omdat het gaat om enkele, ge¯soleerde gevallen van varkenspest. Bovendien is de EU-brede ban in strijd met internationale handelsafspraken, aldus Brussel.
Een kwart van het Europese varkensvlees gaat naar Rusland, rekende Brussel voor. Denemarken, Duitsland en Nederland zijn grote exporteurs.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVERENRapporteer een fout in het artikel aan onze redactieMeer overgerelateerd nieuwsMeer over(C) 2014 De Persgroep Digital. Alle rechten voorbehouden.Lees de gebruiksvoorwaarden. - Privacy
Volg het nieuws op onze zustersite in Belgi www.hln.be.
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Ukrainians crowdfund to raise cash for 'people's drone' to help outgunned army | World news | The Guardian
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:06
It has been used to raise money for films, rock bands and aspiring performance artists. Now Ukrainians have taken the concept of online crowdfunding to a new and giddy level, raising enough money to buy the country's first "people's drone".
With Ukraine's army battling pro-Russian militants in the east, ordinary citizens have launched a new initiative to supply Kiev's beleaguered and badly equipped troops. Over the past three months volunteers have provided uniforms and bulletproof vests for government soldiers whose army-issue fatigues have fallen apart. Villagers have offered food, bottles of water and bags of crisps. Then, last week, Ukraine's crowdfunding site The People's Project said that it had received enough donations to fund a drone. It will be used for reconnaissance in the skies above the rebel Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, and on the border with Russia, the scene of numerous recent shootouts between troops and separatists.
The organisers had originally hoped to buy a state-of-the-art Israeli drone '' for $165,000 (£97,000) '' or a cheaper American one costing $120,000. In the end, however, they managed to build the drone for just $35,000. A designer and other volunteers built the airframe, with a Ukrainian military institute chipping in technical equipment. The hope is that with enough drones the army will be able to stop the infiltration of men and material from neighbouring Russia. Kiev says there is overwhelming evidence that the Kremlin has supplied heavy weapons and even old tanks to the rebels. Moscow denies this.
"If we get 20 drones we will definitely ensure the security of our border," said David Arakhania, an IT executive from Kiev who founded the site in March. No photos of the "people's drone" have been released, since that might help the enemy, he added.
Arakhania said he felt compelled to do something after seeing the plight of Ukrainian soldiers serving on the new frontline with Crimea. After Russian troops overran the Black Sea peninsula in February, Arakhania said he visited forward positions at Chonar, in Kherson province, where paratroopers from his home town of Mykolaiv were serving.
"We found them in bad shape. They were wearing torn bulletproof vests and camouflage gear. So we decided to collect money and buy new outfits for them," he said. In the first two or three weeks, his crowdfunding initiative raised £20,000, with £35,000 the next week, and then a £37,000 donation from three MPs he met in Kiev. "After that we bought everything the boys needed," he said. The crowdfunding appeal was called the "first people's infantry battalion".
A ceasefire deal was agreed last week between both sides, though few are confident it will last.
As well as the drone, Arakhania's group is now collecting for a second "people's battalion", as well as for a new sniper unit. "Snipers are very efficient in an anti-terrorist zone as they help to prevent big losses. That's why we started equipping them," he said.
Seven volunteers run the website, including a former paratrooper who negotiates with arms dealers. Other volunteers promote the site via Facebook and Twitter. There are daily updates, with breakdowns of how the cash is spent. Donations vary from £1 to £2,500. The biggest, $10,000, came from Kiev, he said.
In the two decades since independence, Ukraine's army has largely fallen apart. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it had up to 900,000 servicemen. It now has only about 90,000 soldiers. The military decline accelerated under Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych. It was his decision last November to reject an association agreement with the EU and accept a Kremlin bailout that triggered mass street protests against his rule. In February he fled to Russia. "Yanukovych funded the police well because it was there to protect him. He didn't give a damn about the army," said Andrew Wilson of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
The army's equipment is now so poor that soldiers typically buy their own uniforms and most military equipment, or rely on private benefactors. Ukraine's Soviet-era weaponry is in bad repair, with Soviet-era stockpiles stolen or sold off, defence analysts say. Russia, by contrast, has lavished money on its armed forces since its 2008 war against Georgia, with defence spending up 85%. Russia has twice as many tanks as Ukraine and five times more warplanes.
One officer, Serhiy, speaking at a Ukraine army checkpoint in the Luhansk region, said he had bought his own kit from a military shop. He had purchased a British-made uniform, he said, because his army-issue one was old and worn out. "Of what I'm wearing, the army gave me only my Kalashnikov and bulletproof vest," he said. The vest, he added, had been bought thanks to private sponsors in the Chernivtsi region.
Katya Gorchinskaya, deputy editor of the Kyiv Post, said that after years of corruption and budget starvation, Ukraine's army resembled a "withered muscle". As well as dilapidated equipment, the country's military and police suffered a serious problem of infiltration, with some officers helping the separatists. "We never thought we would have to fight a war," she said. "Nobody expected our neighbour to attack us."
The drone initiative is one of many patriotic projects to have sprung up in Ukraine, where, unlike in Russia, civil society is traditionally robust. During the anti-Yanukovych protests, a group of women sewed bulletproof vests for those who were protesting on the Maidan, Kiev's central square.
The women were nicknamed the "sewing hundred", a reference to the "heavenly hundred", the 100 or so protesters shot dead in Kiev by riot police. The women, led by a former journalist, Diana Makarova, also bought British uniforms for demonstrators from secondhand shops.
Makarova is now supplying troops fighting in the east. Her foundation recently sent two cars to Slavyansk, the separatist-controlled town north of Donetsk, loaded with everything "from trousers to night-vision devices". These were the ninth and 10th cars sent there in the past two months, she said.
She said her team had recently stopped making flak jackets because they had been unable to source plates made from high-quality steel or Kevlar.She added that Ukraine's customs service had created huge problems for her work. It had banned the import of military equipment, meaning that her volunteers couldn't bring in military boots or secondhand uniforms from abroad, she said.
"British MultiCam [camouflage clothing] is very popular with our soldiers because it is made of high-quality material. It's very rugged," Makarova said, adding that its colours were ideal for the landscape of Ukraine's south-east.
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Russia continues sustained fast breeder reactor effort
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:18
On June 26, 2014, the 60th anniversary of the start of the 5 MWe Obninsk reactor that was the first reactor in the world to routinely supply electricity to a commercial power grid, Russia started up the latest in a series of sodium-cooled fast reactors, the BN-800.
This new nuclear plant is an evolutionary refinement of the successful BN-600 that has been operating in Russia since 1980 and ''is said to have the best operating and production record of all Russia's nuclear power units.''
Here is a quote from a promotional brochure about the project published in 2011 by Atomenergoproekt, the joint stock company that built the power plant.
BN-800 power unit (under design) for Beloyarskaya NPP accommodates all principal concepts and solutions used in its predecessor BN-600, substantiated by over 20 years of its successful operation at high performance (capacity factor 80% at efficiency 42%).
BN-800 Power Unit is designed primarily for the production of heat and energy. The Power Unit as part of the grid operates with constant rated load (basic mode).
However, BN-800 characteristics and physical features dictate its multi-purpose usage. Viz, the reactor is used for:
electric and heat power generationplutonium consumption and, if necessary, productionprocessing of long-lived supertransuranics accumulated in the radwastes of reactor of any typeproduction of isotopes.No other reactor type combines so wide a range of functions.
Equipment of the reactor and its system involved in the handling of fuel assemblies containing isotopes and supertransuranics is designed to perform the above-mentioned functions.
The system builds off some of the successes of fast reactors designed and operated in Russia and the rest of the world and also incorporates features that avoid some of the characteristics that have led to failures in fast reactor programs. In other words, the BN-800 is the result of learning and the progress that can be made with sustained effort in any challenging, but potentially rewarding field of endeavor.
As shown in the below process heat flow diagram, the BN-800 uses a large pool of sodium and three separate heat transfer systems to provide passive safety. This is a concept that is similar to the one that was well-proven in more than 30 years of operation and testing at EBR-II and at previous BN-series reactors.
BN-800 Process Heat Flow Diagram
The BN-series reactors continue to use oxide fuels because they have achieved reasonably good results with that type of fuel and the responsible designers do not see any compelling reason to change. My friends who remain strong advocates of the Integral Fast Reactor have convinced me that a new fast reactor program started today should carefully consider the use of metal alloy fuels because they enable the use of an improved pyroprocessing technique for recycling the used fuel rods. It would be more difficult for a program that has a large investment in the capital equipment and human knowledge required for manufacturing and recycling oxide fuels to make that revolutionary technology choice.
While reading a terrific biography of Leo Szilard titled ''Genius in the Shadows'', I found the following quote that illustrates the confused view of nuclear energy that is prevalent among the portion of the American intelligentsia that write books and perform historical research and commentary. It is relevant to this story about incremental progress in fast breeder reactor development.
Szilard's faith in the peaceful benefits of atomic energy has certainly been rewarded in the development of medical technology, although his hope that nuclear power would help developing countries to prosper has proven impractical. Overstated, too, was Szilard's faith in his breeder reactor, which has proven to be a dangerous and costly electricity producer in every country that has tried to build one.
My answer to the author of that passage is that virtually every technology ever devised by man would have been considered a costly failure if the inventor gave up after trying to ''build one''. As the old schoolyard saying goes, ''If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.''
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Ukraine Gold Reserves Reported To Be Hastily Aircrafted To U.S - Shanghai Metals Market
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:55
Author: Paul Ploumis12 Mar 2014 Last updated at 00:51:36 GMT
KIEV (Scrap Monster) : As per the report of a source from the Ukrainian Government, the Ukrainian gold reserves were confirmed to be moved on an aircraft from the Bristol Airport at Kiev to the United States. The report says that about 40 tons of gold was flown from Ukraine to US. However, according to the World Gold Council, Ukraine has in store 36 tons of gold reserves.
Gold reserves in 40 sealed boxes loaded on an aircraft which remains unidentified was reported to be transferred last night from the Bristol airport. Witnesses say the board took off immediately after loading the boxes.
According to reliable source from the Govt. of Ukraine, the transferring of gold was ordered by the acting Prime Minister of the country, Mr. Arseny Yatsenyuk. The new acting PM was replaced by the President of Ukraine who was ousted by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland.
The gold transfer is speculated as Ukraine Government's legitimate fear in safe-keeping their gold reserves in US Federal Reserve so that the Russian invasion doesn't take possession of those gold bullions. The fact for gold transfer still remains shady.
According to the Gold Anti-Trust Action (GATA) Committee, the US Fed Reserve and the State Department was asked to disclose whether they had taken custody of Ukraine's gold reserve. However, the department while acknowledging the inquisition said that they will respond to the issue soon.
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Russia bans swear words in art, films - Channel NewsAsia
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:09
MOSCOW: A hugely controversial Russian law banning curse words in films, theatre, the media and arts came into force on Tuesday, part of a Kremlin-backed drive to play up traditional values and root out swearing.
The legislation, which was signed off by President Vladimir Putin in May, imposes hefty fines on offenders -- up to 2,500 rubles ($72) for individuals and up to 50,000 rubles ($1,460) for businesses.
Movies featuring obscenities will not be issued a distribution licence, while traders will now be obliged to warn consumers about swear words.
The legislation does not spell out what constitutes profanity but the law is widely seen to be targeting Russia's hugely potent lingua franca of obscenities known as "mat".
While critics say the targeted swear words are highly offensive to the Russian ear and their use should be curtailed, supporters say "mat" is an art form and can be instrumental in helping express extreme human conditions like pain or anger.
Many ridiculed the legislation, saying efforts to outlaw what essentially is an inalienable part of Russia's culture will fail.
Some of Russia's best-loved poets including Mikhail Lermontov and Alexander Pushkin are known for using swear words in their works.
Art-house director Andrei Zvyagintsev's movie "Leviathan", which won critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is among films that now face an uncertain future in Russia over their use of swear words.
Since returning to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012, Putin has sought to rally support from his middle-aged supporters and strengthen ties between society and the Orthodox Church.
The ban is the latest in a series of measures that seek to play up conservatives values and promote Russia as an antithesis to the West.
- AFP/rw
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USDOJ: BNP Paribas Agrees to Plead Guilty and to Pay $8.9 Billion for Illegally Processing Financial Transactions for Countries Subject to U.S. Economic Sanctions
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:16
According to court documents submitted today, BNP Paribas S.A. (BNPP), a global financial institution headquartered in Paris, agreed to enter a guilty plea to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) by processing billions of dollars of transactions through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian, and Cuban entities subject to U.S. economic sanctions. The agreement by the French bank to plead guilty is the first time a global bank has agreed to plead guilty to large-scale, systematic violations of U.S. economic sanctions.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, FBI Director James B. Comey, Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. of New York County.
''BNP Paribas went to elaborate lengths to conceal prohibited transactions, cover its tracks, and deceive U.S. authorities. These actions represent a serious breach of U.S. law,'' Attorney General Holder said. ''Sanctions are a key tool in protecting U.S. national security interests, but they only work if they are strictly enforced. If sanctions are to have teeth, violations must be punished. Banks thinking about conducting business in violation of U.S. sanctions should think twice because the Justice Department will not look the other way.''
''BNP ignored US sanctions laws and concealed its tracks. And when contacted by law enforcement it chose not to fully cooperate,'' Deputy Attorney General Cole said. ''This failure to cooperate had a real effect -- it significantly impacted the government's ability to bring charges against responsible individuals, sanctioned entities and satellite banks. This failure together with BNP's prolonged misconduct mandated the criminal plea and the nearly $9 billion penalty that we are announcing today.''
''By providing dollar clearing services to individuals and entities associated with Sudan, Iran, and Cuba '' in clear violation of U.S. law '' BNPP helped them gain illegal access to the U.S. financial system,'' said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. ''In doing so, BNPP deliberately disregarded U.S. law of which it was well aware, and placed its financial network at the services of rogue nations, all to improve its bottom line. Remarkably, BNPP continued to engage in this criminal conduct even after being told by its own lawyers that what it was doing was illegal.''
''BNPP banked on never being held to account for its criminal support of countries and entities engaged in acts of terrorism and other atrocities,'' said U.S. Attorney Bharara. ''But that is exactly what we do today. BNPP, the world's fourth largest bank, has agreed to plead guilty and pay penalties of almost $9 billion for performing the hat trick of sanctions violations, unlawfully opening the doors of the U.S. financial markets to three sanctioned countries, Sudan, Iran, and Cuba. For years, BNPP provided access to billions of dollars to these sanctioned countries, as well as to individuals and groups specifically identified and designated by the U.S. government as being subject to sanctions. The bank did so deliberately and secretly, in ways designed to evade detection by the U.S. authorities. For its years-long and wide-ranging criminal conduct, BNPP will soon plead guilty in a federal courthouse in Manhattan.''
According to documents released publicly today, over the course of eight years, BNPP knowingly and willfully moved more than $8.8 billion through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities, including more than $4.3 billion in transactions involving entities that were specifically designated by the U.S. Government as being cut off from the U.S. financial system. BNPP engaged in this criminal conduct through various sophisticated schemes designed to conceal from U.S. regulators the true nature of the illicit transactions. BNPP routed illegal payments through third party financial institutions to conceal not only the involvement of the sanctioned entities but also BNPP's role in facilitating the transactions. BNPP instructed other financial institutions not to mention the names of sanctioned entities in payments sent through the United States and removed references to sanctioned entities from payment messages to enable the funds to pass through the U.S. financial system undetected.
''The significant financial penalties imposed on BNP Paribas sends a powerful deterrent message to any company that places its profits ahead of its adherence to the law,'' said FBI Director James Comey. ''We will continue to work closely with our federal and state partners to ensure compliance with U.S. banking laws to promote integrity across financial institutions and to safeguard our national security.''
''Today's outcome is a testament to U.S. efforts to stem the exploitation of the American financial system and ensure that if you chose to do business in our country you must abide by our laws,'' said IRS-CI Chief Weber. ''BNP Paribas will forfeit the historic figure of almost $8.9 Billion representing the proceeds of criminal activity. BNPP had many opportunities to take corrective action and abide by the law, and yet, despite warnings from American regulators and other banks, consciously chose to ignore those warnings and commit literally thousands of flagrant violations. IRS-CI, and our domestic and international law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue these cases and follow the money trail '' wherever it may lead.''
''The most important values in the international community '' respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence, and a world free of terror '' significantly depend upon the effectiveness of international sanctions,'' said District Attorney Vance. ''Today's guilty plea marks the seventh major case involving sanctions violations by a large international bank that my Office has pursued and resolved since 2009. These cases are critically important for international public safety and the security of our banking system, which is put at risk when it is used to further criminal activity. The seven investigations have revealed a series of widespread schemes to falsify the business records of financial institutions in Manhattan and have resulted in the forfeiture of approximately $12 billion in total. But, more importantly, they have resulted in a fundamental change in the way all banks conduct their business, have heightened vigilance worldwide with respect to dealing with sanctioned entities, and have increased the integrity of our Manhattan-based financial institutions.''
BNPP will waive indictment and be charged in a one-count felony criminal information, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, charging BNPP with knowingly and willfully conspiring to commit violations of IEEPA and TWEA, from 2004 through 2012. BNPP has agreed to plead guilty to the information, has entered into a written plea agreement, and has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct. BNPP is scheduled to formally enter its guilty plea before United States District Judge Lorna Schofield on July 9, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
The plea agreement, subject to approval by the court, provides that BNPP will pay total financial penalties of $8.9736 billion, including forfeiture of $8.8336 billion and a fine of $140 million.
In addition to the joint forfeiture judgment, the New York County District Attorney's Office is also announcing today that BNPP has pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to falsifying business records and conspiring to falsify business records. In addition, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is announcing that BNPP has agreed to a cease and desist order, to take certain remedial steps to ensure its compliance with U.S. law in its ongoing operations, and to pay a civil monetary penalty of $508 million. The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) is announcing BNPP has agreed to, among other things, terminate or separate from the bank 13 employees, including the Group Chief Operating Officer and other senior executives; suspend U.S. dollar clearing operations through its New York Branch and other affiliates for one year for business lines on which the misconduct centered; extend for two years the term of a monitorship put in place in 2013, and pay a monetary penalty to DFS of $2.2434 billion. In satisfying its criminal forfeiture penalty, BNPP will receive credit for payments it is making in connection with its resolution of these related state and regulatory matters. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has also levied a fine of $963 million, which will be satisfied by payments made to the Department of Justice.
According to documents released publicly today, including a detailed statement of facts admitted to by BNPP, BNPP has acknowledged that, from at least 2004 through 2012, it knowingly and willfully moved over $8.8 billion through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban sanctioned entities, in violation of U.S. economic sanctions. The majority of illegal payments were made on behalf of sanctioned entities in Sudan, which was subject to U.S. embargo based on the Sudanese government's role in facilitating terrorism and committing human rights abuses. BNPP processed approximately $6.4 billion through the United States on behalf of Sudanese sanctioned entities from July 2006 through June 2007, including approximately $4 billion on behalf of a financial institution owned by the government of Sudan, even as internal emails showed BNPP employees expressing concern about the bank's assisting the Sudanese government in light of its role in supporting international terrorism and committing human rights abuses during the same time period. Indeed, in March 2007, a senior compliance officer at BNPP wrote to other high-level BNPP compliance and legal employees reminding them that certain Sudanese banks with which BNPP dealt ''play a pivotal part in the support of the Sudanese government which . . . has hosted Osama Bin Laden and refuses the United Nations intervention in Darfur.''
One way in which BNPP processed illegal transactions on behalf of Sudanese sanctioned entities was through a sophisticated system of ''satellite banks'' set up to disguise both BNPP's and the sanctioned entities' roles in the payments to and from financial institutions in the United States. As early as August 2005, a senior compliance officer at BNPP warned several legal, business and compliance personnel at BNPP's subsidiary in Geneva that the satellite bank system was being used to evade U.S. sanctions: ''As I understand it, we have a number of Arab Banks (nine identified) on our books that only carry out clearing transactions for Sudanese banks in dollars. . . . This practice effectively means that we are circumventing the US embargo on transactions in USD by Sudan.''
Similarly, BNPP provided Cuban sanctioned entities with access to the U.S. financial system by hiding the Cuban sanctioned entities' involvement in payment messages. From October 2004 through early 2010, BNPP knowingly and willfully processed approximately $1.747 billion on behalf of Cuban sanctioned entities. In the statement of facts, BNPP admitted that it continued to do U.S. dollar business with Cuba long after it was clear that such business was illegal in order to preserve BNPP's business relationships with Cuban entities. BNPP further admitted that its conduct with regard to the Cuban embargo was both ''cavalier'' and ''criminal,'' as evidenced by the bank's 2006 decision, after certain Cuban payments were blocked when they reached the United States, to strip the wire messages for those payments of references to Cuban entities and resubmit them as a lump sum in order to conceal from U.S. regulators the bank's longstanding, and illicit, Cuban business.
Further according to court documents, BNPP engaged in more than $650 million of transactions involving entities tied to Iran, and this conduct continued into 2012 '' nearly two years after the bank had commenced an internal investigation into its sanctions compliance and had pledged to cooperate with the Government. The illicit Iranian transactions were done on behalf of BNPP clients, including a petroleum company based in Dubai that was effectively a front for an Iranian petroleum company, and an Iranian oil company.
This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation's Washington Field Division and FBI's New York Field Office. This case is being prosecuted by the Money Laundering and Bank Integrity Unit of the Criminal Division's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS), and the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Trial Attorneys Craig Timm and Jennifer E. Ambuehl of AFMLS and Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew D. Goldstein, Martin S. Bell, Christine I. Magdo and Micah W.J. Smith of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution.
The New York County District Attorney's Office also conducted its own investigation alongside with the Department of Justice on this investigation. The Department of Justice expressed its gratitude to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the New York State Department of Financial Services and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control for their assistance with this matter.
Documents associated with this press release are available at:http://www.justice.gov/opa/bnp-paribas.html
BNP Paribas fined nearly $9B for violating US sanctions laws | TheHill
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:15
BNP Paribas has agreed to pay nearly $9 billion and plead guilty to violating the nation's sanctions laws, the largest-ever penalty for such a crime in U.S. history.
U.S. authorities announced the $8.97 billion settlement on Monday with BNP for processing transactions with countries like Sudan, Iran and Cuba.
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The settlement includes a year-long ban starting next year against BNP transacting in U.S. dollars and it is the first time a bank has agreed to plead guilty to "large-scale systematic violations of U.S. economic sanctions.""BNP Paribas went to elaborate lengths to conceal prohibited transactions, cover its tracks and deceive U.S. authorities. These actions represent a serious breach of U.S. law," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.
''If sanctions are to have teeth, violations must be punished."
Holder warned that the United States will punish other banks that choose to violate the laws especially as the department pursues that no financial institution is "too big to jail."
BNP, which is France's largest bank and the fourth largest financial institution in the world, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act by processing billions of dollars of transactions through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban all countries subject to U.S. economic sanctions.
Over the course of eight years, Holder said BNP "engaged in complex and pervasive scheme to illegally move billions through U.S. financial system."
In doing so, the bank "deliberately and repeatedly violated longstanding sanctions," he said.
The bank also pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy and filing false business records.
The Justice Department said BNP "knowingly and willfully" moved more than $8.8 billion through the U.S. financial system for the sanctioned countries, including more than $4.3 billion in transactions involving those cut off from the U.S. financial system.
"BNP engaged in this criminal conduct through various sophisticated schemes designed to conceal from U.S. regulators the true nature of the illicit transactions," the statement said.
France's BNP to pay US $9 bln for violating American sanctions - News - Economy - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:13
US regulators and BNP Paribas executives are trying to hash out a settlement following charges the bank breached US sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba between 2002 and 2009 by handling $30 billion worth of transactions with them.
As part of the deal, BNP would plead guilty to a criminal charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and would face a months-long ban on its ability to make transactions in US dollars, the Journal cited people familiar with the discussions as saying.
But it stressed that the two sides had only reached a general outline of a deal, though negotiations were in the final stage.
Senior BNP executive Dominique Remy resigned in mid-May after New York state banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky named him as one of the 12 officials who should step down due to their roles in the scandal, people familiar with the matter told AFP.
During a period that lasted more than five years, BNP used regional banks abroad to route funds linked to Sudan-based companies and government agencies, even as the United States and other countries said Khartoum was practicing genocide, according to the Journal.
It said US authorities scrutinized a total exceeding $100 billion of suspicious transactions, eventually focusing on about $30 billion said to have been hidden deliberately to avoid US detection.
Most of the transactions involved Sudan, although others included Iran and other countries under US sanctions.
BNP is expected to plead guilty in early July, the Journal said, though precise terms have not been set and the deal could be delayed.
French officials, including President Francois Hollande, have criticized the size of the fine under discussion as disproportionate to the offences.
Read more:
French bank BNP Paribas says senior executive to quit amid US probe
France warns BNP fine could hurt transatlantic free-trade deal
US' $10 bln fine on France's BNP is 'disproportionate' '' Hollande to Obama
France says possible US sanctions against BNP Paribas bank 'unreasonable'
France's BNP Paribas not afraid of US sanctions, has sufficient funding to pay fine - News - World - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:12
"Our liquidity situation, we always guided it as being ample," said Chief Financial Officer Lars Machenil, "At Q1 we had an overall excess of stable funding of 100 billion in euros out of which 50 billion was in US dollars. Yesterday when I looked into the systems..., that figure was basically unchanged at the end of the (second) quarter. This should allow having relevant cash for the settlement."
Financial Officer added that there was "no hurry" to seek the additional tier 1 funding that is seen as a key measure of bank stability as a result of having to pay the fine, set at almost $9 under a settlement announced late on Monday in the US.
Machenil also said that bank plans to offer cash dividends for this year at 1.5 euro per share, the same as it was in 2013.
France's largest bank becomes the seventh bank to settle violations case. "Like other banks, BNP hid the names of Sudanese and Iranian clients when sending transactions coursing through its New York operations and the broader American financial system," media reports.
France's BNP to pay US $9 bln for violating American sanctions
BNP Paribas has neared a deal with US prosecutors that would see the French bank pay $8 billion to $9 billion and accept other punitive measures for violating American sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
US regulators and BNP Paribas executives are trying to hash out a settlement following charges the bank breached US sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba between 2002 and 2009 by handling $30 billion worth of transactions with them.
As part of the deal, BNP would plead guilty to a criminal charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and would face a months-long ban on its ability to make transactions in US dollars, the Journal cited people familiar with the discussions as saying.
But it stressed that the two sides had only reached a general outline of a deal, though negotiations were in the final stage.
Senior BNP executive Dominique Remy resigned in mid-May after New York state banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky named him as one of the 12 officials who should step down due to their roles in the scandal, people familiar with the matter told AFP.
During a period that lasted more than five years, BNP used regional banks abroad to route funds linked to Sudan-based companies and government agencies, even as the United States and other countries said Khartoum was practicing genocide, according to the Journal.
It said US authorities scrutinized a total exceeding $100 billion of suspicious transactions, eventually focusing on about $30 billion said to have been hidden deliberately to avoid US detection.
Most of the transactions involved Sudan, although others included Iran and other countries under US sanctions.
BNP is expected to plead guilty in early July, the Journal said, though precise terms have not been set and the deal could be delayed.
French officials, including President Francois Hollande, have criticized the size of the fine under discussion as disproportionate to the offences.
Read more:
French bank BNP Paribas says senior executive to quit amid US probe
France warns BNP fine could hurt transatlantic free-trade deal
US' $10 bln fine on France's BNP is 'disproportionate' '' Hollande to Obama
France says possible US sanctions against BNP Paribas bank 'unreasonable'
US pressure on French banks 'blackmail' linked to Mistral warship deal - Putin - News - World - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:12
"We are aware of the pressure that our American partners exert on France with a purpose of not to deliver the Mistral warships to Russia. And we know even that the United States hinted that if the French do not deliver the Mistrals, then sanctions will gradually be lifted from the banks, or at least be reduced to minimum. If this is not blackmail, then what is it?" he added.
His comments came after leading French bank BNP Paribas pleaded guilty Monday to US criminal charges of violating sanctions on Iran and Sudan for eight years and was fined a record $8.9 billion.
France's BNP Paribas not afraid of US sanctions, has sufficient funding to pay fine
France's largest bank BNP Paribas has sufficient funding to back the fine and penalties it needs to pay under settlements with US authorities over sanctions busting, the French bank's top executives said on Tuesday.
"Our liquidity situation, we always guided it as being ample," said Chief Financial Officer Lars Machenil, "At Q1 we had an overall excess of stable funding of 100 billion in euros out of which 50 billion was in US dollars. Yesterday when I looked into the systems..., that figure was basically unchanged at the end of the (second) quarter. This should allow having relevant cash for the settlement."
Financial Officer added that there was "no hurry" to seek the additional tier 1 funding that is seen as a key measure of bank stability as a result of having to pay the fine, set at almost $9 under a settlement announced late on Monday in the US.
Machenil also said that bank plans to offer cash dividends for this year at 1.5 euro per share, the same as it was in 2013.
France's largest bank becomes the seventh bank to settle violations case. "Like other banks, BNP hid the names of Sudanese and Iranian clients when sending transactions coursing through its New York operations and the broader American financial system," media reports.
France's BNP to pay US $9 bln for violating American sanctions
BNP Paribas has neared a deal with US prosecutors that would see the French bank pay $8 billion to $9 billion and accept other punitive measures for violating American sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
US regulators and BNP Paribas executives are trying to hash out a settlement following charges the bank breached US sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba between 2002 and 2009 by handling $30 billion worth of transactions with them.
As part of the deal, BNP would plead guilty to a criminal charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and would face a months-long ban on its ability to make transactions in US dollars, the Journal cited people familiar with the discussions as saying.
But it stressed that the two sides had only reached a general outline of a deal, though negotiations were in the final stage.
Senior BNP executive Dominique Remy resigned in mid-May after New York state banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky named him as one of the 12 officials who should step down due to their roles in the scandal, people familiar with the matter told AFP.
During a period that lasted more than five years, BNP used regional banks abroad to route funds linked to Sudan-based companies and government agencies, even as the United States and other countries said Khartoum was practicing genocide, according to the Journal.
It said US authorities scrutinized a total exceeding $100 billion of suspicious transactions, eventually focusing on about $30 billion said to have been hidden deliberately to avoid US detection.
Most of the transactions involved Sudan, although others included Iran and other countries under US sanctions.
BNP is expected to plead guilty in early July, the Journal said, though precise terms have not been set and the deal could be delayed.
French officials, including President Francois Hollande, have criticized the size of the fine under discussion as disproportionate to the offences.
Read more:
French bank BNP Paribas says senior executive to quit amid US probe
France warns BNP fine could hurt transatlantic free-trade deal
US' $10 bln fine on France's BNP is 'disproportionate' '' Hollande to Obama
France says possible US sanctions against BNP Paribas bank 'unreasonable'
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Follow the Pipes
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REGIME CHANGE-SOUTH STREAM-Bulgarian bank run paves the way to early election | EurActiv
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:18
Bulgaria's leaders have asked citizens not to panic and withdraw their savings when banks reopen today (30 June), following runs on two major lenders that have raised concerns for the Balkan country's financial stability. Political forces also agreed that early elections should be held on 5 October.
The runs on Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) and First Investment Bank, Bulgaria's fourth and third largest lenders respectively, pose the biggest challenge for the European Union's poorest member state in nearly two decades.
The central bank has said there is a deliberate and systematic attempt to destabilise Bulgaria's banking system and has vowed to take all measures to protect citizens' savings. Law enforcement officials have launched a criminal investigation.
"There is no cause or reason to give way to panic. There is no banking crisis, there is a crisis of trust and there is a criminal attack," President Rossen Plevneliev said yesterday after more than four hours of emergency talks with the leaders of Bulgaria's main political parties and central bank officials.
"These need to be overcome and those responsible prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he told a news conference.
The national security agency said it had arrested five people suspected of spreading false information about the health of banks by sending random emails and mobile phone messages to customers. It later released one of the five.
Last week the central bank took control of CCB (see background), whose clients include many state companies, after depositors rattled by media reports of suspect deals involving the bank rushed to withdraw their savings. The bank has denied any wrongdoing.
Political uncertainty
The central bank and economists said CCB was a special case and contagion to other banks would be limited. But on Friday depositors queued outside branches of First Investment Bank to withdraw their money. Its share price lost 24%.
The bank closed its branches on Friday afternoon citing logistical problems but said it had enough funds to meet customers' demand and said it would re-open as normal on Monday.
The bank runs have coincided with a period of great political uncertainty.
Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's minority cabinet, dogged by charges of graft and street protests since it took power barely a year ago, said it would soon resign after the main coalition partner, the Socialists, did badly in EU elections.
>> Read: Bulgaria's government to collapse over South Stream
It has agreed to a snap parliamentary election on 5 October.
Plevneliev said on Sunday he would dissolve parliament and appoint an interim government on 6 August, after Oresharski's resignation, to steer Bulgaria until the election.
Despite its political and economic woes, the International Monetary Fund and economists have praised the stability of Bulgaria's banking system and its solid state finances.
It has one of the lowest debt levels in the EU, banks are well capitalised and the lev currency is tied to the euro via a currency board, which means it is shielded from the turmoil.
There is a broad national consensus in Bulgaria on the role of the currency board as a bulwark of stability. It was introduced in the mid-1990s after a financial crisis triggered hyper-inflation and wiped out 14 banks.
"The currency board is unshakeable," Plevneliev said on Sunday, adding it would remain till Bulgaria joins the eurozone.
Another factor in Bulgaria's favour is the fact that about two thirds of its banks are now foreign-owned and can call on help from parent banks abroad if necessary.
"The credit rating of the country remains high despite the current panic [...] Bulgarian banks maintain liquidity that is higher even than European banks [...] This is why First Investment Bank was able to cope in this critical situation and to pay out 800 million levs ('‚¬391 million) in one day (on Friday)," said Petar Ganev of the Sofia-based Institute for Market Economics.
Positions:
The European Commission said today it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ('‚¬1.614 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack.
"The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances," the EU executive said in a statement.
The statement said Bulgaria's banking system was "well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system".
The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week.
Italy promises to facilitate South Stream project implementation
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:48
ROME, June 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Italy has always regarded the South Stream project plans to pipe Russian gas across the floor of the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then ashore for onward transit to Greece, Italy and Austria as a strategic project for Europe and will facilitate its implementation during its presidency of the European Union, Italy's state secretary for European affairs, Sandro Gozi, said in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS on Monday.''The South Stream project has always been and remains most important for Italy, and we have a strong interest in implementing it, first of all, as it is one of those projects aimed to diversify transit routes,'' Gozi said.
''We assume that in order to strengthen a single European energy market, it is absolutely necessary to diversify infrastructure connecting it with various suppliers,'' he said. ''And we believe that the same approach should be applied to everyone''.
Italy's EU presidencyOn July 1, Italy will take over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Italy supports further expansion of the European Union and consolidation of Europe, but it considers it possible only while developing partnership between Russia and the EU, Sandro Gozi.
''As Italy takes over the European Union presidency, we give absolute priority to establishing political and economic integration with Kiev while resuming strategic partnership between the EU and Russia,'' Gozi said. ''Relations with Moscow can be neither broken off nor suspended. On the contrary, we are convinced of the need to strengthen them further.''This message to Moscow was especially important after Kiev's signing of an association agreement with the European Union, Gozi said.
''Ukraine's integration with the EU and rapprochement between Russia and the European Union are parallel processes which should be regarded as complementary rather than antagonistic,'' he said. ''And in this context we will form our policy, bringing political relations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine to an entirely new level.''
Italy supported the policy of expanding the European Union and would facilitate the accession of Serbia and Albania, Gozi said.''We want to prompt the process of their integration, thus expanding the boundaries of the Mediterranean Basin,'' he said.
''Italy's leadership has repeatedly stated that the Mediterranean region should be the focus of the European policy. This is a fundamental region to build up relations with Africa, particularly with Tunisia and Algeria,'' he said, adding that the European Union should also continue negotiations with the United States to create a free market, and it should broaden cooperation with Asian countries.
Hungary says will not suspend South Stream pipeline
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:23
1 July 2014 | 23:15 | FOCUS News Agency
Belgrade. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday his country would not give up on Russia's controversial South Stream gas pipeline project as it was key to securing the country's energy supplies, AFP reports.The crisis in Ukraine has made the planned pipeline bringing Siberian gas to the European Union - bypassing Ukraine - a new focus of tensions between Moscow, Brussels and Washington. "We will not allow ourselves to get into a situation that our gas supplies depend on Ukraine," Orban told reporters after talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic. "Hungary will build up South Stream as it will secure our energy supplies," he said. Orban added that while his country supported Ukraine, Hungary was "responsible for our citizens and energy supplies". He further commented that "those who say we (Ukraine) should not build South Stream must offer an alternative as we can not live without energy."
The South Stream pipeline is a major project to reduce Moscow's reliance on Ukraine as a transit country following disputes with Kiev in 2006 and 2009 that led to interruptions of gas shipments to Europe. The European Union has called on all 28 member states to stand united in resisting pressure from the Kremlin over the project, saying the pipeline breaches the bloc's competition rules. But the EU appears deeply divided on the project with several member states, who depend on Russian gas transported via Ukraine, supporting it.
EU member Bulgaria earlier this month suspended work on building its section of the multi-billion-euro project following pressure from the European Commission and the United States. Serbia, an EU candidate with strong relations with Russia, has remained committed to the South Stream pipeline and began working on the project in November.
With a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres per year, the main pipeline is supposed to stretch nearly 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) from Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia and ending in Italy.
(C) 2014 All rights reserved. Citing Focus Information Agency is mandatory!
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16 killed as blast occurs at gas pipeline in southern India
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:12
HYDERABAD: At least 16 persons including women and children were killed while many others sustained injuries after an explosion at a gas pipeline in the Indian southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Friday morning.
The blast took place at the gas pipeline owned by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in the East Godavari district.
The Andhra Pradesh Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa said that the blast caused a massive fire and surrounding areas were evacuated.
The cause of the blast was not yet known.
Miranshah pipeline - Google Search
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:10
About 237,000 results
Pakistan'š Iran decide to expedite work on IP-gas pipeline projectwww.khybernews.tv/newsDetails.php?cat=10&key=NDgxNTc=- CachedPakistan'š Iran decide to expedite work on IP-gas pipeline project .... Curfewimposed in NWA; TTP commander killed MIRANSHAH: The Politicaladministration ...Gas pipeline blown up in Dera Murad Jamali - Khyber Newswww.khybernews.tv/newsDetails.php?cat=8&key=NTAwNDM=- CachedQUETTA: Unidentified miscreants blew up a 24-inch diameter gas pipeline in ....Curfew imposed in NWA; TTP commander killed MIRANSHAH: The Political ...Blast in 24-inch gas pipeline near Dera Murad Jamali | PAKISTAN ...www.geo.tv/article-139751-Blast-in-24-inch-gas-pipeline-near-Dera-Murad- Jamali- CachedMar 3, 2014 ... ... and started further investigation. The pipeline supplies gas to Quetta fromShikarpur. ... Zarb-e-Azb: Ground operation begins in Miranshah ...PressTV - Pakistan slams US drone strike in Miran Shahwww.presstv.com/detail/.../pakistan-slams-us-raid-in-miran-shah/- Cached - SimilarJul 3, 2013 ... Pakistan slams US drone strike in Miran Shah. A US Predator drone fires a .... >>Read more. Gas pipeline blast kills 16 in India. >>Read more.Dera Murad Jamali: Gas pipeline blown up, 4 militants killed in ...dunyanews.tv/.../39675-Dera-Murad-Jamali-Gas-pipeline-blown-up-4-milita- CachedSome unknown militants have blown up a gas pipeline with explosives near Dera... Another 11 terrorists were killed in military airstrikes in Miranshah today.US drone attack kills 5 in Miranshah | Pakistan | Dunya Newsdunyanews.tv/index.php/en/.../127175-US-drone-attack-kills-5-in-Miranshah
Feb 26, 2014 ... Egypt: Militants blow up gas pipeline in Sinai. Militants planted explosives underthe pipeline south of the city of... More News. Syrian army 'kills ...MIRANSHAH:Miranshah bombing, rocket attacks kill 13-BOLTAUNSAwww.boltaunsa.com/.../miranshahmiranshah-bombing-rocket-attacks-kill-13/- CachedApr 11, 2014 ... ... BolTaunsa reported. MIRANSHAH:Miranshah bombin. ... 14 killed, 15 injuredin gas pipeline blast in Andhra Pradesh. June 27, 2014 ...18-inch gas pipeline blown up near Kashmore - thenews.com.pkwww.thenews.com.pk/article-139404-18-inch-gas-pipeline-blown-up-near- Kashmore- CachedFeb 28, 2014 ... The blast in the pipeline took place near village Abdul Raheem Bajarani. ...resume flights, Zarb-e-Azb: Ground operation begins in Miranshah.Previous: President Asif Zardari to finalise gas pipeline deal in Tehranwww.pakistantv.tv/.../president-asif-zardari-finalise-gas-pipeline-deal-tehran/- CachedFeb 25, 2013 ... President Asif Zardari to finalise gas pipeline deal in Tehran ... Taliban LikeAmerican Soap And Ladies Perfume More: Miranshah Vendor.Ghotki pipeline blast disrupts gas supplies | ARY NEWSarynews.tv/en/ghotki-pipeline-blast-disrupts-gas-supplies/- CachedFeb 19, 2014 ... Two persons posted at the pipeline for security were killed in the explosion ...Zarb-e-Azb: Security forces seize landmine factory in Miranshah.
Pakistan launches ground war in Waziristan - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:10
Pakistan has launched a ground offensive against rebel strongholds near the Afghan border after evacuating nearly half a million people from the tribal region, the army has said.
A military statement said on Monday that soldiers had found underground tunnels and bomb-making factories in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan.
"After the evacuation of all the civil population, a ground operation commenced in and around Miranshah early morning today," it said. "A house to house search of Miranshah town is being carried out by infantry troops and special service group."
It said nearly 15 rebels were killed and three soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire in the initial ground advance, the statement said.
Attack on Karachi
The operation - limited to airstrikes at the first stage - began days after rebels attacked the main airport in the southern port city of Karachi, killing 26 people.
The 10 assailants were also killed in the roughly five-hour siege that shocked Pakistanis by showing how vulnerable the country's institutions have become.
Pakistani forces killed 376 rebels during the first 15 days of the offensive, the statement said, adding that 17 troops also died.
The extent of civilian casualties is unclear. North Waziristan has been completely sealed and there is no way to verify the military's death tolls.
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Israel's Leviathan in talks to sell gas to BG's Egypt LNG plant
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:28
(Adds details, background, BG comments, share reaction)
By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, June 29 (Reuters) - The partners in Israel'sgiant Leviathan natural gas field said they had signed apreliminary agreement with British oil and gas company BG Group (LSE: BG.L - news) to negotiate a deal to export gas to BG's liquefiednatural gas (LNG) plant in Idku, Egypt.
In the deal under discussion, Leviathan - off Israel'sMediterranean coast - would supply 7 billion cubic metres (bcm)annually for 15 years via an underwater pipeline, the partnerssaid in a statement on Sunday.
An energy source in Tel Aviv said such a deal would be worthabout $30 billion - providing a windfall to Israel's coffersfrom royalties. The source said the pipeline would be built byBG and a final agreement was expected by the end of 2014.
Such a a deal would be among the largest in Israel'sfledgling energy sector and would help the partners developLeviathan - which holds an estimated 19 trillion cubic feet ofgas (530 bcm) and is expected to go online in 2017. Much of thereserves are earmarked for export.
BG said the Leviathan talks were one of several options itwas considering to increase the supply of gas to its Egyptianplant. "While this non-binding letter of intent with theLeviathan partners is a first step, it is very early days," saida spokesman.
The talks with BG - which exports to more than 20 countries- come after Woodside Petroleum (Other OTC: WOPEF - news) , Australia's top gasproducer, last month ditched plans to take a stake worth up to$2.7 billion in Leviathan.
Texas-based Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL - news) is the field's operatorwith a 39.66 percent stake. Avner Oil and DelekDrilling, subsidiaries of Delek Group (Other OTC: DGRLY - news) ,hold a combined 45.34 percent, and Ratio Oil has theremaining 15 percent.
Shares of Avner were 1.8 percent higher, while DelekDrilling's shares were up 1.1 percent and Ratio's shares gained3.5 percent in midday trading in Tel Aviv.
Delek and Avner last month raised $2 billion in aninternational bond offering to help fund Leviathan'sdevelopment.
The gas unit of Turkish fuel retailer Turcas isholding non-binding talks with another company to jointlyprocure natural gas from Leviathan, while Leviathan's partnershave also started looking into selling gas through a pipeline toCyprus.
BG's first-quarter exploration and production volumes fell 4percent, hit by output problems in Egypt where the company's LNGproject failed to deliver any cargoes in the quarter.
Production in Egypt fell 35 percent compared with the fourthquarter as the reservoir feeding its plant is in decline and thelocal Egyptian market took more supply, for which BG receiveslower payments.
BG said Egypt's government has not honoured its agreementsand is diverting more gas for the domestic market. (Additional reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
Leviathan partners negotiating $30b deal with BG
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:28
The sides have signed an MOU on the supply of gas to BG's LNG plant in Egypt.The Israeli partners in the Leviathan gas reserve Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L), Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L) - reported this morning that a non-binding memorandum of understanding was signed at the weekend with BG Group (BG), in which the sides confirmed their intention of conducting negotiations on an agreement for the sale of natural gas to BG's liquefaction plant in Idku in Egypt.
RELATED ARTICLESBritish company BG Group explores for, produces, transports, liquefies and sells gas in more than twenty countries.
The estimated size of the proposed deal is the supply of seven BCM (billion cubic meters) of gas annually for 15 years. The value of the agreement is estimated at some $30 billion. Moreover, the sale will take place in Israel, close to the production point of gas from the reserve, so that BG rather than the Leviathan partners will have to construct a special pipeline. Gas will be supplied to BG from the floating gas production and storage installation, which will be connected to the liquefaction plant in Egypt via an undersea pipeline.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 29, 2014
(C) Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013
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Gasoline prices to rise 1.33% Monday nightThe price of self-service 95 octane gasoline will be NIS 7.62 per liter from July 1.
Leviathan partners negotiating $30b BG dealThe sides have signed an MOU on the supply of gas to BG's LNG plant in Egypt.
Gov't slashes IEC early retirement planThe government proposes early retirement for 500 employees instead of 2,500.
IEC freezes partnership with French electricity co EDFThe Yogev committee has advised against the partnership between the two national power companies.
Cypriot sources confirm CNOOC Delek, Noble talksRepresentatives of China's CNOOC were in Cyprus last month for talks.
IEC to compensate customers for protracted outagesSingle outages of 20-24 hours or a total of 48 hours during the year will be compensated.
First Kurdish oil tanker arrives in IsraelThe tanker arrived under an agreement between Israel and the Kurds which includes resale to third parties.
China's CNOOC in Cyprus talks with Delek and NobleChina National Offshore Oil Corp. is in talks to buy 30-40% of the Aphrodite field.
Delek Group energy units to pay dividendsThis is the first time since 2008 that Avner and Delek Drilling are distributing dividends.
Shmeltzer unit secures NIS 200m for wind farmsAfcon will build two wind farms at Kibbutz Maaleh Hagilboa and Kibbutz Degania.
Residents warn Golan oil drilling will harm KinneretAfek plans to begin drilling ten exploratory wells in August.
Noy to raise continuation fundNoy Infrastucture and Energy Investment Fund will raise up to NIS 1 billion from financial institutions.
Hapoalim buys Delek shares at peakDelek has completed a number of sales to focus on its energy exploration business.
Azrieli signs NIS 450m Sonol sale dealShlomo Shmeltzer has signed an MOU to buy the fuel company.
Abramowitz settles score with Israeli bureaucracyGreen energy entrepreneur Yossi Abramowitz wants to be President.
On the high seas with Tamar's defenders"Globes" goes aboard an Israel Navy patrol boat protecting Israel's gas rigs.
Tamar enters second year of operationsThe Texans on the Tamar production platform get abundant food and no alcohol.
No work for Israel's energy professionalsGraduates must work abroad with no domestic industry being developed.
Tovia Luskin loses messianic lusterShareholders lost faith in the former Givot CEO, who used the Torah to discover oil.
Antitrust Authority disappoints on gas competitionThe only new company that will compete against Tamar and Leviathan will own less than 8% of Israel's proven gas reserves.
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Shut Up Slave!
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Norway may ban non-medical circumcision of boys
Wed, 13 Nov 2013 13:45
Published time: November 13, 2013 08:07Members of the high priesthood place their hands on a newborn baby to bless him after a Rabbi performed a ceremonial circumcision (AFP Photo / David Furst)
Norway's Health Ministry is considering a proposal on regulating the circumcision of boys. Some political parties are calling on a complete ban of the practice on minors, a possibility that would affect Jewish and Muslim communities.
Two years ago, the ministry was tasked with reviewing circumcision and how it should be practiced in Norway. It is yet to finalize its stance, but intends to submit its legislative proposal before Easter next year, Health Minister Bent Hoie told Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper.
The issue was brought to public attention after the resent call by Norway Children's Ombudswoman Anne Lindboe to ban circumcision of boys before age 16, unless the procedure is warranted by medical needs.
''This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky,'' she argued.
Lindboe's position is shared by some members of the Labor Party, which currently holds the largest share of 55 seats in Norway's 169-strong legislative and is in opposition to the ruling Conservative-Progress coalition.
''As a modern society, we should work to eliminate practices that expose children and people to unnecessary suffering,'' said Labor's Ruth Mari Grung, who is a member of the parliamentary Committee on Health and Care Services.
A ban is also supported by the Center Party, which has 10 seats in the parliament.
Other parliamentary parties are yet to formulate their official position on the issue. Hoie, a Conservative member, who used to chair the Health Committee before getting his ministerial appointment, voiced concerns that a ban would force the groups practicing ritual circumcision underground, where the procedure would be performed by non-medics and pose greater health risks to the children.
The Norwegian lawmakers also disagree on whether circumcision should be covered by the budget under the national healthcare system. Some parties insist that ritual circumcision should be paid for by parents.
According to the newspaper, an average of about 2,000 Muslim and seven Jewish newborns are circumcised in Norway each year.
Regulation of ritual circumcision in Europe made the headlines in June, when a German court ruled that the procedure constitutes a minor bodily harm and outlawed performing it on minors. The decision sparked nationwide debate on the conflict between religious freedoms and protection of children.
The issue was further stressed in early October, when the Council of Europe branded the practice ''a violation of the physical integrity of children'' and called on EU members to protect children. The latter should include a ban on performing circumcision on those who cannot consent to it, the non-binding resolution said.
Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Greenland are among the European countries where public debate on ritual circumcision of boys is hotly debated.
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Dutch court: Black Pete is a negative stereotype
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:08
AMSTERDAM (AP) '-- An Amsterdam court ruled Thursday that the traditional figure known as Black Pete '-- the sidekick to the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus '-- is a negative stereotype of black people and the city must rethink its involvement in holiday celebrations involving him.
Debate over Zwarte Piet has raged in the Netherlands in recent years.
Black Pete is usually portrayed by white people in blackface makeup, with thick red lips and a frizzy Afro hairstyle. Opponents say that's a racist caricature. Most Dutch people '-- around 80 percent of whom are white '-- are fiercely loyal to their holiday tradition, saying he is a harmless fantasy figure and no insult is intended.
The court said Thursday that Black Pete's appearance, in combination with the fact that he is often portrayed as dumb and servile, makes it "a negative stereotype of black people."
It also cited a publication by the country's national human rights commission this week that found that white Dutch leaders frequently react with "irritation and dismissal" when questions of racism are raised, even though workplace discrimination is well documented in the Netherlands.
The Amsterdam District Court ordered the city to re-examine its decision to grant a permit for one part of the annual winter festival attended by thousands of children: the arrival of St. Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas."
Adults dress up to play the Dutch version of the story, with St. Nicholas arriving by steamboat from Spain in November, accompanied by a flotilla of boats packed with Black Petes.
The kindly St. Nicholas rides a white horse accompanied by the clowning Petes, who hand out cookies. Festivities conclude later with a night of gift giving on Dec. 5.
Amsterdam has begun discussing possible solutions, including using different colors of face paint for Pete, or merely smudging his cheeks with soot.
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UK journalist threatened with arrest under Terrorism Act for filming protest - World Socialist Web Site
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:04
By Harvey Thompson30 June 2014A reporter for local daily Sheffield newspaper, the Sheffield Star, was threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act on June 23, as he attempted to film a protest against cuts to concessionary travel passes for pensioners and disabled people.
The protest ended with the violent arrest of two pensioners.
Alex Evans from the Sheffield Star was at the city's train station filming the protest on his mobile phone when he was ordered by a member of Northern Rail's Rail Response Unit to delete his footage. The response unit cited the Terrorism Act as their legal authority.
When Evans tried to film for a second time, the rail official repeated the threat, again citing the Terrorism Act, and took the reporter's personal details. The official said the journalist was engaged in an ''arrestable offence'' and that he could face a fine and a criminal record.
George Arthur, aged 64, and Tony Nuttall, aged 65, were arrested after transport police and Northern Rail security staff confronted around 45 protesters following the latest in a series of ''Freedom Rides'''--named after US civil rights actions'--in opposition to changes to the system of free rail travel in South Yorkshire. The previous rail concessionary scheme was cut as part of austerity measures to reduce a £243,000 shortfall in the budget of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority.
A number of commuters managed to film as Arthur and Nuttall were handcuffed, arrested and bundled away. The two men have since been charged with failure to pay, and obstructing police and are to appear at Sheffield Magistrates' Court. The Independent newspaper commented, ''Disabled and elderly campaigners have vowed to continue their protests against the removal of travel concessions after claiming they were victims of 'thuggish' behaviour by police and security staff during Monday's demonstration against the cuts.
''Protesters'--including a blind woman who was taken to hospital after being injured when she fell over a wheelchair'--said they suffered cuts and bruises as a result of being 'manhandled' in clashes with British Transport Police and members of Northern Rail's rail response team.
''Another man collapsed and was taken to hospital while a 70-year-old protester was nearly knocked onto the tracks during the melee.''
Jen Dunstan of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts said, ''Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.
''A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.''
Yorkshire Ambulance Service was called after one protester passed out with breathing difficulties on the platform.
Evans later said, ''I felt intimidated when threatened under terrorism laws. I know that ordinarily I would need permission, but this was an extraordinary situation and in my view, one which was my duty and in the public interest to report on.''
The Sheffield Star 's editor, James Mitchinson, described what happened to the reporter as ''absolutely unacceptable.''
''We have a right to report the news, and the Star will always fight for that right. Our readers expect nothing less. But this case illustrates just how difficult it can be to report the news, on the spot when, increasingly, authorities are seeking to 'manage' it.
''We're well aware that Sheffield Station is, like all stations, technically private property, and ordinarily we'd need to seek permission to film there.
''But this wasn't a PR stunt, it was an extraordinary event that couldn't have been predicted and it was very much in the public interest that people were made aware of what was going on. As the local paper and website that's our job, and it's a job that people expect us to do.''
On Tuesday, Northern Rail issued an apology to the Sheffield Star reporter. A company spokeswoman confirmed that the official who approached Evans was a member of one of its rail response teams.
''We know the officer in question was incorrect to delete the phone footage,'' she said, ''and we are re-briefing our Rail Response Team to ensure this does not happen again.''
Previously, the company had said, ''Members of the media must have written permission from the train operator which manages the station before undertaking any filming on station property. Under no circumstances are Northern Rail employees to be filmed without prior agreement.''
On Tuesday night, Martyn Guiver, Northern Rail's head of crime management, called Evans to apologise and said he would speak to the person responsible'--a security officer contracted to Northern Rail.
The incident illustrates a growing trend in which the police and state have employed, or sought to employ the Terrorism Act and other reactionary legislation in a variety of instances that have nothing to do with terrorism.
In January, British police sought to seize material from Channel 4 TV station relating to their broadcasting of revelations provided by former UK intelligence operative and whistleblower Peter Francis.During the same month, the Terrorism Act was used as a pretext by Greater Manchester Police to raid a protest camp at Barton Moss in Salford, north west England, which was peacefully opposing shale gas test drillings operations being carried out by the IGas corporation.In May, anti-terror legislation was used to pursue a whistleblower, who revealed details of the relationship between Britain's tax authorities, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HRMC), and top companies accused of tax avoidance.In September 2013, Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni activist who was campaigning against the use of drones, was detained by British authorities and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.Last September, Britain's High Court ruled that the government could continue to examine data seized from David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald (one of Edward Snowden's principal collaborators), when he was detained at Heathrow airport in August under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was detained to determine if he had committed a criminal offence under that legislation, the Official Secrets Act 1911, or the Official Secrets Act 1989. In February this year the High Court supported government officials against Miranda and ruled that he ''was acting in support of Mr. Greenwald's activities as a journalist''.The disparate character of these measures is aimed in a single direction: the repression of organised political opposition to the capitalist system.
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New York Court Strikes Down Cyberbullying Law - WSJ
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 03:04
July 1, 2014 2:38 p.m. ET
New York's top court struck down a law that made cyberbullying a crime, in what had been viewed as a test case of recent state and local statutes that target online speech.
The New York Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 ruling, held on Tuesday that the 2010 Albany County law prohibited a vast swath of speech "far beyond the cyberbullying of children," in violation of the First Amendment.
The court's ruling could stand as a guidepost for other state high courts hearing challenges to such laws, as well as for states and localities considering criminal penalties for cyberbullying, legal experts said. Besides Albany, four other New York counties and more than a dozen states, including Louisiana and North Carolina, have similar laws.
The Albany law made it a crime to electronically communicate "private, personal, false, or sexual information," intended to "harass, annoy, threaten, abuse, taunt, intimidate, torment, humiliate, or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person" for no legitimate purpose.
Cohoes High School student Marquan W. Mackey-Meggs was the first to be charged under the law, after the then-15-year-old created a FacebookFB +1.14%Facebook Inc. Cl AU.S.: Nasdaq$68.06+0.77+1.14%July 1, 2014 4:00 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 32.82MAFTER HOURS$67.91-0.15-0.22%July 1, 2014 7:59 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 421,194P/E Ratio 88.39Market Cap $172.69 BillionDividend Yield N/ARev. per Employee $1,406,97007/01/14 Lisnr's Audio-Beacon Technolog...07/01/14 An Innovation Slowdown at the ...07/01/14 U.K. to Probe Facebook Emotion...More quote details and news >>FBinYour ValueYour ChangeShort position page in 2010 called "Cohoes Flame" and posted photos of other teenagers with captions that included graphic and sexual comments, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty, on the condition that he could challenge the constitutionality of the law.
Judge Victoria Graffeo, writing for the majority, described the posts as "repulsive and harmful" but declined the county's request to uphold the law in a form that would have barred narrow categories of electronic communications, including sexually explicit photographs and private or personal sexual information, sent with the intent to harm.
"Even if the First Amendment allows a cyberbullying statute of the limited nature proposed by Albany County, the local law here was not drafted in that manner," she wrote.
Despite the ruling, Judge Graffeo lauded the motivation behind the law and allowed that the First Amendment "permits the prohibition of cyberbullying directed at children, depending on how that activity is defined."
County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said he was disappointed with the court's ruling but would work with the county legislature to craft a new law that "addresses this decision and preserves our ability to do what we can to reduce cyberbullying of children."
"Cyberbullying is a serious concern that all communities must confront, but there are better and more constructive ways to address the problem than giving children criminal records," said Corey Stoughton of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represents Mr. Mackey-Meggs. "Communities across New York and the nation should take note that criminalizing First Amendment activity is unlawful and does nothing to address the causes of bullying."
Judge Robert Smith, writing in dissent, said the majority made too much of flaws in the law's draftsmanship. "The crux of the case, in my view, is whether Albany County constitutionally may do what it is trying to do: to prohibit certain kinds of communication that have no legitimate purpose and are intended to inflict significant emotional injury on children," he said.
If, as in Mr. Mackey-Meggs's case, the communications targeted by the law are of no public importance, then New York's law should be deemed valid, he said.
Write to Joe Palazzolo at joe.palazzolo@wsj.com
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Man who changed ex's Facebook status to 'whore' found guilty of criminal damage | Mail Online
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:40
Irish man fined £1,600 for offensive post on woman's accountPosted status saying ex-partner was a 'whore' using her FacebookThe 30-year-old admitted taking her phone after a confrontation in 2011First Irish prosecution for criminal damage to social media account By Sara Malm
Published: 13:50 EST, 1 July 2014 | Updated: 15:33 EST, 1 July 2014
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An Irish man who posted an offensive status update using his former partner's Facebook account has been fined £1,600.
The 30-year-old from Donegal used his ex-girlfriend's account to post that she was a 'whore' who would 'take any offers', a court heard.
The man admitted to taking the woman's phone and accessing her Facebook account after he had gone to her home to confront her over an alleged infidelity in June 2011.
Guilty: The 30-year-old from Donegal, Ireland was fined £1,600 after accessing his ex-girlfriends Facebook account to post the offensive status
The man was arrested soon after the incident, when told police he had been upset over the woman's new partner.
His defence lawyer Isobel Kennedy SC told the court the man regretted his actions but that he admitted that he had been drinking before it took place.
The man was charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1991, which imposes a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a £8,000 fine.
Social media damage: The man admitted to posting as his ex, saying she was a 'whore', after visiting her home to confront her over an alleged infidelity three years ago
The man cannot be named for legal reasons, in order to protect his victim's identity, as he was acquitted by a jury last month of raping and falsely imprisoning the woman in her home on the same date.
Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan called it 'a reprehensible offence that seriously damaged the woman's good name but said that ''fortunately'' the status was quickly spotted and taken down', the Irish Mail reported.
This is the first prosecution for criminal damage to a social media account in Ireland.
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The amount needed for acceptable standard of living has risen 46% since 2008
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:05
Food costs are up by 26%, domestic energy by 45% and bus travel by 37%, the report found. Photograph: Chris Howes/Wild Places Photogra/Alamy
A couple with two children needs to earn £40,600 to have an acceptable standard of living, almost 50% more than before the recession, according to a report that highlights the squeeze on families from soaring energy bills and benefit cuts.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said its latest research into what the public considered essential to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living showed a growing gulf between what people needed to earn and their actual incomes.
While the amount needed to cover a family's basic needs had risen 46% since 2008, average earnings had risen only 9% in that time, the charity said. On top of that many families had lost out because of changes to tax credits and benefits.
JRF warns that even if real wages start to rise again this year, low-earning families with children are unlikely to be able to close the gap between their income and their needs, because of low pay, rising prices and reduced government support.
"People have talked a lot about wages falling behind the cost of living but this really lays bare the challenge to make up lost ground. This isn't just falling short, it's falling behind," said Katie Schmuecker, a programme manager at JRF.
"We can't simply rely on wages improving as the economy recovers to solve the problem."
The research, carried out by Loughborough University, found that the cost of a minimum basket of goods was up 28% since 2008, higher than the official inflation rate of 19%. Three big culprits were singled out: food was up by 26%, domestic energy by 45% and bus travel by 37%.
Abigail Davis, one of the report's authors, said a growing number of people were falling below the minimum income standard and were unable to afford basic goods.
"Throughout the past few difficult years, the people we talk to have held a consistent view of what it means to live at an acceptable level in the UK.
"It means being able to afford to feed your family and heat your home properly, but also having enough to buy a birthday present for your children, and to spend time with your family away from home, such as the occasional meal out."
JRF, which introduced the concept of a minimum income standard in 2008, says people with children have been squeezed most since the onset of the recession. A lone parent with one child now needs to earn £27,000 '' more than double the £12,000 needed in 2008.
For a couple with two children, each needs to earn £20,300 compared with £13,900 in 2008.
Explaining the impact of government changes in that time, the report says for every £1 low-income working families have gained from the raised tax allowance they have lost up to £4 as a result of cuts to tax credits and child benefit.
Conversely, increases in the personal tax allowance mean that for single people without children, the earnings required to meet a minimum standard of living are down slightly from a year earlier. But at £16,300, the minimum earnings are still up 21% from £13,500 in 2008.
The £20,300 that each person in a couple with children needs to earn before tax to afford a minimum acceptable standard of living is below the average UK gross salary. But for lone parents, the income deemed necessary by the JRF report, at £27,073, is more than average earnings. Median pre-tax annual pay was £26,884 in the UK April 2013, according to official figures for full-time employees.
The report will add to concerns that despite the UK economy finally regaining its pre-crisis strength, many households still feel worse off than before the downturn. Labour has sought to make the "cost-of-living crisis" a key battleground before the election, while the Conservatives have insisted their "economic plan is working" and have seized on signs that wages are finally starting to outstrip inflation after years of falling in real terms.
JRF, which works to reduce poverty and inequality, says action is needed in three areas to help ease the burden on households: on the cost of essentials, wages of the lowest earners and the way the state offers support.
The report comes as the food company Nestl(C) announces its commitment to paying the living wage '' which is judged to be the minimum needed to secure a basic standard of living and is currently set at £8.80 an hour in London and £7.65 elsewhere.
Nestle, which already pays at least the living wage to its 8,000 employees, will now extend that guarantee to contract staff and agency workers. Around 800 contractors working with Nestl(C) will implement the living wage by December 2017.
"We are proud to be the first mainstream manufacturer in the UK to become a living wage employer and see this as an opportunity to be a positive influence in our sector," said the Nestl(C) UK & Ireland chief executive, Fiona Kendrick.
"As a major UK employer, we know that this is the right thing to do. Not only does it benefit our employees but also the communities they live and work in."
The move follows the recommendation last week that the government adopt the living wage as an "explicit goal" to help lift 1 million workers out of low-paid jobs.
But the living wage commission, made up of business leaders and anti-poverty groups, stopped short of supporting demands for legislation to create a higher minimum wage and said employers should be allowed to make their own judgments about paying a living wage to staff.
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Packet Inequality
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Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:04
Submit comments on or before July 15, 2014. Submit reply comments on or before September 10, 2014. Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before September 2, 2014.
You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket No. 14-28, by any of the following methods:
Federal Communications Commission's Web site:http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
Kristine Fargotstein, Competition Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, at (202) 418-2774 or by email at Kristine.Fargotstein@fcc.gov. To submit Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) comments, send an email to PRA@fcc.gov. For further information concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained in this document, contact Les Smith at (202) 418-0217.
Pursuant to §§ 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings,63 FR 24121 (1998).
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.
Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we address the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals' remand of portions of the Commission's 2010 Open Internet Order and seek comment on the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open.
1. The Internet is America's most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. As a ''general purpose technology,'' the Internet has been, and remains to date, the preeminent 21st century engine for innovation and the economic and social benefits that follow. These benefits flow, in large part, from the open, end-to-end architecture of the Internet, which is characterized by low barriers to entry for developers of new content, applications, services, and devices and a consumer-demand-driven marketplace for their products. As the Commission explained in its 2010 Open Internet Order, the Internet's open architecture allows innovators and consumers at the edges of the network ''to create and determine the success or failure of content, applications, services and devices,'' without requiring permission from the broadband provider to reach end users. As an open platform, it fosters diversity and it enables people to build communities.
2. We start with a fundamental question: What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open? This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), and the comment process that follows, will turn on this fundamental question.
3. Today, there are no legally enforceable rules by which the Commission can stop broadband providers from limiting Internet openness. This NPRM begins the process of closing that gap, by proposing to reinstitute the no-blocking rule adopted in 2010 and creating a new rule that would bar commercially unreasonable actions from threatening Internet openness (as well as enhancing the transparency rule that is currently in effect).
4. The goal of this proceeding is to find the best approach to protecting and promoting Internet openness. Per the blueprint offered by the D.C. Circuit in its decision in Verizon v. FCC, the Commission proposes to rely on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal authority. This Notice seeks comment on the benefits of both Section 706 and Title II, including the benefits of one approach over the other. Under all available sources of legal authority (including also Title III for mobile services), the Commission seeks comment on the best ways to define, prevent and punish the practices that threaten an open Internet. We emphasize in this Notice that the Commission recognizes that both Section 706 and Title II are viable solutions and seek comment on their potential use.
5. It is important to always remember that the Internet is a collection of networks, not a single network. And that means that each broadband provider can either add to the benefits that the Internet delivers to Americans'--by maintaining Internet openness and by extending the reach of broadband networks'--or it can threaten those benefits'--by restricting its customers from the Internet and preventing edge providers from reaching consumers over robust, fast and continuously improving networks. This is a real threat, not merely a hypothetical concern.
6. In its 2010 Order, the Commission found that providers of broadband Internet access service had three types of incentives to limit Internet openness. First, broadband providers may have economic incentives to block or disadvantage a particular edge provider or class of edge providers. Second, broadband providers may have incentives to increase revenues by charging edge providers for access or prioritized access to the broadband provider's end users. In particular, excessive fees could reduce edge provider entry, suppress innovation, and depress consumer demand. Third, if providers could profitably charge edge providers they would have an incentive ''to degrade or decline to increase the quality of service they provide to non-prioritized traffic.''
7. Those threats are even more important today because Americans and American businesses have become even more dependent on the Internet. For example, according to the Pew Research Internet Project, as of January 2014, 87 percent of Americans used the Internet, compared to 14 percent in 1995. And it is a critical route of commerce, supporting an e-commerce marketplace that now boasts U.S. revenues of $263.3 billion.
8. Of particular concern are threats to American innovation. In ''the end-to-end architecture, different economic actors can independently choose their innovation projects.'' Innovation is the chief driver of American economic growth, which means that all Americans lose if the opportunity to innovate is curbed. For example, an economic study originally released in February 2012 and updated in July 2013 reported that the app economy is responsible for roughly 752,000 jobs in the United States, which is an increase from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced. But equally important are the jobs that could be'--but might not be'--created if edge innovation and investment were to be chilled by doubt that the Internet will remain open or, even worse, if openness were defeated.
9. Although the Commission has emphasized for almost a decade the importance of legally enforceable standards, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has twice invalidated the Commission's attempts, most recently in Verizon v. FCC, decided this January. It is in the absence of these protections for the open Internet that the Commission must act to ensure that new legally enforceable rules are put in place. That is a gap that must be closed as quickly as possible.
10. The remainder of the NPRM proceeds as follows. First, we generally propose to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules. Second, we tentatively conclude that the Commission should enhance the transparency rule that was upheld by the D.C. Circuit so that the public and the Commission have the benefit of sunlight on broadband provider actions and to ensure that consumers and edge providers'--indeed, the Internet community at large'--have the information they need to understand the services they are receiving and to monitor practices that could undermine the open Internet. Third, we tentatively conclude that the Commission should adopt the text of the no-blocking rule from the Open Internet Order with a revised rationale, in order to ensure that all end users and edge providers can enjoy the use of robust, fast and dynamic Internet access. Fourth, and where conduct would otherwise be permissible under the no-blocking rule, we propose to create a separate screen that requires broadband providers to adhere to an enforceable legal standard of commercially reasonable practices, asking how harm can best be identified and prohibited and whether certain practices, like paid prioritization, should be barred altogether. Fifth, we propose a multi-faceted dispute resolution process to provide effective access for end users, edge providers, and broadband network providers alike and the creation of an ombudsperson to act as a watchdog to represent the interests of consumers, start-ups, and small businesses. Sixth, and finally, we ask how either Section 706 or Title II (or other sources of legal authority such as Title III for mobile services) could be applied to ensure that the Internet remains open.
11. Today's NPRM rests upon over a decade of consistent action by the Commission to protect and promote the Internet as an open platform for innovation, competition, economic growth, and free expression. At the core of all of these Commission efforts has been a view endorsed by four Chairmen and a majority of the Commission's members in office during that time: That FCC oversight is essential to protect the openness that is critical to the Internet's success. In recognition of this, the Commission has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to safeguarding that openness.
12. In 2004, former Chairman Michael Powell first articulated basic guiding principles for preserving Internet freedom in an address at Silicon Flatirons. Chairman Powell recognized that ''consumers' hunger for an ever-expanding array of high-value content, applications, and devices'' fueled investment in broadband networks as the ''impressive generators of economic growth, innovation, and empowerment.'' He explained that ''ensuring that consumers can obtain and use the content, applications and devices they want . . . is critical to unlocking the vast potential of the broadband Internet.''
13. A year later, reinforcing Chairman Powell's guidance, the Commission unanimously approved the Internet Policy Statement setting forth four general Internet policy principles intended ''[t]o encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Internet.'' Specifically, subject to ''reasonable network management,'' the principles entitle consumers to (1) ''access the lawful Internet content of their choice;'' (2) ''run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;'' (3) ''connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network;'' and (4) enjoy ''competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.''
14. The Commission incorporated these open Internet principles in a series of merger proceedings. In 2005, the Commission conditioned approval of the SBC/AT&T and Verizon/MCI mergers on the merged entities' compliance with the Internet Policy Statement. Although the Commission did not adopt any formal open Internet conditions on the Adelphia/Time Warner/Comcast transactions, the Commission made clear that its Internet Policy Statement''contains principles against which the conduct of Comcast [and] Time Warner . . . can be measured.'' So too, in 2006, the Commission accepted the AT&T and BellSouth commitment to ''maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in [the merged entity's] wireline broadband Internet access service,'' as a formal condition of the merger. Likewise, in the 2011 Comcast-NBCU merger, the Commission adopted the commitments of the merged entity to not ''prioritize affiliated Internet content over unaffiliated Internet content . . . [or] treat affiliated network traffic differently from unaffiliated network traffic'' as well as to comply with the Commission's open Internet rules, regardless of the effect of ''any judicial challenge'' affecting those rules.
15. The Commission likewise incorporated openness principles for mobile services, adopting an open platform requirement for licensees in the Upper 700 MHz C Block in 2007. Specifically, the rules require Upper 700 MHz C-Block licensees to allow customers, device manufacturers, third-party application developers, and others to use or develop the devices and applications of their choice for Upper 700 MHz C-Block networks, provided those devices and applications meet all applicable regulatory requirements and comply with reasonable conditions related to management of the wireless network (i.e., do not cause harm to the network). Further, the Commission prohibited Upper 700 MHz C-Block licensees from disabling features or functionality in handsets where such action is not related to reasonable network management and protection, or compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
16. Also in 2007, the Commission unanimously adopted the Broadband Industry Practices Notice of Inquiry, explaining that vigilance and a willingness to act were necessary to keep the Internet open. The Broadband Industry Practices Notice specifically sought comment on whether the Internet Policy Statement should be amended or expanded.
17. Meanwhile, the Commission applied open Internet principles in the context of particular enforcement proceedings. Just before the Commission adopted the Internet Policy Statement, the Enforcement Bureau had entered into a consent decree with Madison River Communications, a telephone company and provider of digital subscriber line (DSL) service, arising from complaints by Vonage that Madison River was blocking ports that were typically used by Vonage customers to make Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls. The consent decree required Madison River to stop blocking VoIP ports and refrain from otherwise inhibiting customers from using the VoIP applications of their choice.
18. In 2007, several parties filed complaints with the Commission alleging that Comcast was interfering with its customers' use of peer-to-peer applications in violation of the Internet Policy Statement. Such applications allow users to share large files directly with one another without going through a central server, but also can consume significant amounts of bandwidth. In response, Comcast asserted that its conduct was a reasonable network management practice necessary to ease congestion. The Commission disagreed and, in a 2008 Order, concluded that the company's practice ''contravene[d] . . . federal policy'' by ''significantly imped[ing] consumers' ability to access the content and use the applications of their choice.'' As the Commission explained, Comcast's ''practice unduly squelch[ed] the dynamic benefits of an open and accessible Internet,'' harm that was further compounded by Comcast's failure to disclose its practice to its customers. In the Comcast Order, the Commission asserted ancillary jurisdiction under Title I of the Communications Act and concluded that it could resolve the dispute through adjudication rather than rulemaking.
19. Comcast challenged that decision in the D.C. Circuit, arguing (among other things) that the Commission lacked authority to prohibit a broadband Internet service provider from engaging in discriminatory practices that violate the four principles the Commission announced in 2005. On April 6, 2010, the D.C. Circuit granted Comcast's petition for review and vacated the Commission's enforcement decision. As to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the court noted that the agency had previously interpreted Section 706 as not constituting a grant of authority and held that the Commission was bound by that interpretation for purposes of the case.
20. While the Comcast case was pending, the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on whether the Commission should codify the four principles stated in the Internet Policy Statement, plus proposed nondiscrimination and transparency rules, all subject to reasonable network management.
21. In December 2010, the Commission released the Open Internet Order, adopting three basic rules grounded in the Commission's prior decisions and broadly accepted Internet norms. First, the Order imposed a transparency rule, requiring both fixed and mobile providers to ''publically disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms'' of their broadband Internet access service. The rule specified that such disclosures be ''sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding the use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.'' Second, the Order adopted anti-blocking requirements. The rule barred fixed providers from blocking ''lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices subject to reasonable network management.'' It prohibited mobile providers from blocking ''consumers from accessing lawful Web sites,'' as well as ''applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services,'' subject to ''reasonable network management.'' Third, the Order adopted an anti-discrimination rule for fixed providers, barring them from ''unreasonably discriminat[ing] in transmitting lawful network traffic,'' subject to ''reasonable network management.''
22. Verizon challenged the Open Internet Order in the D.C. Circuit on several grounds. It argued that the Commission lacked statutory authority to adopt the rules, that the blocking and non-discrimination rules violated the Communications Act by imposing common carriage regulation on an information service, that the Order was arbitrary and capricious, and that the rules violated the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
23. On January 14, 2014, the D.C. Circuit ruled on Verizon's challenge to the Open Internet Order. As discussed further below, the court upheld the Commission's reading that Sections 706(a) and (b) of the Telecommunications Act grant the Commission affirmative authority to encourage and accelerate the deployment of broadband capability to all Americans through, among other things, measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market or remove barriers to infrastructure investment. The court further held that the Commission could utilize that Section 706 authority to regulate broadband Internet access service. It concluded that the Commission had adequately justified the adoption of open Internet rules by finding that such rules would preserve and facilitate the ''virtuous circle'' of innovation, demand for Internet services, and deployment of broadband infrastructure and that, absent such rules, broadband providers would have the incentive and ability to inhibit that deployment. The court therefore rejected Verizon's challenge to the transparency rule. However, the court struck down the ''anti-blocking'' and ''anti-discrimination'' rules, explaining that the Commission had chosen an impermissible mechanism by which to implement its legitimate goals. Specifically, the court held that the Commission had imposed per se common carriage requirements on providers of Internet access services. Such treatment was impermissible because the Commission had classified fixed broadband Internet access service as an information service, not a telecommunications service, and had classified mobile broadband Internet access service as a private mobile service rather than a commercial mobile service. The court remanded the case to the Commission for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.
24. Today, we respond directly to that remand and propose to adopt enforceable rules of the road, consistent with the court's opinion, to protect and promote the open Internet. As the above history demonstrates, our action builds on the foundation begun under Chairman Powell, continued under Chairmen Martin and Genachowski, and reinforced by a decade of Commission policy.
A. The Continuing Need for Open Internet Protections1. An Open Internet Promotes Innovation, Competition, Free Expression, and Infrastructure Deployment25. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission reiterated the conclusion underlying its prior policies'--that the Internet's openness promotes innovation, investment, competition, free expression and other national broadband goals. The Commission also found that the Internet's openness is critical to its ability to serve as a platform for speech and civic engagement and can help close the digital divide by facilitating the development of diverse content, applications, and services. Further, the Order found that the benefits of Internet openness'--increased consumer choice, freedom of expression, and innovation'--applied to end users accessing the Internet using mobile services as well as fixed services.
26. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission specifically found that the Internet's openness enabled a ''virtuous circle of innovation in which new uses of the network'--including new content, applications, services, and devices'--lead to increased end-user demand for broadband, which drives network improvements, which in turn lead to further innovative network uses.'' For example, the Commission explained that innovative streaming video applications and independent sources of video content have spurred end-user demand, which, in turn, has led to network investments and increased broadband deployment. By contrast, the Commission reasoned, ''[r]estricting edge providers' ability to reach end users, and limiting end users' ability to choose which edge providers to patronize, would reduce the rate of innovation at the edge and, in turn, the likely rate of improvements to network infrastructure.'' As discussed further below, the Commission found that, despite the advantages of the virtuous circle, broadband providers have short-term incentives to limit openness, generating harms to edge providers and users, among others. Thus, the risk of broadband provider practices that may reward them in the short term but over the long run erode Internet openness threatens to slow or even break the virtuous circle'--chilling entry and innovation by edge providers, impeding competition in many sectors, dampening consumer demand, and deterring broadband deployment'--in ways that may be irreversible or very costly to undo. Also, innovation that does not occur due to lack of Internet openness may be hard to detect.
27. The Open Internet Order acknowledged that there were tradeoffs to consider in adopting the 2010 rules. The Commission concluded, however, that any small costs of imposing the rules were outweighed by the positive effect on network investment from the preservation of the openness that drives the virtuous circle, as well as the increased certainty in continued openness under the rules.
28. The D.C. Circuit held that ''the Commission [had] more than adequately supported and explained its conclusion that edge provider innovation leads to the expansion and improvement of broadband infrastructure.'' The court also found ''reasonable and grounded in substantial evidence'' the Commission's finding that Internet openness fosters the edge provider innovation that drives the virtuous circle.
29. We believe that these findings, made by the Commission in 2010 and upheld by the court, remain valid. If anything, the remarkable increases in investment and innovation seen in recent years'--while the rules were in place'--appear to have borne out much of the Commission's view. Both within the network and at its edges, investment and innovation have flourished while the open Internet rules were in force.
30. According to a June 2013 report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for example, nearly $250 billion in private capital has been invested in U.S. wired and wireless broadband networks since 2009. USTelecom reports that broadband capital expenditures have risen steadily, from $64 billion in 2009 to $68 billion in 2012. Wireline providers alone invested $25 billion in 2012. And venture capital financing of ''Internet-specific'' businesses has doubled in the past four years, from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $7.1 billion in 2013. Annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40 percent between 2009 and 2012, from $21 billion to $30 billion, and exceeds investment by the major oil and gas or auto companies.
31. Whole new product markets have blossomed in recent years, and the market for applications has both diversified and exploded. A total of $8.33 billion has been raised since 2007 on mobile media ventures, a majority of the funds ($4.7 billion) to companies that provide software services, including mobile Web development, carrier-backend software, app development, and cloud-based services in the United States. In April 2010, Apple released the first version of the iPad, which launched the tablet market. The number of tablet users in the United States has increased from 9.7 million in 2010 to almost 70 million by the end of 2012, and is projected to grow to more than 160 million (approximately 50 percent of the U.S. population) by 2016. In 2013, over $1 billion in venture capital funding was invested in mobile media startups, and overall app use in 2013 posted 115 percent year-over-year growth. According to CTIA, in 2012 there were more than 20 independent non-carrier mobile application stores, offering over 3.5 million apps for 14 different operating systems. The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2013 that Apple and Google each offered about 700,000 apps, and that application sales were approaching $25 billion.
32. Finally, we have seen tremendous growth in the online voice and video markets. The number of hours Americans spend watching video over the Internet has grown 70 percent since June 2010. Between 2010 and 2013, revenues from online video services grew 175 percent, from $1.86 billion to $5.12 billion. Real-time entertainment (that is, programming that is viewed as it is delivered, such as video streamed by Netflix and Hulu) grew from 42.7 percent of the downstream fixed access traffic at peak time (generally 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) in 2010 to 67 percent of the downstream fixed access traffic at peak time by September 2013. VoIP usage has similarly continued to increase. The number of global over-the-top mobile VoIP subscribers increased by 550 percent in 2012.
33. We have also, however, witnessed a growing digital divide that threatens to undo the work of the Commission's open Internet policies. As certain cities get connected with fiber or other technologies capable of providing broadband speeds of 25 Mbps up to 1 Gigabit, rural America and even some parts of urban America are falling farther and farther behind. Recent data suggest that a majority of Americans living in urban areas (64 percent) have access to at least 25 Mbps/10 Mbps service, while only a substantial minority of Americans residing in rural areas (only 21 percent) have access to that same 25 Mbps/10 Mbps service. We are similarly concerned as to whether advanced networks are being deployed to all Americans in urban areas, as the construction of new networks, especially competitive networks, is an outcome that must be encouraged.
34. In light of developments in the Internet ecosystem since 2010, we wish to refresh the record on the importance of protecting and promoting an open Internet. We seek comment on the current role of the Internet's openness in facilitating innovation, economic growth, free expression, civic engagement, competition, and broadband investment and deployment. Particularly, we seek comment on the role the open Internet rules have had in investment in the broadband marketplace'--networks and edge providers alike. We are similarly interested in understanding the role that the open Internet may play in the promotion of competition or in identifying barriers to infrastructure investment that an open Internet may eliminate or lessen. We also seek comment on the role that the open Internet has for public institutions, such as public and school libraries, research libraries, and colleges and universities.
35. Additionally, we seek comment on the impact of the openness of the Internet on free expression and civic engagement. For example, the percentage of Americans who use the Internet reached 87 percent in 2014'--an increase of 8 percent from 2010, the year in which the Open Internet Order was adopted'--marking ''explosive adoption'' that has had ''wide-ranging impacts on everything from: the way people get, share and create news . . . the way they learn; the nature of their political activity; their interactions with government; the style and scope of their communications with friends and family; and the way they organize in communities.'' In light of the important role that the Internet now plays as a vehicle for communication of all sorts'--both for consumers and content providers'--how should we consider the potential impact on social and personal expression of an Internet whose openness was not protected? For example, would there be particular impacts on political speech, on the ability of consumers to use the Internet to express themselves, or on the Internet's role as a ''marketplace of ideas'' that serves the interests of democracy in general, serving even the interests of those Americans who listen even if they do not actively speak? Are there other ways in which we should understand free-expression interests and whether they may be impaired by a lack of openness?
36. At the same time, we are mindful of the possible tradeoffs the Commission recognized at the time it adopted the Open Internet Order. When it adopted the rules in 2010, the Commission's primary focus was on the market between broadband providers and their end-user subscribers. The record contained no evidence of U.S. broadband providers engaging in pay-for-priority arrangements, in which the broadband provider would agree with a third party to directly or indirectly prioritize some traffic over other traffic to reach the provider's subscribers. As such, the Commission found that such arrangements would be a ''significant departure from historical and current practice.''
37. In the years since, this second side of the market'--between broadband providers and edge providers or other third parties'--has gotten increasing attention. In its arguments challenging the Order, Verizon expressed interest in pursuing commercial agreements with edge providers to govern the carriage of the edge providers' traffic. We also note that such arrangements between broadband and edge providers have begun to emerge. In January 2014, for example, AT&T launched a new sponsored data service, in which an edge provider enters an agreement with AT&T to sponsor and pay for data charges resulting from eligible uses of the sponsor's content by an AT&T mobile subscriber.
38. We seek comment on the potential for, and development of, new business arrangements in the market between broadband providers and edge providers. What does the multi-sided market look like, and what are its effects on Internet openness? Do some types of broadband and edge provider arrangements (or aspects of such arrangements) raise greater concerns about Internet openness than others?
2. Broadband Providers Have the Incentive and Ability To Limit Openness39. The Open Internet Order found that broadband Internet providers had the incentives and ability to limit Internet openness, and that they had done so in the past. And the D.C. Circuit found that the Commission ''adequately supported and explained'' that absent open Internet rules, ''broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment.'' As discussed further below, we seek to update the record to reflect marketplace, technical, and other changes since the 2010 Open Internet Order was adopted that may have either exacerbated or mitigated broadband providers' incentives and ability to limit Internet openness. We seek general comment on the Commission's approach to analyzing broadband providers' incentives and ability to engage in practices that would limit the open Internet, as well as more targeted comment as addressed below.
40. As noted above, the Commission has pursued policies to safeguard Internet openness for over a decade. Thus, while the number of existing cases has been relatively few, we believe this to be primarily due to the fact that the Commission has had policies in place during the period in question that it has been ready to enforce. This is different from the experience under the European legal framework, which for the most part has not contained rules or policies prohibiting blocking and discriminatory practices like the Commission's open Internet regulatory policies. In the absence of such rules and policies, commenters note more instances of broadband providers engaging in some level of restriction in Europe than the Commission has witnessed in the United States under its open Internet policies. The European Parliament voted to adopt net neutrality rules in April 2014 that will now be considered by the 28 European Union Member States in order to become binding regulation. To date, among European countries only the Netherlands and Slovenia have net neutrality regulations. For example, a survey conducted by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) shows that European Internet service providers reported engaging in specific restrictions such as traffic degradation as well as blocking and throttling when accessing ''specific applications (such as gaming, streaming, email or instant messaging service) and, to a much lesser extent, when [accessing] specific content and application providers.'' We seek comment on this analysis and ask whether there is some other explanation to account for this phenomenon.
41. We also note that concerns related to the open Internet rules and norms have continued to occur. For example, in 2012, the Commission reached a $1.25 million settlement with Verizon for refusing to allow tethering apps on Verizon smartphones, based on openness requirements attached to Verizon's Upper 700 MHz C-Block license. In the same year, consumers also complained when AT&T refused to permit Apple's FaceTime iPhone and iPad application to use its mobile network, restricting its use to times when the end user was connected to Wi-Fi and thus to another broadband provider, although the Commission did not conclude whether such a practice violated our open Internet principles. We seek identification of, and comment on, actions taken by broadband providers'--both domestically and internationally'--since the adoption of the Open Internet Order that have threatened or could potentially threaten the Internet's openness. How should such incidents inform how we craft our rules on remand?
a. Economic Incentives and Ability42. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission found that providers of broadband Internet access service had multiple incentives to limit Internet openness. The Order concluded that the threat of broadband provider interference with Internet openness would be exacerbated by'--but did not depend on'--such providers possessing market power over potential subscribers in their choice of broadband provider. However, the Commission found that most residential customers have only one or two options for wireline broadband Internet access service, increasing the risk of market power, and found the future of mobile Internet access service as a competing substitute remained unclear. Moreover, the Commission emphasized that customers may incur significant costs in switching from one provider to another, thus creating ''terminating monopolies'' for content providers needing high-speed broadband service to reach end users.
43. The D.C. Circuit found that the Commission's assessment of broadband providers' incentives and economic ability to threaten Internet openness was not just supported by the record but also grounded in ''common sense and economic reality.'' It affirmed the Commission's conclusions that vertically integrated broadband providers have incentives to interfere with competitive services and that broadband providers generally have incentives to accept fees from edge providers. And the court cited with approval the Commission's conclusion that a broadband provider would be unlikely to fully account for the harms resulting from such practices. The court also upheld the agency's conclusion that such incentives could ''produce widespread interference with the Internet's openness in the absence of Commission action.'' Finally, the court agreed that the Commission need not engage in a market power analysis to justify its rules, explaining that broadband providers' ability to block or disadvantage edge providers depended on ''end users not being fully responsive to the imposition of such restrictions,'' not on ''the sort of market concentration that would enable them to impose substantial price increases on end users.''
44. We seek to update the record underlying the Open Internet Order' s conclusion that broadband providers have incentives and the economic ability to limit Internet openness in ways that threaten to weaken or break the virtuous circle. How have changes in the marketplace or technology since 2010 affected broadband providers incentives and economic ability to engage in such practices? To what extent do broadband providers today have economic incentives and mechanisms to block or disadvantage a particular edge provider or class of edge providers? To what extent do vertically integrated providers have particularized incentives to discriminate'--on price, quality, or other bases'--in favor of affiliated products? What are broadband providers' incentives to increase revenues by charging edge providers for access or prioritized access to the broadband provider's end users? Are there features of the Internet ecosystem that facilitate or impede a broadband provider's ability to internalize the harms caused by practices that limit openness? Are there justifications for charging fees to edge providers that were not present in 2010? We seek comment on these and other economic incentives and abilities that broadband providers may have to limit openness.
45. We generally seek comment on what economic tools broadband providers utilize to manage traffic on their networks. Broadband providers may address traffic management through commercial terms and conditions on end users, such as pricing for different levels of throughput or through the use of ''data caps.'' To what extent and in what ways do broadband providers use such tools to manage traffic, such as by excluding certain content from such an end user data cap? Might these tools be used to exploit market power or reduce competition?
46. In addition, we seek comment on end users' ability to switch providers if a particular broadband service does not meet their needs. What is the extent of switching costs, and how do switching costs affect the incentives and economic ability of providers to limit Internet openness? As discussed in the Open Internet Order and affirmed by the D.C. Circuit, both edge providers seeking access to end users and end users seeking access to edge providers are subject to the gatekeeper effect of a retail broadband provider. Absent multi-homing, an end user has only one option to reach a given edge provider's content. To reach any given end user, an edge provider must ensure that it or its broadband provider can reach the end user's broadband provider. Terms and conditions, price, or lack of other broadband providers, among other factors, can raise switching costs to the point where switching is inefficient, infeasible, or even impossible. We seek comment on these conclusions. To what extent do consumers face significant switching costs in choosing to change broadband access providers? Which services, if any, are most vulnerable to a broadband provider's market power because of the inability to effectively reach subscribers through other means? To the extent that such switching costs exist, to what extent, if any, are they exacerbated by additional factors, such as the difficulty consumers may have in effectively monitoring the extent to which edge providers have difficulty reaching them, the number of effective substitutes a consumer may have among broadband providers, or the impact of bundled pricing and switching costs attached to the purchase or use of bundled services, such as a combined offering of broadband access along with video services and voice telephony? Would all likely alternatives have similar incentives to limit openness, possibly for a different set of services? We also seek comment on an end user's ability to switch broadband providers in response to specific broadband provider practice, for example a broadband provider's decision to charge an edge provider to reach the customer. Are switching costs relevant to an edge provider's interaction with a broadband provider and, if so, how? Finally, what are the implications when consumers have no ability to switch providers because there is only one provider offering service to the consumer's location?
47. We also seek comment on the state of competition in broadband Internet access service, and its effect on providers' incentives to limit openness. We seek comment on the appropriate view of whether broadband services with substantially different technical characteristics are competitive substitutes. For example, how should we regard the ability of DSL service with speeds of, for example, 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream to constrain conduct by a provider of high-speed broadband with speeds of, for example, 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream (or higher)? How should we regard the geography of broadband competition? From an end user's point of view, do national practices or market shares have any impact on edge providers, without regard to the definition of a geographic market?
48. In the fixed broadband context, we have seen evidence of limited choice between broadband providers in many areas of the country. As the speed threshold increases to 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream, the number of households that are located in census tracts with at least three providers that report serving customers at those higher speeds dips down to a mere 34 percent. In many areas of the country, with respect to fixed Internet access, consumers may have only limited options, i.e., one or two fixed providers available. We seek comment on the extent to which commercial practices differ in places where consumers have only one choice of a wireline broadband provider, two choices, or more than two choices. We therefore also seek comment as to whether increased spectrum availability and technological developments in the mobile broadband marketplace, e.g., growth in 4G/LTE availability, would affect the market power of fixed broadband providers.
49. We further seek general comment on our approach towards analyzing broadband provider incentives. Under the Commission's reading, which the court upheld, our Section 706 authority is not predicated on a finding of market power, specifically, that broadband providers need not be found to be ''benefiting from the sort of market concentration that would enable them to impose substantial price increases on end users.'' Nor do we believe that the open Internet concerns described above solely arise in markets where broadband providers possess market power over subscriber prices. We recognize, however, that the presence or absence of market power'--over broadband subscriptions, over end users once they have chosen a broadband provider, and over content providers who wish to reach those end users'--may inform an understanding of a broadband provider's behavior in the Internet marketplace and its incentives to engage in practices that limit Internet openness. Thus, we seek comment on whether the Commission should engage in a market power analysis with respect to broadband providers and, if so, how we should go about that analysis.
50. We further seek comment on whether there are other economic theories that the Commission should consider to better understand and assess broadband providers' incentives to engage in practices that affect the Internet's openness. For example, do broadband providers have an incentive to extract rents from upstream services whose price significantly exceeds the marginal cost of delivering those services to an additional customer? Are there positive network effects from widespread adoption of broadband services by consumers that we should recognize? Do edge providers that incur significant sunk costs in the delivery of their output face ''lock-in'' problems if they become dependent on a particular pathway to their current or potential users? In the absence of open Internet protections, would those edge providers face uncertainty that would hamper their ability to attract capital? Does the trend towards the caching of content closer to end users either increase such lock-in problems or, separately, limit the number of pathways by which an edge provider's output can effectively reach current or potential end users? We seek comment on whether and how other theories and new evidence may supplement or supplant the original Open Internet Order analysis.
b. Technical Ability51. The Open Internet Order likewise found that broadband providers have the technical ability to limit Internet openness. As the Order explained, increasingly sophisticated network management tools enable providers to identify and differentiate the treatment of traffic on their own broadband Internet access service networks. We recognize that broadband providers also have the ability to impact traffic and congestion in ways that go beyond the management of traffic within their networks. In particular, we understand that broadband providers also manage traffic in the context of their relationships with other autonomous networks. For example, traffic and congestion may be affected by interconnection arrangements for the exchange of Internet traffic between two networks as well as CDN-type arrangements in which third parties place equipment in or adjacent to the providers' network. As discussed in Section III.B, the rules we propose today reflect the scope of the 2010 Open Internet Order, which applied to broadband provider conduct within its own network. The D.C. Circuit agreed, finding ''little dispute that broadband providers have the technological ability to distinguish between and discriminate against certain types of Internet traffic.'' We seek comment on this general conclusion and on how this ability to impose restrictions on edge providers and end users has increased or decreased with further developments in technology or business practices since the Open Internet Order. We also seek comment on provider abilities that were not identified in the Open Internet Order or elsewhere in this NPRM, including identifying the particular ability and its relevance to this proceeding. For example, one commenter has expressed concern about broadband providers offering prioritized service in a manner that may harm rural or minority end users. Is it technically feasible for a broadband provider to block or degrade based on the location or neighborhood of the end user? Is it likely that it would do so? If so, how should our rules address this concern?
52. We seek comment on broadband providers' ability to limit Internet openness through management of traffic on their own networks and limitations imposed on their end users. Providers generally have the ability to manage traffic and congestion on their own networks and have developed a number of techniques to do so. For example, a provider can use technical methods like packet classification, admission control and resource reservation, rate control and traffic shaping, as well as packet dropping and packet scheduling to identify and manage traffic on its network. Such techniques may provide additional ability to discriminate in a way that is largely opaque to edge providers and end users. We note that other forms of discrimination in the Internet ecosystem may exist, but such conduct is beyond the scope of this proceeding. We seek comment on the technical tools broadband providers can and do use to manage traffic on their networks.
53. The Open Internet Order found that providers had in fact used their ability to limit openness, citing several instances where broadband providers had been subject to Commission enforcement proceedings for violating open Internet norms. In the Order, the Commission cited the Madison River case, the Comcast-BitTorrent case, as well as various mobile wireless Internet providers' refusal to allow customers to use competitive payment applications, competitive voice applications, and remote video applications. The Commission also noted other allegations of blocking or degrading peer-to-peer traffic, but did not determine whether those specific practices violated open Internet principles. The D.C. Circuit noted these examples along with the Commission's as persuasive justification for adopting open Internet rules.
B. Scope of the Rules54. The rules adopted in the Open Internet Order applied to ''broadband Internet access service,'' which was defined as:
The Order defined ''mass market'' to mean a service marketed and sold on a standardized basis to residential customers, small businesses, and other end-user customers such as schools and libraries, including services purchased with support of the E-rate program.
55. The Verizon decision upheld the Commission's regulation of broadband Internet access service pursuant to Section 706 and did not disturb this aspect of the Open Internet Order. Thus, the definition of ''broadband Internet access service'' remains a part of the Commission's regulations. We tentatively conclude that we should retain this definition without modification. We seek comment on that conclusion. The court in Verizon also stated that, apart from the service provided to end users, ''broadband providers furnish a service to edge providers, thus undoubtedly functioning as edge providers' `carriers.' '' We seek comment on whether this should be identified as a separate service and, if so, how we should define that service and what the regulatory consequences are, if any, of that definition.
56. We also seek comment on the following issues that arise in connection with the scope of the application of the rules we propose today.
57. Specifically Identified Services. The Open Internet Order excluded certain categories of services from the definition of broadband Internet access service, such as dial-up Internet access service and multichannel video programming, the latter of which the Commission understood not to meet the definition of ''provid[ing] the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints.'' We tentatively conclude that we would maintain this approach, but seek comment on whether we should change this conclusion.
58. Enterprise Services. The Open Internet Order excluded enterprise service offerings, which are typically offered to larger organizations through customized or individually negotiated arrangements. Similarly, the Open Internet Order excluded virtual private network services, hosting, or data storage services. The Commission explained that such services ''typically are not mass market services and/or do not provide the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints.'' We also note that our rules apply only as far as the limits of a broadband provider's control over the transmission of data to or from its broadband customers. The Open Internet Order also established that the rules did not apply to: (1) Edge provider activities, such as the provision of content on the Internet; and (2) premise operators, entities like coffee shops or bookstores, which offer Internet access services to their patrons. We tentatively conclude that we would maintain this approach, but seek comment on whether we should change this conclusion.
59. Internet Traffic Exchange. The Open Internet Order explained that its rules did not apply beyond ''the limits of a broadband provider's control over the transmission of data to or from its broadband customers.'' In other words, the Order applied to a broadband provider's use of its own network but did not apply the no-blocking or unreasonable discrimination rules to the exchange of traffic between networks, whether peering, paid peering, content delivery network (CDN) connection, or any other form of inter-network transmission of data, as well as provider-owned facilities that are dedicated solely to such interconnection. Thus, the Order noted that the rules were not intended ''to affect existing arrangements for network interconnection, including existing paid peering arrangements.'' We tentatively conclude that we should maintain this approach, but seek comment on whether we should change our conclusion. Some commenters have suggested that we should expand the scope of the open Internet rules to cover issues related to traffic exchange. We seek comment on these suggestions. For example, how can we ensure that a broadband provider would not be able to evade our open Internet rules by engaging in traffic exchange practices that would be outside the scope of the rules as proposed?
60. Specialized Services. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission recognized that broadband providers may offer ''specialized services'' over the same last-mile connections used to provide broadband service. The Commission stated that these services can benefit end users and spur investment, but also noted the potential for specialized services to jeopardize the open Internet. Due to these concerns, the Commission stated that it would monitor these services, but that its rules would ''not prevent broadband providers from offering specialized services such as facilities-based VoIP.'' We tentatively conclude that we should maintain this approach and continue to closely monitor the development of specialized services to ensure that broadband providers are not using them to bypass the open Internet rules or otherwise undermine a free and open Internet. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion. How can we ensure that the specialized services exception is not used to circumvent our open Internet rules? In addition, should specialized services be addressed within the scope of the ''commercially reasonable'' rule either as a safe harbor or among the factors for consideration? Should the Commission define ''specialized services''? The Open Internet Order did not formally define ''specialized services,'' but described them as ''services that share capacity with broadband Internet access service over providers' last-mile facilities.'' By contrast, the net neutrality rules that the European Parliament voted to adopt in April 2014 included a specific definition for ''specialized services'' as ''an electronic communications service optimised for specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, provided over logically distinct capacity, relying on strict admission control, offering functionality requiring enhanced quality from end to end, and that is not marketed or usable as a substitute for internet access service.''
61. Reasonable Network Management. Although the Open Internet Order' s definition of broadband Internet access service did not itself address reasonable network management, the concept was incorporated into each of the 2010 rules. Specifically, the transparency rule ''does not require public disclosure of competitively sensitive information or information that would compromise network security or undermine the efficacy of reasonable network management practices.'' The 2010 no-blocking rule was made expressly subject to ''reasonable network management.'' And the unreasonable discrimination rule expressly provided for reasonable network management, which was defined as follows: ''A network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.'' The Commission further concluded that it would ''develop the scope of reasonable network management on a case-by-case basis.'' We tentatively conclude that we should continue the same approach. We seek comment on this conclusion as applied to an enhanced transparency rule, our re-adoption of the no-blocking rule, and the proposal to adopt a ''commercially reasonable'' standard. How can we ensure that the ability of providers to engage in reasonable network management is not used to circumvent the open Internet protections implemented by our proposed rules?
62. Mobile Services. The Open Internet Order also adopted definitions for ''fixed'' and ''mobile'' Internet access service. It defined ''fixed broadband Internet access service'' to expressly include ''broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily at fixed endpoints using stationary equipment, . . . fixed wireless services (including fixed unlicensed wireless services), and fixed satellite services.'' It defined ''mobile broadband Internet access service'' as ''a broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily using mobile stations.'' The impact of this distinction varied by rule. The transparency rule applies equally to both fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service. The no-blocking rule applied a different standard to mobile broadband Internet access services, and mobile Internet access service was excluded from the unreasonable discrimination rule. We tentatively conclude that we should maintain the same approach in today's NPRM. We seek comment on this approach, which is discussed in more detail in the context of each of the proposed rules below. We recognize that there have been significant changes since 2010 in the mobile marketplace, including how mobile providers manage their networks, the increased use of Wi-Fi, and the increased use of mobile devices and applications. We seek comment on whether and, if so, how these changes should lead us to revisit our treatment of mobile broadband service. Specifically, we seek comment below on whether the no-blocking rule should continue to distinguish between fixed and mobile broadband and whether, under the commercially reasonable rule, mobile networks should be subject to the same totality-of-the-circumstances test as fixed broadband. In addition, how should the definitions of ''fixed'' and ''mobile'' services be applied to a fixed broadband provider's commercially deployed Wi-Fi service that is made available to the provider's fixed broadband customers? How should such changes affect our treatment of reasonable network management for mobile providers? Similarly, how should we treat mobile services that are deployed and/or marketed as express substitutes for traditional telecommunications or broadband services? Finally, have there been changes in technology or the marketplace for the provision of satellite broadband Internet access service that should lead the Commission to reassess how its rules should apply to such services?
C. Transparency Requirements To Protect and Promote Internet Openness1. The 2010 Transparency Rule63. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission concluded that effective disclosure of broadband providers' network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service promotes competition, innovation, investment, end-user choice, and broadband adoption. To that end, the Commission adopted the following transparency rule:
64. The Commission determined that the best approach to implementing the transparency rule was to allow broadband providers flexibility, while providing guidance concerning effective disclosure. The Commission stated that ''effective disclosures will likely include'' information concerning ''some or all'' of the following topics: (1) Network practices, including congestion management, application-specific behavior, device attachment rules, and security measures; (2) performance characteristics, including a general description of system performance (such as speed and latency) and the effects of specialized services on available capacity; and (3) commercial terms, including pricing, privacy policies, and redress options. In 2011, the Commission's Enforcement Bureau and Office of General Counsel issued advisory guidance to further clarify compliance with the transparency requirements regarding point-of-sale disclosures, service descriptions, security measures, and the extent of required disclosures, while noting that ''these particular methods of compliance are not required or exclusive; broadband providers may comply with the transparency rule in other ways.''
65. The D.C. Circuit's decision in Verizon v. FCC upheld the transparency rule, which remains in full force, applicable to both fixed and mobile providers. In today's NPRM, we inquire as to ways that the transparency rule can be improved, taking into account changes in the nature of the provision of broadband services since 2010. We believe we have ample authority not only for our existing transparency rule, but also for the enhanced transparency rule we propose today, whether the Commission ultimately relies on Section 706, Title II, or another source of legal authority. We seek comment on whether and how'--if at all'--the source of the Commission's legal authority relied upon to adopt other open Internet rules would affect the authority or authorities that provide the strongest basis for any improvements to the transparency rule or otherwise would inform how we define the goal of transparency in general.
2. Enhancing Transparency To Protect and Promote Internet Openness66. ''Sunlight,'' as Justice Brandeis has explained, ''is . . . the best of disinfectants.'' If designed correctly, disclosure policies are among the most effective and least intrusive regulatory measures at the Commission's disposal. Applied here, the Commission continues to believe that access to accurate information about broadband provider practices encourages the competition, innovation, and high-quality services that drive consumer demand and broadband investment and deployment. The transparency rule thereby reflects the ''virtuous circle'' that, in the long term, unites the interests of end users, edge providers, and the broader Internet community. As the Commission explained in the Open Internet Order, disclosures under the rule: (1) Help end users make informed choices regarding the purchase and use of broadband services and increase end users' confidence in broadband providers' practices; (2) ensure that edge providers have access to broadband providers' network information necessary to develop innovative new applications and services; and (3) inform the Internet community and the Commission about broadband providers' practices and conduct that could impact Internet openness. In today's NPRM, we seek comment on the effectiveness of the existing transparency rule and on whether and, if so, how the rule should be enhanced to meet its goals with respect to end users, edge providers, the Internet community, and the Commission.
67. Today, we seek general comment on how well the Commission's existing transparency rule is working. We are especially interested in comments that describe the current operation, benefits, and shortcomings of the existing rule, how broadband providers are complying with it, and how we should measure such compliance. We note that an informal review of broadband provider disclosures conducted by Commission staff found that the majority are providing some form of disclosure statements, but that many do not appear to provide all the information the rule was designed to disclose. We are also mindful that the additional rules we propose today to protect Internet openness consistent with the D.C. Circuit's decision may place even greater importance on the extent to which information about broadband providers' practices is disclosed to end users, edge providers, and the Commission. Taking all of that into account, we tentatively conclude that we should enhance the transparency rule to improve its effectiveness for end users, edge providers, the Internet community, and the Commission. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion and on what burdens or compliance issues may be associated with this approach, including for smaller providers.
68. Tailored disclosures. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission stated that broadband providers may be able to satisfy the transparency rule through use of a single disclosure, and therefore did not require different types of disclosures to different parties such as individual end users, edge providers, the broader Internet community, and the Commission. We have concerns that a single disclosure may not provide the required disclosures in a manner that adequately satisfies the informational needs of all affected parties. For example, some recent research suggests that consumers have difficulty understanding commonly used terms associated with the provision of broadband services. Edge providers, however, may benefit from descriptions that are more technically detailed. We therefore tentatively conclude that it would be more effective to require broadband providers to more specifically tailor disclosures to the needs of these affected parties. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion, on the nature of the disclosures that should be tailored, and on what burdens or compliance issues, if any, may be associated with more targeted disclosures.
a. Transparency to End Users69. Since the Commission adopted the transparency rule, we have received hundreds of complaints from consumers suggesting that, under the rule, broadband providers may not be providing end user consumers the accurate information they need and have a right to receive. Our analysis of consumer complaints received since the transparency rule took effect shows a significant number of consumer complaints about provider speeds, charges, and other commercial practices that the rule was designed to disclose. In some cases, however, it is difficult to discern whether the consumer's frustration is with slow speeds or high prices generally, or instead with how the service as actually provided differs from what the provider has advertised. Of particular concern to many consumers is that the speed of their service falls short of the advertised speed. Many consumers complain that they have been charged amounts greater than advertised rates, including fees and charges beyond basic rates. We have also received a number of consumer complaints raising questions about the source of slow or congested services. Consumers have also reported surprise at broadband providers' statements about slowed or terminated service based on consumers' ''excessive use.'' Other consumers report confusion about how data consumption is calculated for purposes of data caps.
70. We seek comment on the extent to which the existing transparency rule is effectively informing end users. We are interested both in what information broadband providers are disclosing to end users and how that information is being disclosed. In addition, we seek comment on the incentives and ability of broadband providers to provide service at lower quality or higher prices than their subscribers expected when they enrolled, and on the incentives and ability of subscribers to choose other options if their broadband providers fail to live up to these expectations. If a subscriber is locked in to a particular provider, how can transparency rules bring the performance of that provider up to the subscriber's expectations?
71. In light of the consumer complaints discussed above, we also consider enhancements to the existing rule with respect to the content, form, and method of broadband providers' disclosures to end users.
72. Content and Form of Disclosure. We seek comment on whether there are ways to make the content and format of disclosures more accessible and understandable to end users. With respect to content, should the Commission require the disclosure of specific broadband provider network practices, performance characteristics (e.g., effective download speeds, upload speeds, latency, and packet loss), and/or terms and conditions of service to end users (e.g., data caps)? We are particularly interested in whether there are network practices, performance characteristics, or commercial terms relating to broadband service that are particularly essential but not easily discoverable by end users absent effective disclosure. With respect to format, both academic research and the Commission's experience with consumer issues have demonstrated that the manner in which providers display information to consumers can have as much impact on consumer decisions as the information itself. We therefore seek comment on best practices for displaying and formatting relevant disclosures for end users, including any potential costs and burdens to broadband providers. For example, the Open Internet Advisory Committee (OIAC) has proposed the use of a standardized label for Internet service that includes basic information such as performance speed (i.e., upload and download speed), price (i.e., monthly fee averaged over three years), and usage restrictions (i.e., any points at which the applicable terms of service change, including data usage caps and any charges, speed reductions, or other penalties for exceeding a cap) that consumers can use to comparison shop for service. Are there lessons we can learn regarding effective disclosure practices from independent consumer research or disclosure in other approaches to standardized labels? Should the information be made available in a machine-readable format, such as XML, that might allow the Commission, industry associations, or other organizations to easily access and synthesize information for consumers?
73. Network Practices. With respect to data caps, should we require disclosures that permit end users to identify application-specific usage or to distinguish which user or device contributed to which part of the total data usage? Should we require disclosure of any type of traffic exempted from any data caps, and how end users can find their current consumption levels? Should we require that disclosures explain any restrictions on tethering for mobile devices? Should the Commission expand its transparency efforts to include measurement of other aspects of service such as packet loss, packet corruption, latency, and jitter in addition to upstream and downstream speed? Should the Commission require the reporting of actual achieved results for each category? If providers offer different tiers of service to their end users, should providers be required to make disclosures by tier? What should be the required timing of any such disclosures? Is it important that network practices be disclosed in advance of their implementation?
74. Method of Disclosure. The Transparency Compliance PN advised broadband providers that they can comply with the point-of-sale disclosure requirement by, for instance, ''directing prospective customers at the point of sale, orally and/or prominently in writing, to a web address at which the required disclosures are clearly posted and updated.'' We seek comment on whether that approach is adequate or whether the Commission should consider alternative approaches.
b. Transparency to Edge Providers75. As noted above, the Commission also adopted the transparency rule to ensure that broadband providers would disclose sufficient information to permit ''content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.'' Some commenters have suggested that current disclosures provide insufficient information for edge providers. We seek comment on how the existing transparency rule is working and how we can enhance its effectiveness with respect to edge providers. Should we view some categories of edge providers, such as start-up companies, as having distinct needs and, if so, what would be the implications for an enhanced transparency rule?
76. We also seek comment on the extent to which the transparency rule does, or should, disclose useful information to providers who seek to exchange traffic with broadband provider networks. In other words, should we view transit, CDN, or other providers engaged in Internet traffic exchange as a class of persons whose interests are similar to those of edge providers who wish ''to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings,'' perhaps because they may have such edge providers as their customers? For instance, many edge providers utilize the services of an intermediary CDN, such as Akamai, EdgeCast, Limelight, or Level 3, or cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, or RackSpace, which provide the servers upon which the applications run and also interconnect directly with broadband providers. Other edge providers bypass these networks and interconnect directly with broadband providers through peering arrangements. Some edge providers, such as Google or Amazon, may act both as content providers for their own services and as CDNs or cloud service providers for other services. We seek comment on whether these subgroups have distinguishable needs for information that could be provided through disclosure and, if so, what kind of information would be most useful.
c. Transparency to the Internet Community and the Commission77. The Common Interests of End Users, Edge Providers, and the Broader Internet Community. We seek comment on the extent to which the existing transparency rule fully reflects the ''virtuous circle'' that, in the long term, unites the interests of end users, edge providers, the broader Internet community, and the Commission. Are there ways to enhance the transparency rule to further facilitate the virtuous circle? What other disclosures might encourage and improve the deployment of broadband in the United States?
78. We also seek comment'--relevant to all stakeholders'--on whether and, if so, how the Commission should enhance the existing transparency rule to ensure the effectiveness of, and compliance with, the other rules we propose in today's NPRM. For example, to ensure the effectiveness of the no-blocking rule proposed below, should the Commission mandate that broadband providers disclose'--in a more rigorous and consistent way'--the expected performance end users can expect from their broadband service? To improve information about broadband provider practices for end users, edge providers, and the broader Internet community, we tentatively conclude that broadband providers must disclose in a timely manner to consumers, edge providers, and the public (and, of course, the Commission) when they make changes to their network practices as well as any instances of blocking, throttling, and pay-for-priority arrangements, or the parameters of default or ''best effort'' service as distinct from any priority service.
79. Measuring Broadband Performance. The Open Internet Order requires broadband providers to disclose accurate information regarding network performance for each broadband service they provide. The accuracy and availability of such network performance information is a common linchpin for end users, edge providers, and all stakeholders in the Internet community. As noted in the Order, the Commission launched a broadband performance measurement project called ''Measuring Broadband America'' (MBA) to accurately measure key performance metrics, including baseline connection speed and latency. To satisfy their obligations under the transparency rule, all of the 12 largest fixed broadband providers chose to participate in the measurement program. Last year the Commission expanded its MBA program to include mobile broadband by releasing a Mobile Broadband Speed Test App, an open-source, crowdsourcing program to assess mobile broadband network performance nationwide. The app measures mobile broadband and Wi-Fi network performance and delivers to consumers an in-depth view of key metrics related to their mobile broadband experience. We seek comment on the effectiveness of this approach for providing consumers with useful information regarding the performance of both fixed and mobile broadband networks. We seek comment on whether participation in MBA should continue to satisfy the requirement that actual speeds be disclosed. Are there areas of this program that can be improved to provide more useful information to consumers?
80. More generally, are there more efficient or more comprehensive ways to measure network performance metrics, including for broadband providers not participating in MBA? For example, could the ability to measure and report network performance be included in the end user's own network modem or residential gateway? Do such functionalities currently exist, or are they in development? Are there academic or other external research organizations that could assist the Commission in collecting and analyzing information about traffic, congestion, and other features of the Internet? Should the Commission mandate the use of monitoring devices, like those used in MBA? How can performance metrics most accurately measure the actual download and upload speeds a consumer can expect to experience, rather than ''up to'' speeds or ''last-mile'' performance? Should the Commission look to an external advisory group to aid in the development and feasibility of performance metrics and measurement?
81. Congestion. The Open Internet Order highlighted the value of providing end users with information about the sources of congestion that might impair the performance of edge-provider services. As the Open Internet Order explained, ''it is often difficult for end users to determine the causes of slow or poor performance of content, applications, services or devices.'' At the same time, the Commission recognized that ''congestion management may be a legitimate network management purpose.'' But the Commission also emphasized the importance of the disclosure to end users of ''descriptions of congestion management practices'' including ''indicators of congestion'' and ''the typical frequency of congestion.''
82. Since the 2010 Open Internet Order, some have suggested that sources of congestion that impact end users may originate beyond the broadband provider's network or in the exchange of traffic between that network and others. An end user's inability to ascertain the source of congestion could lead to confusion, for example, to the filing of an unjustified complaint against a broadband provider (if the source of the congestion were elsewhere) or a mistaken decision by the end user to purchase additional bandwidth to improve performance (again, if the source of congestion were elsewhere). Edge providers and other stakeholders also have expressed a need for greater information about network congestion.
83. In light of these concerns, we tentatively conclude that we should require that broadband providers disclose meaningful information regarding the source, location, timing, speed, packet loss, and duration of network congestion. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion, including on how to implement it in a practical manner that provides meaningful information to end users, edge providers, and other stakeholders without causing undue burden on broadband providers. For example, should the information to be disclosed be based upon a sampling taken at given points in time, and if so, what would be an appropriate interval for such sampling? We note that Cogent has made suggestions about enhancements to the transparency rule along these lines and proposing specific means of implementation, upon which we seek comment. In making the foregoing tentative conclusion and seeking comment on how to implement it, we emphasize that we are positing that the public would be served by additional information concerning the existence and duration of congestion, regardless of its cause, so that there is greater understanding of the impact of that congestion on the performance of a broadband provider's network, if any. We do not, however, propose to expand the scope of the open Internet rules in any fashion to regulate traffic exchange, though, as noted above, we ask for public input on this tentative conclusion.
d. Transparency for Mobile Broadband84. The Commission currently applies the same transparency requirement to both fixed and mobile providers, reasoning that end users need a clear understanding of ''network management practices, performance, and commercial terms, regardless of the broadband platform they use to access the Internet.'' We seek comment on how we should assess the effectiveness of the existing rule in the mobile broadband context. For example, most mobile broadband plan offerings have generally had lower data usage limits than those offered for fixed broadband services. Accordingly, do mobile broadband subscribers have an enhanced need to understand, monitor, and more flexibly adjust their mobile data usage needs than the fixed broadband users?
85. We seek comment on whether and, if so, how enhancements to the transparency rule should apply to mobile broadband network providers. Would the enhanced transparency requirements described herein, or others, help meet the information needs of mobile broadband device and application developers as well as the needs of end users? How can we make sure that the disclosure requirements discussed above are appropriate and effective for mobile broadband in view of the many operational factors that may influence performance of mobile broadband networks, including the mobile access technology, the weather, the distance to the serving cell site, the number of users in a cell site, and device capability? Should the nature of disclosure to customers of wireless networks be different if the wireless service is provided by a network as an explicit substitute for copper-based, traditional service, including voice and DSL?
e. Burdens of Enhanced Transparency on Broadband Providers86. We seek comment on the extent to which adopting enhanced transparency requirements would create particular burdens in either the fixed or the mobile broadband environment and whether and how such burdens would affect the pace of innovation, investment, and growth. How can we achieve the public benefits of enhanced disclosure requirements without imposing unreasonable burdens on the broadband providers? Are there ways to minimize the costs and burdens associated with any enhanced disclosure requirements? Are there ways the Commission or industry associations could reduce any such burdens, for example through the use of a voluntary industry standardized glossary, or through the creation of a dashboard that permits easy comparison of the policies, procedures, and prices of various broadband providers throughout the country?
3. Compliance and Enforcement87. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission noted that a key objective of the transparency rule is to enable the Commission to collect information necessary to assess, report, and enforce the open Internet rules. As discussed further below, we seek comment on how the Commission can best design a process for enforcing the transparency rule that provides certainty, flexibility, and access for all affected parties. Should the Commission permit individuals to report possible noncompliance with our open Internet rules anonymously or take other steps to protect the identity of individuals who may be concerned about retaliation for raising concerns? We propose that the consequences of a failure to comply with our transparency rule should be significant and include monetary penalties. We seek comment on the most effective methods to ensure ongoing compliance with the transparency rule. How can we ensure that these disclosure requirements are as effective and effectively enforced as disclosure requirements in other areas of the law, such as disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission? Should the Commission require broadband providers to certify that they are in compliance with the required disclosures, particularly if the current flexible approach is amended to require more specific disclosures? Should we also require broadband providers to submit reports containing descriptions of current disclosure practices? If so, should we modify our existing process for protecting the confidentiality of competitively sensitive information?
88. We also seek comment on whether the Commission can better promote transparency through its own outreach and reporting mechanisms. Should the Commission establish and make public a list of those broadband providers that block or otherwise limit certain types of traffic? Should the Commission collect and publish information on pay-for-priority arrangements? In what timeframe should the Commission require providers to report such changes in their traffic management policies to the Commission? We invite comment on the merits of these options, and any other suggestions commenters may deem relevant, to ensure full compliance with the transparency rule, including identification of any regulatory burdens this might entail for broadband providers.
D. Preventing Blocking of Lawful Content, Applications, Services, and Nonharmful Devices89. We believe that, as the Commission found in the Open Internet Order,''the freedom to send and receive lawful content and to use and provide applications and services without fear of blocking is essential to the Internet's openness and to competition in adjacent markets such as voice communications and video and audio programming.'' The D.C. Circuit acknowledged the validity of this policy rationale for the no-blocking rule adopted in the Open Internet Order, but vacated the rule because it found that the Commission had failed to provide a legal rationale under which the prohibition would not impermissibly subject broadband providers to common carriage regulation. To address the ongoing concerns with the harmful effects that blocking of Internet traffic would have on Internet openness, we propose to adopt the text of the no-blocking rule that the Commission adopted in 2010, with a clarification that it does not preclude broadband providers from negotiating individualized, differentiated arrangements with similarly situated edge providers (subject to the separate commercial reasonableness rule or its equivalent). So long as broadband providers do not degrade lawful content or service to below a minimum level of access, they would not run afoul of the proposed rule. We also seek comment below on how to define that minimum level of service. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether we should adopt a no-blocking rule that does not allow for priority agreements with edge providers and how we would do so consistent with sources of legal authority other than Section 706, including Title II. See infra Section III.F. For example, to the extent the Commission relies on Title II, would Sections 201(b) and 202(a) of the Act compel a different result than provision of a minimum level of service? See 47 U.S.C. 201(b) (prohibiting unjust or unreasonable ''charges, practices, [or] classifications''); 47 U.S.C. 202(a) (prohibiting ''unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services'').
90. It is important to understand the relationship between the proposed no-blocking and commercial reasonableness rules. Although the proposed no-blocking rule only establishes a minimum level of service, and thus allows room for individualized negotiations, the proposed commercial reasonableness rule separately applies to any and all conduct, including by asking whether paid prioritization can be barred outright and by asking whether to bar practices that harm competition, consumers, and the free exercise of speech.
1. The 2010 No-Blocking Rule91. 2010 Open Internet Order. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission adopted a no-blocking rule to preserve the openness that was and remains a core expectation of end users. The Open Internet Order noted that a no-blocking principle had been broadly accepted since its inclusion in the Commission's 2005 Internet Policy Statement, and the Internet Policy Statement itself reflected expectations and practices of how the Internet should and did work. A more limited variation of the rule applied to mobile broadband providers, due to the operational constraints that affect mobile broadband services, the rapidly evolving nature of the mobile broadband technologies, and the generally greater amount of consumer choice for mobile broadband services than for fixed.
92. D.C. Circuit Opinion in Verizon v. FCC. The D.C. Circuit struck down the no-blocking rule after finding that the Commission had failed to provide a legal justification that would take the rule out of the realm of impermissible common carriage. The court stated that it was ''somewhat less clear'' whether the no-blocking rule constituted per se common carriage regulation than whether the antidiscrimination rule did. Nonetheless, the court concluded that the no-blocking rule, at least as described in the Open Internet Order, required broadband providers to serve edge providers indiscriminately. The no-blocking rule thereby imposed per se common carriage rules and thus violated the Communications Act's prohibition on the imposition of common carrier obligations on providers of information services.
93. The court intimated that the no-blocking rule could pass scrutiny, however, if broadband providers could engage in individualized bargaining while subject to the rule. The court reasoned that ''if the relevant service that broadband providers furnish is access to their subscribers generally, as opposed to access to their subscribers at the specific minimum speed necessary to satisfy the anti-blocking rules, then these rules, while perhaps establishing a lower limit on the forms that broadband providers' arrangements with edge providers could take, might nonetheless leave sufficient `room for individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms' so as not to run afoul of the statutory prohibitions of common carrier treatment.'' Such a practice would allow for individualized bargaining where providers would not be required ''to hold themselves out to serve all comers indiscriminately on the same or standardized terms.'' If the Commission's no-blocking rule allowed individualized bargaining above the minimum level of service necessary, then the rule might not create per se common carriage obligations. The court noted that although the Commission had asserted this interpretation of the rule at oral argument, the court could not consider it as a possible basis for upholding the rule because the Commission had not advanced this position in the Open Internet Order.
2. Proposal To Adopt a No-Blocking Rule94. We continue to believe that safeguarding consumers' ability to access and effectively use the lawful content, applications, services, and devices of their choice on the Internet is an essential component of protecting and promoting the open Internet. Therefore, we tentatively conclude that we should adopt the text of the rule that the Commission adopted in the Open Internet Order, which provided:
95. We believe this to be the public policy that will best serve Internet openness. While maintaining this rule text, we propose to make clear that the no-blocking rule would allow individualized bargaining above a minimum level of access to a broadband provider's subscribers'--the revised rationale the court suggested would be permissible rather than per se common carriage'--but, also consistent with the court's analysis, separately subject such practices to scrutiny under the commercially reasonable practices rule (or its equivalent). We believe that by preserving end users' ability to access the Internet content of their choice, reinstating a no-blocking rule would increase demand for broadband services and thus increase investment in broadband network infrastructure and technologies. We seek comment on the proposed no-blocking rule and its potential effect on broadband investment and deployment, including whether and under what circumstances broadband providers have incentives to block content. We also seek comment on possible approaches other than adopting the text of the 2010 rule. Should we modify the text of the rule to explicitly address the minimum level of access required, as discussed below?
96. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether we should adopt a no-blocking rule that either itself prohibits broadband providers from entering into priority agreements with edge providers or acts in combination with a separate rule prohibiting such conduct. As discussed below, the record in this proceeding reflects numerous public concerns about the potential for priority agreements to harm an open Internet. How could we address such concerns in the context of the no-blocking rule? If the Commission were to proceed down this alternative path, how should the Commission define ''priority''? Are ''priority'' agreements broader than ''pay-for-priority,'' possibly including the exchange of consideration other than money? Are there other arrangements between broadband providers and edge providers that have the potential to harm Internet openness and should be addressed within the no-blocking rule? Commenters should address the legal bases and theories, including Title II, that the Commission could rely on for such a no-blocking rule, and how different sources of authority might lead to different formulations of the no-blocking rule.
3. Establishing the Minimum Level of Access Under the No-Blocking Rule97. As noted above, the D.C. Circuit suggested that the Commission's 2010 no-blocking rule could be interpreted as requiring broadband providers to ''furnish . . . access to their subscribers generally'' while ''establishing a lower limit on the forms that broadband providers' arrangements with edge providers could take'''--and that under that interpretation the rule might not impose common carrier status on broadband providers. Consistent with the court's ruling, we tentatively conclude that the revived no-blocking rule should be interpreted as requiring broadband providers to furnish edge providers with a minimum level of access to their end-user subscribers. Such actions, permissible under the no-blocking rule, would, of course, be separately subject to the proposed commercially reasonable practices standard set out below. We tentatively conclude that our proposed no-blocking rule would allow broadband providers sufficient flexibility to negotiate terms of service individually with edge providers, consistent with the court's view that we must permit providers to ''adapt . . . to individualized circumstances without having to hold themselves out to serve all comers indiscriminately on the same or standardized terms.'' In this regard, we view the operation of the no-blocking rule separate from any other impact on broadband providers that might arise from application of the legal standard, factors, and dispute resolution framework discussed below. We reiterate that, as discussed further below, under the proposed rules contained herein such individualized arrangements for priority treatment would be subject to scrutiny under the proposed commercial reasonableness rule and prohibited under that rule if they harm Internet openness. We seek comment on these tentative conclusions.
98. Requiring this minimum level of access under the no-blocking rule will ensure that all users have access to an Internet experience that is sufficiently robust, fast, and effectively usable. This includes both end-user consumers and edge providers of all types and sizes, including those content providers who do not enter into specific arrangements with broadband providers. In short, our approach will enable consumers to access the content, services, and applications they demand and ensure that innovators and edge providers have the ability to offer new products and services. We seek comment on this analysis.
99. Under the approach described by the D.C. Circuit, ''broadband providers [would] have no obligation to actually provide an edge provider with the minimum service necessary to satisfy the rules,'' because they could instead ''deliver all edge providers' traffic'' in a manner that exceeds that minimum, and they would then be free to ''negotiate separate agreements with each individual edge provider'' and also to ''charge similarly-situated edge providers completely different prices for the same service.'' We note that a broadband provider's discretion in setting rates could be constrained to some degree by the commercially reasonable standard and dispute resolution framework discussed below, if adopted by the Commission. As we explain below, that proposed standard would not constitute per se common carriage. Are there alternative approaches that, consistent with the Verizon decision, would avoid per se common carriage? Are there forms of price discrimination that, even if appropriate under the no-blocking rule, should be separately subject to the commercial reasonableness rule or its equivalent?
100. We also seek comment on how, consistent with this interpretation, we should define or clarify the minimum level of access required by the rule, or otherwise define what provider conduct would constitute ''blocking'' under the rule. In our view, a defined minimum level of access provides assurances both to end users, by helping them understand the potential uses of their service, and to edge providers. Such assurances should enhance consumer demand, which drives investment both in the network and at the edge.
101. We also seek comment on how ''minimum level of access'' should be defined to provide the robust, fast, and effectively usable access discussed above. Should we define the minimum level of access from the perspective of end users, edge providers, or both? Should the minimum level of access be dynamic, evolving over time, and if so, how can that flexibility be incorporated into the rule? In the following paragraphs, we describe in alphabetical order several possible options by which we may define a minimum level of access under the no-blocking rule. We seek comment on these options and on any approaches by which the Commission should define the minimum level of access. For each of these potential options, we seek comment on its advantages and disadvantages, on its legal sustainability under Verizon, and on how effective it would be at protecting the open Internet, including the ease or difficulty with which violations can be identified and remedied. We seek comment on how the Commission should implement, monitor compliance with, and enforce the rule, under each of the options described. For each option, we also seek comment on whether the minimum level of access should be reflected in providers' disclosures under an enhanced transparency rule. Under any of these options, we seek comment on how the minimum level of access should be measured. Should the Commission measure technical parameters, based on a sample, focusing on speed, packet loss, latency, or other factors? Where in the network should such measurement take place to ensure an accurate measure of the broadband provider's performance? Finally, we recognize that from time to time a provider may be unable to provide such a minimum level of access temporarily for a variety of reasons. Aside from complete outages (which are not the subject of this NPRM), we note that in some cases inadvertent action or circumstances outside a provider's control may cause a subset of traffic to be blocked. For example, if a connection with one of several peering partners is severed, some Internet traffic may seem unacceptably slow while other traffic appears normal. Alternatively, a provider engaged in reasonable network management (such as blocking the source of a distributed denial of service attack) may inadvertently block other traffic due to a transcription error. If steps are taken in a timely manner to correct such problems, we would not anticipate considering such action to violate a no-blocking rule. We seek comment on how the Commission should distinguish such temporary inadvertent failures from intentional or prolonged blocking, including whether the Commission should consider exempting incidents of blocking that last for less than a specified amount of time.
102. Best Effort. One way to define a minimum level of access is as a requirement that broadband providers apply no less than a ''best effort'' standard to deliver traffic to end users. For any particular type of Internet traffic, best-effort delivery would represent the ''typical'' level of service for that type of traffic'--in effect, routing traffic according to the ''traditional'' architecture of the Internet. Broadband providers would be free to negotiate ''better than typical'' delivery with edge providers, and would be prohibited (subject to reasonable network management) from delivering ''worse than typical'' service in the form of degradation or outright blocking. We seek comment on this potential approach. Would ''best effort'' be measured against the technical capacity of a particular broadband provider's network capacity and characteristics?
103. Minimum Quantitative Performance. Another way to define a minimum level of access is through specific technical parameters, such as a minimum speed. To the extent that commenters believe that the Commission should promulgate a rule that establishes specific technical parameters for the required minimum level of access, what should those parameters be? Should they identify specific speeds of service, or would it be preferable to identify specific problems that a minimum level of service would avoid (such as preventing latency and jitter for services that tolerate them poorly)? Would the Commission need to differentiate between different broadband access technologies? While this approach would provide greater certainty than other approaches, a specific technical definition of minimum access could become outdated as available broadband network technologies change and available broadband speeds improve. How frequently would we need to revisit a specific technical definition of minimum access to ensure that it keeps up with advances in broadband service?
104. An Objective, Evolving ''Reasonable Person'' Standard. Another approach to defining a minimum level of access to broadband providers' end users is to think of it as the level that satisfies the reasonable expectations of a typical end user. We might think of this as a ''reasonable person'' standard of access. For example, a typical end user may reasonably expect the ability to access streaming video from any provider, place and receive telephone calls using the VoIP service of the end user's choosing, and access any lawful web content. Under this approach, a broadband provider that satisfies these and other reasonable expectations would be in compliance with the no-blocking rule. One possible advantage of this approach to defining minimum access is flexibility: the absence of a specific technical definition means that the standard for compliance can evolve as the expectations in the marketplace change without further Commission action. On the other hand, this approach may create less certainty than other approaches might and could be more difficult to enforce. We seek comment generally on a ''reasonable person'' standard for defining minimum access, and in particular, how this standard could be crafted to be sufficiently objective and predictable to provide certainty to broadband providers and edge providers.
4. Application of the No-Blocking Rule to Mobile Broadband105. As noted above, the 2010 no-blocking rule applied differently to mobile broadband providers than to fixed, and today's NPRM would maintain that approach. The previous rule prohibited mobile broadband providers from blocking consumers from accessing lawful Web sites or blocking applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services. We propose to adopt the same approach as in the 2010 obligation, which would prohibit mobile broadband providers from blocking lawful web content as well as applications that compete with the mobile broadband providers' own voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management. We seek comment on this proposal.
106. In addition, we seek comment on whether it would serve the public interest to expand the rule's scope to include reasonable access to all applications that compete with the mobile broadband Internet access provider's other services, not just those that compete with voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management practices. Should the application of the no-blocking rule to mobile broadband providers turn on whether mobile service was marketed to consumers as a substitute for a fixed telecommunications service previously offered by the provider or its affiliate? How would treating mobile broadband differently from fixed broadband affect consumers in different demographic groups, including those who rely solely on mobile broadband for Internet access? How should the Commission consider applying a no-blocking rule to facilities-based mobile providers versus resellers?
107. We also seek comment on whether and how we should define a minimum level of access in the context of the proposed no-blocking rule for mobile broadband, or otherwise clarify what constitutes ''blocking,'' and whether that definition should be different for mobile broadband than for fixed. For each of the approaches discussed above to define a ''minimum level of access,'' we seek comment on any particular benefits or difficulties that such approach would present.
108. We recognize that there have been substantial mobile marketplace changes and developments since 2010, including the increased use of Wi-Fi technology, and seek comment on whether and how such changes should impact our no-blocking rule for mobile broadband. We seek comment on the extent to which we should take into account the increasing provision of Wi-Fi by broadband providers, and the growing use of Wi-Fi by end users for the off-load of wireless broadband, as we consider the application of the no-blocking rule to mobile broadband services.
5. Applicability of the No-Blocking Rule to Devices109. The 2010 no-blocking rule prohibited fixed broadband providers from blocking non-harmful end-user devices, and the rule we propose today would do the same. We seek comment on how this treatment of non-harmful devices fits into the Verizon court's interpretation of the rule. Should the ability to attach non-harmful devices to broadband service be included among the reasonable end-user expectations listed above, or should we analyze non-harmful devices differently?
E. Codifying an Enforceable Rule To Protect the Open Internet That Is Not Common Carriage Per Se110. Separate and distinct from the no-blocking rule, we believe that establishing an enforceable legal standard for broadband provider practices is necessary to preserve Internet openness, protect consumers, and promote competition. While the D.C. Circuit vacated the Commission's rule prohibiting ''unreasonable discrimination'' by fixed broadband providers on the theory that it ''so limited broadband providers' control over edge providers' transmissions that [it] constitute[d] common carriage per se,'' the court underscored the validity of the ''commercially reasonable'' legal standard the Commission used in the data roaming context and the court upheld in Cellco.
111. Today, we tentatively conclude that the Commission should adopt a revised rule that, consistent with the court's decision, may permit broadband providers to engage in individualized practices, while prohibiting those broadband provider practices that threaten to harm Internet openness. Our proposed approach contains three essential elements: (1) An enforceable legal standard of conduct barring broadband provider practices that threaten to undermine Internet openness, providing certainty to network providers, end users, and edge providers alike, (2) clearly established factors that give additional guidance on the kind of conduct that is likely to violate the enforceable legal standard, and (3) encouragement of individualized negotiation and, if necessary, a mechanism to allow the Commission to evaluate challenged practices on a case-by-case basis, thereby providing flexibility in assessing whether a particular practice comports with the legal standard. We seek comment below on the design and justification of this rule.
112. Alternatively, we also seek comment on whether the Commission should adopt an alternative legal standard to govern broadband providers' practices. How can we ensure that our proposed rule sufficiently protects against harms to the open Internet? How would the rule we propose today change if the Commission were to rely on Title II (or other sources of legal authority) to adopt rules to protect and promote Internet openness? We seek comment on how the goal of the proposed rule'--to prevent those broadband provider practices that limit Internet openness'--could best be achieved.
1. The 2010 No Unreasonable Discrimination Rule113. 2010 Open Internet Order. The Commission adopted a no unreasonable discrimination rule to prevent fixed broadband providers from engaging in harmful conduct when transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service. The rule stated, ''A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service. Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination.'' The antidiscrimination rule prohibited fixed broadband providers from unreasonably discriminating against network traffic subject to reasonable network management. Unlike the transparency and no-blocking rules the Commission adopted in 2010, the no unreasonable discrimination rule did not apply to mobile broadband Internet access service providers.
114. D.C. Circuit Opinion in Verizon v. FCC. The D.C. Circuit vacated the antidiscrimination rule because it found that the rule improperly relegated fixed broadband providers to common carrier status. This violated the statutory ban on common carrier treatment of information service providers because the Commission had classified broadband providers ''not as providers of 'telecommunications services' but instead as providers of `information services.' '' The court disagreed with the Commission's interpretation to the contrary, finding that by compelling fixed broadband providers to serve all edge providers who provided content, services, and applications over the Internet without unreasonable discrimination, the rule compelled those providers to hold themselves out ''to serve the public indiscriminately'''--thus treating them as common carriers.
115. In making its determination, the court relied on its previous decision in Cellco, where it upheld the Commission's data roaming requirements against a common carrier challenge. The court suggested that had the Commission shown that the ''no unreasonable discrimination'' standard adopted in the Open Internet Order differed from the ''nondiscrimination'' standard applicable to common carriers, the rule might have withstood judicial review similar to the data roaming rule at issue in Cellco. This is because the rule in Cellco''expressly permit[ted] providers to adapt roaming agreements to 'individualized circumstances without having to hold themselves out to serve all comers indiscriminately on the same or standardized terms.' '' The court went on to suggest that, unlike the data roaming rules at issue in Cellco, which listed specific factors to consider in a case-by-case determination of whether a data roaming provider's conduct and offerings were commercially reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances, the Open Internet Order did not attempt to ''ensure that [the] reasonableness standard remains flexible.'' The D.C. Circuit suggested that a rule preventing certain types of conduct by broadband providers might be acceptable, given the manner in which the Commission has classified broadband providers, if the Commission articulated a discrete, flexible standard that prohibited practices that could reasonably be understood to harm Internet openness, while allowing individualized broadband provider practices, akin to the ''commercially reasonable'' standard adopted by the Commission in the data roaming context.
2. Proposed Elements of an Enforceable Legal Rulea. Prohibiting Only Commercially Unreasonable Practices116. Sound public policy requires that Internet openness be the touchstone of a new legal standard. Accordingly, we tentatively conclude that the Commission should adopt a rule requiring broadband providers to use ''commercially reasonable'' practices in the provision of broadband Internet access service. Our proposed approach is both more focused and more flexible than the vacated 2010 non-discrimination rule. It would prohibit as commercially unreasonable those broadband providers' practices that, based on the totality of the circumstances, threaten to harm Internet openness and all that it protects. At the same time, it could permit broadband providers to serve customers and carry traffic on an individually negotiated basis, ''without having to hold themselves out to serve all comers indiscriminately on the same or standardized terms,'' so long as such conduct is commercially reasonable. The D.C. Circuit explained that such an approach distinguished the data roaming rules at issue in Cellco from common carrier obligations. We seek general comment on this approach, and more targeted comment below.
117. With respect to this approach in general, we tentatively conclude that it should operate separately from the no-blocking rule that we also propose to adopt. In other words, the presence or absence of the no-blocking rule would have no impact on the presence or absence of the ''commercially reasonable'' standard, and vice versa. This would mean that conduct acceptable under the no-blocking rule would still be subject to independent examination under the ''commercially reasonable'' standard. We seek comment on this approach.
118. The core purpose of the legal standard that we wish to adopt, whether the ''commercially reasonable'' standard or another legal formulation, is to effectively employ the authority that the Verizon court held was within the Commission's power under Section 706. In essence, the court upheld the Commission's judgment that (1) Section 706 grants substantive power to the Commission to take actions, including removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition in telecommunications markets, that will promote the deployment of broadband networks; (2) the Commission was within its authority to conclude that the ''virtuous circle'' can be adversely impacted by broadband network practices that, over the long term, depress end user demand, which then threatens broadband deployment; and (3) threats to the open Internet, such as limitations on users to access the content of their choice or speak their views freely, are therefore within the authority of the Commission to curb. In selecting a legal standard, the Commission not only wishes to avoid subjecting broadband networks to common carriage per se, it also wishes to choose a legal standard whose valid adoption renders unnecessary the adjudication of any question other than whether the adopted legal standard has been violated. This is the distinction between the authority to adopt a standard and its subsequent application. It is axiomatic that an as-applied challenge to a rule would invalidate an application of the rule, but the rule itself may otherwise remain broadly applicable. See Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc., 472 U.S. 491, 504 (1985). Thus, assuming the rule is facially sustained by a reviewing court, the Commission would not be required to re-litigate its underlying determination that adoption of the rule will promote deployment. 47 U.S.C. 1302(b). Because the commercially reasonable practices rule requires a determination that an entity did not act in a commercially reasonable manner, the inquiry is, then, not whether the Commission has authority to adopt the regulation, but whether the Commission may enforce the regulation in a particular set of circumstances. See Colo. Right to Life Comm., Inc. v. Coffman, 498 F.3d 1137, 1146 (10th Cir. 2007) (holding that an as-applied challenge is limited to testing ''the application of [a regulation] to the facts of a plaintiff's concrete case''). For example, the D.C. Circuit determined that the Commission's data roaming rule'--the legal standard adopted'--was facially valid and within the Commission's authority, but that the application of that standard could still be subject to subsequent challenge. See Cellco, 700 F.3d at 548.
119. Are there alternative legal standards, whether in analogous contexts or otherwise identified by commenters, that the Commission should consider? Is there an existing standard that would serve a similar purpose to what we propose here and that would prevent the harms to Internet openness? If so, how, and if not, what would any differences be? Could the Commission modify its approach to ''reasonable network management'' in ways that would establish a more flexible legal standard that would not constitute common carriage per se? Commenters advocating alternative legal standards should explain why they are preferable, both in terms of the substantive requirements of the alternative standard (such as how they would address providers' conduct, offerings, and practices) and its implementation (such as whether and how it may permit individualized decision-making), and how they would protect an open Internet. And, as to the ''commercially reasonable'' standard or any other, we seek comment on whether there are sources of law or practice the Commission should rely upon in explaining the meaning and application of that standard.
120. We also seek comment on how a rule requiring broadband providers to engage in commercially reasonable practices with respect to delivery of traffic to and from end users should apply in circumstances in which no individualized negotiation occurs between the edge provider and the broadband provider. To cite just a few of many possible examples, consider a start-up VoIP service, a politically oriented Web site with an audience of fewer than 100 unique visitors per day, a social networking application narrowly focused on a particular demographic, or peer-to-peer communications among individuals. Not all of those actors may seek to enter into a contract with a broadband provider; they may simply wish to reach its subscribers. We seek comment on the impact of this difference on the selection and/or application of the general legal standard.
121. As an alternative to our proposed approach, we seek comment on whether the Commission should adopt a different rule to govern broadband providers' practices to protect and promote Internet openness. As mentioned above, a number of parties have expressed concerns about the effect of pay-for-priority agreements on Internet openness. How can the Commission ensure that the rule it adopts sufficiently protects against harms to the open Internet, including broadband providers' incentives to disadvantage edge providers or classes of edge providers in ways that would harm Internet openness? Should the Commission adopt a rule that prohibits unreasonable discrimination and, if so, what legal authority and theories should we rely upon to do so? If the Commission ultimately adopts a Title II approach, how should the Commission define the rule in light of the requirements under Sections 201 and 202 of the Act?
b. Factors To Guide Application of the General Legal Standard122. Similar to the Commission's approach in the data roaming context, we propose to identify factors the Commission can use to administer the proposed commercially reasonable practices standard. We recognize that there are significant differences between the open Internet and the data roaming contexts, including a broader range of open Internet practices at issue and a greater diversity of parties affected by such practices. Thus, while we look to our data roaming approach for guidance, we propose to develop factors specific to the open Internet context. These pre-defined factors would provide guidance to encourage commercially reasonable individualized practices and, if disputes arise, provide the basis for the Commission to evaluate whether, taking into account the totality of the circumstances on a case-by-case basis as discussed below, a particular practice satisfies the enforceable legal standard.
123. We seek comment on this approach and what factors the Commission should adopt to ensure commercially reasonable practices that will protect and promote Internet openness. We discuss below several categories of factors, noting that there is considerable overlap between these categories, and that they are not mutually exclusive. As with the data roaming rule, we tentatively conclude that a review of the totality of the circumstances should be preserved through the creation of a ''catch all'' factor designed to ensure that rules can be applied evenly and fairly in response to changing circumstances and that all users have an Internet experience that affords them access to a minimum level of service sufficient to protect and promote an open Internet. Further, we seek comment on providers' experiences with the ''commercially reasonable'' practices standard in the data roaming context, and on how such experiences might inform our thinking as we develop the ''commercially reasonable'' practices standard for the open Internet.
124. Impact on Present and Future Competition. The Commission has previously observed that unfair competitive advantages can jeopardize innovation on the edge and impair otherwise lawful delivery of products and services. For that reason, we seek comment on how we should construct factors in applying the commercially reasonable legal standard to assess the impact of broadband provider practices on present and future competition. We understand this competition inquiry to extend beyond an application of antitrust principles to include, for example, the predicted impact of practices on future competition.
125. To what extent should such competition-oriented factors focus on market structure and the extent of competition in a given market? For example, should we consider factors that the Commission has used in case-by-case adjudications under Section 628(b) of the Act, which proscribes certain ''unfair methods of competition'' by cable operators and certain programming vendors? Are there other competition-oriented standards in other contexts (including those outside of telecommunications) that we should look to for guidance?
126. We propose that the competitive factors should also examine the extent of an entity's vertical integration and/or its relationships with affiliated entities. For example, broadband providers sometimes offer an affiliated streaming video service over their broadband network in competition with many other third-party broadband and edge providers' services. How can we ensure that competition is not harmed in such situations? We note that the no-blocking rule as applied to mobile Internet access service specifically prohibits broadband providers from blocking ''applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services.'' And the Commission looked to a similar restriction to address harms raised by the Comcast-NBCU transaction. In light of such concerns, we propose to adopt a rebuttable presumption that a broadband provider's exclusive (or effectively exclusive) arrangement prioritizing service to an affiliate would be commercially unreasonable. We seek comment on this proposal.
127. More generally, we seek comment on the use of rebuttable presumptions as a tool to focus attention on the likely impacts of particular practices. What source or law, either within the Communications Act or in other statutes, would help us craft the creation and use of rebuttable presumptions? Are there particular rebuttable presumptions that should be used, for example, dealing with some or all forms of exclusive contracts, or particularized degradation of services?
128. How can the Commission ensure that parties are acting in a commercially reasonable manner without foreclosing the creation of pro-competitive opportunities through certain forms of price discrimination or exclusivity agreements? Should we develop factors modeled in part after those that the Commission uses in determining whether an exclusive contract between a vertically integrated cable operator and cable-programming vendor would serve the public interest? Should the Commission adopt a rebuttable presumption that broadband provider conduct that forecloses rivals (of the provider or its affiliates) from the competing marketplace is commercially unreasonable?
129. Impact on Consumers. In addition to the competitive factors, the Commission proposes to adopt factors to examine the extent to which broadband providers' practices could harm consumers. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission looked to, among other things, the extent of transparency and end-user control in assessing whether a practice is unreasonably discriminatory. We believe these factors would likewise be relevant to assessing whether a practice is commercially reasonable. What continued role does the existing or enhanced transparency rule have in ensuring that consumers are receiving correct information from broadband providers and not being misled?
130. We believe that consumers of broadband access service should have the ability to exercise meaningful choices. How can we factor consumer choice into our analysis of what is commercially reasonable? Should the Commission look for guidance to Section 628 of the Act, which makes it unlawful for cable operators and their affiliated satellite cable programming vendors to engage in ''unfair or deceptive acts or practices'' with certain purposes and effects?
131. Impact on Speech and Civic Engagement. The open Internet serves as a critical platform for speech and civic engagement. As noted above, the ability of citizens and content providers to use this open platform to communicate with one another and express their views to a wide audience at very low costs drives further Internet use, consumer demand, and broadband investment and deployment. We therefore propose to adopt a factor or factors in applying the commercially reasonable standard that assess the impact of broadband provider practices on free exercise of speech and civic engagement.
132. Technical Characteristics. We also propose to examine the relevant technical characteristics associated with broadband providers' practices. In the Data Roaming Order,76 FR 26199 (June 6, 2011), for example, the Commission looked to the technical characteristics of the service at issue, including the technical feasibility of a requested service as well as the technical compatibility of providers' networks. We seek comment on how the Commission should consider such technical characteristics in assessing whether a broadband provider's practice is commercially reasonable. The application of the legal standard to satellite Internet access service presents one example. How should the Commission account for the technical differences between satellite and terrestrial broadband services when examining commercially reasonable behavior for satellite broadband providers?
133. ''Good Faith'' Negotiation. The Commission has imposed good faith negotiation requirements in a variety of contexts. For example, the Commission explicitly requires television broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to negotiate retransmission consent agreements in good faith. The Commission also mandated good faith negotiations for dealings between certain spectrum licensees. Would adopting a similar framework for evaluating negotiations between parties in the open Internet context serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity? How should such a ''good faith'' test be applied where parties do not seek to enter into contractual relationships with each other?
134. Industry Practices. How, if at all, should the fact that conduct is an industry practice impact the application of the ''commercially reasonable'' rule? What should be treated as an ''industry practice''? For example, should that term be limited to express standards adopted by standards-setting organizations or similar entities? If so, should the make-up or processes used by such a standards-setting organization be considered? If not, how should the existence of an ''industry practice'' be effectively established for purposes of the application of the ''commercially reasonable'' rule, and how should the Commission best evaluate potential harms to competition arising from coordinated conduct in a market with a limited number of participants?
135. Other Factors. We seek comment on any additional factors the Commission should consider in assessing whether a particular practice or set of practices by a broadband provider is commercially reasonable, given the importance of preventing harms to an open Internet. Are there other factors that the Commission adopted in the Data Roaming Order that we should incorporate here? How can the Commission best include a factor to capture special or extenuating circumstances to ensure that it can take into account the totality of the circumstances, particularly given the rapid evolution of the Internet marketplace and technology?
c. Case-by-Case Evaluations for Commercial Reasonableness136. As discussed, we tentatively conclude that we will adopt a case-by-case approach, considering the totality of the circumstances, when analyzing whether conduct satisfies the proposed commercially reasonable legal standard, or another legal standard ultimately adopted. We believe that, in conjunction with the factors listed above, this approach will provide the advantage of certainty and guidance to broadband providers and edge providers'--particularly smaller entities that might lack experience dealing with broadband providers'--while also allowing parties flexibility in their individualized dealings. We seek comment on whether there is another avenue or mechanism we should use when evaluating commercial reasonableness.
3. Potential Conduct That Is Per Se Commercially Unreasonable137. In Southwestern Cable, the Supreme Court concluded that a Commission requirement that cable systems carry local broadcast signals did not constitute common carriage even though the Commission's rule applied to all cable systems in defined circumstances. As the Supreme Court later noted, that holding ''was limited to remedying a specific perceived evil [that] did not amount to a duty to hold out facilities indifferently for public use.'' In Verizon, the D.C. Circuit likewise explained that the Southwestern Cable regulation ''imposed no obligation on cable operators to hold their facilities open to the public generally, but only to certain broadcasters if and when cable operators acted in ways that might harm those broadcasters.'' Thus, consistent with Supreme Court precedent and the Verizon decision, the Commission may be able to identify specific practices that do not satisfy the commercially reasonable legal standard. For example, we note that the data roaming rule upheld by the D.C. Circuit's Cellco decision states that ''[c]onduct that unreasonably restrains trade . . . is not commercially reasonable.'' Similarly, the Commission recently concluded that certain joint activities between certain television stations, which are not regulated as common carriers, in the negotiation of retransmission consent fees are a per se violation of the requirement of ''good faith'' negotiation. Are there any practices that, consistent with the Verizon court's reasoning, could be viewed as per se commercially unreasonable?
138. Some have suggested that the Commission go even beyond the requirements of the Open Internet Order to impose flat bans on pay-for-priority service. We seek comment on these suggestions, including whether all pay-for-priority practices, or some of them, could be treated as per se violations of the commercially reasonable standard or under any other standard based on any source of legal authority. We emphasize that Section 706 could not be used to reach some conduct under this judicially recognized approach to circumvent the principle that the proposed rules will not, in any circumstances, constitute common carriage per se. If the Commission were to ultimately rely on a source of authority other than Section 706 to adopt a legal standard for broadband provider practices, such as Title II, we seek comment on whether and, if so, how we should prohibit all, or some, pay-for-priority arrangements, consistent with our authority, to protect and promote Internet openness.
4. Potential Safe Harbors139. Similar to the approach of identifying practices ex ante that would not satisfy the commercially reasonable legal standard, the Commission may be able to identify specific services that would be treated separately from the application of the commercially reasonable legal standard. We seek comment on this approach and how the services below should be considered under such an approach.
140. Application to Mobile Broadband. The Commission chose not to apply its no unreasonable discrimination rule to mobile broadband providers in 2010 based on considerations including the rapidly evolving nature of mobile technologies, the increased amount of consumer choice in mobile broadband services, and operational constraints that put greater pressure on the concept of reasonable network management for mobile broadband services. We have tentatively concluded that we will continue that approach in the proposed rules. Alternatively, should the Commission account for different characteristics of mobile service as a factor in its application of the commercially reasonable standard, subject to mobile providers' reasonable network management? How would maintaining our previous approach for mobile broadband affect end users across different demographic groups, including end users who rely solely on mobile broadband for Internet access?
141. Non-exclusive, non-affiliated agreements. AT&T has suggested that the Commission exclude from its review of particular practices any agreement between a broadband provider and an edge provider if the agreement is not exclusive and if the edge provider is not an affiliate of the broadband provider. AT&T explains that subjecting broadband providers to case-by-case scrutiny in such cases ''would unnecessarily impede efficient and pro-consumer arms-length commercial dealings.'' We seek comment on whether this approach should be adopted to limit the scope of the commercially reasonable standard and whether it could be made consistent with the protections afforded by the rule.
F. Legal Authority142. In this NPRM, we propose to adopt rules to protect and promote the open Internet. For the reasons set forth below, we believe we have ample authority to do so. We propose that the Commission exercise its authority under Section 706, consistent with the D.C. Circuit's opinion in Verizon v. FCC, to adopt our proposed rules. We also seek comment on the nature and the extent of the Commission's authority to adopt open Internet rules relying on Title II, and other possible sources of authority, including Title III. Additionally, we seek comment on the Commission's authority under any of the legal theories discussed below to address any transition or implementation issues associated with any open Internet rules adopted in this proceeding, such as the effect on existing agreements.
1. Section 706143. We seek comment on our authority under Section 706. 47 U.S.C. 1301et seq. We interpret Sections 706(a) and (b) as independent and overlapping grants of authority that give the Commission the flexibility to encourage deployment of broadband Internet access service through a variety of regulatory methods, including removal of barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition in the telecommunications market, and, in the case of Section 706(b), giving the Commission the authority to act swiftly when it makes a negative finding of adequate deployment. The rules we propose today would be authorized by Sections 706(a) and (b) because they would ''encourage the deployment'' of advanced telecommunications capability by promoting competition in the telecommunications market and removing barriers to infrastructure investment. We also seek comment on the relevant differences between Sections 706(a) and (b) and how, if at all, those differences should impact our exercise of authority here. There are significant differences between the authorities granted in each provision. For example, while both Section 706(a) and (b) permit the Commission to enact measures that promote competition in the telecommunications market, Section 706(b) permits the Commission to act by promoting competition in the ''telecommunications market'' while Section 706(a) limits the Commission to promoting competition in the ''local telecommunications market.'' Also, while Section 706(a) gives the Commission general authority to encourage the deployment of broadband regardless of findings under Section 706(b), Section 706(b) gives the Commission authority to take ''immediate action.''
144. To the extent that we rely on our authority under Section 706(b), we seek comment on how we should treat the existence of and the findings in the Commission's Broadband Progress Reports for the purposes of this proceeding. Could and should the Commission incorporate findings that satisfy Section 706(b) in this proceeding? Finally, we seek comment on the extent to which the disparity between metropolitan areas and rural deployment of broadband or within metropolitan areas should impact our conclusions as to whether advanced telecommunications capability is being reasonably and timely deployed.
145. We also seek comment on how to construe the specific terms and definitions in Section 706. For example, ''advanced telecommunications capability'' is defined ''without regard to any transmission media or technology, as high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.'' It is clear that broadband Internet access service is such ''advanced telecommunications capability,'' but we also seek comment on what other broadband-enabled services may fall within the definition of ''advanced telecommunications capability.'' Should the Commission interpret the term ''advanced telecommunications capability'' to require that certain practices accompany a broadband provider's deployment to ensure that end users receive ''high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications?'' In addition, we note that Congress did not define ''deployment.'' We believe Congress intended this term to be construed broadly, and thus, consistent with precedent, we have interpreted it to include the extension of networks as well as the extension of the capabilities and capacities of those networks.
146. In Section 230(b) of the Communications Act, Congress also set forth statutory ''polic[ies] of the United States'': to ''promote the continued development of the Internet,'' to promote ''technologies which maximize user control over what information is received'' over the Internet, and to ''preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.'' We continue to believe the Commission's interpretation of Section 706 is bolstered by these congressional policies. We seek comment on how the Commission should read Section 230(b) in exercising its Section 706 authority.
147. We also seek comment generally on how the court's decision in Verizon v. FCC should inform our exercise of legal authority. The D.C. Circuit upheld the Commission's interpretation of its authority under Section 706, concluding that the factual predicate that the Commission had laid justifying its regulations was reasonable and that such a factual predicate was reasonably linked to the Commission's exercise of authority. However, because the court determined that the Commission's no-blocking and anti-discrimination rules impermissibly regulated broadband providers as common carriers, the court vacated those rules, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. We seek comment generally on how the court's Verizon decision should impact our exercise of authority here. Are there principles raised in Judge Silberman's separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part that are relevant to our exercise of authority as to the new rules proposed, or upon which we otherwise seek comment, here?
2. Title II148. We seek comment on whether the Commission should rely on its authority under Title II of the Communications Act, including both (1) whether we should revisit the Commission's classification of broadband Internet access service as an information service and (2) whether we should separately identify and classify as a telecommunications service a service that ''broadband providers . . . furnish to edge providers.'' For either of these possibilities, we seek comment on whether and how the Commission should exercise its authority under Section 10 (or Section 332(c)(1) for mobile services) to forbear from specific obligations under the Act and Commission rules that would flow from the classification of a service as telecommunications service.
149. Title II'--Revisiting the Classification of Broadband Internet Access Service. In a series of decisions beginning in 2002, the Commission has classified broadband Internet access service offered over cable modem, DSL and other wireline facilities, wireless facilities, and power lines as an information service, which is not subject to Title II and cannot be regulated as common carrier service. In 2010, following the D.C. Circuit's Comcast decision, the Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry (2010 NOI) that, among other things, asked whether the Commission should revisit these decisions and classify a telecommunications component service of wired broadband Internet access service as a ''telecommunications service.'' Specifically, the Commission sought comment on whether to classify as a telecommunications service ''Internet connectivity,'' which it defined as ''the functions that `enable [end users] to transmit data communications to and from the rest of the Internet.''' The docket opened by the 2010 NOI remains open. To ensure that it remains current, we hereby direct the Wireline Competition Bureau to issue a public notice to refresh the record in that proceeding including the inquiries contained herein. The Commission also asked whether it should similarly alter its approach to wireless broadband Internet access service, noting that Section 332 requires that wireless services that meet the definition of ''commercial mobile service'' be regulated as common carriers under Title II. In response, the Commission received substantial comments on these issues. We now seek further and updated comment on whether the Commission should revisit its prior classification decisions and apply Title II to broadband Internet access service (or components thereof). How would such a reclassification approach serve our goal to protect and promote Internet openness? What would be the legal bases and theories for particular open Internet rules adopted pursuant to such an approach? Would reclassification and applying Title II for the purpose of protecting and promoting Internet openness impact the Commission's overall policy goals and, if so, how?
150. What factors should the Commission keep in mind as it considers whether to revisit its prior decisions? Have there been changes to the broadband marketplace that should lead us to reconsider our prior classification decisions? To what extent is any telecommunications component of that service integrated with applications and other offerings, such that they are ''inextricably intertwined'' with the underlying connectivity service? Is broadband Internet access service (or any telecommunications component thereof) held out ''for a fee directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public?'' If not, should the Commission compel the offering of such functionality on a common carrier basis even if not offered as such? For mobile broadband Internet access service, does that service fit within the definition of ''commercial mobile service''? We also note that on May 14, 2014, Representative Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to Chairman Wheeler proposing an approach to protecting the open Internet whereby the Commission would proceed under Section 706 but use Title II as a ''backstop authority.'' We seek comment on the viability of that approach.
151. Title II'--Classification of the Broadband Providers' Service to Edge Providers. Separate from the reclassification of ''broadband Internet access service,'' we seek comment on how the Commission should consider broadband providers' service to edge providers and whether that service (or some portion of it) is subject to Title II regulation. As mentioned above, in Verizon, the D.C. Circuit stated that ''broadband providers furnish a service to edge providers, thus undoubtedly functioning as edge providers' `carriers.''' We understand such service to include the flow of Internet traffic on the broadband providers' own network, and not how it gets to the broadband providers' networks. The Commission in the Open Internet Order understood the 2010 rules to regulate ''broadband Internet access service,'' which the Commission classified as an information service. That service, however, is by definition a ''mass-market retail service'' providing the capability to send and receive data from ''all Internet end points.'' Does the ''service'' contemplated by the court between broadband providers and edge providers fit that definition? We seek comment on whether and, if so how, the Commission should separately identify and classify a broadband service that is furnished by broadband providers' to edge providers in order to protect and promote Internet openness.
152. Some have made proposals suggesting that the Commission could apply Title II to such services to achieve our open Internet objectives. For example, on May 5, 2014, Mozilla filed a petition requesting that the Commission (1) recognize remote delivery services in terminating access networks; (2) classify these services as ''telecommunications services'' under Title II of the Act; and (3) forbear from any ''inapplicable or undesirable provisions of Title II'' for such services. Mozilla states that, unlike the end-user facing broadband services the Commission has classified as information services, the Commission has not classified the service that broadband Internet providers to remote endpoints, particularly to entities not in privity with the broadband provider. These services, Mozilla argues, can and should be classified as telecommunications services, subject to whatever Title II regulations the Commission deems appropriate. Similarly, academics from Columbia University have submitted an alternate proposal to classify Internet-facing services that a broadband provider offers. This theory would split broadband Internet access service into two components: first, the subscriber's ''request [for] data from a third-party provider; and second, the content provider's response to the subscriber.'' The proposal would classify the latter ''sender-side'' traffic, sent in response to a broadband provider's customer's request as a telecommunications service, subject to Title II. According to the proposal, this is a stand-alone offer of telecommunications'--transmission between points specified by the end-user. We seek comment on these proposals and other suggestions for how the Commission could identify and classify such services and apply Title II to achieve our goals of protecting and promoting Internet openness.
153. Title II'--Forbearance. If the Commission were to reclassify broadband Internet access service as described above or classify a separate broadband service provided to edge providers as a ''telecommunications service,'' such a service would then be subject to all of the requirements of the Act and Commission rules that would flow from the classification of a service as a telecommunications service or common carrier service. Should the Commission take such an approach, we seek comment on the extent to which forbearance from certain provisions of the Act or our rules would be justified in order to strike the right balance between minimizing the regulatory burden on providers and ensuring that the public interest is served. For mobile broadband services, we seek comment on whether and how the Commission should apply Section 332(c)(1) in addition to Section 10 forbearance.
154. In the 2010 NOI, the Commission contemplated that, if it were to classify the Internet connectivity component of broadband Internet access service, it would forbear from applying all but a handful of core statutory provisions'--Sections 201, 202, 208, and 254'--to the service. In addition, the Commission identified Sections 222 and 255 as provisions that could be excluded from forbearance, noting that they have ''attracted longstanding and broad support in the broadband context.'' We received considerable comment in that proceeding and seek further and updated comment. Commenters should list and explain which provisions should be exempt from forbearance and which should receive it in order to protect and promote Internet openness. Commenters should also detail which services should receive forbearance, list the provisions from which they believe the Commission should forbear, and provide justification for the forbearance. Commenters should also define the relevant geographic and product markets in which the services or providers should receive forbearance.
155. For mobile broadband services, we also seek comment on the extent to which forbearance should apply, if the Commission were to classify mobile broadband Internet access service as a CMRS service subject to Title II. The 2010 NOI also asked whether the Commission could and should apply Section 332(c)(1) as well as Section 10 in its forbearance analysis for mobile services. We received considerable comment in that proceeding and seek further and updated comment here.
3. Other Sources of Authority156. Title III. We further seek comment on the Commission's authority to adopt open Internet rules for mobile broadband services under Title III of the Communications Act. The Supreme Court has found that Title III endows the Commission with ''expansive powers'' and a ''comprehensive mandate to `encourage the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest.''' Section 303 of the Act, in particular, authorizes the Commission to exercise its authority as ''the public interest, convenience, and necessity requires'' to ''[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by each class of licensed stations and each station within any class,'' and to establish obligations, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act. It further directs the Commission to ''generally encourage the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest.'' Likewise, Section 316 of the Act authorizes the Commission to adopt ''new conditions on existing licensees'' when taking such action will ''promote the public interest, convenience, and necessity.'' The Commission may exercise this authority on a license-by-license basis or through a rulemaking, even if the affected licenses were awarded at auction.
157. We find that these provisions provide authority for the Commission to adopt open Internet rules for mobile broadband service providers. Particularly, we find that it is within our authority to ''prescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by each class of licensed stations and each station within any class,'' consistent with what the ''public interest, convenience, and necessity requires'' to apply open Internet rules to mobile broadband service providers. We seek comment on this interpretation of our Title III authority.
158. Other Sources of Authority. We seek comment on other sources of authority that the Commission may utilize to underpin the adoption of these rules. For example, the Open Internet Order delineated a number of arguments for authority under a variety of statutory provisions. We also seek comment on the theory that the Commission may underpin open Internet rules by using its discretion to define the scope of common carriage. In addition, we seek comment on the Commission's authority to adopt rules under the World Trade Organization's Basic Agreement on Trade in Telecommunications. We seek comment on the efficacy of those, and other justifications for the rules we propose adopting here.
4. Constitutional Considerations159. Finally we seek comment on other legal limitations and barriers to adoption of the rules we propose today, including First Amendment and Due Process considerations. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission concluded that ''broadband providers typically are best described not as `speakers,' but rather as conduits for speech,'' and that the open Internet rules therefore did not implicate broadband providers' First Amendment rights. The Commission also found that even if the rules ''did implicate expressive activity, they would not violate the First Amendment'' because they would advance an important government interest'--''ensur[ing] the public's access to a multiplicity of information sources and maximiz[ing] the Internet's potential to further the public interest'''--without burdening ''`substantially more speech than is necessary.''' We seek comment on these findings. We do not anticipate constitutional, statutory, or other legal barriers to adopting the rules we propose today, but we nonetheless seek comment on these matters. Are there modifications we could make to the proposals we make today that would avoid constitutional questions?
G. Other Laws and Considerations160. The Open Internet Order provided that the open Internet rules did not alter broadband providers' rights or obligations with respect to other laws or safety and security considerations. The Commission further established that the rules did not prohibit broadband providers from making reasonable efforts to address transfers of unlawful content and unlawful transfers of content. We tentatively conclude that this continues to be the correct approach in light of the rules proposed in today's NPRM. We therefore propose to retain these regulations without modification. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion.
H. Enforcement and Dispute Resolution1. Background161. The Open Internet Order allowed parties to file informal complaints pursuant to Section 1.41 of the Commission's rules and promulgated a set of formal complaint rules. The formal complaint rules give the Commission flexibility to shift the burden of proof or production where appropriate and to structure and streamline the process to the extent possible. Due to the technical nature of potential disputes, however, the Open Internet Order stressed the importance of direct negotiations and consultation with independent technical bodies in hope that parties would be able to resolve disputes before availing themselves of the complaint processes. Thus, the policy of the Commission has been to encourage the filing of informal, rather than formal, complaints, and thus it was not surprising that the Commission did not receive any formal complaints following the adoption of the Open Internet Order. As noted above, the Commission has received many informal complaints from consumers alleging violations of the Open Internet Order. In addition, the Commission takes notice of public commentary and events, which may lead the Enforcement Bureau to initiate its own investigation. We seek comment on the efficiency and functionality of the complaint processes adopted in, and used pursuant to, the Open Internet Order.
2. Designing an Effective Enforcement Process162. The Verizon decision and our earlier data roaming rules provide a blueprint for the creation of a dispute resolution process to govern the rules we propose today to protect and promote the open Internet. Of course, there are significant potential differences between the data roaming and open Internet environments. For example, in Cellco, the D.C. Circuit considered a circumstance in which an identified party, a wireless carrier, would desire to enter into a business arrangement with another identified party, another wireless carrier. The rule at issue was designed to create circumstances that both incented individualized bargaining and, in specific circumstances, curbed the limits of such negotiation where necessary to serve the public interest. A similar circumstance could arise in the open Internet context, if for example, an app developer wished to enter into a contractual arrangement with a broadband provider. But it is just as possible that the entity that feels aggrieved by an alleged violation of an open Internet rule does not seek a direct contractual relationship with a broadband provider. That could arise, for example, if a Web site is blocked or if an edge provider feels that it is being harmed by differential treatment afforded by a broadband provider to its own affiliate. For this reason, the dispute resolution mechanism adopted by the Commission to enforce our proposed open Internet rules should be designed to operate between parties that do not necessarily desire to enter into a binding agreement.
163. We tentatively conclude that an effective institutional design for the rules proposed in today's NPRM must include at least three elements. First, there must be a mechanism to provide legal certainty, so that broadband providers, end users and edge providers alike can better plan their activities in light of clear Commission guidance. Second, there must be flexibility to consider the totality of the facts in an environment of dynamic innovation. Third, there must be effective access to dispute resolutions by end users and edge providers alike. We seek comment on these elements. Are there others that should be considered? Should any be eliminated? What forms of dispute resolution would be the best strategy to implement ''data-driven decision-making''?
164. We believe we have ample legal authority to design an effective enforcement and dispute resolution process, whether the Commission ultimately relies on Section 706, Title II, or another source of legal authority. We seek comment on whether and how, if at all, the source of the Commission's legal authority would affect our dispute resolution and enforcement proposals.
a. Legal Certainty165. The Commission has a responsibility to provide certainty, guidance, and predictability to the marketplace as we protect and promote the open Internet. The most important form of guidance is, of course, the adoption by the Commission of a particular legal standard in the forthcoming rulemaking. As with the ''commercially reasonable'' standard employed in our data roaming rule, the purpose of such a legal standard is allow broadband providers, end users, and edge providers to measure broadband-provider conduct against a known rule of law, both prospectively and retroactively. Under the existing rules, formal complaints would also result in Commission orders that would both decide a specific complaint and provide useful guidance on the application of our proposed open Internet rules'--particularly in those cases where the adjudicated set of facts is representative of a larger industry practice. What other forms of guidance would be helpful? For example, is there value in establishing a business-review-letter approach similar to that of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, whereby entities concerned about certain practices under the new rules may ask the Commission for a statement of its current enforcement intentions with respect to that conduct and by which the Commission would publish both the request for review and its response? If adopted, would it make sense to have such a prospective review process be administered jointly by the Enforcement Bureau and the Office of General Counsel, or should such prospective reviews be considered by the full Commission? Should such guidance be binding or non-binding? How might petitions for declaratory ruling be helpful?
166. Non-Binding Staff Opinions. Are there other mechanisms by which the Commission can provide guidance before broadband providers initiate practices that are within the scope of the open Internet rules? For example, the Commission could designate certain staff to offer parties non-binding views on the likelihood that a particular practice by a broadband provider is commercially reasonable or commercially unreasonable (assuming that were the applicable legal standard ultimately adopted). The Commission has some experience with this non-binding, advisory approach to interpretation of its rules. While this type of informal guidance from staff is not binding, it may provide parties with helpful information as they consider whether and how to resolve a dispute privately and outside of the complaint process. Should we establish a similar process for helping parties anticipate issues or resolve disputes that might arise under our proposed open Internet rules? If so, should the non-binding guidance be made public in any way, or should it provide a confidential basis for early consultation? We emphasize that these sorts of non-binding processes would always be in addition to, and not in lieu of, the right of parties to seek binding determinations from the Commission through the formal or informal complaint process, declaratory rulings, or other mechanisms we adopt to resolve disputes and allegations of violations of our open Internet rules.
167. Enforcement Advisories. Another type of guidance can come in the form of enforcement advisories. For example, the Enforcement Bureau and the Office of General Counsel issued an enforcement advisory in 2011, providing additional insight into the application of the transparency rule. Is it helpful to have these bureaus issue such advisories periodically where issues of potential general application come to, or are brought to, their attention? Should such enforcement advisories be considered binding policy of the Commission, or merely a recitation of staff views?
b. Flexibility168. Our process for promoting and protecting Internet openness through the rules we propose today must be flexible enough to account for the totality of circumstances, including Internet evolution and innovation from all sources over time. In the Open Internet Order, the Commission stated that it would make certain determinations on a case-by-case basis. The Commission also stated in the Data Roaming Order that it would determine whether the terms and conditions of a proffered data roaming arrangement were commercially reasonable on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances. Based on the Commission's precedent in using this decision-making process, we tentatively conclude that we will adopt a similar case-by-case analysis and consider the totality of the circumstances to consider alleged violations of our proposed open Internet rules. Such an approach would, for example, allow the Commission to consider any sources of innovation when analyzing whether conduct meets the legal standard ultimately adopted by the Commission. Moreover, this approach helps to ensure that, as new circumstances exist, the Commission and interested parties will be advantaged by a culture of learning that, drawing on the strengths of common-law reasoning, reflects the experiences of the present, as well as the logic of the past. We seek comment on whether the combination of a certain legal standard and a case-by-case approach provides the best means of both providing guidance and cabining administrative discretion, while ensuring that a system of dispute resolution is both focused on facts and founded on the strengths of common-law reasoning.
169. Fact Finding Processes. In implementing either an informal or formal complaint process, how should the Commission structure its fact-finding processes? What level of evidence should be required in order to bring a claim? Are there other circumstances where initial pleading standards or burdens of production should be either higher or lower? In general, what is the showing required for the burden of production shift from the party bringing the claim to the other party in a dispute? Should interim relief be available? Should the process permit parties to seek expedited treatment of claims and, if so, under what circumstances?
c. Effective Access To Dispute Resolution170. To be effective in protecting and promoting Internet openness, the process for enforcing the rules we propose today must be accessible to a diverse array of affected parties. As noted above, the Open Internet Order contemplated informal and formal complaints but did not include any alternative mechanisms for either providing guidance beforehand or resolution in the wake of a challenge to an existing practice. But, as also noted above, the rules proposed in today's NPRM will operate in an environment in which a complaining party may not have sought, or may not even want, to enter into a contractual arrangement with a broadband provider. Moreover, the ability of edge providers to effectively access a dispute resolution is important to the administrative effectiveness of any legal regime that the Commission might adopt. To what extent should the structure of edge provider market segments impact the kind of regime that the Commission adopts? For example, although 17 broadband access providers accounted for about 93 percent of U.S. retail subscribers in 2013, near the end of that year there were almost 900 app developers that each served more than one million active users globally. And app developers as a group may be quite a bit smaller than broadband providers; one estimate in 2013 calculated that 65 percent of app developers garner less than $35,000 per year. Moreover, individuals are themselves quite capable of serving as edge providers, for example aspiring musicians who upload videos to sites such as YouTube.
171. How can a dispute resolution system be best structured to account for individuals and small businesses that may not have the same legal resources and effective access to the Commission as broadband providers? We propose to create an ombudsperson whose duty will be to act as a watchdog to protect and promote the interests of edge providers, especially smaller entities. Should initial pleading or procedural requirements be adopted that make access to Commission processes by individuals or small businesses less cumbersome?
3. Complaint Processes, Enforcement, and Additional Forms of Dispute Resolution172. Complaint Processes. We tentatively conclude that the same three means by which the Commission focused on potential open Internet violations after the adoption of the Open Internet Order, namely self-initiated investigation, informal complaints, and formal complaints, should be used as well to enforce any new open Internet rules. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion. Are there ways we can improve our informal complaint process to make it easier to access and more effective, especially for consumers and small businesses with limited resources? For example, should the Commission create a separate Open Internet complaint category for consumers filing informal complaints under the open Internet rules? Should the Commission permit individuals to report possible noncompliance with our Open Internet rules anonymously or take other steps to protect the identity of individuals who may be concerned about retaliation for raising concerns?
173. Enforcement. We tentatively conclude that enforcement of the transparency rule and any enhanced transparency rule that is adopted in this proceeding should proceed under the same dispute mechanisms that will apply to the proposed no-blocking rule and the legal standard for provider practices ultimately adopted by the Commission. We also tentatively conclude that violations of the rules would be subject to forfeiture penalties, as appropriate, under the Act. We seek comment on these tentative conclusions.
174. Additional Forms of Dispute Resolution'--Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition to the Commission processes noted above to provide guidance, flexibility, and access, we seek comment on whether additional dispute resolutions should be adopted. Should we adopt measures to require or encourage disputes over the legality of broadband provider practices to be resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes, such as arbitration? Would such an approach be sufficiently accessible to smaller edge providers, or would a different dispute resolution process be more appropriate? Are there any legal considerations, limitations, or concerns that the Commission should consider with adopting an alternative dispute resolution procedure, including arbitration or mediation by a third party? For example, under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, an agency ''may not require any person to consent to arbitration as a condition of entering into a contract or obtaining a benefit.'' 5 U.S.C. 575(a)(3). We note, however, that this restriction does not prevent the Commission from requiring parties to submit to third-party arbitration so long as the arbitration is subject to de novo review by the Commission. We note that under our informal dispute resolution procedures, Commission staff can mediate disputes if parties voluntarily request such a process. During such mediations, for instance, the staff may ask parties to submit their best offers to facilitate negotiations. We also can adopt specific rules to determine appropriate remedies and rapid resolution of formal complaints, including a requirement that parties provide their best and final offers to help Commission staff determine an appropriate remedy if a violation of the rule is found. We seek comment on the benefits and costs of such an approach in this context.
175. Additional Forms of Dispute Resolution'--Multistakeholder Processes. We also seek comment on whether a multistakeholder approach to the enforcement of our proposed open Internet rules would work in this context, in whole or in part. For example, should the Commission provide an initial forum for discussion and thereafter encourage stakeholders, should they so choose, to independently develop standards that they consider to meet the governing legal standards? Such standards might then be shared with the Commission for consideration, or the stakeholders might publicize their proposed standards and encourage industry to use them as best practices. If the Commission employed a model similar to that of NTIA's multistakeholder privacy process, are there lessons we can learn from that experience? How can a multistakeholder process best further the goals of providing guidance, flexibility, and access?
176. Additional Forms of Dispute Resolution'--Technical Advisory Groups. We also seek comment on whether and how the Commission should incorporate the expertise of technical advisory groups into a new open Internet framework in a manner that could serve the goals of providing guidance, flexibility and access. For example, should we invite the Open Internet Advisory Committee (OIAC), the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), or the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) to recommend to the Commission or public more generally industry best practices or other codes of conduct that would either serve as presumptive safe harbors and/or help determine whether a broadband provider is in compliance with our open Internet rules? Or, rather than asking industry groups and other interested parties to play a role ex ante, should the Commission instead ask them generally, or specific groups in particular, to weigh in on specific disputes once they are brought to the Commission's attention? We seek comment generally on how the inclusion of advisory groups might strengthen the open Internet framework and reduce the burdens of compliance. Similarly, we seek comment on the potential value of allowing providers to opt into voluntary codes of conduct or other suggested best practices that may serve as presumptive safe harbors.
1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities from the policies and rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The Commission requests written public comment on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the NPRM provided on the first page of the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.
A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules2. With this NPRM, the Commission is directly responding to the remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Verizon v. FCC of portions of the Commission's 2010 Open Internet Order and proposing enforceable rules to protect and promote the open Internet. The NPRM seeks comment on a variety of issues relating to the Commission's stated objective of protecting and promoting an open Internet. The Internet's openness promotes innovation, investment, competition, free expression and other national broadband goals. It is also critical to the Internet's ability to serve as a platform for speech and civic engagement and can help close the digital divide by facilitating the development of diverse content, applications, and services. The Commission has specifically found that the Internet's openness enables a ''virtuous circle of innovation in which new uses of the network'--including new content, applications, services, and devices'--lead to increased end-user demand for broadband, which drives network improvements, which in turn lead to further innovative network uses.'' However, as the Commission has previously found, broadband providers have both the incentive and ability to limit Internet openness. As discussed in the NPRM, the Commission is seeking comment on proposed open Internet rules that will protect against the harms identified in the 2010 Open Internet Order, while fostering all sources of innovation on the collection of networks known as the Internet. The NPRM asks for comment in a variety of specific areas and sets forth proposals in the following six key areas: scope of the proposed rules, enhancement of the existing transparency rule, a no-blocking rule, an enforceable rule designed to protect the open Internet that is not per se common carriage, the best source of legal authority for protection of Internet openness and an enforcement and dispute resolution process.
3. First, the NPRM proposes to retain the same definitions and scope as the 2010 rules. The NPRM seeks comment, however, on whether the Commission should change the scope of the proposed rules as applied to the following: specifically identified services, enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange, specialized services, and mobile services. The NPRM also proposes to interpret ''reasonable network management'' under the same framework adopted in the 2010 Open Internet Order and seeks comment on developing the scope of ''reasonable network management'' on a case-by-case basis under the proposed rules.
4. Second, the NPRM proposes enhancements to the Commission's existing transparency rule, which was upheld by the D.C. Circuit. The NPRM seeks comment on whether disclosures of broadband providers' network management practices, performance, and terms and conditions that are specifically tailored to the needs of affected parties would better ensure that consumers, edge providers, and the Internet community at large have the information they need to understand the services they are receiving and to monitor practices that could undermine the open Internet than the existing rule. The NPRM seeks comment on the burdens of enhanced transparency on broadband providers and specifically asks if there are ways to minimize these potential costs and burdens.
5. Third, the NPRM proposes adopting the text of the no-blocking rule from the 2010 Open Internet Order, with a revised rationale, in order to ensure that all end users and edge providers can enjoy the use of robust, fast and dynamic Internet access. To address the ongoing concerns with the harmful effects that blocking of Internet traffic would have on Internet openness and to competition in adjacent markets, the NPRM seeks comment on a draft no-blocking rule that would allow individualized bargaining above a minimum level of access to a broadband provider's subscribers, which the D.C. Circuit suggested would be permissible and take the rule out of the realm of common carriage regulation. The NPRM proposes a variety of ways to establish a minimum level of access under the proposed no-blocking rule and seeks comment on those interpretations. Alternatively, the NPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should adopt a no-blocking rule that either itself prohibits broadband providers from entering into priority agreements with edge providers or acts in combination with a separate rule prohibiting such conduct. Additionally, consistent with the 2010 Open Internet Order, the NPRM proposes to apply the proposed no-blocking rule differently to mobile broadband providers than to fixed broadband providers and seeks comment on that approach.
6. Fourth, where conduct would otherwise be permissible under the no-blocking rule, the NPRM proposes a separate rule that requires broadband providers to adhere to an enforceable legal standard of commercially reasonable practices. The NPRM tentatively concludes that the Commission should adopt a revised rule that, consistent with the court's decision, may permit broadband providers to engage in individualized practices, while prohibiting those broadband provider practices that threaten to harm Internet openness. The Commission's proposed approach contains three essential elements: (1) An enforceable legal standard of conduct barring broadband provider practices that threaten to undermine Internet openness, providing certainty to network providers, end users, and edge providers alike, (2) clearly established factors that give additional guidance on the kind of conduct that is likely to violate the enforceable legal standard, and (3) encouragement of individualized negotiation and, if necessary, a mechanism to allow the Commission to evaluate challenged practices on a case-by-case basis, thereby providing flexibility in assessing whether a particular practice comports with the legal standard. The NPRM proposes that the concept of reasonable network management would be treated separately from the application of the commercially reasonable practices legal standard and seeks comment on this approach. The NPRM asks how harm can best be identified and prohibited and whether certain practices, like paid prioritization, should be barred altogether. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether the Commission should consider current technical characteristics, industry practices, and the impact on consumers, among other factors, when evaluating commercially reasonable practices.
7. Fifth, the NPRM proposes to rely on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as the source of authority for the proposed rules. It seeks comment, however, on the best source of authority for protecting Internet openness, whether Section 706, Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and/or other sources of legal authority such as Title III of the Communications Act for wireless services. With respect to the prospect of proceeding under Title II, the NPRM seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should exercise its authority under Section 10 of the Act'--or Section 332(c)(1) for mobile services'--to forbear from specific Title II obligations that would flow from the classification of a service as telecommunications service.
8. Sixth, the NPRM proposes a multi-faceted dispute resolution process to provide effective access for end users, edge providers, and broadband network providers alike and the creation of an ombudsperson to act as a watchdog to represent the interests of consumers, start-ups and small businesses. The NPRM seeks comment on the level of flexibility needed for such approaches and, specifically, how the Commission can ensure that the process is accessible by end users and edge providers, including small entities. The NPRM also proposes that should the Commission ultimately adopt one of the proposed dispute mechanisms, then enforcement of the existing transparency rule and any enhancements to that rule would proceed under the same manner as enforcement of the Commission's other proposed open Internet rules if adopted.
B. Legal Basis9. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to the NPRM is contained in Sections 1, 2, 4(i)-(j), 303, and 316, of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i)-(j), 303, 316, 1302.
C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which the Rules Would Apply10. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term ''small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ''small business,'' ''small organization,'' and ''small governmental jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ''small business'' has the same meaning as the term ''small-business concern'' under the Small Business Act. A small-business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.
1. Total Small Entities11. Our proposed action, if implemented, may, over time, affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here, at the outset, three comprehensive, statutory small entity size standards. First, nationwide, there are a total of approximately 28.2 million small businesses, according to the SBA. In addition, a ''small organization'' is generally ''any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,315 small organizations. Finally, the term ''small governmental jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ''governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' Census Bureau data for 2007 indicate that there were 89,476 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. We estimate that, of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as ''small governmental jurisdictions.'' Thus, we estimate that most governmental jurisdictions are small.
2. Internet Access Service Providers12. The actions proposed in the NPRM would apply to broadband Internet access service providers. The 2011 Economic Census places these firms, whose services might include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), in either of two categories, depending on whether the service is provided over the provider's own telecommunications facilities (e.g., cable and DSL ISPs), or over client-supplied telecommunications connections (e.g., dial-up ISPs). The former are within the category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which has an SBA small business size standard of 1,500 or fewer employees. These are also labeled ''broadband.'' The latter are within the category of All Other Telecommunications, which has a size standard of annual receipts of $25 million or less. These are labeled non-broadband. The most current Economic Census data for Wired Telecommunications Carriers are 2011 data, and the most current Economic Census data for All Other Telecommunications are 2007 data, which are detailed specifically for ISPs within the categories above. For the first category, the data show that 3,372 firms operated for the entire year, of which 2,037 had nine or fewer employees. For the second category, the data show that 1,274 firms operated for the entire year. Of those, 1,252 had annual receipts below $25 million per year. Consequently, we estimate that the majority of ISP firms are small entities.
13. The ISP industry has changed since these definitions were introduced in 2007. The data cited above may therefore include entities that no longer provide Internet access service and may exclude entities that now provide such service. To ensure that this IRFA describes the universe of small entities that our action might affect, we discuss in turn several different types of entities that might be providing Internet access service. We note that, although we have no specific information on the number of small entities that provide broadband Internet access service over unlicensed spectrum, we include these entities in our Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.
3. Wireline Providers14. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (Incumbent LECs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported that they were incumbent local exchange service providers. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by our proposed action.
15. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (Competitive LECs), Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for these service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of either competitive local exchange services or competitive access provider services. Of these 1,442 carriers, an estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 186 have more than 1,500 employees. In addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees. In addition, 72 carriers have reported that they are Other Local Service Providers. Of the 72, seventy have 1,500 or fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers, Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and other local service providers are small entities that may be affected by our proposed action.
16. We have included small incumbent LECs in this present RFA analysis. As noted above, a ''small business'' under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and ''is not dominant in its field of operation.'' The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any such dominance is not ''national'' in scope. We have therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
17. Interexchange Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of interexchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 359 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of interexchange service. Of these, an estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of IXCs are small entities that may be affected by our proposed action.
18. Operator Service Providers (OSPs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for operator service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 33 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of operator services. Of these, an estimated 31 have 1,500 or fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of OSPs are small entities that may be affected by our proposed action.
4. Wireless Providers'--Fixed and Mobile19. The broadband Internet access service provider category covered by this NPRM may cover multiple wireless firms and categories of regulated wireless services. Thus, to the extent the wireless services listed below are used by wireless firms for broadband Internet access services, the proposed actions may have an impact on those small businesses as set forth above and further below. In addition, for those services subject to auctions, we note that, as a general matter, the number of winning bidders that claim to qualify as small businesses at the close of an auction does not necessarily represent the number of small businesses currently in service. Also, the Commission does not generally track subsequent business size unless, in the context of assignments and transfers or reportable eligibility events, unjust enrichment issues are implicated.
20. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 2007, the Census Bureau has placed wireless firms within this new, broad, economic census category. Prior to 2007, such firms were within the now-superseded categories of ''Paging'' and ''Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications.'' Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For the category of Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), data for 2011 show that there were 784 firms operating that year. Of these 784 firms, an estimated 749 have 500 or fewer employees and 35 have more than 500 employees. Since all firms with fewer than 1,500 employees are considered small, given the total employment in the sector, we estimate that the vast majority of wireless firms are small.
21. Wireless Communications Services. This service can be used for fixed, mobile, radiolocation, and digital audio broadcasting satellite uses. The Commission defined ''small business'' for the wireless communications services (WCS) auction as an entity with average gross revenues of $40 million for each of the three preceding years, and a ''very small business'' as an entity with average gross revenues of $15 million for each of the three preceding years. The SBA has approved these definitions. The Commission auctioned geographic area licenses in the WCS service in 1997. In the auction, seven bidders won 31 licenses that qualified as very small business entities, and one bidder won one license that qualified as a small business entity.
22. 1670-1675 MHz Services. This service can be used for fixed and mobile uses, except aeronautical mobile. An auction for one license in the 1670-1675 MHz band was conducted in 2003. One license was awarded. The winning bidder was not a small entity.
23. Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications services, and specialized mobile radio telephony carriers. As noted, the SBA has developed a small business size standard for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Under the SBA small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 413 carriers reported that they were engaged in wireless telephony. Of these, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more than 1,500 employees. Therefore, a little less than one third of these entities can be considered small.
24. Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband personal communications services (PCS) spectrum is divided into six frequency blocks designated A through F, and the Commission has held auctions for each block. The Commission initially defined a ''small business'' for C- and F-Block licenses as an entity that has average gross revenues of $40 million or less in the three previous calendar years. For F-Block licenses, an additional small business size standard for ''very small business'' was added and is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. These small business size standards, in the context of broadband PCS auctions, have been approved by the SBA. No small businesses within the SBA-approved small business size standards bid successfully for licenses in Blocks A and B. There were 90 winning bidders that claimed small business status in the first two C-Block auctions. A total of 93 bidders that claimed small business status won approximately 40 percent of the 1,479 licenses in the first auction for the D, E, and F Blocks. On April 15, 1999, the Commission completed the reauction of 347 C-, D-, E-, and F-Block licenses in Auction No. 22. Of the 57 winning bidders in that auction, 48 claimed small business status and won 277 licenses.
25. On January 26, 2001, the Commission completed the auction of 422 C and F Block Broadband PCS licenses in Auction No. 35. Of the 35 winning bidders in that auction, 29 claimed small business status. Subsequent events concerning Auction 35, including judicial and agency determinations, resulted in a total of 163 C and F Block licenses being available for grant. On February 15, 2005, the Commission completed an auction of 242 C-, D-, E-, and F-Block licenses in Auction No. 58. Of the 24 winning bidders in that auction, 16 claimed small business status and won 156 licenses. On May 21, 2007, the Commission completed an auction of 33 licenses in the A, C, and F Blocks in Auction No. 71. Of the 12 winning bidders in that auction, five claimed small business status and won 18 licenses. On August 20, 2008, the Commission completed the auction of 20 C-, D-, E-, and F-Block Broadband PCS licenses in Auction No. 78. Of the eight winning bidders for Broadband PCS licenses in that auction, six claimed small business status and won 14 licenses.
26. Specialized Mobile Radio Licenses. The Commission awards ''small entity'' bidding credits in auctions for Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) geographic area licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands to firms that had revenues of no more than $15 million in each of the three previous calendar years. The Commission awards ''very small entity'' bidding credits to firms that had revenues of no more than $3 million in each of the three previous calendar years. The SBA has approved these small business size standards for the 900 MHz Service. The Commission has held auctions for geographic area licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands. The 900 MHz SMR auction began on December 5, 1995, and closed on April 15, 1996. Sixty bidders claiming that they qualified as small businesses under the $15 million size standard won 263 geographic area licenses in the 900 MHz SMR band. The 800 MHz SMR auction for the upper 200 channels began on October 28, 1997, and was completed on December 8, 1997. Ten bidders claiming that they qualified as small businesses under the $15 million size standard won 38 geographic area licenses for the upper 200 channels in the 800 MHz SMR band. A second auction for the 800 MHz band was held on January 10, 2002 and closed on January 17, 2002 and included 23 BEA licenses. One bidder claiming small business status won five licenses.
27. The auction of the 1,053 800 MHz SMR geographic area licenses for the General Category channels began on August 16, 2000, and was completed on September 1, 2000. Eleven bidders won 108 geographic area licenses for the General Category channels in the 800 MHz SMR band and qualified as small businesses under the $15 million size standard. In an auction completed on December 5, 2000, a total of 2,800 Economic Area licenses in the lower 80 channels of the 800 MHz SMR service were awarded. Of the 22 winning bidders, 19 claimed small business status and won 129 licenses. Thus, combining all four auctions, 41 winning bidders for geographic licenses in the 800 MHz SMR band claimed status as small businesses.
28. In addition, there are numerous incumbent site-by-site SMR licenses and licensees with extended implementation authorizations in the 800 and 900 MHz bands. We do not know how many firms provide 800 MHz or 900 MHz geographic area SMR service pursuant to extended implementation authorizations, nor how many of these providers have annual revenues of no more than $15 million. One firm has over $15 million in revenues. In addition, we do not know how many of these firms have 1,500 or fewer employees, which is the SBA-determined size standard. We assume, for purposes of this analysis, that all of the remaining extended implementation authorizations are held by small entities, as defined by the SBA.
29. Lower 700 MHz Band Licenses. The Commission previously adopted criteria for defining three groups of small businesses for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding credits. The Commission defined a ''small business'' as an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years. A ''very small business'' is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues that are not more than $15 million for the preceding three years. Additionally, the lower 700 MHz Service had a third category of small business status for Metropolitan/Rural Service Area (MSA/RSA) licenses'--''entrepreneur'''--which is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues that are not more than $3 million for the preceding three years. The SBA approved these small size standards. An auction of 740 licenses (one license in each of the 734 MSAs/RSAs and one license in each of the six Economic Area Groupings (EAGs)) commenced on August 27, 2002, and closed on September 18, 2002. Of the 740 licenses available for auction, 484 licenses were won by 102 winning bidders. Seventy-two of the winning bidders claimed small business, very small business or entrepreneur status and won a total of 329 licenses. A second auction commenced on May 28, 2003, closed on June 13, 2003, and included 256 licenses: 5 EAG licenses and 476 Cellular Market Area licenses. Seventeen winning bidders claimed small or very small business status and won 60 licenses, and nine winning bidders claimed entrepreneur status and won 154 licenses. On July 26, 2005, the Commission completed an auction of 5 licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band (Auction No. 60). There were three winning bidders for five licenses. All three winning bidders claimed small business status.
30. In 2007, the Commission reexamined its rules governing the 700 MHz band in the 700 MHz Second Report and Order,72 FR 48814 (Aug. 24, 2007). An auction of 700 MHz licenses commenced January 24, 2008 and closed on March 18, 2008, which included, 176 Economic Area licenses in the A Block, 734 Cellular Market Area licenses in the B Block, and 176 EA licenses in the E Block. Twenty winning bidders, claiming small business status (those with attributable average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years) won 49 licenses. Thirty three winning bidders claiming very small business status (those with attributable average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years) won 325 licenses.
31. Upper 700 MHz Band Licenses. In the 700 MHz Second Report and Order, the Commission revised its rules regarding Upper 700 MHz licenses. On January 24, 2008, the Commission commenced Auction 73 in which several licenses in the Upper 700 MHz band were available for licensing: 12 Regional Economic Area Grouping licenses in the C Block, and one nationwide license in the D Block. The auction concluded on March 18, 2008, with 3 winning bidders claiming very small business status (those with attributable average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years) and winning five licenses.
32. 700 MHz Guard Band Licensees. In 2000, in the 700 MHz Guard Band Order,65 FR 17594 (Mar. 4, 2000), the Commission adopted size standards for ''small businesses'' and ''very small businesses'' for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding credits and installment payments. A small business in this service is an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years. Additionally, a very small business is an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues that are not more than $15 million for the preceding three years. SBA approval of these definitions is not required. An auction of 52 Major Economic Area licenses commenced on September 6, 2000, and closed on September 21, 2000. Of the 104 licenses auctioned, 96 licenses were sold to nine bidders. Five of these bidders were small businesses that won a total of 26 licenses. A second auction of 700 MHz Guard Band licenses commenced on February 13, 2001, and closed on February 21, 2001. All eight of the licenses auctioned were sold to three bidders. One of these bidders was a small business that won a total of two licenses.
33. Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has previously used the SBA's small business size standard applicable to Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are approximately 100 licensees in the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service, and under that definition, we estimate that almost all of them qualify as small entities under the SBA definition. For purposes of assigning Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service licenses through competitive bidding, the Commission has defined ''small business'' as an entity that, together with controlling interests and affiliates, has average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $40 million. A ''very small business'' is defined as an entity that, together with controlling interests and affiliates, has average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $15 million. These definitions were approved by the SBA. In May 2006, the Commission completed an auction of nationwide commercial Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service licenses in the 800 MHz band (Auction No. 65). On June 2, 2006, the auction closed with two winning bidders winning two Air-Ground Radiotelephone Services licenses. Neither of the winning bidders claimed small business status.
34. AWS Services (1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands (AWS-1); 1915-1920 MHz, 1995-2000 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz and 2175-2180 MHz bands (AWS-2); 2155-2175 MHz band (AWS-3)). For the AWS-1 bands, the Commission has defined a ''small business'' as an entity with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $40 million, and a ''very small business'' as an entity with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $15 million. For AWS-2 and AWS-3, although we do not know for certain which entities are likely to apply for these frequencies, we note that the AWS-1 bands are comparable to those used for cellular service and personal communications service. The Commission has not yet adopted size standards for the AWS-2 or AWS-3 bands but proposes to treat both AWS-2 and AWS-3 similarly to broadband PCS service and AWS-1 service due to the comparable capital requirements and other factors, such as issues involved in relocating incumbents and developing markets, technologies, and services.
35. 3650-3700 MHz band. In March 2005, the Commission released a Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order that provides for nationwide, non-exclusive licensing of terrestrial operations, utilizing contention-based technologies, in the 3650 MHz band (i.e., 3650-3700 MHz). As of April 2010, more than 1270 licenses have been granted and more than 7433 sites have been registered. The Commission has not developed a definition of small entities applicable to 3650-3700 MHz band nationwide, non-exclusive licensees. However, we estimate that the majority of these licensees are Internet Access Service Providers (ISPs) and that most of those licensees are small businesses.
36. Fixed Microwave Services. Microwave services include common carrier, private-operational fixed, and broadcast auxiliary radio services. They also include the Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS), the Digital Electronic Message Service (DEMS), and the 24 GHz Service, where licensees can choose between common carrier and non-common carrier status. At present, there are approximately 36,708 common carrier fixed licensees and 59,291 private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services. There are approximately 135 LMDS licensees, three DEMS licensees, and three 24 GHz licensees. The Commission has not yet defined a small business with respect to microwave services. For purposes of the IRFA, we will use the SBA's definition applicable to Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite)'--i.e., an entity with no more than 1,500 persons. Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For the category of Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), data for 2011 show that there were 784 firms operating that year. While the Census Bureau has not released data on the establishments broken down by number of employees, we note that the Census Bureau lists total employment for all firms in that sector at 245,875. Since all firms with fewer than 1,500 employees are considered small, given the total employment in the sector, we estimate that the vast majority of firms using microwave services are small. We note that the number of firms does not necessarily track the number of licensees. We estimate that virtually all of the Fixed Microwave licensees (excluding broadcast auxiliary licensees) would qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.
37. Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadband Service. Broadband Radio Service systems, previously referred to as Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) systems, and ''wireless cable,'' transmit video programming to subscribers and provide two-way high speed data operations using the microwave frequencies of the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) (previously referred to as the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS)). In connection with the 1996 BRS auction, the Commission established a small business size standard as an entity that had annual average gross revenues of no more than $40 million in the previous three calendar years. The BRS auctions resulted in 67 successful bidders obtaining licensing opportunities for 493 Basic Trading Areas (BTAs). Of the 67 auction winners, 61 met the definition of a small business. BRS also includes licensees of stations authorized prior to the auction. At this time, we estimate that of the 61 small business BRS auction winners, 48 remain small business licensees. In addition to the 48 small businesses that hold BTA authorizations, there are approximately 392 incumbent BRS licensees that are considered small entities. After adding the number of small business auction licensees to the number of incumbent licensees not already counted, we find that there are currently approximately 440 BRS licensees that are defined as small businesses under either the SBA or the Commission's rules.
38. In 2009, the Commission conducted Auction 86, the sale of 78 licenses in the BRS areas. The Commission offered three levels of bidding credits: (i) A bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years (small business) received a 15 percent discount on its winning bid; (ii) a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $3 million and do not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years (very small business) received a 25 percent discount on its winning bid; and (iii) a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $3 million for the preceding three years (entrepreneur) received a 35 percent discount on its winning bid. Auction 86 concluded in 2009 with the sale of 61 licenses. Of the ten winning bidders, two bidders that claimed small business status won 4 licenses; one bidder that claimed very small business status won three licenses; and two bidders that claimed entrepreneur status won six licenses.
39. In addition, the SBA's Cable Television Distribution Services small business size standard is applicable to EBS. There are presently 2,436 EBS licensees. All but 100 of these licenses are held by educational institutions. Educational institutions are included in this analysis as small entities. Thus, we estimate that at least 2,336 licensees are small businesses. Since 2007, Cable Television Distribution Services have been defined within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: ''This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable services we must, however, use the most current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other Program Distribution and its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were a total of 996 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 948 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 48 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25 million. Thus, the majority of these firms can be considered small.
5. Satellite Service Providers40. Satellite Telecommunications Providers. Two economic census categories address the satellite industry. The first category has a small business size standard of $30 million or less in average annual receipts, under SBA rules. The second has a size standard of $30 million or less in annual receipts.
41. The category of Satellite Telecommunications ''comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing telecommunications services to other establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.'' For this category, Census Bureau data for 2007 show that there were a total of 570 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 530 firms had annual receipts of under $30 million, and 40 firms had receipts of over $30 million. Consequently, we estimate that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by our action.
42. The second category of Other Telecommunications comprises, inter alia,''establishments primarily engaged in providing specialized telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities connected with one or more terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems.'' For this category, Census Bureau data for 2007 show that there were a total of 1,274 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,252 had annual receipts below $25 million per year. Consequently, we estimate that the majority of All Other Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by our action.
6. Cable Service Providers43. Because Section 706 requires us to monitor the deployment of broadband using any technology, we anticipate that some broadband service providers may not provide telephone service. Accordingly, we describe below other types of firms that may provide broadband services, including cable companies, MDS providers, and utilities, among others.
44. Cable and Other Program Distributors. Since 2007, these services have been defined within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: ''This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable services we must, however, use current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other Program Distribution and its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were a total of 2,048 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,393 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 655 firms had receipts of $10 million or more. Thus, the majority of these firms can be considered small.
45. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has also developed its own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ''small cable company'' is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data shows that there were 1,141 cable companies at the end of June 2012. Of this total, all but ten cable operators nationwide are small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's rules, a ''small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. Current Commission records show 4,945 cable systems nationwide. Of this total, 4,380 cable systems have less than 20,000 subscribers, and 565 systems have 20,000 or more subscribers, based on the same records. Thus, under this standard, we estimate that most cable systems are small entities.
46. Cable System Operators. The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, also contains a size standard for small cable system operators, which is ''a cable operator that, directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed $250,000,000.'' The Commission has determined that an operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Based on available data, we find that all but ten incumbent cable operators are small entities under this size standard. We note that the Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million, and therefore we are unable to estimate more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size standard.
7. Electric Power Generators, Transmitters, and Distributors47. Electric Power Generators, Transmitters,and Distributors. The Census Bureau defines an industry group comprised of ''establishments, primarily engaged in generating, transmitting, and/or distributing electric power. Establishments in this industry group may perform one or more of the following activities: (1) Operate generation facilities that produce electric energy; (2) operate transmission systems that convey the electricity from the generation facility to the distribution system; and (3) operate distribution systems that convey electric power received from the generation facility or the transmission system to the final consumer.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard for firms in this category: ''A firm is small if, including its affiliates, it is primarily engaged in the generation, transmission, and/or distribution of electric energy for sale and its total electric output for the preceding fiscal year did not exceed 4 million megawatt hours.'' According to Census Bureau data for 2011, there were 2,419 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Census data do not track electric output and we have not determined how many of these firms fit the SBA size standard for small, with no more than 4 million megawatt hours of electric output. Consequently, we estimate that 2,419 or fewer firms may be considered small under the SBA small business size standard.
D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements for Small Entities48. As indicated above, the NPRM seeks comment on possible enhancements to the Commission's existing transparency rule that may impose additional reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements on some small entities. While the NPRM tentatively concludes that the Commission should enhance the transparency rule to improve its effectiveness for end users, edge providers, the Internet community, and the Commission, the NPRM does not propose specific revisions to the existing transparency rule. As described above, the NPRM also seeks comment on a dispute resolution process that would, if adopted, potentially require small entities to respond to complaints or otherwise participate in dispute resolution procedures. One feature of the enforcement mechanism as discussed in the NPRM, includes a proposal to establish the role of an ombudsperson who would act as a watchdog to represent the interests of start-ups and other small entities in addition to consumers.
E. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered49. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include (among others) the following four alternatives: (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities. We expect to consider all of these factors when we have received substantive comment from the public and potentially affected entities.
50. The Commission expects to consider the economic impact on small entities, as identified in comments filed in response to the NPRM and this IRFA, in reaching its final conclusions and taking action in this proceeding.
51. We note, though, that the potential enhancements to the transparency rule, the proposed mechanism for individualized decision-making under the proposed enforceable legal standard of commercially reasonable practices, and various aspects of the proposed dispute resolution process all contemplate a certain amount of flexibility that may be helpful to small entities. For example, the Commission seeks comment on whether there are ways the Commission or industry associations could reduce burdens on broadband providers in complying with the proposed enhanced transparency rule through the use of a voluntary industry standardized glossary, or through the creation of a dashboard that permits easy comparison of the policies, procedures, and prices of various broadband providers throughout the country. We seek comment here on the effect the various proposals described in the NPRM, and summarized above, will have on small entities, and on what effect alternative rules would have on those entities. How can the Commission achieve its goal of protecting and promoting an open Internet while also imposing minimal burdens on small entities? What specific steps could the Commission take in this regard?
F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules52. None
virtuous - definition of virtuous by The Free Dictionary
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 05:43
virtuous (ËvÉ'ːtʃʊÉs)adj1. characterized by or possessing virtue or moral excellence; righteous; upright
2. (of women) chaste or virginal
ËvirtuouslyadvËvirtuousnessnvir'tu'ous(ËvÉ'r tʃu És)adj.
1. conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright.
2. chaste: a virtuous young person.
[1300''50; vertuousvirtuōsus= Latin virtu(s)virtue + -ōsus-ous]vir'²tu'ous'ly,adv.
vir'²tu'ous'ness,n.
ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
virtuousadjective1.good, moral, ethical, upright, honourable, excellent, pure, worthy, honest, righteous, exemplary, squeaky-clean, blameless, praiseworthy, incorruptible, high-principledThe president is portrayed as a virtuous family man.goodevil, corrupt, immoral, vicious, dishonest, wicked, sinful, depraved, debauched, unrighteous3.self-righteous, pleased with yourself, smugI cleaned the flat, which left me feeling very virtuous. Translations
virtuous[ËvÉ'ːtjʊÉs]ADJ '†' virtuosovirtuous[ËvÉ'ːrtʃuÉs]adj '†' vertueux/eusevirtuous circlen '†' cerclemvertueuxvirtuousadj(pej: = self-satisfied, righteous) person, attitude '†' selbstgerechtvirtuous[ËvÉ'ːtjʊÉs]adj '†' virtuoso/a
Want to thank TFD for its existence? Tell a friend about us, add a link to this page, or visit the webmaster's page for free fun content.
U.S. Mayors Call for Government Broadband, Extreme Regulation - TechFreedom
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:43
Mayors want better broadband. But instead of making it easier for private companies like Google Fiber or Verizon FiOS to build broadband networks, they want to spend your tax dollars building government-run utilities to compete with private companies.
They also want those private companies to be regulated even more heavily than traditional utilities. Like many advocates, they seem to realize that this extreme form of Net Neutrality will require legislation.
That's the gist of a newresolutionapproved by the U.S. conference of mayors.
You'd think that, as they face down staggering levels of debt '-- $3.7 trillion, eleven times the 1981 level '-- and even larger unfunded pensions (teachers, policemen, firefighters), mayors might welcome private companies putting money into infrastructure. They'd make it easy to build new broadband networks, right? Well, a few have '-- in cities like Austin and Kansas City. But few have heeded the advice offered byGoogleand theFiber to the Home Councilon what it takes to become a fiber-friendly community.
Most mayors, of course, just haven't really thought the issue through '-- or aren't willing to deal with the political headache of reforming how their city handles municipal infrastructure.They're also unwilling tostand up to the NIMBYism that allows neighborhood activists to stifle progress of all kinds, including installing the small equipment cabinets on sidewalks needed for fiber-to-the-home networks. That's why Sonic.net has struggled to deploy its network in San Francisco, the tech capital of America, and why Google Fiber is leaving SF out of its Bay Area expansion plans.
But a few politically active mayors have gotten swept up in the cry for government-run broadband '-- a movement that, ironically, has reached its greatest visibility in the year after Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's massive surveillance of the Internet. Many of those most outraged about the NSA want a different, presumably less evil branch of government to run the network. What could possibly go wrong?
On Net neutrality, the resolution calls on the FCC to ban all traffic prioritization '-- just as the FCC tried to do in 2010. Of course, the D.C. Circuit blocked those rules earlier this year. So now many in Washington are calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act. But contrary to what many insist, even under Title II, the FCCstillcan't ban prioritization. But reclassification would impose a host of other regulations on broadband that would discourage deployment and probably kill new entrants like Sonic.Net and Google Fiber. Twenty years ago, there was a broad consensus on this point, led by New Democrats in the Clinton administration and at the FCC. Yet a radical fringe on the left wants to reverse the pro-deployment policies that have spurred $1.3 trillion in broadband investment since 1996.
But at least the mayors are honest enough to admit that, even under Title II, the FCC can't ban prioritization. What they don't acknowledge is that the FCC may not be able to regulate Net Neutrality at all under Section 706 '-- and that Title II simply isn't a viable option.
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Netflix And The Net Neutrality Promotional Vehicle - Forbes
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:26
Log in with your social account:Or, you can log in or sign up using Forbes.New Posts+1 posts this hourMost PopularHighest-Paid AthletesListsMost Powerful WomenVideoThe World Cup12 Stocks to BUY for 2014Help|Connect
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Connecting the Dots on Internet Congestion | platform
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:49
Broadband & InternetWilliam Check, Ph.D.June 25, 2014Sometimes when you're streaming a movie on Netflix, it'll start pixelating. The quality drops and your crisp HD stream melds into blocky fuzz. It might even drop out altogether. It's incredibly frustrating '' it happens to all of us '' and it's the result of network congestion. Not too many years ago, barely any video worked online. It's astounding how far we've come thanks to adaptive bit rates and better routing techniques that help avoid bottlenecks.
When the system does fail, congestion can be sourced from one of four places: Either it's a failure in the home network (like your Wi-Fi router), in the last mile network (like your ISP), at core interconnection points (like in a CDN), or it's a failure with the edge provider (like Netflix). It can be difficult to tell which piece of the puzzle is causing the problem, but if we connect the dots, the source of the congestion becomes clearer.
Last week, three different reports were released that contain technical data to help better understand the source of streaming performance .The first was the FCC's 2014 Measuring Broadband America report. The report revealed how well broadband providers are delivering the advertised speeds in their last-mile networks. The FCC found that, on average, almost all ISPs are meeting or beating advertised speeds. So even though peak periods can experience some fluctuations, the congestion is probably not caused by your ISP.
The second was an MIT preliminary report measuring Internet congestion. In their report, MIT data revealed that there was not widespread congestion among the U.S. providers at their interconnection points in the core of the network. So that rules out systemic interconnection failure.
The third report was from a consulting company, NetForecast, which released a report that looked at the Netflix ISP Speed Index '' a report from Netflix that analyzes the performance of ISPs. NetForecast concluded that the Netflix ISP Speed Index, which many have used to suggest ISPs are responsible for degradation in streaming quality and chronic congestion, was actually factoring in things ISPs had no control over. Things like choices made by the end-user, available capacity or performance of the Netflix servers, and the performance of the network path between Netflix's own CDN and the last mile ISPs.
So what do these reports reveal? The FCC shows ISPs are generally over-delivering on speeds in the last-mile. MIT says the core interconnection points are not congested, except those related to Netflix. And Netflix's own report implicating ISPs turns out to calculate things ISPs have no control over. So if we assume your home network is functioning properly (you can call your ISP to check) these reports confirm that edge providers, in this case Netflix, are a source of persistent congestion which can lead to buffering and a less-than-HD experience.
But don't take our word for it. Listen to the technical experts.
Public PolicyMichael PowellJune 12, 2014In the ongoing air wars over net neutrality, personal attack and comedic fodder have sadly obscured an accurate portrayal of the issues now confronting the FCC in the wake of the DC Circuit's decision in Verizon v. FCC. Instead of following the old adage of ''when in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream'...
Reports Show Netflix to Blame for Low Speeds - TechFreedom
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:47
If you've ever had to deal with a Netflix video that buffers itself into a blurry, low-quality mess, you've probably wondered whom to blame. If you're like most people, your first instinct is to blame your broadband provider for buffering. But new reports and data from theFCC,MIT, and evenNetflixitself show that edge providers are responsible for Internet congestion. William Check explains in ablog post for NCTA:
So what do these reports reveal? The FCC shows ISPs are generally over-delivering on speeds in the last-mile. MIT says the core interconnection points are not congested, except those related to Netflix. And Netflix's own report implicating ISPs turns out to calculate things ISPs have no control over. So if we assume your home network is functioning properly (you can call your ISP to check) these reports confirm that edge providers, in this case Netflix, are a source of persistent congestion which can lead to buffering and a less-than-HD experience.
See our other work onNetflixandNet Neutrality, especially:
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War on Crazy
Newtown receives $7.1M federal grant to support Sandy Hook victims from DOJ Office for Victims of Crime.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:42
NEWTOWN >> The federal government has awarded a $7.1 million grant to support support victims, family members, first responders and community members who were affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced the grant Tuesday morning. Esty's office said in a news release that the grant was given by the Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime.
The grant will support many services, including victim services, with a portion reseved for school safety efforts, and new mental health services, specifically for longer-term counseling for families, law enforcement and first responders. It will also be used to help reimburse people for ongoing services, according to the release.
''This grant will provide much-needed relief and support for Newtown to help this brave community heal,'' said Esty, whose congressional district includes the town. ''The community of Newtown has faced unimaginable tragedy with incredible strength and resiliency. Survivors, families, law enforcement, and first responders deserve sustained counseling services and enhanced school safety resources, and I'm grateful to the Department of Justice for responding with continued support.''
Since the shooting, Newtown Youth and Family Services has increased its staffing capacity and has seen the client population quadruple in the past 18 months, NYFS Executive Director Candice Bohr said in the release. She said they anticipate seeing a continued need in services and funding related to mental health.
Blumenthal said he would also continue to work with advocates and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School to change the nation's ''deeply flawed gun laws.''
''For those who lost loved ones, and for the students, educators and first responders who witnessed the unimaginable horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School, recovery may require continued services,'' he said in the release. ''I will continue to advocate for the Newtown community to aid its full recovery.''
Newtown received a $1.5 million grant from the Office for Victims of Crime last year. The Newtown Public School Distrcit received $3.2 million through the U.S. Department of Education's School Emergency Response to Violence program in 2013 and 2014, according to the release.
The Fix Is In
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From the insiders on Brazil
Brazilian Ambassador to Japan and his wife - just the 6 of us at T-Site.
Confirmed - Brazil vs Germany final
2:1 to Brazil seems to be the VERY strong consensus.
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Tim Howard - "The Scretary of Defense"
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It's so hot in Brazil that Mexico and the Netherlands took a cooling break | For The Win
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:54
http://usat.ly/1yZNdit
It's so hot in Brazil that Mexico and the Netherlands took a cooling break
I found this on FTW and wanted to share: %link% For more great sports stories ... *visit For The Win: https://www.ftw.usatoday.com *follow @ForTheWin: https://www.twitter.com/forthewin *like FTW on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usatodayftw
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Singapore: Football betting syndicate busted
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:27
SINGAPORE: Amid excitement over the World Cup, eight men, aged between 28 and 48, were arrested for suspected involvement with illegal football bookmaking and punting activities.
Police announced on Wednesday (July 2) that officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Police Intelligence Department (PID) had conducted islandwide operations in areas such as Clementi West, Tampines and Bedok Central over two days, from the day before.
Police seized S$190,000 cash, as well as an array of computers, laptops, handphones and documents including betting records. The suspects had allegedly received bets amounting to about S$750,000 in the past two weeks.
If found guilty, those who bet with a bookmaker may be fined up to S$5,000 and could be jailed for up to six months. Those involved in bookmaking may be fined up to S$200,000, and may be imprisoned for up to five years.
- CNA/do
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Agenda 21
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Polish MEP transcript
Mr.Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Among the major challenges mentioned in the Appendix One I see the cost of energy. But this cost is generated by the EU - thanks to the war on global warming. This war – if effective – would harm the natural environment - because what the plants need most for their growth, is carbon dioxide. Fortunately this war has no effect at all – but the countries occupied by the EU had paid tremendous price.
The global warming – if it is real – is not anthropogenic. It is humbug. But it is the instrument to achieve a specific goal: ZERO GROWTH. And this goal – a clandestine dream of some persons sitting among us - had been reached.
For 2 trillions €uro spent – and wasted.
It's felony.
I hope on January the Prosecution Office of EU will be at last established – and the culprits (including the pseudo-scientists, who had in bad faith supported this lunacy) will be found, named, duly prosecuted, tried and put to jail.
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NEW MEME-CARBON NEGATIVE_Carbon neutrality has failed '' now our only way out of global warming is to go carbon negative | ExtremeTech
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:13
With the mostly failed campaign to prevent climate change from raising global temperatures by more than 2 degrees Celsius, and no real prospect of rolling out significant amounts of renewable power generation in time to prevent a global meltdown, it looks like society only has two real options: Roll out a lot of nuclear power stations right now, or start burying (sequestering) gigatons of carbon dioxide underground. The nuclear option is looking unlikely '-- but sequestering carbon might just work, if some recent studies are to be believed.
A new report from the Risky Business Project has laid out the long-term consequences of continued climate change for various geographical areas of the United States. Rather than focusing on incredibly dense scientific language, the RBP is led by the business community and emphasizes research conducted by economic firms. The goal was to create a report that would discuss the disruptive impact of climate change on businesses and the US economy.
The result is an approachable report that discusses likely impacts to the US by splitting the country into multiple regions and estimating the chances of various outcomes. The following graph, for example, shows how the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events impacts observed conditions, even if no single storm, heat wave, or abnormally cold winter can be directly linked to global warming.
With our mostly failed attempt to keep climate change below 2 Celisus, the new critical question is how governments might hold the increase to as low a level as possible. Despite improvements, no one seriously expects renewable energy to be ramped up in time to prevent climate change far in excess of 2C '-- the only way to avoid this limit would be to convert to nuclear or renewable power at a breakneck pace across the entire planet for the next few decades.. It's not going to happen. So what can we do?
It turns out, we might be able to do rather a lot. Whenever the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues its reports, a great deal of energy gets expended arguing about the reality of climate change. Some of the IPCC's more interesting ideas go undiscussed as a result, including the long-term potential for CCS '-- carbon capture and storage. According to the IPCC, CCS systems are absolutely vital to minimizing the long-term impact of greenhouse gas emissions. [Read: Nuclear power is our only hope, or, the greatest environmentalist hypocrisy of all time.]
Going carbon negativeMany companies today tout various technologies they claim allow them to be carbon neutral, but the only way to hold climate change below 2C in the long term is to actually go carbon negative. This can be achieved through the use of bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS for short. The idea is straightforward '-- as of last year, approximately 10% of total planetary energy was provided by biomass. Plants absorb CO2 as they grow, but the process of turning biomass into fuel typically releases that energy back into the atmosphere. What the IPCC proposes is using the biomass for energy, then using some of the energy generated to sequester the carbon underground in either old oil and gas deposits or in porous rock (known as saline formations) across the US.
Estimates of how much carbon could be stored in saline formations vary widely; the characteristics of the rock strata and its ability to store CO2 over the long-term are barely known '-- until recently, such rock held little interest for the oil and gas companies that have conducted most US geological research and therefore only a little information is available. The IPCC believes that carbon sequestration is vital to limiting the impact of CO2 buildup '-- if we fail to do so, we could see spiking values well in excess of 600 ppm (currently we stand a little over 400 ppm).
The long-term goal is to sequester up to two gigatons of carbon per year by 2050, though scientists at Stanford have estimated that as much as 10 gigatons of carbon could be sequestered through this method by that point. Carbon sequestration in geological formations isn't the only option, but it's one of the few ideas that's both achievable and reasonably well understood at this point. There are a few technologies being developed that might help us with carbon sequestration, but really there just hasn't been much research into it yet.
Other ideas, like seeding the ocean with iron particles to increase carbon sequestration have problems of their own '-- locking more CO2 into the depths increases ocean acidification, which is already becoming problematic for a number of species. When the ocean is too acidic, many crustaceans can't form strong shells '-- the calcium carbonate that they rely on is in short supply. Coral is also negatively impacted, which reduces habitat and food supply for the species that depend on its abundance. [Read: 'Supergreen' hydrogen creation could capture carbon from the air and de-acidify the oceans.]
The sheer vastness of the ocean means it may be possible to lock up some carbon in specific areas, but overall, there may not be enough headroom to meaningfully defray the long-term environmental impact of continued fossil fuel use. The alternative is to find a way to sequester carbon geologically '-- or get used to a world without any ice caps.
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WMO warns to prepare for El Nino and a winter of extreme weather
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 23:57
by ClickGreen staff. Published Mon 30 Jun 2014 18:40, Last updated: 2014-06-30
There is a 60% likelihood of an El Ni±o being fully established between June and August, increasing to 75-80% for the October to December period, according to an El Ni±o Update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Based on advice from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, many Governments have already started preparing for the arrival of El Ni±o, which is associated with regional-scale drought and flood situations in different parts of the world and has a warming influence on global average surface temperatures.
El Ni±o is characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, coupled with typical atmospheric circulation patterns. It is a natural phenomenon with a recurring interval of 2-7 years and has a major impact on the climate around the world. The last El Ni±o was in 2009/2010.
Tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures have recently warmed to weak El Ni±o thresholds but atmospheric conditions (such as sea level pressure, cloudiness and trade winds) have remained neutral. This indicates that El Ni±o has not yet become fully established, as it essentially depends on the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. However, atmospheric patterns that are typical of a fully developed El Ni±o event on the basin-wide scale are still likely to appear, according to the WMO Update, which is based on consensus from experts around the world.
The tropical Pacific Ocean is expected to continue to warm during the coming months, peaking during the last quarter of 2014. Its potential intensity remains uncertain, but a moderate strength event currently appears more likely than a weak or strong one.
''Our understanding of El Ni±o and La Ni±a has increased dramatically in recent years and this knowledge has enabled us to develop very successful climate services for society. Advance warning has given governments around the world time to make contingency plans for the impact of this year's expected El Ni±o on the agriculture, water management, health and other climate-sensitive sectors,'' said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. ''We remain vulnerable to this force of nature but we can protect ourselves by being better prepared.''
''El Ni±o leads to extreme events and has a pronounced warming effect,'' said Mr Jarraud. ''It is too early to assess the precise impact on global temperatures in 2014, but we expect the long-term warming trend to continue as a result of rising greenhouse gas concentrations said Mr Jarraud.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Japan Meteorological Agency's Tokyo Climate Centre, which is one of WMO's regional climate centres, both reported that average global temperatures in the month of May were the highest on record, even without an El Ni±o event.
One explanation for the lack of atmospheric response so far may be that the sea surface temperatures are above average across virtually the entire tropical Pacific, not just in the eastern and central portions. This may be maintaining west-to-east temperature differences more typical of neutral conditions. The far eastern tropical Pacific has already had higher than normal sea surface temperatures since May, causing above average rainfall along parts of the coast of equatorial South America.
The latest outlooks suggest that central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures are likely to warm further into the third quarter of 2014, while the atmospheric patterns associated with El Ni±o are also expected to form and strengthen.
Consensus from models and expert opinion is that the event will reach peak strength during the fourth quarter and endure into the first few months of 2015 before dissipating. The substantially above-average oceanic heat content beneath the sea surface of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, triggered by strong westerly wind events earlier this year, suggested an event of significant strength. However, the delayed atmospheric response, and a potential lack of subsequent westerly wind events in the coming months, may limit the peak strength of the El Ni±o.
It is important to stress that no two El Ni±o events are the same, and that other drivers also influence climate patterns. At the regional level, seasonal outlooks are needed to assess the relative impacts of both the El Ni±o/La Ni±a state and other locally relevant climate drivers. For example, the state of the Indian Ocean Dipole, or the Tropical Atlantic SST Dipole, may impact the climate in adjacent land areas.
Locally applicable information will be available via regional/national seasonal climate outlooks, such as those produced by WMO Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).
Comments about WMO warns to prepare for El Nino and a winter of extreme weather There are no comments yet on WMO warns to prepare for El Nino and a winter of extreme weather . Be the first to leave one, enter your thoughts below.
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Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change | IFLScience
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:21
Weather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from publicly discussing climate change. The decision has been justified on the basis that years of study of meteorology does not make a person qualified to discuss climatic events longer than a few months.
''Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,'' spokesman Mark Johnson told investigative journalist Mike De Souza. ''For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.'' The Meteorological Service of Canada is a division of Environment Canada.
Since 2006, shortly after Stephen Harper's election as Prime Minister, the Canadian Government banned scientists from speaking to the media about their findings without getting political clearance. This has been conducted in conjunction with a process of shutting down research programs likely to turn up results not in keeping with the Conservative government's agenda.
The program is not limited to climate issues, or even the environment, but critics have argued that Global Warming is the key target. Since the ban there has been an 80% fall in coverage of Global Warming in the Canadian media, according to leaked Environment Canada documents.
In a survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada 86% of respondents said that if a government policy had the potential to harm public health and safety or the environment they ''could not share their concerns with the public or media or public without censure or retaliation.''
Weather forecasters represent something of a weak point in the government's efforts to keep the public uniformed. One anonymous response to the survey noted, ''With meteorology we are in a somewhat unique position in that our availability to the media is relatively unrestricted.'' Half of all media inquiries to Environment Canada relate to weather events '' when a big storm is brewing journalists want to talk to an expert fast, and are reluctant to wait on approval from a government minder. The Meteorology Service operates a 24-hour media hotline, circumventing the need to gain ministerial agreement to talk to journalists.
However, while the forecasters can talk about what has happened, or what seems likely to happen, they cannot discuss why, insofar as it relates to wider climatic events. As with all the best censorship, the exact boundaries of what can be discussed without putting one's career on the line are unclear. Presumably if a huge storm was brewing as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures meteorologists would be forbidden to note that the warmth was part of a long term rising trend. However, it is not certain whether it would be permissible to note that a historic record had been broken, and that this was likely to increase the anticipated severity.
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Antarctica sets new record for sea ice area | Watts Up With That?
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:30
byHarold Ambler
The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which, as I reported in my book, has been steadily increasing throughout the period of satellite measurement that began in 1979, has hit a new all-time record high for areal coverage.
The new record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, the ice encircling the southernmost continent, is 2.074 million square kilometers and was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's The Cryosphere Today early Sunday morning.
The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007.
Global sea ice area, as of Sunday morning, stood at 1.005 million square kilometers above average.
More here: http://talkingabouttheweather.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/antarctica-sets-new-record-for-sea-ice/
And also at the WUWT Sea ice page: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/
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NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:48
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, criticized for manipulating temperature records to create a warming trend, has now been caught warming the past and cooling the present.
July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the U.S. during a summer that was declared ''too hot to handle'' by NASA scientists. That summer more than half the country was experiencing drought and wildfires had scorched more than 1.3 million acres of land, according to NASA.
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in 2012, the ''average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the warmest July and all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895.''
''The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936, when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F,'' NOAA said in 2012.
This statement by NOAA was still available on their website when checked by The Daily Caller News Foundation. But when meteorologist and climate blogger Anthony Watts went to check the NOAA data on Sunday he found that the science agency had quietly reinstated July 1936 as the hottest month on record in the U.S.
''Two years ago during the scorching summer of 2012, July 1936 lost its place on the leaderboard and July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the United States,'' Watts wrote. ''Now, as if by magic, and according to NOAA's own data, July 1936 is now the hottest month on record again. The past, present, and future all seems to be 'adjustable' in NOAA's world.''
Watts had data from NOAA's ''Climate at a Glance'' plots from 2012, which shows that July 2012 was the hottest month on record at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit. July 1936 is only at 77.4 degrees Fahrenheit. [Annotations in the graph are from Watts].
Source: NOAA [Annotated by Anthony Watts]
Watts ran the same data plot again on Sunday and found that NOAA inserted a new number in for July 1936. The average temperature for July 1936 was made slightly higher than July 2012, meaning, once again, July 1936 is the hottest year on record. [Annotations in the graph are from Watts]
Source: NOAA [Annotated by Anthony Watts]
''You can't get any clearer proof of NOAA adjusting past temperatures,'' Watts wrote. ''This isn't just some issue with gridding, or anomalies, or method, it is about NOAA not being able to present historical climate information of the United States accurately.''''In one report they give one number, and in another they give a different one with no explanation to the public as to why,'' Watts continued. ''This is not acceptable. It is not being honest with the public. It is not scientific. It violates the Data Quality Act.''
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Hillary 2016
Hillary Clinton's presidential popularity sliding, poll shows.
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:48
The Clintons have been in the news for a different reason every day since Hillary's book blitz began in late MayMuch of the coverage about the former first family has not been favorable as both Bill and Hillary have stumbled over questions about Hillary's health and their wealthNow, Americans are getting what Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus calls 'Hillary fatigue'In hypothetical match-ups against other prospective 2016 presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton would beat Republican contenders, but by an increasing smaller marginBy Francesca Chambers
Published: 18:28 EST, 30 June 2014 | Updated: 18:38 EST, 30 June 2014
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Hillary Clinton's presidential popularity has dropped significantly since she launched a media blitz to promote her new book Hard Choices, a poll taken over the weekend shows.
The presumed 2016 presidential candidate still leads her likely Republican challengers by double digits, but her share of the vote dropped under 50 percent in the latest Zogby Analytics poll.
'Some pundits suggest that it is good that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is airing her dirty linen and making her campaign mistakes now with over two years to go until the 2016 elections, ' pollster John Zogby said in a post on the company's website. 'Others, me included, argue that this lackluster performance is not likely to go away.'
Zogby's findings echo Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' comments on Sunday morning that voters are getting 'Hillary fatigue.'
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinto prepares to sign copies of her book Hard Choices at a Little Rock, Arkansas, Wal-Mart on Friday night
Hillary and Bill Clinton have been in the news nearly every day throughout the past month and a half as Hillary geared up for and then launched her second memoir.
Much of the coverage of the former first family has not been favorable, as both heads of the Clinton household have struggled to explain away issues with Hillary health and the massive amount of money they've added to their pocketbooks since departing the White House a decade ago.
Zogby's poll intimates that the Clintons' many appearances throughout the last several months have done more to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances in 2016 should she run for president than it has to help.
In a hypothetical match-up against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Zogby found that Clinton would win with 47 percent of the vote to Bush's 35 percent, and 12 percent of voters would select 'other'. Only five percent of voters said they weren't sure who they would pick.
While Clinton still holds a commanding lead over Bush, support for the former secretary of state has dropped four points in the last month. In May she led him 49 -32.
Likewise, Clinton would only beat Kentucky Senator Rand Paul by 12 points, down from 21 points in March and 17 points in May.
She holds the most significant lead over embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whom she would beat by 15 points. Even her edge over Christie, who has suffered through his own share of problems in the last year, has declined since March, dropping from 26 points in March to 16 points in May.
Zogby did not ask or would not say how Clinton would fare against other rumored 2016 candidates.
Former Florida Governor and prospective 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, pictured here in February, isn't getting on American's nerves like Hillary and Bill Clinton, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus observed on Sunday, because he and his family have stayed fairly quiet over the last few months
The latest Zogby Analytics poll is consistent with the outcome of a recent Ramussen Reports survey that found that found Clinton would beat potential general election opponents by 11-14 points.
Only Paul came within striking distance of the Democratic front-runner, and the right-leaning polling group found Clinton would still win with seven points to spare.
That poll tested Clinton against Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in addition to Paul and Christie. It did not ask respondents about Jeb Bush.
On Sunday, Republican Party head Reince Priebus postulated that Americans are already growing tired of the Clinton 'show' two and a half years out from the presidential election.
'There's Hillary fatigue out there. It's setting in,' Priebus said on Meet the Press.
'And I just happen to believe that this early run for the White House is going to come back and bite them. And it already is. People are tired of it,' he said.
The reason Americans are not as sick of Bush, despite being part of the Bush political dynasty, is because he and his family aren't in the public eye as often as Bill and Hillary, Priebus told Meet the Press host David Gregory.
'I don't think Jeb and the Bushes are being as obnoxious,' the Republican leader said.
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Book: Bill Clinton Told Hillary She Would Get 2 Million More Votes if He Died
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 03:44
by John Hayward29 Jun 2014, 7:14 AM PDTpost a comment''I'm worried how my health will affect your campaign,'' he said. ''I have to do all I can to prepare the campaign playbooks, but I also have to accept the fact that if I fall by the wayside, you have to continue without me and make a positive thing out of it.''
A positive thing?'' Hillary said. ''What the hell are you talking about?''
''Obviously, you have to have a big state funeral for me, with as much pomp and circumstance as possible,'' he said. ''I'm thinking maybe I should be buried at Arlington [National Cemetery] rather than at my library in Little Rock. After all, I was commander in chief for eight years and have every right to be buried at Arlington.''
''Bill!'' Hillary said, trying to interrupt his train of thought.
''I'm going to plan this thing out in detail,'' he said.
''I don't want to hear this!'' Hillary said.
''Wear your widow's weeds, so people will feel sympathy for you. Wear black for a decent mourning period and make my death an asset. The images on television of the funeral and the grieving widow in black will be priceless.
''When I'm gone, people will think only of my good points and forgive, if not forget, the bad. I'll be remembered in a positive light more in death than I was in life. That always happens. Everybody knows that. So you'll have to take maximum advantage of my death.''
Klein might actually have done Hillary a favor here - this is the closest she's seemed to a sympathetic human being since she launched her book tour, responding to Bill's morbid obsession over using his own corpse as a political prop with appropriate horror.
This obsession with building hardcore political power around First Ladies seems to be a Democrat obsession for the moment - how does Senator Michelle Obama grab you, citizens of Illinois? - but imagine the reaction if a Republican power couple had a conversation like this. If George Bush had been caught talking about staging his death to fetch an extra two million sympathy votes for Laura's presidential campaign, the reaction in the media would be disgust and loathing for both of them, no matter how much Laura protested the idea. We'd be told it was proof that they're soulless and power-hungry, not to mention their evident low opinion of American voters as a bunch of easily-manipulated emotional ninnies.
But when you're a Democrat, the by-any-means-necessary thirst for power is no big deal, because your fellow travelers approve of people with the Right Ideas doing whatever it takes to get the power necessary to implement them.
DutchNews.nl - Insurer Achmea paid Bill Clinton $600,000 to make a speech
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:17
Insurer Achmea paid Bill Clinton $600,000 to make a speechMonday 30 June 2014
Dutch insurance company Achmea paid former US president Bill Clinton $600,000 to make a speech in Friesland in 2011, according to research by the Washington Post.
The fee '' the equivalent of '‚¬440,000 '' is one of the highest ever paid to Clinton who is much in demand as a public speaker. The highest fee was $750,000, paid by mobile phone giant Ericsson in 2011, the Washington Post figures show.
The Dutch speech, in the Frisian village of Achlum where the company was founded, was to celebrate Achmea's 200th anniversary at a conference on 'the future of the Netherlands'.
According to the Volkskrant, in his speech Clinton called for a 'unique Dutch answer to modern solidarity'.
Achmea, the biggest player on the Dutch health insurance market, declined to comment on the report, the Volkskrant says.
(C) DutchNews.nl
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Lollapalooza Launches Cashless Payments to Lure in Millennials | Adweek
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:04
Lollapalooza is rolling out a new initiative this week called Lolla Cashless that claims to be the first effort from a major U.S. music festival to use radio frequency identification (or RFID)-enabled wristbands for payments. The Chicago music festival will begin sending concertgoers bracelets leading up to the August event that can be linked to credit card information for buying food and drinks.
Here's how it works: A small technology chip is embedded into the wristbands that concertgoers have to wear to enter Lollapalooza. Leading up to the event, attendees have the option to enter their credit card information once a bracelet is registered online. All of the restaurant and drink vendors will have point-of-sale systems set up so that users can tap the bracelets against a technology-enabled pad and type in a PIN code to pay for items. The payment is then automatically applied to a credit or debit card. "We feel like not only will that be big for us, but it will end up spreading across some of the other major festivals," said Patrick Dentler, marketing director at C3 Presents, which produces Lollapalooza, the Austin City Music Festival and the Austin Food & Wine Festival.
The tech-enabled wristbands also work offline, a smart move considering Internet connections at these types of events tend to be less than stellar. The point-of-sale systems will store transactions until they can be processed later if the Internet goes down.
Coachella, Bonnaroo and South by Southwest have also used RFID technology to tackle ticketing fraud and promote digital contests from sponsors. Already this year, marketers at Governor's Ball Music Festival and Electronic Daisy Carnival are putting a big emphasis on digital to connect with smartphone-toting millennials. However, Lollapalooza's effort that layers in e-commerce is interesting because it shows how music festivals testing new types of payments may give marketers like McDonald's and Starbucks that are already betting on mobile payments some additional insight into how millennials actually use their smartphones at events.
Nigeria's cashless campaign goes nationwide
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:28
DetailsPublished on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 11:46Published by Afia Owusu-NyantakyiHits: 176In spite of obvious hiccups, the cashless initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) goes live in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) today.
The policy, one of the reform programmes of former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now a first class traditional ruler in his home state, Kano) was designed to promote financial inclusion, reduce risks associated with carrying cash and also lower the huge cost of managing cash in the economy by the apex bank.
The programme was initiated about 30 months ago with the first pilot in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital. It was later extended to about six states in the country.
Emir Sanusi's successor, Godwin Emefiele had in pursuant to the policy, removed the three per cent charge on cash deposits above N500,000 for individuals and N3 million for corporate organizations for lenders in the country.
The financial sector regulator said it has not changed its mind to roll out the programme across the country today.
Analysts say going by the low success rate of the programme in states where it had been implemented, the apex bank ought to have tarried a while.
Under the initiative, alternative channels of payment such point of sales (PoT) terminals, automated teller machines (ATMs), e-channels such web based money transfers were encouraged by the apex bank in an economy widely believed not be literate.
While the PoS terminals have largely failed to live up to people's expectation owing to poor service delivery (itself due to dearth of infrastructure especially bandwidth for internet connectivity), the ATMs are more often than not out of service. Customers still get debited for transactions that were initiated but never concluded. It takes several agonizing days for customers to get reversals of such transactions.
Long queues that used to be the hallmarks of the banking halls have moved to ATM points. Queues in the banking halls have not given way either. So, for bank customers in the country, it is fear of the Nile and deep blue sea. "When you need money, you have money in your account, the challenge that comes to your mind is how to get the money. Going to the counter is problem while going to queue up at an ATM point is also whahala," Esther, a civil servant lamented.
While ATM related frauds have reduced tremendously, according to the CBN, insider abuse that has facilitated frauds associated with online banking still persists.
BizTech Africa
Kenya's matatu bus system to go cashless
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:27
1 July 2014Last updated at 07:11 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
The BBC's Anne Soy takes a ride on one of Kenya's new cashless matatus
Public transport in Kenya is going cashless as buses switch to new electronic fare payments.
From now on, the country's famously chaotic matatus, the minivans and buses that are used widely by Kenyan commuters, have been instructed to change to the new system.
But a Tuesday deadline for all buses to implement the cashless payments, or face fines, has been relaxed.
The sector's regulator has said that adoption will be gradual.
At least three companies are already using the new fare system, which operates in a similar way to London's Oyster card, with passengers pre-loading plastic cards with money and swiping them across a reader on board.
Customers can top up at agents, or by using mobile phone money transfer service M-pesa.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), responsible for implementing the policy, hopes it will help to tackle corruption and increase government tax revenue. Matatu operators have also seen benefits.
George Wanyama, manager of a company piloting the cashless system, told BBC Africa that revenue had gone up 30% in the two months since it was launched.
But operators had called for an extension of the deadline for implementation, citing fears of a police crackdown on non-compliant vehicles.
FlexibleThe Matatu Welfare Association said that as of last Friday, only 2,000 vehicles were compliant out of more than 20,000 in operation across the country.
Association chairman Dickson Mbugua warned that neither the public nor matatu operators had been properly educated about the cashless switch.
After dismissing calls for a deadline extension, the NTSA said late Monday that operators could continue to use cash in the short term.
"Some operators are compliant while others are not. We will be flexible to allow use of cash for the meantime," said NTSA director general Francis Meja.
DC One Card | octo
Sun, 29 Jun 2014 23:41
The DC One Card is a consolidated credential designed to give children, adults and seniors access to DC government facilities and programs, including public schools, recreation centers, libraries and the Metro. The DC One Card is also a building access card for DC government employees.
For DC Public, Charter and Private School students, the new card includes a bonus - immediate Metro SmarTrip® capability to help them travel to and from school.
The DC One Card ID is designed to:
Give all residents physical and logical access to all required DC government facilities, resources and programs
Offer convenience by eliminating the need for multiple District-issued ID cards
Provide access to the WMATA transportation system by incorporating Metro SmarTrip® capabilities into select DC One Cards.
Reduce credentialing inefficiencies, reduce costs, and mitigate fraud and misuse.
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VIDEO-For Travelers, This Summer's New Fee on Airline Tickets - WSJ
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:18
July 2, 2014 6:53 p.m. ET
The fee travelers pay for security screening more than doubles on July 21. It'll raise a great deal of money for TSA and underscores how much gets spent on aviation security and how it has grown. Middle Seat columnist Scott McCartney discusses on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Getty
Air travel, already plenty taxing, will get even more so later this month. At least $6 more per round-trip ticket in most cases and the cost of a nice dinner out in others, despite every effort from the airlines to stop it.
Beginning July 21, the federal Sept. 11 security fee that helps fund the Transportation Security Administration will more than double on many new tickets sold. The fee on a basic domestic nonstop round-trip ticket will go to $11.20 from $5. A one-way trip will cost $5.60 instead of $2.50 per flight segment. What's more, the current $10 per-ticket cap has been dropped, so a trip with multiple stops that last longer than four hours could see a whopping TSA fee multiplying with each additional leg of the itinerary.
In addition, airports are pushing to raise the facility fee that many charge passengers up to $8 every time you get on a plane, from the current limit of $4.50 per boarding. And Customs and Border Protection has been pushing an increase in its immigration fee on international tickets, to $9 from $7.
"It seems like a little bit of an onslaught right now," said Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy at Airlines for America, the airline industry's Washington, D.C., lobbying group. "Policy makers see air passengers as an ATM."
Of course, travelers think airlines behave much the same way, charging high fees for services they often used to include in the ticket price. Airlines have been able to raise billions dollars a year in additional revenue through baggage fees, seat-assignment fees, boarding priority fees and higher cancellation and ticket-change fees. The airline strategy has been to move those costs out of the ticket price so travelers can be enticed with low fares and then hit with additional costs at the airport.
Travel'--airlines, hotels and car rentals'--is already heavily taxed around the world. In the U.S., there are as many as 11 different taxes and government fees on airline tickets, depending on the itinerary. A typical $300 domestic ticket with a connection includes $61 in taxes and government fees, and the TSA fee increase will push the tax rate to 27% from 26%.
It could be worse: The United Kingdom charges an air passenger duty that in April rose to as much as $166 for economy-class passengers and up to $333 for other classes, depending on distance from London to the destination country's capital.
The TSA increase, which won't apply retroactively to tickets sold before July 21, should raise an additional $12.6 billion over 10 years, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan published in the Federal Register. The TSA fee hadn't been raised since TSA was created in 2002. The additional revenue would give TSA "the flexibility to meet increasing aviation security costs and better aligns the costs associated with passenger security to the direct beneficiaries," DHS said in its budget request.
Congress upped the fee to $5.60, beyond the $5 TSA requested. Congress also voted to send much of the increase to the general fund, not TSA, to help reduce the federal deficit. For example, the increase will generate an additional $322 million in the remainder of 2014, according to DHS. Of that, $122 million will go to TSA and $200 million will contribute to federal deficit reduction.
On the whole, passengers pay about 43% of the $5 billion annual cost of TSA aviation security, according to the agency, so general tax revenue comes back to fund it. When TSA was established under the DHS, it was agreed that aviation security was a national defense cost, paid for by all taxpayers on the ground, as well as anyone who flies.
The existing $10-per-trip cap on TSA fees wasn't part of legislation and wasn't included in the new fee hike Congress approved. So when DHS published rules on the new fees, it eliminated any cap. In its own background material, TSA offers an example of a multi-stop trip with a TSA fee of $33.60.
Several key lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, key transportation committee leaders and authors of the legislation in the Senate and House, have written to Obama administration officials saying Congress never intended to remove the cap and it should be restored.
Airlines would rather pay directly for TSA costs than pass them on in ticket fees. Reuters
Another increase that airlines have protested: The DHS rules now levy a domestic screening fee on passengers inbound from other countries who are making connections, such as someone arriving from Paris in New York and connecting on to Chicago. That wasn't done before, even though those passengers do go through TSA screening after clearing Customs. Beginning July 21, they'll be charged $5.60 for that New York-Chicago flight.
With the fee increase, Congress also voted to eliminate the $420 million in annual aviation security fees that had been imposed on airlines after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
But rather than cheering a nine-figure tax reduction, airlines say they'd prefer to pay directly for security rather than have it rolled into higher ticket prices. According to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, a 1% increase in airfares equates to a 1% decline in demand. While airlines have been cutting capacity, demand for available seats has remained strong and airlines have pushed fares higher. But airlines think raising ticket prices with taxes will make it even more difficult to fill seats.
"It hurts consumers more," said Ms. Pinkerton of Airlines for America. Likewise, airlines would rather see airports pay for new terminals through landing fees and rents charged to airlines, along with parking and concession revenue, rather than a Passenger Facility Charge levied on every ticket.
With airfare, tax increases impact the posted prices consumers see. With other consumer purchases, prices can be advertised without including taxes and fees. But the Department of Transportation imposed that requirement in part because taxes and fees can impact a ticket price so much and consumers complained about seeing a low price offer and then being switched to a higher price. In addition, some international airlines excluded a hefty fuel surcharge of $400 to $700 from advertised base fare prices, even though the airlines collect that as part of their fare. DOT simplified it all by forcing airlines to display a bottom-line price prominently. Airlines can show the tax breakdown, but it must be secondary to the total price.
Airlines are now backing legislation to change that, arguing the rule lets Congress raise taxes without consumers ever knowing how big the tax bite is.
Write to Scott McCartney at middleseat@wsj.com
VIDEO- Iran's Message: We Can Make History - YouTube
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:53
VIDEO-Israel's Netanyahu calls for supporting Kurdish independence | Video | Reuters.com
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 04:38
As animosity between Iraq's rival factions splinter the country, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his support for Kurdish statehood. SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYING: "Regarding the Kurds, they are a fighting people that have proved their political commitment, political moderation, and deserve political independence." Israel has quietly maintained military and intelligence ties with the Kurds for decades, seeing in the minority ethnic group a buffer against shared Arab adversaries. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYING: "We should support international efforts to strengthen Jordan and support the Kurdish aspiration for independence." Israel's position, appeared to clash with that of its close ally, the U.S. Washington, and particularly Secretary of State John Kerry have pressed Kurdish leaders to stand with Baghdad.
VIDEO- "Radical Jihadist" Using Gay Hookup App To Find And Kill Gay Men! - YouTube
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 00:59
VIDEO- Obama Impliments NEW Airport Security Measures - YouTube
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:29
VIDEO- Peter King: There's NO Equivalency Between Palestinians Being Killed And Israelis Being Killed - YouTube
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:19
VIDEO-CNN's Carol Costello: Does SCOTUS Ruling Allow 'Religion to Make Decisions Over Science?' | MRCTV
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:08
If the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
Uploaded 10:52 AM Jun 30thOn Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and that company's argument for religious freedom. CNN's Carol Costello wondered if the decision will now allow for ''religion to make decisions over science.'' Joined by a panel of several guests to discuss the coming ruling on CNN Newsroom, host Carol Costello was more concerned with the impact the Supreme Court ruling would have on science rather than constitutionality.
VIDEO-MSNBC Guest Invokes Jim Crow, Apartheid in Reaction to Hobby Lobby Ruling | MRCTV
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:46
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MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-NBC's Alexander Ponders With Wasserman Schultz: ''What Should the Administration Do Now?'' About Contraception | MRCTV
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:44
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-''Shocked'' Sarkozy dismisses corruption allegations as ''grotesque'' | euronews, world news
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:58
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out fighting on French TV news to dismiss as ''grotesque'' the charges of corruption facing him.
He dismissed the legal process that saw him detained for questioning and placed under investigation as betraying a ''will to humiliate'' him, and a ''political manipulation''.
''I'm deeply shocked at what's happened. I'm not asking for a privilege, if I've done something wrong I accept the consequences. I'm not a man who runs away from his responsibilities. I'd just like to appeal to everyone watching, imagine, is it normal I should be bugged and my most intimate conversations listened to since last September?'' he insisted.
VIDEO-CNN Rips Hobby Lobby For Investing In Birth Control: 'Hypocrisy At Its Finest' | Crooks and Liars
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 20:53
CNN host Ashleigh Banfield on Wednesday highlighted the "hypocrisy" of Hobby Lobby for investing in companies that made the same birth control products that it refused to provide to female employees.
Earlier this year, Mother Jonesrevealed that Hobby Lobby's retirement plan had more than $73 million invested in companies that produced emergency contraception pills. It was that same type of birth control that Hobby Lobby said it had an objection to when it took its case against President Barack Obama's health care reform law to the Supreme Court and won.
"The critics are calling Hobby Lobby's 401(k) investments hypocrisy at its finest," Banfield emphasized on Wednesday, adding that CNN had not gotten an explanation from the company after giving it "plenty of time" to respond.
"I don't even know where to begin on this one," the CNN host remarked. "I kept thinking to myself, this had to be an accident. But then I thought, it's no accident when you are in the middle of the biggest political storm -- all the way to the Supreme Court -- and, yet, your guys aren't aware of what your investments are in your very, very large 401(k)?"
CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik said that it was possible that Hobby Lobby's investments in contraception makers could have initially been an oversight, but she noted that the company could ask its mutual fund manager to forbid investments in certain companies.
"It would mean that Hobby Lobby employees would most likely have higher fees," Kosik pointed out. "But if you ask me, my thought is, if they're that fervent about upholding their biblical principles, maybe that should include their investments to."
"That's putting their money where their mouth is," she concluded.
First Day Of Georgia's New Gun Laws Produce Angry Standoff Between Gun Owners
VIDEO-WH Statement on Hobby Lobby Decision | MRCTV
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 19:23
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MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Why trading water futures could be in our future
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:58
So the question is, Will this most precious commodity become a traded resource that will be bartered for, and traded on a futures exchange, much like oil, corn or gold?
"It's intuitively appealing to talk about water as a traded asset. If you look at projections over the next 25 years, you'll see that global water supply and demand imbalances are on track to get worse," said Deane Dray, a Citigroup analyst who heads up global water-sector research. "The majority of the world population is living in water-scarce and water-stressed regions of the world. "
But Dray and other experts say trading water will be difficult, as water supply is ultimately a local issue all over the world.
"I don't see how you would do it. Water's regulated locally. It's regulated in every state. You can't put a pipe in a waterway and start selling it somewhere else," said Robert Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance, which promotes watershed protection globally. "The waterways are owned by the people of the state."
History is full of examples where water diversion led to wars or environmental tragedies. The former Soviet Union diverted rivers for crops in the 1960s, ultimately drying out the Aral Sea in Central Asia, where fishing boats are now stranded on dry land.
"Anything that ships water as a commodity out of a watershed would be extremely disruptive environmentally, and it would be disruptive to democracy and the public trust. We've already seen water wars all around the world because of companies trying to do that and governments trying to do that," Kennedy said.
The Middle East has seen many conflicts over water, including in Syria. The Euphrates River has long been a source of conflict between Turkey and Syria, and in the last month Turkey turned off the tap, affecting water flow to Syria and Iraq.
Kennedy said Western law, dating back to Roman times and even the Magna Carta, stated that water belongs to the people.
"Water is a multitrillion-dollar industry now, according to the World Bank, and because it is a commodity that is vital for human life and we're experiencing global shortages because of global warming and population growth ... it's something [that] people will try to figure out a way to commoditize and sell," Kennedy said. "The best measure of how a democracy functions is how the government distributes the goods of the land."
That would include waterways, fisheries, wildlife and public land.
Read MoreFor super-rich, investing to see dramatic changes
"Economists like the idea of trading [commodities] freely. The process increases economic efficiency," said Professor John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at the Center for Environmental Policy Research at MIT Sloan School of Management.
"In terms of large-scale international trading of water, we already have bottled water moving around. I think its more likely we will see desalinization and other sorts of things'--such as water reclaimed, cleaning up and recycling of water'--before we see large-scale trading of massive amounts of water, because it would be expensive to move," said Reilly. He said a solution to lack of water may be to move activities that require water, like crop production and manufacturing, from dry areas to wetter regions.
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VIDEO-Tim Howard still embraces his Tourette's syndrome, works to dispel ignorance - Yahoo Sports
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:13
For complete World Cup 2014 coverage visit Yahoo Sports and follow @YahooSoccer
SAO PAULO '' If you want to talk to Tim Howard about the medical condition that saw him ridiculed in the English tabloids and tormented by rival soccer fans, it is not difficult. You just ask him.
The United States goalkeeper in his third World Cup doesn't mind being asked about Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder he has suffered from since childhood.
In fact, despite it being cruelly used to single him out early in his career he welcomes the inquiry and embraces the condition, proud of having controlled it and determined to raise awareness for the benefit of others afflicted.
He might be the most ideal ambassador for a cause that you can imagine, living proof that those with Tourette's are normal people with the potential to be exceptional. And, with a brush of humor, he dispels the myth that it is simply a condition that makes you swear a lot.
"You know, we don't all curse," smiled Howard, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports. "I do on the field, unfortunately, to get my point across, but it's not because of my condition.
"It's defined as involuntary motor tics, twitches if you like. Some of it is blinking, clearing my throat, different muscle tensing of different body parts. Unfortunately it's misconstrued and portrayed in a comical way, particularly in Hollywood and movies and stuff."
[Photos: Meet the Americans' secret weapon at the World Cup]
As the U.S. team's man between the posts, Howard is also the player closest to the national team's growing band of traveling followers, both physically and literally. Heading into the team's World Cup opener against Ghana in the seaside city of Natal on Monday, the touring fans, led by the boisterous, full-volume and riotously entertaining phenomenon that is the American Outlaws supporters group, will be needed more than ever.
Tim Howard speaks with the media in Sao Paulo. (Getty)
Just like those who root for Howard's English Premier League team Everton, the Outlaws chant a ditty that is conducted to the tune of the Mary Poppins' song "Chim Chim Cher-ee."
"Tim Timiny, Tim Timiny, Tim, Tim Terr-oo. We've got Tim Howard and he says '[expletive] you.' "
The sentiment behind the chant is actually gentle. It is in support of Howard and is perhaps preferable to what opposing fans in England sing to taunt him:
"Swear in a minute, he's going to swear in a minute."
But it is still thousands of people chanting, incorrectly as it turns out, about his condition so millions can hear it on television. It has to bother him, right?
"In that regard, no, because it's endearing," Howard said, without hesitation. "It's people who, for lack of a better term, love me and appreciate what I do. It's kind of like tongue-in-cheek, in that regard, the song that they sing.
"Obviously opposing fans sing a different song, but again that's all a part of professional sports. But in terms of my own fans '' being the Everton fans, the U.S. fans '' it kind of brings us kind of closer together. So no, I don't have a problem with that."
[Related content: American actors and athletes believe the U.S. will win the World Cup]
The greatest role models are those who shine with patience and by example. Howard has that quality, one he has developed over time and now, at 35, he is a practical and spiritual leader on an inexperienced U.S. team.
At this stage of his career he understands the vitality of every moment and with the end of the road nearing, he's determined to cherish each experience. Brad Guzan will likely be handed the job at the end of this tournament after two campaigns as Howard's understudy.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describes Howard as one of the "top five goalkeepers in the world" and that is not loyal hyberbole. The topic is subjective but by any reckoning the American is right up there with the best in the business. For a coach, like Klinsmann or Everton chief Roberto Martinez, he is a dream; unfailingly positive, a locker room beacon and prepared to train like a rookie seeking his first big break.
"He is a special goalkeeper," Martinez said recently. "But he is even more special as a man."
Howard's experiences have undoubtedly shaped him. When he moved to England 11 years ago it is fair to say there was widespread ignorance of what his condition meant. The English press jumped on the issue, incredulous that Manchester United could dream of signing a player who was, as one publication scandalously put it, disabled.
I was on a brief assignment in the U.S. for my former employer, a London tabloid, in 2003. It was just before Howard signed for United and after being asked to track him down I had arranged an interview through his club, the Metrostars '' what would later become the New York Red Bulls.
To my horror, before the interview could take place, the paper ran a separate news story by another writer under the headline: "United's Swearing Savior."
Unsurprisingly, the Metrostars cancelled the interview. When I relayed that news to my desk the defensive response of "Well, he has Tourette's, doesn't he?" was indicative of the general level of misinformation about the condition, something Howard has long since battled.
Growing up in New Brunswick, N.J., as a child was tough, and Howard has told his friend and NBC commentary colleague Arlo White that if you can "survive Jersey with Tourette's, you can survive anything."
Or thrive at anything, which is the message Howard wants to pass on.
"I've always tried to live my dreams, even if they were too big for me to fathom," he said." With Tourette syndrome's, it was never a stop sign for me, it was always just a little bump in the road and I would just keep going. It wasn't going to stop me from achieving my dreams.
"I try and tell all the kids that I meet that hope to be amazing one day and be a professional athlete or a doctor, or a lawyer, or whatever they want to be. I tell them they can do all that because Tourette's won't stop them.
Tim Howard dives at a shot during a training session at the Sao Paulo FC training center on Wednesday. (AP)
"If I can inspire a kid who plays goalkeeper, or who plays soccer, or who has Tourette's then I feel like it's all worth it, and I think those are the days that make me feel the best. Winning is fun, but those moments that you can touch someone's life in a very positive way are better."
There are countless medical support groups in the U.S., each battling for a share of the public's attention, sympathy and support. For the National Tourette's Syndrome Association and its president Annetta Hewko, being erroneously cast as a condition of cursers makes it tough to compete for a share.
Howard, undoubtedly, helps significantly.
"The best thing about having Tim as a champion of our cause is that he is such an inspiration," Hewko told Yahoo Sports. "He is a talented, powerful, positive individual who is an outstanding person and is great at what he does. In many ways it is the perfect combination of a high-profile athlete who can bring attention to Tourette's, while showcasing that it is not a disability or a disease."
Howard's personal qualities are part of what makes his connection with U.S. fans so strong. Being a top goalkeeper certainly helps him in the popularity stakes, but even in the heat of battle and amid the fervor of the massed patriotic stadium ranks, many fans feel a kind of individual kinship with Howard.
"He is the guy we feel closest to," said Katie Mitchell, of the American Outlaws' Columbus, Ohio, chapter. "He kind of stands for everything that you want to stand for as a fan. You can tell he is appreciative of what he has and then he has shown this spirit to overcome adversity. You feel like you are rooting for a genuinely good person."
Goalkeeper is one position that the U.S. has never had to worry about and won't any time soon. The baton will pass soon to Guzan and Howard has already said he has no plans to play in Major League Soccer or anywhere else once his current contract at Everton expires in four years.
Then, the best chance of spotting (or at least listening to) Howard will likely be on television. He has already called several games alongside White for NBC, usually Sunday games on weekends when Everton plays on a Saturday.
White has been impressed by how quickly Howard has adapted to calling games, although it did not come effortlessly.
"Tim is one of the boys but you can tell how deeply he thinks about things," White said. "It struck me that he prepares for a commentary stint like he prepares for an EPL game and that is a huge testament to the man, when you think about it."
Tourette's syndrome fades in many cases with age and Howard's symptoms have changed and generally softened over time. But in moments of high stress, like in the commentary booth or in critical matches '' and none are bigger than the World Cup '' it shows up, the old nervous tics that he now understands well enough to welcome them like an old friend.
"They are familiar," Howard said. "They remind me to concentrate and tell me to be on my game."
It is typical Howard, a conscious recasting of a potential impediment into a positive. Like the chant that he accepts as affection, the media ignorance he turned into motivation and, ultimately, the condition he turned into a triumph.
He has learned more than how to manage Tourette's, he has learned how to manage himself. Whichever way you look at it, Tim Howard wins.
Sports & RecreationMediaTim Howard
VIDEO: FPI Board Member William Kristol Interviews Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 05:10
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More
BERLIN STANDS WITH SNOWDEN-Sarah Harrison stands with Snowden - YouTube
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:30
VIDEO-Backroom deal sees Schulz return as EP president | euronews, world news
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:21
German MEP Martin Schulz is back at the helm of the European Parliament, just weeks after he said he wanted to end the EU's culture of backroom deals.
He had been the centre-left's candidate to take over at the European Commission.
But the junior coalition partner in the German government, the SPD, dropped its demand that Schulz get a job with the EU executive, in return for his old role.
The 58-year-old hails from a small German town close to the border with the Netherlands and Belgium.
Schulz first wanted to become a professional football player, but a serious knee injury put paid to his sporting ambitions.
With his footballing dreams shattered, Schulz became a bookseller, joining the SPD at the age of 19.
He was first elected as an MEP in 1994.
Nine years later, he had an infamous run-in with ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, who likened him to a concentration camp guard.
In his last term as president, Schulz never shied away from taking on EU leaders.
He will now serve another two and a half years as president of the European Parliament; a role which has traditionally rotated between the centre-left and centre-right political groups.
The election, as it happened
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VIDEO-Cabinet decides on collective self-defense -NHK WORLD English-
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:44
Japan's Cabinet has changed the interpretation of the Constitution to enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense. The decision marks a major turnaround in Japan's post-war security policy.
The Cabinet approved what it calls the "Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan's Survival and Protect its People" at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
Past governments of Japan have long maintained that the country had the right to collective self-defense.But they traditionally interpreted the war-renouncing Constitution to mean that Japan was not permitted to use the right.
The Cabinet says that until the reinterpretation, the government could only permit the use of force in the event of an armed attack against Japan.
But it says that with the security environment surrounding Japan continuously changing, even an armed attack against a foreign country could threaten Japan's survival, depending on the attack's purpose, scale and manner.
The Cabinet says the government has concluded that the Constitution should be interpreted to permit the use of only necessary force for self-defense under certain conditions.
It says these include an armed attack on a foreign country that has close relations with Japan, and what it calls a clear danger of a threat to Japan's survival and a fundamental overturning of people's rights.
The document says it is natural to require assurance of civilian control. It says the government will stipulate in draft legislation that prior Diet approval is required in principle to order Japan's Self-Defense Forces to use force.
The decision comes after the governing Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, agreed on the draft earlier on Tuesday. The 2 parties have held rounds of talks on the issue.In a news conference after the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that Japan will only use its right to collective self-defense in limited cases.
Abe said the Cabinet didn't hold abstract or ideological discussions on whether exercising the right is allowed under the current Constitution.
He said the Cabinet discussed what should be done under the Constitution to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the Japanese people.
Abe said US vessels may be attacked in waters near Japan, while carrying Japanese fleeing conflicts in foreign countries. He said the attacks may not be directed at Japan, but it will protect such vessels to protect its nationals' lives.
Abe said collective self-defense must be exercised with the minimum use of force, and restricted to cases in which there are no alternatives. He added that his Cabinet's decision won't change its basic stance on the interpretation of the Constitution.
Abe said Japan's Self-Defense Forces will never participate in combat situations, citing the Gulf and Iraq wars as examples.
He said there is a misunderstanding that Japan would have to enter wars for the sake of protecting foreign nations, but such cases won't happen.
Abe said making full preparations against possible threats would provide deterrence against any attempts to wage war against Japan. He said the Cabinet's decision will further decrease the potentiality of Japan to be involved in wars.
Abe said he will launch a team to draw up the necessary legislation and submit bills to the Diet. He added that he will continue to seek the understanding of the Japanese people on the matter.
Jul. 1, 2014 - Updated 13:05 UTC
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VIDEO-300 More U.S. Troops Going to Iraq to Protect Americans - NBC News.com
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 16:44
Three hundred more U.S. troops were sent Monday to Iraq, where extremists have been trying to consolidate territory in their quest to create a border-crossing Islamic caliphate. A third of the troops are airfield management and security forces who were recently sent to Kuwait and the rest are CENTCOM forces who will be responsible for security at the American embassy and other facilities, including Baghdad Airport.
President Obama announced the deployment in a letter to congressional leaders. "This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat," he wrote. "This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed." The president has now authorized nearly 800 troops, in addition to the 300 military security forces that were already at the embassy before the assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
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IN-DEPTHSOCIAL'-- Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube
First published June 30 2014, 3:03 PM
VIDEO-SOUTH STREAM-EU approves Bulgaria credit line for banking system | euronews, economy
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:53
The European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack.
''The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,'' the EU executive said in a statement.The statement said Bulgaria's banking system was ''well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system''.The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week.
Reuters
VIDEO-Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for - Gadgets and Tech - Life & Style - The Independent
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:59
The company this week launches Fleshlight Launchpad, which allows users of their flashlight-shaped, vagina-like toy to plug it into the back of an iPad in order to 'fully immerse themselves' in whatever they're watching.
The gadget "enables the user to enjoy the full Fleshlight experience while enjoying content or communicating live with a friend via applications like Facetime or Skype," makers Interactive Life Forms claim, with its trailer showing a man making use of one while video-chatting with his girlfriend.
Any partner's first reaction to this would surely be 'why the hell are you f*cking your iPad?' though, so the attachment is presumably aimed at men without a significant other.
Though the whole thing may seem like a parody, the Launchpad is genuinely available now for £20.
Update: As commenter Monkeybot 5000 notes below, Grand Theft Auto V actually managed to parody this before it even existed...
VIDEO-Iraq crisis: Isis declares its territories a new Islamic state with 'restoration of caliphate' in Middle East - Middle East - World - The Independent
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:58
The announcement will see Isis now simply refer to itself as The Islamic State, and the group has called on al-Qa'ida and other related militant Sunni factions operating in the region to immediately pledge their allegiance.
According to Isis's chief spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the declaration of the ''restoration of the caliphate'' was made after a meeting of the group's Shura Council. In recent weeks, Isis has captured large areas of western and northern Iraq and for two years has held parts of Syria, imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law and in many cases, killing large numbers of opposition Shia Muslims.
Adnani said all jihadist organisations must now offer up their support to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been declared Caliph of the new state.
Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Qatar-based Brookings Doha Centre, said that the declaration signalled ''massive trouble'' regardless of the perceived legitimacy of the Isis group, adding that the next 24 hours will be ''key''.
Charlie Cooper, a researcher for the Quilliam counter-extremism think-tank, said the fact Baghdadi has been named Caliph was particularly controversial.
He told The Independent: ''There hasn't been a Caliph since the Ottoman Empire outside of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, and the Caliph is appointed as the only legitimate successor to Prophet Mohammed.''
''The fact that Isis has done this has huge ideological and theological implications and it is a big challenge to al-Qa'ida, their spokespeople may well try to reclaim their legitimacy.''
In the latest example of Isis' sophisticated use of social media, Cooper said a new propaganda video released 15 minutes before the announcement included a ''hint'' towards what was about to come, with a Chilean foreign fighter describing Baghdadi as his ''Caliph''.
''Everything that Isis has done has been very tactical with meticulous in planning,'' he said.
''There will be a lot of criticism from people saying announcing the restoration of the caliphate is premature, but Isis have rapidly evolved over the past few years and there's now a cult of personality about Baghdadi in Arabic social media.
''He is a very popular figure, and this will make people from al-Qa'ida and other groups question whether they should really be fighting for him.''
Read more:Iraq crisis: What is a caliphate?Russian fighter jets arrive to hold back Isis approachHelicopter gunships launch dawn air strikes on Isis-held TikritSectarian hatred stalks Baghdad as Shia-Sunni gulf widensPatrick Cockburn: Kerry's search for moderates is five years lateIsis execution site where 160 killed identified by satellite imagesThe news came as the Iraqi army was reportedly pushed back by rebel fighters protecting insurgent positions in the northern city of Tikrit today.
The military began its attempt to win back control of the city on Saturday, with a multi-pronged assault spearheaded by ground troops backed by tanks and helicopters.
Security officials said the army was coordinating the campaign with the US, but reports from the ground suggested it had been forced to pull back to the town of Dijla, 25km to the south, after a failed assault in which both sides suffered casualties.
Iraqi Kurdish forces take position as they fight jihadist militants on 29 June in the Iraqi village of Bashir, 20km south of the city of Kirkuk (AFP/Getty Images) Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said they had received delivery of the first Russian fighter jets it has bought second-hand to help stop the militants' advance.
The five Russian Su-25 planes are expected to enter service in the next three to four days, with more of the planes understood to be arriving soon.
Iraqi air force commander Anwar Hama Amin said the military is ''in urgent need of this type of aircraft during this difficult time''.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has blamed much of the rebels success on the Iraqi military's lack of air support. The country signed contracts to buy F-16 jets from the USA, but has been slow in receiving them.
He said Iraq is also hoping to acquire second-hand fighter jets from Belarus. The deals are together thought to be worth about $500 million (£293m).
The UN says that more than 1,000 people, largely civilians, have been killed in fighting between Iraqi forces and the rebels.
The US has now deployed drones to the region around Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town, though the White House said it has not yet authorised air strikes against militants and the drones will only be used for 'force protection'.
Other countries including Iran are thought to have stationed military equipment and forces in the region.
Professor Peter Neumann, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, said the significance of the announcement should not be underestimated.
''It's a declaration of war - not only against the West and all the countries that are currently fighting Isis but, more importantly, against al-Qa'ida. Isis now see themselves as the legitimate leaders of the movement and they expect everyone to fall in line.
''For ideological jihadists, the caliphate is the ultimate aim, and Isis - in their eyes - have come closer to realising that vision than anyone else. On that basis, Isis leaders believe they deserve everyone's allegiance.
''This could be the end of al-Qa'ida. It depends on how al-Qa'ida will respond. Unless they come out fighting, this could mark the end of [Osama] Bin Laden's vision and his legacy.''
Prof Neumann said the declaration of a caliphate showed how confident Isis was after making spectacular gains in Iraq in recent weeks.
''They haven't lost any of the momentum they gained when capturing Mosul,'' he said. ''On the contrary, they've held on to it, gained more territory and have seen jihadists from other groups swear allegiance to Isis.
''They must think their dream of creating the caliphate is finally coming true, and it's coming true faster and more dramatically than even they expected.''
VIDEO-Mexico 'Invades' Texas: 33 Soldiers Cross Border in Humvees - ABC News
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:40
ABC US News | ABC Sports NewsCopyMore than 30 soldiers in the Mexican Army crossed the border into Texas in Humvees on Tuesday before being processed and allowed to return to Mexico.
According to Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Rick Pauza, the accidental invasion occurred when 33 soldiers in four Humvees started crossing a bridge across the Rio Grande at Donna, Texas, and then realized they couldn't turn their vehicles around without entering the U.S.
A local newspaper, the Monitor of McAllen, Texas, reported that the Mexicans were chasing a resident of South Texas when they drove onto the bridge.
Without addressing the reason for the crossing, Pauza confirmed to ABC News that the incident had occurred and called it "inadvertent."
"There are times when an incident such as this occurs," said Pauza. "CBP has established protocols in place to handle such incident and all personnel have been processed as per those protocols. They returned to Mexico without incident."
In a statement, Mexico's National Ministry of Defense also confirmed that the incident had occurred, calling it "involuntary," and said it had happened "due to the vehicle turnaround being on the American side." The statement did not say why the Humvees drove onto the bridge.
Donna, Texas is in the Rio Grande Valley, just east of McAllen. The Donna-Rio Bravo Bridge officially opened in December 2010, but will not be open to commercial traffic till 2013.
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VIDEO-The McLaughlin Group 6/27/14 PART TWO - YouTube
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:39
VIDEO/AUDIO/the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 '-- 01 The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 {audiobook} - YouTube
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:56
VIDEO-Chris Domas: The 1s and 0s behind cyber warfare | Talk Video | TED.com
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:50
Chris Domas is a cybersecurity researcher, operating on what's become a new front of war, "cyber." In this engaging talk, he shows how researchers use pattern recognition and reverse engineering (and pull a few all-nighters) to understand a chunk of binary code whose purpose and contents they don't know.
pin This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxColumbus, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.
Blackwater Iraqi chief threatened to kill US govt. inspector - newspaper '-- RT USA
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:52
Published time: June 30, 2014 09:43ARCHIVE PHOTO: A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad (AFP Photo)
A senior official of the notorious private security company Blackwater allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator probing the firm's Iraqi operation. The US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short.
The shocking insight into the relations between the US State Department and the company hired to protect government employees in Iraq wasreportedby the New York Time on Sunday. The newspaper citesdocumentswhich were turned over to plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Blackwater, including a memo describing the incident submitted by the investigator, Jean C. Richter, to his superiors in Washington.
Diplomatic Security special agent Richter was part of the two-man team together with State Department management analyst Donald Thomas Jr. that arrived in Baghdad on August 1, 2007 to inspect Blackwater operations in the country. The company was awarded a $1 billion contract to provide security for the State Department and the CIA in Iraq.
According to the documents, the investigators found numerous violations, including changing of security details without the State Department's approval, reducing the number of guard details and storing of automatic weapons and ammunition in Blackwater employees' private rooms. There were also discipline problems, with guards having parties with heavy drinking and female visitors, including one episode in which an armored Blackwater car was requisitioned by four drunken employees, who drove to a private party and crashed the $180,000 vehicle into a concrete barrier.
As the probe continued, apparently it irritated some people in power in Iraq. On August 20, Richter was summoned by the embassy's regional security officer, Bob Hanni, who said he had received a call asking him to document Richter's ''inappropriate behavior.'' The investigator contacted Washington and was instructed to take his partner to all remaining meetings.
The next day Richter and Thomas met Daniel Carroll, Blackwater's project manager in Iraq, to discuss a complaint over food quality and sanitary conditions at a cafeteria in Blackwater's compound. Carroll said Richter could not tell him what to do in his cafeteria and went on to threaten him.
The Blackwater chief said ''he could 'kill me' at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,'' Richter recounted in the memo. ''I took Mr. Carroll's threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.''
Thomas corroborated Richter's account of the events in a separate statement, saying that Carroll's comments were ''unprofessional and threatening in nature.'' He added that the investigators were told by people in Baghdad to be ''very careful,'' considering that their review could jeopardize Blackwater's operations there.
Richter said the company officials showed little respect either to State Department officials like himself or to FBI agents present in Iraq.
''To me, it was immediately apparent that the Blackwater contractors believed that they were the de facto authority and acted accordingly, in an alarming manner,'' the memo said. ''Blackwater contractors saw themselves as 'above the law' and actually believed that they 'ran the place'.''
He said he was shocked when the US embassy in Baghdad sided with Carroll and ordered the two investigators to leave Iraq immediately. In an August 23 email, Ricardo Colon, the acting regional security officer at the embassy, told Richter that their mission had become ''unsustainably disruptive to day-to-day operations and created an unnecessarily hostile environment for a number of contract personnel.'' The next day the inspectors cut short their probe and left Baghdad.
''The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,'' Richter stated in the memo.
The events happened just weeks before Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians, including a nine-year-old boy in Bahgdad's Nisour Square on September 16, 2007. The incident sparked outrage with American presence in Iraq among the local population. The US is currently trying to prosecute four of the five guards involved in the incident after a first failed attempt to do it in 2009.
Blackwater was founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince and grew to a private security giant with billions worth of contracts from the US government. After a series of scandals marred the company name, Prince sold it. Blackwater was renamed three times eventually merging with its competitor Triple Canopy to form what is now called Constellis Holdings.
VIDEO- "The Supreme Court Is Now Run By A Bunch Of GOP Lackeys!" - YouTube
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