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Broadband Roundup: AT&T Won’t Block Internet, Google and Vodafone Working to ‘Seal Cracks’ in Net




WASHINGTON, June 9, 2014 - In a blog post on Friday, AT&T gave its assurance that paid prioritization was not part of the telecommnications gianits plans.

"Not a single [internet service provider] has asserted a desire or right to engage in any of these practices to create 'fast lanes and slow lanes.'  AT&T certainly has no plans or intent to change its position on this," said Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president and top lobbyist for AT&T.

Even if AT&T were to want to separate people into fast and slow lanes, the company would be obliged to follow the 2010 open internet order from the Federal Communications Commission, as well as its statement of broadband practices, not to violate net neutrality commitments. Comcast made a similar commitment as part of a merger agreement.

AT&T remains vociferously opposed to reclassification of broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act, said Cicconi. Doing that would "strangle broadband investment just as it did investment in wireline telephony." Such a move would punish America's most successful global internet companies.

"We’re with the innovators," Cicconi said. "We’re with those who see the internet as a liberating technology.  We’re with those who want to challenge the status quo, and those who simply want to entertain.  And, importantly, we’re with those who use the internet to bring the accumulated knowledge of mankind to every single person on the planet.   We’re determined to keep expanding the opportunities the internet creates."

In other news, The New York Times reported that Google is taking measures in "sealing up cracks" in its systems since Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's widespread telephone and internet surveillance.

Google is encrypting and encoding data – and helping consumers to do the same. The activity is not just to protect people from the NSA, but from surveillance by foreign governments like China. Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo are following suit, according to The Times.

On a similar note, the Associated Press reported that Vodafone has disclosed government surveillance of customers in 29 nations. Most of those 29 nations requested cooperation from the wireless provider, but in at least six countries, security agencies asserted direct access to company phone records without legal process.

Too often, Vodaphone itself is left "in the dark" on surveillance activities by governments, wrote AP.

No specific nations were mentioned, but the AP noted that in an 88-page appendix to documentation released by Vodaphone, five countries - Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland, and Qatar – were identified as having laws allowing authorities to "demand unfettered access."

Bloomberg reported that many governments explicitly forbid the disclosure of electronic snooping. According to Bloomberg, Vodafone's steps toward transparency encouraged carrier Deutsche Telekom AG to disclose more information.


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