No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Day by Day cartoon

Archive for the 'Technology' Category

November 25, 2014

Here we go again – the EU picks a fight with Google

by @ 21:42. Filed under Da Tech Guy columns, Media, Politics, Technology.

Editor’s note – This originally appeared at Da Tech Guy Blog, where I write a weekly column on Saturdays

Stop me if you heard this one before – the European Union, flush with soverign political power but essentially bankrupt in the technology world, targets a dominant American technology company to force it to “de-couple” a major part of its business model from the rest of the company’s business model. This is actually the third time the EU has at least threatened this, and while the first two times, it successfully targeted Microsoft, this time, they’re targeting Google. The opening paragraph of Forbes contributor Tim Worstall’s piece:

Or at least that’s what is being suggested in the European Parliament, that search engines should be forced to be divorced from other business activities. It’s also true that they don’t directly mention Google but that’s obviously who it is aimed at. Fortunately, as a matter of public policy this isn’t going to go very far. Because the European Parliament doesn’t actually have the right to propose either actions or legislation. Only the European Commission can actually propose something and then the Parliament gets to say yea or nay to it.

Before you laugh this threat away like Worstall does, I am compelled to point out that the EU not only got Microsoft to unbundle Windows Media Player and, later, Internet Explorer from the various versions of Windows sold in Europe, but that the EU enriched itself by nearly $2 billion from Microsoft’s coffers.

The interesting bit of the EU’s latest attack on American technology companies comes later in Worstall’s column. It seems the German press got miffed that Google News was “stealing” their articles by, get this, excerpting the articles and linking to the full versions, with the net effect of driving traffic to the German press’ websites. Their attempt to use the German Bundestag to show Google what’s what failed spectacularly when Google simply stopped linking to them instead of paying the suddenly-legalized extortion. They then got the German members of the EU bureaucracy involved, and here we are.

I’m sure there’s a lesson for the “establishment” press here. On a related note, do read Worstall’s piece for the explanation of why decoupling Google’s search engine from the rest of its business is “insane”.

November 22, 2010

COHICA, BOHICA, or cloaca?

by @ 11:16. Filed under Politics - National, Technology.

(H/T – Ed Morrissey)

Wired reports that a very-disturbing item known as CLOAC…er, BOHIC…er, COHICA is fast-tracking its way through the lame-duck Senate, unanimously clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 3804 has two parts ostensibly designed to combat digital piracy, but which can be (and probably will be considering the bent of the current administration) used to silence critics of the LeftStreamMedia. Since I am one of those critics, it really hits home.

The first part allows the Attorney General to petition the courts to force domestic hosting companies and DNS servers to block access to any site that the AG deems to have “no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than…(to) enable enable or facilitate a violation of title 17, United States Code, including by offering or providing access to, without the authorization of the copyright owner or otherwise by operation of law, copies of, or public performance or display of, works protected by title 17, in complete or substantially complete form, by any means, including by means of download, transmission, or otherwise, including the provision of a link or aggregated links to other sites or Internet resources for obtaining such copies for accessing such performance or displays….” That’s right – a thorough fisking isn’t necessary to be shut down; merely linking to a site that does said thorough fisking can get one shut down.

That is bad enough. What’s worse is the Attorney General will be maintaining a list of those domains that he or she didn’t decide to act judicially against, and that any domestic web host or DNS server that decides “on their own” to block access will get the same immunity against action that those ordered to block access by the court does.

As Ed puts it:

Furthermore, the ambiguous nature of the infringements covered and the definition of centrality could make this a bill with much more impact in the blogosphere. Many of us link to media articles and excerpt under the “fair use” provision of copyright law, designed to further debate and discussion without damaging the critical concept of intellectual property. However, it’s no secret that mainstream media organizations are mainly hostile to this process and occasionally threaten bloggers for engaging in it. If an administration decides it doesn’t much like a blogger or an alternate-media site — or a whole bunch of them — it won’t take many complaints from lawsuit-happy media outlets to convince an Attorney General in some administrations to suspend the domains involved, leaving the alternate media no recourse at all and no platform from which to dissent.

In effect, it hands the executive branch a big weapon to silence dissent, or at the very least, to threaten those who engage in it.

Point of order – it actually won’t take any complaints from an administration-compliant media. So, if this passes and this place suddenly becomes “unavailable”, at least you’ll know why.

September 27, 2010

Google/Verizon “Net Neutrality” agreement – pros and cons

by @ 12:36. Filed under Business, Politics - National, Technology.

Recently, Google and Verizon made an agreement-in-principle on what forms of new regulation on internet service providers they were willing to and unwilling to accept. The summary from Google’s and Verizon’s CEOs sound completely high-minded, but as always, the potential devils are in the details. Let’s take a quick look at each of the key elements:

  • Consumer protections - The key word here is “lawful”. I’m leery of overextending this provision as just about any activity, including activity that continuously maxes out the contractually-available bandwith like, say, hosting a web server or watching YouTube videos 24/7, can be on either side of that line. Businesses that self-host web servers do pay a premium for consistent access to said server.
  • Non-discrimination requirement -The first part, preventing undue discrimination of traffic causing harm to competition, is indeed a worthy goal. A non-binding presumption against prioritization of network traffic is a wee bit inconsistent with another item in the proposal allowing for prioritization of network traffic (which I’ll deal with in a bit).
  • Transparency -To put it simply, clarity is good.
  • Network management -Take it from someone who has been at conferences where there has simply been too much traffic for the available wi-fi – this tool is absolutely, positively necessary for ISPs. Indeed, one of the tools allowed is a by-general-class prioritization of network traffic.
  • Additional online services -As long as the ISP delivers its contractually-obligated speeds for the general internet, all the more power to it if it also uses the network for a faster product. Of course, the way this is written, The Mouse might not be too happy because it would make the current execution of ESPN3.com illegal.
  • Wireless broadband -I’m shocked, SHOCKED to see that business partners Google and Verizon Wireless don’t want most of these new regulations on wireless broadband, and most-specifically the non-discrimination requirement.
  • Case-by-case enforcement -I like the idea of limiting the FCC’s role to enforcing the law, and the encouragement of third-party resolution processes.
  • Regulatory authority -If I’m reading that portion correctly, it establishes a very bright line of what the FCC can (ISPs) and cannot (content and software) regulate, and what other regulatory authorities cannot (ISPs) regulate. As someone who is wary of what some of those pushing for “neutrality” see “neutrality” as, I really like the idea of keeping the FCC out of the content-regulation business.
  • Broadband access for Americans -What is this doing in here? Seriously, why do ISPs have to bear the burden of making sure content is usable by those with disabilities? Shouldn’t that be left to the makers of consumer hardware that connects to the Internet?

On balance, the agreement could be a bit better, but leaving it solely in the hands of government would almost certainly make things a whole lot worse.

[No Runny Eggs is proudly powered by WordPress.]