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Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 06:38 AM PST

Saving the democratic Internet

by Timothy Karr

Opponents of the open Internet like to portray its guiding rule, Net Neutrality, as "a government takeover of the Internet."  

They argue that from the day of its inception the Internet has existed free of regulation — a perfect expression of the marketplace at work.  

What they don’t understand is that the Internet is a far better expression of democracy, and as such needs rules like Net Neutrality to ensure all users have equal access to online content.  

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Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 05:03 AM PDT

High Noon for Internet Freedom

by Timothy Karr

As democracy movements worldwide struggle to speak out via the Internet, many here in the U.S. may have overlooked an effort in Congress to undermine this basic freedom.

It takes the form of an arcane "resolution of disapproval" now wending its way through the Senate. If it passes, the resolution would void a recent Federal Communications Commission rule that seeks to preserve long-held Internet standards that protect users against blocking and censorship.

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Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 07:32 AM PDT

Class War?

by Timothy Karr

Two recent news items of note. First, this extraordinary piece by News Hour’s Paul Solman, which illustrates the disconnect between what people think about America’s income distribution and the shocking reality:

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Congress may be finally waking up to the obvious: that the massive merger of AT&T with T-Mobile just doesn't make sense.

No amount of contributions from AT&T, or visits from AT&T lobbyists, will alter this simple truth.

On Wednesday, the Senate's top antitrust official, Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, weighed the facts and wrote a letter urging Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to reject AT&T's proposed takeover.

Poll

What would you say are the current propsects for federal approval of AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile?

40%12 votes
20%6 votes
30%9 votes
10%3 votes
0%0 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 07:09 PM PDT

Murdoch Scandal Jumps the Pond

by Timothy Karr

The media scandal that's snared Rupert Murdoch and other News Corporation executives in Great Britain has crossed the Atlantic, and could cause more homegrown trouble for the U.S.-based company.

In the past 48 hours, Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez have called for an investigation of News Corp., saying that the behavior of Murdoch's executives and staff in England raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of the company under U.S. law.

Poll

Will any News Corporation executives face prosecution in the United States for crimes related to the phone hacking scandal?

28%8 votes
28%8 votes
42%12 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 07:27 PM PDT

The Trouble with Rupert

by Timothy Karr

There are many reasons that the scandal that's engulfing Rupert Murdoch has riveted public attention over the last seven days. It's a story that features all of the classic elements: twists of fate, betrayal, deception, abuse of power, and, even, murder.

But beneath Murdoch's meltdown lies a bigger problem, and its one that's not confined to the United Kingdom. It plagues all consolidated news organizations that reach a certain size and stature, but especially News Corp: The problem of media that get too cozy with power.

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Twitter's #AskObama question selection process was "like panning for gold in the wrong stream," tweeted Economist political writer Will Wilkinson.

Wilkinson should know. He was one of the "curators" asked to sift through the feed and select questions for President Obama during Wednesday's live event.

According to CNN, the so-called "Twitter Town Hall" was so heavily moderated and filtered that only 0.045% of the 40,000 questions asked were actually posed to the president.

Poll

How would you rate Twitter's recent "Town Hall" with President Obama?

0%0 votes
0%0 votes
66%2 votes
33%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 3 votes | Vote | Results

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Question: What would billionaire Mark Zuckerberg lose by refusing Chinese demands that he censor Facebook? What would he and his company gain from being more principled?

This came up after reading Christopher Luna's analysis of Google Plus as an alternative to Facebook, Zuckerberg's social networking colossus that boasts 750 million users globally.

Google Plus, which launched in beta last week, has been Topic One among the “digerati,” who've spent much of the week kicking the tires of Facebook's new competitor and reporting back to followers and friends.

Poll

Which social network, if any, aligns best with your values?

2%1 votes
5%2 votes
34%12 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
51%18 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

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Why are more than 70 House Democrats helping AT&T lie to you?

They just signed on to an industry letter that was so riddled with misinformation about AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile it’s shocking that anyone would put their name on it.

All told these representatives raked in more than $1.8 million in campaign contributions from AT&T. That money likely helped convince them to look the other way as they signed a letter in support of AT&T's attempt form a telecommunications colossus that rivals the Ma Bell monopoly of old.

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It's fair to say that media and the public have responded with disgust to news that FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker had cut short her public duties to lobby for Comcast, the company whose takeover of NBC Universal she had just approved.

Baker's Comcast dash raised the eyebrows of even the most seasoned Beltway insiders -- including those who tend to see public-sector service as the farm league for "K" Street jobs.

But the criticism hasn't been limited to one bureaucrat's shameless decision to abandon her 2009 oath to serve the American people. Baker's move may become the tipping point for new rules to stop Washington's revolving door from tempting any bureaucrat to exchange a light regulatory hand for the promise of a high-salaried job.

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Net Neutrality, the First Amendment of the Internet, has come under withering attack from the Astroturf lobby – corporate front groups that are determined to hand control of the Internet to companies like AT&T and Comcast.

Their battle strategy involves getting a handful of House Democrats to cave to right-wing pressure and vote in favor of a measure that would strip the Federal Communications Commission of its ability to protect freedom of speech and choice for Internet users.

Poll

Will House Democrats hold the party line in support of Net Neutrality or side with their corporate benefactors and the Tea Party against it?

64%32 votes
22%11 votes
14%7 votes

| 50 votes | Vote | Results

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Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 05:07 AM PDT

Censorship: Made in the USA

by Timothy Karr

March has been a stormy month across the Arab world as the hope for new democracy faces the harsh reality of despots armed with guns, tanks and the tools of censorship.

In Libya, the Gaddafi regime plunged the nation into digital darkness during the first week of March, turning off Internet access to keep Libyans from organizing one another and documenting Gaddafi's crimes for the world to see.

In Bahrain, the kingdom reacted to democracy demonstrators by blacking out websites where locals shared cell phone videos, blocking YouTube pages containing videos of street protests, and taking down a large Facebook group that called for more demonstrations.

It doesn't end there.

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