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Gambling Firms Turn Out to be a Bad Bet

LONDON – Oh dear, a few months back I wrote about online gambling sites that

The stock market has expressed its view of the likelihood of gambling regulators effectively controlling behaviour by pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into gambling companies that draw revenue from a sizeable US user base.

And now we see the share prices of these same firms collapse as the US Congress has indeed taken legislative action to block their activities.Whatever the rights and wrongs of gambling as a specific issue, this decision is significant for the future of internet content regulation. Whilst it does not actually prevent access to sites, it asserts the right of a national government to control the online activities of its citizens. In the EU, regulatory activity has focussed more on laws requiring service providers and search engines to block access to sites containing material deemed to be illegal. The net effect of both forms of action is that increasingly the internet behaves differently depending on which country you are in. Where this will lead us over the long term is as yet uncertain but it is a trend that is worth watching.

Net Neutrality: Canadian Style

SAN JOSE, CA – I would like to draw your attention to a recent academic paper penned by Craig McTaggart, a senior regulatory counsel at TELUS, a Canadian communications company. The paper was prepared for the 34th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy George Mason University School of Law Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.His paper begins: “A new net neutrality rule cannot be justified as simply a codification of”the way the Internet has always been.” If the Internet was ever predominantly ‘neutral,’ it was at a time when the public was not allowed to use it. Since then, the requirements of Internet users have necessitated changes to many aspects of the Internet’s design and operation, with many of those changes requiring divergence from the Internet’s early customs and architecture. The examples of non-neutrality explored in this paper -preferential content arrangements,distributed computing, filtering and blocking to control network abuse, differential interconnection and interconnectivity, and the impact of resourceintensive applications and users -demonstrate that the Internet and its use are far from neutral or egalitarian. (Italics are mine). Those advocates who would like to see the Internet forced into the mould of a regulated public utility bear the heavy onus of justifying rejection of competitive market outcomes in favour of a stylized vision of public internetworking that prohibits or reduces the incentives for innovation within the network itself. The types of uses to which users are increasingly putting the Internet, as well as the subject-matter of current architectural research, suggest that the incongruity of a net neutrality rule with the interests of mainstream Internet users will only continue to grow. Instead of trying to prejudge what kinds of data service offerings consumers will find attractive in the future, the user-driven evolution of the Internet should be allowed to continue.”Read the full paper here. (.pdf document)

Verizon’s PoliBlog: Welcome to the Blogosphere

SAN JOSE, CA – I would also like to welcome Verizon to the blogosphere with their new PoliBlog. They started their policy blog to add to the debate and lend their expertise to matters of communications and telecom policy…something that this blog has tried to do since its inception of February 2005. Welcome, Verizon!poliblog.jpg

Blogging: 34 Million Chinese Can’t Be Wrong

SAN JOSE, CA – The Chinese News Agency, Xinhua, has published an article that says that there are now 34 million bloggers in China. “In August the number of blogs in China hit 34 million which is 30 times more than only four years ago when the on-line writing craze started to sweep the country. More than 17 million people in China consider themselves blog writers and offer personal insights and opinions on any topic they wish, according to a report on China’s blog market which says 75 million people regularly read blogs.”There is a debate currently in some circles that says that some companies who supply equipment or services to the Chinese Internet are proactively helping the Chinese government from allowing Chinese citizens from utilzing Internet services or information. IMHO, when the Chinese News Agency says that blogs have risen 30-fold in four years and it is a popular medium, published by the people, for the people then it would suggest to me that more and more Chinese are using the Internet. Exchanging information. Exchanging ideas. That seems like a good thing to me. Full story.In related news, China Daily reports that “foreign journalists covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be able to travel freely throughout China and have unrestricted access to the Internet…”We’ve no restrictions on travel for foreign journalists in China,” Sun Weijia, head of media operations for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), told the Olympic World Press Briefing. “They can travel anywhere in China.” Looks like this is more positive news for reporters, bloggers and all in China.

Net Neutrality “Quote of the Week”

SAN JOSE, CA – With regards to the current debate in Congress on the telecom bill generally and net neutrality specifically, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is quoted in today’s National Journal’s Tech Daily “People” Column “in responding to a question about whether he might alter his telecom bill to strengthen language on network neutrality in an effort to move his legislation”: “There’s no way you can appease these people. It’s a fetish — it’s really something that doesn’t exist. But they want to stop this bill because it might exist.” — Sen. Ted StevensA previous blog entry on this site followed very similar logic.