‘Chilling Effect’ of Mass Surveillance Is Silencing Dissent Online, Study Says By Nafeez Ahmed March 19, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Motherboard"

Thanks largely to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, most Americans now realize that the intelligence community monitors and archives all sorts of online behaviors of both foreign nationals and US citizens.

But did you know that the very fact that you know this could have subliminally stopped you from speaking out online on issues you care about?

Now research suggests that widespread awareness of such mass surveillance could undermine democracy by making citizens fearful of voicing dissenting opinions in public.

Censorship on Rise as Global Internet Freedom Continues Downward Spiral by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer. Published on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 by Common Dreams

Well over half of all internet users live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family has been subject to censorship online

For the fifth year in a row, global internet freedom continued its downward trend in 2015, with more governments censoring information of public interest while simultaneously expanding surveillance and thwarting privacy tools, according to the annual assessment by the U.S.-based Freedom House released Wednesday.

How blazing Internet speeds helped Chattanooga shed its smokestack past Chattanooga's transformation has been decades in the making, but the construction of one of the largest and fastest Internet networks in the Western Hemisphere will be key to helping the city write the next chapter for the 21st century. The city represents the vanguard of communities pushing for better Internet service and serves as a model for the benefits that can stem from broader online access. The Gig, as the locals call its network, has attracted billions of dollars in new investment and a flock of entrepreneurs to the city, who may come to the city for the promise of superfast broadband, but stay for the easy, affordable lifestyle, abundant outdoor activities and hip culture.

Chattanooga may seem like an unlikely place for a tech hub, but a long history of progressive thinking has put the midsize southeastern city -- two hours north of Atlanta -- in an enviable position. In 2010, Chattanooga turned on its so-called gigabit service, an industry term for a network able to connect to the Internet at 1 gigabit per second, or 50 to 100 times faster than your average US Internet connection, through a faster fiber-optic line. That was two years before Google broke ground on its first gigabit market in Kansas City.

Today, the network, which has been recognized as a model of innovation by President Barack Obama, is the largest and longest-running deployment of gigabit broadband in the nation, spanning 600 square miles and covering the entire population of Chattanooga -- 170,000 -- with access to ultra high-speed broadband.


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'The Dream of Internet Freedom is Dying,' Warns Top Civil Liberties Attorney Jennifer Granick, addressing security professionals at the annual Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on August 5, said "the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers" are allowing the government to push for even more regulation and control of the Internet.

The dream is dying, she said, because "we’ve prioritized things like security, online civility, user interface, and intellectual property interests above freedom and openness." And governments, for their part, have capitalized on the fear of "the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers" to push for even more regulation and control, she added.

Granick's dire pronouncement, which echoed similar assertions made by security experts and civil liberties groups, comes just over two years after National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden cracked open the seal on the U.S. government's online spying capabilities and revealed just how little security and secrecy remain on the World Wide Web.

Late last month, Snowden himself made a direct plea to technologists to build a new Internet specifically for the people.

The NSA Has Taken Over the Internet Backbone. We're Suing to Get it Back. byPatrick Toomey. ACLU is suing.

Building an Internet Movement from the Bottom Up

Hightower: Why Corporations Are Doing Everything They Can to Destroy Net Neutrality

FCC adopts Net neutrality rules to ban Internet discrimination categorize high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service. Consumers have long been guaranteed the right to call any phone number they desire and phone companies have to treat all calls equally... The new rules, which will apply to both wired and wireless Internet connections, include several major restrictions on Internet service providers. They may not slow down or block access to legal content, applications or services. They also may not create "fast lanes," speeding up some traffic in return for additional fees.

Chattanooga Network Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

How Maine Saved the Internet The town's Internet access connection didn't have enough room to handle the school's demands, and private companies would charge too much to be a realistic option... That is, until this week, when Rockport opened its own gigabit-scale municipal fiber optic network -- meaning it can transmit a thousand megabits of data a second. Weston is jubilant: Given the inexpensive, world-class connectivity, she can make the school's courses available to people in other states and countries -- and persuade her students to make a life in Maine.

Megabits Find A Home In Rockport: First municipally-owned, ultra high-speed internet service debuts! Prior to the installation of the fiber network, a typical user's download bandwidth was 9.18 Mbps with an upload bandwidth of 4.29 Mbps. Post-fiber network installation in Rockport Village, the fiber optic Internet connection is 100 times faster than typical connections. The new fiber optic bandwidth now provides a download speed of 84.16 Mbps and an upload speed of 84.50 Mbps. By comparison that’s 35 times faster than, say, the household service for a resident of San Francisco, arguably the heart of the tech industry.

Should the Internet Be Like the Public Library? Wednesday, 13 August 2014 15:21 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed. In fact, one recent study put the U.S. at number 31 in the world in overall download speed, lagging behind much smaller and less developed countries like Estonia, Hungary, and Slovakia... Internet speeds in the U.S. average out around 20.77 megabits per second, which is less than half of the average internet speed in Hong Kong, which has the world's fastest internet. For a country like ours, the country that invented the internet and is home to some of the world's most powerful tech companies, this is just embarrassing. But now residents of the small town of Rockport, Maine will get to experience the kind of super high-speed internet that the rest of the world has access to on a daily basis.

Rockport installs its own super-fast Internet network For the first time in Maine, a town spent public dollars to build an Internet network that, albeit small, represents a break from business as usual in the state, where there is relatively little consumer choice when it comes to buying Internet access.

First municipally-owned ultra-fast internet network Debuts in Rockport, Maine Also attending the press conference at the invitation of Senator King was Susan Crawford, who served as President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy. She is the author of “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,” in which she suggests that high-speed Internet access in the U.S. is as essential as electricity, but is currently too slow and too expensive.

Municipal broadband Wireless public municipal broadband networks avoid sometimes unreliable hub and spoke distribution models and use mesh networking instead.[3] This method involves relaying radio signals throughout the whole city via a series of access points or radio transmitters, each of which is connected to at least two other transmitters. Mesh networks provide reliable user connections and are also faster to build and less expensive to run than the hub and spoke configurations. Internet connections can also be secured through the addition of a wireless router to an existing wired connection – a convenient method for Internet access provision in small centralized areas.

Wireless public municipal broadband networks avoid sometimes unreliable hub and spoke distribution models and use mesh networking instead.[3] This method involves relaying radio signals throughout the whole city via a series of access points or radio transmitters, each of which is connected to at least two other transmitters. Mesh networks provide reliable user connections and are also faster to build and less expensive to run than the hub and spoke configurations. Internet connections can also be secured through the addition of a wireless router to an existing wired connection – a convenient method for Internet access provision in small centralized areas.

Chattanooga's super-fast publicly owned Internet Chattanooga, Tenn., may not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to cutting-edge technology. But thanks to its ultra-high-speed Internet, the city has established itself as a center for innovation -- and an encouraging example for those frustrated with slow speeds and high costs from private broadband providers.

Fast Internet Is Chattanooga’s New Locomotive “Gig City,” as Chattanooga is sometimes called, has what city officials and analysts say was the first and fastest — and now one of the least expensive — high-speed Internet services in the United States. For less than $70 a month, consumers enjoy an ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic connection that transfers data at one gigabit per second. That is 50 times the average speed for homes in the rest of the country, and just as rapid as service in Hong Kong, which has the fastest Internet in the world.

Baltimore for Broadband Op-Ed Demands Local Authority believe that in order for Baltimore to continue its development into a haven for young people, minimize pernicious digital inequalities, and ensure economic growth, the City must take charge of its fiber assets

Other Washington D.C. area communities - such as Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia - are currently in the process of launching their own community broadband projects. Same goes for Harford County, Maryland. Some forward-thinking Maryland communities, such as Howard County, MD have been working to increase fiber availability for years

133 US cities now have their own broadband networks If you want 100Mbps symmetrical broadband—which offers the same upload and download speeds—and you live in the state of North Carolina, you have only one choice: a city-owned broadband provider. The city of Wilson's "Greenlight" ISP recently bragged about signing up "North Carolina's first homeowners" with the service, which costs $150 a month if packaged with other services.

Such publicly owned networks can offer services that incumbents don't, such as the 1Gbps fiber network in Chattanooga, Tennessee, run by the government-owned electric power board. And they sometimes have more incentive to reach every resident, even in surrounding rural areas, in ways that might not make sense for a profit-focused company.

More than 130 US cities now operate such publicly owned broadband networks, according a comprehensive new map developed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). The group compiled what it calls the first-ever such list of 54 city-wide fiber networks and 79 city-wide cable networks "whose objective is to maximize value to the community in which they are located rather than to distant stockholders and corporate executives."

ILSR, as its name suggests, believes that local communities must be able to build the networks so important to their own futures, rather than leave something as vital as Internet connectivity to huge corporations, often based far away.

This is especially important now that "the Federal Communications Commission has all but abdicated its role in protecting open and competitive access to the Internet."

The map shows that most community-owned networks exist in the eastern half of the US—and this isn't just because of population density. The northwest quadrant of Iowa, for instance, has eight such networks, most in small communities. California has only a few in the entire state.

Let America’s Cities Provide Broadband to Their Citizens In cities and towns across the U.S., a familiar story is replaying itself: Powerful companies are preventing local governments from providing an essential service to their citizens. More than 100 years ago, it was electricity. Today, it is the public provision of communications services.

Mayors across the U.S. are desperate to attract good jobs and provide residents with educational opportunities, access to affordable health care, and other benefits that depend on affordable, fast connectivity -- something that people in other industrialized countries take for granted. But powerful incumbent providers such as AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are hamstringing municipalities.

At the beginning of the 20th century, private power companies electrified only the most lucrative population centers and ignored most of America, particularly rural America. By the mid-1920s, 15 holding companies controlled 85 percent of the nation’s electricity distribution, and the Federal Trade Commission found that the power trusts routinely gouged consumers.

Less than 8 percent of Americans currently receive fiber service to their homes, compared with more than 50 percent of households in South Korea, and almost 40 percent in Japan. Where it’s available, Americans pay five or six times as much for their fiber access as people in other countries do. Fully a third of Americans don’t subscribe to high-speed Internet access at all... America is rapidly losing the global race for high-speed connectivity.

Right now, state legislatures -- where the incumbents wield great power -- are keeping towns and cities in the U.S. from making their own choices about their communications networks. Meanwhile, municipalities, cooperatives and small independent companies are practically the only entities building globally competitive networks these days. Both AT&T and Verizon have ceased the expansion of next-generation fiber installations across the U.S., and the cable companies’ services greatly favor downloads over uploads.

Congress needs to intervene. One way it could help is by preempting state laws that erect barriers to the ability of local jurisdictions to provide communications services to their citizens.

Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus