UPDATE: Can Internet.org coexist with net neutrality (and encryption)?

Posted on May 27 2015 by Neil Watson | Comments Off on UPDATE: Can Internet.org coexist with net neutrality (and encryption)?
Categories : Net Neutrality, Security

We recently discussed the criticism Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was facing with his new Internet.org initiative which aims to enable the world’s poorest people to access the Internet for free by charging the content providers for the end users’ access. Whilst seemingly a noble idea, it is receiving increasing disapproval for its obvious contradiction with net neutrality and now further concerns have been raised about security and privacy.

As we said in our last article, in principle, the idea of providing free Internet access to some of the world’s poorest people is admirable but, as Mr Zuckerberg has admitted himself, delivering free access to the whole Internet simply isn’t possible:

“It costs tens of billions of dollars every year to run the Internet, and no operator could afford this if everything were free, But it is sustainable to build free basic services that are simpler, use less data and work on all low-end phones.”

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Will it be third time lucky for the ‘Snooper’s Charter’?

Posted on May 13 2015 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | Comments Off on Will it be third time lucky for the ‘Snooper’s Charter’?

Following the election of our new Conservative Government last week and Mr Cameron’s re-appointment of Theresa May as Secretary of State, rumours are now rife that one of the first items on her agenda is to reignite the highly controversial ‘Snooper’s Charter’. Will it be third time lucky for Theresa May?

Shortly after the Conservative’s election win was confirmed, May reportedly commented that implementing the Communications Data Bill or ‘Snooper’s Charter’ as it has been nicknamed, is a key priority for her and her party.

Her last attempt to introduce this Bill was blocked by the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition Government who had concerns over its impact on privacy and freedom of expression. Interestingly, in their own pre-election manifesto they had planned to introduce a significantly different new ‘Digital Bill of Rights’.

May said: “David Cameron has already said, and I’ve said, that a Conservative government would be giving the security agencies and law enforcement agencies the powers that they need to ensure they’re keeping up to date as people communicate with communications data.

We were prevented from bringing in that legislation into the last government because of the coalition with the Liberal Democrats and we are determined to bring that through, because we believe that is necessary to maintain the capabilities for our law enforcement agencies such that they can continue to do the excellent job, day in and day out, of keeping us safe and secure.”

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Election 2015: How will it affect our industry?

Posted on Apr 21 2015 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | Comments Off on Election 2015: How will it affect our industry?

It’s election time again and the party manifestos are already starting to emerge. This led us to wonder what impact each of the main parties’ pre-election promises could have on our industry if they’re elected, specifically in terms of broadband coverage, eradicating the not-spots and the ongoing surveillance vs privacy debate. We are politically neutral and are simply describing the information provided by each of the major parties so far. It is for you to judge which you think is the best.

In alphabetical order, here’s the full detail:

Conservatives

The Conservative manifesto is probably the most obvious as they clearly plan to continue with the objectives they have already started. They will continue with their existing plans to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017 using the BDUK system and support providers’ deployment of ‘ultrafast’ broadband as they stated in the recent Budget.

David Cameron stated: “We will deliver the next generation of UK infrastructure: more roads and broadband, High Speed 2 and rail improvements across the nation.

You asked that while we got Britain back living within her means, we should invest in the things that really matter… science, superfast broadband, our railways and roads. 40,000 homes and business connected to superfast broadband every week.”

They will also explore the options of near universal superfast broadband coverage across the UK by 2018, offer Connection Vouchers (worth up to £3,000) to 50 cities and surrounding areas in order to help businesses install superfast broadband and review the potential for adjusting the current Universal Service Obligation to include a 5Mbps broadband speed requirement.

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The even Greater Firewall of China!

Posted on Feb 06 2015 by Neil Watson | 1 Comment

It’s no secret that China imposes wide reaching Internet censorship on its citizens – nicknamed the Great Firewall of China, but this Firewall just got greater as the Chinese Government strengthened its blocks against VPNs (and other means of circumvention) last week.

For years, Chinese citizens have been subject to the Government’s Internet censorship which blocks access to many Western sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google as well as email clients such as Gmail and is known to restrict access to information that is ‘critical’ of the Chinese Government. Their argument is they are trying to ‘enhance development’ of their own Internet services within the country and give Chinese based tech firms an advantage over foreign competition. Critics argue though that their actions actually hamper innovation and serve only to control and restrict the information their citizens have access to.

Until now many citizens used VPNs to circumvent the filters and gain access to the ‘forbidden’ sites but last week it was reported that China has increased its Firewall capabilities and is specifically targeting VPNs and other circumvention methods to enforce its restrictions. It is also increasing the ‘requirements’ it makes on foreign companies wanting to do business within China.

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UPDATED: Is the ‘Snooper’s charter’ inevitable?

Posted on Jan 23 2015 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | Comments Off on UPDATED: Is the ‘Snooper’s charter’ inevitable?

On Monday we published an article in response to the Government’s latest cries for increased surveillance powers and data retention and asked if the highly controversial ‘Snooper’s charter’ was inevitable. It appears three of the Lords (Lord Blair, Lord Carlisle and Lord King) believe it should be, as they have attempted to push through 18 pages worth of ‘amendments’ to the existing CTSB (Counter Terrorism and Security Bill) in yet another last minute and underhand move. If successful, this move would see the CTSB echo the previously rejected Snooper’s charter (aka Communications Data Bill).

The most worrying aspect of this latest development is that by passing these ‘amendments’ through at this stage of the parliamentary process they could enter into law without the proper parliamentary scrutiny and industry input that we’d all hoped for and is reasonable to expect. In fact, most of the amendments are reportedly key aspects that were rejected in the original ‘Snooper’s charter’ – so they are literally trying to resurrect it!

We expected additional powers to be introduced at some point but we are very disappointed that once again measures previously disputed are being ‘sneaked in’ without proper consideration and consultation. After the shambles of the DEA (also passed through in a pre-election back-door process), we’d hoped lessons had been learned. It seems we were wrong.

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