The death of the internet

It’s too bad that presidential campaigns are so personal, because in truth they’re policy wars. “Who’d you rather have a beer with?” might be easier to answer than “who’s got the better approach to regulating the internet?”, but the latter is far more important.  



Kelly Evans et al. sitting at a table using a laptop computer: CNBC's Kelly Evans


© Provided by CNBC
CNBC’s Kelly Evans

I mention all this because the FCC is set to finalize its repeal of “net neutrality” at the end of the month. Remember “net neutrality”? I certainly do, because of its peculiar premise not so much to address a major existing consumer harm, but to prevent one from coming into being. But even after its repeal, those harms –giving “fast lanes” to certain content and slowing others–haven’t really borne out. The only recent examples I could find were of Sprint reportedly throttling Skype in 2018, and Verizon throttling Santa Clara firefighters for what turned out to be going over their monthly data cap.  

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Ben Thompson, who writes the popular Stratechery columns, got tons of flack for being one of the few Silicon Valley types not to support net neutrality at the time. Not because he, or anyone is against the idea of “net neutrality,” but because, as he wrote at the time, “there is no evidence that harm exists in the sort of systematic way that justifies heavily regulating [internet service providers]…current regulatory structures handle bad actors perfectly well.” 

“Net neutrality,” which reclassified internet providers to subject them to stricter regulation, was passed into law in 2015. It was repealed at the end of 2017, despite dire warnings from the likes of comedian John Oliver, who warned it would be the “death of the internet” and got more than 45,000 comments posted to the FCC website against the move. (And registered the domain name www.gofccyourself.com.) 

AT&T, meanwhile,

Moj Launches World’s First Short Music Album With Internet Music Sensation Ritviz



a man standing in front of a building


© Kritika Vaid | India.com Entertainment Desk



Moj is an Indian video platform app just like TikTok that is created for netizens to showcase their creative talents. The app has started a campaign #MojwithRitviz. Ritviz is an internet music sensation and has been creating music for over the past five years. Some of his biggest hits include songs like Udd Gaye, Liggi, Jeet and Sage, each clocking over 20 million views. Most recently he was part of a mini-series documenting life in the lockdown. He has over 1.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. The hashtag already saw over 200 million video plays, with celebrity influencers like Aadil Khan, Mukti Mohan, Shivani Kapila and many more have participated in the campaign. While launching his album on Moj, Ritviz said: “It has been a great experience collaborating with Moj, especially given the restraints of the 30-second timeline for the songs. Keeping the audience and the trajectory of the app in mind, I am hopeful of connecting the right chord with the youth. It’s young and funky while being soulful at the same time. The songs are a fusion while being unconventional. I have full faith that users on Moj will love these tracks and create some amazing content around them.” Moj is a home-grown regional language social media app just like TikTok and was developed in 30 hours, and reached 50 million users in 30 days. The Moj app is available in 15 Indian languages Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Odia, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Rajasthani, Haryanvi and Urdu.

Moj was launched on Google Playstore on July 1 and has consistently ranked among the top apps on it. It is a Made in India app and the description on the play store reads as: Moj aims to bring a

The Internet Clapped Back at a Troll Who Body Shamed Billie Eilish

Getty Images, Toni Anne Barson / Contributor

After a paparazzi image of Billie Eilish made its way to the internet over the weekend, the thing that Eilish anticipated would happen happened—she was criticized for her body. But, of all the things we’re willing to put up with in the year 2020, criticizing an 18 year old for her appearance is simply not one of them, and the internet is shutting down body-shaming trolls left, right, and center.

In a 2019 ELLE Magazine feature, Eilish, who was then just 17, noted that she wears oversized clothing to keep the critics at bay. “I have to wear a big shirt for you not to feel uncomfortable about my boobs,” she said. “I was born with fucking boobs, bro,” and if she wears anything remotely form-fitting, social media instantly reminds her of that, and not in a nice way.

So, when Eilish stepped out during the pandemic wearing a tank top and shorts, it’s sadly unsurprising that she immediately garnered attention.

However, before the troll army could come out in full force, the internet stepped in to stand up for Eilish.

The tweet in question have gotten over 5,000 likes, but the supportive “are you serious?” responses racked up tens of thousands.

“Calling out” or joking about Eilish showing more skin than usual is honestly just odd. Body shaming doesn’t do anything but perpetuate toxic beauty standards and damage a person’s self confidence and concept of self worth—and for what?

We’re tired of it. And thankfully, we’re in the majority.

Internet freedom in India declined for a third year: Report



a close up of a box: Internet freedom in India declined for a third year: Report


© Carlsen Martin
Internet freedom in India declined for a third year: Report

Internet freedom in India declined for a third straight year, as government authorities increasingly shut off connectivity to suppress anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, said a report.

The Freedom House report said spyware campaigns targeting human rights defenders added to the already restrictive environment for privacy.

“Meanwhile, both the CAA protests and the COVID-19 pandemic led to an information environment plagued by disinformation, often pushed by political leaders themselves. Within this environment, women, religious, and marginalized communities, in particular, experienced online harassment and trolling,” the report said.

The report said despite the Supreme Court establishing certain safeguards to be followed by the government before ordering internet shutdowns, India still registered to be home to more government-imposed internet shutdowns than anywhere else in the world.

The move was justified by authorities for reasons including the need to counter disinformation, protests, communal violence, and cheating on exams.

According to the report, more political, social, and cultural content was either removed or blocked for India-based users during the coverage period, including information on Twitter about Kashmir and criticism of the government on streaming platforms.

It also said government officials attempted to control the online narrative around the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing restrictions on reporting, arresting and detaining numerous people for their online speech. This also included, reportedly forcing users to remove content from their social media accounts.

According to the report, digital monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic using apps, like Aarogya Setu, raised concerns over a lack of transparency, oversight, and other protections for fundamental freedoms.

The report found two separate coordinated spyware campaigns targeting journalists, activists, lawyers, and other human rights defenders.

However, internet penetration continues to improve in the country.

“However, inadequate infrastructure still remains an obstacle to

Governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict internet freedom

The news: Global internet freedom has declined for the 10th year in a row as governments use the coronavirus pandemic as cover to restrict people’s rights, according to a report by think tank Freedom House. Its researchers assessed 65 countries, accounting for 87% of internet users worldwide. The report covers the period from June 2019 to May 2020, but some key changes took place when the pandemic struck.  

The pandemic effect: In at least 20 countries, the pandemic was cited as a reason to introduce sweeping new restrictions on speech and arrest online critics. In 28, governments blocked websites or forced outlets, users, or platforms to censor information in order to suppress critical reporting, unfavorable health statistics or other content related to the coronavirus. In at least 45 of the countries studied, people were arrested as a result of their online posts about covid-19.

Many countries are also conducting increasingly sweeping surveillance of their populations, with contact tracing or quarantine compliance apps particularly ripe for abuse in places like Bahrain, India, and Russia. In China, the authorities used high- and low-tech tools to not just manage the outbreak of the coronavirus, but also to stop people from sharing information and challenge the official narrative. 

Other non-pandemic related findings include:

  • The US’s standing as a global leader for internet freedom is increasingly under threat. Internet freedom declined in the US for the fourth consecutive year, the report concluded. Federal and local law enforcement agencies have adopted new surveillance tools in response to historic protests against racial injustice, and several people faced criminal charges for online activity related to the demonstrations. The report directly criticized President Donald Trump for issuing draconian executive orders on social media regulation, and for helping to create and spread dangerous disinformation. 
  • The “splinternet” is well and truly