North Korea called U.S. President Barack Obama a “monkey” and blamed Washington on Saturday for Internet outages it has experienced during a confrontation with the United States over the hacking of the film studio Sony Pictures. The National Defense Commission, the North’s ruling body chaired by state leader Kim Jong Un, said Obama was responsible for Sony’s belated decision to release the action comedy “The Interview”, which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim. “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using a term seemingly designed to cause racial offense that North Korea has resorted to previously.
In Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing, a White House official said the administration had no immediate comment on the latest North Korean statement blaming the United States for the Internet outages and insulting the president. Sony canceled the release of the film when large cinema chains refused to screen it following threats of violence from hackers, but then put it out on limited release after Obama said Sony was caving in to North Korean pressure.
Obama promised retaliation against North Korea, but did not specify what form it would take. North Korea’s main Internet sites suffered intermittent disruptions this week, including a complete outage of nearly nine hours, before links were largely restored on Tuesday. But its Internet and 3G mobile networks were paralyzed again on Saturday evening, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported, and the North Korean government blamed the United States for systemic instability in the country’s networks.
North Korea’s tiny piece of the global Internet went dark altogether Monday, after flickering on and off over the last 24 hours, and experts said it could be a cyberattack or a pre-emptive online retreat by Pyongyang. “The North Korean IP space is not reachable from anywhere on Earth right now. It’s a national shut down,” said Jim Cowie, chief scientist of Dyn Research, which monitors global Internet connectivity.
Shortly after noon ET, “it went out, and did not come back up,” he added.
About a day of intermittent connectivity preceded the shutdown, according to Dyn Research and other companies’ observations. Almost the entirety of the very small North Korean Internet of approximately a thousand Internet protocol addresses is routed through the Chinese state-owned Internet service provider Chinese Unicom. “That presents a very small attack surface for anybody who wants to take it out,” Cowie noted.
Today, President Obama laid out his plan to protect the free and open Internet. He noted that “an open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”
Specifically, the President noted that “the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
President Obama said he believed the FCC should create a new set of rules to protect net neutrality and ensure that neither cable companies or phone companies are able to act as gatekeepers, restricting what anyone can do or see online. He proposed “simple, common-sense steps” for the FCC to consider as they approach the net neutrality debate:
- No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, an ISP should not be permitted to block it.
- No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up other content based on the type of service or an ISP’s preferences.
- Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs – the so-called “last mile” – is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. The FCC should make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
- No paid prioritization. No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. There should be an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators appear to share one view about so-called net neutrality: It is a good thing.
But defining net neutrality? That is where things get messy.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to open for public debate new rules meant to guarantee an open Internet. Before the plan becomes final, though, the chairman of the commission, Tom Wheeler, will need to convince his colleagues and an array of powerful lobbying groups that the plan follows the principle of net neutrality, the idea that all content running through the Internet’s pipes is treated equally.
While the rules are meant to prevent Internet providers from knowingly slowing data, they would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed fast lane of service. Some opponents of the plan, those considered net neutrality purists, argue that allowing some content to be sent along a fast lane would essentially discriminate against other content.
“We are dedicated to protecting and preserving an open Internet,” Mr. Wheeler said immediately before the commission vote. “What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approaches to accomplish the same goal, an open Internet.”
The internet as we know it in America is about to fundamentally change, and it’s because our politics are too broken to stop it.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Communications Commission is about to issue new rules for internet service providers that will allow them to create “fast lanes” of service that will allow companies like Netflix and Amazon to deliver their content faster than competitors. That’s a first for American internet policy, and it’s strictly against the rules in other countries, particularly in Europe.
Allowing big companies to pay for prioritized access to consumers flies in the face of the internet’s egalitarian ideals, which allow anyone or any company free access to a vibrant market free of tolls or restrictions — allow service providers like Comcast and AT&T to start creating artificial barriers to entry, and you make it harder for the next generation of college kids to start the next Facebook or Google. As a whole, the various rules that protect these ideals are generally called net neutrality — they’re the rules that say your service provider has to treat all internet traffic equally, and shouldn’t be allowed to block, degrade, or enhance access to certain websites or services.
It was actually illegal for service providers to create fast lanes in the US until January, when an appeals court struck down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet rules after a lengthy court battle with Verizon. The 2010 rules were a big deal — President Obama even made the open internet a part of his 2008 campaign platform, saying “I’ll take a backseat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality.”
In what would amount to a reversal on net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that would allow companies like Netflix and Amazon to pay for high-speed delivery of their content, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The rules to be presented Thursday would prevent Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner from blocking or throttling individual websites called up by users, the Journal’s Gautham Nagesh reported. But broadband providers could offer companies preferential treatment for speedier lanes to get their content quickly to consumers based on “commercially reasonable” terms. Consumers could end up paying more for services if companies pass on the additional charges.