Talking Net Neutrality on ABC Radio National Breakfast

ABC logoThe concept of Net Neutrality was in the news earlier this month: a US federal court struck down the Net Neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had introduced in 2010.

On 16 January I spoke about the issue on ABC Radio National Breakfast with Jonathan Green, and here’s the audio.

A US Court of Appeals ruling in Washington DC is being seen as a major blow to proponents of an open internet.

In ruling described as “even more emphatic and disastrous than anyone expected”, the court found internet service providers had every right to play favourites with their clients.

That could mean slowing speeds for services in competition with their own services and potentially charging higher fees to allow access to premium speeds.

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I must admit, I feel like I rambled a bit. As we started the conversation, my mobile phone link went dodgy, and the producer had to phone me back. We started the interview after a break — that’s been edited out of this version — but it threw me a bit. I’m not sure that I recovered.

Still, I think we got through the key points, and later in the morning I wrote something more coherent for Crikey, Net neutrality and why the internet might have just changed forever.

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is served here directly from their website.

Talking security and more on ABC Download This Show

ABC logoBack on 13 December I was a guest for the recording of the penultimate episode of Marc Fennell’s Download This Show for 2013.

Data privacy. What a year it’s been: 2013 will be remembered as the year we came to understand just how much our data was not our own. Edward Snowden might not have won Time magazine’s Person of the Year, pipped to the post by Pope Francis, but the former NSA computer specialist has forever changed the way we think about our information security as a result of his world-changing revelations. But has he changed our behaviour?

My fellow panellist was Karalee Evans, head of social for advertising agency DDB Australia, and we had a great time. Here’s the full audio.

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The audio is ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.

Talking Net Neutrality on ABC RN Drive

ABC logoThe topic of Net Neutrality was in the news again this week, because major US telco Verizon was challenging the US Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 ruling on various grounds, including that it was unconstitutional.

It’s a complex and subtle topic, but the Wikipedia entry linked to in the first paragraph, this InfoWorld article and Verizon’s legal claim [PDF] should bring you up to speed — as, perhaps, might my chat with Jonathan Green on ABC Radio National’s Drive program from Thursday night.

Here’s the full audio, running for nearly eight minutes.

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The audio is ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.

Talking crowdfunding etc on ABC Download This Show

ABC logoAfter a six-month gap caused by the failure of our schedules to cooperate, I was finally a guest once more on Marc Fennell’s Download This Show this week, which we recorded this morning.

Online crowd funding: Whether it’s a brand new gadget or a bouncing baby, you can crowd fund anything these days? But which online service is the most likely to get your project to its funding target? Plus, want to know what the internet feels like in an oppressive regime? Google has helped build a site that will show you what it feels like and it’ll help internet users in those countries as well. And is it a phone or is it Lego? The modular phone you can rebuild and reshape as you see fit.

My fellow panellist was Janet Carr. And here’s the full audio. I talk about breast enhancement, amongst other things.

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The audio is ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.

Talking Instagram on ABC Radio’s “PM”

ABC logoWith ABC Radio National Breakfast out of the way, I settled down to write my Crikey story about the Instagram saga.

By that stage my understanding of the story had evolved.

I was becoming increasingly cranky with so many people, including many who should know better, pushing the “Instagram wants to sell your photos” line. Failing to distinguish between selling a license to use a photo in various ways and selling the ownership of the photo itself was a massive failure. The difference is as clear at that between selling a house and renting it out to a tenant.

There was also a clarification from Instagram, making it clear that they weren’t seeking such ownership, admitting that they really hadn’t figured out precisely what it was they wanted to do with users’ photos, and agreeing that the language was open to misinterpretation.

I incorporated this into my Crikey piece, which was given the headline: Users snap over Instagram, but should have seen it coming.

In hindsight, and had I know this was to be the headline, I wouldn’t have been so blunt in my final paragraph.

The core lesson here is that services like Instagram aren’t free. You pay for them by licensing the operator to use your content and other data in various ways. If you don’t like that, well, pay for your goddam internet hosting yourself.

All I meant by this was that internet hosting is pretty cheap these days, and there’s plenty of low-cost providers to choose from. It’s not as if Instagram is a public service that owes you anything.

In any event, I filed the Crikey story before midday as usual. It seemed to me that Instagram was responding appropriately, and I’d always thought they were at the responsible end of social networking. My thoughts were now moving to the future. Would Instagram be able to prove they were worth their billion-dollar price tag? How would they behave if they didn’t start generating revenue?

But on the way to a lunch in the Sydney CBD, I ended up discussing the issue with a journalist for ABC TV’s 7.30 and a producer with ABC 666 Canberra. It was becoming clear to me that for most people in the media this was a brand new issue. Further media spots were being organised.

The next to be recorded, though not the next to go to air, was with ABC Radio’s national current affairs program PM. What pleases me about this piece, I think, is that the “tape ID” — the bit at the front of a recording where you identify who you are so there’s no confusion later — was included as part of the story. Because I used the word “arsehattery”.

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This audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is an unedited copy of the original audio posted on their website. There’s a transcript over there too, where they spell arsehattery “ass-hattery”. The journalist was Will Ockenden.

Talking Instagram on ABC Radio National Breakfast

ABC logoWednesday was a strange day for me this week, unexpectedly dominated as it was by the public outcry over photo sharing service Instagram changing its terms of use to make it explicit that people’s photographs could be used for promotional purposes.

This is the first of a series of posts that document the media that I was involved with that day — eventually three radio spots and a story for Crikey, plus discussions with a journalist at ABC TV’s 7.30 for a story that ended up not happening — as well as the evolution of my own thoughts on the topic.

I’d gotten up early that morning to work on a Crikey story about the risks of big data, so I was already in media mode when I saw the tweets starting to flood out.

Instagram was claiming the right to sell your photos, they claimed — which I found most unlikely because they can’t sell what they don’t own, and social networks have long since given up trying to claim ownership over their users’ content. At least the ones that intend lasting more than a week online.

Sure enough, I looked at Instagram’s proposed new terms of use, and they actually made it quite explicit that they were not doing that. As I expected, they were seeking the right to use photographs in connection with promotions of unspecified nature — though they’d stated the fact that you wouldn’t be paid for this rather baldly.

To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.

Moreover, it looked to me like Instagram’s existing terms of use already gave them this right, though the wording was vague.

… you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Instagram Services or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.

In retrospect, I think both are worded rather vaguely, with a phrase like “in connection with” being able to cover a multitude of sins. But “without any compensation to you” is clear enough, and that obviously triggered the fears.

But Instagram’s actions weren’t unusual, they weren’t claiming ownership of your photos, and there was no need to panic — and that’s what I tried to stress in this first media spot, a chat with John Doyle on ABC Radio National Breakfast at around 0840 AEDT.

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This audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is an unedited copy of the original audio posted on their website.