More on net neutrality -but first, a thank you

A thank you! to an open source application author - and four bits worth of commentary about the complicated motives underlying the attacks on the American ideal inherent in the net neutrality movement.

Right after zdnet introduced its new format I saw a near tripling in spam touting free ED drug samples. I have no idea whether this was just coincidence or not, but it prompted me to change my anti-spam strategy.

Prior this my approach had been to blandly accept everything and then silently discard anything meeting obvious criteria like the ED key words, containing MSHTML, or copied to at least one of the fake internal addresses picked up by spammers.

Now I want to discard or reject spam messages rather than accept them - and that calls for the use of sendmail's milter APi facility. The software I picked as likely to do the job, lead to a net reduction in system and network load, and available in open source, is Daniel Hartmeier's milter-regex.

It's easy to install (I got it wrong, of course - but that's what this note is about), seems to work, and is free and open source.

I had no problems getting it compiled, installed, and running - but it didn't work: sendmail reported "/var/spool/milter-regex/milter-regex.pid= unsafe" and consistently error-stated the milter. After exhaustively proving to myself that I didn't have a clue what was causing this, I sent a note to Mr. Hartmeier asking for help - and got a prompt response:

... I think you're missing the S= part in

INPUT_MAIL_FILTER(`milter-regex', `S=unix:/var/spool/milter-regex/sock, T=S:30s;R:2m')

in your sendmail .mc file ...

Mine didn't look wrong, but he was right: editing new copies of the old mc files and remaking the cfs worked. Now it starts, stops, and works reliably. Thank you Daniel! (for the software, and the help.).

Net neutrality

Remember that scene in Men in Black in which our hero consults "the hotsheets" to discover the alien landing? Well when it comes to the Obama mysteries the hotsheet is World News Daily - and they had a great story last week about google misleading people looking for information on a story about two private investigators who've apparently filed sworn statements in court to the effect that Mr. Obama is using a social security number unlikely to have been issued to him.

I have no idea what the truth of the underlying allegations is, but there's no question about what google did in hiding the report - they told WND, by the way, that the problem arose from a "bug in the snippets".

On May 19th the Washington Post carried a related story by Tom Shields under the headline "Obama technology adviser reprimanded for ethics violation. It starts:

A White House technology adviser hired from Google was reprimanded for improperly contacting former colleagues in violation of Obama administration ethics rules, a spokesman said.

and included this:

E-mails released by the White House show McLaughlin and Google employees discussing strategy to combat digital piracy of movies and music, relief efforts after Haiti's earthquake and administration plans to promote "net neutrality" rules for the Internet.

"Has there been so much flack from the Hill that you guys feel a need to back away?" Google Vice President Vint Cerf said in a Jan. 9 e-mail about opposition to net-neutrality rules.

"Don't be silly," McLaughlin replied. "No one's backed away from anything."

The Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Julius Genachowski, an Obama appointee, has proposed rules to bar companies that provide Internet service from favoring their own services and content.

The whole net neutrality thing is, of course, a composite of many motives - everything from shutting down talk radio and the right wing blogosphere to breaking down AT&T and Verison again, but the most interesting one in the current context is the perception that at least some of this is aimed specifically at promoting Google's business interests.

Thus Computerworld, not exactly a bastion of free thinking, published a May 12th story by Grant Gross whose title accidently states the blatently obvious: Net neutrality wars could entangle free speech - but which is actually an attack on a direct legislative response to the perception that much of this is in support of one of Obama's biggest American donors: google.

It starts:

IDG News Service - U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns wants so badly to stop the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from creating network neutrality rules that he appears ready to weaken the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

Stearns, a Florida Republican, unveiled legislation Tuesday that would require the FCC, if it passed Net neutrality rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and services, to also enforce the rules on Web application and content providers.

And contains this pertinent bit:

Last week, [FCC Chair] Genachowski announced the plan to reclassify broadband in response to an appeals court decision saying the agency did not have the authority to enforce informal Net neutrality principles.

At the press conference Tuesday, Stearns announced that his proposed legislation would require the FCC to issue a detailed report to Congress about market failures in the broadband industry before the agency could reclassify broadband. The bill drew praise from several broadband providers and related trade groups.

Buried in the Stearns bill, however, is a provision on "neutral network neutrality." The provision is squarely aimed at Net neutrality backer Google -- some Republican lawmakers, broadband providers and other Net neutrality opponents have complained that Google, in providing ranked search results and other services, isn't neutral.

The argument from Net neutrality opponents goes like this: If the FCC regulates one part of the Internet, in this case, broadband providers, then it should regulate other parts of the Internet as well.

"If cable and phone can't manage their networks for congestion and quality of service, neither can Google when it comes to their data farms, search results, YouTube, etc.," a spokesman for Stearns said. "If cable and the Bells can't negotiate special deals, neither can Google."

Orwell would be so proud - but you can I? We should be worried, there are no postive outcomes for us here.

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