For anyone born after 1985, the idea of connecting with a relative on FaceTime, Skyping a friend traveling abroad or discussing a Halo mission with friends over a headset in real time is second nature.
A media company owned by Kremlin-friendly oligarch Alisher Usmanov has splashed out $1.5 billion to gain full control of Russia's most popular social network, VKontakte, bringing an end to a months-long dispute that saw the original investors sue each other in court.
The Federal Communications Commission has received a record 3m comments from consumers, advocates, companies and lawmakers on proposed new internet traffic, or “net neutrality”, rules as the deadline to formally weigh in approached on Monday.
The comments, whose flow has tested and at times overwhelmed the FCC’s systems, continued to be received as the deadline for submissions to the official record approached at the end of the day, said FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in April revealed his proposal to set new Open Internet rules that regulate how internet service providers (ISPs) manage traffic on their networks.
Under the proposal, ISPs such as Comcast Corp would be prohibited from blocking users’ access to websites or applications but could charge content companies, such as Netflix Inc, to ensure quick and reliable delivery of their traffic to users, as long as such deals are deemed “commercially reasonable”.
Consumer advocates pounced on proposed rules they saw as creating fast and slow “lanes” on the web.
Responding to calls for action from advocacy groups and a segment by comedian John Oliver on his HBO show, Americans overwhelmed the FCC with comments through online automated submission forms, email and mail.
The net neutrality submissions more than doubled the FCC’s previous record of 1.4 million comments submitted about singer Janet Jackson’s accidental breast exposure during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004.
They also smashed records at other federal agencies on contentious issues, for instance trumping the more than 1m comments received by the State Department last year on its environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
No formal deadline exists for the FCC to set new rules, which require a majority vote at the five-member FCC for approval. The agency has scheduled a series of workshops on technological, economic and legal aspects of the rules through early October, so the vote is unlikely before November.
The workshops, which will be open to the public in Washington and streamed live online, begin on Tuesday, focusing on policy approaches to the rules and on mobile broadband.
People can submit comments by email and on Twitter, the FCC said.
Wheeler has said he wanted to set new rules as quickly as possible, given the void created by a federal court’s rejection in January of the FCC’s earlier version. That means he could present a new draft of the rules before the end of the year.
The outcry on net neutrality prompted Wheeler to alter the plan to ask whether “some or all” pay-for-priority deals should be banned and whether ISPs should be entirely reclassified to face regulations more like public utilities, an approach backed by advocacy groups but staunchly opposed by Republican lawmakers and the ISPs.
Wheeler has repeatedly reassured the public of his intent to police any discrimination, which ISPs say would not be in their business interest anyway.
Today we are back in South Eastern Europe, in Skopje precisely. Many of us in the ICANN community and those who know the region are well aware that Macedonia and its neighbors boast some of the most active and dedicated Internet communities in the region.