Freezenet’s Official Podcast: March 2021: Who Needs Some Real Competition?

In the 29th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Who Needs Some Real Competition?”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in March 2021.

Welcome to the Public version of the Freezenet official podcast for March 2021. This month’s episode is entitled “Who Needs Some Real Competition?” after the story of the potential Rogers Shaw merger deal.

We also cover Facebook folding to the link tax law pressure as well as the network neutrality ruling being made in California.

Additionally, we cover all the usual music and video game reviews as well as the story about a low speed chase involving a stolen forklift. All this and more on this month’s podcast.

You can check out our official podcast on Soundcloud or Anchor. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

What follows is a transcript of this month’s episode:

Intro

Who Needs Some Real Competition?

… when you got our ISPs and their scary “deals”?

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to episode 29 of the Freezenet official podcast for March 2021. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Facebook folds under pressure, seemingly paving the way for a link tax in both Australia and Canada

Network neutrality scores major legal win in a California Court.

… and Internet and cell phone bills expected to skyrocket in Canada as Rogers makes bid to buy Shaw.

Top Stories

It was certainly not the outcome digital rights supporters were hoping for. Last month, we mentioned how Facebook seemingly started drawing a line in the sand by deleting their news feeds in Australia. They pointed out how a link tax law ignores the realities of how content is shared on the platform. As a result, Facebook said, it couldn’t continue to allow news to continue to be shared by Australians. Digital rights advocates backed the move out of principle. Linking is, obviously, a critical building block for the Internet. It’s how material is referenced and shared. It also is why the Internet is referred to as a world wide web. If linking had a price, then it would tear at the very fabric of the Internet itself.

Well, days after this united front began to form to protect the Internet, Facebook suddenly had a change of heart. The platform effectively threw the entire Internet under the bus and said that it just needs more time to negotiate with Murdoch’s NewsCorp empire. As a result, Facebook said that it will restore news feeds in Australia. This all but ends the standoff between the large tech giants and the multinational publishing corporations. It also all but paves the way for potentially clamping down on smaller players as a result. The spin-off effect is that it further entrenches the likes of Facebook and Google as dominant players on the Internet.

The Australian nightmare scenario then spilled over into Canada. Facebook announced that it would also negotiate with big publishing corporations in the country just like in Australia. The move pretty much all but seals Canada’s fate because it’s possible that legislation may not even be necessary to institute a link tax here.

About a week later, Canadian Heritage Minister, Steven Guilbeault, went on a big media tour touting Canada’s link tax law. Seemingly oblivious to the latest developments, Guilbeault said that Facebook deleting the news feeds in Australia is somehow proof that Canada needs a link tax law here. Obviously, the only thing that the deletion move proved was that Facebook was, at the time, not going to play ball with this idea in the first place. Fortunately for Guilbeault, his lack of knowledge on how the Internet works is seemingly going to be a moot point anyway given Facebooks latest move.

For American’s watching all of this, some might be thinking that, hey, at least their country isn’t going through this. Unfortunately for America, that isn’t necessarily the case. News sources began pushing the idea in the US. Given how much the news market is controlled by only a handful of players in the first place, that is a powerful lobbying block alone. American’s were made keenly aware of how little competition there is in the news market thanks to the controversy surrounding Sinclair Media. Judging by what happened in Australia and Canada, this development is only the beginning of the nightmare scenario.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, Heritage Minister, Steven Guilbeault, found himself plagued by a minor political scandal. The Minister long denounced the money flowing towards large tech giants. Additionally, as we noted in a previous podcast, the Minister denounced the sharing of news material and links without compensation as “immoral”. Then, information uncovered revealed that the Minister, himself, bought thousands of dollars in political advertising on Facebook. In all, the Ministry bought 54 ad campaigns totalling about $10,000. What’s more, the minister repeatedly posted links to news outlets covering his activities.

More brazenly is the fact that the Minister also posted video’s of interviews he did. Instead of merely linking to the video’s in question, the Minister apparently downloaded and re-uploaded the clips to his Facbook page. In the process, it actually deprived sources of the valuable referral as well. The activities were blasted as political hypocrisy. It is also used as an argument that the link tax law should be scrapped. This is because the Miniter crafting the legislation can’t even abide by the provisions himself. Some even viewed it as yet another sign that the minister doesn’t know what he is doing in the first place.

Meanwhile, more signs of a restoration of network neutrality is cropping up in the US. Long term fans of Freezenet will remember our coverage of the lawsuit filed against California. California has been leading the charge in instituting state level network neutrality laws. This after the Trump Administation axed those necessary rules back in 2017 – much to the horror of digital rights advocates around the world. Big ISPs were hoping that the FCC decision would allow them to have free reign over the packets that flow through their networks. Additionally, ISPs were also hoping to begin charging sites and services for the privilege of garnering their favor. Ultimately, it is double-dipping in that ISPs would not only charge their customers for Internet access, but also charge the sites and services to ensure the packets get to those users in a timely manner.

Those dreams of being the ultimate Internet gatekeeper came crashing down when California began passing network neutrality rules to protect their citizens. A lawsuit was filed to put a stop to this. Initially, it looked like it was succeeding. This month, however, the big ISPs experienced a court loss of sorts. A judge has ruled that ISPs can’t simply skirt network neutrality rules as the case proceeds. The development represents the most significant blow for network neutrality opponents since the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to the FCC by president Joe Biden. Many are also pointing out how California could represent itself as a backstop for when the Federal government fails to protect the Internet on this front. Even if the rules get repealed after presumably being reimplemented, California will still have those critical rules in place.

In response to this development, AT&T, one of America’s big carriers, announced that subscribers using HBO Max will have that bandwidth consumption count towards their data caps. The carrier framed the decision as one they were supposedly forced to make due to network neutrality rules. The “sponsored data” is technically not allowed under network neutrality rules and forces carriers to treat packets equally in that regard.

In response, the EFF called AT&T out for trying to paint the network neutrality win as a loss for consumers. They pointed out that HBO Max was never actually free for consumers in the first place. In fact, AT&T can still exempt video streaming services, including HBO Max, if they wanted to. It would be perfectly acceptable under network neutrality principles. However, AT&T wanted to favour their service in the first place. Ultimately, AT&T lost the power to pick winners and losers in California, making this a big win for those who believe in the free market.

While that was happening in the US, that wasn’t the only big story happening on the ISP front. In Canada, Rogers is pushing to purchase Shaw for an estimated $26 billion. In Canada, the competition on the carrier front is even worse than in the US. Currently, Canada really only has 4 big carriers: Telus, Rogers, Shaw, and Bell. The impact of this is what everyone expects: higher bills and worse service. It’s a big reason why Canadians pay some of the highest bills in the world for some of the worst service. Efforts by government have proven to be failures. Whether it’s the wireless spectrum auction (which saw the big carriers swallow up the spectrum) or bringing in Wind Mobile (which was subsequently bought out by Shaw), the situation has remained unchanged.

If the deal goes ahead, it would mean Canada’s carrier market gets reduced down to three players: Telus, Rogers, and Bell. Experts point out that the rising of cell phone and Internet bills, along with worse quality of service, is an obvious outcome. Digital rights advocates universally condemned the development and called on the government to put a stop to this deal.

Rogers, for its part, said that they will service rural and indigenous communities if this deal goes ahead. The promise was a major plank of almost every political party platform during the last election, but there hasn’t been very much in the way of solving this problem during the current government. Many would argue that Rogers is simply trying to say anything to make this deal happen. The deal is pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

Canadians have been reacting to this development and are taking their thoughts to the Competition Bureau of Canada. The Competition Bureau says that they are receiving an unusually high volume of feedback on their online submission form. The online submission form is the only way that Canadians can send comments to the regulator about an ongoing process. Indications suggest that Canadians are saying that they don’t approve of the deal. This after Canadian digital rights organization, OpenMedia, created a petition to block the merger. With so many building awareness of the deal, it wouldn’t be surprising if Canadians are currently showing up in droves to urge the government to block this deal. No one outside of the regulator, however, knows for sure what those submissions look like specifically, though.

Certainly a lot of big stories happening lately. Now, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

The Joe Biden administration has officially filed an appeal in the case to extradite Julian Assange. A UK judge had previously denied America’s request to extradite Assange on the grounds that America’s penal system is badly run. The ruling further notes that America’s penal system is ill-equipped to prevent Assange from taking his own life. Digital rights organizations and advocates point out that the charges the US is trying to bring would set the precedent that common, every day journalistic practices would be criminalized. This appeal formalizes Biden’s push to extradite Assange.

Media outlets are continuing to beg people to stop buying Gamestop stocks. This is a continuation of their efforts to beg people to stop buying Gamestop stocks all last month. This month, Motley Fool Canada ran an article with the headline “Stop Speculating on GameStop[…]: Buy These Undervalued TSX Stocks Instead”. Redditors on WallStreetBets called articles like that “desperate“. As the value of Gamestop grew again this month, Yahoo! tried to dismiss the rise by saying that it’s simply being fuelled by bots hyping the stocks. Forbes, for their part, tried a different tactic by saying that the rising value is a “trap” and to not buy into the stock. As a result, it paints a picture of the media starting to lose this fight in spite of their best efforts.

Shortly after Parler came back online, authorities said that they have uncovered a new terrorist plot to attack government buildings. The plot was supposedly centred around March 4th. The conspiracy theories said that there will be a big fakeout and Trump would take over as president of the United States. It’s an idiotic theory, but one that you would expect to hear from the QAnon faction of the Republican party. Still, authorities were not exactly big fans of the idea of having a repeat of January, so they stepped up security on Capitol Hill.

March 4th came and went without an actual attack, however. The overwhelming conclusion was that the attempted coup proved to be a total failure. In some ways, it was a relief that another attack ultimately failed to come to fruition, so there wasn’t going to be further bloodshed as a result. This led to speculation of what the failed coup meant. For optimists, it was a sign that the terrorist movement might finally be dying out and terrorist attacks might be going by the wayside. Also, it could be taken as a sign that the political landscape is finally starting to cool down. For pessimists, it just meant that the effort was premature and that more coordinated attacks could be forthcoming. With Trump supposedly planning a run in 2024, there could very well still be lingering threats that could reignite. The extremists, for their part, tried to dust their hands of this by saying that fake Trump supporters were behind this attempted attack. They further tried to shirk responsibility by saying that they had nothing to do with any of this. What this all means really depends on who you ask in the end.

Back in January, we offered some thoughts on what a Biden presidency could mean. Last month, we noted how many of these predictions are coming true. First, the prediction of ending the war on TikTok came true. After that, the restoration of network neutrality started coming true with the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to the FCC. After that, our predictions started being accurate to an uncanny level with Democrats tabling the SAFE TECH Act. We predicted that the Biden presidency will be marked with a continued war on Section 230. The SAFE TECH Act did so quite effectively.

At this point, it would be faster to list the predictions that haven’t come true yet. First, there is the prediction that the Biden administration would continue the war on encryption. The only other prediction that hasn’t yet come true is another effort to further tighten copyright laws. We are learning that we are now closer to a total accuracy sweep with the first of those two predictions coming true.

Christopher A. Wray, the director for the FBI, is calling on US lawmakers to continue the war on encryption. They are demanding that the FBI be given access to all encrypted communications for the purpose of further spying on citizens. They are using the January 6th terrorist attack as an excuse to demand this backdoor access in the first place. Previous excuses, such as an alleged inability to crack iPhones and bad actors “going dark” didn’t work. The FBI proved they could, in fact, have iPhone’s unlocked and bad actors “going dark” failed to materialize. So, this is the latest excuse to bring in back doors in the country. It’s likely that lawmakers will re-introduce legislation to ban effective security at some point.

As Parler experienced downtime and struggled to get back online, other right wing platforms were trying to capitalize on this. One such platform is Gab. As some right wing users began flocking to the alternative platform, Gab got hacked. In all, 15,000 users had their information stolen. This includes high profile users like Donald Trump, Mike Lindell of MyPillow fame, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Alex Jones. The hack was the result of a database vulnerability and an SQL injection allowed the hackers to gain access. DDoSecrets was responsible for the hack and compiled the data into a package known as “GabLeaks”. The data was then forwarded to journalists and researchers afterwards. Gab CEO, Andrew Torba, called the hackers “mentally ill” demons and said that the hack was carried out to smear Gab. The development is seen as a huge blow to the platform.

You might recall that, back in November, Canada introduced badly needed privacy reform. Up to now, privacy commissioners have been left to send strongly worded letters to those who violate privacy laws. Should those companies choose to ignore those letters, all that’s left for the commissioners is to shrug and say, “well, we tried. Sorry for the inconvenience of pointing out your lawbreaking. Have a nice day, sir.” The state of affairs of Canada’s privacy law enforcement has turned the country into a laughing stock around the world. So, when Canada finally got around to introducing privacy reform laws that actually had teeth, it was warmly welcomed by almost everyone.

Since then, there’s been no news on the legislation. Canada’s privacy reform bill was left to linger with nothing moving it forward. This month, questions were being sent to the Innovation Minister on what is going on with the bill. François-Philippe Champagne responded to those questions on Twitter, saying, “C-11 is a top priority for me as Minister [and] for our government as a whole. [Erin O’Toole] & the [Conservative Party] are systematically obstructing the [government’s] agenda, including pandemic-related support for people and businesses, by playing legislative games.”

University law professor, Michael Geist, responded with his own tweet: “Glad to see [Champagne] says C-11 is a top priority. Now how about allocating more than one day of debate in the House of Commons in [three and a half] months and getting the bill into committee.”

No word on if the bill has moved forward since.

Meanwhile, Parler filed a second lawsuit against Amazon. The previous lawsuit was dropped shortly after Parler lost their bid to have Amazon immediately re-instate their services. This time around, Parler is claiming Amazon defamed their company and intentionally pulled their services to undercut their billion dollar valuation. Amazon cut Parler off, according to Amazon, after Parler didn’t take adequate steps to remove content that incited violence. Parler also contends that Amazon is guilty of breach of contract, though Amazon addressed that issue in the previous lawsuit. Amazon, at the time, said that if anyone was in breach of contract, it was Parler for failing to identify and moderate extremist content. Analysis suggest that the latest lawsuit isn’t expected to go very far.

After that, Parler asked Apple to have their app re-instated into the Apple app store. Apple swiftly gave the Parler app the boot from its Apple app store over racist and violent content. This happened right after the January 6th attack. Parler said that it had hoped that Apple would differentiat itself from other big tech companies. Apple reportedly responded by saying that Parler has not taken the necessary steps to reform their platform. As such, Apple has rejected the bid.

Supporters for the link tax law say that the law is necessary to support journalism. That view has taken a huge hit this month after Huffington Post announced that it is shutting down in Canada. Huffington Post also said that they were slimming operations in Australia as well. Both Canada and Australia have been two countries trying to institute a link tax law. So, the logic is that the company would retain operations in both countries because of the forthcoming link tax law. The reality is that news outlets can shutter for a variety of reasons. In this case, employees working for Huffington Post Canada were in the process of applying for union certification. The abrupt closure appeared to have been planned and employees were given very little to no notice.

There is growing fears that efforts to implement Internet censorship in Canada could be making a comeback. The CRTC rejected Internet censorship in 2018, citing the overwhelming calls from Canadians to reject it. Now, copyright extremists are apparently attempting to hijack another consultation to shoehorn Internet censorship again. The CRTC is currently conducting consultations into how to block botnets. Allarco Entertainment is demanding that the CRTC expand what to block by including alleged copyright infringement. Experts describe this attempt as “bait and switch” and the worry is that we’ll be in for another round of debate over whether Canada should adopt Internet censorship again.

We got a follow-up to the massive AMCA data breach story. The medical financial service in the US suffered from a breach that saw 21 million Americans compromised. The company has settled a lawsuit with the 41 participating states. In the settlement, the now bankrupt company is expected to beef up their security and have independent auditors verify that they are in compliance with the laid out terms. If they do not comply, then they could face a $21 million fine. That works out to about $1 per affected patient in all of this. Some are calling the outcome disappointing.

Finally, John Matze, the now fired CEO of Parler, has launched a lawsuit against the very company he helped found. In the lawsuit, Matze says that there was a conspiracy against him and that he has lost millions because of the firing. The development adds even further turmoil to the right wing platform.

Video Game Reviews

So, it’s been another eventful month here on Freezenet. Let’s lighten things up by talking about entertainment.

Before we get into the video game reviews, we wanted to talk about the first impression videos we’ve posted this month.

For this months Steam game, we previewed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This 2015 game is the third main entry in the series. It is also one of the more popular games we’ve played. You can check out what we encountered directly on our site or via YouTube.

After that, we posted our Playstation 3 first impression video for the month. This month, we played Motorstorm. That game was released in 2008. We did run into a little issue with ContentID, so you actually got two video’s for the price of one. One that might have ads and one that has no music. Both are available directly on our site. You can, alternatively, check out the main first impression video or the musicless version on YouTube directly.

As always, you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel to get realtime updates on what we are checking out.

Now, here are video games we’ve reviewed this month:

First up is Magical Tetris Challenge for the Game Boy Color. A game that starts off as interesting, but gets more and more annoying the further along you get. So, an OK game scoring a 66%.

Next up is Turok 2 – Seeds of Evil for the Game Boy Color. A game with a very confusing first level, but gets better as you go along. A game that gets a solid 70%.

From there, we played 1942 for the Game Boy Color. A game that makes a few minor fixes, but otherwise, remains largely unchanged from the NES era. By the NES era, it was a bit boring and repetitive. For a 2000 handheld, it wound up being unplayable. So, this one flops with a 44%.

Finally, we played F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64. Elastic opponents isn’t the worlds greatest feature, but an otherwise top of the line game with a fantastic sound track. This one gets an excellent 88%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Art of Trance – Gloria (Transparent Mix)

The Grid – Crystal Clear (456 Mix)

Intermission – Honesty (Single Mix)

Hope – Disco Monster

Tranceformer – Be My Lover

Orjan Nilson – La Guitarra (Original Mix)

Duran Duran – Ordinary World

Spin Doctors – Two Princes

Janet Jackson – That’s the Way Love Goes

… and finally, Mariah Carey – Dreamlover

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64. Also, be sure to check out Orjan Nilson – La Guitarra (Original Mix).

Oddities

And in other news…

A British man had managed to escape custody and went into hiding. Police were struggling to figure out where he went to elude police. Well, despite finding a fantastic place to hide, the man apparently got bored. So, he went out into public to physically go to a store to buy a video game. Authorities were alerted and, after a scuffle, the man was arrested. As a result, he headed straight back to prison. The video game he risked getting busted over? The latest Call of Duty game. Hashtag: worth it!

Meanwhile, in San Diego, California, a woman tried to escape police in a stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicle in question? One of those super high speed, high performance forklifts of course. She led the four squad cars down a highway. The low speed chase reached the blistering speeds of a brisk jog. She drove to a nearby intersection, then did a u-turn to get around a median. She drove back down the highway and into a nearby parking lot. A bystander snuck up behind her on foot and pulled the keys out of the ignition, disabling the forklift. She was then arrested on location. No word on when the movie will come out, but hopefully it’ll be entitled, “The Slow and the Slightly Disgruntled”.

Finally, Woodhaven police are on the lookout for some stolen property. The stolen property in question is apparently a Ronald McDonald statue. Police are looking for tips to arrest the perpetrator in question. Can you imagine just how weird it would be to try to fence a stolen Ronald McDonald statue? Slight sawing damage. Fifty bucks. No cops or funny business. Serious offers only.

Outro

Before we close out this months podcast, we got one quick announcement to make. This month, we were able to release the February Wiki content patch. As mentioned last month, we completed the archive for the V Recordings Podcast. This represents our second drum and bass show that we were able to archive. It’s also the 8th show we completed so far on the Wiki. With that project completed, we finished all of the preliminary work for our 10th show. First, we completed a detailed Wiki page for the artist, Aly & Fila. From there, we completed the information page for the record label, Future Sound of Egypt. Trance fans will know where this is headed. After that, we created the index page for the podcast, Future Sound of Egypt. This show will be the next big project we intend on working on. It’s nearly 700 shows long and will probably take a while. Still, we think this is very worthwhile to add to the Wiki. Also, we’ve updated the archives for Resonation, Random Movement Podcast, and Fables while we were at it. We hope you enjoy the continued expansion of the Wiki and look forward to making it even better in the weeks ahead.

If you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at Patreon.com/freezenet. Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process. That’s Patreon.com/freezenet!

Alternatively, you can simply buy us a coffee via ko-fi.com/freezenet!

…and that’s this months episode for March, 2021. I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet. Be sure to check out our website at freezenet.ca for all the latest in news and reviews. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: