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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Contact the FCC and Congress. Tell them we need net neutrality for an equitable Internet

“The chairman’s defenders — the cable and phone companies themselves — would likely respond that the “slow” lanes would be pretty fast while the “fast” lanes could offer governments even more benefits. But don’t believe it. Our nation is already in the global slow lane.” — Slate.com

See the spinning wheel of death? September 10 is Internet slowdown day when sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Please help by contacting the FCC and your Congressional representatives to tell them to support Net Neutrality and an open Internet. None of us can live with an Internet slow lane and a fast lane.

Here’s some additional reading to get yourself up to speed. Please post and forward widely!

Whitehouse.gov includes unique non-cookie tracker, conflicts with privacy policy

ProPublica reported on new research by a team at KU Leuven and Princeton on canvas fingerprinting. [[Canvas fingerprinting]] allows websites to uniquely identify and track visitors without the use of browser cookies or other similar means. One of the most intrusive users of the technology is a company called AddThis, who are employing it in “shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been tracking on this privacy-destroying technology for several years.

While YouPorn quickly removed AddThis after the report was published, the White House website still contains AddThis code.  Some White House pages obviously include the AddThis button, such as the White House Blog, and a link to the AddThis privacy policy.

Other pages, like the White House’s own Privacy Policy, load javascript from AddThis, but do not otherwise indicate that AddThis is present. To pick the most ironic example, if you go to the page for the White House policy for third-party cookies, it loads the “addthis_widget.js.” This script, in turn, references “core143.js,” which has a “canvas” function and the tell-tale “Cwm fjordbank glyphs vext quiz” phrase.

via White House Website Includes Unique Non-Cookie Tracker, Conflicts With Privacy Policy | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

(HT BoingBoing!]

Lunchtime listen: Net Neutrality in the US: Now What?

[[Vi Hart]], best known for her amazingly clear mathematical videos on YouTube, has created this *must-see* video about [[Net Neutrality]], the principle that ISPs should treat all data on the internet equally, not discriminate or charge differentially — or worse, block or throttle certain kinds of traffic like BitTorrent!

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently mulling a new net neutrality proposal that would allow big ISPs like Comcast to discriminate. Vi Hart explains all about net neutrality, why this proposed rule is BAD, and what you can do to register your complaint with the FCC. Check it out, and send it to everyone you know!

Defend Net Neutrality: Sign White House Petition

We recently received the following White House petition by e-mail  and hope you will sign it:


 we petition the Obama administration to:

Restore Net Neutrality By Directing the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as “Common Carriers”

On January 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s open internet rules, commonly known as “Net Neutrality” because ISPs are not classified as “common carriers”. This ruling allows ISPs to charge companies for access to its users and charge users for access to certain services. Fewer companies will be able to afford access for innovative ideas and products.

We urge the President to direct the FCC to classify ISPs as “common carriers” so that the words of the FCC chairman may be fulfilled: “I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.”



We at FGI believe that the loss of net neutrality would be devastating to government agencies,  universities, libraries, political activists across the entire political spectrum, anyone who depends on the internet for communication and/or cause promotion. If the Internet Service Providers are allowed to put up toll booths, only those content providers who can afford it will be able to have their content swifty download. All other content will wind up taking awhile. Given that many people will give up on a page that won’t load after ten seconds, this sort of delay will muzzle everyone.

Having to pay above and beyond base bandwidth costs will also make many audio and video sites cost prohibitive to maintain. We will have a much less diverse net with only ISP approved content if we let Net Neutrality go.

If you agree, please sign the White House petition. We have until Valentine’s Day to gather 100,000 signatures to force an Administration response. Don’t wait.

Hat tip to Diedre Conkling for this item.

Computer Bulletin Boards, 1990

bbsDo you remember 1990 when the Internet was little more than a test, when the web was still a dream (there were no browsers), when “electronic bulletin boards” were an advanced form of telecommunication? If so (or even if not), you may enjoy this article, written in 1990 about the then fledgling attempt by a few government agencies to enter the world of digital dissemination of information by using dial-up access to their bulletin boards to distribute their press releases and economic data fast!  I was working at UCSD at the time as a data librarian, but not in the documents department. We collaborated on a project to download economic data from the Economic Bulletin Board and save (onto a public-access PC in the documents department) the “data” (mostly small tables formatted for human reading, not computer manipulation). Ah, those were the days! I wrote this paper in hopes of inspiring GPO and the FDLP community to look to the future and digital deposit. I remember one documents librarian somewhat angrily complaining about my “modest proposal” as being unworkable because only “big university libraries” would ever have internet access. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go.  Enjoy reading a bit of our past — including appendices that describe such arcane technology as “the internet” and “FTP” and “listservers” (!).

You may find that the issues of access, preservation, and distribution haven’t really changed that much in 23 years. The technologies have, but the need for digital deposit and a robust digital FDLP remains!