Category Archives: Special Report

Why Data Caps put a lid on you

Data capping, also known as bandwidth capping or broadband capping is a data traffic management or traffic control methodology employed by Internet service providers, network service providers, and telecommunications entities. Data capping is purposefully limiting the amount of data transfer of a subscriber’s or end user’s Internet connection.[1]

Data is measured in two ways: by transmission rate or by volume. The transmission rate is measured in bits per second. You will commonly read or hear terms like kbit/s (kilobits per second) or Mb/s (megabits per second), or MB/s (megabytes per second). Please note that there is a difference between Mb/s and MB/s. “Broadband speed” is the more familiar term used by ISPs in marketing broadband service. Data measurement in terms of volume involves measuring the total amount of data transmitted between the ISP and the end user. Units of measure used for this is MB (megabytes) or GB (gigabytes).

We can use water as an analogy.

Data could be analogous to how we measure rate and volume of water. When there is high pressure, water is pumped fast enough to get a good shower or fill a drum of water much faster. In Internet terms, the more the provider “pumps out” the data, the faster you can finish your download. So movies or youtube videos don’t buffer, when “pressure is high”, and it buffers when there is “low water pressure.” Again: you can shower when you have high transmission rate, or you’ll have to settle for buckets of water to take a bath.

While volume of water is measured in terms of litters or gallons of water stored in say a drum of water. So you fill up your computer’s storage space with your music, movie and downloads from iTunes, for example. You can fill your computer up, or burn it in disk or fill up your USB thumb drive like water was downloaded into a water tank or drum.

Data capping is like water rationing. An ISP limits the amount of water (data) you can download to enable others to get their share. The only difference is that in data capping, the “rationing” is done from the ISP. They slow down your download speed, often to a trickle, to limit your download of data.

Data capping in the PH

Broadband service in the Philippines is sold in terms of “broadband speed” (transmission rate). For example, PLDT is selling to home users its Plan 999 for PHP499 per month for up to 2 Mbps transmission rate. Globe is selling its Tattoo Home Broadband 2 Mbps transmission at Plan 1099.

The Philippines has the third slowest broadband in the Southeast Asian region, despite the reported 66% per quarter growth in broadband speeds in the local market.[2] The Philippines lags the global average connection speed of 3.6 Mbps as reported by Akami—one of the world’s leading provider of cloud solutions. The global average— 3.6 Mbps— represents a 10% upward trend in global average connection speed, with average connection speeds growing 29% year-on-year for 122 countries.[3]

The Philippines is no stranger to data capping. Most, if not all telecommunication companies and ISPs in the country have data capping policies embedded in their Fair Usage policies (Please see Annex A for examples of existing data cap policies.) These data capping policies have largely existed unnoticed. That is, until the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a draft memorandum order establishing a data cap, after which it became a hot issue in the Philippines.

The NTC issued a draft Memorandum Order (MO) on “Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections.”[4] The draft MO was said to include a clause that would allow telcos and ISPs to restrict the amount of data to be accessed by end users.[5] According to then NTC Common Carriers Authorization Department Director Edgardo Cabarios, data capping was meant to “discourage unfair use, to give everyone a chance.” The telcos and ISPs sang the same tune.

There was a loud public outcry opposing the draft MO. Two position papers opposing the measure were sent to the NTC through The ProPinoy Project: one was spearheaded by Engr. Pierre Tito Galla, an electronics engineer and now co-convenor of ICT policy advocacy group Democracy.Net.PH, [6] the other from Mindanao New Media and the Davao Bloggers through their representative Ria Jose.[7] A draft MO was also proposed through The ProPinoy Project.[8]

The immediate result was startling. The NTC was forced to remove the data capping provision from the draft[9] and hold nationwide consultations on the issue[10].

As a result of the consultations, the NTC finally released the final Memorandum Order, NTC MO 07-07-2011, titled “Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections.”[11] Engr. Galla criticized the memorandum order, pointing out its flaws. Among these was the MO’s silence on the issue of data capping, thereby effectively allowing data capping.[12] In April 2011, Globe, like Smart, announced a fair usage policy.[13] This practice continues today from both networks imposing a data cap.[14]

The perils of data capping

There is a brewing firestorm on data capping, unleashed by the recent decision of Globe to be more firm in its implementation and fed by the public’s growing discontent over the quality of broadband service offered by telcos and ISPs.

The strident public opposition to data capping begs the question: Is data capping bad? The answer is not a simple yes or no.

There are instances where data capping may be called for, such as where broadband service is abused through the illegal sharing of copyrighted material. In fact, the main argument for data capping is to curb the practices of these abusive users, who—according to the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators—hog 80% of available bandwidth even as they comprise only 5% to 7% of all end users. [15]

Data capping per se is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, data capping, as it is implemented here, is unreasonable and indiscriminate: Oftentimes, it punishes both the innocent and the abusive users.

For one, data capping favors the investor and is anti-consumer. The New America Foundation reports that “the cost of data caps are about pleasing investors, not relieving data congestion,[16] and that “the cost of delivering broadband service is decreasing, not increasing.”[17] Matthew Lasar quoting Netflix wrote, “[W]ired ISPs have large fixed costs of building and maintaining their last mile network of residential cable and fiber. The ISPs’ costs, however, to deliver a marginal gigabyte, which is about an hour of viewing, from one of our regional interchange points over their last mile wired network to the consumer is less than a penny, and falling, so there is no reason that pay-per-gigabyte is economically necessary. Moreover, at $1 per gigabyte over wired networks, it would be grossly overpriced.”[18]

Data capping also discourages competition, putting some players at an unfair advantage. “Caps can be used anticompetitively—to discourage the use of services that rival an Internet service provider’s in-house offerings,” writes the New York Times in its July 22, 2011 editorial.  “For instance, AT&T points out that Netflix hogs 30 percent of peak-hour Internet traffic in North America. Netflix also competes with television offerings on AT&T’s U-verse network. Watching TV on U-verse does not count against the data cap. Streaming Netflix does”[19]

In April 2012, Comcast excluded Xbox from their data cap plan, which watch groups in the U.S., particularly Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn, in particular, argued, was anti-competition.[20] Sohn said this “raises questions not only of the justification for the caps but, more importantly, of the survival of an open Internet.”[21] Sohn added “This type of arrangement is exactly the type of situation the [FCC] rules on the open Internet were designed to prevent—that an Internet service provider juggles the rules to give itself an advantage over a competitor.”[22]

More sinister is the effect of data capping in putting a lid on economic progress and human development.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development says, “Broadband and ICTs more generally are general purpose technologies with a promise of significant and far-reaching growth impacts that may arise more quickly than from other GPTs in the past. Almost every aspect of economic activity and everyday life is already affected by broadband enabled ICTs, and with rapid technological developments and a continuous stream of new applications the pervasiveness of ICTs is likely to increase”.[23]

There has been a sharp increase broadband communications activity, particular coinciding with the rise of smartphone use.[24] For example, there is a rapid, prolific real world rise in messaging applications such as WeChat, Line, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, iMessage and many others that people use to communicate with around the world for both work and family life.[25]  The effect of data cap is significant, especially in the way it has changed the way people work[26] and in across many industries. And yet, using broadband service for legitimate traffic for work can be severely penalized.[27]

There is legitimate impact of broadband on the economy.[28] Dr. Raul Katz wrote, “As seen above, according to Koutroumpis’ research, in countries with low broadband penetration (under 20%), an increase of 1 per cent in broadband adoption contributes to 0.008 per cent of GDP growth, while in countries with medium penetration (between 20% and 30%), the effect is of 0.014 per cent and in countries with penetration higher than 30 per cent, the impact of 1 per cent adoption reaches 0.023. The implication of this finding for developing countries is quite significant. Unless emerging economies do strive to dramatically increase their penetration of broadband, the economic impact of the technology will be quite limited.”[29]

 

Annexes:

Annex A –  Survey of Data Caps

Annex B  – The #MCPIF provisions relating to data capping

 

 



This is republished with permission.

(This brief on data caps was prepared by Democracy.Net.PH. Please credit Democracy.Net.PH when quoting. For more information, send email to [email protected].)

Footnotes:

[1] “Broadband Cap”. Techopedia. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[2] Michael Josh Villanueva, “Global broadband speeds on the rise, PH 3rd lowest in region”, Rappler http://www.rappler.com/technology/news/49248-global-broadband-speeds-rising-philippines-third-lowest

[3] Akamai, “Akamai Releases Third Quarter, 2013 ‘State of the Internet’ Report”, http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press/releases/2014/press_012814.html

[4] Tag: “Broadband Cap”. The ProPinoy Project. Retrieved 2014-01-30

[5] “NTC’s proposed data caps violate consumer rights, lawyer says”. GMA News Online. Updated 2010-12-30. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[6] “Position paper submitted to NTC on Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections”. Galla, P.T. The ProPinoy Project. 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[7] “Position Paper Re: NTC’s Broadband Capping”. Jose, Ria. The ProPinoy Project. 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[8] “A better draft memorandum order on Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections (v2)”. Galla, P.T. The ProPinoy Project. Updated 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[9] “NTC junks proposed cap on Internet downloads”. Inquirer.Net. 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[10] “NTC to hold public hearing on minimum broadband speed connection”. The ProPinoy Project. 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[12] “Ampaw: The Flawed NTC Memorandum Order on Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections”. Galla, P.T. The ProPinoy Project. 2011-07-29. Retrieved 2014-01-30.

[13] Paolo Montecillo “Globe adopts Internet ‘fair use’ policy”, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://business.inquirer.net/money/topstories/view/20110403-329150/Globe-adopts-Internet-fair-use-policy

[15] Cocoy Dayao, “Philippine telcos to impose Broadband cap”, The ProPinoy Project, http://propinoy.net/2011/02/01/philippine-telcos-to-impose-broadband-cap/

[17] Ibid.

[18] Matthew Lasar, “200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet”, Ars Technica, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/01/canada-gets-first-bitter-dose-of-metered-internet-billing/

[19] Editorial Desk, “To Cap, or Not: Broadband limits need to be carefully monitored to promote innovation and competition”, The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/22/opinion/22fri2.html?_r=0

[20] “Comcast Xbox Plan Sparks Debate Over Data Cap Exclusion” Telecommunications Reports, p.20, April 15, 2012

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Directorate for Science, Technology, and Industry Committee for Information and Computer and Communications Policy, “Broadband and the Economy”, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, http://www.oecd.org/internet/ieconomy/40781696.pdf

[24] Kate Legget, “Forrester’s Top 15 Trends For Customer Service In 2013forrester.com http://blogs.forrester.com/kate_leggett/13-01-14-forresters_top_15_trends_for_customer_service_in_2013

[25] Raine Musñgi, Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/jylhansg0E/

[27] TJ Manotoc, Twitlonger/Twitter, http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n6aecd

[28] Dr. Raul Katz, “Impact of Broadband on the Economy: Research to date and policy issues”, International Telecommunications Union, http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/broadband/ITU-BB-Reports_Impact-of-Broadband-on-the-Economy.pdf

[29] Ibid., p. 6 to 7.

Beyond the Pro-Life v Pro-Choice Debate

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC in the United States publishes an annual report on the birth rates of US teenagers. The agency whose corporate mission is “saving lives and protecting people” states, “childbearing by teenagers continues to be a matter of public concern because of the elevated health risks for teen mothers and their infants.”

In its most recent report dated April 2012, the Center finds that the birth rate recorded for 2010 hit “a historic low” for all ages and ethnic groups. At 34.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, the figure for 2010 was down 9 percent from the previous year, 44 percent from the recent peak of 61.8 in 1991, and 64 percent beneath the all-time high of 96.3 recorded in 1957.

The figure below taken from their website tells the story. Birth rates across two age groups, legal aged 18-19 year olds and under-aged 15-17 year olds have been on the decline following the post-war baby boom era of the 1950s. The 2010 results should provide comfort to those worried about the “Juno effect” named after the movie of the same title which was said to have presented teenage pregnancy in a positive light.

The picture would seem even more encouraging if we viewed teenage birth rates as a proxy indicator for teenage pregnancy which is harder to measure given the number of unreported abortions. Religious education makes abortion unpopular among conservative circles, and movies like Juno have made it less so among liberally minded ones. If we assume that abortion rates among teens have remained steady or even declined in this time, then it appears teens are taking “proper precautions” to avoid falling pregnant.

When split by ethnicity, the story stays consistent albeit somewhat dispersed. We can see from the next figure also taken from the CDC website that from 1991 to 2010 black and Latino teens tended to have higher birth rates when compared to non-Hispanic whites and Asian teens (twice that of the former and five times that of the latter) even though these birth rates have been declining across all ethnic groups for the last twenty years.

What is startling from the chart is that non-Hispanic blacks now have a lower birth rate among teens compared to Latinos having seen their rate fall from 118.2 per 1,000 women in 1991 to 51.5 in 2010. Latino teens on the other hand, saw their birth rates fall from 104.6 to 55.7 in the same period. Among whites it went from 43.3 to 23.5 and among Asians and Pacific islanders it went from 27.3 to 10.9. Across the board, the rate went from 61.8 to 34.4 although in the Southern states upwards of 40 births per 1,000 women is observed compared to the Northern ones which have less than that figure. Without the decline, the CDC estimates that there would have been 3.4 million more births among teenagers during the period from 1991 to 2010.

We can tell from US census and labor force survey data that Hispanics and blacks generally have higher poverty and unemployment levels compared to non-Hispanic whites and Asians. In addition, Southern states which tend to have a higher concentration of Latinos tend to also have lower incomes on average per head of population.

If you correlate these figures, what you will probably find is that teenage birth rates (and by extension teenage fertility) are significantly higher among those ethnic, regional and income groups that are generally regarded as being socially disadvantaged. We can speculate as to the reasons for this of course—from the lack of education, economic opportunities, access to reproductive health services, the influence of media, and so on. Whatever the reason, these facts remain.

When we look across countries, the same facts would appear to be incontrovertible. The following chart was taken from the World Bank Development Indicators and generated through Google’s public data explorer. It shows teenage birth rates from different regions in the world as well as the Philippines. We find a similar pattern as per the American case.

The adolescent fertility rate across the globe has fallen in recent years from 67.5 births per 1,000 women in 1997 to 53.4 in 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America have the highest birth rates among young women at 108, 73 and 72 in that order. The Middle East (37), North America (31), Eurasia (27), and East Asia and the Pacific (19) have lower than world average birth rates. The Philippines bucked the world trend because it saw its teenage fertility rise from 49 in 1997 to 54 in 2007 before declining back down to 49.5 in 2010.

Compared to where it is situated on the map, the country has nearly 2.5 times the teenage fertility rate of its East Asian and Pacific Islander counterparts. Perhaps this would lend some credence to the notion that Filipinos are the “blacks of Asia” as their teenage pregnancies are comparable to African and Latino Americans who I have already said trail non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans in reducing adolescent fertility.

Beyond Just Facts and Figures

I raise this point because in the highly polarized debate over reproductive health, the one thing I believe that opposing parties to the discussion seem to agree on is that teenage fertility is something that is to be avoided. Catholic Filipinos who are by inclination “pro-life” would wish for their daughters to delay having children until after they complete their education.

I recently attended a baptism/wedding celebrated by a tightly-knit group of devout Catholic families here in Australia. The bride and groom had in fact met at a Youth for Christ camp; the parents on both sides were from Couples for Christ. During the ceremony, I noticed how well this community supported the bride/mom and groom/dad both aged 18 with their prayers and “unconditional love”.

There were not a few tears shed by both family and friends when the traditional speeches were delivered at the reception. I began to get an insight into the way the community viewed what had happened. Although, they celebrated the coming into the world of a new person, the word “mistake” was bandied about in reference to the pregnancy. In fact I learnt that when the groom’s father initially spoke to the bride’s father to relate the news of the pregnancy, the word “atraso” (arrears) was used in describing it.

This is typical of the way I believe average Filipinos would deal with such a situation. Some in the community that I got a chance to speak with talked of the need to engage in responsible parenthood and, yes, make use of reproductive health services. Some blamed the lack of awareness-raising in the Catholic school in which the bride was enrolled. Suffice it to say, there is a greater openness towards the issue in Australia. In fact one Australian priest advised the parents of the teen couple not to force a quick marriage prior to the birth of the child.

What this tells me regarding the debate over reproductive health is that while the mouth-pieces for religious conservatism in the Philippines oppose any form of reproductive health education and services in schools and state-sponsored health clinics, their followers by and large are probably much more pragmatic and sensible. The problem of course is that they cannot come out, and neither can their politicians, to actually support this in public.

While an angry minority within the religious Catholic Filipino community will denounce the reproductive health bill for what they see is the alleged promotion of abortion and abortifacients that it embodies, I believe most of their adherents actually are on the side of a more balanced approach to the issue. The notion that Filipinos are either pro-life or pro-choice is really a misguided way to frame this debate.

Most Filipinos subscribe to the notion that to have a child as a teenager presents many disadvantages, including the inability to complete an education and get ahead in life. While most if not all would welcome newborns into this world, they also recognize that this comes with great responsibility. Yet, the radicals on both sides have managed to inflame the debate. The fact that there are risks associated with pregnancies among younger and older women and that the proper precaution has to be taken to manage these risks has been obscured by the name-calling and demonizing.

Our religious and political leaders have to join hands and recognize that the will of the majority of Filipinos has to be heeded, and a majority of them when surveyed express support for the enactment of laws consistent with promoting reproductive health. By restricting their view of the issue according to a very narrow lens, the pro-life and pro-choice camps are not only doing a disservice to their countrymen, they are sewing a lot of division in the community, creating a fissure that would not otherwise exist.

Philippine Senator Tito Sotto attacks Internet Freedom

Rappler published an entry. In that entry, Senator Tito Sotto alleged he was the first cyber-bullied Senator of the Philippines. In recent days he and his staff have come under fire for his alleged plagiarism of sources in his anti reproductive health bill speech. And ultimately raised that he was for regulating blogging in the Philippines. This means two things. First, it is meant to strike back at this critics, mostly who have voiced their objection online. It also doesn’t hurt that most of those critics of the reproductive health bill, are equally active online. Second, it is a classic case of the filibuster— mean to delay the vote on the reproductive health bill.

In many ways, Sotto is in the position of being a troll— Internet speak for someone who raises inflammatory talk, or injects one in the discussion. An Internet troll gets people rilled up and distracted from the core issue. Sotto seemingly is the real life equivalent of the Internet troll. He seems to be a natural at it, and has singlehandedly done a masterful job at delaying the vote on the Reproductive Health Bill.

The threat of course, of regulating the blogging community has always been a sword hanging over the Online community. It is a euphemism to regulate Internet Freedom. It neither should be taken lightly, nor sitting down. It is an attack on civil liberties. It is an attack on Internet Freedom. Blogging has become a euphemism for speech, for expression, and for assembly because it is so easy to use. Online tools have been useful in many situations, like the Habagat that struck Manila weeks ago. Our online tools can also be used in riots, as alleged in the “Blackberry riots” of London. Like any piece of technology or tool that humans have created, the Internet has been used for both good and evil.

Already in the Philippines a law has been passed by both houses of Congress determining that online libel is legal, and that it is equivalent to libel in real life. Simply put, Online libel is criminal. Not that libel per se is evil, but it has often been used in the Philippines as a weapon to silence critics.

Cyber-bulling is a problem in the Philippines. We’re not talking about some kid in Facebook being attacked by another kid, though that happens too. Trolls gang up and attack people who disagree with their point of view. Like the Tea Party does in real life, they are rapid. And like Fox news, often devoid of real discussion except to hear their own version of reality, and pompous ideas. Yet, their right to speak should be held sacrosanct. They absolutely have the right to assemble— at any place on the Internet and voice their disagreement with Government. These people have done so under the guise of anonymity, fearing reprisal for their outlandish ideas. And their right to anonymity, should similarly be held sacrosanct. Opposition to any idea or government is important in a flourishing democracy. Just as Al-Qaeda is branded an extremist terrorist organization for their militant radical view of Islam, just as the Ku Klux Klan is an extreme, and reactionary Protestant Christian movement, society should not tolerate violence, abuse, and hate. Isn’t that why we have equal protection of the law? We do not tolerate Al-Qaeda. We do not tolerate the Ku Klux Klan. It doesn’t mean that people should be denied the right to speak.

Senator Tito Sotto in his attempt to be framed as hurt dilutes the real people who are hurt, abused, harassed every single day legitimately by cyber-rules. How can he cyber-bullied when his words are protected by his parliamentary right to a privileged speech? How can he be bullied when his right to speak isn’t threatened to be infringe. As Senator, he has the ability to step in front of any podium, and people will hear him speak whether he speaks gibberish or not. As owner of Eat Bulaga— a daily noon time show that has run for decades, he can step in front of the camera and speak. How can one be cyber-bullied when his alleged plagiarism of a speech has reached The Washington Post, when an American blogger accused a Philippine Senator of lifting from her blog?

Senator Sotto’s right to speak, to express has not been infringed. Yet, he is, threatening to take that right, that same freedom accorded every citizen and threatens to regulate bloggers. Every single day, and every single moment someone posts a photo on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on Instagram. Someone “likes” that post or leaves a comment. It is the essence of blogging. So are you going to require ID cards for everyone who wants to get an email address?

Hilary Clinton beautifully, and simply framed the whole idea of Internet Freedom in easily understood words. She said, “The final freedom, one that was probably inherent in what both President and Mrs. Roosevelt thought about and wrote about all those years ago, is one that flows from the four I’ve already mentioned: the freedom to connect – the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly, only in cyberspace. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate. Once you’re on the internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society.”

Of course, Senator Sotto sought to inflame the discussion. To divert the issue from the Reproductive Health Bill, and to delay the vote for as long as possible. It is a simple case of filibuster and one that real people are affected. Who then is the real bully, and the bullied?

Source: xkcd, some rights reserved.

Dear Normal People, This is what the Internet is…

Makati Skyline
Makati Skyline. Source: Toto Ong via Flickr

Senator Tito Sotto was recently criticized for allegedly plagiarizing at least part of his anti reproductive health bill speech, which he gave in the Senate. Sarah Pope, an American blogger whose work was allegedly plagiarized has come out to say, “Sotto is acting above the law“. Journalist Raissa Robles wrote that Sotto copied from five bloggers.

Attorney Hector Villacorta, Senator Sotto’s Chief of Staff told ABS-CBN News that the senator can not be sued because “The Internet is public domain.” @jojomalig over at ABS-CBN News has written an excellent piece citing law and reasons why the Web is not public domain. And Ms. Pope has gone on record saying there is a copyright notice on her blog ( way down on her footer it reads, (C) Astrus Foods LLC).

Villacorta’s apparent intellectual dishonesty or intellectually challenged on the issue reflects in someways how most people view the Internet or its content. Content even from sources like Wikipedia are lifted word for word by students for their assignments. Photos are simply re-shared without citation. Plagiarism is not new, nor is it a Philippine phenomena.

There are two things that people are talking about here. What the Internet is to most people, and what “copyright” law is on the Internet.

What the Internet is
For most people, those normal people who do not breathe and live on and off the Internet, they see this cyberspace as a place for fun and entertainment. It is just another entertainment channel for them. They see websites as the Internet. Which is so far from the truth.

You’re familiar with an office in a building right? Most of you reading this probably works in one. A building or facility is just part of the city. And a city forms part of a province or state, and that state or province form part of an even bigger entity called, a country. Well, the Internet is just like the Earth with so many countries, and so many cities in it.

A website is an office or space in Web server. For many companies, and for many people it is a front door to the world. That Web server is a building in a city. The Cluster (which is a group of servers) is a city, and the Data Center, which is a group of clusters is your province or state, and a federation of which forms part of a country, i.e. one owned by AOL, Amazon, Rackspace, MediaTemple and others.

And Facebook is just a gated community, that has sprawled into its own city-state.

The Internet is a network of networks. What you see— the websites? Like in a city, a building is just one of many layers of the Internet. Email works just like its real world counterpart the post office, or parcel service like UPS and FedEx, is very, very much distinct from the Web. And what makes these websites go? Like how do you go from Google to to Facebook to somewhere else? That’s Domain Name Service— an address of sorts that knits it all together, and is kind of like what roads, and ports are like and they link everything together.

So yes, just like the real world, there are “rules” on the Internet. The basic principles— which is kind of the constitution is called Request for Comments (RFC). These form the “Internet standard”, which describe “methods, behaviors, research, or innovations applicable to the working of the Internet and Internet-connected systems.” Yes, it even has a Glossary of terms. And the guys who make this up is the Internet Engineering Task Force, which is kind of the Congress or Parliament or United Nations of the Internet.

Behavior such as trolling– posting inflammatory comments or entries that seek to get a reader’s emotional response is often dissuaded, “Do not feed the trolls“. An in one instance, the law has stepped in.

Thoughts on copyright
Just like in the real world, there are ethos to adhere to, which mostly originated from Hacker Culture, and ethics. And one of the tenants of this is that “All information should be free”. By free, meaning people have access to it. Information or data shouldn’t be kept. Documents should be accessible. Music should be played. In the broader concept it does not preclude people from making money or attributing or giving a simple hat tip to the original work. Ideas like Creative Commons tell us yes, by all means, share, remix, but attribute to the source. Reblogging on Tumblr attributes the source. Sharing on Facebook attributes the Source. A retweet on Twitter attributes the source. So the Internet isn’t a lawless, free for all world that people can just take and take, without giving a simple hat tip gesture. And if you liked something on YouTube, or downloaded something on PirateBay or torrents, you are very much encouraged to pay for it, someway, somehow, if you can, or tell people how great it is so creators can make money, and make more stuff that you like. In fact, Creators like Neil Gaiman have interesting thoughts on Piracy and Copyright.

So to sum it all up, the Internet isn’t the web. The websites, the blogs you see? They are like office spaces in a building, which is part of a city (data center), and that city is part of an even bigger world called the Internet. There are “rules”, and behavior on the Internet. There is cultural norm on the Internet derived largely from Hacker Ethics, and natural outgrowth like “Do not feed the trolls”. Just because it is on the Internet, doesn’t mean it is public domain.

Image credit: Some rights reserved by toto_ong

Sen. Tito Sotto: The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty

Tito Sotto at Matnog, Sorsogon Municipal Health Office

Yesterday, Sen. Tito Sotto delivered the first installment of his four-part speech against the RH Bill, designated SB 2865 in the Senate. (Read Here)

He enumerated his 7 objections starting with this:

    1. The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty, the Philippine Constitution and existing penal laws;

The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty ????

I was waiting for the good senator to expound on it but he did not. Maybe someone out there knows what he meant by that.

Can anybody out there explain how the RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty?

Image credit: source: Facebook.

Absent Sons and Daughters, Absent Parents

I’m the last person to be talking about absent sons and daughters. I’m not a parent. And I’ve often heard the expression that “No parent should ever bury their child”. So I can’t comment on the grief that Senator Sotto framed his opposition of the Reproductive Health Bill. I can’t imagine or relate to the Senator in that respect.

ABS-CBN described the Senator as “teary-eyed” in a news item. The news item quotes the Senator as saying, “The Makati Medical Center said he died because my wife used contraceptives.” The entire speech is summed up to be about absent sons, and absent daughters and in one message: “Contraceptives are to be blamed for my child’s death, so don’t use it!”

I hope that they did an autopsy. Science and all that. There is nothing like the certainty of the scientific method to get the cold hard facts, regardless whether we want to hear them or not.

Oddly enough, the Reproductive Health bill is about absent sons, and absent daughters. That is, if you frame children as objects and possessions. Sons and daughters are there to “lift the family up from poverty”. The translation being sons and daughters are born to make money to feed the hungry family. Sons and daughters are there to pay for their younger siblings’ education. To act as parents, because their parents can’t afford to send them to school. It is a common and vicious cycle of absent parents.

The parent is supposedly the one who should provide for their children. They should be the one to feed them. To put warm clothes on their back. To give them toys, and to play with them. To create happy children who are secure in themselves when it is their turn to be adults. You know? To prepare their children to be better than their parents.

You don’t have kids so they’ll take care of you when you’re old and sickly.

At least, that’s how I view it.

I’m not trying to say that being compassionate about your family is a bad thing. It is natural for Filipinos and family to look after each other. I’m saying the lack of family planning. The lack of parents being ready to be parents is the single biggest problem of our society.

How many of today’s crime is wrought by children doing drugs? Kids who fall to substance abuse because of family life problems? Or life problems? Or just because no one was there to help them out? How many of these kids are born when parents themselves are not yet ready to be parents? How many of these kids stop going to school, or parents unable to help with homework? How many kids are born, and parents resent them for it because they can’t go out and party, or have the time of their lives?

The Reproductive Health Bill, at its core is about choices. Choose the family planning method you want after the government or health professional gives you all the options. The health worker is kind of like the sales person in the mall. This one is natural planning… this one is using a condom, etc. etc. It is also about parents finding choices to help them decide on when you want to have kids. A time when you’re ready to be a parent. So the reproductive health bill is about absent parents. Like having fewer of absent parents.

It always isn’t foolproof. Nothing in life ever is. At least, nothing human hands have created. From time to time, something fails. Perhaps it is a manufacturing defect. Perhaps someone used a pin to put holes on that condom. You know, psycho girlfriend-style. I mean, life always would try to find a way to send you a curveball.

A senator’s son could have, or may have died from complications. Just because you have the money, just because you have the means, doesn’t excuse you when life throws a curveball.

Those against the reproductive health bill say this is a bill against having kids. Too much, or two many screws up people. That it makes people selfish so fewer kids translate to fewer mouths to feed. Yes, it is about fewer mouths to feed, particularly, in the first place, when you can’t afford to feed them in the first place.

Picture a man, who makes two hundred fifty dollars a month. That’s less than 10 thousand pesos a month. If he has three kids and a wife to feed, how in all the heavens can you give each child the opportunity to be better? How can you feed them, much less send them to school? Public school isn’t absolutely free to begin with. There are still expenses, and PTAs and stuff, correct? How are you going to feed them so they can actually go to school, to begin with?

So the reproductive health bill isn’t about cutting back on the kids. It is about being responsible parents. Don’t have children if you’re not ready to have them. If you can’t feed them. Do you know how much milk costs these days? If you can’t pay for their clothing. Do you know how much diapers cost these days? If you can’t pay for bringing them to the doctor during the middle of the night. Do you know how hard it is to see your child in pain, and not being able to buy medicine or giving them good health care? Do you?

I don’t, but I’ve seen friends and family pay exuberant amounts of money for their kids. Money that in my bachelor lifestyle would have gone on to other stuff, like machines, and toys.

What is happening right for the past decade or so is that parents– from teens and everyone of reproductive health have kids and they don’t have a clue that hey, eventually, I have to pay for my kid’s college. We actually live in a society where all grandparents aren’t loaded with money to you know, pay for their grandkids’ tuition. So we have absent parents. We have people who— they don’t know any better have kids because that’s what humans are programmed to do in the first place. You know: people have sex. Animals have sex, and just because we’re humans, doesn’t mean that base part of us doesn’t come out. Hormones, and you know, natural selection at play. Men and women have needs.

Reproductive Health care is about absent sons, and daughters. To create a world where sons and daughters can grow up to be human beings. And not merely to survive day in, and day out in the street like dogs, and cats do. We don’t go out and say it, but don’t you take pity on them, but hardly give a second thought? This is about a world of fewer absent sons and daughters who have fallen off the tracks, do drugs, do crime, or die, and be forgotten. It is about a world of fewer absent parents, and instead create a world where parents think about raising their kids, and preparing them for life—- for kids to be better than their parents. To live, not merely to survive. Why can’t we have that? Why can’t we put the reproductive health bill up to a vote because of life?

Image credit: Some rights reserved by SPIngram

Faith and the #RHBill

source Manila Cathedral
Free will. Choice. Faith. Science. Words easily uttered these days leading up to the vote in Congress of the Reproductive Health Bill. The most vocal opponent of the bill is the Catholic Church, led by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines.

The bill, like many laws of the land is complex. The issue is not simple. So its proponents have distilled it into the salient point: maternal health, and a matter of choice. It is on these points that it has gained much support.

The bill is far from perfect. But what law is? The sad truth is that this bill is made even more imperfect because of the lack of learned debate between those for it, and those against it.

The sad truth is that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines sees this debate as about them. Passage of the bill signals a more secular society. The perceived power of the CBCP, to them dwindles. If on this moral issue, the CBCP fails, what on other issues of the day?

Another sad truth, because of the CBCP’s trolling behavior on this issue, real debate on the lack of, or the merits of this bill never came to pass. It’s a shame really.

On Twitter, @jeromegotangco points out, “Here is opinion. I agree with healthcare but I do not agree on subsidizing some else’s sex life.” Jon Limjap replied, “It’s a toss up between subsidizing someone else’s sex life or welfare of someone else’s kid. We’re doing the latter!” Both are valid points of view. And both should be part of the debate on the merits of the Reproductive Health Bill. Has it been?

The truth is, reproductive health isn’t about religion. The bill does not go against the prohibition on abortion. It does not prevent a Catholic from listening to church teachings on natural family planning. It doesn’t prevent a Catholic couple to plan their family, to spread their kids over a span of years, according to their capacity to take care of that child. It does prevent the Catholic belief on natural family planning to apply to everyone of different faith. It does try to prevent irresponsibility: that a couple can have kids, without giving a thought to the future of that person.

People are now rightly asking, “How will I feed my kid?” “How can I give this human being, proper education?” “how can I give this human being a good life?” If that is the case, how is this going against Jesus’ commandment of Love?

Without doubt, the reproductive health bill should be passed. Whether we argue or not on its imperfections, or the nature of the debate, the fact is, this bill will be better for everyone.

EDSA Shrine as a propaganda tool

EDSA Shrine

Today, anti-RH bill activists from the Church and suspicious politicians will gather at the EDSA Shrine and will form a mini People Power to show the undecided congressmen and senators that shutting down RH Bill is the way to go. The EDSA Shrine as their venue is significant because of its history and the positive associations connected to it. There’s nothing wrong in gathering there. It is within their constitutional rights. What I don’t like about it is how it will makes Catholics who are pro-RH Bill appear as if they are in the wrong path, even evil. That the Church is right and we are wrong. That the EDSA Shrine stands for the truth and the betterment of the country and it belongs to them. I want to see a gathering of pro-RH Catholics at EDSA Shrine too but its management will never approve of it. It is quite sinister how the Church turned the reproductive health into a battle between good and evil, forgetting that mothers’ lives are at stake, that women should have the right to choose whether to use contraceptives or not, that the bill will help the lives of the poor more manageable, and so on.

I won’t list down the statistics and studies which defend the passing of the RH Bill since it has been much discussed and they are freely available online for people to study. It is only my intention to put out there that the Church doesn’t have the monopoly on “goodness.” Goodness comes in different forms with some not apparent at first but will become the greater good in the end.

Image credit: some rights, reserved.