Sarah Othman HackerNoon profile picture

Sarah Othman

Sarah Othman is Model Editor/CSM at @hackernoon, Founder at www.verifiedwriters.org and based mostly in Tokyo, Japan.

I’ve very just lately grow to be the Model Editor / CSM at Hacker Midday. For individuals who don’t know, Hacker Midday is constructed for technologists to learn, write, and publish. We’re an open and worldwide neighborhood of 15,000+ contributing writers publishing tales and experience for 3,000,000+ curious and insightful month-to-month readers.

We’re right here to offer paywall-free, immediately accessible data from readers all all over the world. Anybody can write for Hacker Midday however a collective of in-house editors examine each story for veracity, high quality, and relevance. 

I work remotely from two areas in Japan. These areas are Tokyo and Chiba.

I’m a British lady.

Again in 2017 a Hacker Midday information journalism story written by information scientist Jeff Kao “Greater than a Million Professional-Repeal Web Neutrality Feedback Have been Most Probably Fabricated,” obtained protection from BoingBoing, Forbes, Fortune, Stanford College, Techmeme, Buzzfeed, and different prime know-how publications.

The story was utilized by an especially photogenic Actor, Producer, Designer, Mom, Activist (and podcaster?) named Alyssa Milano to efficiently stress the Senate to vote, and to overturn the Federal Communications Fee’s (FCC) controversial determination to repeal web neutrality.

Sadly, within the post-Brexit political panorama of the UK the online neutrality dialog continues to be occurring. That’s what this text is about. 

I stand with Google on this.



Significantly. Why are we nonetheless speaking about this? 

This 12 months, Ofcom has created a 21 web page doc ‘calling for proof’.

Here is an instance of a sickening query from the doc:

“Query 1: Functioning of the online neutrality framework
(a) Which facets of the present web neutrality framework do you contemplate work properly and ought to be maintained? Please present particulars together with any supporting proof and evaluation.”

The bare URL for the WayBack Machine if the above Ofcom PDF is taken down, is: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/belongings/pdf_file/0015/224142/call-for-evidence-net-neutrality-review.pdf


Proof of what?

Think about asking somebody for proof that their respiration is effective to society.

Think about somebody calling for proof {that a} black lady is as equally essential as a white lady. 

These would possibly look like sturdy analogies however in relation to Web Neutrality that is actually the distinction.

The definition of Web Neutrality is: “the precept that web service suppliers (ISPs) should deal with all web communications equally and never cost customers completely different charges based mostly on content material, web site, platform, utility, sort of kit, supply deal with, vacation spot deal with… it goes on.”

It’s about not being discriminative. It’s about not being racist, or sexist or prejudicial. It’s about web equality.

It’s about not awarding ‘corruption bonuses’ or ‘privileges’.


And understandably, persons are scared. If you happen to scroll down from a ‘web neutrality’ search in Google (picture beneath), guess what you see?


And, you see: “Why is community neutrality an issue?”

Brief reply: It isn’t. It’s AWESOME. Let’s preserve it.

If you wish to see what no community neutrality, or zero community neutrality seems like you don’t want to look far. You may check out two nations which can be loud and proud on the world stage proper now…


Oh man…

(I’ve used full URLs in order that even when these get deleted sooner or later you may simply learn them within the WayBack Machine).

Putin is mendacity to the folks of Russia in regards to the battle on Ukraine by making the most of the shortage of web neutrality.


AP Information

Council On International Relations

New York Instances

And, in December 2021 (earlier than Putin’s battle on Ukraine began), the BBC’s Andrei Zakharov and Ksenia Churmanova printed an article known as: “How Russia tries to censor Western social media,” which paperwork a couple of of Putin’s assaults on Western Web Neutrality splendidly. 

Once more, the URL can be bare for prosperity: https://www.bbc.com/information/blogs-trending-59687496



“China’s Web censorship is extra complete and complex than another nation on the planet […] China’s Web police pressure was reported by official state media to be 2 million sturdy in 2013. […] Fines and brief arrests have gotten an elective punishment to whoever spreads undesirable data by way of the completely different Web codecs, as that is seen as a threat to social stability.” – Wikipedia on 24/03/2022

I used to be planning on writing this text in regards to the UK’s completely weird, secret Web Neutrality overview earlier than the battle towards Ukraine began however because it did, I’ve been in an absolute state of shock.

Putin’s Affect

The affect of Putin on British and US politics within the years previous the battle on Ukraine can’t be ignored.

We all know that there have been very critical claims that Russian pursuits influenced the Brexit referendum and its consequence which segregated the UK from the EU.

Now, we are able to simply perceive it could have been an effort to cease the UK (one among Europe’s most thriving economies) from aiding Ukraine.

I’ll direct you to this text for UK Newspaper The Guardian, it is known as: “Was there Russian meddling within the Brexit referendum? The Tories simply did not care,” by Jonathan Lis.

Jonathan mentioned this:

“The intelligence and safety committee’s (ISC) Russia report doesn’t maintain again. It states that “we’ve got not been supplied with any post-referendum evaluation of Russian makes an attempt at interference… in stark distinction to the US dealing with of allegations of Russian interference within the 2016 presidential election”. Its press launch is much more blunt, declaring that “the federal government didn’t take motion to guard the UK’s course of in 2016”. The committee duly recommends that the intelligence companies “produce an identical evaluation of potential Russian interference within the EU referendum” and publish an unclassified abstract.”

If that was a bit complicated for non British-English audio system (lots of whom make up my shut and private associates) a tough translation into less complicated English is:

“We requested the UK Authorities (Boris Johnson) to submit a report back to us, however they didn’t. We’d like one which is as detailed because the one equipped throughout the 2016 Presidential Elections within the USA. The UK Authorities took no motion to guard the referendum course of from interference in 2016. They need to present a equally detailed doc to the one which was produced within the USA and likewise publish it transparently and publicly.”

Jonathan Lis additionally wrote: “Because the report notes, there’s credible proof that Russian actors have interfered in overseas elections over a interval of some years, and the Russian state usually views overseas coverage as a zero-sum recreation.”

Bare hyperlink: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/21/russian-meddling-brexit-referendum-tories-russia-report-government

I don’t assume that I’m being a conspiracy theorist in saying that Web Neutrality is essential. 

Google agrees with me.

Alyssa Milano agrees with me and the one individuals who don’t agree with me, look like within the pockets of Putin’s regime or China’s present leaders.

So, why is Ofcom, the UK’s regulator, (extraordinarily quietly) calling for proof that Web Neutrality is important in an period when it’s SO OBVIOUSLY important?

I can solely presume that it’s as a result of they’re on our facet and like us, they need to defend it.

I can solely hope.

The overview says: If you wish to talk about the problems and questions raised on this session, please contact Adam Lacey on 020 7981 3856, or by e-mail to [email protected]

In response to his LinkedIn profile, he’s a contest coverage supervisor, who venture directs, manages and offers coverage and analytical enter into a variety of competitors and cross group work streams.


I’ll ask him some questions.

I despatched Adam the beneath e-mail (edited for the article).

Hello Adam,

I am writing an article and I would love additional clarification on why Ofcom has created a 21 web page doc ‘calling for proof’ for Web Neutrality.

I am sincerely involved that you’re attempting to control and deceive the general public.

Firstly, in abstract this doc is basically flawed.

– It is introduced in a socially exclusionary format (which this doc itself acknowledges)
– It assumes custodianship of web neutrality (Ofcom doesn’t decide web neutrality regulation, UK Authorities does)
– It conflates customers and web customers (these are clearly not the identical factor)
– It prioritizes the technology of income, commercialism and competitiveness over data-ethics
– It makes Ofcom look horrible, particularly contemplating how essential web neutrality is throughout Russia’s battle on Ukraine

I’ve highlighted my questions in yellow, [for the purposes of this transcript, bold.]

Q1: Why did you determine to format the overview on this format with this wording? That is fairly a critical query as a result of it would not appear to deal with the topic of web neutrality appropriately.

Q2: An introduction

The Web Neutrality: Name For Proof doc cites Brexit as one of many causes for the requirement for the overview.

“The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, with a transition interval till 31 December 2020 (the ‘transition interval’). Following the top of this era, the EU guidelines on web neutrality turned a part of home UK regulation. A lot of small modifications have been subsequently made to the foundations, in order to cope with minor points arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.6 For instance, Ofcom is now not required to take utmost account of the BEREC Pointers (see paragraphs 2.10 to 2.11 beneath) or to submit an annual compliance report back to the European Fee (though we’re nonetheless required to publish a report). References to EU legal guidelines and nationwide regulatory authorities (NRAs) have been additionally deleted or changed with references to nationwide legal guidelines and Ofcom, respectively.”

It additionally states: “This overview is meant to tell our work in these areas. Any modifications to the foundations can be a matter for Authorities and in the end Parliament.”

[Edit, note: This phrase: “This review is intended to inform our work in these areas.” Seems to be their sole reasoning for the document’s existence but the only thing that should inform their work regarding net neutrality is existing law.]

Nonetheless, the overview doc conflates the web with an eCommerce platform by repeatedly referring to web customers as customers.

There are 13 situations of the phrase ‘customers’ within the doc lots of which state Ofcom desires to guard both the buyer or the ‘competitiveness’ of companies by revising web neutrality practices as a regulator, and subsequently influencing the practices of ISPs on behalf of income producing companies. 

This appears to be the very definition of a ‘battle of curiosity’.

Q2: Reviewing regulatory frameworks (Ofcom is a regulator) that straight impression the online neutrality of the web by reductively positioning web customers as customers is damaging and fallacious. Why has Ofcom intentionally chosen to conflate residents and customers?

Web customers aren’t customers. The inverse is true.

The web will not be solely used as a spot for the aggressive sale of products. To place it that approach, with competitiveness and consumerism as a precedence is reductive and restrictive. Sure, Ofcom regulates the sale of products [and services, aka. internet service provision]. It doesn’t regulate the web.

In respect to regulatory practices for web neutrality, this paragraph is especially inappropriate.

“2.13 Ofcom’s principal responsibility is to additional the pursuits of residents in relation to communications issues and to additional the pursuits of customers in related markets, the place acceptable by selling competitors.10”

Q3: Reducing web neutrality within the pursuits of capitalism or consumerism, and even ‘competitiveness’ as a UK regulator will not be an appropriate agenda. Why does this doc place Ofcom’s agenda on this approach?

This fall: Introduction

Inside the doc there are questions like: 
“Query 1: Functioning of the online neutrality framework
(a) Which facets of the present web neutrality framework do you contemplate work properly and ought to be maintained? Please present particulars together with any supporting proof and evaluation.”

This fall: This query implies these present facets of community neutrality which don’t garner a response throughout the overview interval can be deemed irrelevant and never maintained. 

It additionally assumes the reader has a working information of Ofcom’s present (distinctive) web neutrality framework based mostly on present legal guidelines (a fundamental overview is offered however not in a approach that’s straightforward for regular folks to entry or reply to).

Q5: In a number of locations the doc suggests that ordinary, abnormal folks (known as residents) are invited to answer this overview.

Listed here are two examples of the phrasing for that assertion:

Instance 1: “Ofcom’s principal responsibility is to additional the pursuits of residents in relation to communications issues and to additional the pursuits of customers in related markets, the place acceptable by selling competitors.” Once more, there’s the battle between the idea of web neutrality and the idea of promotion. 

Instance 2: “We invite responses from all stakeholders, together with residents and customers and organisations that symbolize their pursuits, small and bigger enterprise customers, CAPs and ISPs in addition to from different stakeholders from throughout the web worth chain.” 

Q5, continued: If that’s the case, why has Ofcom chosen to phrase the overview course of so formally and ship it on this format as a substitute of as a survey tailor-made to every sector listed?

The doc additionally says:

“If in case you have any feedback or ideas on how we handle our consultations, please e-mail us at [email protected]. We significantly welcome concepts on how Ofcom might extra successfully search the views of teams or people, similar to small companies and residential customers, who’re much less seemingly to present their opinions by way of a proper session.”

Q5, continued: You subsequently respect how inappropriate this doc is, inside this particular doc itself? Until your intention is to restrict your responses to a choose few folks and subsequently skew the response information? If you happen to do certainly need abnormal residents to reply and don’t need to be exclusionary a survey would appear like an apparent format to gather opinions on one thing like this. Why did not you try this?

Lastly, in conclusion, this doc is by no means acceptable. It isn’t Ofcom’s job to manage the web. It is their job to manage ISPs as items and companies suppliers. Conflating the 2 is unacceptable.

The presumption throughout the doc that Ofcom ought to be advising/recommending or amending present web neutrality REGULATORY frameworks is totally inappropriate.

This phrase: “This overview is meant to tell our work in these areas.” Appears to be their sole reasoning for the doc’s existence however the one factor that ought to inform their work concerning web neutrality is present regulation.

What ought to this doc have carried out?

1. It ought to have introduced the prevailing framework in a approach which is simple for regular residents to grasp.

2. It ought to have offered an easy-to-understand survey on their ideas and opinions with open questions, not negatively-phrased questions like: ‘what ought to be maintained?’ (Akin to: How lots of the Historical books of Alexandria ought to we not burn?).

3. It ought to have made it clear on each web page that web neutrality and the web (which aren’t regulated by Ofcom) are fully completely different (and separate from the difficulty of shopper regulation of products and companies, that are).

4. It ought to have been co-authored by a 3rd social gathering that helps web neutrality (or at the least checked by one): https://www.google.com/takeaction/motion/net-neutrality/).

Please reply promptly to all 5 questions in order that they are often added to my article earlier than I publish it.

Thanks and finest needs,
Sarah Othman

My remaining thought: This can be proof of corruption and collusion to mislead.

Ofcom regulates TV, Phone, Radio and traditionally ISPs however beforehand needed to conform to a set of ethics and coverage framework set by a 3rd social gathering group (the BEREC Pointers and European Fee).

Now they need to conform to present Authorities pointers.

They view ISPs as business entities in competitors, not as an important utility service like Gasoline, Electrical energy, or Water.

This seems to be the case regardless of the actual fact Adam is a former Ofgem worker.

In response to his LinkedIn, he labored at Ofgem “…with a give attention to venture managing the evaluation of giant capital investments in vitality infrastructure (ranging in dimension from £50m to £2bn), transmission charging, and different transmission coverage points.”

All of us deserve clear water to drink and all of us deserve a net-neutral web.

Sarah Othman HackerNoon profile picture
by Sarah Othman @saraho.Sarah Othman is Model Editor/CSM at @hackernoon, Founder at www.verifiedwriters.org and based mostly in Tokyo, Japan.

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