Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to dig up the dirt you need

After assisting in research on an article regarding Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) hiring the new Chancellor despite past allegations, I found these few following links and shortcuts extremely helpful (and free):

- Visit harvester.census.gov to find a single audit database. This can be helpful when trying to find a past evaluation on a person or an organization.

- When looking for a home phone number in the US, type "rphonebook: full name, state" in a Google search.

- If trying to find court case filings, you can usually find county reports on their website, for example: Denver, Colorado. Beware that not all civil cases can be filed in this manner, if only looking up a name. Also, some states like Colorado require you to pay for a state court case report and are not open record like other states.

- Not getting the info you know you have rights to? Visit splc.org to get a sample FOIA letter or fill out your own.

Make sure to read the featured story above to see how some of these links were implemented for research.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Loss of Net neutrality: A slippery slope

Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator

As of April 6, broadband providers can sell, limit, or promote access to any website they want; or any website that pays them. This could mean your personal blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr will never be seen again.

Once websites pay for broadband service, the Internet will no longer be neutral. To limit the outlets people use to share information and express themselves is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

According to savetheinternet.com, Net neutrality means “Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online.” In other words, a corporation does not have the power to sell Web access and limit broadband speeds. Prior to April 6, this was true.

According to an April 6 Spokesman-Review article, a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to treat broadband providers equally. This means the courts decided it is okay for Comcast to sell all their broadband bandwidth to MTV if they want, leaving little to no broadband speed to a “lesser” website, like a local band’s, if they so choose. So long to indie music.

The net neutrality debate has not been popularly broadcast most likely due to the fact that news stations won’t spread the word. All major news outlets are owned by a corporation that hopes to buy out broadband speed.

According to freepress.net, the “big six” corporations that own news outlets are General Electric, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, CBS Corporation, Time Warner, and Viacom. These corporations are the parent companies to media outlets such as NBC, MSNBC, ABC, ESPN, Fox Cable, CNN, MTV, and more. This also includes print publications like the New York Post and Wall Street Journal. If all these corporations have control over television stations, web and print publications, who is going to spread the word about Net neutrality? Who is going to stop the Internet from becoming a Google monopoly? Not a measly student journalist via blogger.com, because their broadband speed will be bought out by Hannah Montana’s official homepage, thanks to Disney.

The Internet has been a free forum for people to voice their political and personal views for years. To take away Net neutrality, broadband providers could potentially infringe on the country’s freedom of speech and freedom of press, specifically the voice of students.

In an over-a-decade-old trial, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) filed a complaint against the United States Department of Justice. According to CIEC, the Internet exists and functions solely as a result of hundreds of thousands of separate operators of computer networks independently decided to use a common data transfer to exchange communications and information with other computers.

“No entity whether it be academic, corporate, governmental, or non-profit, can control, govern, or run the Internet,” the CEIC’s complaint states.

As seen in Issue 41.10 of The Communicator