Hungarian Internet Tax

Hungary to impose world’s first internet tax

Hungary is preparing to impose the world’s first tax on internet usage .. which include a charge of Ft150 (62 U.S. cents [40p]) for each gigabyte of internet data consumed. Mr Varga [economy minister] said the tax – to be paid by internet service providers – was a logical extension of levies on phone calls and text messages the government announced in 2011.

Hungarians stage Budapest protest against internet tax

In response, the ruling Fidesz party said it would submit an amendment to the law ensuring that monthly payments of the tax were capped at 700 forints.

Although we all pay an internet tax (by way of VAT on our telecoms bill), this is particularly despicable. Presumably this fee is on top of the taxes already levied.

It seems the charge applies also to data uploaded, not just downloaded.

Part of the problem is from webpages being overloaded with garbage for a ‘prettier experience’: the average ebay page is approaching 2MB, and they’re not alone. Much is to do with ‘needing’ oversized, high resolution images to cater for the higher resolution screens, and the fashion for more and more visual effects and features being being managed browser-side (cf. traditional ‘server-side’ intelligence).

Dont get me started on the CO2 footprint for all these ‘superfluous’ bits being transported 😉

Often it’s worth using the mobile site instead, for a more efficient service. Maybe its time for a ‘download accelerator’ service, akin to Opera’s turbo ‘on the road’ option. I suspect that when people complain about how ‘slow their computer is’, in fact it has little to do with their computer and more to do with the amount they are having to download, with the subsequent extra processing necessary.

[I am aware CDNs, for example, reduce the real weight of each page as you explore the site, but that doesn’t change the original situation so much]

Add the imposition of certain OSes that demand you download all your updates & upgrades, as well as software only available by download, and you have the recipe to create many thousand computers running obsolete (may I say ‘poor quality’ or ‘bloated’) software with the issues this presents.

Extending the point about forcing these massive downloads, it is worth remembering not everyone on the planet has access to lovely broadband. Even in the UK, many people still have to rely on expensive dial-up modem services, or not much cheaper mobile connections.

The slippery slope of UK Internet censorship is alive and well

How unanswerable companies and government departments choose what is acceptable (to them)

? do you want to support these companies making decisions over your rights

? will opting out identify you as some sort of social deviant, ala ‘Daily Mail’ 😉

BT … admitted that UK parents who don’t want their kids to seek advice about their sexuality online could block access over its network.

However, while BT continues to offer that control to its subscribers, the company has now backtracked on how it labels its sex education category.

BT defined as sex education websites, which said they could be blocked “where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.”

BT, defending its wording, said on Friday that “Some parents of very young children may wish to block sex education material.”

.. the control stays for any mum or dad who might have a serious problem with their child’s sexuality

To the dismay of some, O2 appeared to be offering to block all sorts of websites … over its service when a subscriber switches on the “parental control” feature .. 

Burger chain McDonalds was apparently included on O2’s whitelist of safe content for under-12s. But Childline, a charity set up to protect kids from – among other things – violent parents, was on the banned list under the parental control option.

O2 confirmed..t it was “working closely with BBFC [British Board of Film Classification] to review and change the site classification as we speak.” The BBFC cobbles together a Classification Framework for mobile operators to help define what content should be deemed unsuitable for under-18s.

O2 added that “BBFC is used by all major networks in the UK. They review all the content that’s suitable for under 12s.”

BT said its Parental Controls blocking system would cover all internet connected devices in the home.

New customers will have to make a choice on whether or not to activate the parental controls when setting up their internet connection for the first time. The option of having the controls implemented is pre-selected and customers have to confirm that choice or actively choose not to switch on the controls which block content potentially unsuitable for children.

BT will be contacting all of its existing consumer customers during 2014 so that they then have to make a decision on whether or not to set up the controls.

UK mobile operators have finally announced the body that will regulate and classify adult content available on mobile phones. The specially formed organisation – called the Independent Mobile Classification Body (IMCB) – is an independent and separately-financed subsidiary or the premium rate regulator, ICSTIS.

Meanwhile, it’s likely that Virgin Media will unveil its DNS lookup-based blocking system before the year is out.

Main article 

Of course children should be protected, remember our own childhood, but extreme over protection is not far from brainwashing the next generation. What happened to good parenting?

BTW, merry Christmas

RIP the free & open web: #Google #Twitter #API #RSS

Apologies in advance if this gets a bit technical, that’s because behind the scenes it is, but the effects could be life-changing!

RSS is a way of publishing online, for example, a ‘news’ feed of headlines or updates, using a well established and open format. This enables you to see, say, just the most recent 100 headlines without actually visiting any web pages – you choose the ones of interest and follow them to the relevant page.

I wonder if RSS is falling from favour because it bypasses the concept of you visiting webpages (and, by extension, eyeballs on adverts).

If I get too technical, there are some other links to read at the bottom 🙂

Google Reader & RSS
announced on the Official Google Blog that they will soon retire Google Reader (actual date: July 1, 2013) – Google are also killing off the RSS extension on Chrome [this may have been an error – apparently the extension has been restored].
Implication: you wont be able to read the headlines unless you use the Google News search page (which has adverts).

Google News Alerts
These are being widely reported as being on the blink and raised concern it will be the next service to take a dive.

As ever Google chooses to not answer inquiries from the press or public (but will no doubt tell us their final decision in an out of the blue announcement)

Twitter RSS API
Twitter continues to lock down their platform, as they have since the switch to OAuth. If you want to add content to Twitter, you can do that easily. If you want to get content out of Twitter, well, you’ll have to conform to Twitter’s requirements.
RSS was an easy way of getting content out of Twitter, and so they killed it. They’ll tell you that it wasn’t really used, but that’s a load of bull and they know it, but it sounds good and most people will simply swallow it.

– so from March/April 2013: use OAuth and json to parse Twitter feeds.
And their RSS timeline feeds are now dust 🙁

Questionable decision to – Twitter API moving to v1.1:
Tweets being given Snowflake-based IDs, direct messages will also be snowflake 64-bit integers beginning September 30th, 2011 … a service we will be using to generate unique Tweet IDs. These Tweet IDs are unique 64bit unsigned integers …..

The problem … Before launch it came to our attention that some programming languages such as Javascript cannot support numbers with >53bits
In Google Chrome you can test compatibility with long integers by running (in the console):
(90071992547409921).toString() gives the result “90071992547409920” – just hope you’re not doing your accounts.

“no-one will need an integer address longer than 53 bits”

This reminds me of hard drives hitting the 137GB limit because of old IDE addressing, and not thinking ahead. And now 32bit operating systems being unable to access more than 2TB of hard disk partitioned space – the move onwards and upwards is relentless, pity the casualties along the way.

To quote Twitter: “we’ve decided to discontinue support for XML, Atom, and RSS, which are infrequently used today
– cough, cough, like what planet you on man!!! (XML is the founding technology behind AJAX web programming, one that Twitter itself uses to dynamically update the page; ATOM is like RSS)

“This protesting about Google not continuing to provide something is just indicative of people denying that they had unrealistic expectations. This is a public company in a dominant position so it has little to no responsibility toward its clientèle. That’s just how it is. Pretending that is not the case is perhaps what all those people are doing who have bought into Google’s services and now complain when their dreams are broken. There’ll be more of this, and I for one, am not playing that game.”

The bottom line … writings on the wall
– you cant call yourself free unless you recognise and support open standards
– the big companies have fallen in love again with their own propriety APIs (‘use our tech or walk’ attitude)
– dont get me started on CalDav ..

As ever the maxim applies: if you use a something that is free, you’re not the customer you’re the product
– and in case you were unsure as to what a Maxim is/does, they used to make machine guns 😉 see Wikipedia

Now might be a good time to take up farming in an isolated village somewhere ..

And read these:
blogs-we-liked-google-shuts-down-reader-caldav and also talks about CalDav being closed down

Disclaimer: some of this was gathered and written some time ago, and I cant remember what is mine (I think it mostly is)! very sorry 🙁 #embarrassed