Telcos want control of the Internet. Together we can still stop them.
Today is a day to rally. A day to talk, to reach out and especially to act.
It’s the last chance to fight to keep fair and equal access to the Internet. The day we exercise our freedom of speech to maintain the same right online. The day we hold high the principle of common carriage; the principal that service providers must serve the general public without discrimination. A principle that started with blacksmiths, innkeepers and ship owners and is today part of our social contracts with public airlines, railroads, buses, taxicabs, freight and phone companies and yes, Internet service providers. The latter, because as Public Knowledge said so succinctly:
“Networks are so vital to the functioning of society that the maintenance of such networks cannot be left to the market solely.”
The Internet is the world’s principal source of information. We deserve access to all lawful content unedited, unfiltered, uncensored, unfettered. We want real journalism, not an echo chamber. We want to hear all voices, not only the ones who’ve paid to speak.
We don’t want a two-tiered system controlling online communication.
At Tucows, we believe the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has even seen. We are thrilled and humbled by what can be achieved when billions of people have access to information and a vehicle to communicate, collaborate and co-create. We are increasingly wary of large corporations that are willing to compromise customer experiences and impede progress to protect market share. We are similarly concerned about politicians that legislate on the Internet without truly understanding the world they are affecting.
So today we ask you to join our voice to protect the open Internet, by asking the FCC to preserve net neutrality. It’s easy. We promise.
Tucows Cuts the Crap
TORONTO, May 3, 2016 – After successful forays into fiber Internet, cell phone service and domain names, Tucows (NASDAQ: TCX, TSX: TC) removes the yoke from tucows.com/downloads.
There was a time when offering software and shareware for people to download was good, honest work.
But then. Then, things got ugly. Then came the dark days where software download sites needed to wring every possible cent out of their wares. Even Tucows downloads, the seminal software download site, was not immune.
Those days made finding a download button in among the various masquerading ads more like tiptoeing through a minefield. Downloading software became a high stakes mission: Double check the pop-up blocker to ensure it’s working. Fire up AdBlock. Deep breath. Swoop in, grab the software in question and run. Oh yeah, and be exceedingly careful what you agree to in the installation process of said software.
No, I don’t want to run a scan on my computer.
Yes, I really do want to close this browser window.
Please. Please just let me go. You can have your software back. Please.
It felt like the digital equivalent of shoplifting, but with all the moral turpitude squarely on the purveyor’s side.
Tucows.com/downloads is once again a bastion for the way software downloads should be.
With Tucows’ success in wholesale and retail domain names (OpenSRS and Hover, respectively) and more recently with mobile phone service (Ting) and fiber Internet (Ting Internet), tucows.com/downloads has become less relevant when looking at the balance sheet.
“We don’t lightly walk away from opportunities or revenue,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows. “In the end, though, we’d rather have the Tucows name associated with good; with a belief in the power of the Internet to affect positive change. An ad-heavy site that packages browser toolbars along with every download isn’t something we want the Tucows name associated with,” he continued.
In other words, Tucows is in the enviable position of being able to walk away from easy money in favor of doing what feels right.
“On the Tucows downloads site today, you’ll find no flashing ads. No toolbars. No pop-ups,” said Noss. “You might see a few plugs for other Tucows services, but nothing too egregious… and certainly not anything that’s pretending to be a download button.”
In the end, the hope is that maybe, if you enjoy downloading software from the only ad-free downloads site on the Internet, you might consider registering your next domain name with Hover, ditching your current cell phone plan for Ting, moving to a Ting fiber Internet town and embarking on a new career as a domain name reseller on the OpenSRS platform.
The Tucows downloads library has been online since 1993 where it launched, suitably enough, in a public library in Flint, MI. There was a time when almost literally everyone on the nascent Internet touched the Tucows downloads site.
In 1999, Tucows launched OpenSRS (opensrs.com) to challenge the wholesale domain tools and options of the day. OpenSRS today is a major wholesale domain registrar and contributor to the Tucows business with over 13 million domain names under management and 13,000 reseller partners.
Hover (hover.com), meanwhile, challenges the idea that domain names are necessarily complicated and that the path to finding the right online home for your idea is a process that’s littered with upsells and confusion.
Ting (ting.com) challenges the bloated, overpriced and intentionally confusing cell phone plans of the day. In so doing, it saves over 200,000 families and businesses a bunch of money on their monthly mobile phone bills.
Ting Internet (ting.com/Internet) challenges the idea that fiber Internet only makes sense in bigger cities. It brings gigabit fiber Internet access to cities and towns throughout America. Towns that would otherwise be passed over as big guys race to get major metros online with fiber.
Ting job fair: Join the Ting team in St. Catharines!
We’ve put together a beautiful office space in downtown St. Catharines at the corner of King and James (Map). It’s a great place to spend the working hours and we’ve got the whole third floor to ourselves.
We’ll be holding a career fair from 3pm to 8pm on Thursday, September 10 and Monday, September 14, 2015. Our management teams will be on site and ready to talk to you about a career at Ting and Tucows so please bring your resume.
If “mobile that makes sense” and “crazy fast fiber Internet” sound like the kind of mission you can get behind, we’d love to meet you. Maybe even hang out for nine hours a day, five days a week for the foreseeable future.
We’re specifically looking for people to join our Customer Experience team in the following positions.
• Customer Experience Manager
• Customer Advisors
• Network Operations Center (NOC) Analyst
Check the Careers section for more details.
We’re always looking for great people to join the team so come out and say hello.
Mass Surveillance – The Day We Fight Back
Hey, Let’s All Get Together to End Mass Surveillance
Being able to conduct our private online affairs privately is important.
Perhaps our opening statement seems weird and anachronistic, seeing as we live in a world where people are increasing both the amount of information they share, and the speed at which they share it.
Here’s why we think online privacy is important.
Privacy gives us the space as individuals to find and define our sense of self, and for organizations and companies to innovate and experiment.
Mass surveillance strips us all of the opportunity to choose what information we share, when, where and with whom. The choice between what’s public and what’s private is now in the hands of those that control the data.
Over the past eight months, the details of various national mass surveillance programs have been brought to light. We find the broad and unmitigated power that’s being entrusted to bodies like the National Security Agency (NSA) truly frightening.
We are pretty upset about it. We think you should be pretty upset about it too.
These mass surveillance programs undermine trust in our governments and in the corporations that provide access to and services on the Internet. Most importantly, it undermines trust in the Internet itself. It is the Internet that brings us together and allows us to share in each other’s experiences.
Why it matters to us
For OpenSRS: There is a crisis of faith in the organizations that govern the Internet. That, consequently, undermines how our business operates. The policies and procedures that are part of running the Internet infrastructure businesses depend on requires global trust in the organizations that develop and enforce them. Perhaps these organizations, like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), are too closely connected to the US government, but can they become more global without benefitting those that would seek to control, censor and undermine the Internet?
For Ting: We’ve tried very hard to build a unique service. We’re open and transparent in our pricing and in how we interact with our customers. After years of gouging and poor customer service, it’s no wonder that there is a general lack of trust in mobile service providers. Now, though, it’s also clear that some companies have been providing warrantless, wholesale data access to surveillance programs. Customers are now concerned that we’re providing their phone records and meta-data to these programs without notification or due process. Though we haven’t received any law enforcement requests for user information, these concerns are understandable.
What we’re doing about it
- Hover will be donating $1 for every domain transferred to Hover on February 11.
- Ting will be donating $1 up to $10,000 for everyone that shares this post from the Ting blog using the sharing tools there.
What You can do About It:
Here’s the great bit. Just over a year ago, citizens joined together online to defeat some rather heinous digital communications legislation. We know that individual voices matter, and we’ve seen the change they can bring.
If you’re American: Use the banner at the bottom of this post to contact your legislator and let them know that mass surveillance is unacceptable.
If you’re Canadian: Sign the petition hosted by OpenMedia. Or you can find and contact your member of parliament. Now is an excellent time to ask for increased oversight of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).
Global citizens: Visit The Day We Fight Back and tweet, Facebook, or G+ your support for ending programs of mass surveillance.
10th Anniversary Telecommunications Forum, February 24-25, 2014 in Ottawa, Canada
Tucows CEO Elliot Noss has been invited to speak at the 10th Anniversary Telecommunications Forum on February 24-25, 2014 in Ottawa. He’ll be delivering a lunchtime keynote presentation on February 25 titled, “The Dire State of Networks in Canada, and How We Can Take Advantage of It.”
His presentation is likely to get the attention of a few carriers, some policy makers and industry players and a whole lot of potential customers.
We’ve had great success in the US market with Ting, and we’d love to help push for change in the Canadian market as well.
We’ve secured a 10% discount off the regular conference fee. Use discount code #19382 when you register.
Visit http://www.insightinfo.com/tele/ for more information and to register for the event.
Take Action for Fairer and Better Laws Governing the Internet
This week, we’re asking for you help to sound the alarm over a proposal currently making its way through the US House Judiciary Committee that would expand and harshen certain parts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
There is a possibility that the proposed changes to the CFAA could come up for a vote as early as this week, according to Demand Progress.
The amendments proposed would allow for the CFAA to be interpreted so broadly that all sorts of mundane Internet use could be criminalized, even going as far as to criminalize breaking a website’s fine print terms of service agreement. Something as simple as creating a Facebook page for your cat, or adding a couple of inches to your height in your online profile for an Internet dating service could expose you to prosecution for a federal crime under the CFAA.
Justice for Aaron Swartz
You’ll note a “Justice for Aaron” badge or banner on many Tucows sites this week that alerts visitors to the need for action, directing them to a site set up to explain the situation and asking them to contact their elected lawmakers.
Aaron Swartz was an Internet activist who was prosecuted under the CFAA in 2011 for downloading academic journals from a system called JSTOR. Earlier this year, Aaron committed suicide due, in part, to the pressure of a potential jail sentence of up to 35 years and a fine of a $1 million that he faced as a result of the heavy-handed prosecution.
Aaron was very involved in fighting against things like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and was instrumental in the creation of web standards and protocols like RSS and Markdown in addition to his activist work.
In memory of Aaron, US lawmakers have joined together to proposed a series of amendments to the CFAA called, “Aaron’s Law.” These changes would tighten the Act and would ensure that no one else would face the kind of persecution that Aaron Swartz faced thanks to the CFAA.
We ask that you take a look at the Justice for Aaron website and get involved. That could mean contacting your elected representatives if you live in the US, or simply raising awareness by putting the badge on your website or Facebook profile this week. Join sites like BoingBoing, Reddit, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Tucows in this effort.
If you want to learn more about Aaron Swartz, Aaron’s Law or the CFAA, you can visit some of the links below.
Verisign and the US Department of Commerce – Our Take
This morning, it was announced that Verisign and the US Department of Commerce had come to an agreement that allows Verisign to continue to operate the .com domain for another six years.
What was missing from that contract was the hot topic of conversation this morning – Verisign no longer has the right to four price increases of 7% over the term of the agreement. In other words, .com domains will likely remain prices at $7.85 until November, 2018 when the new agreement comes up for renewal again.
Verisign does have the right to increase prices if they can prove “extraordinary” expense resulting from and attack or threat of attack on the security or stability of the DNS. Any price increase would require Verisign to prove that the increase served the public interest before the Department of Commerce would approve.
Verisign could also seek a price increase if it could prove that market conditions no longer warranted the new restrictions that are put in place with this agreement. Again, that would require Department of Commerce approval.
Elliot Noss, Tucows President and CEO, says that the new agreement between the Department of Commerce and Verisign “rights a wrong in the last contract.”
Tucows has been very outspoken about .com pricing, and we were clear at the time of the last renewal that we did not believe Verisign should have been given the right to price increases.
It’s good news for registrants and the Internet as a whole.
Elliot also suggests that the new contract could even turn out to be good for Verisign going forward. The previous contract provided them with an opportunity to raise prices. As a public company with a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value, Elliot notes that investors, who often think in the short term, would put immense pressure on Verisign to exercise those price increases.
He goes on to suggest that having the option to raise prices four times in the next six years may have turned into a competitive disadvantage for Verisign given the new gTLDs coming online within the next 12 to 18 months.
By not having price increases available to them as a way to grow revenues, Verisign is will be driven to more efficiency and innovation. Certainly, the conference call Verisign hosted this morning featured a lot of talk of innovation, patents, and the addition of new value-added and revenue generating services like Distributed Denial of Service attack protection.
One thing is for sure, and perhaps this is the most important part of the contract extension announcement: Verisign continuing to be the operator of the .com extension for the next six years is great news for everyone. Verisign has proven itself to be an exceptionally good operator of the root. From a technology and service perspective, .com is clearly in good hands.
You can read the US Department of Commerce statement here.
OpenSRS Announces Industry Best Wholesale Pricing on Extended Validation SSL
TORONTO, September 20, 2012 – Tucows Inc. (NYSE AMEX:TCX) (TSX:TC), a global provider of domain names and other Internet services, today announced significantly reduced pricing for resellers on Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates through its OpenSRS wholesale Internet services division.
OpenSRS resellers will immediately benefit from the lowest published wholesale list prices on Symantec Secure Site Pro with EV, GeoTrust True BusinessID with EV, Thawte SSL Web Server with EV, Trustwave Extended Validation SSL with EV, and Comodo EV SSL certificates.
“We’re taking this leadership role on Extended Validation SSL pricing because we strongly believe the advantages of EV should be accessible to a wider range of potential users,” said Dave Woroch, EVP Sales, OpenSRS. “Our resellers will now be able to offer the benefits of EV SSL to more of their small- and mid-sized business customers and, in turn, consumers will benefit from the increased protection that EV SSL provides.”
In addition to lower EV SSL pricing, OpenSRS also announced the addition of new Subject Alternative Name (SAN) SSL certificates from Symantec, GeoTrust and Thawte. These products are often used to secure Unified Communications (UC) servers including Microsoft Exchange and allow for multiple domain names to be added to a single SSL certificate.
The addition of SAN certificates further ensures that OpenSRS resellers are able to provide the appropriate SSL certificate for their customers no matter the brand, type, price point or level of protection required.
A full product and price list is available at http://opensrs.com/ssl
Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS (http://opensrs.com) manages over twelve million domain names and millions of value-added services through a reseller network of over 12,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover (http://hover.com) is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. Ting.com (https://ting.com) is a mobile phone service provider dedicated to bringing clarity and control to US mobile phone users. YummyNames (http://yummynames.com) owns and operates premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. More information can be found on Tucows’ corporate website (https://www.tucows.com).
i2Coalition Officially Formed
Today, September 17, 2012, marks the official formation of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition or i2Coalition, a group dedicated to supporting private investment to drive the “nuts and bolts” of the Internet for continued growth. i2Coaltion includes more than 40 industry leading infrastructure providers and tech firms.
Tucows is proud to be one of the founding members in the i2Coalition.
The idea for the i2Coalition came about in 2011, when many of the founding members joined together during the winning campaigns educating the public and elective officials about the intrusive Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The i2Coaltion will continue the mission to advocate for public policy goals essential for Internet infrastructure growth. As part of the launch, i2Coalition co-founder and Board Chair Christian Dawson outlines the group’s public policy priorities and mission in the following video:
The i2Coalition supports the needs of the Internet infrastructure industry to develop market-based standards to drive innovation, which is crucial for continued growth. It intends to be a unified voice for public policy advocacy and education for the industry.
If you or your company shares that vision and serve the Internet infrastructure industry, please consider joining the i2Coalition by visiting the i2Coalition membership page to learn more.
CISPA and protecting your personal online freedom
During the SOPA / PIPA debacle, Internet denizens came out in droves to beat the bills back and protect our collective online rights. We, as in the Internet at large, said that the battle was won but the war would continue. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is the latest attempt at an affront to your online freedom.
CISPA hits the senate floor for voting in early June having already passed the US House of Representatives. If passed by the Senate, the last hope to get CISPA sent back to the proverbial drawing board would be a White House veto.
If passed, CISPA would provide broad authority to government organizations to collect and pass information between agencies. “Cyber threat information,” as the bill puts it. Ostensibly, CISPA is intended as a response to cyber security threats from hackers, terrorists or criminals. CISPA would give broad allowances for government agencies to pass our private information and communications between themselves. Currently, doing so leaves said agencies open to lawsuits from private citizens. Perhaps more disturbing, it allows (or could force) private organizations to pass information to government agencies under the same provisions.
The language in CISPA is in some cases so vague that it would be too easy to put to ill use. The powers afforded are too broad and would allow the government and private corporations like Facebook, Google et. al. to pass private information freely, with impunity. All under the guise of protecting against a “cyber threat.” The language explaining what exactly constitutes a cyber threat is also too broadly and loosely defined (see page 15 of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) and potentially sacrifices too many of our personal freedoms.
Our issues with CISPA are many. As concerned Internet citizens, we worry about what it would mean for personal online privacy—both yours and our own. As an Internet company that takes your privacy very (very) seriously, we worry about our ability to protect your online privacy, for our part, will be severely compromised.
If you feel, as we do, that CISPA is an ill conceived and too loosely defined a bill, please make your voices heard.
At Tucows, we feel that the Internet—whether accessed on your computer, on your smartphone or via any other vehicle—is vitally important. CISPA is a very serious threat to the freedom and privacy we take for granted online.