Manipulated by Internet Trolls & Bots

Four years before the end of the Second Millennium (OK, that’s 1996), Congress passed the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which was signed into law by then-President, Bill Clinton.  The goal of the legislation was to regulate pornographic material on the Internet.  However, in 1997, in the landmark case of Reno v ACLU, the United States Supreme Court struck down the anti-indecency provisions of the Act.  The Act was Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, introduced to the senate Committee of Commerce, Science, and Transportation by Senators James Exon (D-NE) and Slade Gorton (R-WA).

Once passed by Congress, Title V’s main influence was in two areas: attempting to regulate indecency (as and when available to children); and obscenity in cyberspace.  The interpretation of this portion of Title V, known as Section 230, is widely accepted as exculpating operators of Internet services from legal responsibility for the words of third parties that use their services, and that these Internet services would not be construed as being publishers of that content.  Section 230 was, and is still, heralded as a cornerstone of free speech on the Internet.  However, right now, this couldn’t be further from the truth in a very interesting twist of fate.  That’s key to the point of this blog.  Essentially, NO Internet service provider, not Facebook, not Twitter, nor any other provider, or social media service are obligated to take any responsibility, or be accountable for any information that they post, or that their users post.

In retrospect, and based on the fact that sexual exploitation of potentially unwitting victims is a human rights violation, this was probably a very good idea, but enough of the ancient history lesson.  So let’s move forward…

What few anticipated, or even imagined, is that the power of the Internet for doing good, would also be equivalent to its power for evil doing.  There are likely no parties, or state actors that are without blame, including the USA, but it seems to me that other than the Russians  (who rank high on the scale of disinformation and hacking) the biggest culprits right now are the Internet providers and Social Media services that continue to allow bots and false account owners to post untrue, misleading and manipulative content.  This is a supreme disservice to their real constituents and customers, which far outnumber those in the hacking community that continue to create false identities and accounts for the purpose of spreading disinformation and sowing the seeds of division in this and other countries.  It’s time for us to end this practice.  It’s time for Internet services to do a better job of policing their own sites, and start removing more aggressively content that is inaccurate, and false.


Colocation Cost Mitigation

By reviewing your colocation or managed services contracts on a regular basis you’re able to pick some low-hanging fruit that will reduce your costs and add to your IT budget.  Like anything else, an organized and deliberate process will lead to a successful result.  The 6 steps in the process breakdown into three categories:

1) Contract Review;

2) Market Options; and

3) Negotiations.

In category 1, Contract Review, I suggest reviewing all of your current colocation/managed service providers and their offerings.  Make sure that there is congruence between your goals and your service provider’s resource set.  Next, analyze all of your billing statements, contracts and service level agreements.  In order to evaluate whether or not you’re paying more than you should be for the services you’ve contracted, you’ll need a benchmark.  Unless you totally understand every aspect of the billing statement including power usage, power cost, meet-me room and bandwidth charges, hire a professional to assist you.  They’ll save you time, money and will be able to provide valuable market information.

Once you’ve completed your statement analysis and know where you stack up compared to the market, it’s time to do some (category 2) research and start contacting a number of service providers.  To obtain accurate quotes, make sure you provide as much information about your IT landscape as possible.  When you receive the quotes, you’ll want to normalize and contrast all of the economics and terms on a spreadsheet to create a financial model.

The results of the financial model will create your negotiation path, allowing you to create as much leverage as possible through developing a competitive environment of providers.  The competition you create will drive the best results.  Several rounds will be necessary before you get to the bottom line.  When you’ve completed the negotiation of financial terms, you’ll spend a lot of time negotiating the statement of work, master services agreement (the contract), and service level agreement.  These documents are extremely important, so don’t be cavalier about this part of the process; they are the only documents that come out of the drawer in case of a dispute.  That pretty much covers the broad brush strokes.