Verizon is Data Throttling Firefighters || Donuts & Broccoli

For a primer on Donuts & Broccoli, please go here!

Happy Sunday! For our donut this week, we play through the Papa Louie family of games, and for our broccoli we look at Verizon holding firefighters’ data hostage in the middle of one of the biggest wildfires California has ever seen—and why it makes a case for net neutrality.

Donut: Papa Louie’s Donuteria

Have I ever fried a donut in real life? No thanks. Scary. Hot oil. Not my thing.

But frying a donut in a browser game? Ooh. Bubbly. Delightful. I’ll do it all day.

If you were born after 1996 you might have some childhood nostalgia for the Papa Louie games, the first of which, Papa Louie’s Pizzeria, came out in 2007—the apex of the flash game era. Since then, Flipline Studios has come through with a barrage of sequels: Papa’s Pancakeria, Papa’s Cupcakeria, Papa’s Sushiria.

But if you know anything about this blog you know which has to be my favorite.

In Papa’s Donuteria you play a server (of your own design); you take and manage donut orders, stamp out dough, fry, fill, and decorate. Like any restaurant game, it’s about multitasking and time management. It’s exactly my brand of mindless entertainment. And yes, you can make skull-shaped donuts.

Cooking games of any variety have their own kind of charm, whether it’s Cooking Mama, Cook Serve Delicious, or, I don’t know, the Lilo and Stitch Sandwich Stacker. Some of it depends on what you find nostalgic, but everything in Papa Louie, from the bubbling sound effects to the goofy animation, is a type of satisfying that’s hard to find elsewhere. Whether you’re looking for a blast from the past or a fun, mindless few minutes, give Papa Louie a shot.

Broccoli: Data Throttling in a Wildfire

As wildfires in California have raged on this summer, the disasters have not only caused untold heartache and pulled the attention of the entire country—they’ve also become a backdrop for some of our most pressing social issues. Whether it’s the looming threat of climate change that hangs in the background of the coverage of these “superfires,” or the fate of more than 2,000 inmate firefighters, some of whom are juveniles, it’s clear that the nation’s eyes are on California as the state responds to these disasters.

This week, telecommunications giant Verizon was next to draw the attention of the public at large, after a story broke about the company engaging in data throttling with firefighters on the front lines. Santa Clara County’s fire chief is claiming that Verizon put the lives of firefighters at risk when they slowed the internet data flow of their communication devices, necessary for communicating between fire crews and vehicles and for providing essential emergency services.

The fire department had reached the data limit of their contract, and was forced to pay for a much more expensive data plan in order to get their devices working again.

Verizon has since called that a “customer service mistake,” and says that in emergency situations it’s Verizon’s policy to lift data speed restrictions.

But this goes beyond poor customer service; this is about net neutrality, as reported by Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams. “It shows that the ISPs [(internet service providers)] will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety,” he said in a press release.

Members of Congress, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are now calling for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the Verizon incident. But this case, with Verizon data throttling firefighters literally standing in the middle of a wildfire, is just one dramatic example of a problem that is going to become more and more commonplace after the death of net neutrality in June. Without federal oversight, data companies are free to set their own priorities, which will always come down to their bottom line.

The Santa Clara County fire department has now joined 22 states in a federal lawsuit calling for the reinstatement of Obama-era net neutrality rules, even as Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai continues to praise himself for a job well done. While incidents like these get national attention, it’s important to continue to be a watchdog for the state of the internet—especially since right now, the FCC isn’t.

That’s your donut and broccoli for the week. Thanks for reading, and stay hungry.

More reading:

California is using prison labor to fight its record wildfires by German Lopez at Vox.

Verizon couldn’t have restricted Santa Clara County’s internet service during the fires under net neutrality by Gigi Sohn at NBC News.

Net neutrality is really, officially dead. Now what? by Marguerite Reardon at CNET.

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