It’s quizzical to me and many others why the Internet needs any regulation. Open source platforms don’t require any interference. Nevertheless, everyone who uses the Internet should be considering what would be gained or lost when it comes to web governance, myself included.
Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category
BTC HUMOR – Again, preoccupied with the other perilous dangers to modern identity freedom we had to let a better qualified, free market racer to think the “FCC Regulation” of the internet through.
[We think it’s an impossible undertaking for the FCC to do. For them to even try is really funny.]
Yes, Jim Harper can change government with the sheer power of his mind. It’s because he’s really a Jedi knight who has the power to go on TV. After watching this, ALL the chunky kids will eat salad and wanna be on TV too.
This morning on Waking Up Orwell, Shahid Buttar had to be angry- while- speaking concerning the chronic erosion of personal privacy and he let a “Pacifica word” slip out.
Buttar’s work to end “disturbances in the force” from the PATRIOT Act is vitally important to cover on any outlet that will give him a microphone. Listen to the last 15 minutes of the program for details on how to get your community involved in tried and true methods to push back against -really, totalitarian surveillance agendas- and when Shahid drops his FCC conventions online.
WIRED ANALYSIS — FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s unsurprising affirmation of support for network neutrality is a victory for the high-minded principle of open, unfettered internet access. Too bad it means the days of all-you-can-eat, flat-rate internet access are probably over.
Net neutrality sounds like a good idea. After all, it’s the internet’s openness to any and all users, applications and content that gave it such a resounding victory over closed networks like AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. And there’s no question that as a general business and networking principle, “anything goes” is both desirable and beneficial, to users and network operators alike. Over the long run, the most open networks attract the most customers and will be the most successful — and the most profitable.
But somewhere along the way, this principle of good network architecture turned into a political tenet that, according to some true believers, is almost equivalent to the Bill of Rights in importance.
The argument goes like this: Internet service providers have such strong motivations to restrict access to content or applications that they don’t like that the government needs to step in to ensure a level playing field. For net neutrality’s true believers, Comcast and Verizon no longer get to decide how best to configure the networks they spent billions building: Their networks are so ubiquitous, and so critical to the common good, that the government has a responsibility to ensure they are managed fairly.
It’s easy to see the merits of the argument, and when we’re talking about ISPs that are near-monopolies built in large part on the basis of government subsidy or exclusive federal licensing, it seems downright un-American to argue against net neutrality.
Unfortunately, there are at least three big problems with making net neutrality a federal mandate.
First is that bandwidth is not, in fact, unlimited, especially in the wireless world. One reason ISPs are averse to neutrality regulation, they say, is that they need the flexibility to ban or mitigate high-bandwidth uses of their network, like BitTorrent and Hulu.com, which would otherwise run amok. Take away their ability to prioritize traffic, the ISPs say, and overall service will suffer.
“As long as there have been networks, people have had to engineer them to ensure that congestion doesn’t occur,” Carnegie Mellon professor and telecom expert David Farber said Monday (he’s the co-author of a cautious anti-net neutrality opinion piece published in 2007). Farber is especially concerned about the impact of the FCC’s position on wireless networks, where bandwidth is already very limited. “When you’re operating that close to capacity, you have to do a very tricky job of managing your spectrum. If you have unconstrained loads being dumped on you, something’s going to have to give.”
Case in point: AT&T has repeatedly stumbled in its ability to provide 3G wireless capacity, thanks to the unexpected popularity of the iPhone. Those difficulties lend credence to AT&T’s (and Apple’s) reluctance to allow apps like Skype and Slingplayer unfettered access to the 3G network: If the network can barely keep up with ordinary demand, just imagine what would happen if we were all live-streaming the Emmy Awards over our iPhones at the same time.
Take away ISPs’ ability to shape or restrict traffic, and you’ll see many carriers running into AT&T-like capacity problems. Their response will almost certainly be to make consumers pay for what they’re actually using. Want to BitTorrent all 6.7GB of the uncompressed Beatles catalog via 3G? Fine, but you’ll have to pay for the bandwidth you’re taking away from your neighbor.
Second, enforcement of neutrality regulations is going to be difficult. Comcast may not be able to block Skype traffic altogether, but what’s to prevent the company from slowing it down relative to other traffic it carries? Such preferential “packet shaping” is easy to turn off and on, as network demands ebb and flow. By contrast, proving such infractions of neutrality will be complex, slow and difficult. It sets up a classic “nimble, resourceful criminal versus slow-footed, underequipped cop” scenario.
Third, the new regulations create an additional layer of government bureaucracy where the free market has already proven its effectiveness. The reason you’re not using AOL to read this right now isn’t because the government mandated AOL’s closed network out of existence: It’s because free and open networks triumphed, and that’s because they were good business.
Now the FCC is proposing taking a free market that works, and adding another layer of innovation-stifling regulations on top of that? This may please the net neutrality advocates who helped elect the current administration, but it doesn’t add up.
Net neutrality regulations make sense in closed, monopolistic situations. But outside of small, rural markets, most of the U.S. offers a high level of competitive choice. Don’t like Comcast cable internet? Switch to SpeakEasy, Astound or SBC, or look into satellite internet. Don’t care for AT&T’s spotty 3G wireless network? Try T-Mobile or Verizon. Need help finding an alternative? Check Broadband Reports’ interactive ISP finder.
hat’s why the FCC should take a very cautious, careful approach to implementing its brave, new principles. Free, unfettered innovation has been the secret to the internet’s explosive growth over the past two decades. Let’s not let a well-meaning attempt to preserve that innovation wind up doing exactly the opposite.
As Farber says, “Whatever you do, you don’t want to stifle innovation.”
BTC- FINALLY.. A BREAK FROM THE SURVEILLANCE AGENDA!!!
The fight for Net Neutrality took a big step forward on Monday with the chair of the Federal Communications Commission announcing plans to expand the rules to protect a free and open Internet.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Julius Genachowski said the FCC must be a “smart cop on the beat” preserving Net Neutrality against increased efforts by providers to block services and applications over both wired and wireless connections.
Genachowski’s speech comes as a breath of fresh air in a Washington policy environment that has long stagnated under the influence of a powerful phone and cable lobby.
“If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late,” Genachowski said citing a number of recent examples where network providers have acted as gatekeepers:
We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications (phone calls delivered over data networks) and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content.
“Emergency communications” is another reason for disaster mongers to cut your mic or cell phone. While this is infinitely annoying and intrusive; privacy, technology and A/V nerds are not without recourse.
The Turner Radio Network has obtained the complete radio interoperability guide for the Department of Homeland Security, issued by the DHS office of emergency communications. The guide, issued just days ago, includes updates for the entire nation through March 10, 2009. [We’re way late, but you should still read it.]
This 76 page guide lists the radio frequencies, repeater input / output / talk-around frequencies, trunked radio network details including CTCSS codes for “private line” carrier squelching, satellite communications codes, radio programming instructions and more!
In the event of a national emergency, – or the round-up of “dissident” citizens — this is how the various agencies of the federal government will communicate with each other AND with various agencies of the state and local governments.
Thanks to this guide, we’ll know what to tune-in, so as to monitor what they’ve begun doing and, if need be, be able to plan in advance to jam those frequencies if the government tries to attack the citizenry or round-up “dissidents.”
You may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it.
That’s the upshot of the rules the agency has followed for years to monitor licensed television and radio stations, and to crack down on pirate radio broadcasters. And the commission maintains the same policy applies to any licensed or unlicensed radio-frequency device.
“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers that use unlicensed spectrum, Fiske says.
The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. That’s largely because the FCC had little to do with average citizens for most of the last 75 years, when home transmitters were largely reserved to ham-radio operators and CB-radio aficionados. But in 2009, nearly every household in the United States has multiple devices that use radio waves and fall under the FCC’s purview, making the commission’s claimed authority ripe for a court challenge.
“It is a major stretch beyond case law to assert that authority with respect to a private home, which is at the heart of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure,” says Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Lee Tien. “When it is a private home and when you are talking about an over-powered Wi-Fi antenna — the idea they could just go in is honestly quite bizarre.”
George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, a constitutional law expert, also questions the legalilty of the policy.
“The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t make warrantless entries into homes for administrative inspections,” Kerr said via e-mail, refering to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that housing inspectors needed warrants to force their way into private residences. The FCC’s online FAQ doesn’t explain how the agency gets around that ruling, Kerr adds.
The rules came to attention this month when an FCC agent investigating a pirate radio station in Boulder, Colorado, left a copy of a 2005 FCC inspection policy on the door of a residence hosting the unlicensed 100-watt transmitter. “Whether you operate an amateur station or any other radio device, your authorization from the Commission comes with the obligation to allow inspection,” the statement says.
The notice spooked those running “Boulder Free Radio,” who thought it was just tough talk intended to scare them into shutting down, according to one of the station’s leaders, who spoke to Wired.com on condition of anonymity. “This is an intimidation thing,” he said. “Most people aren’t that dedicated to the cause. I’m not going to let them into my house.”
But refusing the FCC admittance can carry a harsh financial penalty. In a 2007 case, a Corpus Christi, Texas, man got a visit from the FCC’s direction-finders after rebroadcasting an AM radio station through a CB radio in his home. An FCC agent tracked the signal to his house and asked to see the equipment; Donald Winton refused to let him in, but did turn off the radio. Winton was later fined $7,000 for refusing entry to the officer. The fine was reduced to $225 after he proved he had little income.
Administrative search powers are not rare, at least as directed against businesses — fire-safety, food and workplace-safety regulators generally don’t need warrants to enter a business. And despite the broad power, the FCC agents aren’t cops, says Fiske. “The only right they have is to inspect the equipment,” Fiske says. “If they want to seize, they have to work with the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
But if inspectors should notice evidence of unrelated criminal behavior — say, a marijuana plant or stolen property — a Supreme Court decision suggests the search can be used against the resident. In the 1987 case New York v. Burger, two police officers performed a warrantless, administrative search of one Joseph Burger’s automobile junkyard. When he couldn’t produce the proper paperwork, the officers searched the grounds and found stolen vehicles, which they used to prosecute him. The Supreme Court held the search to be legal.
In the meantime, pirate radio stations are adapting to the FCC’s warrantless search power by dividing up a station’s operations. For instance, Boulder Free Radio consists of an online radio station operated by DJs from a remote studio. Miles away, a small computer streams the online station and feeds it to the transmitter. Once the FCC comes and leaves a notice on the door, the transmitter is moved to another location before the agent returns.