It’s no secret that the Telcos have major pull in Congress. Review any representative’s list of top campaign donors and you are more likely then not to find them at the top. It’s also no secret that AT&T and Verizon see a perfect world where they control all of the public airwaves. We’ve heard endless hand ringing in Congress about how bad wireless service is directly connected to too little spectrum in the control of carriers.
What they don’t mention is as much as half of the licensed spectrum in held major markets by the top two carriers isn’t even being used. There’s also no mention of repurposing any of that fallow spectrum for broadband like is being proposed for broadcast bands. Even if spectrum was lacking, increasing tower density can overcome virtually all capacity problems. None of this makes much sense unless we understand that the real issue isn’t the need for more spectrum to provide better service. It’s to gain control of the wireless last mile and effectively end competition.
Acting in the public interest to facilitate better service is not what this debate is about. After gaining control of more than half of the fixed line right of ways to the last mile, the two major telco’s slowed infrastructure improvements to a snails pace. That’s created an America with substandard broadband at some of the highest prices in the world. They have the same plan for wireless. By controlling all of the spectrum and consolidating into two companies, the non competitive broadband duopoly will be extended into the wireless space.
The House of Representatives wants to take control of spectrum auctions. They want us to believe that the FCC is acting to slowly to resolve that the completely fabricated “spectrum crisis”. According to former FCC chair Reed Hundt, the bill would end competition: (more…)
While they folded under public pressure to table SOPA and ProtectIP, most of Congress and the Obama administration are on board with the ACTA treaty. Currently being negotiated, this radioactive attack on the free and open Internet also puts individual liberty, the right to due process and the very existence any sovereign nation in the crosshairs.
Even if the president goes rogue and signs (which is likely). ACTA cannot be legally enacted without ratification by the Senate and passing constitutional muster in the courts. Neither the Senate or the courts will act in our interest without a public outcry. The war has just begun, and our freedom is at stake. Please write your representatives.
Protect IP AKA E Parasite is advancing in the Congress and could become law in the blink of an eye. If passed this bill will stifle innovation, creativity, and kill jobs. It will also enable the government to censor any site it wishes. That means the democratization of knowledge and the freedom of expression will be at risk for everyone. Even if you trust the group running the show today (and you shouldn’t) , they won’t be there forever.
The Usenet is a largely ignored service that is as old as the Internet itself. Most of it’s newsgroups are nothing more than special interest message boards where the legal exchange of information and ideas takes place. In it’s early days, developers made it possible to post binary files to distribute open source code to group members. File sharers soon discovered this feature and began to use it as well.
One upon a time, ISP’s provided Usenet access as part of basic service. Hollywood’s first assault on the Usenet targeted ISP servers. When the case couldn’t be made that the Usenet was a pure piracy tool, Hollywood’s minions used the red herring of child protection as leverage to shut down ISP provided Usenet. Usenet has survived, with a handful of independent providers maintaining the network and providing access. Now laws bought and paid for by Hollywood are being used to shut down the independents.
Two years ago BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took News-Service.com(NSE) to court.
Although the name NSE might not ring a bell with many people, it is the largest usenet provider in Europe and has many high-profile resellers such as Usenext.
Through the court BREIN demanded that the NSE delete all infringing content from its servers, and six weeks ago the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.
In an attempt to keep their service operational, NSE asked the Court to put the execution of the verdict on hold while the Usenet provider appealed its case, but this week that request was denied. As a result NSE was forced to shut down its services.
“This means that we are forced to cease our operations with immediate effect,” NSE said in a statement. (Torrentfreak)
With so much intervention taking place in the Interwebs, the Usenet may be last refuge for truly free flowing information exchange. Attacking Usenet access providers to stop piracy is no different than shuttering a public park because a few drug dealers peddle their wares there. Closing access to a public forum is a direct assault on individual freedom and a free and open internet. Any rational person knows the correct course of action is to prosecute few law breakers while allowing the masses to continue enjoying the park. This sort of sloppy, lazy law enforcement will not stop piracy. Killing Usenet will only send pirates to another medium while making the rest of us a little less free.
Once again, American companies are facing a huge disadvantage against foreign competitors in an explosive growth industry that they invented and excel in. Laws that have infringed on constitutional rights like the Patriot Act, DMCA, Protect IP and more are also blocking US based cloud services companies from competing on the world market. Add to that seizure of hosted property plus non-existant enforcement of the right to privacy and it’s a wonder US cloud businesses can survive at all.
Unfortunately, whether inspired by polemics, protectionism or genuine privacy concerns, some European officials are speaking up against cloud computing because of unwarranted fears about the data-protection practices of U.S. companies. For example, in September, the Dutch minister of safety and justice cited the USA Patriot Act to exclude U.S. providers of cloud computing services from bidding on Dutch government contracts, and a member of the Dutch parliament proclaimed that “data from Dutch citizens that is managed by the government should exclusively be stored within Dutch borders using Dutch companies” in order to guarantee the privacy of Dutch citizens. (Washington Times)
In fairness, as far as Europeans are concerned our new IP and privacy laws aren’t much worse their own. That leads to a lot of political infighting and a likely cloud trade war. If the US Constitution were obeyed by pols, the US cloud would be the international gold standard of security and privacy. Adding insult to injury, existing and new laws do nothing to eliminate safe havens and no amount of enforcement can close them. Opportunistic countries will provide them and American companies who want an competitive advantage will set up shop there. A good many already have.
Present policy not only leaves American consumers with something less than they might have had, it steals a giant opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs and IT workers. The next time you hear a pol or beaureaucrat proclaim that these laws do not harm to law abiding Americans, think again.
I’ve mentioned more than once that elitists have traditionally derived most of their power from the control of information. The balance has been derived from the brute force of the military and law enforcement. The Internet continues to democratize information at light speed. Knowledge has gained its own right of freedom, and the seeker of knowledge is fining it at will with increasing ease. That spells big trouble for the ruling class. It also reveals the the true class warfare that is underway, but unreported. That is a war against the freedom of knowledge. Government agencies has been quick to criminalize activities of common citizens that pose little or no threat to anything other than the unchecked power of the status quo.
Cries that we are not ready for a Cyber War have been growing among pols and fed contractors over the last couple of years. For anyone who was been paying attention, so called Cyber Wars have been underway for some time. Potential for foreign based assaults plague the realm of every single Internet user, as they have for decades. This has grown largely thanks to rogue nations sponsoring these activities to others simply ignoring them. Private citizens and most businesses effected by them have found very little sympathy of aid from the feds. A entire industry has grown to protect against and mitigate these threats. That industry has largely kept threats in check, even with abundant interference from our very own feds. (more…)