Where's the goddamn Magna Carta when you need it?

Here’s a story about some shadowy (nominally USian) government agency that’s going around shutting down websites it doesn’t like & snapping up the domain names.

Rankin, the Treasury spokesman, said Marshall was free to ask for a review of his case. “If they want to be taken off the list,” Rankin said, “they should contact us to make their case.”

That is a problematic system, Fitzgerald said. “The way to get off the list,” he said, “is to go back to the same bureaucrat who put you on.”

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Comcast Reacts To FCC Probe By Changing Fine Print

Well, it appears that Comcast has learned a valuable lesson from our complaint about blocking BitTorrent and subsequent FCC investigation. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the lesson appears to be “make our policies more explicitly outrageous.”

My thanks to Marvin Amouri at Free Press for this excellent analysis of Comcast’s new terms of service. As Marvin notes, Comcast released this puppy quietly on its website, taking advantage of the pre-existing fine print to alter terms unilaterally. (Question for Comcast, if I don’t like the new terms, can I cancel without tirggering an early termination fee?)

Marvin really says everything that needs to be said on his excellent post, so I shall limit myself with simply rolling my eyes and wondering when we will have a Congress and an FCC genuinely interested in promoting broadband adoption and competition rather than providing cover for lazy duopolists squeezing locked in customers unwilling to invest in network upgrades. Oh yeah, I forgot. According to this Administration, we already solved the broadband problem.

Stay tuned . . . .

Jenny Toomey Takes Over At Ford to Replace Becky Lentz — Excellent!

A brief bit of noteworthy good news. The Ford Foundation has hired Future of Music Coalition founder and Executive Director Jenny Toomey to take the place of Becky Lentz as the Program Officer for Ford’s Media and Culture Policy program.

This is absolutely unqualifiedly fantastic news. As you can see from Wikipedia entry, Jenny has had tons of experience as an indie rocker, indie prodcer, movement organizer, and “big vision” umm… visionizer. I’ve worked with Jenny for the last 6-7 years and cannot think of anyone I’d rather have in this spot. Because of her experience, Jenny has the rare combination of understanding what makes effective organizing in the field and what makes things happen in DC. She has put together major presentations that tour the country and break down these complicated issues into something people can understand — and see why it impacts their lives. At the same time, she has testified before Congress some ungodly number of times, talking the policy wonk talk with the best of them. She is unfazed by the industry tactics of obfuscation and intimidation, and knows damn well when they are trying to buy off the public interest for pennies.

So while I am sorry I will no longer bump into Jenny regularly here in Washington policy land, I expect real good things to happen from her going to Ford. Good luck Jenny, and keep rocking the world.

Stay tuned . . . .

Libby communtation == obstruction of justice

Bush is a liar and a coward and a presumptive monarch; Cheney is a traitor who gives aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States of America. And Libby is their soldier, a made man, a capo de regime with a sharp knife.

I have nothing original to say on this subject, but do want to go on the record.

Another day with traitors at the helm of the ship of state and too many of my compatriots cool with that. Oh well. Maybe the congress will step up and do what they’re there for; act as if they’re worthy of the countless “last full measures of devotion” that preserved the institution they now inhabit.

But I’m not going to bet on it.

To the barricades! Net Neutrality fight is on in Michigan

Some background is here, at MYDD.

Harold, as always we’ll look to you for guidance in how to best help out. And of course factual analysis of the issues will help us too.

This fight is far from over. The good guys may be poised to take leadership positions in the Congress, but there are statehose battles raging as well. Now is no time to let down our guard.

FCC Bidding Credits and Digital Inclusion

For the forseeable future, we’re stuck with spectrum auctions, so we may as well try to get them to work as well as possible. Contrary to what some folks argue, I don’t think that means just jacking up one-time revenue to the government. It means trying to get licenses to folks who don’t usually get ’em (like women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and small businesses generally), trying to get services deployed to underserved communities, and trying to foster real competition.

So last week, MAP submitted a lengthy set of comments (including a 30-page econ analysis from my economist friend Greg Rose) on reforming the FCC’s designated entity “bidding credit” for the upcomming AWS auction.

What does all this mean, and why should the guy who says “spectrum auctions are the crack cocaine of public policy” care? See below . . .

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The War on the Consumer: Congress to Pass Secret DRM Law?

I guess I’ll make this into a reoccurring feature, since everyone seemed to like the last one I did, and it seems we have no end of stupidity from media companies and their hired hands.

So, let’s see what the media companies have been shopping for in Washington. I bet there’s a lot of post-Holidays sales of legislation going on…

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where are they now?

Any conclusions from the following?

* Since 9/11, the portion of DARPA’s computer science budget going to universities has dropped drastically from $214M to $123M. (Pretty paltry, in my biased opinion.)

* Universities (at least the one’s I’m familiar with) are typically prohibited from doing classified research on campus.

* The total DARPA computer science budget over the same period has actually increased slightly, from $546M to $583M.

* DARPA’s Total Information Awareness project, initially unclassified, has officially been ended by Congress.

* The last year in which Ashcroft had requested unclassified funding for TIA was 2004. He had asked for something north of $100M.

Say, what is Ashcroft doing since going back into “private” life? What is Poindexter up to?