What politician will claim, “I destroyed the Internet?”

I admit I haven’t thought through the implications of the FCC’s recent orders about the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, but I’m pretty damn sure that our leaders haven’t thought it through.

The idea is to create the biggest unfunded mandate in history by forcing all Internet service providers to retool their systems to make it easier for the feds to monitor communications. The cost to universities alone is said to be at least $7B. I don’t know what this does to municipal and home grown mesh network systems. I suppose that the intent is to make it too expensive for anyone but a TelCo to operate anything other than restrictive high-level services. The prophetic David Reed laid out the the issues five years ago, saying it much better than I can.

To this I would add an uneasiness as to what steps a person must now apply, or is allowed to apply, to protect “intellectual property.” We are required to take practical precautions to keep our freedom of privacy else we loose it. If we wreck the Internet in a rush to destroy any practical means of protecting privacy, then who in the end will be allowed to actually claim the priviledge of privacy? Only those large institutions who can afford to run their own government-approved private networks?

My speech in SF

Sorry to go dark so long. I was on the West Coast pretty much all last week, then came home in time for the Jewish New Year. Lots of stuff to blog about and will try to do updates over the next week or so.

Last week, I was at the amzing and cool conference put together by Esme Vos of muniwireless.com. Esme is proof of why the Internet is such a wonderful tool. With nothing more than interest and dedication two years ago, she created the muniwireless website which is now a central news source and repository of information about municipal wifi.

I’ve attached below the speech I gave at the conference last week. It’s 6 pages, so it’s kinda long.

Stay tuned . . . .

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It's not just open standards, it's open spectrum

While not often disagreeing with Groklaw, I did have a concern with this piece on open standards and disaster relief. While agreeing with the general gist — that proprietary standards can hinder relief efforts and that open platforms can maximize the number of people helped — the problem of interconnecting communications services is not generally an open standards problem. It is an open spectrum problem — and one we could solve today.

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Martin Misses an Opportunity

If you’re going to shake up the FCC’s open meeting by focusing on Katrina and moving to Bell South’s emergency HQ, why couldn’t Martin have focused a little bit on the future? Rather than looking at the way in which technology changed relief, Martin summoned the usual industry suspects who, unsurprisingly, explained to the FCC why they need regulatory goodies to better serve the public. Perhaps the Chairman can be persuaded to hold another meeting or forum a month or two down the road to look at where we should go, not where we’ve been.

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DSL Item Released — coulda been worse

After pushing the FCC’s open meeting off for a day and then delaying another hour and half to reach a compromise, Martin got his DSL reclassification order by a uninamous Commission. Instead of the complete deregulation proposed by Powell, the Commission will take steps to protect “network neutrality” and will take steps to protect various other “social” policies (including, unfortunately for us civil libertarian folks, the ability of the FBI to read your email).

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Fighting Big Cable (and why it matters)

Most of my time the last few weeks has been taken up with cable ownership issues. If you want the short version and the immediate, easy action to take, click through to my friends at Free Press. For those interested in a little more detail and what else you can do, read on . . .

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FCC Pulls Broadcast Ownership Item and Makes My Summer Easier

Given my current insane workload, I can only rejoice at the last minute decision by the FCC to pull from this morning’s meeting agenda a new rulemaking that would start the broadcast media ownerhsip fight all over again. Contrary to what I’m sure will be the popular wisdom, I think this demonstrates a healthy, functional agency rather than the usual partisan sniping. My analysis below.

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Small But Potentially Significant Spectrum Ruling

Unnoticed by most folks, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a public notice on the legality of cell phone jammers. (They aren’t.) Oddly, this may have very significant impacts for users of unlicensed spectrum.

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FCC, Hartford and Tribune

For them what follow media ownership at the local level, the recent doings in Hartford offer an interesting opportunity for some tea-leaf reading about how the FCC will address these issues. I’ll preface by saying I haven’t actually talked to anyone at the FCC about the case, so all this is just my educated guesses. But what’s life without speculation in an ignorance of actual facts . . .

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