Category Archives: Regulation

Regulatory issues pertaining to new media.

City WiFi vs. service providers, state governments, and their own rocky start

Dissatisfied by private Internet providers’ service or speed, cities from Lancaster, Pa., to Boulder, Colo., have sought to build their own networks to provide upgraded, and in some cases, free service to residents. In turn, providers such as Time Warner and Comcast, among others, have complained to state lawmakers about unfair government competition….This year, Wyoming became one of 12 states that restricts public broadband Internet, joining Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Legislation proposing restrictions in North Carolina is in the committee phase but has inspired opposition from cities, consumer advocates such as the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group and tech companies such as Google. The debate also has caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who has drafted a bill to keep states from putting up barriers to public Internet. “Broadband is every bit as essential as electricity was when it was emerging 100 years ago,” he said. One of the state legislators Boucher wants to stop, Rep. Drew Saunders, also drew a comparison to the utilities of the past. The Democratic chairman of the N.C. House Public Utilities Committee said the bill he introduced this year would apply 21st-century technology to the principle that municipalities shouldn’t compete with industry.

Read this article from USA Today

On topic:

  • Municipal Wi-Fi: A Failure To Communicate from Business Week
  • American Wi-Fi gets off to a bad start from the New Scientist online
  • Muni Wi-Fi hits wall of economic and political realities from ComputerWorld
  • Bringing public Wi-Fi to small-town America from C|Net
  • Facing economic realities of muni Wi-Fi from C|Net
  • City wi-fi plans under scrutiny from the BBC
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    Filed under A democratic medium?, Community WiFi, Broadband, Digital Divide, Regulation, The Politics of New Media

    Will the wireless era be neutral or tiered? Pro business or pro consumer?

    Coming soon could be a wireless broadband world in which consumers get to pick any smartphone or other device and load any software on it — and not have to take what the wireless carrier wants to sell. That’s the goal of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who will propose sweeping new rules for wireless airwaves the government is auctioning early next year. The 700 MHz spectrum, being vacated by TV stations as they go digital, is coveted for its ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles. Under Martin’s proposal, to be circulated in the agency as early as today, mobile services in these airwaves would have to allow consumer choice. “Whoever wins this spectrum has to provide … truly open broadband network — one that will open the door to a lot of innovative services for consumers,” Martin said in an interview Monday…..The FCC chairman said he has grown increasingly concerned that the current practices “hamper innovations” dreamed up by outside developers. One example: mobile devices that also can use Wi-Fi, such as a home network or airport “hot spot,” for Internet access. “Internationally, Wi-Fi handsets have been available for some time,” Martin noted. “But they are just beginning to roll out here.”

    Read this item from the USA Today

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    Filed under Business 2.0, Community WiFi, Broadband, Net Neutrality, Regulation

    Mixed messages on Net Neutrality and the need to deal with it

    ISPs currently operate on incredibly tight margins in order to offer cheap broadband deals to the public. One way of creating a new revenue stream would be to supply faster, prioritised access to a select group of websites willing to pay. “ISPs are not getting much revenue from broadband but they can generate revenue from other services or by charging websites for better access. Charging at both ends could be very appealing to them,” said Mr Fogg.

    Read this item from the BBC

    It took the FTC a mere 169 pages to arrive at that result in its new report on the topic, probably one of the most exhaustive treatments of Net neutrality to date. It concludes: “We recommend that policy makers proceed with caution in evaluating proposals to enact regulation in the area of broadband Internet access.”…”Net neutrality is a meaningless term, lacking a rationale or analytical basis to impose new regulations on the Internet,” Muris said. “Some government actions, while seeking to help consumers, harm them instead. As the FTC report today detailed, robust competition and dynamic business models pervade the Internet.”

    Read this item from C|Net

    Contribute to the understanding of “Net Neutrality” at the Whats New Media wiki.

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    Filed under Net Neutrality, Regulation

    Will torrent networks be required to narc on their users?

    Two weeks ago, a judge ruled that BitTorrent search engine Torrentspy was required to enable server logs and turn the information over to the MPAA as part of the discovery process (the MPAA is suing Torrentspy for contributing to copyright infringement). That ruling was based on the theory that the information in question is already stored in RAM and therefore already exists; Torrentspy would not actually need to log any new data, just record what was already passing through its servers. The legal implications of this argument are staggering, and two technology groups have just pointed them out to the court in a new amicus brief.

    Read this item from Ars Technica with commentary from C|Net and Alternet.

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    Filed under A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Digital Commons, Fair Use, Networks, P2P (Peer to Peer), Privacy, Regulation, Same as it ever Was, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media

    The Case for Copyright

    Why copyright protection is both fair and needed:

    What if, after you had paid the taxes on earnings with which you built a house, sales taxes on the materials, real estate taxes during your life, and inheritance taxes at your death, the government would eventually commandeer it entirely? This does not happen in our society … to houses. Or to businesses. Were you to have ushered through the many gates of taxation a flour mill, travel agency or newspaper, they would not suffer total confiscation.

    Once the state has dipped its enormous beak into the stream of your wealth and possessions they are allowed to flow from one generation to the next. Though they may be divided and diminished by inflation, imperfect investment, a proliferation of descendants and the government taking its share, they are not simply expropriated.

    That is, unless you own a copyright.

    Read A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? by Mark Helprin for the New York Times. (Specific rebuttal to this argument can be found in the article ”Against Perpetual Copyright” inside the Lessig wiki.)

    Imagine a world in which every book, song, television programme and movie ever created is instantly available online with just the click of a mouse. Such a world would offer enormous promise not only to consumers but to artists and creators as well, who would finally be able to reach audiences that have long been too distant or expensive to reach before. This amazing new world is almost upon us, thanks to the Internet and new digital technologies for scanning and distributing vast libraries of books, video and music. But sharp debate has broken out over how best to realize the goal of such broad online access to the world’s culture without undermining the financial incentives for creativity that are so essential to the development of these works. We cannot succeed in meeting these challenges by cutting legal corners and ignoring the rights of copyright holders. Rather, the technology and content industries should continue to work together to create consumer-friendly solutions that nurture rather than undermine the incentives for creativity so vital to sustaining our culture.

    Read Copyright must be respected as culture goes online by Thomas Rubin for the Financial Times

    Although it’s not a really popular sentiment these days, I think patents, trademarks and copyrights are simply fantastic and a primary, necessary driver of the world economy. Without them, the rapid pace of technological innovation around the world would slow to a crawl. And frankly, without them, most open-source projects would rapidly wither away: without an intellectual property behemoth like Microsoft to fight, what would be the point?

    Why all the frothy sentiment? Intellectual property provides one of the most dependable means toward wealth and independence in the world today. In the Dark Ages, one could obtain wealth by raising an army and burning someone else’s kingdom to the ground. In the Gilded Age, those on the fast track had a secret weapon of success: they bribed state legislators to obtain canal and railroad contracts.

    Unfortunately, those career options just aren’t as viable as they once were. Instead, we have to invent stuff, and thus people should get compensated for the effort.

    Read Why I love patents and copyrights by Michael Kanellos for C|Net

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    Filed under A democratic medium?, Business 2.0, Digital Commons, Fair Use, P2P (Peer to Peer), Regulation, Same as it ever Was, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media, When New Meets Old

    Free Flow of Information Act positions bloggers as journalists

    The House of Representatives has amended the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 to include provisions to protect bloggers from being required to divulge their sources under certain situations in the same way as journalists. Instead of requiring journalists to be tied to a news organization, the bill now defines “journalism” to focus more on the function of the job: “the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.”

    Read this item from Ars Technica

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    Filed under Blogosphere, Censorship, Privacy, Regulation, The Politics of New Media

    INet: Your friendly anti-imperial web infrastructure

    We have trouble. After 40 years of development and almost 20 years of commercial use, the Internet is getting clogged up. We have more spam than legitimate e-mail, more advertising than content, and a few not very well-behaved protocols making trouble for all of us (more on this part next week), with the result that real utility is beginning to drop for many Internet users, who have to buy more and more bandwidth in order to effectively keep the same service level. Yes, we have trouble, and it is compounded by the current popularity of Internet video, which has knocked Moore’s Law on its ear through the willingness of whole cascades of companies to lose money to show us dogs dancing and children falling off bikes. But what’s to be done? With tens of billions invested in Internet infrastructure and services, we can hardly shut the darned thing down and start over, can we?…Back to the Internet, David says to shut it down! Or maybe it would be more correct to say he wants to shut it OUT. And I have to tell you that his argument is growing on me. David wants to essentially hijack the current Domain Name System and replace it with something better. The Internet backbone and your ISP wouldn’t have to change, so that expensive infrastructure would remain in place. Only the way we use it would be different. David’s replacement for the Internet is called the Independent Network, or Inet. With David every new invention gets a clever name….David, who is not American, sees the U.S.-controlled Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as an imperialist tool, which is also pretty much the way the Bush Administration sees it, too, though the Bushies are proud rather than upset. So David wants the Inet to first unseat ICANN from power. If users want to participate in the Inet, they have to accept the Inet’s Terms and Conditions, which say that ICANN has no authority here, thanks.

    Read Robert Cringely’s column, Just Say No and the David Harrison manifesto, The Independent Network – An Alternative to the Internet. Previously from WNM: The need for an Internet “do over” and all things ICANN.

    Contribute your knowledge of David Harrison, ICANN and The Independent Network: An Alternative to the Internet to the Whats New Media Wiki.

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    Filed under A democratic medium?, Media Evolution, Networks, People, Regulation, The Politics of New Media, The Reading Room