Category Archives: U.S.

Web labeling. Censorship or sensible protection?

The proposed restrictions are no different from requiring multipurpose stores like 7-Eleven to shield pornographic magazines with so-called blinder racks, Larry Rothenberg, an attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, said at a panel discussion here hosted by the Internet Caucus Advisory Committee on Friday.

“We have what we consider to be a rather modest (proposal) to protect consumers,” Rothenberg said. “This is not censorship. It’s not a major break with First Amendment principles.”

His critics, however, remained unconvinced. “There’s no way to avoid vagueness, no way to avoid overbreadth, and, more important, no way to avoid chilling free speech,” said Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Read Justice Dept. defends mandatory Web-labeling bill from C|Net


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Filed under Censorship, Regulation, The Politics of New Media, U.S.

The Center for Democracy & Technology’s legislative “Internet Watch List”

At the top of the list are a pair of bills that would rewrite the law that protects ordinary Americans from government snooping. Put bluntly — from a civil liberties perspective — bills simply don’t get much worse than those proposed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) to “modernize” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). What began ostensibly as an effort to bring the administration’s warrantless surveillance program under judicial review has turned into an attempt to repeal the language that protects Americans from warrantless snooping.

Also on the watch list are Congressional efforts to impose mandatory labeling requirements on Web site operators; a bill that would require schools and libraries to block interactive Internet content; an attempt to compel Internet providers to retain massive amounts of customer data for use by law enforcement; and several other bills and planned measures that threaten privacy and civil liberties.

Read the Center for Democracy & Technology’s press release

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Filed under Net Neutrality, Privacy, Regulation, The Politics of New Media, U.S.

FCC Chair Martin offers his Internet regulation opinions

When asked during his renomination hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday about his philosophy of Internet regulation, he said that he did not think the Internet should be taxed, or that it should be subject to payments into the Universal Service Fund for rural telecommunications, which he said would discourage broadband rollouts by raising the price.

As to online video, he said that it is “not necessary to regulate [Internet video service] at this time.”

On the broader Internet regulation issue of network neutrality, Martin said he did not oppose Google charging more to companies for higher-profile placement on their search engine, and likewise did not opposed a telephone company like Verizon charging more for higher-bandwidth services like streaming video, suggesting that if they could not, the might not be ablie to afford to provide those services.

Read this article from Broadcasting & Cable.

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Filed under Net Neutrality, Regulation, U.S.

Will the Neutrality debate last past this year’s telecomm legislation?

There is increased skepticism that any telecom bill will pass this fall, because of the short congressional session in advance of the election and some opposition in the Senate to Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R-Alaska) pending telecom reform bill. That opposition includes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has placed a procedural “hold” on the bill because it lacks Net neutrality provisions.

Read Net neutrality not going away from Telephony Online, Net Neutrality ‘May Well’ Kill Bill, Says Stevens from Broadcasting & Cable, McCain: Telecom Bill Not Dead Yet from the National Journal and Heed the threat to Internet fairness (advocacy for neutrality) from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Previously from WNM: Will Net Neutrality be addressed, or ignored?

Contribute your knowledge of “Network Neutrality” to the Whats New Media Wiki.

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Filed under Net Neutrality, Regulation, U.S.

The public/private nature of the ‘Net: Who will fix it if it breaks?

Federal policy recognizes the need to prepare for debilitating Internet disruptions and tasks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with developing an integrated public/private plan for Internet recovery. GAO was asked to summarize its report — Internet Infrastructure: DHS Faces Challenges in Developing a Joint Public/Private Recovery Plan, GAO-06-672 (Washington, D.C.: June 16, 2006). This report 1) identifies examples of major disruptions to the Internet, 2) identifies the primary laws and regulations governing recovery of the Internet in the event of a major disruption, 3) evaluates DHS plans for facilitating recovery from Internet disruptions, and 4) assesses challenges to such efforts. In its report, GAO suggests that Congress consider clarifying the legal framework guiding Internet recovery and makes recommendations to DHS to strengthen its ability to help recover from Internet disruptions.

Access the GAO’s report Challenges in Developing a Public/Private Internet Infrastructure Recovery Plan from the Benton Foundation.

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Filed under Regulation, U.S.

Are bloggers liable for their readers comments?

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that Rosenthal is liable because posting the comments makes her a “developer” of the information in question, and she therefore becomes the legal equivalent of its creator for the purposes of the lawsuit. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, the implications for free speech online are far-reaching. Bloggers could be held liable when they quote other people’s writing, and website owners could be held liable for what people say in message boards on their sites. The end result is that many people would simply cease to publish or host websites.

Read Not thy commenter’s keeper from ZDNet and explore, add what you know about Barrett v Rosenthal to the Whats New Media Wiki.

Previously from WNM: Can bloggers be sued for their users’ comments?

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Filed under Blogosphere, Censorship, Regulation, The Politics of New Media, U.S., User generated content

A case against net neutrality. Markets work.

As it happens, we don’t have to speculate about the answer, because extensive data show that Americans have achieved access to the two most important new technologies of our time, personal computers and the Internet, without “build-out” rules. The data detail a fascinating story of how these technologies spread across America’s regions and income groups. When a valuable new technology is first introduced, the early adopters take it up quickly. And when the technology proves to be broadly valuable and widely desired, competing providers quickly enter the market.

How to squelch growth of the high-speed Net, from C|Net.  Add to and learn more about “Net Neutrality” at the Whats New Media Wiki.

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Filed under Net Neutrality, Regulation, U.S.