Policy & Regulation

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Lawrence Lessig's Reaction to McCain's Technology Plan

In reaction to U.S. republican presidential candidate John McCain's release of his technology policy statement on August 14, Lawrence Lessig has released a video presentation criticizing the tech plan for lack of change to important issues such as broadband penetration declines in the country. Early during the video presentation, Lessig has this to say: "...the single most important fact about internet's development in last decade has been the extraordinary decline United States has faced with respect to our competitive partners. We started the Bush administration at no. 5, we will end at no. 22. And the question anybody should be asking about internet policy here, is why we did so poorly and what change there might be to reverse that decline..." more

Google Launches Free The Airwaves, Pushing White Spaces Issue

Google has announced today the launch of a new website promoting the unlicensed use of "white space" spectrum. The initiative is called "Free The Airwaves" which encourages Internet users to get proactive on the white spaces issue, if they "care about the future of the Internet." Minnie Ingersoll, Google Product Manager, explains in a related blog post: "For quite some time we've been talking about the potential of the unused airwaves between broadcast TV channels ("white spaces") to provide affordable, high-speed wireless Internet connectivity nationwide. For this to happen, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must allow unlicensed use of this spectrum..." more

McCain's Technology Non-Plan

The McCain technology plan is finally out. As expected, it's light on what most of us understand as "technology policy." There are many platitudes about the glories of lower taxes and private investment, but little understanding of just how profoundly communications and information technologies are changing our world. The good news, I suppose, is that McCain is finally talking about technology issues which he resolutely ignored for most of the campaign, and which his advisors dismissed as not worthy of Presidential attention. more

John McCain Unveils His Technology Policy Statement

U.S. republican presidential candidate John McCain has unveiled his technology policy statement. The statement includes candidate's positions on major tech issues such as Net neutrality, patent protection and piracy, broadband availability, and privacy and particularly focuses on increased innovation, intellectual property protection, and preserving technology through market forces. more

McCain's Tech Policy

I was hoping that McCain's Tech Policy would emphasize and extend the two McCain pro-Internet initiatives -- the McCain Lautenberg Community Broadband Act and Spectrum Re-regulation, neither of which have yet seen the light of day -- but it doesn't. In the first case, it makes a vague nod in the direction of "market failure and other obstacles." In the second, it treats spectrum policy as a done deal; now that we can surf the Web in coffee shops, we're done. more

FCC Reprimands Comcast for Internet Traffic Throttling

Comcast has been ordered to change how it manages its broadband network after U.S. communications regulators concluded some of its tactics unreasonably restrict Internet users who share movies and other material. In a precedent-setting decision, the five-member Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to uphold a complaint accusing Comcast of violating the FCC's open-Internet principles by improperly hindering peer-to-peer traffic. more

FCC Majority Vote Set to Punish Comcast on P2P Blocking

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is on the verge of finding Comcast violated federal policy by hampering the ability of customers to share large files online, a decision that would set a precedent over how much control phone and cable companies have over how consumers use the Internet. (see FCC Calls for Sanctions Against Comcast for Blocking Internet Traffic from earlier this month) Three out of five FCC commissioners have voted in favor of punishing Comcast for blocking subscribers' Internet traffic. A move that most likely guarantees approval of the item, even if two other FCC commissioners voted against it. Final FCC approval is expected Aug. 1 at a previously scheduled commission meeting. more

All Major U.S. Senate Democratic Challengers Announce Support for Net Neutrality

Eevery single U.S. Democratic challenger with more than $500k in cash on hand has announced their support for net neutrality, reports Matt Stoller of OpenLeft -- "This is a milestone for the fight for internet freedom." Also noted is that, with the exception of three individuals, there is no organized telecom or cable money going to any of these candidates. Included in the report are statements reacting to this news from Senator Byron Dorgan, Speaker Pelosi, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Google public policy director Alan Davidson, and Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu... more

Open Web Foundation Launches to Push Data Portability

A new nonprofit organization called the Open Web Foundation (OWF) launched today with a mission to be an independent non-profit dedicated to the development and protection of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies. "The Open Web needs Open Data, Open Date needs Open Specifications," is one of the statements used in today's opening presentation. With backing from some of the biggest companies including Google, MySpace, Facebook, and Yahoo, the foundation plans to serve as a placeholder for "all the legal dirty work that needs to happen in order for data portability to become a reality." more

Six Largest ISPs in UK Agree to Send Warning Letters to Illegal Music, Movie Downloaders

The music and film industries have launched a fight back against online piracy today, persuading Britain's six biggest Internet providers, BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse, to send warning letters to those suspected of illegal file-sharing. The plan is aimed at an estimated 6.5 million Britons who have downloaded files illegally over the past year. ISPs had previously argued they were mere conduits and not responsible for content. But they agreed to the deal after the government said it would impose legislation if they did not work to curb illegal file-sharing. more

Cablecos, Telcos Childish Behavior Harmful to National Interest, Says Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf has blasted telephone and cable companies for harming national interests by holding investments in their networks to ransom. A long-time advocate of keeping the internet free from control by service providers, Cerf, a current senior vice-president for search giant Google Inc., told the Silicon Valley Watcher blog that the companies are being childish by threatening to withhold upgrading networks unless they get breaks from regulators. more

The Cost of Walled-Garden Designs

The Swedish morning daily Svenska Dagbladet on their editorial page yesterday writes about the EU threat to intervene at mobile roaming costs for voice, SMS and data. The editorial is pushing the point that it's wrong for the EU to try and price regulate the market, but instead the free market will prevail. They even seem to be indicating that the current pricing is fair and that an EU price regulation would hamper investments. In very general terms I would agree with the editorial... more

BT and Ofcom

About 16 months ago, I heard Ed Richards of Ofcom speak at a CITI conference at Columbia, and blogged about it here. I remember thinking that Richards didn't seem to think that highspeed access to the internet was all that important. The market had to demand it, and the market wasn't being demanding. Also, he wasn't interested in government intervention to support highspeed access... more

FCC Calls for Sanctions Against Comcast for Blocking Internet Traffic

The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Kevin Martin, intends to recommend that Comcast, U.S.'s largest cable company, be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet. Martin said Comcast has "arbitrarily" blocked Internet access, regardless of the level of traffic, and failed to disclose to consumers that it was doing so. more

In Which We Explore the Federal Laws that Apply to Cyberstalking

Tragedies frequently result in flurries of legal activity. Last years witnessed the Myspace tragedy in which a 13 year old girl committing suicide. Unfortunately stalking laws have been clumsy tools that are difficult if not impossible for law enforcement officials to wield. Where existing laws respond poorly to tragedies, the option behind Door Number One is to enact a new law, and the option behind Door Number Two is to argue for a reinterpretation of current law that would somehow miraculously shoehorn the tragedy into the law. Unlike game shows, legal contestants can pick both doors -- which is what happened in this case. more