Monday, June 21, 2010

FCC, Internet, Rules, Technology, and Business

"FCC Will Tame the Internet—Or Kill It"
Dennis Kneale, CNBC Media & Technology Editor, CNBC (June 21, 2010)

"For almost two decades the U.S. government has kept its meddlesome mudhooks off the Internet, freeing it to spread its kudzu-like tendrils into the global economy. And it worked.

"The FCC took a big step this week to end all of that. For the first time, the Federal Communications Commission proposes using a set of 75-year-old phone regulations to oversee the Net of the 21st century and have a say in the prices that companies like AT&T and Comcast can charge. And set rules for what traffic they must carry. (Comcast is acquiring a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal' CNBC's parent company. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval.)

"Some telecom execs say the FCC's agenda is downright radical. It could thwart high hopes for the wireless Internet...."

The CNBC article/op-ed focuses on the commercial & business aspects of this latest FCC action - naturally enough. The Lemming thinks that folks who like to use the Internet, either as viewers or content providers, should be interested.

Very interested.

The Rules Won't Let You? Re-Define Them

Back to the CNBC piece:

"...Two months ago the DC appeals court unanimously agreed: the FCC had no such authority.

"What to do? Make it up!

"To do that, the FCC proposes a nifty little change in definitions. It wants to re-classify the Internet and say it no longer is an 'information service'—which gets a light hand. Now the Net shall be called a 'telecommunications service'—a phone service, basically, that gets subjected (and subjugated) to a lot more government oversight...."

So the bureaucrats on Capitol Hill want to protect the masses from Big Internet? What could possibly go wrong?

See:I'm not entirely sure that I go along with (AT&T's chief executive) Randall Stephenson's argument that today's FCC move is archaic because it uses a 1934 regulation that applied to rotary dial phones. On the other hand, quite a lot has happened since 1934: and I get suspicious when someone in authority starts re-writing definitions. Particularly definitions used in regulations that affect what the rest of us will be allowed to see - and how we'll be allowed to see it.

This latest FCC effort isn't censorship: it's more of an attempt to stop 'Big Internet' from setting up more effective, faster, communications channels. For the good of the common citizens, I'm sure - but as a common citizen, I'm not at all convinced that making it harder to upgrade information technology's infrastructure is a good idea.

But then, I'm one of those folks who don't want to be protected from the 'wicked, wicked web' - which the Lemming has said before.

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