Monday, May 09, 2005

    The Quiet Giant

    Very recently a US Court of Appeals stopped the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) like a brick wall. At issue was the "broadcast flag" rule of 2003 that was seeking to protect the copyright of digital programming when received through regular broadcast media (through the air, TV, satellite, cable). The court basically said that the FCC does have authority over the transmission and reception, but once the signal has been received the FCC has NO authority to regulate what happens with that signal - a BIG win for freedom and consumers!
    The court also said In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before asserted such sweeping authority (WSJ). This could be a sign of the times. If a Big-Brother scenario were to materialize (more than it already has) it would have to include the FCC. Eventually all electronic sight and sound will be digital, and that raises the possibility of personal information, including usage and location, being dispersed back to some agency or even a mega-corporation for compilation. Who you are, where you are, what you're watching, when you're watching, how often you are watching, are you copying it, …
    While the FCC is worried about you hitting the record button they have let the USA rank 13 th in the world in broadband penetration (Forbes issue May 9, 2005). South Korean households have some 40 times the broadband capacity than what American households have. About 15 years ago I worked on a project that used commercially available special modems that had a bandwidth of what DSL is now - yet they could not be used by ISP's because it would have violated FCC rules. Technology in the USA is sluggish and uncompetitive as it could be due to that quiet giant.


    Pundit said...

    The "big brother" aspect has been developing for a long time, but it has taken developments since 9/11 for people to being to put together the pictures of the puzzle. One reason is that once the government starts infringing on rights, and gets away with it, it assumes it can accelerate the process. That is what is happening now. A bill before Congress now, that appears as though it will pass readily, has provisions attached that would allow the director of homeland security to suspend laws without judicial review. FOX NEWS and Judge Napolitano commented on this issue, and the nature of the provsions are unclear but that is a clear sign of trouble ahead. The judge called it similar to having a king, who could suspend laws at will. The current bill is designed to institute a national system for control over how states issue drivers licenses, and from what he said it appears that the law would require an applicant to present SIX approved forms of ID, something that most of us do not have. Keep tuned to the government channel. It will get more interesting, believe me.

    Pundit said...

    BTW--I like spam. You can eat it from the can. You can fry it. You can mash it. You can throw it at your neighbor's dog or cat. You can use it to jpatch a hole in your garage wall. Or as rat bait on a rat trap. You can put it in the microwave on high for four minutes and watch it splat all over the inside. It can also be used as an abrasive to scrub your toilet. You can use the empty can for an ashtry. Or a portable pee-pee toilet in your car. You can use it as a press to make your own home-made spam. Or as a mold for mud bricks for the desert house of yoour dreams. You can store two decks of cards, or half a pack of poker chips. Spam is great.