I can’t help reading this transcript of Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee on August 18, 1955 without imagining what Mr. Tavenner, Mr. Scherer and Chairman Walter would say today in 2014 while they were examining NSA evidence, not from newspapers or fliers, but from private emails, phone calls, financial transactions and even video games in some secret room in suburban Maryland. h/t Cory at BoingBoing.
Pete Seeger died last night. My little memorial to him is here.
One of the most surprising, and wonderful, things I ever heard Pete say came when I videotaped a conversation at his house in which Andrew Blechman of Orion Magazine asked this:
What gives you hope when you think of the future, when you think of the next 30 years?
His immediate reply? “The Internet.”
Way back in 2008, I wrote a blog post about the inordinately large number of people around George Gilder who had been indicted or convicted of crimes. These include Michael Milken, Charles Keating, Joe Nacchio, Gary Winnick and Henry Nicholas.
I hasten to add that an indictment is not a conviction. Technically, we are innocent until proven guilty. (I wish this were more than a technicality.) Sometimes we’re innocent even after being proven guilty.
Furthermore, according to Harvey Silverglate’s book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, a Federal prosecutor who wants to find something on you usually will.
Furthermore, a violation of the law can be more moral than acting within it.
Nevertheless, I’ve never met so many serious criminals and accused criminals as I did when I hung out at George Gilder’s Telecosm Conferences. In fact, I think Aaron Swartz, who was accused but, of course, never convicted, is the only other one I can think of. [Watch this space. If more come to mind, I'll post them.]
I once took an early morning limo with Dinesh D’Souza from the ski resort where Telecosm convened to the Reno NV airport. I made several mild mannered attempts to start a conversation, but D’Souza seemed completely uninterested. It was not exactly what I’d expect from a guy who was a public figure and a self-styled idea man. My most charitable interpretation of this is that it might have been the earliness of the hour.
It remains to be seen how substantive these charges are. If they vanish or appear to be trivial, I’ll change the entire text of this article to all-strikethrough.
This is quite good from the Washington Post:
tl:dr: What is Wheeler made of? Does he stand and defend his agency?
Brian Fung: The D.C. Circuit court has struck down net neutrality. What does that mean for consumers?
Tim Wu: It leaves the Internet in completely uncharted territory. There’s never been a situation where providers can block whatever they want. For example, it means AT&T can block people from reaching T-Mobile’s customer service site if it wanted. They can do whatever they want.
What else did the opinion say?
The slightly more subtle thing is they upheld some FCC authority under the FCC’s Title I or “auxiliary” authority. Under that provision, the court said that the FCC has some authority to regulate broadband. But the court [also] said that the FCC can’t impose common carriage rules using its Title I authority.
[The FCC's "Title I" authority allows the agency to lightly regulate "information services," but not to the same extent as the FCC is allowed to regulate telecom companies under what is called Title II authority.]
Where did regulators go wrong in defending the rules?
This was a huge legal error on the FCC’s part. The FCC’s legal strategy put it in the position of arguing that its rules are not common carrier rules when the two components of the regulation — anti-blocking and anti-discrimination — have been at the center of common carrier regulation since medieval times, around 1450.
[Wu is referring to the English law of public callings and common carriage, which required -- and still require -- certain businesses, such as ferry operators, innkeepers and blacksmiths, to serve all customers without discrimination.]
Seems like the agency boxed itself in.
They blew it on the legal strategy. It’s a big fail. It’s like, FEMA-level fail. Every legal expert told the FCC they’re going to lose this case, and they did. It reminds me of the Bush administration, where everyone said the problem in Iraq isn’t going to be the invasion — it’s going to be in the aftermath.
Think of it this way: The FCC is like a battleship, and it has these enormous guns. But it decided to use a water pistol for this particular issue. Or, put differently: The FCC is like a car with a massive engine, and they decided not to use the engine but rather the bicycle that was attached to the car.
What could the FCC have done differently?
The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority.
Other observers seem to think that’ll be hard to do, politically.
There’s an effort to define it that way by the carriers, and to get people in Congress excited about that. But if the FCC doesn’t try, as an agency it’ll basically be left to allocating spectrum. Striking down the anti-blocking rule forces the agency’s hands, despite it being a politically challenging proposition.
Do you think FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will follow through with an appeal?
I think he has to appeal. You never know — other judges might see it differently.
Wheeler has said that he’d like to apply net neutrality principles to companies on a case-by-case basis. How does this ruling change that?
The question now is: What is Wheeler made of? Does he stand and defend his agency? Whatever he wants, he needs to have the authority to do it. Right now, he’s got nothing. Even if he wants to go case by case, he needs the authority to do it.
Susie writes, “FCC chair Tom Wheeler came to Oakland last night and got surprisingly fired up about exorbitant and predatory prison phone fees. Otherwise he was pretty even-keeled and avoided making a lot of specific statements of political support — at least compared to the “WiFi = cancer” white people who wouldn’t stop yelling.”
Her original post is here.
I just posted a video to my music blog I shot during a recent music safari to Brazil. Youtube’s automatic pattern matcher flagged the song my friends were playing as potentially copyrighted material. Fortunately, when I clicked through to find out more, I found a “Dispute” button. I know a little bit about fair use and my rights on line, so I clicked and disputed. The “offending” video is here. My write-up of this incident, including my grounds for fair use, is here.