Pete Seeger died last night. My little memorial to him is here.

Just now Andrew Revkin sent me a pointer to his NYT Blog reminiscence of Pete:

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.”

Technorati Tags: ,

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.

Today Dinesh D’Souza joins this illustrious group [WaPo], [Reuters].

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.

Technorati Tags: , ,

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.


Technorati Tags: ,


Technorati Tags: ,

Malkia Cyril testifying at the recent FCC hearing in Oakland. Susie Cagle’s original post is here.

Technorati Tags: , , ,


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.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Aaron died on 1/11/13, one year ago last Saturday. Susie Cagle’s original is here.

Technorati Tags:

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.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

This letter went out to several lists on January 10, 2014. I’m publishing it here (a) in case there are still three or four people on the Internet who have not seen it yet, and (b) to provide a linkable version and an archive.


Friends, Colleagues, People of the Internet,

F2C: Freedom to Connect won’t happen in 2014.

Why? Short answer: if I can’t say, “This will be excellent!”
then I don’t want to do it.

I produced F2C in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and
2013. Each of these conferences featured great speakers and
timely ideas to further the Internet, democracy and humanity.
Looking back, there were stand-out speeches by Aaron Swartz,
Glenn Greenwald, Yochai Benkler, Vint Cerf, Susan Crawford,
Terry Huval, James Salter, Donna Edwards, Eben Moglen, Larry
Lessig and many others. After each annual edition of F2C I
was not only proud of producing the event, I was also glad I
went to it.

But despite my efforts, most of the right people —
Washington DC’s movers and shakers — were not there. I took
F2C’s mission seriously, to bring underrepresented Internet
issues into the Washington DC policy discussion.
Dissappointly, very few FCC, NTIA or Congressional staffers,
and even fewer appointed and elected officials, appeared.
Invited VIPs usually came, spoke, split. The actual F2C
attendees turned out to be the same underrepresented people I
wanted the DC policy establishment to hear. As Professor
Moglen observed in 2012, “I see it’s ‘us’ here.”

As we’re seeing today (the Snowden documents are but one
example), you can make information available by the petabyte,
you can distill it until the conclusions are obvious, but it
takes decades and billions, not data-driven analysis, to
deflect Washington DC’s policy machine. Our democracy is
under attack. Life on Earth is in peril. F2C wouldn’t make a
damn bit of difference in Washington DC right now.

Another factor: many of my A-List speakers weren’t available
this year. Heart-breakingly, Aaron Swartz couldn’t be there.
Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jake Applebaum and Edward
Snowden wouldn’t come. Jeremy Hammond, Kim Dotcom and
Svartholm “Anakata” Warg can’t. Others, giants like Yochai
Benkler and Bruce Schneier, are too busy doing time-critical,
essential work to let F2C interrupt their schedule. The
“A-list” for F2C 2014 was looking thin — see “excellent”

I briefly explored passing the F2C torch to the people most
likely to build the future of the Internet, a younger cadre
of coders, hackers, makers and doers. Quickly I realized that
this community is not my community, and it is perfectly
capable of doing its own amazingly awesome conferences.

Also, there are many, many, many, many compelling convenings
around F2C’s issues. For on-line rights, the Chaos
Communications Conference (#30C3) last month was amazing;
make sure to watch the videos! Do not miss RightsCon in March
in San Francisco, or Personal Democracy Forum in June in NYC;
I am going to both. Keep an eye out for  Computers, Freedom
and Privacy and the National Conference on Media Reform; both
are excellent. For more official telecom policy events,
there’s “State of the Net” in January and TPRC in September.
For municipal networking, Scott DeGarmo’s Broadband
Communities Conferences are superb. NATOA also provides
essential municipal network leadership events. For
understanding tech ecosystems, nothing beats an O’Reilly
conference (and there are many). For hands-on action there’s
MozillaFest, the various Maker Faires and thousands of Bar
Camps. Finally, SXSW in March in Austin TX is in a class by
itself. With all these great events (and many more of their
calibre), F2C’s unique value in 2014 was not obvious to me.

The sponsors of F2C — the Media Democracy Fund, the Open
Technology Institute, Google, Thoughtworks, ISOC, Ting, The
Sunlight Foundation and probably others — were all willing
to support F2C in 2014. I am humbled by their material vote
of confidence in F2C. I am sorry I won’t be able to use their
generous support. I hope they’ll be receptive if/when I sense
that the time for F2C has come again.

The Internet provides an unprecedented platform, if we can
keep it. Those who treat it as a communications network are
missing its point. Its four decades have been an embodiment
of human freedom, even as it has enabled the surveillance
state. Despite the depredations of the greedy and powerful,
despite their attacks on our humanity — or maybe even
because of them — the Internet’s essence remains worthy of
our all; I will continue to give mine.

Tomorrow, January 11, is the first anniversary of Aaron
Swartz’s death. My blog, at has been
silent for almost a year. Tomorrow it will resume.

Thank you for your continued interest in F2C: Freedom to
Connect. For now, see you on line!

David I

We’ve known all along that the Clear Skies Act, the Healthy Forests Initiative and the Open Internet Order would lead to more air pollution, more pillage of national forests and a pwned, corporatized, monetized Internet. After all, the FCC’s Open Internet Order was born of a compromise between Google and Verizon; elephants danced and the grass roots got trampled.

In 2009 and 2010 — as FCC Chairman Genachowski deked and ducked and tried not to offend anybody powerful — it was clear to all, especially to the biggest telcos and cablecos, that if the FCC were to classify Internet access as a Title 2 telecommunications service, this would (a) solve the big problems that the phrase “Network Neutrality” was invented to describe, would (b) provide strong legal grounds against challenges, and would (c) be consistent with 500 years of common law and a deep corpus of case law. Nope, we could not have that. It was better to have a weak compromise, full of exceptions, that was bound to be overturned in court. Here’s my own bitter prognostication from December 2010.

Now that the DC Appeals Court has struck down the FCC’s 2010 order [court decision here], now is the time to demand that the FCC do what it should have done in the first place. It should classify Internet access as a Title 2 Telecommunications Service. The precedents for doing this are strong. The bigcos will be unanimous in their hatred for it; we should welcome their hatred.

The Internet should be for everybody. It should not be narrowly monetized, productized and marketed to benefit the already-rich and the already-powerful. Reclassification of Internet access to be a Title 2 Telecommunications Service could do this.

Chairman Wheeler. Special Counsel for External Affairs Sohn. Are you listening?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,