Tech at Night

The FCC may yet get what’s coming to it. It’s been going out of its way to get headlines as it tries to pick winners and losers in industry, but now the attention is coming from the House as the Appropriations Committee will discuss the FCC’s budget. Prepare for hysterical shouting on the order of the SimCity 2000 Transportation advisor if the Republicans threaten to cut funding.

Also, we’re back to discussing the Marketplace Fairness Act. As we’ve discussed before, this is a bill that would give Congressional approval to an interstate compact between the states to collect sales tax across state lines, requires member states to harmonize their tax rules to fit in with the interstate system. The bill is gaining Congressional support this time around. In theory I’m fine with this. It’s Constitutional and it’s reasonable. I disagree with’s complaints of complexity, because the compact imposes restrictions on the way the states can tax items, and also creates mechanisms to ease collection of the taxes.

All I would ask is that we get some safeguards in that make it impossible to include any sort of national sales tax in the system. We don’t want Canada-style taxation through the back door.

Also, Tech at Night is sending a raspberry to Rick Santorum for his Internet censorship plans. Are there legitimate social reasons to restrict pornography? Yes, just like there are legitimate social reasons to restrict alcohol. But regulating vice is not a Constitutional role of the national government. Keep it local, I say. If we can have dry counties then we can have clean counties. But the last thing we want is to empower the next Eric Holder to regulate Internet content, thank you very much.

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Tech at Night

I’m back. I ended up taking an extended Christmas break because well, I liked having a break, plus there wasn’t a whole lot going on anyway. But, back to work!

Lamar Smith and Chris Dodd still want to censor the Internet, by pushing the SOPA bill that we need to defeat. Why is it bad? Victims get no due process, ISPs have the burden of proof if government makes economically or technically unreasonable demands on them, and of course the largest reason of all is that it amounts to censoring the Internet without actually stopping foreign infringers of American copyrights.

Let’s make sure to watch the SOPA sponsor list. They must be primary targets this cycle if they don’t turn. I don’t care who they are. Marsha Blackburn is one of my favorite members, but Erick Erickson is right to call her out. This is a bad bill, a terrible bill.

Yes, the foreign leeches are annoying, but the problem is that SOPA doesn’t actually stop them. It attempts (poorly) to censor what Americans can see online. It doesn’t protect American property rights, but instead threatens them in an ostrich-like attempt to hide us from the rest of the world.

Activists are already at work. There’s also an alternative to SOPA that actually will work. The OPEN act promoted by Darrell Issa and Ron Wyden would use proven techniques for stopping foreign infringers; Apple uses it already against patent infringement. The ITC exists for a reason.

But, Chris Dodd’s MPAA and now the RIAA are demanding SOPA, not OPEN. They don’t care if the Internet is open; they think if they shut down the Internet in America that you’ll buy more CDs and DVDs. They want government to pick winners and losers, not just protect rights. OPEN protects rights. SOPA pits one industry against all others.

Kill the bill. Primary the offenders. For those of us thinking of focusing on races other than the Presidential race, that’d be a great project to work on.

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