Tech at Night

Top story is easy to pick tonight. The legislation that’s been known in the Senate as PROTECT IP, the Internet censorship blacklist bill that promises to make a huge power grab online, Communist China-style, has come to the House. They’re calling it by two different names: E-PARASITES and Stopping Online Privacy Act, but by either name it’s just as bad.

Even as the current laws do work, this bill expands government, and puts the government’s thumb firmly on one side of the scales balanced by the DMCA. Current law attempts to provide a balance between the rights of all of us online, and the rights of copyright holders accusing others of infringement. PROTECT IP/E-PARASITES/SOPA would give copyright holders private nuclear options to knock sites offline, and government would enforce it.

No, really, how bad is it? It threatens, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, three critical tools used by conservatives and Republicans against this administration, and this House bill would arm this administration against them. It’s insane. It’s just so poorly thought out. PROTECT IP also removes safe harbor concepts critical to the DMCA that gave ISPs reason to be fair to the little guy when pounded on by the big guy. No more, should this pass.

PROTECT IP. SOFA. E-PARASITES. I don’t care what you call it, creating national censorship blacklists to be enforced by law by all ISPs is just a terrible idea. Censorship by its very nature hinders public oversight of that censorship. In fact, some of the first things they censored in Australia’s version were lists of things censored, which meant when the censorship expanded to other topics, any discussion of that was threatened with legal action.

Kill this bill.

Eric Schmidt went off on big government recently, thanks to the government coming after Google, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Google is no longer a friend to big government.

Much thought goes into nationalized sales tax systems these days, but mark my words: Any Canadian HST-style system will open the door to a new, national sales tax. Even if it only starts at 1%.

Yes, we do have a spectrum crunch, which is why we need to allow spectrum-enhancing mergers to go through, and why we should strongly consider licensing more of it. I’m not saying we should sell off every last bit of the unlicensed ranges. But we should consider what we can.

We should also listen to CTIA and get incentive auctions of spectrum going. We need all we can get of voluntary, compensated transfers of spectrum from legacy uses to our ever-growing need for wireless Internet spectrum.

CTIA’s also busy joining in the Net Neutrality appeal, specifically to defend the FCC against the lefty accusation that they’re not regulating enough. Yes, people, wireless is different. See above, about the whole spectrum crunch thing. See also Sprint’s 3G network melting from all the new iPhones.

The vote nears on FCC’s grab bag of subsidies, a mini-ARRA, called Universal Service Fund reform.

PATENT WARS: Samsung fails to take down Apple in Italy.

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Nima Jooyandeh facts.