Tech at Night

It’s funny how certain names come up again and again in this space. There are just certain Republicans who are becoming solid Tech leaders. Marsha Blackburn is one of them, pushing to force Barack Obama to take a stand against the Chinese online.

Again, a Republican governor comes out for the sales tax compact, this time Governor Christie. The Marketplace Fairness Act I still say needs firm, explicit protections against a national sales tax added onto the state harmonized sales taxes, but the principle is reasonable.

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Tech at Night

So, Cybersecurity. I’ve spent so much time talking about why the Lieberman-Collins Cybersecurity bill in the Senate is terrible, and anti-PROTECT IP champion Ron Wyden has taken up the opposition as well, but there is need for some enhanced ability of government to coordinate against and to attack Internet security threats.

Here’s a Reddit post that should scare people about the kinds of ongoing criminal enterprises that are out there, online, worldwide. Here’s the kind of research that demonstrates the need of the good guys to be open and to collaborate. Think about what happens when (not if) the technology that goes into these cash cow botnets (some run by Anonymous) instead goes into spying (some done by Wikileaks) and into terrorism (some done by Anonymous).

Cybersecurity is, on some level, easy to understand as an issue. We know there are people online who break into computers. Retransmission Consent is a tricker issue, as it’s regulatory inside baseball between local broadcasters and local cable providers. Two heavily regulated industries battle it out over a fine point of policy. It’s hard for a conservative to grapple with it, sometimes.

But I’m going to disagree with with this post by Gordon Smith and call television broadcasters the new manufacturers of buggy whips. Right now they’re still important for some people, to be sure, in the same way that some people will use a land line phone instead of wireless Internet to stay connected.

But younger people are moving away from it. “Broadcast-only” is a misleading term. I’m in that category, but not because I watch broadcast television. I watch pay TV. It’s just called Hulu, not cable.

Further, I doubt that broadcasters really are the best source of information anymore most of the time. People are using the Internet more and more without having a cord in the home to bring it in. iPhones, Android phones, and yes even Windows phones, are collectively taking over the phone market. In so doing they also take over the information market at home.

This is why it’s wrong to maintain the current retransmission consent rules, and why it’s wrong to try to block spectrum incentive auctions to encourage the shifting of spectrum from broadcasters to wireless Internet providers. Even if we thought it was legitimate for government to try to prop up broadcasters instead of opening the market, it’s pointless to have government stand athwart what the people actually want to spend their money on, yelling stop. We’ll just get run over, and hinder innovation in the progress.

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There are two big tech stories swirling around the Internet that some people are lumping together incorrectly. One is the old story that Apple refuses to ship Adobe Flash players on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, all of which run iOS. The other is that Google now refuses to ship support for the h.264 video format in the Chrome web browser.

Some say these two moves are the same, but there is a difference. Apple is refusing to integrate a product into its software, while Google is attempting to create its own standard in defiance of what is widely used and deployed on the Internet today.

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Tech at Night: Net Neutrality, Google, HTML 5

On January 15, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Republicans are eager to get to work against the President’s regulatory bypasses of the last two years. Cliff Stearns promises “aggressive and rigorous” oversight of Internet, Energy, and Obamacare, says Hillicon Valley. As the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that’s no idle threat.

Meanwhile Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton is looking forward as well as backward, by looking to guide the FCC proactively on the issue of increasing the wireless spectrum available for Internet access. I think it’s usually better when legislators lead rather than letting those unelected, unaccountable regulatory bodies go off on their own, so I’m glad of this.

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Nima Jooyandeh facts.