Internet regulation faces hurdles

The Federal Communications Commission acted to regulate the Internet by a partisan 3-2 vote. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned that there will be pushback. Meanwhile, the courts get another chance to jurisdictional limits on the FCC. Legally, the agency is on shaky ground. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently ruled that there are significant limitations on the agency’s jurisdiction to regulate broadband services. Rumors indicate the commission is planning to assert jurisdiction on the basis of somewhat obscure statutory provisions which predate the Internet as we know it, and that were drafted for unrelated purposes.

Tech Continues to Lead Israel Boom

If the United States were growing as well as our Israeli ally, we’d be in fat city right now. The news from the little Mediterranean powerhouse just keeps looking up. GDP rose 3.8 percent last quarter, down from 4.5 percent in the previous quarter, but still very brisk. Technology stocks overwhelmingly lead the way. George Gilder’s thesis in The Israel Test is thus validated daily. Imagine a developed country that sells more to China than it buys!

“Google steps up push to rule the web”

A writer for the Financial Times takes aim at Google for … what? Google’s ambitions are so sweeping, the theatres in which its campaign is being advanced so dispersed, that it is not always easy to trace the outlines of the broader war it is fighting…. As Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner, points out, Google could eventually assume a truly scary cross-media dominance. All the information about user behaviour collected across multiple cloud services, mixed with its core search data, could give it better insight into users than anyone – and the ability to match that with personalised advertising campaigns delivered across different services and devices. Okay, Google is trying to compete. It is trying to be disruptive. It Read More ›

Do we need a new Cyber Defense Administration?

Mortimer Zuckerman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argues for a new federal bureaucracy to protect against cyber threats. We should think of cyberattacks as guided missiles and respond similarly–intercept them and retaliate. This means we need a federal agency dedicated to defending our various networks. You cannot expect the private sector to know how–or to have the money–to defend against a nation-state attack in a cyberwar. One suggestion recommended by Mr. Clarke is that the government create a Cyber Defense Administration. He’s right. Clearly, defending the U.S. from cyberattacks should be one of our prime strategic objectives. Few nations have used computer networks as extensively as we have to control electric power grids, airlines, railroads, banking and military support. Read More ›

Freedom from temptation?

This Gmail user who writes for the Daily Mail apparently doesn’t think she should have to receive targeted ads in exchange for free email service. The adverts were being specifically targeted at me because of what I had written in a private email to a friend. Though I found the discovery deeply creepy, I carried on using Gmail, noticing all the time that I couldn’t write anything to anyone without Gmail offering me comments, suggestions and temptations. As the article points out, only machines read and process the data — and the information isn’t sold to nor shared with advertisers. So what’s the point? That Google may somehow fail to safeguard the data? The company could pay dearly if that Read More ›

Network neutrality regulation could be a lot worse than this

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has outlined a new plan for imposing network neutrality regulation on broadband providers. The draft rule is not yet public, but it sounds really rather reasonable as described by Genachowski. Broadband providers would have a “transparency obligation” so consumers and innovators know basic information about how networks are being managed. Blocking would be prohibited, so consumers and innovators can send and receive any lawful Internet traffic Broadband providers could not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful Internet traffic. Broadband providers would have meaningful flexibility to manage their networks to deal with harmful traffic and to address network congestion. Aside from a transparency requirement and a basic no blocking rule, mobile broadband would be closely monitored by the Read More ›

What’s wrong with current regulation of broadband services?

At a Saturday morning panel discussion at the Federalist Society moderated by Chief Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, I asked whether any of the panelists feel that the Federal Trade Commission lacks jurisdiction pursuant to the FTC Act to combat against deceptive business practices and unfair competition in the market for broadband services. Parul P. Desai, Policy Analyst at Consumers Union responded that there are limitations on the ability of consumer advocates to litigate which do not apply in actions by the Federal Communications Commission. Maureeen K. Ohlhausen, an attorney with Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer, LLP who has an FTC background, added that those limitations do not apply in the context of Read More ›

Another example of doublepseak?

Rumors that the Federal Communications Commission may be planning to enact network neutrality regulation three days before Christmas (see previous post) seem odd in light of a observation President Obama made on Nov. 3 [A]s I reflect on what’s happened over the last two years, one of the things that I think has not been managed by me as well as it needed to be was finding the right balance in making sure that businesses have rules of the road and are treating customers fairly and — whether it’s their credit cards or insurance or their mortgages — but also making absolutely clear that the only way America succeeds is if businesses are succeeding. The reason we’ve got a unparalleled Read More ›