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The Internet

Will the FCC Regulate the Net? 287

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the someone's-gotta-regulate-everything dept.
Lam1969 writes "Computerworld's Robert Mitchell wonders if the FCC could one day have regulatory power over the Internet. The causes? As telephone calls are increasingly delivered as an IP service, and traditional telephony fades away, traditional telephone companies are demanding a level regulatory regimen for all service providers. From the article: "Assuming that the FCC buys arguments such as this, we could see a new regulatory focus on the Internet and a decline in the hands-off attitude shown in the past. From the regulators' viewpoint, the Internet increasingly may be viewed as just another utility that requires oversight.""
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Will the FCC Regulate the Net?

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  • Geek revolt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:55PM (#14309958)
    Geeks around the nation will revolt if this happens. It's not a good idea. Also consider that America isn't the whole world. They can't regulate the whole Internet now, can they?
    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#14310055) Homepage
      Geeks around the nation will revolt if this happens.

      This would only occur if porn was controlled. It then wouldn't be the geeks revolting, it would be everyone. No, I'm not kidding.

      Look at the atrocities that have occured since 2001 under the guise of "protections"! You don't see *anyone* revolting against the government because of those do you? No, everyone (including my shamed self) are sitting here whining and wondering "what's next?" instead of swarming Washington DC in protest.

      We are a sad excuse.
      • I thought that the fact that geeks were revolting is part of there dependance on porn???

      • Re:Geek revolt (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mordors9 (665662)
        Remember the FCC is the group that seemed to have only one mission a few years ago.. STAMP OUT HOWARD STERN. Do you have any doubt that if given the opportunity they wouldn't stamp out porn as well? Don't get me wrong I don't think they will be given the authority to do so.
    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cerelib (903469) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:06PM (#14310061)
      No, they can't. They could however end up regulating all traffic into or out of the United States like some smaller countries do. I hope this does not happen, but that is one possiblitiy. When smaller countries do this, the only ones really affected are the residents of that country. If the US did this that would affect a good deal of the world community due to the amount of Internet services and Internet users centered in the US. The US can't force the world to learn English, but we are doing a pretty good job at it.
    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:3, Informative)

      by bitkari (195639)
      Of course 'they' can, and probably will.

      Mechanisms such as the WIPO [wipo.int] and WTO [wto.org] are incredibly influential entities, and have already been able to leverage many governments to implement laws governing media, and other communications [see: DMCA [wikipedia.org], EUCD [wikipedia.org]].

      Most of this work is due to the lobbying from large multi-nationals, as it is their interests that are at stake. In the case of the Internet, it would be logical to assume that affected corporations will lobby the relevant organizations to ensure global enforcemen
    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:4, Informative)

      by Viper Daimao (911947) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:13PM (#14310129) Journal
      There's already opposition [com.com]. It's bill number is S.2113, write to your Senators [senate.gov] for support.
    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mordors9 (665662)
      Just the parts in the United States one would think. How much of the Internet would be usable with no traffic going through the US or a company that is tied to the US would be anyone's guess.
    • Geeks around the nation will revolt if this happens.

      They already revolt anyone who sees them. They've been revolting forever....

    • Re:Geek revolt (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tpjunkie (911544)
      they can't regulate the whole internet now can they

      Well, maybe there's a reason that the US fights to keep ICANN in charge instead of the UN.
    • yes, and the flurry of angry emails and slashdot posts from geek nation will surely overcome
    • Revolting Geeks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sloppy (14984)
      Geeks around the nation will revolt if this happens.
      Unfortunately, the way geeks revolt is: post about it on Slashdot. Eventually, someone writes the perfect Score:5 post explaining why the proposed law is a bad idea. And then the law goes into effect anyway. Viva la revolucion!
  • not the internet (Score:5, Informative)

    by tarmithius (819361) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:55PM (#14309961)
    The FCC has no juristiction outside the US. Plus the article in question pertains to VOIP and telephony not the entire internet.
  • by Artifex (18308) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:55PM (#14309964) Journal
    Mitchell makes the classic error in assuming "the internet" only exists in the US.
    I'd like to see him explain how he thinks the US is going to suddenly make rules for the rest of the world, with the many telecommunications providers run as government-owned monopolies, or even provide "Universal Service" for, say, Germany.

    The internet will route around the damage, like it always does, and if the US enacts too many rules for its portion, American companies will lose business over it. That's all there is to it. In fact, since everyone is already plenty upset over ICANN [slashdot.org] retaining monopolistic levels of control, any further attempts to exercise control over countries will possibly lead to them setting up an entire infrastructure alternative in defiance.
    • In fact, since everyone is already plenty upset over ICANN retaining monopolistic levels of control, any further attempts to exercise control over countries will possibly lead to them setting up an entire infrastructure alternative in defiance.

      As I recall it [slashdot.org], last time they threatened that, they backed out because that's REALLY not what anybody wants. I firmly believe that America will continue to push its boundaries, as there really isn't much anybody is going to do against it.
      • You have a good point that nobody is eager to do this, but there's only so much they're willing to give up to keep everything together. Let's see what happens when the lawsuit shakes out. Especially if more stories come out in the meantime about automated mass surveillance, etc.
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:14PM (#14310147) Homepage Journal
      The PSTN "is regulated by" the FCC. The PSTN exists throughout the world too.

      In practice, the Internet will receive the same type of regulation as the PSTN. That is, the component of it that exists in the US will be under the FCC's "thumb", who will generally have a largely hands-off approach as far as users go, but some regulation aimed at ensuring interoperability, competition, basic service provision, and universal service, from the infrastructure providers.

      And people will talk about it as if that's a bad thing, but quite honestly, I don't think it is. There's nothing really wrong with how the PSTN is regulated, and I can't see any problem with the Internet being dealt with the same way. As the Internet becomes more of a critical component of the modern economy, and as provision becomes more and more consolidated, we'll need to see some oversight to prevent wholesale abuses by the powerful.

      To put it another way: All work and no play makes BellSouth's CEO a dull boy.

    • To me the most appalling thing about America today is that Americentrism has become so common it's now a "classic error".
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:56PM (#14309973) Homepage Journal
    I feel the FCC is one of the most unconstitutional organizations in the Federal government today.

    The FCC is basically the big media conglomerates arm in government, creating an extremely high cost of entry in media markets, preventing smaller companies or individuals from trying to compete. The days when we needed the FCC are over -- we have so many different ways to communicate that we don't need any regulation over those systems. Any regulation that takes 5 years to create will be superceded by competitive companies finding loopholes (or bribing their way past restrictions).

    Even the old belief that airwaves are limited and should be regulated is bunk. Interference from large broadcasters is a myth [salon.com]. Ever wonder how your house can have 3 cell phones, 3 cordless phones and 15 wireless accessories work together? It isn't the FCC that's helping this situation, it is manufacturers working with one another so they can all compete.

    The telephone company is dead -- as WiFi or faster wireless bandwidth is made available, even cell phones will be antiquated. I can imagine a near-future of open bandwidth, frequency-hopping competitive technologies that walk all over each other yet don't conflict. The more power you want to broadcast, the more energy you'll need to do so. If some large radio tower company wanted to block EVERY FREQUENCY for hundreds of miles, do you know how much it would cost them? Look at just the FM radio spectrum -- they couldn't afford it. A 50,000 watt radio station broadcasting at one tiny sliver of a frequency has a HUGE electric bill. The only way you could stay in business is with advertisers, and who wants to be affiliated with a company that burns everyone's communications?

    Without the FCC, we'd see thousands or tens of thousands of community broadcasters. Picture Mr. Universe versus 10,000 mosquitos. Who would win?

    If the FCC regulates the Internet, we'll find ways to get around it. The user can obfuscate transmitted information faster than our government can decode it. If they find quick ways to decode it, we'll find other ways to hide information within information. The FCC can attempt to regulate the Internet, but it will be a failure. Information has found freedom, and there is no stopping it. 6 year olds are using google, 72 year olds are using Skype. Can a government "of the People, by the People and for the People" go against the People any long?

    I'm ready to make an effigy of the FCC and burn it. Are you?
    • by Lehk228 (705449) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:13PM (#14310126) Journal
      without the FCC you would never know when you turn on the TV if the rich prick down the street is broadcasting goatse over all the channels at 5000 watts
      • without the FCC you would never know when you turn on the TV if the rich prick down the street is broadcasting goatse over all the channels at 5000 watts

        Did you read my post? There are 130-ish channels available on UHF and VHS. To broadcast over all 130-ish at 5000 watts would require a million watts or more of constant power, plus an antenna, not including the service to his house and all the other goodies.

        Can you really say that a rich guy would want to spend tens of thousand of dollars per hour in broa
      • Har har but no. Cryptography is an obvious solution to this problem... have the stations sign the goddamned content and don't display content signed with keys you don't trust. I predict as the flow of information becomes more ubiquitous - more digital - and more Internet-centric, PKI will grow in importance and implementation. It's just one logical solution to a million big problems.
      • without the FCC you would never know when you turn on the TV if the rich prick down the street is broadcasting goatse over all the channels at 5000 watts

        Do not attempt to adjust your set. We have taken control. Slashdot TV is on the air!
    • Im with you, and so are some Senators [com.com]. It's S.2113, write to your Senators for support.
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:20PM (#14310202) Homepage Journal
        Interesting article, thanks.

        I'm not sure if I could ever get behind a law that enforces true de-regulation. If they want to de-regulate old laws, just abolish them. There is ZERO need for new laws. I'm all for a new amendment limiting bills to only 500 words, and another amendment forcing Congress to abolish 3 laws for every 1 bill they propose (even if the bill doesn't pass, the 3 laws get abolished). My final amendment is for Congress to cut $2 out of the budget for every $1 they propose (even if the budget doesn't pass, they must still nuke $2 out of the old one).

        That's about all I can support, law-wise.
    • Ever wonder how your house can have 3 cell phones, 3 cordless phones and 15 wireless accessories work together? It isn't the FCC that's helping this situation, it is manufacturers working with one another so they can all compete

      Um, you're kidding, right? These things coexist precisely because there is an FCC to keep them from stomping all over each other.

      The Salon article isn't very clear, but it seems that they are excited about UWB and how easy it makes multiple access using simple pseudo-random chipping
    • If some large radio tower company wanted to block EVERY FREQUENCY for hundreds of miles, do you know how much it would cost them?

      It doesn't matter. All that matters for a company is that expenses income. If someone could find a business model to make it work, they will. Are you entirely certain that NO business model could be established to pay these expensive bills? I wouldn't be. There are plenty of businesses with huge piles of cash just waiting to be burnt should an opportunity like that present i
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:34PM (#14310307)
      Even the old belief that airwaves are limited and should be regulated is bunk. Interference from large broadcasters is a myth. Ever wonder how your house can have 3 cell phones, 3 cordless phones and 15 wireless accessories work together?

      Wow, man - are you even listening to yourself? The airwaves are limited, by the laws of physics. If we both broadcast on the same frequency, some device somewhere is going to be seeing each of our signals at an equal, and equally useless strength. Why can I be typing this message through Wi-Fi in my house, watching AIM on my mobile phone next to me, and knowing that my wireless house phone will still work, even when I'm microwaving my soup for lunch? Exactly because there are regs and legal recourse when people screw with what makes all of that work. Do you REALLY want the guy next door deciding that it's OK by him if he puts up a megawatt transmitter that happens to step exactly on all of those devices' carriers?

      The telephone company is dead -- as WiFi or faster wireless bandwidth is made available

      Well, I suppose that depends on what the meaning if "is" is (heh!). Since I talked to my mom on her copper land line this morning, I'm thinking it's not actually dead. And since I talked to my mother-in-law, in rural Virginia, just the other day... you know, in an area that's too mountainous for any line-of-site carrier, and where cable-based broadband is years away, and DSL won't go the distance... the "telephone company" isn't dead there, either. It's the only thing that DOES work, or will work for a long time.

      If some large radio tower company wanted to block EVERY FREQUENCY for hundreds of miles, do you know how much it would cost them?

      So what? There are people with lots of money that would love vanity moments like that. You know, people like George Soros who are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to impact elections... he'd LOVE to blanket all of downtown NY, even for a few minutes, with a signal no one could escape. Or, what about someone who doesn't care about paying the electric bill? You know, one-last-gasp type idealogical or vandal broadcasting?

      Can a government "of the People, by the People and for the People" go against the People any long?

      You wouldn't be referring to the government that actually created the 'net in the first place, would you? You know, as a defense research project? You make "the internet" sound like it actually exists as single thing. It's not. It's a bunch of individual, corporate, insitutional, government, and foreign networks all communicating with each other - a network of networks. If municipal governments are supposed to start trusting VoIP for 911 calls, etc, then they are going to expect a certain amount of predictability and interopability in the way that some of the those networks talk to each other. If that can't be established, then they'll just continue to expect "the telephone company" to take care of it for them, and enforce that through the large regulatory burdens that those companies carry.
    • "The FCC is basically the big media conglomerates arm in government, creating an extremely high cost of entry in media markets, preventing smaller companies or individuals from trying to compete."

      No, physics does that. There is only so much information you can transmit in so narrow a band of frequencies. Radio bandwidth is far from infinite.

      "The days when we needed the FCC are over -- we have so many different ways to communicate that we don't need any regulation over those systems."

      Just the opposite is t
    • The more power you want to broadcast, the more energy you'll need to do so. If some large radio tower company wanted to block EVERY FREQUENCY for hundreds of miles, do you know how much it would cost them? Look at just the FM radio spectrum -- they couldn't afford it. A 50,000 watt radio station broadcasting at one tiny sliver of a frequency has a HUGE electric bill.

      Blocking other frequencies does not require multiple stations.

      You can trivially broadcast over a very wide band of freq. with a spark gap or

  • I can just see the international outcry if the FCC tried this. They hate ICANN as it is, this would just lend more credence to their distrust of our "stewardship" of the net.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:56PM (#14309978)
    The FCC is welcome to set up it's own Great Firewall of China in the US and regulate and/or censor its own piece of the net. I, however, don't live in the US and don' t feel that the US government has a right to govern my activities. I didn't vote for anybody in the US government.
  • But I feel since the MPAA/RIAA claim to only fight for their artists that they should regulate the net with all their trust.
  • FCC authority (Score:4, Informative)

    by RNLockwood (224353) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:00PM (#14310013) Homepage
    I had occasion to consult the FCC a few years ago and was told that a major function of the FCC was to ensure that the governmnet didn't take all the aavailable frequencies. There are other regulatory needs for control of frequencies and power of course but I would hope that we can stop them from expanding their control over what should be non-issues for them. Trouble is that the foxes want to control the hen house and this administration favors that view.

  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#14310059)
    With ISPs trying to put restrictions on services, the FCC could guarantee universal service that does not discriminate based on content or business model.
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:07PM (#14310071) Homepage Journal
    With all this talk from various Baby Bells about how they will provide different levels of service for traffic originating from someone other than their customers, we might actually *want* a little regulation in the future.

    Before the FCC was co-opted by the Religious Right AKA the American Taliban, they actually did things like shut down pirate radio stations and make sure that the phone company actually provided the service they were legally obligated to provide.

    Obviously, I don't want the FCC keeping my internet porn from me, but if some routers in the middle are slowing my downloads because I'm not their direct customer, government regulation might be a solution.
    • I have to agree. And given the FCC has done nothing to get rid of phone porn (1-900 numbers), I find it a tad unlikely they're going to regulate Internet content, especially as there'd be constitutional issues in them doing so.
  • Simple question: How would the FCC regulate the Internet? They certianly could control US vendors but they would have precious little jurisdiction over foreign vendors. It's safe to say that until a unified system for handling telecom is developed, there are going to be jurisdictional fights and grievances by the EU and others over the US's handling of it, similar to the whole ICANN flap.

    • 1. Every box that can get on the Internet is uniquely identifiable and preferably associated with a person. See the story from about a week ago regarding anonymity and the Internet. Anonymity is a bad thing and the strong preference by everyone with any influence in Washington is to see it go away. Check out the whole trusted computing platform/DRM/etc.

      2. FCC will regulate the Internet because it's replacing the things they regulate now. Agencies rarely (if ever) die. The acronym might change, but that
  • It is possible (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jomammy (932564)
    I agree that the FCC, which is a US based entity, should never be able to have control over other entities outside the US, however this is not always the case. Political pressure along with economical pressure could force others into a pact of sorts allowing such a thing to happen.

    It happens all the time in other aspects of life and government.
  • Ahhh, the last gasps of a outdated and useless bureaucracy trying to justify its existence. There are many congressmen who want to eliminate the FCC altogether. The main ones trying to keep it alive just want it as a censorship organization.
    Regulating the internet is like trying to regulate the sun.
  • by grahamsz (150076) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:08PM (#14310087) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see internet service providers be just that... providing just bandwidth and pipe. Let customers shop elsewhere for things like email and webhosting, much like we can choose our longdistance provider.

    Regulations against predatory pricing, filtered connections and the like would be good.
  • They will not regulate the net because you can't. How will they force say, VoIP providers in Canada to do anything?

    You can provide some regulation of VoIP through DID assignment, and that's not a bad idea. It protects consumers by ensuring at least a basic level of service (E911, whatever.) But the FCC cannot and should not regulate the *entire* internet. And what benefit would it provide?
  • Nobody wants this, none of us at least, but the power big business has over government could push this through. There's much greater incentive for a stronger industry to lobby the government than, say, satellite radio, so I personally see this as a much more likely change than The Man keeping Howard Stern down. Right?
  • Not very much (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:15PM (#14310153)
    Computerworld's Robert Mitchell wonders if the FCC could one day have regulatory power over the Internet.

    Well the FCC can regulate the internet as much as it could regulate a web server in Bulgaria or China.

    Otherwise known as... Not very much.

    However I'm sure they could enforce rules on state side web hosts, but being the internet and all it doesn't take much to move your site to say... Bulgaria or China, but I think Canada or Mexico would do just fine.
  • by sharkb8 (723587) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:19PM (#14310196)
    The government never tried to reulgate Internet content when everyone was using dial-up. It seems like they would have had a better argument since dial-up uses regular phone lines to to transmit data.

    This is just the old, entrenched telcos trying to shut down VOIP as competition to their antiquited landline systems. They already tried to do this by having the FCC force VOIP companies implement 911 service. And when cellular providers still don't have 911 service wiorking properly, and the cell companies have been around far longer than the VOIP companies.

    The telcos are regualted because they were given a limited monopoly in landline service in the early 20th century. VOIP providers have no monopoly, as anyone can send data packets over an existing 'net connection.

    The problem is that the exorbitant taxes applied to landlines, and the innefficiencies in the existing infrastructure make landlines unattractive for more and more people. I gave up my landline, and just have cell phones for my family.

    If the FCC starts regulating VOIP as a communcations system, will they try to regulate TeamSpeak? What Battlefield 2 or XBox Live, both of which have Voice capability? What about IM systems with voice?

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#14310227)
    Poll: Who here wants the internet to be regulated?

    *crickets*

    *hooting owl*

    *tree frogs chirping*

    *leaves rustling in the wind*

    *lone howling wolf in the far-off distance*
    • So, you're saying, just the citizens in Animal Crossing?
    • > Poll: Who here wants the internet to be regulated?
      >*crickets*
      >*hooting owl*
      >*tree frogs chirping*
      >*leaves rustling in the wind*
      >*lone howling wolf in the far-off distance*

      *pen scratching on campaign donation check*
      *sniffling of cocaine passing from between a pop star's plastic tits past a forest of grey nose hairs*

      "The People whose votes actually count have spoken. We're going to manage freedom on the Internet - so that freedom can remain on the march, for the children, to pr

  • or more likely... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theCat (36907) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:33PM (#14310303) Journal
    ...the FCC, like their telco hosts, are doomed to extinction. Consumer protection remains a priority, but currently the FCC doesn't provide even that. Face it, centralized communications facilities are dying, so will their regulators. We might be in for a wild time ('consumer beware' will take on a whole new emphasis) but these dinosaur at least are history.
  • The telephone industry wanting to have a level playing field? Utility regulation of the internet in order to protect business?

    BS. Utilities are regulated to protect the public, not the profits of a few telcos. The idea is that a public good vital to the citizenry needs to be regulated in order to prevent the provider of the utility from price gouging, selective distribution, etc.

    If the internet opens up telephony to multiple providers (since the natural monopoly is being broken), then good! That mea
  • Government oversight can be very bad when it attempts to tell us what we can think, consume, etc.

    But, it can be very good, and actually promote free market solutions, when it focuses on ensuring perfection of market information. In other words, not necessarily regulating the things that ISPs do, but regulating their disclosure of what they do. If I don't know that BellSouth is hindering my favorite Web service, how can I make an informed free market decision to find a new provider?

    In addition, the existing
  • FP -1, offtopic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:37PM (#14310336) Journal
    I hoped this would seem obvious, but so far, no one has mentioned it yet: Regulating "service" does not mean the same thing as regulating "content".

    The FCC currently regulates phone SERVICE in the US. You can call up almost anyone, with only the most abusive of calls restricted (go ahead, just try to report someone for harassment... It takes nothing short of a knowingly-taped confession of intent to harass to get anything done). As a result, we have reasonably cheap universal phone access, which without the FCC would cost more, and only even exist for those lucky enough to live in a dense population center.

    The FCC also regulates allocation of RF spectrum. This not only allows things like radio and television to exist (imagine trying to watch your favorite show with 100 competing stations all very near the same frequency in the same geographic area), but makes even the somewhat-unregulated uses such as WiFi possible (imagine trying to transmit data with some moron using a sparkgap transmitter next door).

    The FCC also regulates broadcast television CONTENT. This, as we all know, counts as a giant crock of constitution-violating BS and should cease immediately. The US government does NOT exist to force wholesome Christian values on us via the whims of the PTC.


    But don't make the mistake of assuming "regulation" equals "censorship". Some regulation does indeed contribute to the greater good. We just need to vigilantly watch for and prevent/stop abuses of regulatory powers when they start taking away rights we otherwise have.
  • I say go ahead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cytlid (95255) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:37PM (#14310337)
    That's right.

      Let's see... the FCC regulates a technology (such as wireless transmissions, or spectrum) by understanding the underlying technology, and making sure people don't abuse it, or interfere with others' communications illegally, etc.

      So, when they understand IP, and the underlying technologies of the internet, they can begin to fathom how to "regulate" it. What they're going to realize is technical regulations are already in place, built into the protocol. It maintains itself. It's social regulation that we need.

    Anyone who designs, implements, manages, and troubleshoots interconnected networks would welcome this social regulation. I think they're in for a big surprise. It is not just going to be VOIP, one tiny protocol. I would love to send my abuse complaints, virus reports, compromises, cracking attempts, phising attempts, and whatnot to the FCC. They can contact the parties responsible for the remote networks, and take some of these issues off my back. I'm hoping they're prepared. I'm hoping they're prepared to start diplomatic communications' regulations with other countries.

    So FCC, here's your homework... speak to those responsible in China, and make sure all of their IP space reverse resolves to something. When you're finished, come back, and I'll have your next task.
    This will be the first of millions of requests I'm (personally) going to have.

    Either that or stick to regulating old, outdated communications. I'm ready when you are!
  • But why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iscariot_ (166362) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:48PM (#14310426)
    Doesn't this just show that telephone systems over twisted pair is dying? Why does some government body need to regulate it into extended-existance?
  • by writerjosh (862522) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:48PM (#14310431) Homepage
    The real issue here is not some need for the FCC to regulate the internet, but for the FCC to ensure that the use of VoIP has 911 emergency access. As VoIP becomes more frequently used, it's only natural and smart for the FCC to impose 911 emergency access to VoIP users in order to ensure a very basic level of user safety:

    "TCS said that it will partner with infrastructure operators that can deliver VoIP E911 calls to Public Safety Answering Points serving approximately 190 million people in the US.

    Its service is designed for mobility and enables the routing and delivery of the E911 VoIP caller's registered location information to the PSAP nearest to the emergency caller's current location.

    John Crabill, 911 coordinator for Montgomery county, stated, "Having a full-scale solution in place for the routing and delivery of the caller's current registered location in the event they place an E911 VoIP call provides our citizens with the added security in knowing that we can find them in the event of an emergency." In June 2005, the FCC published its E911 Order requiring all interconnected VoIP service providers to automatically provide E911 services to all customers as a standard, mandatory feature without customers having to specifically request this service, and without the ability to opt out."


    source [commentwire.com]

  • by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:50PM (#14310445)
    Ok, so the FCC was given the right to regulate the air waves under the premise that due to the relative lack of choice (back when there were 4 TV channels), and due to the fact that the EM spectrum is a public resource that is leased by private companies.

    But now that there are a lot more than 4 channels, how does this continue to fly? Is it simply because the EM spectrum is leased that the FCC somehow has the power to stop people from saying shit on ABC?

    What happens if these broadcasting companies start moving over to WiMAX/UWB-style technologies, where a huge part of the spectrum is used and certain frequencies are no longer require to be reserved (or leased) from the government? Will this then finally kill the last argument the government has to continue to limit free speech on TV and radio?

    And how can there be proposals to regulate the internet and cable when none of the "justifications" for censorship exist in these mediums?

    Seems to me that is a damn good case to be made that the FCC's power to censor, at least in the case of cable/internet/non-leased-EM-Spectrum mediums, is a direct and unjustifiable violation of the 1st Amendment.
  • t-tag.com

    That sends messages over IP to landlines. The FCC is already involved.
  • Open and monitored (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 0xC2 (896799)
    I believe (the US) government prefers to keep the internet "free and open" as long as they can "monitor" (aka spy) on all content. If general use of hard encryption became easy to use and popular, they would pull the plug damn quick.

    The US can serve google with one of those secret warrants and have tons of information. They like that I think...
  • by Mr. Cancelled (572486) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:57PM (#14310510)
    The day that the FCC controlling the internet is a good idea, is the same day that Bush will have an original thought, which isn't illegal, or detrimental to this country's well being.

    Or, for you "Stop bashing Bush! I love the big guy" type of people (there must be at least a few of you out there)...

    The day that the FCC controlling the internet is a good idea, is the same day that Paris Hilton starts to look appealing. I mean really appealing... In a sexy, feminine sort of way. Not just the usual "She's not too attractive, but she's really dumb, and probably wasted enough of the time that you could steal yourself some money without her knowing" kinda way that most people look at her.

    But seriously... The Internet's a global thing. Something that the avg. politician doesn't seem to realize. Unless you (virtually) wall yourself off from the rest of the world (China anyone?), this is a pointless arguement, as this would only hurt the US, and its citizens in the long run. Anyone with any common sense (no... Not the politicians with dollar signs in their eyes) can see this is a dumb idea. The very fact that it's a possibility is just scary as hell!
  • by kzinti (9651)
    Oh yeah, get the government involved, THAT'LL make it better.
  • by TMarvelous (928161) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:20PM (#14310710) Homepage

    Regulation has nothing to do with distinguishing VOIP packets or controling volume, it's about capitalizing on a growing industry, and for the telcos asking for the regulations it's about leveling the playing field.

    Have you ever looked at your (US) phone bill? I rely on my cell phone but keep a basic dialtone at home in case of power outage, tsunami, terroist act (I live in NYC) or some other catastrophe. Ove 50% of the $20/month I pay comes from surcharges, including:

    FCC Line Charge 6.40

    911 Surcharge 1.00

    Federal USF Surcharge 0.66

    Federal Tax 0.50

    Surcharge(s) 0.91

    NY State/Local Sales Tax 1.40

    In theory VOIP can offer the same service at the same cost for half the price because of the regulatory surcharges and taxes. The phonecos are put at a competetive disadvantage simply because their bill includes fees the VOIPs don't. If you had a choice of dialtones and one was 50% cheaper than the other what would you choose? More importanly what would the average technologically ignorant consumer chose?

    • The "FCC line charge" is not a Government charge. [fcc.gov] It's a fraudulent misrepresentation by the telephone company of one of their own fees. The FCC just sets a cap on that charge. The telco gets the money.

      What you're paying for is the ability to connect to a separate long-distance carrier. This charge keeps going up, even though the cost of providing bulk transport keeps going down.

  • by minus_273 (174041)
    I actually like the idea of broadband internet as a utility. It implies that
    a) everyone have access to it like power, water, phone
    b) it must be reliable like power,water,phone
    c) it become commonplace like power, water, phone
    d) when was the last time your phone company tried to pull stunts like verisign does (sitefinder)

  • C'mon people, all kinds of communications are moving onto the Internet. We all know that.

    The agency is called the Federal COMMUNICATIONS Commission. Seems like they are the likely regulators.

    They certainly aren't going to downsize the FCC because telephones and over-the-air broadcasting are moving to privatized channels.

    I'm very disappointed that this comes as a surprise to anyone.

    In America, the spys spy on you!
  • Probably not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dacarr (562277) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:40PM (#14311332) Homepage Journal
    The nature of the internet won't allow it. Plain and simple. Rather, I see the FCC keeping things as is, and continuing to regulate the telcos, who have the infrastructure that we use for the internet in place already. The telcos as they exist will fade - not out, just back - and they will simply maintain the basic infrastructure, and for those who continue to prefer traditional landline (which probably won't fade for about 20 years), will continue to provide services.

Most people will listen to your unreasonable demands, if you'll consider their unacceptable offer.

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