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Companies Join Together to Maintain Open Internet 192

idontneedanickname writes " is carrying an article from The Mercury News about the lobbying efforts of companies such as, Microsoft and Walt Disney (yes, you read that right) to stop the FCC from "fundamentally altering the Internet. If that happens, they say, the Internet could evolve into a cable-TV-like system, where providers of high-speed Internet access could steer subscribers toward affiliated Internet sites. The network owners could also limit the types of devices that could be connected to their network, potentially stifling innovation." Printer friendly version of the article is online as well."
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Companies Join Together to Maintain Open Internet

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  • Umm, and (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheLASTjay ( 562758 )
    This doesn't happen already? And Microsoft - shessh - Don't some of their applications "STEER" users to their services, taking over what was formerly there? =) jay
    • Re:Umm, and (Score:4, Insightful)

      by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:48AM (#5824697)
      Also, why do we really care?
      AOL, MSN, and Compuserve tried to do this, but users wanted to access the "whole net"

      Users, not laws, have kept the internet open. I say let them try to offer service no one will one want.
      • Although this has failed so far, it is not for the lack of trying. I'm extremely suspicious about the group behind this, as they are exactly the class of organization that has and will try to do this for themselves. You've got to wonder whether the laws they are promoting won't be designed to do the opposite of what they claim to be the intent.

        Yes, ultimately it comes down to the users, as long as the legal landscape doesn't get adjusted to support the aims of companies wanting to create restricted medi

      • Re:Umm, and (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zackbar ( 649913 )
        AOL, MSN, and Compuserve are all basically ISPs. They don't offer the last mile connection themselves.

        If users don't like them, the users can switch to another provider, usually with a wide variety.

        However, a high-speed user has at most two options: Cable-internet and DSL. If one of these providers decides to limit sites and services, it makes it really easy for the other one to limit sites and services as well.

        If that happens, users will have to either suffer limited sites and services with high-speed,
    • Re:Umm, and (Score:5, Funny)

      by EdMcMan ( 70171 ) <> on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:06AM (#5824829) Homepage Journal
      Haha! Yeah, like IE going to the "IE Update Site" almost half the times I start it.
  • Finally some big name companies on our side. Maybe now congress won't give free reign to the MPAA
    • I hate to point this out, but this is pretty unrelated to the **AA fights against consumers. I wish this COULD be seen as a precedent to help there, as I don't want to be told when, where and how I can or can't listen to music I bought the rights to listen to, but this is a different matter. An important matter, to be certain, but different. If their suggested regulation were to go through, from the sound of the original post, then there would be nothing stopping, say, Cox from setting up their proxy to wa
  • by supun ( 613105 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:15AM (#5824473)
    that a big black monolith would land on their T1 lines and all there IMs would start spamming, "All these private subnets are yours except the Internet, attempt no meddling there."
  • Next (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Burz ( 138833 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:16AM (#5824478) Homepage Journal
    The mentioned companies will acquire broadband infrastructure, and two years from now will be lobbying for the opposite goal.

    • If you want to know where the internet is going watch maxhedroom and it's tv miniseries.

      it will come to pass, hell we are 3/4 the way there the only thing left is really having TV networks(read that as megacorperations) buying courts and turning it into a reality series...

      Imagine lawyers that are specalists in TV justice and law and the judges are retired Company CEO's/

      It's gonna happen, and short of angry mobs with torches burning to the ground all the companies causing the problem, there is no way it w
  • confused... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:16AM (#5824481)
    3 cheers for the companies! Go capatalism? Uh... wait, where am I? Corporate pig-dogs! Marxist ideals rule here at /.! Back to your decadent western towers, and your filthy alluring women... plentiful food... mmm...
    • "Die, Allied Schweinhund!" Oh, wait... *g*

      I've been playing *way* too much Wolfenstein 3-D.
    • Re:confused... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilNTUser ( 573674 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @12:12PM (#5825409)
      Actually, the situation is a lot less confusing than it looks.

      It's always nice when someone is "doing the right thing", so being happy that the corporations are doing this is ok.

      However, the problem is that they shouldn't have the power to do so in the first place. Companies should be in no position to lobby either for a more open or for a more closed internet.

      So we can be happy about what they're doing, but not happy about the general political climate simultaneously. Simple.
  • You gotta cheer on the content-providing big boys here as opposed to the cable big boys. While it makes sense to even out the regulatory framework for cable vs. DSL, you'd hope that the more open DSL environment would prevail.
  • Oh dear... (Score:4, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:16AM (#5824485) Homepage
    I guess this statement could sum up the situation.

    "We work as a team, and we do it my way"

  • Strange Bedfellows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:17AM (#5824486) Homepage Journal
    Know those episodes of The Transformers where the Autobots and Decepticons had to work together to destroy a bigger evil? Yeah, well that works in real life all the time.

    Microsoft and Disney both see the advantages to un-tethered and relatively "free" (as in open road) access to the Internet for consumers. Cable companies, who are used to being able to "channel" information to passive users, do not, as it raises the bar on what they have to provide.

    • by Ogrez ( 546269 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:23AM (#5824526)
      The general population could not tell you the difference between a ISP and a content provider. The ISP provides you access to the internet through whatever medium, thats it, just the gateway to the rest of the world. A content provider (such as AOL -- "the devil") provides you access to their content on their internet. While its possible to surf around AOL's content, its a pain in the ass. However for the Lusers at home who are 90% computer illiterate, it works. The trick is in keeping unfettered internet access around for those of us that USE it. you may take my life, but you will NEVER take my cable modem!!
      • Sorry, wrong cliche. But you get my drift. Right now it's possible to access the internet directly, even if your provider wants you to go through their "portal". (Although, as you point out, it can be a pain in the ass, especially with AOL.) Maybe most users are too tech-illiterate to do this, but that's changing rapidly.

        Which is why some providers want to control how you access the internet. Want to surf the web? Gotta go through the portal, no generic IP applications. Want to untether your access? No do

      • The general population could not tell you the difference between a ISP and a content provider.

        You mean the difference between AOL [] and Time Warner []?
      • but you will NEVER take my cable modem!!

        Hi this is dave from the cable company... you violated the TOs agreement and you have been disconnected. please return our equipment..

        sorry but they can take your cablemodem really REALLY damn easy :-)

        Man I am nothing but cynical today..
    • Know those episodes of The Transformers where the Autobots and Decepticons had to work together to destroy a bigger evil?

      You were supposed to reference the famous phrase "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." -- not an episode of Transformers.

      A quick search did not turn up what said that first. I thought it was Sun-Tzu, but I'm not sure.

      Transformers. Sheesh.

      • You were supposed to reference the famous phrase "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

        It's interesting that the phrase isn't always true. (IMO) The Palestinians have an enemy (Israel) and many other countries are enemies of Israel, but I don't think that the Palestinians really have any friends. Proxy != Friend.
    • "Microsoft and Disney both see the advantages to un-tethered and relatively "free" (as in open road) access to the Internet for consumers... " ..and the DMCA.
  • Interesting fact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:17AM (#5824489) Homepage
    Many people might ridicule this - how much control can an ISP really have over their users? Sure, they might provide their own content, but users are smart enough to go their own way, right?

    I used to work for a large ISP and we found that a majority of our users thought their ISP connection would stop working if they changed their homepage to something other than us. That's how much power we had over our users - scary.

    Kinda makes Microsoft look like the good guys - I feel a divide by zero error coming on! ;)
    • ISP Power (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:45AM (#5824680) Homepage
      How much power?
      You can block addresses, you can restrict ports and protocols.
      Seems as though you have a lot of power.
    • Re:Interesting fact (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rf0 ( 159958 ) <> on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:00AM (#5824786) Homepage
      In a similar vain. In a previous life I worked as a helpdesk monkey and one day customer rang up and said they wanted to cancel. After doing the normal why thay said they wanted to leave as "They had surfed our internet and wanted to find another one".

      It turns out that they had just been browsing of the ISP homepage and not realising they could just type in a URL into the address bar. Once show yahoo (which was the best search engine at the time) they went off happy.

    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @12:24PM (#5825501)
      this is VERY common. When @Home went to ATTBI I had several people call up complaining that the "Internet" was gone and was replaced by this "Homosexuals" website...

      They believed was the "Internet".

      I had other random calls where was set as the homepage by default. These people were concerned they would owe MSN money.
    • I live in Michigan which I just found out is a SuperDMCA state, so here its absolute. I have to get permission from the electric company to plug in remotely controled lamps, or power-line ethernet.

      I think the real power that an ISP could have is more in the way of bandwidth throtling certain sites,say CNN might pay a premium to keep their site on the fast proxy server while maybe MSNBC get stuck on the slow one. Or even better the address of other banner ad supplier's
  • by Cyclopedian ( 163375 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:17AM (#5824491) Journal
    I believe that in due time, the Internet will grow to the level of public infrastructure, in the same way that we regard electricity and highways.

    Only problem is, what kind of road (pun intended) are we going take to get there?

    In the early days of paved roads, it was a mess until Uncle Sam wrote a bill saying that all Americans must have a smooth driving experience. When can we expect the same smooth packet delivery experience? /Just an useless rant.
    • Not that I disagree, but one concern with the Internet becoming a public utility is government regulation. When something private becomes ubuiquitous enough, the public basically gets a right to regulate it (overly simplistic explanation). Of course the public regulation is handled by the government, which should be handled in the public interest, but we all know how that's been going. So while becoming a utility would keep it relatively open to the consumers, it could allow stifling government regulatio
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:38AM (#5824626) Homepage Journal
      In this case, it looks like innovation is starting in the smaller towns and villages. There have been a number of stories [] lately about small towns building broadband out to each resident. This is a classic example of government providing a public good - it'll be interesting to see how this trend plays out...

    • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:35AM (#5825069) Homepage Journal
      ... and since the gov. provides the roads, they can require you to have a license, control the specs on what you drive, etc. You can't design your own car and use it on public roads, because there's no way to register it. This prevents you from killing a lot of people with your homebrew car, but it also prevents significant changes to the status quo.

      Makes you wonder what a public internet would look like. You think the lawmakers would stay hands off?

      • by xant ( 99438 )
        Holy crap, that's an advantage I didn't even see. LICENSED NEWBIES!!!

        We could have learner permits where you have to go over to a tech guy's house and let him watch you post to newsgroups and web forums before you're allowed to have an Internet connection of your own.
  • 666 (Score:3, Funny)

    by borgdows ( 599861 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:18AM (#5824498)
    Walt Disney

    omg!! this is THE TRINITY OF EVIL!
    • Perhaps they are the internet equivalent of the Axis of Evil.

      Or they could be the "Coalition of the Willing" who will fight the network owners to maintain a "free" internet.

      I guess it just depends...

  • The funny thing. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:18AM (#5824499) Journal
    If the FCC actually does put a crimp on the Internet, they can, of course, only regulate it INSIDE the U.S.

    Which would mean, of course, that despite all our big talk about freedom we would be up there with China regarding the good old internet.

    In Post-Soviet Russia, they still have real internet. =P

    Just My Opinion.
  • Mascots (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:18AM (#5824501)
    Tux, The Gnu, BSD Devil,

    and now Mickey Mouse?

    opensource heros

    • Re:Mascots (Score:3, Informative)

      Strangely enough, Disney has been an open source supporter for a while.

      The squeak [] dialect of smalltalk was created at Apple, but run by Alan Kay and his team [] while they were Disney imagineers. (I never did get an answer if the squeaking mouse was an homage to Apple's mouse or Mickey.)

      Their internet group created a set of open source tools used on their webpages called Tea, released it themselves, and now make it available [] through sourceforge.

  • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:20AM (#5824510) Homepage Journal
    Whom to cheer for, whom to hate?

    I wish with every story the submitter or the editors would also put up the updated list of The Good Folks(TM) and The Evil Corporations(TM). It would make comment posting a whole lot simpler ;^)

    • by abhinavnath ( 157483 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:43AM (#5824659)
      ...just like electric charge. Microsoft is +10 AlwaysWinning(TM) Evil, while Amazon and Disney are both -5 OppressiveIP Evil. However note that by the Slashdot conventions, Microsoft is always twice as evil as any other company. Thus when Amazon, Disney and MS collaborate, all their evil cancels out and we can root for them.

      Note that any branch of the government, the MPAA/RIAA etc. is -20 OppressiveIP Evil, twice as evil as MS, and so we can never root for them.

      Next time RTFM ;-)
    • Hmmmmm... I see Bill Gates is wearing a black cowboy hat, with red pin-stripes today. He must be feeling especially evil.

      New hobby, what kind of hat would suit someone? I think Linus' hat would have every imaginable feature, such as a fan, solar panel, cellphone, etc. And to use a different device, you have to completely disasemble and re-assemble the hat. ;-)

    • That's the point of all the dupes. The first posting is really just practice.

      I've got my prepared statement all ready for the next time this story runs.
  • It makes sense... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:22AM (#5824522) Journal
    It's quite simple... While these companies may be trying to kill their competiton, by killing off the "open" internet, they certainly are going to fight tooth-and-nail when it looks like someone else might beat them too it.

    Think of the way Windows hadn't had any significant changes, until Apple went on full attack. Suddenly, Windows XP got a movie studio, and a new interface.

    So, they may want the internet "closed" for their own purposes, but dammed if they'll let someone else do it!
  • Right. (Score:4, Funny)

    by SamMichaels ( 213605 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:23AM (#5824523) is carrying an article from me about the lobbying efforts of companies such as, and to stop Microsoft from "fundamentally altering the Internet. If that happens, they say, the Internet could evolve into a cable-TV-like system, where providers of operating systems could steer subscribers toward affiliated Internet sites. The OS owners could also limit the types of devices that could be connected to/installed into their OS, potentially stifling innovation."

    Oops. Too late :(
  • by DaveOf9thKey ( 599178 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:25AM (#5824539) Homepage Journal

    I get the sense that Disney wants to keep the Internet open because AOL Time Warner controls the pipes to a lot of homes, especially on the broadband market with both Road Runner and AOL Broadband. If the Internet evolves into another cable outlet (deities forbid) and the AOL channel steers people to Time Warner properties, what will happen to the Mickey Mouse stuff?

    Disney also happens to own ESPN, and competition among sports web sites is huge.

  • Disney?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doormat ( 63648 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:26AM (#5824543) Homepage Journal
    Disney wants to avoid a cable system-like internet? This from the company who is almost completely responsible for your cable bill going up every year (ESPNs fees go up 10-15% every year). I still dont see why. If its open they cant manage to force content upon users. But then again, they'd want to decrease any leverage the cable co's have so they can charge whatever they want.
    • Re:Disney?? (Score:2, Interesting)

      You hit it right on the nose at the end. They are afraid that someday AOL will do the same thing that TimeWarner once did - refuse to sign the contract to allow Disney's channels on their cable system. It was about a year or two ago that the two had a standoff, and TimeWarner eventually blinked since they were required to carry ABC.

      Disney wants to deal with you directly, since they know how to market to people directly. And they know how to get the money from you directly. They run into problems when

      • Re:Disney?? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by leviramsey ( 248057 )

        They repealed the must-carry laws a few years ago (because the laws also prohibited the broadcasters from demanding payment from cable companies). What happened in that flap was that a few places (LA and NY, IIRC) where TW had the main cable franchise and the ABC affiliate was actually owned by ABC saw TW pull those affiliates from the cable lineup because the affiliates were demanding too much per subscriber.

        Of course, I couldn't give a shit about cable... I've had DirecTV for two years (and DSL for the

    • Then why don't they make the ESPN optional like some of the other higher cost stations like Headline News? I'd be happy to save the cable company money and not get ESPN.
  • by $$$exy Gwen Araujo ( 654821 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:28AM (#5824554) Homepage Journal
    This is just cable company spin of the highest order. They all club together and go "ooh, central govt. might force us to... do exactly what we did to our customers anyway!"

    Let's face it, WITHOUT regulation, these bozos can pull any shit they want and get away with it. Their worst NIGHTMARE is an FCC regulation MANDATING that users can connect any device they want to their cable/dsl connection and can run VPNs if they want to, for no extra charge.

  • by oddjob ( 58114 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:28AM (#5824556)
    The fact that the poster is surprised at the companies supporting this shows that they misunderstand the principles by which these companies operate. They have only one priciple -- to make money. Once you understand that, their behavior is clearly consistant. Their own freedom helps their bottom line, the freedom of others may hurt it.
    • That's just not true though. The track record of RIAA and MPAA should show that, sometimes, they take action against things that clearly help their bottom-line. It's debatable if p2p helps RIAA sell CDs, so let's avoid that one. How about MPAA trying to shutdown clean-flix, which would mean parents would buy more movies, because they could allow their children to watch, without the sex/violence/(al)gore/etc.
      • Your theory that clean-fix would mean more sales for the MPAA is untested. It is also possible that it would reduce sales. If parents could by cleaned up version of a movie they want to watch, that means one sale. But, if they can only get the dirty version, they have to buy a Barney video to show to their kids, leading to two sales. Without market reseach, you can't say which theory is correct. I'm confident that MPAA would do the reaseach and choose the course of action they think most likely to increase
      • Yes, actually it is. Companies always do what they think will make them the most money. They might not always be right. That's because executives aren't perfect -- they make mistakes. If every company always took the ideal course of action to make the most money, no companies would go out of business. However, the companies that stick around are the one's that are good at identifying the best moeny-making courses, and that have no qualms about switching positions hypocritically: in other words, the one's th
    • While I believe what you write is true. They often see loss of control as something that will hurt them. I think it is a miracle that this is the conclusion they've come to. Especially in a collective!
      • It is not a loss of control to them because these companies do not have control currently. They are trying to prevent the cable companies from gaining control, which would reduce their freedoms and thereby hurt their profits.
  • One Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:30AM (#5824572)
    The problem is that most of the laws are being passed as Super-DMCA at the state level. They have to force the FCC to change the federal law or it will be over before it starts. Ok, Comcast, Verizon, etc.. don't control your internet access over federal laws. However, with Michigan for example, they can say you can't put a Firewall/NAT device on your Internet connection and you can't connect several computers at once. Just as powerful a control.
  • Maybe they've convinced themselves that there's more money for them to make by suing for intellectual property infringement than by actually making new stuff.
  • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:32AM (#5824592) Journal
    Microsoft's software freedom of choice initiative meant that we would have less freedom to choose. Now M$ among others have an initiative for an open network. It must mean that we will have a closed network!
    • I had a similar thought... what if the real goal is that, Microsoft, Walt Disney, etc. would like to all be one big closed network? Better a guaranteed piece of a whopping great pie, than having to chase down all those independent crumbs scattering in all directions.

  • by LeoDV ( 653216 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:39AM (#5824635) Journal
    ...when Amazon, Microsoft and Walt Disney have to unite to defend freedom.
  • Who has the power (Score:4, Interesting)

    by revscat ( 35618 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:46AM (#5824684) Journal

    I think this it would be helpful to keep in mind that there are people and organizations out there -- both commercial and governmental -- that would like to see the Internet become more controllable. Just off the top of my head:

    1. Social conservatives - would like to see less porn available
    2. Law enforcement agencies - would like having an easier time pinpointing who commits a crime, or uses the Internet as a tool in committing a crime
    3. Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel, etc. e.g. - Those who would like to see power consolidated into fewer entities, allowing much greater control over what content is allowed for publication.
    4. Corporatists/free market fundamentalists - Overlapping with the above, those who believe that corporate consolidation is always a good thing, or at least that the good of such consolidation almost always outweights the bad.

    And so forth. Basically, there are many, many organizations who -- for reasons both noble and not -- wish to see this wild environment put under some sort of tighter control. Given the current political situation, where those with massive amounts of capital are able to shape these discussions, I would not be at all surprised to find the structure of I2 changed so that governments and large corporations have a much greater amount of control.

    If there is a profit to be made in centralizing control of the internet I would imagine it will someday happen. If this can be combined with the "war on terrorism", such an outcome is almost guaranteed. The current distributed nature of the Internet can be changed or regulated. One need only look at China as an example of this, both pro and con.

  • The internet sees the FCC as an error and will route around it.
  • Tinfoil Hat Theories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nathan Ramella ( 629875 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:53AM (#5824740) Homepage
    Do you ever think that there are smart people on the inside who fight against this type of thing by 'working with the system'?
    By the nature of their efforts thay are most probably subtle and secretive.
    * The person who worked on the Xbox motherboard who laid out all the exposed solder/no-solder points close to each other for bypassing the bios.

    • Often layouts like that are done by computer. One of my university buddies worked on a project at a large consumer electronics corp where they were looking to improve layouts by use of lots of math theory (I don't know the specifics). It was sort of a linear programming problem: Try to minimize total length of wires, subject to problems with heat dissapation, maximal transmission times, etc.

      So I'm saying it might have been a coincidence. On the other hand, if there really are people like this, there's hope
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:54AM (#5824743)
    These companies are just taking the high road because they can't take the low road because they don't have the resources monopolies.

    Does anyone think for a minute that if MS owned a major cable network that they would care about innovation? The only thing they'd care about is first expanding subscribers and then slowly cranking down the subscriptions to limit them to MS Home Terminal Software users only.

    Disney hate the cable companies from a TV perspective because they keep getting sodomozed on access fees to get their channels onto cable systems.

    Amazon may actually care about innovation, but only because if everyone gets steered to another shopping site Amazon's "one click" "innovation" won't mean anything.

    Move along. There's nothing to see here but a bunch of companies crowing because someone *else* has the ability to steer and lockout, not because they actually give a shit about a free, open and innovative internet.
    • So what are you saying, you want AOLTW and Comcast to be able to decide what websites you can access, just because you hate MS and Disney more?

      They're corporations. Of course their motives are profit driven. That's a no-brainer. But, your right to view whatever web page you want includes the right to see and

      In this battle, they are on the right side. And unlike whiney petitions from angry geeks, they actually have some clout, and people will listen to them.

      All in all, its a g
      • Stop putting words into my mouth. I didn't say *I* support Crime Warner or Crapcast to lockout anything.

        All I'm saying is that listening to Disney/MS/Amazon complain about innovation is more sour grapes than anything else. They wouldn't be complaining if they had the tools that they now feel threatened by. These companies are against innovation and freedom when it benefits them.

        For example, how many court fights did it take to get MS to even *accept* AOL or Compuserve installers on Windows CDs? To
    • Does anyone think for a minute that if MS owned a major cable network that they would care about innovation? The only thing they'd care about is first expanding subscribers and then slowly cranking down the subscriptions to limit them to MS Home Terminal Software users only.

      *cough* MSNBC *cough*

  • How about being your own ISP? Co-ops are a possibility. Just lease a T1 with 9 or your neighbors and share it with a WiFi. A nice little whip antenna on your roof. The cost in the long run can be made cheaper than a cable modem. The only problem is someone has to run the show and fiddle with it, and keep enough subscribers in the pool.

    Now when someone says you can't use a VPN or a Firewall, you can say take a hike. I'm the ISP-- The law is on my side.

  • Microsoft Corporation today announced the beginning of a new program, aimed at preserving OpenSource software. "It's crucial to the continued existence of a secure Internet that we have OpenSource software like Linux out there, or there would be no Internet," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told reporters.

    At the same time, a spokesman for a coalition between the RIAA and MPAA unveiled proposed legislation giving stricter penalties for bribing politicians, and, at the same time, promoting independent music. "Wi
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:08AM (#5824840) Homepage Journal
    All they want is to insure that regulation doesn't work against THEM. Just like Disney has their own channel that shows only Disney shows and doesn't run anyone else's commercials, they don't want a regulated internet that forces them to do anything.

    It's not about open anything - it's about oligopoly.
  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:13AM (#5824882) Homepage
    Let's look at the issues, shall we?

    Content providers want to make sure that the FCC doesn't do something which allows cable or telephone companies to set up rules which prohibit people from connecting to their content, which makes them revenue.

    Hardware manufacturers want to make sure that the FCC doesn't do something which allows cable or telephone companies to set up rules which prohibit people from connecting the hardware they sell to a consumer's home network.

    This isn't about the internet -- it's about the ISPs. Yes, the ISPs are connected to the internet, but this is just a peripheral thing. The FCC couldn't stop you if you signed up with a foreign company to get access over satellite, [phone calls would go through them, but this way, to avoid that part of the loop].

    As for the bit about companies prohibiting WiFi, it was probably against the TOS or AUP for the ISP.... Most residential accounts don't allow sharing of connections to multiple systems. This just means that the consumer should go with an ISP that doesn't place this restriction on their account. [I use Speakeasy, personally... and before that, I was paying more for a business class line, until CAIS went under, and the company that bought them out tried screwing me over by doubling my rates on me].

    As with anything else, you are buying a service from someone -- they might have conditions on that service, and if you violate it, they have the right to refuse you service. [ie, the 'no shoes, no shirt, no service' thing at most fast food establishments... although, why they don't require pants or some other similar covering, I have no idea].

    Part of the issue may come from downstream liability issues -- if you put up a mail server, and you don't secure it, and become a third party relay for a spammer, they might get backlisted....if you connect up an unsecured WiFi node, and someone spams through your connection, they might get blacklisted, just the same. Personally, I'm okay with the companies putting restrictions on accounts so that they can remain profitable. It keeps them from having to raise prices for everyone else... And if they can't stay competitive, I'm sure there's other folks that aren't bloated and scamming their users, and provide better service, who can do it.

    What I have issue with is the way that the ILECs aren't allowing Covad and other CLECs access to their facilities (it took multiple tries to get a damned pair of copper for when I went from SDSL to ADSL, because the CO was 'at capacity'... I'm just not buying it).
  • *checks the date*

    *sees that it's not April 1st*

    Ok, I must have drifted into a parallel universe last night while sleeping. I wasn't fatigued this morning like I normally am, my eyes are acting wonky, and monopolistic federalist companies (as I know them) are lobbying for openness and freedom.

    Anyone have this happen to them before? Any idea how I can get back?
  • Yay Amazon! Go Disney! Boooooo telecoms! I wonder who's gonna win? There's the snap... the telecoms try an end-around through state legislatures. Hollings (D-Disney) intercepts. Score!!! And the "voters" (ha-ha) go nuts!

    Game results tonight on InterVision, 6:00, all channels.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Monday April 28, 2003 @12:33PM (#5825571) Homepage Journal
    The cable-TV industry has said there's no reason to adopt such rules, because it has no intention of discriminating against Web sites or limiting new technologies.

    So, we're supposed to take their word for that, right?

    This is just one more example of why companies are completely hypocritical and can never be taken at their word. If MS,, and Walt Disney were in the position of AOL/TimeWarner, they would take *exactly* the opposite position. Worse yet, if they switched positions with AOL/TimeWarner, then they would switch to *exactly* the opposite position.

    Lessig has talked about his in "The Future of Ideas".

    None of these companies have the public interest in mind. Only *their* interest. They can make useful allies in the same sense that mercenaries make useful allies: temporary, unloyal, and certainly not trustworthy.
    • Exactly.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by bubbha ( 61990 )'s called increasing shareholder value. That and obeying the law are the only responsibility corporations have. Corporations only take the public good as a secondary objective - if they believe in some instance that it will increase shareholder value they will say thay are doing something in the public good.

      There is nothing wrong with this. We just have to remember that corporations are not people. They don't love your children and they are not obligated to "do the right thing." That's why we have mar
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @01:09PM (#5825851)
    I bet someone at Microsoft is going to get seriously FIRED for this. I am absolutely certain that this move has not been authorized by anybody with any real power over there because if it had been, I think they would be lobbying for the opposite goal.

    After all, I firmly believe that Microsoft's secret mission statement is, "To screw over the competition as well as the consumer by charging outrageous prices for value-removed products and marketing these to the extent that nobody has any choice but to suffer our wrath." I'm sure of this because two different people, who claim they don't know each other (but if you ask me, they look like identical twins and might in fact be the same person claiming to have two different names on the same day and during the same conversation) told me something like that a few years back, when I was an avid Microsoft supporter.

    Obviously, these are merely my opinions and do not represent the opinions of any person or entity, including, but not limited to, my neighbors, my employer, my friends, my family, my fourth grade teacher Miss Focker, myself, or any other person or entity.

    This post is satire and is copyright (c) 2003 by rice_burners_suck. All rights reserved, including, but not limited to, the right to read my own post, to print it out, to post it on /., to publish it in a local newspaper, or any other right, now known or later developed.

  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @01:10PM (#5825860) Homepage
    I just got done reading Lawrence Lessig's "The Future of Ideas." It explains pretty well what's going on right here.

    Back when AT&T had a monopoly on both the phone lines and the devices that could and could not connect to them, there was nothing in the way of innovation. The network grew and evolved precisely the way AT&T desired, and everyone just assumed that they knew how best to evolve the network because they were the phone company for god's sake.

    Then a few people on the inside came up with the idea that stupid, packet-switched networks would be much more efficient than "intelligent," connection-based networks. The intelligence built into each point of the system actually turned the whole into a rigid, inflexible system where a change in the operation at one point could cause unwanted effects throughout. The packet-switched network, on the other hand, would be robust and flexible because it was simple. Like today's (ideal) Internet, all the intelligence would be built into the systems at the "edge" of the network.

    The Powers That Were recognized that this would be a better system. They also recognized that the system was more difficult to control. By building a packet-switched network, they would be creating their own biggest competitor.

    Eventually, people started recognizing that AT&T was making decisions based on what was best for AT&T, not for the customers or the network. One of the critical points Lessig made was that, because nobody could install a new device onto the phone network without AT&T's express permission, nobody but AT&T bothered to research such devices. One of the saddest examples in the book was the lawsuit AT&T brought against a small company. It's only product was a small plastic clip that you could hook onto the handset to muffle ambient noise. However, it was being attached to AT&T's phone, and therefore was an illegal device that could not be installed on its network.

    So when the monopoly was broken up, the scope of the phone company was limited. Customers were allowed to add whatever devices wouldn't disrupt the network for other users (think modems), and strict limits were placed on what the company could do. For example, they couldn't charge more for a call to an ISP than to a regular customer. So in a sense, the AT&T breakup is what allowed the Internet to overlay itself on top of the phone system.

    The advantages of an open, equal-access Internet are obvious to everyone who doesn't own telecommunications infrastructure. Those companies are committing themselves to passing legislation like the new "Super DMCA" so that they can have absolute control over the networks they build out.

    There are advantages to this, of course. Such regulations make it more likely that the money they invest in new infrastructure will return a good profit. Without that incentive, there is a lot of cable that would never be laid. On the other hand, when a programmer comes up with a really powerful new use for the Internet, companies which own the wires want to have veto power over that new innovation. If it doesn't serve their interests, they don't want to have to carry it. This ends up stifling overall innovation.

    There are huge disadvantages to a truly stupid network, where no packet is ever analyzed and every spam has a clear path to your inbox. But even greater problems are inherent in a tightly controlled network where all things not forbidden are compulsory. But most of the problems of a free network can be limited by reworking the protocols used on the edge of the network. But if a cable Internet provider decides to limit you to ten minutes a month of streaming video so that you'll have an incentive to buy their TV package, there's nothing you can do short of switching providers.

    As the AT&T breakup shows, regulation doesn't necessarily stifle innovation, and can actually help it to flourish. I'm fully in favor of limiting the sort of restric
  • I don't believe them for a minute. I think they're just trying to get on the inside, to shape the eventual regulations. Having done that, they'll be the ones doing it. I bet that's what they're using their legal and lobby muscle for right now.
  • by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Monday April 28, 2003 @02:12PM (#5826476)
    but isn't the Internet designed to route around this kind of stuff? I mean, if the FCC were to, someday in the future, try to "fundamentally alter the Internet", wouldn't folks just pull out the back up copies of today's Internet, and ignore what the FCC was trying to do? I once read a great quote about the Internet, which basically stated that "the Interenet interprets censorship as damage; and routes around it." It seems to me like neither the FCC nor the companies listed can do anything to fundamentally alter the Internet...

    The network owners could also limit the types of devices that could be connected to their network, potentially stifling innovation.

    Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound like the Internet protocol that I know and love... I liken this situation to the start-up of AOL-like companies... lot's of people might describe the service as "internet-like", or the company as an "Interenet service provider"; however, it's not the Internet if it's running a proprietary protocol and doesn't use TCP/IP. Obviously, there are more details involved, but it seems like this article is a bit of hyperbole and sensationalism...
    • > "the Interenet interprets censorship as damage;
      > and routes around it."

      Yep. So you could end up with the Internet routing around the whole of the United States. Which means the Internet is fine, but not for those in the US.

      Routing around damage only works if multiple routes are available; for a typical home user that is currently not the case.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer