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United States

Internet Freedom Act 191

JoeyLemur writes "Surprised no one picked this up (then again, I'm probably the only one who browses Congressional records...) -- Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia introduced H.R. 1686 to the House of Representatives on May 5th. The full scoop can be read here. -- This bill, amongst other items, removes the FCC from regulating the Internet, preventing the forcing of broadband customers from buying Internet access from the broadband provider, and making it a Federal crime to "knowingly use another person's Internet e-mail address, or "domain name," to send unsolicited mass e-mails." -- Sounds good, if you ask me. Write your congressperson to support this. " (Insert "I Am Not A Lawyer Clause" here). Anyone good at reading legal documents want to take a stab at this? Is it as good as it looks?
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Internet Freedom Act

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    First I'm no lawyer.

    It seems to only forbid spam that falsifies some header, if the sender includes a legal from address it is probably legal (?)

    ``(13) the term ?Internet? means all computer and telecommunications facilities, including equipment and operating
    software, which comprise the interconnected network of networks that employ the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or any
    predecessor or successor protocols to such protocol, to communicate information of all kinds by wire or radio.''

    This means Spam over SNA or OSI is ok? (spam
    is defined only for the internet)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just reading the summary, a lot of it looks great...

    As someone who has attempted to follow the problems with the Bells, local phone access, etc, the part about allowing the local phone companies access raises a few flags for me.

    I know there were problems before with local phone companies controlling too much, and then being controlled by the gov to much... I admit I'm probably screwing something up here or not remembering/understanding something.

    How does this bit about allowing local phone companies into the broadband biz fit into this? If at all (I could be screwing this up)?

    (the beginning of the general summary at the link above has info on this)

    BTW, props to the gov to get this kind of info online! I know they're supposed to and all, but it's still great to have this kind of information soo readily available!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, this would criminalize my super-duper-anonymizer firewall. Wow, I'm concerned... NOT.

    I'm not from the States. This mean we can do whatever we want. And what if somebody sent 128-bit-SSL'ed PGP-encrypted anti-traffic-analysis stuffed-with-extra-random-noise email to an anonymizer to a non-Wessanaar place, and _that_ place anonymizes the email - hell, how in the fscking world would they prove it was an email and not web browsing? And _I_ didn't conceal the headers - the anonymizer did. Even if I were from the States.

    So, what could we do? First, EFF+First ammendment (the oldest anti-law US trick). Second, civil desobedience. Third, use encrypted email for everything, and encrypt all the links. This would make the law unenforceable.

    Geez, I _love_ not being from the States sometimes...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Compared to many other reps, Microsoft doesn't
    >sink that much money into the guy.

    let's see: $2000 in a mere seven months?
    what in tarnation are they contributing to the "other reps"?

    ...they should have passed the anti campaign contributions legislation. then the legislative process would be more focused on consumer/voter needs, not on hiding the big business influences behind a lot of legal jabber.
    anyone who doesnt see how big money has already diluted american democracy is a fool.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >As to it being too broad, if you read the text of
    >the bill you will find that the law specifically
    >requires that the purpose of the transmission is
    >"bulk unsolicited e-mail" for it to apply.

    Programs like remailers, and things like IP spoofing and IP masquerade are designed SPECIFICALLY to affect ALL traffic to which they're applied. Since they can be used for spam, they are probably covered. Do you trust law enforcement and the courts enough to decide on their legality FOR you? Remember, encryption is a MUNITION.

    Under this law, you couldn't send out bulk anonymous e-mail of ANY kind (not just commercial). So, for example, you couldn't get a political mailing list and anonymously e-mail everyone on why this particular bill isn't a good idea. I think that conflicts with free speech.

    >I consider spam to be theft. Would you say "I
    >dislike theft ... but government regulation isn't
    >going to help"?

    The point is, the Internet is something quite different, and allowing the government to impinge upon your online freedoms isn't going to help anything.

    This law doesn't prevent theft, it's more like "burglary is illegal; all theft must be face-to-face, and no ski masks allowed (so we can see who you are)."

    In other words, useless.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you're going to write to Goodlatte about the
    spam provisions, consider replacing the current
    (nearly unenforceable) proposed provisions with
    a law against open SMTP relays. (I.E., require
    that a contractual or authenticable relationship
    exist with at least one of the parties between
    which you are relaying.) This would attenuate
    spam levels "into the noise" while providing
    unambiguous enforceability. (Anonymous remailers
    do use hop-by-hop crypto nowadays; no problem.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It sounds great, but...

    Neither a Bell operating company, nor any affiliate of a Bell operating company, may provide ... two-way voice-only interLATA telecommunications services originating in any of its in-region States until such time as the Federal Communications Commission approves the application of such company for such

    Why would the Sen. stick some voice-only prohibitive clause at the END of the bill? Can you say special interest group?

    Not that this is a reason not to approve the other points, but DAMMIT he's mixing his purposes or construing the ostensible one.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're right, they do seem to get alot of contributions from phone companies and cable companies.

    It seems to me that the government agency that needs to be banned from regulating the internet is Congress and not the FCC. Anybody still remember the CDA ? We needed another government agency known as the Supreme Court to save the internet from that one.

    The reason telephone companies don't offer DSL in rural areas is that the signal can't travel more than a few miles. Do these congressdudes think lightening the regulatory burden on telcos changes the laws of physics ?

    It looks like I'm going to have to do a review of that Telecommunications Act again. Off the top of my head, the FCC has generally been incredibly cool about the internet as I recollect from Boardwatch interviews with their commisioners. The Telecommunications Act was so twisted around by all the special interests that by the time it was enacted it actually made it easier for monopolies to grow by removing restrictions on how many local stations the big broadcaster could buy.

    Yes, the devil is in the details...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AOL isn't in this guy's district- his district is the Shenandoah Valley, an area of great scenic beauty (I've been hiking there, and I recommend it highly) about two and a half hour's drive southwest of the Washington suburb where AOL is. I'm sure that voters in his district strongly affiliate against that area (thus explaining, to some extent, why their member in Congress is a very conservative Republican). Looking at his PAC contributions list, though, his financial support is firmly nationalized. Somewhere in that list of campaign contributions that was posted earlier is probably the real reason for this bill.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Send your letter by plain postal mail, in ink on a dead tree, with a stamp on the outside. It will be worth more that way.

    If your thoughts aren't worth the effort to actually spend less than a dollar and walk to a mailbox, you should expect your elected representative to take that into account.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What prevents us from creating, say, let's call it Xnet, by running wires from one person's house to another and, to cross larger distances, laser/IR beans, tunneling, or even plain radio? What prevents us to create that based on all the RFC'ed knowledge we have, modified slightly to provide for built-in oportunistic encryption, signatures, noise adding to prevent traffic analysis and encrypted loose source-routing to provide for almost-perfect anonimity? What prevents us to use some ammendment that says that "it's our house" to protect it?

    I think we should stop thinking about a 'geek-only country' and provide a 'geek-only network' with all the freedom of ITS and the old days of phone routing/warez boards, plus all the current crypto technology.

    I would love to be able to 'dial in' (in fact Xnet-telnet in) to some random box and use his processing power, while at the same time allowing people to use mine. I would love to share all the bits of info I want with people without any stupid government stepping on my toes and MIB'ing me. And I would love to be able to do it in the 'old hacker ways': no commercialization, full access, and community government (with the help of good forums slashdot-like).

    Then we add tunneling of IP on top of it (with some fancy protocol to let the host cooperate with the NAT), tunneling of it on top of UDP or IP, and let conscious people set up gateways. We use a random address generator to create addresses on the fly (this would need software that won't crash if two hosts have the same address).

    This bill would do nothing to such a net. It's not the Internet - it would not use TCP/IP, unless for gatewaying, and one can gateway email and proxy the web too.

    Sorry if this is offtopic. But I couldn't help thinking about it when I read this /. article.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The reason to mail it is that it may actually wind up on your Representative's desk. Most Representatives are old or have been away from the academic and business worlds where people now use e-mail all the time. A "Rep" considers himself too busy too deal with computers and let's the lowest staff people deal with e-mail. Many Reps do read an occaisional hand written letter from people who live in their district.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's the government's JOB to protect our surplus of crops. The subsidies, however, cause what is called a "price floor", or inflated minimum price. (I.e., milk.) People buy less milk as a result, causing surpluses. The surplus is passed over to welfare (hence the term "government cheese"). We need surpluses in case of disaster.

    We do not need subsidies for banks, and all the other secondary industries sucking off the gubbymint tit. We may or may not need subsidies for infrastructure, but these companies should be expected to give back in return when subsidized. There should also be an expiration time - kind of like a bird being thrown out of the nest and told to fly on its own.

    The initial cost of infrastructural industries (roads, airlines [in the past], the internet [in the past], etc.) makes it impossible for customers to access them and turn an "in the black" profit at the same time. For some industries they'll never get off the ground without subsidies, and thus the US will be left behind other countries. It's as simple as that - do you want to be as technologically competent or do you not? When the customers make too little to pay enough to support the emerging infrastructure, you either subsidize or let the country sink into a third world status.

    The US subsidized the Internet for a long time and it was upon that horse that we DESTROYED the advantage of the Japanese electronics industry! Does ANYONE remember when the Japanese were known for their cute radios and videogame gadgets and were tearing us a new butthole in that industry? I guess we don't, since we nullified that with the emerging Internet industry, in which home computers now do just about everything those gadgets used to. (Even if all the components come from international sources :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 1999 @08:00PM (#1890455)
    This bill essentially attempts to fill gaps in the Telecommunication's Act of 1996 with regard to the Internet. The bill is also a rehash of the ongoing battle between the local baby Bells (e.g., Bell Atlantic) and the major long distance phone companies (e.g., AT&T). Companies like AT&T "control" the major cross-country telecommunication infrastructure, while the baby Bells control the local infrastructure. In terms of the Internet, companies like AT&T need access to the homes; that is why AT&T is pursuing cable access. Conversely, the baby Bells are consolidating (e.g., Bell Atlantic & NYNEX); what they need is unfettered nationwide telecom capabilities (hence Bell Atlantic attempted merger with GTE).

    Baby Bells will provide broad-band access using DSL. AT&T and other long-distance carriers will provide broad-band access via cable TV companies (cable modems).

    I believe that this bill benefits the interests of the baby Bells.

    But the big problem is not with the FCC, but with the bozos who put together the Telecommunication's Act of 1996. For instance, the word Internet appears in only two sections of the Act with all but one occurence being in the section concerning the screening and transmission of offensive material. Hello, Congress? Maybe the 1996 Act could have contain more stuff about the internet? It was around back then, IIRC.

    Additionally, the FCC has had to deal with the courts. The most critical issue concerned calls to one's ISP; was this a local or long distance call? A high court ruling said long distance call, hence the FCC was then "granted" jurisdiction. It is not clear how this bill that minimizes the role of the FCC in internet issues, squares with the court ruling that says that this is a long-distance call issue (which the FCC controls).

    This is not to say the FCC has not screwed up. However, Congress tends to pass laws that look good on paper but are difficult to implement. For instance, the Universal Service clause within the 1996 Act forced the long-distance companies to upgrade their capabilities to rural areas and to schools. Okay, who pays for this? (Answer: those that live in urban areas).

    Note: I'm not blaming Goodlatte; at least he seems to have a clue. But check out the list of ppl of the Congressional Internet Caucus link []. Strom Thurmond?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:06PM (#1890456)
    This sounds like a good bill. Mr. Goodlatte is from Virginia and AOL is in Virginia. The anti-spam provision is a good thing (for AOL, and for most of us). But Mr. Goodlatte has also supported some really bad and unpopular legislation designed solely to benefit his corporate contributors. Some things scare me about Mr. Goodlatte. Please check out DLATTE,$ROBERT$W98 []. This is the FEC report for Mr. Goodlatte. Please note carefully that Microsoft, the richest company in the world, is a big contributer to Mr. Goodlatte. I am very concerned that companies like Microsoft are turning otherwise good people into puppets who do what they are told. I think that Mr. Goodlatte can turn down the money from Microsoft and still be a good legislator. I just wish he would do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:17PM (#1890457)
    I don't see how government regulation is going to help. Getting rid of FCC regulation is good, but making it a FEDERAL CRIME to use someone else's e-mail address or domain name when spamming -- this is really pointless. Most spammers use either completely fake addresses, or an actual one where they can be contacted (most are trying to make money from you, after all).

    However, in the section-by-section summary, it doesn't say anything about using someone ELSE'S address -- just something that "falsely identifies the source or routing information". This is a VERY broad prohibition.

    Furthermore, it also criminalizes "the intentional sale or distribution of any computer program designed to conceal the source or routing information of such E-mail."

    This basically criminalizes IP masquerade, anonymous remailers, and IP address spoofers (all of which have legitimate uses).

    They can also toss you in jail if any of this results in "damage" to a "protected computer".
    Just whose definition of "damage" are they going to use?

    This is NOT going to prevent spam, and just adds a useless law to the books which is going to make a federal criminal out of some unsuspecting person. It doesn't have to be commercial, just unsolicited. And you're still going to get plenty of spam from people not spoofing the source.

    I dislike spam as much as the next person, but government regulation isn't going to help.

    After all, once they start regulating one thing... it'll be another and another and another, until at some point, years from now, you'll be wondering what happened to that wonderful freedom you used to have.
  • It would also be illegal to send out written notes pretending you're him telling people to go home early. It's called forgery. Why should email be different?

  • People in other countries don't have elections?

    The message you responeded to did not have ANY country specific references in it. He may have intended it to mean American voters, but it can be applied equally well to voters in New Zeland. Quit yer whining and get back to coding.

  • by mosch ( 204 )
    While cable has spiraled up in some areas, I really suggest as an alternative. No, it's not going to offer cable modem, but when compared to my local cable service it offered more channels, better picture and sound for the same price. easy decision.

  • He's a good guy. His district includes several colleges: James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University (where I went), and Bridgewater College. All have plenty of computer people.

    AFAIK, his district does NOT include Dulles and the DC suburbs, but maybe I'm wrong.
  • Except the rights of the people who invested billions to build broadband fiber networks.
  • Maybe the government should force you to rent out space in your garage and basement to all comers. After all, you'll still be able to get the full value of out your house. People should have the choice of where they store their stuff after all. The fact that you bought and paid for your house is meaningless. At least that's what you seem to think about broadband networks.
  • I'm specifically referring to cable TV lines. AOL attempted to force AT&T to resell unbundled network elements from the cable TV facilities as a condition of the TCI takeover. The phone company situation is quite different and I outline some of the differences between phone and cable in another reply on this topic.
  • Cable companies pay to use those rights of way. Typically they pay franchise fees and also give several free channels on their system to the local government/community.

    Lots of businesses use public ROW. In fact, anybody who leaves their own property uses it. That doesn't entitle the government to strip people of their private property rights just because someone uses public ROW. Instead, we are charged for the public ROW we use.

  • First, you are wrong. The whole point of DSL is that is uses the existing copper plant. That's the expensive part to replace.

    As I posted elsewhere, phone companies are also fighting the pure resale model for DSL. Additionally, phone companies are getting something in return for offering unbundled resale of network elements, namely entrance into the long distance market from which they were previously barred. The cable companies would get nothing in return for opening up their networks. But AOL would sure get a huge boost.
  • Another thing I forgot: cable companies don't have locally granted monopolies. In most cases the local government is free to award additional franchises and many of them has. Ameritech (the phone company) brags that it has nabbed well over 100 cable franchises where it plans to compete against the incumbent cable operator.
  • Some of the laws regarding pure resale in the telphone business might not be so great either.

    As I've pointed out elsewhere, the phone companies are fighting total service resale of DSL and just might win that regulatory battle. Unbundled network element access is part of a quid pro quo whereby the RBOC's are compensated for the opening of their network through entry into the long distance market and the removal of price cap/profit regulation once the market is competitive. AOL wants the cable companies to open their networks and get absolutely nothing in return for it.

    Also, cable companies have to basically replace their entire cable plant in order to offer digital broadband services. Phone companies don't have to re-wire the neighborhood. All they have to do is invest in new CO equipment that is largely success based. That is, they purchase DSL CO equipment as they need it due to customer demand. There is much less stranded capital risk for the phone companies.
  • Unfortunately, most agricultural subsidies are designed to keep prices high, not low! Paying farmers not to plant, setting production quotas, government price supports (wanna buy some cheese?), import restrictions, ethanol programs, etc all are an attempt by the government to keep food prices high in order to subsidize farmers. They are not designed to benefit the poor.

    I encourage you to take a look at a signle agricultural product and look at all the government subsidies and rules about it. You will be shocked. I suggest looking at milk. Not only is is a staple product for most people, the regulations and price fixing on it are particularly outrageous.
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <> on Saturday May 15, 1999 @05:31PM (#1890470) Homepage
    If you don't like the cable company, but a satellite dish. You've got choices.

    Rural subsidy programs are a sham. I live in the city and nobody subsidizes my supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. People make a choice to live in rural areas. As with any choice, there are tradeoffs to be made. In the country you get wide open spaces, no traffic congestion, cleaner air, etc. But you also have a hour school bus rides. People in rural areas want to pocket the benefits for themselves and get people in the city to pick up the tab to reduce the costs. And yes, I lived in the country for 18 years, so I know what I'm talking about.
  • There is a difference between telephone and cable. Telephone lines are used to connect to private parties. You can dial anybody. That's the service that is provided. So when you dial an ISP you are making use of the service in the way it was intended and sold to be used. Cable TV was never about connecting to anyone but the cable company.

    As for DSL, there are two different scenarios. One is where a company like Covad or Rythmns leases an unbundled loop to your house. This is the pair of copper wires running from the CO to the demarc at your house. These companies are colocated at the CO and after the unbundled loop is cross-connected to their equipment, they are responsible for all aspects of service provision. Thus the major cost of service provision is borne by the DSL provider, not the local phone monopoly. The phone monopoly is only reselling the local loop (which is probably already fully depreciated on their books) and some space in the CO. This rental is mandated by the Telecom Act. However, there is a quid pro quo involved. The local phone monopolies are being allowed into the long distance business and other businesses from which they were barred under the 1984 consent decree in return for opening their markets in this way. It might not be the best way to go about opening markets, but at least the phone companies are getting something for something. AOL wants the cable TV companies to resell services without getting anything back in return.

    The second part of DSL is where someone is doing a straight resale arrangement of the DSL service provided by the local phone company itself. Interestingly, the local phone companies, like the cable companies, are seeking regulatory relief from being forced to resell this service. They also claim it is unfair for others to piggyback on their investment. The FCC has broad authority under the Telecom Act to promote the deployment of high speed data services could easily allow the local phone companies to also be exempt from a "pure resale" requirement on DSL, perhaps so long as it was part of a separate subsidiary.
  • I outline some of the differences between cable and telephone in another post in this topic, so I won't repeat myself here. But I will add some addtional explanation.

    1). The cable companies paid for their infrastructure. They own it and it is not right for us to demand access to it in any manner we chose.

    2). The cable companies basically have to replace most of that infrastructure in order to provision broadband services. This is a huge multi-billion gamble. It could be that DSL or satellite or wireless or whatever makes their investment not worth much. A lot of the technology they are counting on is relatively young and untested. It would not be fair to let AOL hop on the cable bandwagon if cable broadband is a huge hit, but be able to sit on the sidelines and leave AT&T holding the bad if it bombs. If AOL is so convinced this is important, let them forge a joint venture with AT&T and invest a few bil of their own in rebuilding the infrastructure. Microsoft put $5 billion of their money where they mouth was. Let's see AOL do the same.

    3). Big companies like AOL don't need government handouts. They can take care of themselves.
  • The bill is a major giveaway to AOL, which is already America's biggest and most powerful ISP. The entire purpose of the bill is to force the cable companies to sell AOL bandwidth at cut rate prices.

    AOL's market value is tens of billions. If they want broadband access so bad, let them build their own networks. They could easily raise the money to do it.
  • This appears to something being done on behalf of AOL, which is headquartered in Dulles, Virginia. AOL is very worried about the trend of bandwidth providers, the cable companies and the phone companies, becoming access and content providers as well.

  • Perhaps this is just a reflection of my own disillusionment with politics, but I would bet that most geeks don't vote, especially in off-year elections. We're a busy group, and the busier you are, the less likely you are to vote.

    Interesting idea for a Slashdot poll: The last year I voted was

    (a) 1998
    (b) 1997
    (c) 1996
    (d) 1995
    (e) 1994
    (f) 1993
    (g) 1992
    (h) I've never voted
    (i) I'm not eligible to vote
  • Posted by Tom Cleghorn:

    I just wish something could be done to limit spammers globally. So fine, there's this wonderful new law in the States that says you have to include a means for the spam-ee to request the removal of his address from your list, but this doesn't really help those of us in the UK who end up on US lists. I should probably also point out that I can't ever remember getting spam pertinent to British residents (and yes, I do skim through them - if only to satisfy a primal urge to know that people really are that stupid). More often than not, the end of a spam mail tells me to call some US phone number to get my email address removed - so not only is the mail totally wasted on me, but it would probably cost me in excess of a tenner to get my address removed. Personally, I have to admit to having no idea how one might go about making spam illegal over here, or preventing UK addresses from ending up on US lists. I'd love it if someone could suggest something though.
  • Most of those subsidy programs were not intended for people just living on the coutry side. They were intended for farmers, and farming families. Loopholes allow others to get in on the savings they don't need. The operating costs of a midsized family farm are enormous. Rural subsidy programs are needed for for those that work the land, not those that just live on it.
  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    Why should I have to use up paper and quite a bit more time just to send a snailmail letter rather than email? Either my opinion is valid and valuable or it isn't. Whether I have to kill a tree to get it to my congresscritter or not shouldn't have anything to do with the value of my opinion. If they believe that it does, then they are the ones who need to catch up with the rest of us.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    Ahhh....... so by deliberately writing my exact same opinion in a slower and more difficult manner, it somehow becomes more valuable? You must be some kind of genius. Why hasn't everyone else figured this out? Perhaps companies should start doing everything by hand again. Screw the computers. If this spreadsheet is really worth doing, it's worth spending a week or two to do it by hand. That should jack profits up through the roof! Go away... you annoy me.

  • At least you gave a reasonable argument, unlike the other person who responded to my post. I think you're probably right about this, but I don't understand why they wouldn't just print out any email that seemed to be worth reading and give it to the rep. Either way, it's still them that need to catch up with the rest of the world. I think it just goes to show that these idiots aren't worth voting for. They don't care squat for my opinion, or anyone else's opinion if it is emailed to them, apparently. Why should I waste my vote on that person? I wish I had better candidates to vote for.

  • Right on brother. I live in Tallahassee as well, and I'm finally going to get a cable modem in June. How much will it cost? $250 a month. Whee. I still have cable TV service, but it costs an unimaginable amount of money compared to 1987. Don't you just love this wonderful new freedom?

  • There seems to be this global misconception
    among American politician's, that the Internet can
    be regulated. Now, personally, anything that does
    away with spam is fine by me, but a law that is
    completely unenforceable does nothing to create
    confidence in me.

    Point being. The Internet is not a 'thing' it's a
    bunch of things. To regulate an international
    network of machines would be like trying to
    regulate every person on the planet. And I've seen
    that the governments have a little trouble with
    one rogue individual, I doubt they'd have much
    luck with one user, anonymously, behind a computer.

    You're spitting into the wind, America.
  • Oh grow up. Practically every crime in English legal systems is composed of an action and an intention (or recklessness, or knowledge - at any rate, SOME mental element). Saying "you can't use intent as a clause in law" is absurd to the point of puerility.

    Impressive paranoia, BTW. Have you considered becoming a legislator?

  • Those broadband fiber network people will still recoup their investment. Sure, they might have to charge a small amount more than they would have for the broadband itself, but it leaves the option over for us to select our ISP. And with the recent partnerships between AT&T, TCI, and Microsoft, this is VERY important. How would you like to be FORCED to use a Microsoft product in order to get cheap broadband access? I know I wouldn't like it at all...
  • At first blush, it's a windfall for the local telcos, allowing them into the local internet business without FCC regulation. Other ISPs, if they felt the local telco was undertaking unfair practices, could sue, and presumably, long after the local ISP went out of business, their creditors could collect. It would probably also gut the existing voice services as a side effect.

  • A quick check of Project Vote Smart [] reveals that local telcos are one of Rep Goodlatte's two biggest campaign contributors. Any questions?

    The bill will only outlaw spam with a forged return address and will probably allow the local telcos to take over the long-distance voice market without any regulation as well. Let's give this thing thing the treatment it deserves!

  • This is the Baby Bell's bill. It changes the requirements taking action against monopolistic practices from writing a letter to the FCC to either filing a lawsuit, or getting the Department of Justice--not well informed in communications law--to bring charges.

  • I couldn't have put it better myself.

    I've personally experienced this behavior- GTE operates the central office for DFW International Airport; there is no plans for DSL service for that area (even if I have several customers, some already there, some potential) that could use the service. They want you to use the T1 scheme of things- because it makes loads more money.
  • 790K bidirectional (which is one of the services that GTE offers with ADSL is half of a T1. They stand to lose lots of $$$ on the fractional T1 market with xDSL offerings.
  • I must remember not to move back to Tally if I can at all avoid it. Yeesh. No DSL yet either, huh?
  • 1). The cable companies paid for their infrastructure. They own it and it is not right for us to demand access to it in any manner we chose.

    They may have paid for the wires but those wires are mostly on public property. The cable companies are granted a monopoly by regional governments. This arrangement should serve the public interest, period.

  • what I advocate is that those agreements should serve the public interest. It is my opinion that the public interest would be best served if those franchises were not used to eliminate ISP competition.
  • I currently commute from Silver Spring to Arlington and it's always a bitch! I'm hoping to land a job either in Beltsville or Rockville -- a WHOLE LOT closer.
  • I'm not sure if I get you here. If you mean people who invested in backbone, they may face more competition from regional phone companies, but I don't see any rights infringed.

    If you mean local loop (which is typically copper, not fiber), the bill opens these to competitive use, which may harm some investments, and forbids bundling of ISP and local loop, which is basic anti-trust.

    For metro fiber networks, I don't think these will be affected. The law specifically targets "incumbent local telephone companies", by which I assume they mean baby bells and other traditional phone monopolies.

    The one thing I'd like to see is a prohibition on device-ISP bundling. For instance WebTV uses a proprietary dial-in, which turns a potentially useful device into a slow, expensive, and inflexible mess. This practice may already be illegal under the Sherman Act; does anyone know more about this?

  • Yes, it took me while, but I figured it out:

    The bill "unbundles" local loop and ISP services, but in one direction only. It forbids local loop carriers from choosing the ISP's they connect to, but it allows the opposite direction: ISP's can pick their local loop carriers.

    So AOL chooses its preferred broadband company, giving them exclusive access if it wants, and other broadband providers are shut out.

    Real unbundling would allow the customer to pick any ISP and any broadband. That's what the bill *sounds* like, but you have to watch out.

  • I think I see the source of the confusion. This bill mixes a bunch of things which are separate, but sound awful if mixed together.

    Here's a more detailed breakdown:

    Section 101: Local phone co.'s (only) have to open their local loops to broadband transport providers, even if they don't want to provide broadband themselves. That basically means the public phone lines are available to whoever can deliver ADSL on them.

    Section 102: Broadband local loop can't choose your ISP. That's antitrust, but note that there's nothing about whether an ISP can choose which broadband you use - it's asymmetric.

    Section 103: An ISP can *sue* a broadband transport provider if it's getting shut out as per Section 101. (HOWEVER there's no reciprocal provision, that a broadband transport provider can sue an ISP for disallowing access. So AOL can pick its broadband transport provider(s), and tell all others to get lost. Hmm...Interesting)

    Section 104: Anti-spam having nothing to do with broadband, etc.
  • I'm not sure if I agree with Mr. Renn about all this, but I can see AOL's hand in this law.

    Section 102 doesn't *completely* forbid bundling of broadband and ISP. It forbids broadband local loopers from choosing the ISP, but the ISP *can choose its broadband*. So AOL can pick and choose between cable and phone, and if some schmoe comes up with a jazillion megabit, cheap local loop service, AOL can say "sorry, we want TCI to be our local loop" and shut him out. In fact I think AOL could charge the local loop carrier for exclusive rights.

    It would be MUCH better if Section 102 made the unbundling complete, so that neither side could choose. For now it just sounds like unbundling.

  • But if your ISP doesn't choose to support cable, the bill won't help you. See above for my posts on this. The bill is asymmetric; it allows ISP's to choose, but broadband has to service all comers. It's not unbundling in the pure sense.

  • Mr. Renn thinks ISP and local loop should be bundlable. I think they should be as unbundled as possible, but the current law doesn't go far enough.

    Example: I have a pacbell ADSL line for $40/mo. My ISP is, for $10/mo. If Covad, for instance, gets its ADSL price down to $30/mo., I would like to be able to switch to Covad ADSL + pacbell ISP. However I'm not sure if wants to support Covad. Does this law help me? NO.

    Under the law, is still allowed to deny me access from a different ADSL or cable provider, because the law only specifies half of the unbundling - ISP's are still allowed to pick which broadband partners they like. The consumer should be able to say "I have broadband, now I want ISP X" and get connected. The current law doesn't do that.
  • Nothing prevents it in reality, although in theory there will be bylaws in some places that prevent people communicatingfreely electronically with their neighbours because the local PTT has the monopoly on residential wiring.

    The main problem is inertia and lack of technical knowhow. However, this can certainly be overcome if there is a techie group in each neighbourhood that takes it on as a project for the local community.
  • by luge ( 4808 ) <> on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:13PM (#1890503) Homepage
    While this does look like a Good Thing(tm), the motivations behind it are not pure, and thus the details really ought to get a lot of scrutiny.
    The question others have asked ("are there lots of geeks in virginia?") is not the right question.

    The question must be "are there rich, corporate geeks in Virginia?" The answer is yes- AOL. Under the terms of the bill, AOL gets a lot of benefits. The bill makes sure that it has full access to cable modems- who is going to pay for an ISP and AOL? It passes the buck on spam problems, making it the responsibility of the District Attorney instead of their tech staff (AOL just fired 1/2 their anti-spam staff. Coincidence?) Those are just the obvious benefits to AOL- I'm sure there are others to be found in a more detailed reading of the bill.

    The bill does serve some important functions- but the devil is in the details. And if this is AOL's bill (which I'd guess it is) then the details are likely to favor AOL and not us.
  • It's actually more up to the senator. He may have been elected because of his views on technology, but probably he just has support for other issues, was elected, and thought that his constituants wouldn't be opposed to this and it was a good idea. Besides, although I don't really KNOW, I'd bet most geeks vote, and when the US has about 20% of eligable voters actually voting on non-presidential election years, then appealing to voters would be a good idea. Tim
  • And you don't e-mail your SENATORS, you contact your REPRESENTATIVE. This is a House Bill, not a Senate bill.


  • I like this idea.. but how do we prove that a spammer sent out more than 10 copies of the E-mail?

  • Surely it only criminalises use of IP
    masq and friends when the intent of such use
    is the facilitation of the act of sending
    mass unsolicited email, and not in other
  • It doesn't criminalise your anonymiser firewall
    unless your anonymiser firewall is primarily
    for spam, which presumably it isn't.
  • It's not just an American thing, it's a politican thing generally - They're trying to pass regulate the internet here, too (in australia). I find it ironic that they're trying when they have even less hope than the US :). Of course, the great firewall of china aparently does work, so............
  • I want to choose my ISP independently from the access provider. I want the Baby Bell to be so scared that I can switch to cable while keeping my ISP that they have to provide decent service. And I want the cable company to know exactly the same thing. I want competition and choice!

    We have an incredible mess right now trying to separate the local telephone monopolies so that we can have local competition. I would MUCH rather go thru the screaming from AT&T right now than later. It is absolutely disgusting that the local phone companies are being dragged into competition while the local cable companies get away with an unnatural monopoly.

    Yes, I am aware that if I don't like the cable companies' business practices, I can look elsewhere. But why should one form of access, the phone company, have to divorce wires from net access, while the cable companies don't? Why should I be forced to bundle ISP with access one way and not the other?

  • All this does is apply fraud rules to email. I'd bet a paycheck that using someone else's return address on snail mail is fraudulent. Why should email be any different? All this does is say you can't fake your email headers.

    Sounds damned good to me.

  • Suppose you had sent that email on company letterhead using the company's postage meter? Is that too scary for you?

  • No one has ever suggested stealing the cable compabies' investment. All I have ever seen requires them to wholesale their access.

    They charge $x whether you use their ISP or not. I say split it up; charge $y for the cable modem and $z for the ISP, where $x = $y + $z.

    Competition, I think it's called. Choice, Freedom. Phone companies are being fiorced into it right now. Why should cable companies be any different?

  • You concentrate on AOL. This isn't about AOL vs cable, this is about cable and phone on an equal unbundling basis, and all ISPs, not just AOL.

    1. The cable companies paid for their infrastructure -- and phone companies didn't?

    2. The cable companies basically have to replace most of that infrastructure in order to provision broadband services -- And so do the phone companies for DSL.

    3. Big companies like AOL don't need government handouts

    AOL isn't getting a handout, they are not given free access to the cable. This applies to all ISPs, not just AOL. And if ISP choice is independent of phone company when using a phone, why shouldn't ISP choice be independent of cable company when using cable?

    If unbundling is good for phone company competition, why isn't it also good for vable companies?

  • I can't get DSL where I am because it's too far from the central office (and I don't live out in the boonies).

    DSL bandwidth also drops off as the distance from the C.O. increases, very rapidly.

    And if no upgrades were necessary, why do the phone companies whine so much about recovering the cost?

  • Local phone companies are being forced to compete in local business; they are splitting access from service. Why should cable companies get a monopoly and not phone companies?

    I want to choose media and ISP separately. When the cable company combines ISP and cable access, you have lost freedom. Cable companies have disconnected service for people running ftp or web servers on their home comnputers. Some of them have content filters. Do you really like this monopoly?

    I want the cable AND phone compabies, and wireless to come, scared that I will switch access media if I don't like their service. I want them to know that I can switch media access without having to change my email address and ISP.

    I want them scared by competition into giving good service!

  • Phone companies want to milk the expensive T-1 business for all it's worth. They are EXTREMELY reluctant to sell you a $100/month DSL line when a $1000/month T-1 would generate so much more revenue.

    They only roll out DSL where cable modems are threatened. They DO NOT WANT businesses to convert T-1 lines into DSL lines for a tenth the cost.

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @06:03PM (#1890519)
    Cynic that I am, I am amazed that such a simple, efficient, common sense bill can be introduced.

    1. AT&T will scream bloody murder about losing their monopoly of tying access and ISP together; too bad. We have spent the last century dealing with local telephone monopolies. Separating phone access from phone service is an incredible mess right now. We have the chance to do broadband access correctly, right from the start. There are only a few hundred thousand cable modems right now. Think how much harder it will be ten or twenty years from now.

    2. Most so-called anti-spam remedies involve legitimizing spam but requiring it to be labeled as such. That's not what bothers me about it. It's the fake header information and hijacking other peoples' machines for delivery that bother me. Valid header information is all I ask, so I can lodge complaints better. This bill simply requires non-fraudulent header information. Marvelous!

    3. The FCC is too slow and tremulous to do any good. Getting them out of the way is a great idea.

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Sunday May 16, 1999 @12:42AM (#1890520)
    There used to to be lots and lots of independent phone companies in the US. AT&T did the equivalent of M$'s embrace and extend -- they jury-rigged "standards" so the small independents couldn't compete, they refused to connect long distance calls to the independents ("unsafe equipment" they said!), made them offers they couldn't refuse. By the time the smell got too bad even for Congress, it was too late for the independents, but AT&T co-opted everything by volunteering to become a regulated monopoly -- once they had driven everyone out of business.

    It had nothing to do with promoting growth.

    As for making the cable infrastructure a govt project, who said anything about that? What this bill proposes is simply to break the cable monopoly same as the phone monopoly is breaking. No one has said anything about making it a govt project except you.

    The cable plant is just as built up as the phone plant in 99% of the country. There is no excuse for giving the cable companies a break that we deny to the phone companies.

  • the thing about food is that it is a necessary substance to keep the population fed. governments, imho, allow more farmers (i.e. more food production) to survive than what the market would. excess is better than shortfall whenever there is the possibility of hungry people. market forces may force farmers out of jobs and make agriculture more efficient but the government wants insurance against the possibility of agricultural market crashes ... ergo the excess agriculture capacity. sociopolitics. complex issue. hmmmmmmmm.......
  • Why can't you reply to this guy via a plain old e-mail address like

    Please, get that mailbox out of there.

    Ah, I feel better.

  • Well, in the text of the bill it excludes intermediate sendmails and other services, which is good, in the way it defines "transmits bulk email messges".

    As far as IP masq issues, if someone is sending bulk email that is passing through an ipmasq system, it is possible if prosecuted that the use of the ipmasq system could be used as an additional count if the prosecution wanted to be pedantic.
  • by looie ( 9995 ) <> on Saturday May 15, 1999 @06:43PM (#1890524) Homepage
    It seems to me that responses to this legislation are mostly bordering on the naive. Why do people assume that the FCC is doing such a terrible job of supervising the telecommunications field? What is the basis of this assumption (name some examples)?

    It should be obvious that the major beneficiaries of this legislation will be companies that already are major players in the tcom arena -- MS, AOL, ATT &c. Big companies already are slurping up the little ones left, right & center -- and now a lot of you seem to be of the opinion that this not only is great, but that we should have even more of it by eliminating all oversight of the matter.

    I hope you don't get your way, because I think you're wrong. The way things are tending, a few years from now non-"portal" access to major portions of the Web is going to be a memory. We don't need to hasten that development by removing regulation of the companies that are turning the 'net into a commercial enterprise zone. Geeks on the net will be like the buffalo on the American Great Plains -- an isolated curiosity to be oogled by virtual tourists passing by on their way to the next "e-commerce" site.

  • Instead of just ranting here about it, we should all write letters to our Congressmen. Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only real thing we can do in a situation like this (other than vote resposibly).

    Civil disobedience should always be a last resort, because if everyone performs civil disobedience at the first sign of a law they don't like, there would be no point to having laws!
  • >excuse me, dumbass, but you seem to imply that We
    >the People do not "decide who is a *valid*
    >candidate" ...and YOU THINK THAT WE SHOULDN'T!!!
    >so, the rich decide what our choices are, and
    >that's the way it should be? you either an idiot,
    >or a fascist.

    Then you are either a diseased goat scrotum or a bowl of turnips. Doesn't add much to the debate does it? Let's try the only act of civil disobedience guaranteed to truly anger the rich and powerful, THINK!

    If all campaigns are strictly government run affairs, then the _only_ people in the entire world who decide who gets to run for office are the people who already hold office. People who are also under the control of the rich. So the rich get to pick the candidate, and therefore the laws, and even get you to pay for their bribes.

    If you want to try a stupid idea to reform campaign contributions, the only one that might work is requiring a blind trust. Not that it would take long for our honorable congress critters to figure out where the gravy is coming from, but at least it's not a list of demands with a check stapled to it.
  • What does being a farmer have to do with anything? Working on a farm is a choice, just like everyone else. It is no more ok to subsidize farmers than it is to subsidize rural non-farmers. If farming is too expensive, then some farms will close, food prices will go up, and we will pay for it in higher grocery bills. All subsidies do is give farmers incentive to produce more food than people want. A farm is a business like any other, and it should pay its own way like any other.
  • or to some select few selected by someone in power

    Like the GOP and the Democrats, with some Libertarian salt for good measure?

    If it's good for business, it's good for America.

    Not necessarily for Americans.

    Money talks.

  • Microsoft is not one of the smallest! They are one of the largest coporate political contributors ... they are the most evil, though

    This is in comparison to, say, Dupont (sells chemicals prepared for cocaine refining to South American suppliers, launched anti-hemp campaign in the 30s to sell chemicals to cotton farmers and reinforced it to sell synthetic fibres) or tobacco companies (drug pushers pure & simple)?

    Microsoft is about as evil as McDonalds. Which is to say, it's not healthy and it crushes cultural diversity, but it's not profiting from substance dependencies (even if Maccas and billg do profit from other people abusing themselves).

  • Sounds more like the Internet UNfreedom Act to me. I love how you libertarian kids go around shouting about rights, yet as soon as one of these rights is inconvient to you, you make laws against it.
  • Virginia especially northern virginia. has the headquarters of a lot of high tech companies including AOL, UUnet, PSInet and various others
  • by Crakor ( 12469 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:04PM (#1890532) Homepage
    This is an interesting bill actually. But as I read it, It appears to lend more towards controlling and monitoring the service providers then anything else. Also the representative appears to be wanting more broadband service. Most sections in the bill deal with pricing and service of broadband connections (in the bill this is stated as anything bove 200 kb/sec) The following section shows something along that line.

    Sec 101 excerpt
    "knowingly failed to provide conditioned unbundled local loops when economically reasonable and technically feasible under section 715(a) of the Communications Act of 1934"

    Far as I can tell this states that if a local carrier does not provide broadband service when it is capable of offering it it's in violation of parts of the sherman act.

    Most of the parts of this bill are pretty cool Especially the e-mail section (though that one appears to be under heavy amendment) and the section about fair pricing for broadband providers (they wouldn't be able to overcharge if I read it right) Sec 101 (the above one) might cause the bill not to be passed, it would depend on how the bill appears to the companies that would be forced to offer the broadband service


  • I just thought I'd point that out. And I wish someone would step forward and call them the liars they are for claiming to be "the Internet" on their commercials.
    AOL is an online service, they have their own network - seperate from the internet. They provided the ability to access the internet because if they hadn't, people would have jumped ship to find an ISP.
    AOL has only recently begun the move to format their content in HTML since it's old for prevented non-AOL members from accessing their advertiser content. (Notice it wasn't done for the users.)
    AOL=Online Networking for Dummies

    Digital Wokan, Tribal mage of the electronics age
  • Compared to many other reps, Microsoft doesn't sink that much money into the guy.

    I think he's a typical rep, he doesn't alarm me any more than any other.

    This is also sorta bad for AOL. Since AOL is going to roll out DSL (so we hear), that means that if I want DSL from AOL, I don't have to subscribe to their service. I can use a different ISP.
  • by jurgen ( 14843 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:49PM (#1890535)
    You wrote:
    I dislike spam as much as the next person, but government regulation isn't going to help.

    I disagree with this. I consider spam to be theft. Would you say "I dislike theft ... but government regulation isn't going to help"? Spam is theft of my time and resources, and there is no purely technical fix that can prevent it.

    As to it being too broad, if you read the text of the bill you will find that the law specifically requires that the purpose of the transmission is "bulk unsolicited e-mail" for it to apply. So anonymouse remailers like the cypherpunk remailers are not affected since they can't really be used for bulk e-mail and are certainly not designed for that purpose. Ditto for network tools that hide source addresses, etc.

  • is taking away the FCC's jurisdiction really a good idea?

    Geez, I'de say that's the best part. I thought the whole point of the FCC was to control the "public resource" of the radio spectrum. Somehow they've expanded their role to regulate all communications infrastructures, even the privately owned physical wires, like phone lines and cables. There isn't any reason why the government should have ever gotten into that stuff in the first place, but somehow they've gotten away with expanding their authority. Pushing them back is a good thing.

  • by dabblah ( 18703 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @04:36PM (#1890548) Homepage
    Time for reality here people. What have been the effects so far of the deregulation of 1996? MY CABLE BILL HAS ALMOST DOUBLED!!!! Actually, the price went up so much that when I moved last, I decided it wasn't worth it. New services? BS. "Cable modems will be here in February 1997 at the latest" (here being Tallahassee). Now they are saying July of this year and I don't believe it yet.

    In a limited number of markets in a few very large urban areas competition has helped, but for those of us who don't live in those (200 Million) we are in a transition phase. We do not yet live in a world where competition actually insures the best outcome for the consumer, and the republicans that believe this are living in a fantasy world. The republicans who say this and don't believe it (which is the majority of them), know that it benefits the industry which a) is giving them money or b) in which they and their friends own stock. Every action of the government results in some form of wealth transfer, and in the telecommunications market and deregulation this wealth transfer has come in the form of higher prices to the consumer. Transfer to the company and stockholders, and the rich get richer. The reason that rural America has electricity and phone service today (yes, today) isn't that competition was opened to this market, it is that Roosevelt required companies to develop there and set up the cooperatives. No rational businessman wants to compete in those markets; it is too expensive.

    This is the Brave New World with all its vices and virtues. Now we are experiencing more of its vices than anything else.
  • by paled ( 22916 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @05:34PM (#1890552)
    Dear Congressman Goodlatte,

    Overall, I think that your bill is on target. I don't read much legislation, but it seemed to be direct, readable, and not too full of legalese. I currently subscribe to @Home's broadband cable access, through the cable carrier Comcast cable in New Jersey. My current monthly bill is $40. Since I have a linux box acting as a firewall/router, I am able to (legally) share the service with a housemate. A year and a half ago, I never knew what Linux, a router, a hub or a firewall were.

    I learned how to set that up on the Internet. There's a great deal of high quality documentation out there. Its amazing and empowering, when instead of feeling held back by not knowing how to do something, that you follow the links, subscribe to a mailing list, read a newsgroup and solicit help. As long as you've done you homework, read the FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) and ask in an appropriate format (provide enough info that someone else can reproduce the problem) - someone will reply back with a solution.

    I feel fortunate that I currently live in an area that was in the initial roll out plan for Cable modem access. I can now work more effectively from home, learn much more in a shorter amount of time, etc. But the cable companies face a shortage of trained personnel to accomplish installations. Any company that is rapidly growing is usually not doing so at the lowest costs possible - they're attempting to gain the most market share, usually at an operating loss. I believe that to give AOL (or other ISP's) free reign of the cable providers' backbone at no premium to be a mistake. First to market has to be able to recoup a premium, else we've removed the incentive. If you have a cable modem, you don't need AOL. You find things yourself.

    I used AOL back in 1995. I hate AOL. Its like shopping at "The Gap".

    The best thing about AOL is that it keeps newbies off of the internet. It spoon feeds them. I much prefer the use of search engines and links on other pages for finding my content - not what Steve Case decides that I should be reading. AOL may be a large employer in your area. Great, as a Congressman, it's your duty to look out for your district. But in providing AOL a completely level playing field in access over existing and future broadband, you're changing the rules here as we go along. If anything, AOL is too large, and should be regulated. They have enough market share that they'll do just fine, for consumers can buy access via @Home, but still subscribe to AOL. If AOL is that good, they'll still subscribe. That is their existing choice. Of course, if they're not using AOL's modem pool for dial-up access, then AOL should cut their monthly rate in half. I don't see requiring @Home to cut its' rate. I don't use the portal service provided by @Home. I choose my own.

    A free market relies on incentives - that first to market will mean a large enough market share to eventually become profitable, even if you lose hundreds of millions in the initial scramble. I hope that the net effect of your legisilation does not remove the economic incentives (profits) from the first to market companies.

    The best competition is one based upon competing technologies, not just on competing companies of the same technology. In rural areas, satellite-based transmission may turn out to be the most feasible solution. Near the point of presence for the ASDL provider, ASDL over POTS may be the lowest cost solution. Let the market decide that.

    Now, with the major 'home' computer manufacturers offering "cable ready" computers - including an ethernet card installed, much of the installation time has been reduced. As newer products emerge, in which the cable modem is incorporated into a single expansion card, the installation could be as simple as connecting the Coaxial connector onto the back of the (pre-installed) internal cable modem card. But that product isn't out in the market as of yet. For consumers with an existing PC, someone trained would still have to perform the installation and configuration. For now, there's a limited number of bodies that can install cable modem access into consumers' homes.

    So my point is, in a new market, lets leave enough economic incentives in place until more players produce real products to drive the margins down. I don't want the major players holding back rolling out services. I wish everyone that wants a cable modem had access to one - and they're not going to care if its an extra $10 or $20 a month - they just want one. Now.

    As far as falsifying IP addresses, I currently use IP Masquerading on my firewall. I don't do work on it - it just sites there, keeping out everything that I don't want - like "Script Kiddies" that want to crack my computer. So the IP Address ( of the machine that I am currently working on is not the IP address of my point of presence on the internet. Don't criminalize this - that like taking away guns from law abiding citizens while all of the criminals have them. Actually, that's like making home security systems illegal.

    Ever hear of IPv4 vs IPv6? Lots of people use Private IP addressses, with a router masquerading those addresses with a single, registered public address. We're running out of IP addresses. We'd be completely our if you can't maquerade.

    here's a good look at informed people's opinions: tml

    Thanks for the effort in reading this,

    Paul Drake

  • by lomion ( 33716 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @05:33PM (#1890569) Homepage
    I've been reading through the bill, it first off attempts to regulate something that has boundaries far beyond us soil, which is it's first failing.

    Here is a more sectionized look. Disclaimer : I'm no lawyer.

    Section 101-103 can be used to force a major provider to allow others to use their bandwith..kind of like the recent attempts by aol to force @home to open up their private network to them.

    Section 104 is also kind of broad in it's determination. It's a stab at spam but it goes about it wrong. This could illegalize things like ip masquerade, many services mask their internal ip's, if someone sends spam through them then it's their responsibility if they are hacked? I like california's attempt to control spam, it's much more realistic about SPAM. What I'm worried is that this could be twisted to go after ppl they don;t sent an email to the wrong person? What you use IP masquerade at home? $10,000 please, yes I know that is an exaggeration but the possibility exists.


    The Commission that controls the "Accelerated Deeployement" has no real power beyond initial approval. They also temporarily outlaw Voice-Over-IP by any of the baby bells or their affiliates.

    This bill is an attempt to control something by the government that it cannot control, the FCC has done an ok job in staying away from it Internet and letting it grow itself. I wish the government would take a lesson from it's own agencies.
  • Even though the internet is a global thing, the net has roots (Servers, routers...). And where those roots are, are in soverign nations which unfortuntately do have the right regulate, or not regulate, the hell out it.

    This bill might actually do a little good since many of the major points of access are in America and many of the spammers are in America. They will move their base of operations out of America but if they do decide to keep the HQ of their ops in USA (which many do because of a lot of benefits), then they legally can be regulated by the US Govt. (Think of the US v. Cuba thing going on...).

  • by BeIshmael ( 34304 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @05:54PM (#1890573)
    I understand the concerns about AOL trying to piggy-back on the efforts of Cable companies (i.e. getting access without the costs of rolling out the cable). However, I think it makes sense in light of the way telephone and DSL services are governed. In the Northwest, US West controls the lines and we pay US West for the lines. However, the ISP is open. When it came to DSL, those were the conditions established.

    Cable has traditional been viewed as a local monopoly. The barriers for entry into the cable market were too high to promote competition; therefore, local governments negiotated contracts on behalf of their citzens with the cable companies. I believe it is entirely feasible that as a condition of that contract that the cable companies should have the same competitive situation as the phone company. Sell the line as a monopoly--compete on the access.

    Of course, I have a larger stake in this argument than most. In Portland, where I live, the local government refused to approved the TCI-AT&T merger and refused to allow TCI to offer cable modems unless TCI offers alternatives for ISP selection. The local government argues that its contract with TCI stipulates that the utility commission approve changes in service and ownership. Hence, unless AT&T/TCI agrees to a DSL-like model where they compete on as service providers, they will not be able to sell cable modems. AT&T/TCI are suing the City of Portland and Multnomah County over this issue. For a brief article look at [].

    As many people have stated, the strength of the Senator's bill is in the details. However, the concept and logic are solid. Of course, even if the bill looks good, it doesn't mean that it won't get buried or that the House will approve a similar measure. Where is AT&T based? What are the chances that the Senator for AT&T state will filibuster and kill the bill?

  • In practice, its not so hard. Ordinary discovery via ex parte seizure can do it, but also egregious conduct is typically caught at the ISP level, who has plural copies readily available.

    My point is that the vast amount of e-mail, including listServ transmissions (note the definition) fits the 10 version. And of those who you might accidentally lie (tho' a smart e-mail program will fix when there are a buncha' cc's), most of your spamees won't mind as a matter of course.

    Thus, there is virtually no burden on users, and substantial risks to the violating spamee if caught. If the disincentives are steep enough (statutory damages, criminal penalties), we have won already, simply by making it irrational to spam AND lie unless you are CERTAIN its untraceable.
  • From my perspective, it suffices to have extraterritorial reach to someone sending a spam message *TO ME*.

    Whether this is so will depend in large part upon the nature of the particular spamming conduct. However, where there is a commercial solicitation included in the spam, where the spam is sent from overseas on behalf of someone in the US, or the like, I can usually slam-dunk anyone, legally speaking, who is merely trying to use out-of-US point-of-origin as a vehicle to avoid the act.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Saturday May 15, 1999 @08:26PM (#1890577) Journal
    The bill is nice, so far as it goes, but it still gives each mail account at least one free bite at the apple -- one spam with an "honest" routing message, before it gets killfiled. This means that the cost of spamming is only the cost of setting up a new account for each new broadcast, which is, as we know, bupkis.

    The way to stop spam is to stop the spammer's incentive to spam. The problem with spam is simply a matter of economics -- the spammer has no reason not to spam, and substantial incentive to spam.

    On the other hand, when asking the question: "what is spam?," it is hard to find a definition that doesn't adequately characterize spamming in a manner that enforces unwanted speech upon the spammer, making it constitutionally suspect. (Indeed, many of the pro-spam in anti-spam-sheep's-clothing apologized for the weak teeth version by claiming more would be unconstitutional)

    But there is a better way . . . and its the internet way!

    Instead of forcing certain language upon spammers based on their content (commercial, uncommercial, warranted, unwarranted, etc. . .), let's simply regulate affirmatively false speech. (False speech is not constitutionally protected).

    Assume that I added to each e-mail message, the following:

    "This message (and messages equivalent) have not been sent to more than 10 different e-mail addresses within the past week, except for e-mail addresses of persons who subscribed for receipt of bulk mails."

    And assume, since we are smart, that this is done more efficiently with a standardized message in the header:

    > X-DIST 10

    or the like. Now, we do not require that anyone includes this message in their header -- everyone is free to use it or not use it as they wish.

    However, we ban, bar, provide hefty penalties for, criminalize, or whatever, the falsifying of this header. (Indeed, Goodlatte's bill might already catch this, since it does bar false header information -- but the way the law works, I'd want this to be clear before asserting it against anyone).

    Better yet, standardize the header and its meaning with an RFC, get on the stick with e-mail programs to routinely generate them, and in a generation or two of e-mail revisions, EVERY LEGIT MAIL HAS THE HEADER, and EVERY LEGIT SPAM HAS THE HEADER, but with a number bigger than 100, or no header at all.

    Now we can filter spam easily, and anyone who sneaks by the filter is violating the law. This is the desired effect. IF the anti-spam desires of the people are sufficiently great, the convention will be adopted, and spam is dealt with without the first amendment being trodden upon. If otherwise, the bill does no harm.

    This will require some work by the technical community, but not much. And if Goodlatte amends to capture fraudulent header information related to manner of distribution, we won't need any further help from the legislature to give it teeth, at least in intro-US of A communications.

The absent ones are always at fault.