WaPo has the story:

Sources close to transition officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Genachowski had been recently meeting with key Democratic lawmakers to see if the role of CTO would have policy-making authority and decided against taking the job when he realized the definition of CTO would not include a strong regulatory role. Instead, Genachowski expressed interest in the FCC post.

Why do I find it hard to believe that Genachowski didn’t realize that the CTO post would not have regulatory authority?

Anyway…

WSJ + Net Neutrality = Mess

December 15, 2008

This just in, the Wall Street Journal’s story on Net Neutrality is a disaster. Google hates it, Lessig hates it, and it even appears to get a bunch of technical details wrong.

Steve Schultze (a colleague at the Berkman Center) has the details of the story on Managing Miracles (his blog) where he’ll be following it as it unfolds.

I suggested yesterday that Comcast would do well to apologize to its customers for punishing them for perfectly legal and standard web-use practices.

I must have been confusing them for a company that cared about its public image.

Instead, the folks running Comcast have decided that it’s better to keep threatening customers with slow connection rates.

Awesome strategy, folks.

(h/t raw story)

The FCC has published its order directing Comcast to stop its “discriminatory network management practices” (currently the announcement is at the top of the FCC homepage).

The short version (as we already knew) is that the FCC has now stated unequivocally that “This practice [of interrupting peer-to-peer traffic] is not ‘minimally intrusive’ but invasive and outright discriminatory.”

The order goes into more detail about what Comcast needs to do now that should produce some interesting results in the next month:

Specifically, in order to allow the Commission to monitor Comcast’s compliance with its pledge, the company must within 30 days of the release of this Order:  (1) disclose to the Commission the precise contours of the network management practices at issue here, including what equipment has been utilized, when it began to be employed, when and under what circumstances it has been used, how it has been configured, what protocols have been affected, and where it has been deployed; (2) submit a compliance plan to the Commission with interim benchmarks that describes how it intends to transition from discriminatory to nondiscriminatory network management practices by the end of the year; and (3) disclose to the Commission and the public the details of the network management practices that it intends to deploy following the termination of its current practices, including the thresholds that will trigger any limits on customers’ access to bandwidth.246 These disclosures will provide the Commission with the information necessary to ensure that Comcast lives up to the commitment it has made in this proceeding.

I look forward to learning more from these disclosures in the coming weeks.

Also, as a  current Comcast customer and a user of p2p networks, I would love to see the company do a little outreach to apologize directly for these practices. The FCC didn’t mandate that, but it seems like it would be in the firm’s interest to do a little damage control.

(H/T – SS)

Following up on its more industry-centric work in the Wireless Innovation Alliance, Google is heading up an effort to solicit signatures via a new site called Free the Airwaves intended to generate public pressure on the FCC to open up more wireless spectrum.

If the US is ever going to escape the current failed market duopoly for network service provision and carriage, efforts like this need to succeed.

Who opposes opening spectrum to increase competition, innovation, and access? Incumbent telecommunications firms with dominant market shares and well-entrenched advantages over their competitors.

Here’s the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) FUD-spewing website featuring “Wally the Unlicensed Wireless Device.”

Once you untangle the actual ideas from the pretty pictures and high-flown rhetoric, the NAB’s call to retain strict oligopolistic control over the airwaves is based on the underlying assumption that “networks need an owner” – some firm(s) to be accountable for its failure, maintenance, and improvement.

Problem is, the Internet as a whole has already de-bunked this half-baked argument. Well-designed and implemented protocols (or standards) can overcome the hypothetical tragedies of the networking commons. Governments and large private firms play a crucial role in preserving the Internet, but one of the reasons ithe Internet has spawned so much creativity, wealth, and participation is that the underlying protocols are basically device-agnostic (although U.S. ISP’s like Comcast are trying to undermine that too). The Internet does not care if you are using a desktop, laptop, PDA, etc or if you are sending an email, a chat message, voice data, pictures, music or movies.

Returning to the wireless spectrum case, though, it’s important to note that existing government concessions to large telecommunications firms in the U.S. have stifled broadband speeds and access as well as the growth of wireless communications as a whole.

This market needs more competition, not less. The sooner the FCC (and other firms in this market) can recognize that, the better.

Sign the petition or visit the site to take action.

(H/T JW, SS, and other Berkman Center Fellows)

Update: Check out Lessig’s video contribution to the Free the Airwaves campaign – he elaborates further on the idea that the history of innovation on the Internet provides a useful example for thinking about the future of spectrum.

On Thursday, Matt Stoller at Open Left posted a chart revealing that “every major Senate Democratic challenger”  supports the free and open net.

This bodes well for Internet freedoms in an election year when Democrats are positioned to strengthen their control of Congress and possibly win the White House.

Perhaps we can finally begin to look forward to some legislation that increases the standards of openness, privacy, digital freedom, and data neutrality as opposed to the half-baked alternatives being peddled (and silently implemented!) by the telco’s.

As the FISA debacle illustrates, none of this is a done deal even in the hands of a Democratic majority or a Democratic president.

(H/T Lessig).

So much for the rule of law.

Here’s coverage from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the BBC, and The Guardian.

Also, stories by KagroX and mcjoan over at Daily Kos.

(Note: I did not include a link to AP coverage of the story in protest against its ridiculous pay-per-word plot against bloggers)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.