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FCC Claims Regulatory Power Over Home Computers 406

Posted by timothy
from the when-power-hungry-bureaucrats-attack dept.
Pointing to Assistant Professor of Law Susan Crawford's blog, iman1003 writes "The FCC has filed a brief where it claims regulatory power over all instrumentalities, facilities, and apparatus 'associated with the overall circuit of messages sent and received' via all interstate radio and wire communication according to a blog published by Susan Crawford. The blog can be found here and the brief here (in PDF format). Kind of scary if you ask me." Ars Technica has good commentary on this, also referencing Crawford's findings.
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FCC Claims Regulatory Power Over Home Computers

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  • by spidergoat2 (715962) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:51AM (#10828816) Journal
    When they pry it from my cold, dead fingers!
    • by aborchers (471342) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:12AM (#10828941) Homepage Journal
      Stop posting here and WRITE to your congressional representatives.

      Congress defines the mandate of the FCC, and without your input, all they hear is the clatter of change from the entertainment lobby.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Congresscritters respond more positively to 100 people yelling outside their office window, or to one person writing a $1000 check, than to 1000 letters that can safely be answered with canned response and autopen.

      • Right. Of course. You email your representatives and the FCC will change its tune. (sarcasm over ;)) Well, unless you have millions of dollars to bung someone, nothin's gonna happen. Squat. Nada. Seriously - posting stuff here has just as much effect as a one-on-one with your congressperson.
        • by aborchers (471342) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @10:08AM (#10829421) Homepage Journal
          Keep telling yourself that. While you're at it, stop voting. RIAA, MPAA, TV, and Walmart love you.

          The FCC *will* change its tune if the public outcry is great enough. In the absence of public outrage driving their Congressional bosses, there is no reason for them to. Look only to the recent bruhaha over the Hubble Space Telescope to see how a government agency can be forced to reevaluate its position at the behest of an outspoken electorate, and a whole lot more people watch TV than give a damn about HST.

          The democracy only fails to be representative when the constituency fails to participate. If the public is more engaged, then people who only want corporate retainers will become consultants and CEOs and stay the hell out of public office.

          How pendantic do I have to be? Corporate money may finance campaigns, but CORPORATIONS DON'T VOTE!

          • by dave420 (699308)
            Corporations don't need to vote. That's the thing. They're not apolitical, they ARE politics. We're not. The FCC is looking to allow its "friends" to make money. That's what they do. They aren't there to help people - just look at that Janet Jackson bullshit to see. They're there to push ideology. Continue to tell yourself your democratic process is working fine - you'll still be writing letters to your congressman when he's dragging you down your street in a tank.
          • Corporations don't vote, but they give the parties the money to buy the airtime to convince Joe Blow and Security Moms to fear change and vote for them.

            If voting worked, it would be illegal.

          • by demachina (71715)
            "The FCC *will* change its tune if the public outcry is great enough"

            I don't think there is ANY chance the FCC will change its tune though there is a slim chance Congress might step in and change it for them. They sure didn't change their tune on media consolidation in the face of truly massive public outrage.

            I think its a little naive to think a bunch of slashdotter's are going to send letters to congressman and change their course. If you want to get on the list of people your Congressman actually lis
      • Rather, you americans stop posting here and write to your representatives - in the mean time we who are lucky enought to live somewhere else can post here and have a good laught at how silly your system works at times...


        Seriously thought, try to tell your politicans to fix this.. because the US was based on some great ideas and principles, but lately they have been falling aside in the pursuit of the corporate state.

      • by jeblucas (560748) <jeblucas@gmai l . com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:40PM (#10831336) Homepage Journal
        I'll make it easy for you. If you live in the US, you can look up your ZIP+4 number at the USPS [usps.com]. You'll need that to find and write your Congressman found over here [house.gov].

        Here's the letter I wrote my rep:

        Dear Representative Waxman,

        Congratulations on your recent re-election, and thank you for your diligence regarding the disturbing trends coming out of Iraq contracts and their recipients. I wonder if you could turn your attention to another abuse of governmental power: the FCC. In response to a recent lawsuit questioning whether the FCC could regulate HDTV transmissions after their reception in a household, the agency responded with the letter linked here http://scrawford.net/courses/04-1037%20(Amer.Lib.) %20FCC%20Brief.pdf [scrawford.net] You could probably find it another way, but that's how I saw it. To be frank, it is appalling. The FCC has decided they have the power to regulate: my television, my computer, my iPod, my cellphone, my telephone, and anything else that falls under this language: "'associated with the overall circuit of messages sent and received' via all interstate radio and wire communication."

        With the recent election, it looks like we're going to head in a direction that says the government controls our bodies, can we do anything to keep them from controlling all of our stuff too?

        .
    • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @10:29AM (#10829674)
      From the way I see it, after reading the blog, you should be fine as long as your PC does not have a tuner.

      The FCC is frustrated at the slow adoption rate of digital television..

      On one side of the coin, Content providers don't want to put out content unless it's protected to prevent sharing on the internet.
      The television stations have made the investment to broadcast digital television signals. The infastrusture is in place.

      On the other hand the content is scarce and locked down to be useles and expensive. Therefore the adoption rate is very poor by consumers. The transmitters are there, but the home receivers are not. Nobody is watching. Nobody is even interested. It's expensive and the content is mostly worthless. Why bother. Nobody will be interested until the local electronics stores show real (not a demo loop) off air DTV reception. (the closest to a real demo I've seen is dish network subscription satelite TV, not over the air local TV)

      It's the chicken and egg complicated by a Mexican Standoff. Providers won't provide content because of no viewers. Viewers won't switch due to cost, restrictions, and lack of content in roughly that order. The biggie is of course cost. For those with smaller spaces, finding an affordable TV is the problem. There are some home theatre type TV's that actualy contain a tuner, but the number of under $400 sets with the tuner for college students, basement dwellers, dorm dwellers, etc just doesn't exitst yet. My biggest TV is 20 inch. There are lots of monitors that are digital ready, but the lack of complete TV's is disturbing. Price, selection and content are the biggest showstoppers to digital TV rollout.

      Somebody needs to do something to break the standoff if digital TV is going to get adopted. In the meantime, broadband Internet and it's wide selection of content is making a quick end run past the standoff. I speak for myself. I spend way more online time in a week than I spend watching TV in a year. Why spend the money to upgrade? The content is ad ridden junk aimed at the lowest common denominator.

      I know they would like us to be like the Simpsons and rush for the sofa to watch their over the air content. It's just not happening. Drive the neighborhood. Count the VHF and UHF antennas.. It's not like it was in the '60's and '70's. Now almost nobody is watching.
      • Stupid power grab (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:02PM (#10830798) Homepage

        I have a digital satellite system now. It has no broadcast flag support. Somehow, content manages to get sent over it without unleashing a plague of locusts or whatever it is the FCC thinks might happen without a broadcast flag.

        Why in the world would I want to cough up more money to recieve over the air DTV broadcasts that tell me what I may or may not record and/or where I can watch what I do record when I have a perfectly adequate system now? I grew up watching analog TV, and my brain learned not to percieve the imperfections in the signal unless I compare side by side. I watch television for content, not for the presentation. Beautifully rendered crap will lose out to sorta decently rendered but good programming every time.

        Short summary: Beautiffly rendered end-to-end digital video with restrictions has a lower value to me than sorta decently rendered but unrestricted video with analog steps. This is because the change will restrict access to the content (which I care about) in exchange for quality rendering (a distant second concern). As a rational consumer, I will not spend money in order to have a net negative value.

        If the FCC wants me to switch, they'll have to give me some incentive to do so. That is they'll have to INCREASE my access to quality content. Since in their entire history, they've demonstrated no will or ability to improve the quality of content in general, and they are now focused on degrading my level of access to the existing quality programming, they're destined for failure.

      • by coyote-san (38515) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:08PM (#10830873)
        I hate to turn your dream into a nightmare, but all of my experience screams that this claim has nothing to do with the broadcast flag. It's a naked power grab to control the internet within the US, cloaked in the semi-defensible argument that it's merely ensuring that the (controversial itself) broadcast flag is enforceable.

        Consider this: our theocracy has resumed obscenity prosecutions. The defense, in a nutshell, is that the "community" that establishes "community standards" no longer exists in the era of the internet - the porn palace is not some seedy theater that you need to keep your kids from, it's a consumer viewing porn (via subscription, encrypted channels or the internet) in the privacy of their own home. The alternative is to allow the most repressed community in the country to define what's acceptable for the rest of the country.

        Maybe this defense will succeed. Maybe it won't. But if it succeeds the feds won't have much authority to go after porn sites - or anything else that offends them. (I'm especially concerned about a latter-day Pentagon Papers case. There's a staggering disconnect between what this administration claims is true and what's the ground reality... and the incoming cabinet and Congress looks like it's moving even further into fantasyland.)

        Enter this brief. Even if the government loses this obscenity case, the FCC can step in and say that it's shutting down any site containing "obscene" material as it, alone, defines it. There's far, far too many sites to monitor manually so they'll undoubtably turn to secret lists like the kiddie filters - and besides hard and softcore porn we'll undoubtably discover that the filters block breast cancer and chicken recipes, sites that discuss your rights under the Bill of Rights (except for the second, oddly), the Constitution itself, websites critical of the incumbent president or supportive of the challenger....

        In these circumstances, discussing and criticizing The List itself will undoubtably be verboten. That might give the nasty porn guys (and liberals) ideas on how to circumvent the restrictions.

  • Dear FCC... PISS OFF!
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:54AM (#10828829) Journal
    "Congress hasn't said that we DON'T have the power to do this, so we're going to go ahead on the assumption that we do."

    Uhhh, that's not the way the government works. A government agency must be given the authority to regulate by Congress, which is ultimately accountable to the People. A government agency can't just do whatever the hell they please just because they feel like it. They must have a mandate and be granted Congressional authority to do so.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The rules are what the Bush admistration and their FCC, Supreme Court buddies say they are.

      If anyone else was doing it, they would be called fascist.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:55AM (#10829290)
        The rules are what the Bush admistration and their FCC, Supreme Court buddies say they are.

        We're all going to have to drop the liberal/conservative paranoia if we're going to stop the power grabs like the continued FCC expansion. This is not an "evil Bush" thing, nor is it an "evil Clinton" thing or any administration in particular. The FCC has been an increasing problem ever since Carter's era where it felt underappreciated, and Reagan when deregulation of Bell gave it a whole new world to flex its muscles in.

        Instead of pretending evil Bushies/Clintonites are out to get you, take it to its foundation and fight from there. Do we want unchecked power in Federal bureaucracies, such as the FCC, DOE, FBI, CIA, etc, or not? The 10th Amendment of the US Constition has been gutted in practice; just as "interstate commerce" has been interpreted as anything in order to provide Federal jurisdiction, these agencies are completely unchecked in their empire building power drives.

        Frequency auctions (a lousy "let's bring in a few extra bucks" measure by Congress) have corrupted the FCC immensely. It is so driven by money that it makes decisions based solely on lobby. Legalized bribery and influence has paralized its ability to do its basic charter. Look at BPL (Broadband over Power Line) for instance - while agreeing BPL studies conclusively show it fundamentally interferes with other licensed services, the FCC waves a magic wish wand and declares that BPL may continue. It's almost like the scene out of the Producers where the same company has been sold a hundred times over. BPL interfers with the frequency purchased by others previously, but as long as the FCC can sell it again, they go ahead. The Nextel fiasco is another good example of this nightmare, as well as unbundling requirements of monopoly service (e.g. DSL unbundling) being thrown aside.

        If anyone else was doing it, they would be called fascist.

        Lets hold the criminals themselves accountable in these bloated, money/power hungry bureaucracies. Look at the CIA as an example - their top brass is suddenly quitting because Congress sent a new boss who doesn't say 'pretty please' when scheduling meetings, and is not mindful that you never have meetings on Monday or Friday (WTF?) unless it is a mixer with cocktails. And we're surprised we have a deficit, with Federal agencies acting like this with our money?

        Both sides need to start kicking some administrative ass and quit falling sucker to each party's finger pointing at the other.

    • Naive (Score:4, Interesting)

      by w.p.richardson (218394) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:02AM (#10828887) Homepage
      That's how it's supposed to work, but when you are dealing with bureaucrats, that's not likely to be what actually happens.

      Witness the FDA's attempt to regulate tobacco. There is no authority for them to do so, yet they are still trying to assert regulatory authority over tobacco. Say what you will, there's no authority for that to happen.

      • Isn't tobacco a food and a drug? You injest it, and it contains chemical stimulants, along with other nice substances.

        FDA's Mission Statement

        The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods
    • by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:21AM (#10828981)
      Actually Bush and his party have little if any effect on this. Sorry, but both parties have collected power to the Federal Government through out our history. This process accelerated after the Civil War and continues today. The Constitution is rather clear when read with the 10th Amendment, most of what the government does these days is unconstitutional. But depending on where your ideology stands, you approve when it is your group accumulating power but disapprove when it is the other group. After both sides get their way long though, most every area of our lives are now controlled by the Federal Government. I don't think the average citizen today even realizes that the states are supposed to be the controlling authority in most aspects of our lives, not the central government.
      • Water off a duck's back. It's much more fashionable to pretend Bush is the first ever to do any of this and the only individual in DC doing it, whether or not he's actually got anything to do with it.
        • Mod me down instead. I'll make an even more pro-Bush statement (which I of course don't actually believe), so that this post sucks up most of the slashthink reactionary down-moderation.

          I think Bush is a great leader and visionary. He belongs in the White House, and the same can't be said of his opponent. I believe he approves of this message.

          whether or not he's actually got anything to do with it.

          Or, if you want to sound like an exceptionally smart slashbot, you blame it on Dick Cheney and Karl Rove

    • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:25AM (#10829007) Homepage Journal

      A government agency can't just do whatever the hell they please just because they feel like it.

      No doubt. The wrong Powell is leaving office.

    • You're confusing what IS and what SHOULD BE. There are huge differences. An election should count every vote - that doesn't mean to say all the votes in the last election will be counted. Government does what Government wants.
  • by markbark (174009) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:54AM (#10828831) Homepage
    All Your Computers Are Belong To Us

    The Cure for 1984 is 1776
  • by salesgeek (263995) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:58AM (#10828858) Homepage
    If there is one industry that does not need regulated, it's the computer industry. We are doing fine without you. Kind of makes you wonder what the state of radio, telecommunications, etc... would be without the FCC locking us into paradigms that are literally older than most of the people reading this message.

    Get the hell out FCC we don't want or need your help.

    -- the entire computer industry

    • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:30AM (#10829040)
      Damn I can't believe I am going to say this.

      MSFT?? Hell even IBM there are more monopolies in the computer industry than ANY other industry. Why becuase a select few force control on the rest.

      The simple solution would of been the break up of Microsoft a few years ago. two-three companies would of created compition and add features and security by NOW. Unlike the Current XP SP2 which has holes in it, and it's the most secure version of windows to date.

      Now do i want to see FCC trying to control the hardware industry? not really as there is lots of competition there and low prices as a result. The software industry is dominated by one company that tries to control everything. The only two saving idea's is that they screw up eveything they don't control, and once they control an area they stop workig on it.
      • How would removing the IE department from the Windows department raise competition? I don't think two subsidiary Microsoft companies which specialise in seperate technologies would compete. That's just ridiculous.

        Anyway, Microsoft isn't where it is because it produces crap software, it's successful because people can do lots of stuff with that crap software, more than the competition. Don't blame microsoft for them running unchallenged.

        • Mostly agreeing with the previous poster here-- the proposed break-up would have put the OS in one corp, the browser in a second (not sure if that included IIS & its supporting apps or not), and Front-end apps such as Office in a 3rd.

          So instead of one enormous monopoly, we would have had three large monopolies. Hardly an improvement.

          I do, however, wonder what would have happened had MS been forced to divest itself of Office, IE, IIS, etc, and split the remainder of the corporation into three parts,
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Even if we accept your premise that the software/hardware industry needs regulation, the proper venue for such regulation is the Federal Trade Commission, not the Federal Communications Commission. Your complaints about business practices clearly fall under the category of trade regulation.
  • voIP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snig64 (793215) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:58AM (#10828863) Homepage
    another step in regulating voIP may be a driving instrument behind this.
  • hate to say it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:00AM (#10828875)
    but the FCC is heading right to the crapper. Michael powell needs to resign and let someone else more qualified do the job. if only he was 1/4 the man his father is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:02AM (#10828885)
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the FCC??!
  • FCC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RagingChipmunk (646664) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:02AM (#10828888) Homepage
    So if the FCC has regulatory domain over PCs, does that mean they're the ones to contact so i can download Janet's Titty Shot ? If they can regulate the content on Radio, Television, Print and Cable, does that mean they're willing to step up to regulating content on the Internet? Ha! Will I have to get an "Internet User License" like ham/cb hobbyists? Does that mean my TCP/IP driver will require little stickers of FCC compliance like my modem does? Just when I think that the economy is really suffering, and begin to stress about layoffs and outsourcing, I re-assure myself that beuracracy always grows, and so creates a never ending employment trough. I should start studying for my GSA exam.
  • by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:02AM (#10828890) Homepage Journal
    The regulatory power should mean the power to regulate our equipment so it wouldn't break the infrastructure and other equipment, or jam the spectrum in the case of wireless communication. It shouldn never mean anything more than that. Specifically, it should mean that our modems cannot send high voltage down the line and the prohibition of DOS (a digital equivalent to spectrum jamming) but should never mean which software do we use and how do we use it, provided it does not damage other equipment, and equipment only. In that context we should have nothing to worry about, though of course every regulatory body tends to increase its power way beyond what is reasonable, if it itself isn't regulated as well. What we need are better checks and balances, not more legislation.
    • Your modem is already forbidden to send high voltages down the wire. It must be FCC certified to be permitted to connect to the phone network.

      Hopefully, they just mean to apply the same requirements to WANs. Frankly, I doubt it - it looks like a power grab.

      Knowing the FCC - and Bush - it seems likely to me that they're probably going to start proposing impractical and heavy handed "solutions" to problems like botnets. This is probably also another attempt to gain control over VoIP - they seem to want that
    • Layer creep (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @10:02AM (#10829367) Homepage Journal
      The real issues are interference and interoperation. The FCC has long been accepted as being in charge of layer 1 - the physical stuff. But in another way of thinking, one could consider DDOS attacks to be analogous to RFI. I'm not saying it's a perfect analogy, but it's certainly one that could be sold to a bureaucrat, maybe even to a legislator. So by this reasoning, the FCC may be trying to extend their authority into layer 2 and even layer 3, in order to meet their real requirements of interference and interoperation.

      Now think about how they implement their authority over layer 1. There are things like FCC Type Acceptance, FCC Classes, and FCC Certification. You know that modem that operates over controlled wires, or that transmitter that operates over controlled frequencies... You can't TOUCH them without a LICENSE. So far, so good. If you touch it, you may change its operation, and make it cause interference. The device's FCC Type Acceptance is to guarantee that it will interoperate correctly. Your FCC License is supposed to guarantee that you know how to touch the device without breaking its FCC compliance.

      Now extend that to layer 2. That means the FCC owns your ARP, and the bottom of your TCP stack. No more compiling from source without an FCC License, in fact you'd probably need signed modules. For that matter, you'd need a layer of the OS that guarantees that you can't load anything other than FCC certified modules for layer 2 - unless you've got an FCC License.

      Now extend that to layer 3.... and the FCC owns the rest of your stack. And the part of the OS that checks its FCC signature and loads it.

      This sounds terribly heavy-handed, but the Internet has become enough of a mess that the general public might well accept it. I see several major issues here:
      1: Do the FCC and Congress realize what it *really* means to regulate PC communication. Do they understand that it also means requiring DRM Operating Systems to guarantee that an FCC Type Accepted stack is loaded.
      2: What will licensing look like? How expensive will it be, and will it be truly knowledge based, or more interface based. (like MSCE) Will there be some sort of "Amateur Internet" equivalent to "Amateur Radio" and what will its requirements and capabilities be.
      3: Will the Corporate Linux presence really care about ANY of this, because they'll just license their developers.
      4: Finally, to they even understand that NONE of this MATTERS, because you don't stop DDOS or spam at layers 1, 2, or 3, anyway. To really stop DDOS and spam, you need to FCC certify *every single executable* that can connect to the stack, and that includes networked games.
      4a: In reality, this probably means inserting the layer 3.5 shim, that *attempts* to police network connections, and prevents direct communication to layer 3. Of COURSE we all know how well that would work in practice, that it would preserve performance, as well as stop DDOS and spam.

      As for anti-regulatory philosophies of Republican administrations, I don't buy it having any bearing here. In practice, I see two pieces of anti-regulatory agenda, owning weapons and making money. Allowing FCC increased domain over PCs does not directly affect either of those, so it could well happen. In fact, including FCC certification probably improves corporate control/profitability, so that's a plus.
  • Shame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:04AM (#10828897)
    Shame that the head of the FCC doesn't have the same grace, dignity, honour and intelligence as his father.
    • Re:Shame (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      You MUST be joking. He has the same amount of grace, dignity, honour and intelligence. Yes, Colin resigned, but he was still there for 4 years. 4 years in the deeply racist Republican party, waging wars using shitty intelligence. Fuck. I remember that jackass talking about the mobile weapons labs, and how dangerous Iraq was. He was lying out of his ass. If that makes a good person, then fine. Your parties must suck ;) "Hey Idi Amin - pass the potato salad!"
  • Help! (Score:2, Funny)

    by RehabDJ (691857) *
    Save us Howard Stern!
  • Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:09AM (#10828924) Homepage
    You should have to take a test and obtain a license to get an IP address, before you can spew into the ether(net), just like for radio. The test should cover things like installing anti-virus, de-worming and spy-catcher software, turning on firewalls and the proper way to deal with attachments from strangers. Especially if you insist on using low quality, consumer grade software like Windows.

    • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

      by agraupe (769778)
      At first I thought, "fuck you, FCC", but you have actually convinced me that this probably wouldn't be a bad thing. It would teach people to use a computer as a complicated piece of engineering, instead of a mere appliance. It shouldn't be very hard of course, but it's not like it needs to be, given the average person's intelligence.
    • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rainman_bc (735332)
      In a really sad way, I kinda agree with you. Too many stupid end users out there who need to get their head out of the sand and need to learn these lessons, rather than rely on us techies to fix their computer every time.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@etoyEULERoc.com minus math_god> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:54AM (#10829282) Homepage Journal
      So, what keeps me from getting a colo box in Canada and running a website from there? Or England, or Nigeria, or (nearly forgot) Poland.

      Unlike Radio, it doesn't make a difference where I transmit from.

      While we are on the subject, what constitutes using an IP. Do I need a "license" for a dial up account? Will I have to license every stinking moron in my building if I decide to do NAT translation? And what if someone hijacks my IP? Do I get fined?

      The Internet is working very well as it is, thank you very much. If it's not suitable for some secure purpose, or it's not some idealic playground where we can set our kids loose and abdicate our responsibility as parents, then maybe we out to look at the wisdom of those 2 ideas. prima face they are stupid, and no amount of regulation is going to change that. Parents DO need to a) know what their kids are doing and b) prepare them to meet and overcome the temptations of this world.

      As far as security goes, putting the FCC in charge is not so much to protect the integrity of messages sent, as to filter the content of what can't be. I refuse to live in a world where 7 words can't be sent over email.

    • Re:Good (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by dave420 (699308)
      "low quality". right. Tell me that when you're playing Half Life 2.

      Come on, folks! We're all grown ups. Don't bash other operating systems because you don't agree with the ideology behind it.

      Windows is a perfectly adequate operating system. It does everything most of its users want, just as linux does for its users. You really make linux/OSS users look like a bunch of primadonna assholes saying stuff like that. There are tons of perfectly capable computer programmers/operators (some most likely bet

  • by lenski (96498) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:11AM (#10828938)
    The FCC has authority over the *transmission* of signals in most wireless frequencies and at some power levels. The FCC has authority over the *transmission* of signals over the phone lines. The FCC has absolutely no, zero, zilch, nada authority over *MY* PC.

    Authority over Cable companies, for instance, is also held by local communities.

    This same FCC that doesn't bother to even *look* at how broadcasters are misusing their licenses? (to quote an oft-quoted phrase) They can pull my OPEN SOURCE, PRIVATELY OWNED AND OPERATED PC out of my cold dead hands.
  • The wrong Powell... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beaststwo (806402)
    Sounds like the wrong member of the Powell family resigned.

    And this is the party that claims to get Government off the people's backs? The founding fathers' dust would roll over in their graves, except the FCC probably claims juridiction over that as well!

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:20AM (#10828978) Homepage Journal
    Jan, 25th 2005:

    The FCC announces that all computer equipment sold in the USA must now incorporate CCC (Complete Control over Content) technology.

    CCC is, by the most incredible coincidence, almost equivalent to Microsoft/Intel Palladium specifications.

    Early Feb. 2005:

    Dell, IBM, HPaq and most other computer manufacturers quickly announce their support for the initative and the tech industry goes into an orgy of upgrading. All machines not incorporating CCC are then outlawed and/or barred from connecting to the Internet.

    Dec. 2005:

    FCC, in its capacity as Internet regulators, introduces the "Great Homeland Firewall", which bars USA citizens from connecting to foreign sites deeemed dangerous and/or terrorist. Some people note that Democratic blogs also appear to be rejected by the FCC Firewall.

    Liberal cries about "freedom of the press" and "right of information" are promptly dismissed by Fox News and Republican lawmakers as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic".

    In 2008, after successfully repelling the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, President George W Bush is triumphantly re-elected as President for a 3rd term.

  • Misleading Title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:22AM (#10828984) Journal
    "FCC Claims Regulatory Power Over Home Computers"? By extension, yes, but the Ars Technica piece describes this as being mostly in the context of the broadcast flag on HDTV transmissions.

    And, whether we like it or not, the Federal Communications Commission does have regulatory authority over interstate communications. It was set up specifically to regulate interstate communications.

    The question (and the lawsuit) is, does this authority extend to what is done with a broadcast after it has been transmitted and received?

    • "It was set up specifically to regulate interstate communications."

      Great, so what does that have to do with my PC or my home network or even my ISPs network up to the state line? They'd need to just regulate packets crossing state lines and keep their grubby hands off the intrastate stuff.

      This could be a good way to break up ISPs into state sized chunks - at least physically.

  • by kardar (636122) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:23AM (#10828993)
    Or the Eastern theory of extreme yin becoming yang, extreme yang becoming yin. It's hard to understand.

    More is sometimes less, less is sometimes more. The danger is that by trying to be more, agencies like the FCC end up having their authority weakened. People will not take their policies, and other policies seriously. The more they do to try to crack down, the less effective they become. This is a proven fact, at least in theory.

  • by Meredeth (821492) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:23AM (#10828994)
    I guess you'd better buy any hdtv equipment at the mid 2005 'non compliance' sale. I always find that early generations of any given new technology are easier to use because they have fewer copyright type restrictions on them.
  • So if the FCC has authority over all this stuff, does that mean everyone has to take down their porn during prime time?....
  • by e6003 (552415) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:26AM (#10829012) Homepage
    Firstly there are already rumblings of a European Broadcast Flag equivalent (despite the fact that unencumbered DTV equipment has been on sale over here for 6 years or more, providing an even more massive hole than the anything-up-to-July-2005 FTC rulemaking). We all know how US media interest-sponsored IP laws tend to get "exported".

    More importantly, this affects all of us because of the economies of scale. If unencumbered equipment can't be sold in the US, it will be at least more expensive elsewhere as a massive potential market is cut off. Think of the Taiwanese motherboard industry being forced to produce two models - one DRMd for the US and the other unrestricted for non-US use.

    Yes, even as a non-US resident, I care deeply about the foolishness going on in the US. If only I knew what to do about it, besides donate to the EFF...

    • Yep. And more pointedly, Australia has already agreed to enacting the DMCA as Australian law, in exchange for a free trade agreement. For your sake I hope the EU has enough clout to resist being forced to adhere to all of the conditions of the DMCA. I'm not against the principle of the thing, but there are some sections that make my blood run cold. Anyone who hasn't read it, should read it.
    • Think of the Taiwanese motherboard industry being forced to produce two models - one DRMd for the US and the other unrestricted for non-US use.

      Yeah, but how much does an extra blob of solder cost, anyways? You didn't think they'd actually manufacture 2 pieces of hardware, did you?

  • This may be the one that ends up regulating internet radio.
  • If this is true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cytlid (95255) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:30AM (#10829044)
    ...let's all call the FCC with complaints about viruses/worms/crackers/etc. They should be able to "regulate" it.
  • So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nwbvt (768631) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:35AM (#10829079)
    I can claim that I own the Empire State Building. Doesn't mean anyone (specifically the courts) will agree with me.

    Wake me up if this request is actually granted, then I'll start to worry. Until then, I'll let the courts do their job.

  • And you will find that they are covered anything that can cause RF is under the FCC rules. This is nothing new. you will see a FCC notice on all electronic devices you buy and it will state it is in part 15 aka Must accept interfernce and Must not cause interfernce.
  • The brief discusses the requirement of the broadcast flag in digital television; something Congress implicitly allows. Congress gave the FCC authority over all interstate radio and wire communication, and gave them sufficient latitude to use its authority. Accept that your computer is bound by FCC regulations which are given tacit support by Congress who has tacit support of the majority (50.1 percent at least) of voting Americans.

    The bottom of my laptop has an FCC number. It also has numbers allowing oper
    • by z80kid (711852) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @10:16AM (#10829512)
      > Accept that your computer is bound by FCC regulations...

      Only to the extent that your computer emits RF interference, and/or communicates over phone lines. You're confusing the issue.

      There's an FCC ID on almost all electronic equipment. Does that mean the FCC can regulate what bread you put in your toaster? What food you heat in your microwave? Can the FCC tell you you cannot record a phone message on your answering machine? or what you can do with that recording?

      The FCC regulates the physical transmission of information, and to some extent the content in the case of public transmissions. Once you receive the transmission, its out of their hands.

    • "The brief discusses the requirement of the broadcast flag in digital television; something Congress implicitly allows."

      *IF* congress should decide that fair use can be taken away by a technical measure mandated by Congress, *THEN* the FCC would have the implicit right to dictate the technicallities of that measure.

      To put it a different way, suppose the vehicles department decided all vehicles should have speed limiters set at 10mph. Setting speed limits is not within the vehicle depts remit, but yet the
  • by danwiz (538108) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:47AM (#10829212)
    Maybe the brief linked to in the posting was the wrong one.

    There is a mention of associated with the overall circuit of messages sent and received but it is just a small quote.

    From the PDF brief ...

    The issues presented here are:

    * Whether the FCC reasonably concluded that the Communications Act provides authority for it to adopt broadcast flag rules.
    * Whether the particular rules the Commission adopted were reasonable and supported in the record
    * Whether the rules conflict with copyright law.


    Although the expansion of FCC authority is of valid concern its neither the topic of, nor addressed in, the brief mentioned.

    But ... IANAL
  • If they interpret their 'power over' as having the authority to enforce standards, and to prevent others from stepping all over the infrastructure, then I'm all for it.

    Its pretty much been shown that companies, left to their own devices produce a lot of incompatible chaos in their attempt to be the only guy on the block.. And the private citizen does not wield enough power to prevent it..

    not that I'm 'pro government', but sometimes a 3rd party is needed to keep things from getting out of hand..
  • THIS IS ZERO NEWS!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phreakiture (547094) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:55AM (#10829289) Homepage

    If any of you have been PAYING ATTENTION to your computers, you will find that ALL of them have an FCC logo on them indicating that they have passed certifications. Every computer must pass under part 15 regs, and if it connects to a phone line, it must also pass under part 68 regs. Thus has it always been.

  • They claim power over my machine? Ha, then I claim regulatory power over the FCC.

    All your decency are belong to me.

    Seriously, though, WTF? This is a huge stretch beyond their authority. I'm talking Reed Richards [marveldirectory.com] here.

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