Category Archives: Technology

Time for Congress to Gut the FCC

Under an Obama-appointed chairman it is no longer independent but a travesty.

For political reasons. You see, all the FCC has to do is redefine broadband at a higher speed, and now they can argue that America’s broadband networks are insufficient and thus require greater FCC intervention.

And it’s part of a pattern. This is not the first time that the Obama-era FCC has radically departed from previous established FCC policy. Previously the FCC found that the wireless market is highly competitive. But as soon as an Obama-appointed FCC Chairman took office, the FCC decided that the wireless market was in fact not competitive, and previous FCCs all just got it wrong somehow.

The sad fact is that the FCC, purported to be an expert technical agency, has been thoroughly politicized—it’s now simply a political extension of the Obama administration and thus has been indentured into the administration’s regulatory power grab over the Internet.

Detailed reporting by the Wall Street Journal has revealed that the entire time the FCC was working to craft a more reasonable net neutrality compromise, the White House was engaged in a “secret,” parallel, closed process to craft a different policy that “stunned officials at the FCC.” The White House process was closed to some stakeholders and influenced by conversations with President Obama at a fundraiser. Those meeting with the White House were not required to register as lobbyists and were told to “not discuss the process openly.”

The White House effort “essentially killed the compromise proposed by Mr. Wheeler” and “swept aside more than a decade of light touch regulation of the Internet and months of work by Mr. Wheeler toward a compromise.”

So much for an “independent agency.”

In our constitutional republic, the proper place for public policy to be made is by the elected representatives of the people, through legislation. Congress has stepped up and Senator Thune has introduced legislation that would settle the net neutrality debate once and for all. Congress should be given time to act, but the President and Senate Democrats have made it clear that the Thune legislation is not acceptable: What they wanted all along was heavy federal regulation, not net neutrality. The gig is up.

Because the FCC has forsaken its mandate to be both expert and independent, Congress now has every reason to gut the FCC and radically downsize its regulatory scope and authority.

The FCC could be completely eliminated, and its few key functions distributed among other relevant agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Frankly, many of the FCC’s functions already overlap with the FTC, NTIA, and the Justice Department. In light of the FCC’s grotesque abrogation of its mandate to be expert and independent, a creative Congress could easily eliminate or dramatically scale back the FCC’s power.

Such a reform of the FCC is in fact long overdue, and Chairman Wheeler has set in motion the mechanism of its execution. By sacrificing his agency to President Obama’s radical progressive agenda to put the federal government in regulatory control of communications media, Chairman Wheeler should in fact be the last Chairman of the FCC as we know it.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Buying Indulgences, Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, FCC, Government, Hypocrisy, Internet, Liberals, Politics, Technology

It’s a trap!

And we’ve been royally played…

“Net neutrality” has nothing to do with neutrality: It has to do with who is going to prevent Comcast from doing bad things. (By the way, when I say “Comcast,” I mean Time-Warner and all the other pestiferous cable companies, too.) This is the “shiny object” they want to mesmerize you with—this fury at the cable companies—so you won’t dig too deeply into what they’re trying to do.

Make no mistake: the benign term “net neutrality” is camouflage for a far less innocent meaning: Government regulation of the Internet. (No, you don’t need to know the intricacies of Title II and all that, you just need to know that government will be assuming the power to run things.) You might think that’s a good thing, or you might think it’s a bad thing, or you might even think the government won’t screw around even when it has the power to do so, but before we can move on we need to be honest in calling it what it is: Essentially a governmental putsch of the Internet.

Once we know what it is, you can decide whether you like it or not.

Comcast will be answerable to somebody: They would prefer it to be the government. That’s because dealing with the government is a lot easier than dealing with the marketplace—at least if you have the kind of machine in place that Comcast does. Also, the government can ensure your survival even if you treat your customers like vermin, while, if left to the devices of the marketplace, your survival might be in question.

Continue reading

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Filed under Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Hypocrisy, Internet, Liberals, Technology

Cars Are Delivering Tons Of Driving Data To Manufacturers With Minimal Security And Even Less Transparency

TechDirt

Nothing’s driving the acquisition of data faster than, well, driving. As new technology makes its way into vehicles, so does the apparent desire to harvest information about the vehicle itself. Between the outside harvesting (automatic plate readers that gather plate/location data, as well as photos of vehicle occupants) and the “inside” transmissions, there’s very little any number of unknown entities won’t know about a person’s driving habits. And that’s not even including what’s transmitted and collected by drivers’ omnipresent smartphones and their installed apps.

Sen. Edward Markey has expressed some alarm at the amount of data being collected (and distributed) by vehicle manufacturers. His office has produced a report [pdf link] showing that while many manufacturers are involved in collecting data, very few of them seem concerned about the attendant risks. Even worse, many respondents to his office’s questionnaire seem to show very little understanding of the underlying technology and most have not made an effort to fully inform customers as to how much is being collected or how it’s being distributed.

Drivers of today’s connected cars aren’t going to like the report’s findings.

Nearly 100% of cars on the market include wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.

While some basic security measures have been implemented, the fact remains that transmitting data always poses a risk. Three of the 14 manufacturers that responded to Markey’s questions had actually let their security measures stagnate or decrease from 2013 to 2014, even as the amount of data transmitted rose. Worse, many of the respondents deployed security measures in a “haphazard and inconsistent” fashion, and nearly all respondents seemed unable to fully process the questions posed by Markey’s office.

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Filed under Security, Technology

Obama Taking Unprecedented Direct Control Over Internet Changes

Breitbart

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said President Barack Obama is about to succeed in his attempt to take “alarmingly unprecedented direct involvement” into the FCC’s plan to regulate the internet, which he explained will mean “billions of dollars in new taxes,” slower broadband speeds and “less competition.”

Discussing the plan that the FCC has refused to let the public see Pai said, “Unfortunately it looks like the cake has been baked. President Obama gave his direction to the FCC in back in early November and lo and behold, the FCC majority has put together President Obama’s plan for Internet regulation. And it looks to be posed pass it on a 3-to-2 vote.”

When asked if the president’s move was an “alarmingly unprecedented direct involvement,” into FCC, Pai agreed, explaining the FCC has been an independent agency since 1934, he said, “When you have a politician shortly after the midterm election deciding to direct the agency to do  x, y, z  and telling us he wants us to use a particular legal theory to do it you’re in uncharted territory, at least in my experience. I think compromising the  independence of the agency is bad enough, but especially when it involves the government control the Internet. That is just a dangerous road for us to travel on.”

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Filed under Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Executive Order, FCC, Hypocrisy, Internet, Liberals, Politics, President, Technology

Did they really think we’d believe them “lost”?

GOP Sen: We Have 16,000 Unique Lerner Emails with Potential Admin Contacts

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) explained in November the Treasury Inspector General reported that it had recovered almost 80,000 missing emails from the seized IRS disaster recovery tapes. Upon investigation it was found approximately 80 percent are duplicates, which leaves roughly 16,000 recovered, unique Lois Lerner emails.

The Wisconsin senator promised “a number of committees,” working together will spend the next couple of month “sorting through” the emails to “piece together this plot.”

Johnson said, “This administration has been completely opaque. But that’s one question. Who was communicating with Lois Lerner? What emails were exchanged with the White House or Treasury department? That’s what we are trying to get to the bottom of.”

He added, “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”

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Filed under "Transparency", Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Government, Hypocrisy, IRS, Liberals, Politics, Security, Stupidity, Technology, Useful Idiots

More upcoming Dem garbage to look forward to…

Dems on FEC open to new regs on donors, Internet

Claiming that thousands of public comments condemning “dark money” in politics can’t be ignored, the Democrat-chaired Federal Election Commission on Wednesday appeared ready to open the door to new regulations on donors, bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns.

During a broad FEC hearing to discuss a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminated some donor limits, proponents encouraged the agency to draw up new funding disclosure rules and require even third-party internet-based groups to reveal donors, a move that would extinguish a 2006 decision to keep the agency’s hands off the Internet.

Noting the 32,000 public comments that came into the FEC in advance of the hearing, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, “75 percent thought that we need to do more about money in politics, particularly in the area of disclosure. And I think that’s something that we can’t ignore.”

But a former Republican FEC chairman said in his testimony that if the agency moves to regulate the Internet, including news voices like the Drudge Report as GOP commissioners have warned, many thousands more comments will flood in in opposition of regulation.

“If you produce a rule that says we are going to start regulating this stuff, including the internet and so on, I think you will see a lot more than 32,000 comments come in and I don’t think staff will analyze them and find that 75 percent are favorable to more regulation,” said Bradley Smith, now with the Center for Competitive Politics.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", FEC, Government, Internet, Technology

The Internet is a threat to them. Thus, they must control it.

The FCC’s Big Internet Power Grab Comes Directly From the White House

Why did Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler decide to embrace the idea of regulating the Internet like a utility?

He says it’s because he saw that the wireless industry had thrived under similar regulation. But as a report in today’s Wall Street Journal makes abundantly clear, it was really a response to pressure from the White House, which effectively ran a shadow FCC.

As the folks at TechFreedom point out, Wheeler has now reversed himself on a number of issues related to net neutrality in order to align with the preferred position of the White House.

Technically, the FCC is an independent agency charged with making its own decisions on such matters. But the Journal‘s report, and Wheeler’s multiple reversals, suggest that in practice, it is instead acting as a direct extension of the White House, proposing policy changes that the agency’s chairman would not have supported without unusual and aggressive prodding from the administration.

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Filed under "Transparency", Politics, Technology

This is your brain online: How technology can affect the brain like drugs

DeseretNews

The parameters of digital addiction are not defined, but digital addictions are similar to behavioral addictions like compulsive gambling.

Kuss says there’s evidence that Internet addiction can alter brain chemistry.

When the brain experiences something pleasant — for example, winning a video game — the good feelings come from a rush of dopamine, she said. When someone becomes addicted to the activity, neural receptors in the brain become flooded with dopamine and essentially turn off, leading the addict to seek out those feelings aggressively.

When the activity is cut off, it takes time for the receptors to wake up, resulting in depression, mood swings or sleep deprivation. Doan says science needs to classify different kinds of media based on what he calls “digital potency.”

“You don’t see people getting addicted to PowerPoint,” Doan said. “Our challenge is to figure out how potent something like Facebook is compared to something like gaming.”

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Filed under Health, Mental Health Issues, Relationships, Technology

Obama’s plan to relinquish our authority over the Internet

The End of a Free Internet?

When the new Congress shows up on Tuesday, it’s going to have lots to worry about, but there’s one serious problem at risk of being overlooked. And that really can’t be allowed to happen; it’s much too important:

In 2015, the Obama administration plans to hand over control of ICANN — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — to international governance. ICANN oversees the superstructure of the Internet, and the American Department of Commerce oversees ICANN. The plan for handing our authority to the global community would mean oversight by censors and despots in China, Russia, and Iran.

Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is steeped in naïveté. He’s done irreparable damage in Cuba, where the Castros were on their last legs. He’s done irreparable damage in the Middle East, where defeat was snatched from the jaws of Iraqi victory, and where lifting sanctions saved Iran’s foundering economy. He’s done irreparable damage in East Asia by genuflecting to Beijing’s dictators. He’s done irreparable damage in Europe by scrapping the Czech–Polish missile-defense system and gift-wrapping the Crimea. This fait-accompli phone-and-pen nonsense is incredibly serious.

But this time, Congress has advance warning. And it knows what’s at stake. If it does nothing, it will have done irreparable damage to the freedom of everyone who uses or is affected by the Internet. Which is to say, everyone. It will be Congress’s fault.

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Filed under Politics, Technology

Here’s What the Internet Looks Like in North Korea

When the Internet in North Korea crashed this week for nearly 10 hours, it’s unlikely that many of the reclusive nation’s millions of residents noticed.

Williams estimated that the number of people who regularly use the Internet in North Korea was probably somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people, and since Monday’s attack took place in the evening hours local time, the number of people who noticed would be far less.

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis for Internet performance management company Dyn Research, told ABC News that the country’s virtual footprint is “inordinately small.”

All told, there are said to be 1,000 IP addresses in the country, Madory said, compared to about 981 million in the United States and about 107 million in South Korea.

Another way to measure a country’s digital footprint is by the number of BGP routes, which Madory described as the way anyone on the Internet would send traffic out of North Korea.

The United States has 150,000 BGP routes, which is the most in the world. South Korea has 17,000 BGP routes, and North Korea has four.

Madory noted that there are countries that have fewer routes than North Korea, though they are mostly small South Pacific island nations where the population is a fraction of that of North Korea’s.

“It is a microscopic-sized Internet, especially for a country of millions of people,” Madory said.

To put it in perspective, North Korea has fewer IP addresses than a New York City block…

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Filed under Culture, Government, North Korea, Technology