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Tech at Night: Net Neutrality, FCC, Patents, Copyrights, Sony, Anonymous

Tech at Night

Good evening. Or Good morning on the East Coast, as it’s unfortunately approaching 5am there as I start tonight’s edition. A big story is that the House Judiciary Committee will get into the game of watching the FCC, following in the footsteps of the Energy and Commerce, and Oversight committees. Commissioner Robert McDowell and Chairman Julius Genachowski are among those set to testify before Bob Goodlatte’s Competition subcommittee. I’m somewhat troubled by this, because Goodlatte seems to be looking for a government solution to a non-existent problem.

Hopefully Commissioner McDowell will set Goodlatte straight that we need a hands-off approach to the Internet, not creative reasons to increase regulation of a critical center of growth for our economy.

One reason we need to set Bob Goodlatte straight on the need for less, not more government: regulation costs jobs:.

(O)ver a five-year window, even a small 5% reduction in the regulatory budget (about $2.8 billion) will result in $376 billion ($75 billion annually) in expanded GDP and expand employment by 6.2 million jobs (1.2 million annually)

Here’s a fun story: Not only are the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules an overreach beyond the law, they appear to be ineffective. The worst-case scenario we’ve always been talked about is per-site or per-app blocking of Internet service, it appears that the Net Neutrality power grab would still allow it. One is left to conclude Net Neutrality was never about that in the first place, but rather was just a pretext to take power online.

No, the patent issue isn’t going away. the fight between Google and Oracle over the Java technology incorporated in Android. One does wonder, if Google really is as arrogant about copyright and patent as Oracle says, just how much litigation is ahead surrounding the growing Android platform. I’m not so sure Google is in the right with respect to Java, as I’ve previously in this space called their tricks pretty sneaky and perhaps too clever, but I won’t mind if the process spurs software patent reform.

Speaking of antitrust, here’s an interesting story: Some software engineers are essentially claiming they have a right to be headhunted, that is, recruited from one company to another. A number of companies have agreed, either in writing or otherwise, not to recruit employees from each other. And so some of the relevant employees are suing, claiming it violates antitrust law. I’m skeptical. The rhetoric sounds socialist and greedy, just looking to drain from deep pockets.

Moving on, Even as Anonymous is exposed as having been behind the Sony PSN breakin, despite the group pleading with 4chan readers not to be held accountable, Mary Bono Mack is looking into the matter. I hope she won’t fall for the sloppy thinking in the press, which has been reporting misinformation, misleading explanations of acts (such as the scare tactic of claiming that the passwords were unencrypted, when every expert knows you hash passwords rather than encrypting them), and other blame the victim demagoguery.

Is an IP address enough for a search warrant? Judge Harold Baker says no, citing the risks to everyone involved in wrong door breakins, and also the technical fact that “The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment.” Unless we’re going to make it a criminal offense to have an insecure network (a vague term in itself, despite Germany’s pushes in this direction), these issues will loom over the law for years to come.

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