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Tech at Night: Rage against terrible, big government priorities in DC, Extrajudicial Internet seizures coming, Lightsquared vs GPS

Tech at Night

Oh for crying out loud. For all that Washington talks tough about getting Americans access to high speed Internet, the “supercommittee” wants to tax new spectrum licensees. That’s just what we need: make it more expensive to build out America’s wireless infrastructure in order to pay for the President and his Cabinet to hand out money to their friends and political supporters. Isn’t that special? Here’s a joint letter against it from a number of industry groups.

Then you’ve got Dick Blumenthal, Al Franken, and Amy Klobuchar, leading the charge for the Democrat-controlled Senate that hasn’t passed a budget in 900 days, but wants to get government involved on what can or can’t be called 4G wireless Internet. Great prioritization here.

Spectrum’s important, though. Merely having access to a solid Internet connection lets Americans ave lots of money every year. Not just from being able to buy online, but also from gathering information, and simply from being able to stay at home. IIA did the math and American families each can save thousands of dollars a year online. And we’re busy regulating, taxing, and harassing firms like Google and AT&T, instead of getting government out of the way of investment. Yes, I’m frustrated.

But don’t worry, there’s hope. Well, not really hope, but there’s a chance some of the money the government is taxing away may go to wireless firms as subsidies, not just to the administration’s favorite wired Internet companies. Don’t you feel better that the administration just promised money, and now we conservatives are alone to fight this? Universal Service Fund reform. I’ve warned about this problem probably since before Tech at Night formally started, and now we might not be able to stop it.

We’re also still looking to emulate the People’s Republic of China and other fascist states by having the government seize property and censor websites, while doing nothing actually to stop people from transacting monetarily with criminal enterprises. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: PROTECT IP is a totalitarian power grab that threatens America’s Internet leadership, risking putting us way behind the curve with countries like Saudi Arabia and China.

Don’t think that this allegedly copyright-driven effort will protect rights, either. Private companies are looking to do the same, bypassing the legal system entirely. Companies like Verisign surely would cooperate with the feds to clamp down on anyone the feds didn’t actually have the means to prosecute. Trials, evidence, pesky things like that, who needs ‘em?

In case you don’t believe me and think I’m just speculating, per Ars Technica:

Verisign said it has been piloting takedown procedures with US law enforcement agencies, cybersecurity experts, US government Computer Emergency Readiness Teams, and domain registrars to establish baseline procedures, and has begun planning pilots with European government agencies and registrars. Just what those baseline procedures are—and what recourse domain holders who run afoul of them have—hasn’t been spelled out. Verisign says it “will be offering a protest procedure to support restoring a domain name to the zone.”

Doesn’t that make you feel better? If your property is hijacked by these privateers, you’ll have a ‘protest’ process to follow while your business is destroyed and your reputation attacked.

Another thing I’ve said before: Put not your faith in “The Cloud”, as people who rely on RIM’s Blackberry Internet Service and Blackberry Enterprise Services are finding out this week.. And yes, that includes Apple’s. I’m not touching iCloud, even though iOS 5 came out today, and my iPhone 4S should arrive Friday. I make my own backups, thank you very much.

Speaking of the iPhone 4S, remember how Sprint is supposed to be the kind, benevolent corporation looking out for the little guy, so much so that it’s morally imperative that Obama crush AT&T and T-Mobile’s plans to merge, by any means necessary? Well, Sprint won’t even unlock the GSM features of your own iPhone 4S, even though Sprint uses CDMA technology, not GSM, for voice.

Is there a man alive with less self-awareness than Eric Schmidt? Red Forman’s favorite word, but we have rules at RedState, so I can’t.

So, LightSquared to finish the night. The firm claims that GPS companies are running a smear campaign, even as House Republicans question whether LightSquared’s plans would cost us jobs. It’s a fair question, but I hope they also ask the reverse: will reducing the availability of spectrum in America also cost us jobs?

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