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Tech at Night: The Obama FCC meets, and is pretty terrible.

Tech at Night

So the European Union has invented a “right to be forgotten”, that is forcing Google to censor its results. Given the history of Nazi war criminals trying desperately to be forgotten, this is an odd thing for the EU to be doing.

While they are opt-out, a rare thing when it comes to government, UK government censorship of the Internet exists, and nobody’s doing a thing about it at this point.

but the big story this week was the FCC meeting. It was pretty terrible, over all. A lot more on that after the jump.

So, the setup: Tom Wheeler proposed re-passing Net Neutrality regulations, also known as the Open Internet order, after the courts ruled Net Neutrality illegal a second time in the Verizon v FCC case. But he threw in one tiny little nod to reality in his proposal: making sure ISPs can offer better service for a fee, which became known as a ‘fast lane’ idea.

And the left exploded, latching onto that as the center of opposition to the idea. which is odd since their counter proposal, a procedure known as Title II Reclassification, which would literally change the rules to that ISPs are regulated like phone companies (and we know how great that works, right?), would also allow the same fast lanes.

The radical left had their fit and Congressional Democrats danced to their tune. Even the White House is playing the game, but it’s really all about kicking up dust to push for an even more radical approach. They did this last time.

But it passed on a party line vote, and wrongly so. The Democrats and the radicals within are taking the Obamacare model for the Internet. Their ideas would be a buzzkill for innovation and growth.

Regulators need to stop overstepping their bounds and let the Congress act. Especially when their ideas are a solution in search of a problem. It’s good that Republicans continue to put pressure on the runaway FCC.

The radicals really are all about the Obamacare model though. They want high users to be subsidized by low users of bandwidth. Though here’s the funny thing: Even “cord cutters,” the people who don’t get traditional cable television and instead watch lots of streamed video over the Internet, they don’t use the amount of data that firms like Comcast want to cap standard accounts at. They only want to charge the very tip top users more money, because almost nobody goes over 300GB/month, including most users of sites like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant.

The FCC did do one reasonable thing, opening up some unlicensed spectrum free of government problems. In limited quantities this sort of open spectrum is great for innovators.

But the FCC also came to make a decision on incentive auctions, where (mostly rural) TV stations sell their spectrum on the open market, pocketing money which can be invested in those communities, and also opening up wireless spectrum there. That’s important because in the wide open spaces of rural America, wireless and satellite Internet access are critical options to have. It was an important topic, and as it turns out the FCC decided picking winners and losers was more important than doing the right thing for rural America and the current spectrum holders who want to maximize their revenue from the auctions.

For the record, Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly have been great, but being the two Republicans on the FCC they are outnumbered.

Minnesota passes a phone kill switch law. What could possibly go wrong?

It shows that the EFF has an ideological agenda when Google is praised for its use of people’s data by them, when Google is actively ignoring the Internet’s Do Not Track standard for privacy. Selling your metadata to the highest bidder, even against your expressed wishes.

In fact EFF is claiming these firms “have your back” simply because they work to oppose the US Government, without regard for actual privacy against most people. It’s an extreme ideological position detached from real-world concerns people have. Privacy is privacy whether public sector or private.

Of course if most people actually did care about privacy they wouldn’t be using Facebook and Google in large numbers.

It’s interesting to see Lee Terry talking tough on patent trolls. Not what I’d have expected from him.

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