There's a new story developing. I've touched on it now and then, but the pieces are coming together. The FCC temporarily blocked the AT&T/Qualcomm deal to let AT&T buy spectrum using the excuse that they wanted to evaluate it together with the AT&T/T-Mobile deal. Well, the latter deal has been withdrawn from the FCC, so now what's the hold up?
It turns out that the Obama FCC under Julius Genachowski is looking to change the rules of the game. Genachowski wants to make it harder to for firms to pick up the spectrum they need to serve an ever-growing demand for wireless Internet. He and the FCC are calling it a change to the "spectrum screen."
Why the timing? Well, it turns out that Democrat commissioner Michael Copps, despite being an ardent supporter of the radical George Soros-driven Media Reform agenda, has spoken out against changing the rules midstream. but it may not matter, as he's quitting, and his replacement is going through the confirmation process right now in the Senate. Though that replacement may be delayed as Chuck Grassley fights for transparency in the FCC, there are no other obstacles to confirmation foreseen.
So while Copps has made a due process argument against what Genachowski is doing, Genachowski may be counting on Copps's departure to prevent that from being an issue. With him gone, the Chairman will apparently be free to do what he wants, declaring what the rules will be anytime he wants, picking one set of rules for one company, and another set of rules for another, with nothing to stop him.
Chuck Grassley is fighting for transparency with respect to the FCC and LightSquared. The House Energy and Commerce committee is looking into FCC's Spectrum Screen treatment. Even FCC Democrats are having to speak up. The FCC is completely out of control, and it's taking all we've got in the Congress just to try to keep up, and to force the Obama administration to submit to oversight and respect the rule of law.
SOPA continues. The selective Internet kill switch bill, promoted by the administration's allies in Hollywood to favor them over Internet-driven industries, now faces a bipartisan, bicameral alternative. Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, has been filibustering PROTECT IP in the Senate, and Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, has been speaking out against SOPA in the House. Together they propose the OPEN Act to keep the Internet open.
OPEN can actually work. Unlike SOPA and PROTECT IP, OPEN avoids regulating the Internet in America, and instead calls for us to use the International Trade Commission to target foreign "e-parasites" who infringe on the property rights of Americans. That's a key. SOPA and PROTECT IP target American firms, harming us without actually reaching out to foreign firms. OPEN goes after the source of the problem.
It's also important that OPEN doesn't mess with the DNS system in America, a core Internet service. If we tried to censor DNS, we'd simply cut ourselves out of the loop, and become a laggard corner of the Internet like China, not at the thriving core. Darrell Issa says Don't Break the Internet in promoting OPEN over SOPA. It's a simple slogan but it's right, and it's not exaggerating.
Naturally the MPAA is angry, because OPEN calls for government to be neutral, not picking sides with one American industry or another. MPAA wants SOPA, that plays favorites.
Secretary Clinton has even spoken out against SOPA and for Internet Freedom. Oh wait, no, she's going abroad and telling the rest of the world not to censor the Internet, even as Democrats and some Republicans attempt to do it at home.
The Government already has a poor track record on this. Censorship inherently defies oversight by the Congress and by the People. Don't give the government a selective kill switch. Defeat SOPA. Pass OPEN Act if you want to target infringers, but defeat SOPA.
Can I get a big, whopping boo for the American Invents Act? That's the insane bill Obama signed that favors lawyers over inventors, by changing our patent system to no longer give patents to the first person to make an invention. Dana Rohrabacher and I seemed to be the only ones who even cared.
PATENT WARS: Apple fends of Samsung attempt to ban the iPhone 4S in France, while Samsung holds off an Apple attempt to ban the Galaxy Tab in Australia. Worldwide, courts seem reluctant to completely ban the imports of popular electronics. This patent system is a wreck, and AIA's pro-lawyer stance cannot help. We need real patent reform to fight cartels, and protect the interests of the public and not the American Bar Association
AT&T withdrew its T-Mobile merger application from the FCC in order to focus on the DoJ and Sprint lawsuits. Well now Eric Holder and Barack Obama Justice department are trying to stall that lawsuit until after AT&T re-files. If this were criminal court then it'd sound like an attempt at double jeopardy, wouldn't it? But, the government gives itself broader latitude in civil court, it seems.
After playing California like a fiddle, in hindsight, Amazon gets ready for a national Internet Sales Tax fight. Conservatives need to watch out here. You're going to here a lot of arguments about "fairness" and "paying your fair share." But let me remind you that once the federal government starts collecting sales taxes, then the infrastructure will be in place for a national sales tax. For The Children. Think about the coming Presidential election. Are you confident our next President, Republican or Democrat, won't get talked into a national sales tax? Nine percent, one percent, even just half a percent. To be "responsible." To avoid "burdening our grandchildren."
And once it's passed, what stops it from growing?