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Tech at Night: Jim DeMint does good, Texas races California to the bottom, FCC, AT&T, Copyright

Tech at Night

House pressure on the FCC continues, with Friday’s hearings on FCC process reform, including testimony from all four active FCC Commissioners (Republican Commissioner Meredith Baker has quit the FCC). I associate myself with the remarks of Seton Motley on the preferred outcome of FCC Process Reform: “FCC ‘Process Reform’ Should Be About Reducing FCC Power. Oh, and making them obey the law.”

Meanwhile, as much as we talk about what’s wrong with the FCC and other issues, it’s good when I get to report on people getting ready to fight back. Jim DeMint is questioning the plans for the new National Emergency Alert System, while Verizon’s fighting back on the ridiculous FCC price controls on data roaming designed to help Sprint compete without actually investing in a better network.

Rumors say AT&T is finally ready for a limited 4G LTE launch, but don’t let that fool you. They need spectrum in order to compete with Verizon in the long run. We all need more spectrum allocated to wireless Internet to meet growing need. AT&T’s spectrum per subscriber is lower than Sprint/Clearwire, MetroPCS, Leap, T-Mobile, and Verizon. If we don’t want mergers to be the only way for providers to get what they need, then let’s pass some good reform. Until then, government needs to get out of the way of a market solution to the mess it created.

Unfortunately the FCC isn’t the only source of problems online. Last year’s Internet power grab billl, COICA, is back with a misleading new name: PROTECT IP. However the real function of the bill by Senators Patrick Leahy, Chuck Grassley, and Orrin Hatch (all so well known for their love of property rights and liberty, eh?) want to impose a level of control of the Internet previously seen only in totalitarian states like the People’s Republic of China. Imagine a national blacklist of banned websites. That’s the future they want to bring us. This bill cannot stand.

Oh yes, and here’s another bit of censorship to chew on: DOJ is blaming Google because some of its customers, ad purchasers, are selling illegal products. I’m no fan of Google but I question the legitimacy of such a government act.

Moving on from the creeping shadow of government on our liberties online, I’ve run into some shocking news. Truly surprising. We all know of California’s problems, with legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown only arguing about which taxes to raise and by how much, including a possible unconstitutional Internet Tax designed to punish Amazon for its success. eBay is looking to fight that idea, which is welcome news. But look at this: The Texas Senate has arguably jumped ahead of California in this race to tax the Internet. Yes, that’s right: Texas is the new cookie monster racing to gobble up our money faster and faster. Get it together, guys.

Note to Facebook: If you’re going to smear Google, don’t leave a paper trail. I have no doubt that, say, Microsoft has been key in pushing the blame-the-victim stories against Sony over the PSN attack and outage, but I also have no doubt they’re better at giving themselves deniability.

Closing with another security tip: Never run software you don’t trust. Even if you’re on a Mac. In particular I suggest that any software that doesn’t have source code available, is suspect.

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