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FCC Commissioner Warns of Destructive FCC Policies 110

bugsy writes "Discrimination, Closed Networks and the Future of Cyberspace... Just over a month ago, Karl Auerbach asked, Is the Internet Dying?. Today, Commissioner Michael J. Copps, of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a speech at the New America Foundation, is asking the very same question, 'Is The Internet As We Know It Dying?' and warning about FCC policies that damaged media now threatening the Internet. Coincidence?! Here is CircleID's report on these Remarks by Michael J. Copps, Federal Communications Commissioner: The Beginning of The End of the Internet? Discrimination, Closed Networks, and the Future of Cyberspace."
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FCC Commissioner Warns of Destructive FCC Policies

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  • i think the internet is becoming a more commercial media, and with that come benefits as well as disadvantages. I don't like the turns the internet has been taking recently, too many lawsuits and crackers, this isn't what the internet was designed for.
    • by shostiru ( 708862 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @07:50PM (#7186770)
      I'd say the disadvantages far outweight the advantages, but that's my personal opinion.

      I think the net reflects, to a great degree, the expectations of its users. I can remember back when there was no spam, Usenet was truly useful, and worms and viruses were exceedingly rare. The barrier to entry for the net was *very* high. Because of this, users tended to be participants more than observers.

      As useful as the web is, it ushered in wave after wave of people whose prior experience with visual media was television. They bypassed the usual education of net.culture that one previously received by participating, as well as the ethical and practical lessons given by one's school or organization (and enforced by one's local surly sysadmin).

      Now that people *expect* the net to be "television that you can click on", I think they are more likely to accept without complaint the commercialization and concentration of power that occurs with traditional broadcast media. Those of us who try to take a stand against this trend now seem outdated at best, radical kooks at worst.

      • "I'd say the disadvantages far outweight the advantages"

        I would agree that there are significant disadvanteges to the commercialization of the internet, yet I would hesitate to say the bad outweighs the good. The beauty of the internet is that it is still a realatively free (although less than before) medium and many great examples of user-created interactive content like Slashdot, for instance. You can also look at all the great open source software on the internet, that is certainly not commercial, and
      • Most of the real disadvantages are choices made by business that favor efficiency over stability. E.g., having only one backbone is cheaper...but not better. There are good reasons why the internet was designed as a decentralized system, and the choices against that are not good.

        Some of the changes, OTOH, have merely revealed weaknesses in the old standards. SPAM is an example. The "correct" solution hasn't yet been identified. To my mind the correct solution would preserve anonyminity, but block SPAM
      • If you expect the Web to be as bad as (US) TV, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's getting worse, but it's still better than other forms of media, and the Internet as a whole is less polluted by commercialization than many other communication technologies.

        The number of "channels" on the Web is practically unlimited, and Web advertising at its most intrusive (popups, flah, shockwave, Activex...) is as easy to bypass as TV advertising at its lest intrusive (ie. while using a VCR or Tivo). Even spam, wh
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sure its becomming more commercial. It always was from the day ARPAnet evolved beyond the institutions and universities that gave birth to it.

      With everything as in Nature there are parasites and predators, vultures, malingering hangers on that form a food chain. The question is whether it can continue to support that food chain in its present form.

      I am saddened to see that one of the first three responses is "So what?!?". Those kiddes amongst us that have not watched the net grow and mature and seen all t
    • really I see more of the same...

      more spam, more trolls (many looking for FPs), more threats of litigation, more useless traffic, more viruses, more security holes. All these things are nothing new, and we deal with them as best as we can. For example you can browse Slashdot at 0 and miss most every lame try at a first post!

      Also, I see more useful information, better search engines, faster connectons, more people, etc.

      Room for concern, yes
      time to panic...
      you decide, I would rather stay in my seat u
    • i think the internet is becoming a more commercial media, and with that come benefits as well as disadvantages.

      It's not just the commerical media, it's the wide-spread access that's also ruining the internet.

      I'll limit my rant to usenet; slashdot is too slow for the numerous post previews required to get a longer post right, or more brief.

      Anybody remember usenet back in 1996? Or 1993? I remeber when you could hang out in the newsgroups for hours, reading thought, incisive, meaningful posts. alt.angst wa
      • The beauty of Usenet was that anyone could go there, but the road was longer for most than they would like.

        What would a Zen monastery be like if it was located in the corner of Grand Central Station?
  • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @07:31PM (#7186707) Homepage Journal
    The article makes repeated, general forecasts of "doom and gloom", but does not mention any specific pending decisions that might threaten the Internet. What are these threats?
    • The FCC may soon implement fundamental regulatory changes that would have deep and lasting effects on consumers, innovators, and business users. Copps: "Until now the big corporations that control Internet bottlenecks have been unable fully to capitalize on this power. But now we face scenarios wherein those with bottleneck control will be able to discriminate against both users and content providers that they don't have commercial relationships with, don't share the same politics with, or just don't want

      • > Think of an Internet infrastructure where backbone providers may filter out P2P traffic or whatever they believe should not pass through their network... those are the treats.

        I don't know about you, but I don't think I would call having my internet access filtered a treat.
      • Perhaps the industry consolidation that is starting to accelerate is a cause for concern. For example, this was just announced:

        (Value Click buys Commission Junction [com.com].)

        Amazon.com excluded, this merger will give one company control of about half the affiliate marketing industry. (affiliate marketing is a segment of the ad industry.)
    • by spektr ( 466069 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @07:58PM (#7186804)
      What are these threats?

      Hillary Rosen just walked into my room, unplugged my network cable and ran away with it. I tried to call the police, but my Nokia phone exploded. I'm posting this from an internet cafe. I'm scared now.
      • I'm posting this from an internet cafe. I'm scared now.

        Don't worry, everything will be fine. You're gonna be all right, trust me on this, ok? Deep breaths, that's right. Good. Ok, now tell us where you are, and we'll come and help you.... it's ok, you can trust us.

        Great, that's great. We'll be right there.


        /singing softly to self/ "Ba da dum, dum, dum, another one bites the dust..."
    • He doesn't know but he can feel it in the force though.
    • by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @08:11PM (#7186849) Homepage Journal
      It may not be dying, but there seems to be a good number of powerful entrenched interests working to kill it.

      Threats I see are things like the parasite and adware companies that are trying to install software on machines to either control or influence purchases.

      Ad blocking and porn blocking software also poses a threat. The deal here is that the ad blockers have the choice of which ads to block. Already you are seeing situations where an advertiser reaches "terms" with an ad blocking company to let their ads through.

      The number of paid listings on search engines in relation to free listings is growing.

      When things like parasiteware and adblockers move from the desktop (where the user has some control) to routers where businesses control access, things get very scary.

      Big media doesn't like all of these blogs stealing their thunder. Academic circles are incensed at all the commercial sites popping up everywhere and want to create little circles of their own.

      Personally, I think most of the interests balance each other, but technologies like parasites and net partitioning need to be monitored closely and are likely to require regulation.
      • Ad blocking and
        porn blocking software also poses a threat.

        WTF would ever want to block porn? I thought porn is what the internet is all about...
      • When things like parasiteware and adblockers move from the desktop (where the user has some control) to routers where businesses control access, things get very scary.

        This is the type of thing I find the scarriest of all. The Internet was designed so that all the smarts were on the edge -- the center nodes were just supposed to route traffic. The edge nodes put data into the network, and all the routers had to do was make sure it got to its destination.

        Now, we have routers that try to do more. Firewal
      • The regulations are likely to be more dangerous than the problems they address. NO support for that from me.

        Many of the problems that exist on the internet are due to government regulations. E.g., their sponsorship of ICANN turned a company that was ignoring it's charter into an official representative of the government.

        It's true that some regulation is needed...but the government has such a poor record that I hardly think they would be likely to make things better, or even more stable. Some of the pro
        • You are correct that standards are a better solution than government regulations.

          OTOH, they should have a squadron of attack lawyers to use against anyone who uses their StandardsMark without their approval

          However, there also needs to a recourse against monopolistic efforts that try to use standards and pseudo standards to leverage their position in the market, or when companies go way outside accepted behave like many of the parasite companies do with drive by installs of products and redirected link

    • The general vibe of the FCC lately is that all things should be directly under corperate control, and corps can regulate/ censor/ monopolize as they see fit. We've already seen that with Cable companies and Broadband...and are soon to see it with DSL because the FCC won't enforce [and has no intention to!] the sharing rules they already have. It's only a matter of time before all cariers of Broadband or DSL are considered "content providers" like AOL....with no restrictions on services rendered, blocked or
    • Technology Review just had a big article extolling the forward motion of the PlantLab project, made up of industry heavy weights, which is actually and boastfully intended to replace the internet, because the internet is "outdated" (read barbaric) in their eyes. It will have centralized control (read censorship) and will be owned privately, free at first, but likely to have a toll meter placed on it.
      It is already in operation and plans are to have it swallow everything else.
      That is about the biggest threat
  • I do not depend on the internet for anything I can't and haven't gotten elsewhere or can do without. The reason the big business's want the net is the customers, if they make it unpalatable I and many other people will just stop using it, then they will have spent more billions destroying a possible source of income than they have made...The rules of survival in business are similar to those in real life...the fit and strong survivwe, the weak and stupid get welfare or starve :)
    • .....how will you get Slashdot without the Internet?!?!

    • For many corporations, just getting you off the net is a benefit. Maybe the net is competing with them in their role as entertainment, news provider, long distance phone company. Maybe the net lets you know that their latest much-hyped product is crap. They would rather have you isolated and incommunicado.
  • How did such a guy get elected? It sounds like he actually has a brain! Ok.. that was below the belt, but to the point:

    One of the major things holding up growth of the Internet in the US is our lousy rollout of broadband (which has improved a lot since 1997 but is still not great... South Korea is still better hooked up than the US). Perhaps if the FCC mandated that phone companies and optical carriers open their networks to smaller competitors, we would all have optical fiber connections to our homes.

    • ne of the major things holding up growth of the Internet in the US is our lousy rollout of broadband (which has improved a lot since 1997 but is still not great... South Korea is still better hooked up than the US).

      How many square miles needed to be wired in S. Korea vs the US? How do population densities compare?

      You are comparing apples to oranges.

      • Oh, absolutely - I did not mean to compare size/density. Furthermore, South Korea was able to build their networks out of "newer technologies" from the start, whereas the United States tried to build on top of older lines/technologies or roll out entirely new lines.

        My point was simply that some sort of connectivity like South Korea is a good goal for the US. If we got even that far the Internet might make a serious impact on our lives and the FCC would have to help regulate something so important.

        Of cou
    • Not to worry he'll be fired shortly for criticizing people with lots of money.
    • Huh? Why is the slow rollout of broadband holding up the growth of the Internet on the US? How would the growth of high-bandwidth sites support a decentralized Internet, considering they have much higher costs and infrastructure requirements? Please give concrete examples.

      For general purposes, dial-up is fine. Considering that the Internet is part of everyday American life, I think most people would agree. I've an Internet programming job, and a modem works fine for me at home. For the large majorit

      • Well, it's not so much that the slow rollout of broadband is holding up growth, it's that if extremely high speed connections (fiber for example) were rolled out TTH "to the home", we might see an explosion of new services that could be offered.

        I mean, honestly, the fastest connection to the home (cable when it peaks at 3Megabits/sec or DSL at similarly high peak speeds) supports basic IP telephony and video over Internet.

        On the other hand, imagine fiber connections which would bring a minimum theoretical
    • How did such a guy get elected?

      Um, they are appointed.

  • it's already dead (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The internet as I knew it when I first started using it is already dead. Back when Mosaic first came out, there was no spam, no pop-up ads, no ads on websites in general. All the content on the web was free made by hobbyists rather than large corporations. On usenet, there were no AOL newbies, spammers, or fear of e-mail harvesters.
    • That's like saying radio is dead, that it changed from the original form created by hobbyists, such as Marconi, Herz and others, [earlyradiohistory.us] into the commercial enterprise it is today. But it still exists much as it was in the early days. Interesting paragraph in that link, the last paragraph echoes the article.

      Television replaced movie theaters, yet they still exist. Each fills a niche, as does the Internet.

      As each technological advance comes into its own right, it is first thought of as the end to whatever it i
    • But that content is still there. I don't think the hobbiests went anywhere. They're still on the net, and so are their web sites. Just now there are commercial web sites, too.

      Now, if the article is right, and network providers start filtering things out, cramming ads down your throat, then we're screwed.

      In the meantime, you can still find all the free content, but now you also have access to commercial resources, too. Personally, I like it. Like many others, I have a list of web sites I check every m
  • That was pretty obvious even 10 or more years ago, that the internet, as a media with so high potentials, can not stay free for a long time, can not be not owned/not divided between corporations/businesses. It's already surviving for a surprisingly long time. But sooner or later it will be reduced to the super mega e-shop, and nothing more...
  • Sure in the US maybe there is some problems with new regulations, but luckily the internet is distributed around the world.

    So the internet between most non-US countries will still continue to be fine... and in fact I'd say it would be improved because it will have greater use if hosts move outside the US.
    • by DA-MAN ( 17442 )
      > The US Isn't THE internet....

      Damn dude, someone sure lied to you.

      The company I work for has more IP address space than the entire country of China. China has about half the population of this planet.

      If the US doesn't own the internet, it's pretty fucking close. 3 of the 13 Root Name Servers are in the US. I guess my main point is that just because you aren't in the US....don't think that our laws won't affect you. That is in fact the main problem for non-US countries.

      Alright, to be fair, we don't o
      • The company I work for at its peak had 1200 employees worldwide. But we have a class B network domain. Huh?
      • Alright, to be fair, we don't own the internet in that no one can own the internet but you have to admit that we still have control over the rest of the worlds use of the internet.
        ... as long as the rest of the world goes along with the status quo, yes. That Can Change(tm).
      • Internet is built on technologies, not politics.

        USA may be where Internet came from, but USA is just _one_ country in the whole world.

        If the US imposes regulations the rest of the world don't agree with, sure there will be enough non-US tech people to build an "alternative Internet". Laugh all you want... it can be done, (actually it has been done before with other technologies, such as, excuse my lazy mind, napster).
    • Um, didn't the EU just get software patents?

      We're exporting bad policies just as fast as you can import them.

      Don't think anyone is immune.

    • So the internet between most non-US countries will still continue to be fine... and in fact I'd say it would be improved because it will have greater use if hosts move outside the US.

      ...such as goatse.cx ?

  • It doesn't matter what you note or have noted. What matters is what *they*note. This is actually a good step. A counter step highly needed. So be glad for once (BGFO).

    Don't get discouraged if what in your eyes is considered common knowledge is (finally) entering the political stage. Someone puts it there. Someone is thinking. Consider this good (relative to the ever present slipping slope).

    In sympathy with the US people (if cos only we in Europe are getting the same after a certain delay).
  • by ziegast ( 168305 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @08:01PM (#7186813) Homepage
    .... news at 11!

    If you do a Google Search for "death of the internet predicted", it returns over 533000 results. Now we add some more.

    • The internet (as used back then) is dead, and it will die again. Almost no one uses gopher any longer. NNTP is now a tiny percentage of internet traffic. The current protocols support the dumping of near infinite amounts of raw sewage onto the bandwidth paid for by others. I expect the people who pay to move onto greener pastures (new more-secure protocols), leaving unauthenticated SMTP ports and such open only on a few research and archeologists networks.

      Sure the internet as we know it won't die, but t

  • bill moyers [commondreams.org]

    here [thenation.com] is a nice little flash-based webpage too about the big ten media companies.
    • I just sent a message to my congresscritter, who is a Republican. I explained that even though he says he supports the effort to reverse the FCC decision, another member of his party intends to prevent him from getting a chance to vote on this issue. I also pointed out that Tom Delay holds his powerful position because of the present Republican majority in the House, and the only thing I can do to help get rid of Tom Delay is to cast my vote in a manner that would help reduce the number of Republicans in
  • Inch by Inch (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I once thought the internet was a uncontrollable stream of information, that since no government had total control of it, then no one would be silenced from sharing their views; their thoughts, their knowledge. But there seems to be this growing consensus that something must be done by the people who run our governments, I use to laugh and say don't they know the internet isn't a US only thing, that they can't control what other governments do, but it seems that if the U.S. picks it up, the others will see
  • elsewhere, then what?
    I can think of some parties that are not really amused if their pool of knowledge is taken away from them...
    With the internet knowledge and ideas are for the grabs for institutions like the militaries NGO's etc...
    Also the software companies loose track of their customers again...
    Now we don't want that to happen, do we?

    Is USA management that stupid and short sighted today?

  • Is the internet dying?

    Bad news: Unfortunatly yes, I just got off the phone with the hospital and we can expect the sad news anytime now :o(

    Good news: Ive have been named sole benefactor of its porn collection :oD

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read the entire speech and the issue is pretty plain. IANAL, but I'll attempt to summarize.

    Under proposed regulations, owners of physical communications assets, e.g., phone and cable companies, are no longer required to be content neutral.

    This allows for troubling new business models, politically motivated site censorship, control of access hardware and software and so forth.

    For example, Verizon DSL could charge big sites for "premium broadband quality" access to their DSL customers. Yahoo and Google a
    • I does not matter, If you are an ISP you alienate your core customers if you slow down access to, say, non-premium sites.

      People would be pissed if they found out they were buying a crippled. product like with turbotax.Bandwidth being cheap they would move to a provider that can serve up streaming porn the way they like it;fullscreen and high bitrate...

  • The facts are these: organized money and power beats the vague wishes of unorganized masses every time. It's only when the unorganized masses cooperate to check the power of the powerful interests that things hold together. Unfortunately, the senses of the unorganized masses have been dulled by complete bullshit and have lost any kind of reasoning ability. They are cowering sheep ready to be slaughtered.

    Plain and simple: If you are not working with some other person or organization to stop powerful in

    • >organized money
      >unorganized masses

      >They are cowering sheep ready to be slaughtered.
      which one was it?

      Anonymous Hero

  • Maybe it would not be such a bad thing if the internet were to die. We would all have to go back to work. It would probably jump start the economy.
  • The internet will persevere, and in the end I believe that it will be better off *because* of the actions of inept regulation and the corporate need to dominate, to crush diversity. The demise of the internet has become mantra of the weinies that gets repeated every couple of years. It SHOULD be a mantra: "Lets try to kill the internet", because in the end it will only make the net stronger.

    When I first heard people say things like: the internet, as it was in the good old days, will be gone, the fixtures(?

  • What was it Churchill said: "Never have so many words come from so little thought." Or something like that.

    Copps argument boils down to: "The Internet has grown so beautifully fast because it was unregulated, uncontrolled, unfettered. So to keep it that way we (meaning him) must regulate it, control it, and, for good measure, throw in a little fettering."

    The tightest bottleneck for 99% (ish) of us is that last 30 feet of wire between the pole and our home/abode/hovel. And for a decade now that bo
  • this s when someone creates a new internet-esque protocol.
  • The FCC is more and more becoming nothing more than enablers for Monopolies. Here is 2003 have we not yet come far enough as a society to where the government doesn't fight monopolies with one hand and grant them with another. Monopolies are NEVER, EVER, good for the consumer or public. It will be a breath of fresh air the day I see the phone and cable companies have their monopolies revoked. It's just damn unamerican. /soapbox
    • Hello? Baby bell? Uh, this is your consumer. Would you please shell out billions (pronounced BEEEELIONS) of dollars to speed up the connection to my house. Oh yeah, in the process, please open up this new expenditure to all of your direct competitors so that they can benefit. What? You mean they won't help you pay for it? That f'n sucks. Who says they have to get access? The FCC? WTF! Don't those people support monopolies? No, of course the don't. They support the inverse and in the process the
  • Things like companies embracing one technology instead of making something that would be cross compatible.. Other companies take standards and twist them to their own purposes making everyone else incompatible.

    Yes It's Microsoft.

    How about Napster, is it any coincidence that it's IE and WMP only. This is the begining of the new software monopoly. Microsoft will now instead of bundling all the software on a pc where everyone uses it becuase it's there is now getting companies to make MS only products. S
  • Should have The Future of Ideas by Lessig as required reading.

    Maybe then they could figure out what some major contributors are to the steady decline of the incredible creative energy (or innovation - but I hate that word) that characterized the earlier incarnations of the internet/www.
  • While his stances against Clear Channel, et all might be laudable, the thing that MOST stands out about Copps for anyone who follows the FCC (as I do, I run a broadcasting message board) is his crusade against free speech.

    Copps wants to agressively enforce an artificial standard of "decency" and fine stations, even taking licenses if their speech doesn't meet his standards.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter