Category Archives: Law

Economists still calling computer networks “virtual” while interconnectivity is exposing economic externalities

While artists and designers have discovered there’s no sharp distinction between “real” and “virtual” (aka the New Aesthetic), economists are still talking about “virtual”, even as the networks of computers they’re referring to are exposing the economic externalities the greed of the “first economy” is built on.

Bill Davidow wrote for the Atlantic 10 April 2012, How Computers Are Creating a Second Economy Without Workers,

“Twenty years ago, if you went into an airport you would walk up to a counter and present paper tickets to a human being. That person would register you on a computer, notify the flight you’d arrived, and check your luggage in. All this was done by humans.”
Well, except for that part about “a computer”. And the flight computers in the airplane. And the FAA computers. And….

This is also true:

“Today, you walk into an airport and look for a machine. You put in a frequent-flier card or credit card, and it takes just three or four seconds to get back a boarding pass, receipt, and luggage tag. What interests me is what happens in those three or four seconds. The moment the card goes in, you are starting a huge conversation conducted entirely among machines. Once your name is recognized, computers are checking your flight status with the airlines, your past travel history, your name with the TSA (and possibly also with the National Security Agency). They are checking your seat choice, your frequent-flier status, and your access to lounges.”
While Bruce Sterling can (rightly, I think) say that’s not AI, nonetheless it all happens without much human intervention. And pixelated images of airplanes don’t start to indicate what’s going on in there.

The punchline:

“Here’s the challenge: In the past, every million-dollar increase in economic output generated on the order of ten jobs. In the future, in the productive Second Economy, it may generate only one or two.”
That’s not new. I’m a farmer, and 90% of farm jobs in this country Continue reading

Stop Internet censorship —Internet Engineers

Parker Higgins and Peter Eckersley wrote for EFF 15 December 2011, An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress
Today, a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively.
The signatories are people such as Vint Cerf you may have heard of even if you know nothing about the technical details of Internet, and many other people who helped produce the network you are using now. I know many of them, and they are right. If you want a free and open Internet, call or write your Senators and Congress members today, and tell them to vote against PIPA and SOPA.

The full text of the letter is appended below.


We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We’re just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

Last year, many of us wrote to you and your colleagues to warn about the proposed “COICA” copyright and censorship legislation. Today, we are writing again to reiterate our concerns about the SOPA and PIPA derivatives of last year’s bill, that are under consideration in the House and Senate. In many respects, these proposals are worse than the one we were alarmed to read last year.

If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program.

Censorship of Internet infrastructure will inevitably cause network errors and security problems. This is true in China, Iran and other countries that censor the network today; it will be just as true of American censorship. It is also true regardless of whether censorship is implemented via the DNS, proxies, firewalls, or any other method. Types of network errors and insecurity that we wrestle with today will become more widespread, and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The current bills — SOPA explicitly and PIPA implicitly — also threaten engineers who build Internet systems or offer services that are not readily and automatically compliant with censorship actions by the U.S. government. When we designed the Internet the first time, our priorities were reliability, robustness and minimizing central points of failure or control. We are alarmed that Congress is so close to mandating censorship-compliance as a design requirement for new Internet innovations. This can only damage the security of the network, and give authoritarian governments more power over what their citizens can read and publish.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We cannot have a free and open Internet unless its naming and routing systems sit above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US begins to use its central position in the network for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, Congressmen, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put these bills aside.


  • Vint Cerf, co-designer of TCP/IP, one of the “fathers of the Internet”, signing as private citizen
  • Paul Vixie, author of BIND, the most widely-used DNS server software, and President of the Internet Systems Consortium
  • Tony Li, co-author of BGP (the protocol used to arrange Internet routing); chair of the IRTF’s Routing Research Group; a Cisco Fellow; and architect for many of the systems that have actually been used to build the Internet
  • Steven Bellovin, invented the DNS cache contamination attack; co-authored the first book on Internet security; recipient of the 2007 NIST/NSA National Computer Systems Security Award and member of the DHS Science and Technology Advisory Committee
  • Jim Gettys, editor of the HTTP/1.1 protocol standards, which we use to do everything on the Web
  • Dave Kristol, co-author, RFCs 2109, 2965 (Web cookies); contributor, RFC 2616 (HTTP/1.1)
  • Steve Deering, Ph.D., invented the IP multicast feature of the Internet; lead designer of IPv6 (version 6 of the Internet Protocol)
  • David Ulevitch, David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS, which offers alternative DNS services for enhanced security.
  • Elizabeth Feinler, director of the Network Information Center (NIC) at SRI International, administered the Internet Name Space from 1970 until 1989 and developed the naming conventions for the internet top level domains (TLDs) of .mil, .gov, .com, .org, etc. under contracts to DoD
  • Robert W. Taylor, founded and funded the beginning of the ARPAnet; founded and managed the Xerox PARC Computer Science Lab which designed and built the first networked personal computer (Alto), the Ethernet, the first internet protocol and internet, and desktop publishing
  • Fred Baker, former IETF chair, has written about 50 RFCs and contributed to about 150 more, regarding widely used Internet technology
  • Dan Kaminsky, Chief Scientist, DKH
  • Esther Dyson, EDventure; founding chairman, ICANN; former chairman, EFF; active investor in many start-ups that support commerce, news and advertising on the Internet; director, Sunlight Foundation
  • Walt Daniels, IBM’s contributor to MIME, the mechanism used to add attachments to emails
  • Nathaniel Borenstein, Chief Scientist, Mimecast; one of the two authors of the MIME protocol, and has worked on many other software systems and protocols, mostly related to e-mail and payments
  • Simon Higgs, designed the role of the stealth DNS server that protects; worked on all versions of Draft Postel for creating new TLDs and addressed trademark issues with a complimentary Internet Draft; ran the shared-TLD mailing list back in 1995 which defined the domain name registry/registrar relationship; was a root server operator for the Open Root Server Consortium; founded in 1994
  • John Bartas, was the technical lead on the first commercial IP/TCP software for IBM PCs in 1985-1987 at The Wollongong Group. As part of that work, developed the first tunneling RFC, rfc-1088
  • Nathan Eisenberg, Atlas Networks Senior System Administrator; manager of 25K sq. ft. of data centers which provide services to Starbucks, Oracle, and local state
  • Dave Crocker, author of Internet standards including email, DKIM anti-abuse, electronic data interchange and facsimile, developer of CSNet and MCI national email services, former IETF Area Director for network management, DNS and standards, recipient of IEEE Internet Award for contributions to email, and serial entrepreneur
  • Craig Partridge, architect of how email is routed through the Internet; designed the world’s fastest router in the mid 1990s
  • Doug Moeller, Chief Technology Officer at Autonet Mobile
  • John Todd, Lead Designer/Maintainer – Freenum Project (DNS-based, free telephony/chat pointer system),
  • Alia Atlas, designed software in a core router (Avici) and has various RFCs around resiliency, MPLS, and ICMP
  • Kelly Kane, shared web hosting network operator
  • Robert Rodgers, distinguished engineer, Juniper Networks
  • Anthony Lauck, helped design and standardize routing protocols and local area network protocols and served on the Internet Architecture Board
  • Ramaswamy Aditya, built various networks and web/mail content and application hosting providers including AS10368 (DNAI) which is now part of AS6079 (RCN); did network engineering and peering for that provider; did network engineering for AS25 (UC Berkeley); currently does network engineering for AS177-179 and others (UMich)
  • Blake Pfankuch, Connecting Point of Greeley, Network Engineer
  • Jon Loeliger, has implemented OSPF, one of the main routing protocols used to determine IP packet delivery; at other companies, has helped design and build the actual computers used to implement core routers or storage delivery systems; at another company, installed network services (T-1 lines and ISP service) into Hotels and Airports across the country
  • Jim Deleskie, internetMCI Sr. Network Engineer, Teleglobe Principal Network Architect
  • David Barrett, Founder and CEO, Expensify
  • Mikki Barry, VP Engineering of InterCon Systems Corp., creators of the first commercial applications software for the Macintosh platform and the first commercial Internet Service Provider in Japan
  • Peter Rubenstein,helped to design and build the AOL backbone network, ATDN.
  • David Farber, distinguished Professor CMU; Principal in development of CSNET, NSFNET, NREN, GIGABIT TESTBED, and the first operational distributed computer system; EFF board member
  • Bradford Chatterjee, Network Engineer, helped design and operate the backbone network for a nationwide ISP serving about 450,000 users
  • Gary E. Miller Network Engineer specializing in eCommerce
  • Jon Callas, worked on a number of Internet security standards including OpenPGP, ZRTP, DKIM, Signed Syslog, SPKI, and others; also participated in other standards for applications and network routing
  • John Kemp, Principal Software Architect, Nokia; helped build the distributed authorization protocol OAuth and its predecessors; former member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group
  • Christian Huitema, worked on building the Internet in France and Europe in the 80’s, and authored many Internet standards related to IPv6, RTP, and SIP; a former member of the Internet Architecture Board
  • Steve Goldstein, Program Officer for International Networking Coordination at the National Science Foundation 1989-2003, initiated several projects that spread Internet and advanced Internet capabilities globally
  • David Newman, 20 years’ experience in performance testing of Internet
    infrastructure; author of three RFCs on measurement techniques (two on firewall performance, one on test traffic contents)
  • Justin Krejci, helped build and run the two biggest and most successful municipal wifi networks located in Minneapolis, MN and Riverside, CA; building and running a new FTTH network in Minneapolis
  • Christopher Liljenstolpe, was the chief architect for AS3561 (at the time about 30% of the Internet backbone by traffic), and AS1221 (Australia’s main Internet infrastructure)
  • Joe Hamelin, co-founder of Seattle Internet Exchange ( in 1997, and former peering engineer for Amazon in 2001
  • John Adams, operations engineer at Twitter, signing as a private citizen
  • David M. Miller, CTO / Exec VP for DNS Made Easy (IP Anycast Managed Enterprise DNS provider)
  • Seth Breidbart, helped build the Pluribus IMP/TIP for the ARPANET
  • Timothy McGinnis, co-chair of the African Network Information Center Policy Development Working Group, and active in various IETF Working Groups
  • Richard Kulawiec, 30 years designing/operating academic/commercial/ISP systems and networks
  • Larry Stewart, built the Etherphone at Xerox, the first telephone system working over a local area network; designed early e-commerce systems for the Internet at Open Market
  • John Pettitt, Internet commerce pioneer, online since 1983, CEO Free Range Content Inc.; founder/CTO CyberSource &; created online fraud protection software that processes over 2 billion transaction a year
  • Brandon Ross, Chief Network Architect and CEO of Network Utility Force LLC
  • Chris Boyd, runs a green hosting company and supports EFF-Austin as a board member
  • Dr. Richard Clayton, designer of Turnpike, widely used Windows-based Internet access suite; prominent Computer Security researcher at Cambridge University
  • Robert Bonomi, designed, built, and implemented, the Internet presence for a number of large corporations
  • Owen DeLong, member of the ARIN Advisory Council who has spent more than a decade developing better IP addressing policies for the internet in North America and around the world
  • Baudouin Schombe, blog design and content trainer
  • Lyndon Nerenberg, Creator of IMAP Binary extension (RFC 3516)
  • John Gilmore, co-designed BOOTP (RFC 951), which became DHCP, the way you get an IP address when you plug into an Ethernet or get on a WiFi access point; current EFF board member
  • John Bond, Systems Engineer at RIPE NCC maintaining AS25152 ( and AS197000 ( ,; signing as a private citizen
  • Stephen Farrell, co-author on about 15 RFCs
  • Samuel Moats, senior systems engineer for the Department of Defense; helps build and defend the networks that deliver data to Defense Department users
  • John Vittal, created the first full email client and the email standards still in use today
  • Ryan Rawdon, built out and maintains the network infrastructure for a rapidly growing company in our country’s bustling advertising industry; was on the technical operations team for one of our country’s largest residential ISPs
  • Brian Haberman, has been involved in the design of IPv6, IGMP/MLD, and NTP within the IETF for nearly 15 years
  • Eric Tykwinski, Network Engineer working for a small ISP based in the Philadelphia region; currently maintains the network as well as the DNS and server infrastructure
  • Noel Chiappa, has been working on the lowest level stuff (the IP protocol level) since 1977; name on the ‘Birth of the Internet’ plaque at Stanford); actively helping to develop new ‘plumbing’ at that level
  • Robert M. Hinden, worked on the gateways in the early Internet, author of many of the core IPv6 specifications, active in the IETF since the first IETF meeting, author of 37 RFCs, and current Internet Society Board of Trustee member
  • Alexander McKenzie, former member of the Network Working Group and participated in the design of the first ARPAnet Host protocols; was the manager of the ARPAnet Network Operation Center that kept the network running in the early 1970s; was a charter member of the International Network Working Group that developed the ideas used in TCP and IP
  • Keith Moore, was on the Internet Engineering Steering Group from 1996-2000, as one of two Area Directors for applications; wrote or co-wrote technical specification RFCs associated with email, WWW, and IPv6 transition
  • Guy Almes, led the connection of universities in Texas to the NSFnet during the late 1980s; served as Chief Engineer of Internet2 in the late 1990s
  • David Mercer, formerly of The River Internet, provided service to more of Arizona than any local or national ISP
  • Paul Timmins, designed and runs the multi-state network of a medium sized telephone and internet company in the Midwest
  • Stephen L. Casner, led the working group that designed the Real-time Transport Protocol that carries the voice signals in VoIP systems
  • Tim Rutherford, DNS and network administrator at C4
  • Mike Alexander, helped implement (on the Michigan Terminal System at the University of Michigan) one of the first EMail systems to be connected to the Internet (and to its predecessors such as Bitnet, Mailnet, and UUCP); helped with the basic work to connect MTS to the Internet; implemented various IP related drivers on early Macintosh systems: one allowed TCP/IP connections over ISDN lines and another made a TCP connection look like a serial port
  • John Klensin, Ph.D., early and ongoing role in the design of Internet applications and coordination and administrative policies
  • L. Jean Camp, former Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, focusing on computer security; eight years at Harvard’s Kennedy School; tenured Professor at Indiana Unviersity’s School of Informatics with research addressing security in society.
  • Louis Pouzin, designed and implemented the first computer network using datagrams (CYCLADES), from which TCP/IP was derived
  • Carl Page, helped found eGroups, the biggest social network
    of its day, 14 million users at the point of sale to Yahoo for around $430,000,000, at which point it became Yahoo Groups
  • Phil Lapsley, co-author of the Internet Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), RFC 977, and developer of the NNTP reference implementation
  • Jack Haverty (MSEE, BSEE MIT 1970), Principal Investigator for several DARPA projects including the first Internet development and operation; Corporate Network Architect for BBN; Founding member of the IAB/ICCB; Internet Architect and Corporate Founding Member of W3C for Oracle Corporation
  • Glenn Ricart, Managed the original (FIX) Internet interconnection point

Duopoly Cons Congress Members

73 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter drafted by telco and cableco lobbyists against net neutrality. Save the Internet has sufficiently fisked it. My favorite point is that when AT&T was required as a condition of acquiring Bellsouth in 2006 to abide by net neutrality, it increased its infrastructure investments. As soon as that two year requirement was up, so were the investments. (And they didn’t even honor all the requirements, such as a low-end $10/month service.)

The simple fact is that net neutrality was the condition under which the Internet grew to be what it is today, which is the last bastion of free speech and a free press in much of the world, especially in the United States. The only reason net neutrality is an issue is that the duopoly (telcos and cablecos) succeeded in their regulatory capture of the FCC during Kevin Martin’s term as chairman and did away with much it. The U.S. used to have among the fastest Internet speeds in the world. Since the duopoly got their way, the U.S. has fallen far behind dozens of other countries in connection speeds, availability, and update. While the U.S. NTIA claimed at least one user per ZIP code counted as real service.

We can let the telcos and cablecos continue to turn the Internet into cable TV, as they have said they want to do. Under the conditions they want, we never would have had the world wide web, google, YouTube, flickr, facebook, etc.

And left to their plan, the duopoly will continue cherry-picking densely-populated areas and leaving rural areas, such as south Georgia, where I live, to sink or swim. Most of the white area in the Georgia map never had anybody even try a speed test. Most of the rest of south Georgia had really slow access. Which maybe wouldn’t be a problem if we had competitive newspapers (we don’t) or competing TV stations (we don’t). Or if we didn’t need to publish public information like health care details online, as Sanford Bishop (D GA-02) says he plans to do. How many people in his district can even get to it? How many won’t because their link is too slow? How many could but won’t because it costs too much?

John Barrow (D GA-12) has a fancy flashy home page that most people in his district probably can’t get to. Yet he signed the letter against net neutrality.

I prefer an open Internet. How about you?

Why did the 73 Democrats sign the letter? Could it have to do with the duopoly making massive campaign contributions to the same Democrats and holding fancy parties for them?

The same lobbyists are after Republican members of Congress next.

Call your member of Congress and insist on giving the FCC power to enforce net neutrality rules.


Treasury discloses “secret” documents to spyee defense lawyer

pistole.jpg That’s the problem with secrets. You tell somebody, even somebody who works for you, and eventually they tell someone else:
As I recounted in Salon in July, lawyers for the Bush administration have gone to extreme and even bizarre lengths in their attempts to prevent the federal courts from determining the legality of the president’s warrantless electronic surveillance program. A key problem for them is a top-secret document that the Treasury Department accidentally disclosed to Al-Haramain’s lawyers in 2004. The document confirmed the surveillance of our clients, and thus, we contend, their legal standing to sue as victims of the program.

More evidence of Bush’s spying, Why the White House can no longer hide the truth about its warrantless surveillance of Americans. By Jon B. Eisenberg, 12 September 2008

Given thousands (or millions?) of people spied upon, eventually somebody is going to gain a foothold of legal standing to sue.

Oh, my, it gets better:

But since the July 2 ruling, we have discovered additional evidence of surveillance of our clients. In fall 2007, FBI deputy director John Pistole gave a speech at a conference of bankers and lawyers in which Pistole thanked the bankers for their cooperation in giving the FBI financial records for terrorist financing investigations, and then went on to describe the FBI’s 2004 investigation of Al-Haramain. In the text of the speech — which is posted on the FBI’s Web site — Pistole explicitly admitted that the FBI had used “surveillance” among other “investigative tools” in the Al-Haramain investigation, noting that “it was the financial evidence that provided justification for the initial [terrorist] designation” in February 2004.
I’ve got to wonder whether the FBI director didn’t know that he was providing standing, or whether he did it deliberately because he’s tired of this legal charade and wants warrantless wiretapping to stop before the eventual lawsuits tar his agency even more than it already is.

If Al-Haramain wins, perhaps the next step would be to sue the government officials who authorized those illegal wiretaps.


Kevin Martin’s Bottle: Weak Ruling Against Comcast Guarantees Court Challenges

The FCC recently ruled that Comcast has to stop throttling P2P. On the surface, that's a good thing. That Kevin Martin wanted it makes me wonder.

For once I agree with a net neutrality opponent:

By instituting this weird, weak, and barely legal regulation, Kevin Martin will get ‘net neutrality regulation bottled up in the courts for – what – the next five years?

Game, Set, and Match: Martin! by Jim Harper, Technology Liberation Front, 6 Aug 2008

Harper goes on to predict that meanwhile real competition could develop. And pigs could fly, but that's not the point.

This is the point:

The paragraph prior to the provocative line suggesting regulation of universities contains this sentence: “Allowing some Internet service providers to manage P2P traffic – much less to engage in complete blocking of P2P traffic – while prohibiting others from doing so would be arbitrary and capricious.” This is an administrative-law term of art – “arbitrary and capricious.” The use of it tells us that NCTA or Comcast will challenge the FCC’s decision to regulate only one provider of Internet access without regulating all similarly situated.

But Comcast is under a different regulatory regime!, says Harold and the others. Not in an enforcement of this “broad policy statement” thing-y. The FCC is claming free rein to regulate – not authority based firmly in statute – and if it can throw that rein over cable ISPs, it can throw that rein over universities, over Starbucks, and over the open wi-fi node in Harold’s house.

Now, given the free rein that the FCC is asserting, there is a darn good argument that it’s arbitrary (and “capricious”) to regulate only cable ISPs or commercial ISPs in this way. The FCC has to regulate the whole damn Internet this way if it’s going to regulate Comcast.

This is not just theoretical. Fox News recently refused to pay an FCC-imposed fine, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious". Fox cited a previous case in which a federal court slapped down the FCC for fining a show for swearing, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious".

All that plus if a court rules the FCC's recent decision is "arbitrary and capricious", that will be used as a precedent to require universities to regulate content on their networks in favor of big copyright holders, as elements in Congress have been trying to do for about a year now.

I think net neutrality advocates underestimate Kevin Martin at their (and our) peril.


Boehner’s Latest Crying Jag

20070216-tearfulboehner.jpg Boo hoo:
At least one lawmaker is already crying foul over Friday’s expected Federal Communications Commission’s censure of Comcast for faking internet traffic to limit its customers’ peer-to-peer file sharing.

Republican minority leader Rep. John Boehner said the FCC would be “essentially regulating the internet.”

Lawmaker Cries Foul Ahead of FCC Net-Neutrality Decision, By David Kravets, ThreatLevel, July 31, 2008 | 7:02:45 PM

This is rather like crying foul because courts regulate contracts. I wonder how the free market would operate without them? The Internet free market in applications and services wouldn’t operate very well without net neutrality.

I don’t recall Boehner crying foul when Congress voted to regulate the Internet to require ISPs to hand over every bit (every email, phone call, web page, video, etc.) to the NSA and to legalize them having already done it when it was illegal. No free market talk from him then. Guess he didn’t think the Fourth Amendment was worth crying over, unlike Anna Nicole Smith.

And back in 1995, it was the duopoly ISPs demanding regulation from the FCC, because they wanted to squelch VoIP.

Now they want to squelch everybody else’s P2P and especially online video, except what they get a cut of. They think they can get away with it if the FCC stays out of the way, so now they are against regulation.

Their principles flip-flop kind of like Boehner’s, don’t they? Bunch of cry babies.


Congress at 9% Job Approval: Why Is Lessig Putting Lipstick on the FISA Pig?

fisa_crumbling.jpg Larry Lessig points out that for the first time in history Congress’ job performance is rated (by Rasmussen) in single digits: 9%. Some of his commenters think that has something to do with the recent FISA bill, and others think that’s just a minority concern.

Three quarters of the American people and even a majority of Republicans oppose Bush’s warrantless wiretaps. Two thirds oppose warrantless wiretaps even for communications between U.S. citizens and overseas persons, and almost 2/3 oppose immunity for telcos. Aome people call that a minority. I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

Instead of standing up to Bush as the Constitution requires, Congress capitulated and gave the worst president in history still more powers to spy on the people. And the people do know about it:

“Congress rolled over on FISA” –LA Times
“Democrats voted for FISA out of fear” –Chicago Tribune
“Obama gives telecoms a pass” –Hartford Courant
“Senate approves bill to broaden wiretap powers” –NY Times
“Senate vote backs Bush on wiretaps” –Salt Lake Tribune
“Senate vote gives Bush what he wants on surveillance bill” –Seattle Times finds about 960 other stories much like those.

Is the FISA bill the only reason Congress’s numbers tanked? Nope, but I don’t think it’s coincidence that they dropped immediately after the Senate passed that bill.

Why isn’t Larry Lessig working to convince Obama he was wrong and getting him to fix it, instead of trying to put lipstick on that pig of a bill?


Senate: Get Out of Jail Free, Telcos and Administration!

get_out_of_jail_free_card_small.jpg Yes, I know, the FISA bill just passed by the Senate doesn’t preclude criminal liability. But Bush can, by pardoning for any and all crimes committed, just like Ford did for Nixon; the man who commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence won’t balk at that. And the bill does do away with civil liability, so the telcos never have to pay for illegal warrantless blanket wiretapping, and the criminal evidence against the politicians that hired it is hidden.
But, to be Chicago kind of candid, whatcha gonna do about it?

Today, the freshman senator from Illinois voted in favor of the FISA bill that provides retroactive legal protection to cooperating telecom companies that helped the feds eavesdrop on overseas calls. Up until a few weeks ago — let’s see, that would be shortly after the last primaries settled the Democratic nomination and terminated what’s-her-name’s once frontrunning campaign — Obama adamantly opposed the bill. “Unequivocally” was the word his people used.

Nomination in hand, Obama stiffs the Dem left on FISA vote, Andrew Malcolm, L.A. Times, 9 July 2008

When did the U.S. lurch so far to the right that jetissoning the Fourth Amendment is considered running to the center?

The “compromise” the bill was supposed to represent is nonexistent; Continue reading

Banana Republic, DC: Telecom Lobbying Revolving Door

800px-Banana_republic.svg.png Greenwald notes that AT&T spends more in three months for lobbying than EFF’s entire budget for a year. Then he spells out how the lobbying revolving door works, and concludes:
The “two sides” referenced there means the House Democratic leadership and the telecoms. Congressional leaders are “negotiating” with the telecoms — the defendants in pending lawsuits — regarding the best way for immunizing them from liability for their lawbreaking, no doubt with the help of the former Democratic members and staffers now being paid by the telecoms to speak to their former bosses and colleagues about what they should do. To describe the process is to illustrate its oozing, banana-republic-like corruption, but that’s generally how our laws are written.

None of this is particularly new, but it’s still remarkable to be able to document it in such grotesque detail and see how transparent it all is. In one sense, it’s just extraordinary how seamlessly and relentlessly the wheels of this dirty process churn. But in another sense, it’s perhaps even more remarkable — given the forces lined up behind telecom amnesty — that those who have been working against it, with far fewer resources and relying largely on a series of disruptive tactics and ongoing efforts to mobilize citizen anger, have been able to stop it so far.

How telecoms are attempting to buy amnesty from Congress, Glenn Greenwald,, Saturday May 24, 2008 06:48 EDT

Remember, AT&T and the other telcos and cablecos are the same companies that want to nuke net neutrality in the name of competition and progress; two other flags they behind, just like the banana republic flag of national security.


Sensing History: Yoo Re Cherry

tortoise_and_hare.jpg Dave Farber posted a response by Chris Yoo to Barb Cherry’s post about myths and historical errors. Here’s Chris’s reponse in full. To me, it seems that he is conceding that she’s right about the history, that antitrust says nothing about ISP competition, and that a few ISPs control most of the Internet in the U.S. But read it for yourself:
From: Christopher S. Yoo []

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of common carriage regulation. Barbara has spent far more time thinking about this than I have, so I always appreciate hearing her reactions and learn from reading her work. That said, here are a few thoughts.

It is true that common carriage long predates both the Granger Movement and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. That said, one of the central problems is that the historic justifications for common carriage have not aged very well. Often times the common carriage obligations were regarded as a quid pro quo for a government grant of some economic privilege. Other times they were justified because the industry was “affected with a public interest,” a concept that is usually traced to the landmark Supreme Court case Munn v. Illinois (1876). The Supreme Court struggled to imbue that standard with content (along with a number of early treatises trying to make sense of the concept) and would ultimately abandon it as analytically empty in Nebbia v. New York (1934). Legal scholars, such as Thomas Nachbar and James Speta in addition to Barbara, have attempted to recover lessons from this era. I have never spoken to Barbara about this in particular, but both Tom and Jim have noted the difficulty in extracting any useful lessons from the history.

The rest after the jump. Continue reading