Tasty, Tasty Sausage

This story about the natural gas industry losing out to dirtier fossil fuels in the energy bill on NPR’s Morning Edition demonstrates the fundamental problem with Federal policymaking today, With Little Clout, Natural Gas Lobby Strikes Out: “[Former Senator Tim] Wirth told the industry leaders that on Waxman-Markey, they blew it. ‘Every industry was deeply engaged, except one: Yours,’ he said. ‘The natural gas industry, the industry with the most to gain and the most to offer, was not at the bargaining table.’ It’s an especially harsh verdict because the Waxman-Markey bill was drafted only after high-profile negotiations with proponents of coal, nuclear, oil, wind, solar and other energy sources.”
If natural gas is so important to national energy policy, why does the industry need to advocate for inclusion in that policy? If it’s so important, shouldn’t that be advocated by the Congressional staffs and civil service experts who are engaging in policy analysis to determine the best policy outcome for the public interest, rather than the policy outcomes best advocated by the various lobbies?

FCC Set to Adopt Open Internet Rules

In a speech on Monday at the Brookings Institution, new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed that the FCC adopt a stronger position and be more actively involved in regulating an open Internet.

To date, the Federal Communications Commission has addressed these issues by announcing four Internet principles that guide our case-by-case enforcement of the communications laws. These principles can be summarized as: Network operators cannot prevent users from accessing the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.… Today, I propose that the FCC adopt the existing principles as Commission rules, along with two additional principles that reflect the evolution of the Internet and that are essential to ensuring its continued openness.…
The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination — stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications. This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers’ homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider. The Internet must continue to allow users to decide what content and applications succeed.
The sixth principle is a transparency principle — stating that providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices.

The FCC launched OpenInternet.gov to share information.
Reactions and Reporting:
William McGeveran, Info/Law, FCC to Propose Net Neutrality Rules “This will be a major fight, probably the most significant battle we have seen within the federal government over the structure of the internet.”
Marguerite Reardon, CNet, Verizon, AT&T: Net neutrality not OK for wireless “Verizon and AT&T, which operate the nation’s largest and second-largest cell phone networks, respectively, say the rules should not apply to wireless Internet access.”
Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen asks Does the Internet Need More Regulation? “The Internet in America has been a phenomenal success that has spawned technological and business innovation unmatched anywhere in the world. So it’s still fair to ask whether increased regulation of the Internet is a solution in search of a problem.”
Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, ISPs react, sort of support network neutrality—with caveats: “In one important sense, the ‘openness’ advocates have already won the first round of the debate: the way the issue is framed. As you can see from the statements below, no companies will come out against the idea of being ‘open,’ at least when it comes to wired networks.”
Ryan Singel, Wired, FCC Backs Net Neutrality — And Then Some: “FCC chairman Julius Genachowski delivered Monday on President Obama’s promise to back ‘net neutrality.’ But he went much further than merely seeking to expand rules that prohibit ISPs from filtering or blocking net traffic — he proposed that they cover all broadband connections, including data connections for smartphones.”
Saul Hansell, The New York Times, F.C.C. Chairman Seeks to Protect Free Flow of Internet Data: “Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Genachowski will propose that the net neutrality principles be formally adopted as commission rules, a lengthy procedure that involves several rounds of public comment. His predecessor, Kevin Martin, avoided making formal rules, arguing that the industry changes too quickly. He preferred to respond to complaints when they were filed.”
David Weinberger, NPR, Net Neutrality And Beyond: “But [regulation is] only necessary because the way we deliver Internet in this country waves at least three major Temptations to Discriminate in the faces of the access providers. 1. A provider may want to gain advantage over a competitor’s services — like Apple not allowing Google’s phone service on the iPhone. 2. It may honestly believe that its users want it to give the delivery of (for example) video priority over the delivery of e-mails or search results. 3. Or, it may view discrimination as triage necessary to handle high volumes of traffic.”
And finally, a new blog focusing on these rulemaking proceedings from law professors Jim Speta (Northwestern), Tim Wu (Columbia) Christopher Yoo (Penn) is at Net Neutrality Rules.

Teaching Copyright

According to the program’s web site, Music Rules is “a free educational program designed to encourage respect for intellectual property and responsible use of the Internet among students in grades 3-8.”
At Ars Technica, Nate Anderson takes a look at the curriculum, which happens to be sponsored by the RIAA, Back to school with RIAA-funded copyright curriculum: “If this sounds more like ‘propaganda’ than ‘education,’ that’s probably because Big Content funds such educational initiatives to decrease what it variously refers to in these curricula as ‘songlifting,’ ‘bootlegging,’ and ‘piracy.”
I tend to think that copyright basics are part of the discussion about information literacy, plagarism and general internet skills that should be taught as part of teaching in the digital age, as copyright is not just recordings, but also text, images and movies.