Bills, legislation, and ordinances

Email is protected by the Fourth Amendment

Freedom to Tinker reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that email is protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant issued by a judge before law enforcement officials can search premises, and has long been applied to opening sealed paper mail.

Knowledge Democracy:

Incumbent providers fight for mediocrity in telecom

Ars Technica reports on a running fight that Time-Warner has picked with the town of Wilson, North Carolina.

Community news and projects:

Mitchell to FCC: Regulate in the public interest

Chris Mitchell of the Minnesota Institute for Local Self-Reliance testified before the FCC recently on behalf of community broadband projects. Mitchell argued eloquently that state legislators should not be able to preempt local governments from starting and managing community broadband networks. The short video is well worth watching.

The Internet routes around damage (wiretapping)

In a story that has been simmering for a while, the New York Times reports that the Feds want to be able to easily wiretap a wide variety of Internet services, including Skype, Facebook,and Blackberry (RIM) communications.

Knowledge Democracy:

Schedule for broadband stimulus awards

The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture have announced a schedule for the disbursement of remaining broadband stimulus funds. Commerce expects to release a round of awards in mid-August, and USDA and Commerce will announce additional awards in September, with all funds awarded by the Congressional deadline of September 30th. For communities that have put broadband plans on hold, the uncertainty will soon be over.

Municipal broadband saved in North Carolina

Save NC Broadband reports that the attempt to halt community-owned and municipal broadband in North Carolina met its final defeat this year. The effort to get a bill passed that would essentially prohibit municipalities from taking control of their own economic future dragged on through the entire NC legislative session, and someone could probably write a pretty good horror movie script from the saga.

Community news and projects:

The fight in North Carolina (and other states)

The New America Foundation has an excellent summary of what has been going on in North Carolina. It should be of interest to anyone who thinks communities and regions have a right to determine their own economic future. The industry-financed fight in North Carolina may show up in any number of other states in the next couple of years as community broadband efforts not only mature but excel.

North Carolina broadband battle rages on

The broadband battle rages on in North Carolina, with more and more people starting to realize that the state and NC communities needs flexibility in addressing economic development problems.

Community news and projects:

Broadband fight continues in North Carolina

A knock down, drag out fight over the right of communities to control their economic future continues in North Carolina. Via Save NC Broadband, the City of Salisbury, North Carolina is struggling to put a stop to a state legislature proposal to ban community investments in broadband.

Community news and projects:

Boucher proposes online privacy bill

Congressman Rick Boucher (D) of Virginia's Ninth District has proposed an Internet privacy bill, which is co-sponsored with Cliff Stearns (R) of Florida. The bill has critics from both the business community and consumer advocates, which suggests it probably strikes the right balance as a place to start. I am constantly amazed at how casually people give up personal information like their birthdate, street address, and other information just to get some "free" service (e.g. Facebook).

Knowledge Democracy:

FCC says keep broadband services unregulated

Via the Washington Post, the FCC has indicated that broadband services will likely remain unregulated for the time being. The recent court ruling in favor of Comcast most likely brought the change in direction. An attempt by the FCC to regulate broadband service providers would likely bring many more lawsuits that could drag on for years.

Court says "No" to FCC on regulation

A D.C. court ruled against the FCC's attempt to regulate how Comcast manages its network. The ruling dates back to a 2008 order that FCC imposed on Comcast, which was slowing down high bandwidth file sharing for some of its customers.

Knowledge Democracy:

Are blogging licenses coming?

Here is an interesting story. Apparently, a Microsoft exec has proposed that all bloggers need to have a license before they can write on the Web. And Time magazine and the New York Times think this would just be spiffy. This is not likely to ever happen, but the fact that companies like Microsoft and old media think it is a great idea suggest that there is still much resistance to the changes the Internet has brought.

Knowledge Democracy:

New Hampshire towns demand right to control their economic future

A coalition of New Hampshire towns and other interested parties are encouraging state legislators to give New Hampshire towns and cities the right to bond for telecommunications infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, the incumbent providers are not excited about the notion, even though largely rural New Hampshire has tens of thousands of residents still on dial-up and one of the providers is having severe financial difficulties. The towns see it as an issue of economic survival.

Community news and projects:

First round stimulus rejection letters in the mail

Some applicants for first round broadband stimulus funds report they have received their rejection letters today (1/25/2010). It does not appear that the letters provide any information about why an application was rejected, other than to note that it did not score high enough.

USDA/RUS releases additional broadband stimulus awards

USDA/RUS has announced an additional $313 million on stimulus funds, going mostly to rural telephone company projects.

FCC considers idea of taxing to fund broadband expansion

Via Eldo Telecom, According to Kiplinger, the FCC may be considering expanding the Universal Service Fund (USF) tax to help fund the expansion of broadband into rural and underserved areas.

Open access networks will become the "normal" way to design and build networks

The NOFA (Notice of Funds Availability) for broadband stimulus funding was released last week; the document defines how to apply for those funds, and both private sector companies and communities can apply. On page 66, beginning at line 1470, the NOFA does something very important: it provides an explicit preference for networks that offer open access services (or open services) to end users. Here is the exact statement:

North Carolina anti-broadband bill sent back to committee

A grass roots effort in North Carolina to beat back an anti-broadband bill in the legislature has apparently had some effect, as the bill was sent back to a committee for more study. Opponents of the bill think that's good enough for now, although most of these bills continue to re-surface year after year.

Community news and projects:

Alcatel supports municipal broadband

From the good folks in Wilson, NC, an excerpt from a letter that fiber equipment manufacturer Alcatel wrote in support of the right of communities to improve broadband services. Good for Alcatel. In part, it is probably a business decision, which makes it even more interesting--the company must know that municipal broadband efforts are good business.

Community news and projects:


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