Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Triumph for Freedom...?

This morning, a three-judge panel from Washington, DC tossed out a cease-and-desis order against Comcast, Inc. Read more at Cnet.com:

Because the FCC "has failed to tie its assertion" of regulatory authority to any actual law enacted by Congress, the agency does not have the authority to regulate an Internet provider's network management practices, wrote Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Tuesday's decision could doom one of the signature initiatives of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules--even though Congress has not given the agency permission to begin.

A brief history of the internet:

In the wake of the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was founded in 1958 in order to ensure that America would be at the forefront of such technological surprises in the future.

Leonard Kleinrock, working in theoretical research at UCLA along with Vint Cerf's hardware architecture, pioneered the packet-switching technology that gave birth to ARPANET (the forerunner of our modern internet) in late-1969.

In 1989, the last of the first-generation Interface Message Processors was taken offline, and ever since then, every router on the modern internet has been privately-owned.

So aside from the technological minutiae, ask yourself: Do you trust the same government that runs Social Security, Medicare, and the education system to make decisions about what information your internet providers make available to you? I sure don't.

Update (4-6-10 1:20 PM CDT): A dear friend of mine pointed out that some routers are owned and maintained by state governments, and others are owned and maintained by state-run colleges and universities. I have to concede that doesn't qualify as privately-owned by the strictest definition, but my larger point is that there is no federal control over the internet. That point still stands.

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