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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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July 14, 2008 1:45 PM

FISA edit

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here is a link to The Seattle Times editorial about the Senate passing the FISA Amendments Act. The editorial ran in Sunday's paper.

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June 26, 2008 2:24 PM

Broadband's reach, or lack there of

Posted by Ryan Blethen

A coalition is working to do something about America's dismal broadband penetration, which has been well documented. InternetforEveryone.org wants to connect every American to the Internet with an affordable fast broadband connection. The effort, which is being spearheaded by Free Press, launched its campaign Tuesday.

Continue reading this post ...


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June 21, 2008 8:14 AM

Having it both ways

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

This is how Sen. Barack Obama's statement on his support of the amnesty for telecos bill begins. Wired's Threat Level again has the story.

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June 20, 2008 11:41 AM

The House passes amnesty for telecoms

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The House of Representatives passed the domestic spying bill that grants amnesty for telecommunication companies that helped the Bush administration spy on Americans. Wired's Threat Level blog has a good summary with a nice quote from Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island.

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June 20, 2008 7:50 AM

Shame on Congress

Posted by Ryan Blethen

That is as much as I am going to write today about Congressional leaders caving to the White House's domestic spying program. Will post more on the topic Monday when I get back to the office.

Until then it is worth reading Ryan Singel's post at Wired's Threat Level blog. Then head over to Wetmachine.com and read Harold Feld's fiesty take on why the Democrats shamefully agreed to give immunity to the telecommunications companies that helped the White House spy on American citizens.

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June 6, 2008 12:56 PM

Future of the Internet Part Two

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - A question was asked about how cell phones fit in to the battle over and open Internet during the Q&A period of the Future of the Internet panel. Tim Wu said that because cell phones have grown differently than the Internet the battle will be uphill.

"The culture of the cell phones is different than the culture of the Internet."

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June 6, 2008 12:11 PM

Future of the Internet

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - That is the beginning of the title of the panel I am now sitting in. The full name is, "Future of the Internet: Open, Neutral, Mobile and Ubiquitous." The panel opened with some words by moderator Timothy Karr of Free Press. The first panelist was Tim Wu, who is not chairman the Free Press board and a law professor at Columbia University.

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June 4, 2008 7:00 PM

Blogging from the Media Reform Conference

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I will be blogging Thursday through Saturday at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis. There are a lot of big and interesting names on the speakers list including Bill Moyers, and Federal Communications Commission members Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps.

Stay tuned for more from Minneapolis. For more information about the conference go to the Free Press Web site.

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May 23, 2008 5:08 PM

McCain supports telecom amnesty

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Wanted to post an update to an earlier post about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's position on granting amnesty to telecommunication companies.

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May 23, 2008 9:20 AM

Content filtering felony

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Ryan Singel of Wired has been turning out some interesting reports from the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference. On the magazine's Threat Level blog he writes that Internet Service Providers scouring their networks for copyright infringements might be committing felonies.

He quotes a University of Colorado law professor who was on a panel about ISP content filtering. The professor, Paul Ohm, said Comcast's blocking of peer-to-peer applications and Charter Communications idea of using a system to see the URLs visited by its customers could violate the Wiretap Act, which bans eavesdropping.

Continue reading this post ...


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May 2, 2008 3:28 PM

Comcastiness!

Posted by Ryan Blethen

A recent story from the Philadelphia Inquirer showed how Comcast is fighting back against the growing outrage related to its service. I was not surprised when the story noted that Comcast rates near the bottom for customer service satisfaction. I use Comcast for the Internet and cable.

Continue reading this post ...


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April 22, 2008 10:58 AM

Commerce hearing: Wrap-up

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sens. John Kerry and Byron Dorgan did a nice job of pushing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for concrete answers. As expected, Martin did a good job knocking the edges off of the questions.

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April 22, 2008 8:53 AM

Commerce hearing: Quote of the day

Posted by Ryan Blethen

"If anybody can find anybody who is enforcing antitrust laws send me their names."

That is what Sen. Dorgan said near the end of the hearing.

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April 22, 2008 8:45 AM

Commerce hearing: Yo...Mallory!

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Mallory from Family Ties is testifying. I loved that show. I wonder where Alex P. Keaton would be on this issue? Mallory, er...Justine Bateman, nailed it. I will track down her testimony and post it here.

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April 22, 2008 8:36 AM

Commerce hearing: Christian Coalition

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Michele Combs VP of Communications for the Christian Coalition is now testifying in favor of net neutrality. She says the coalition does not want network providers "snooping" around. She pointed out that the recent dust-up with Comcast began when it blocked the downloading of the King James Bible.

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April 22, 2008 8:02 AM

Commerce hearing: Inoye, Dorgan, Martin

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Inoyue asked Martin if there was a need for Congress to get involved if the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet. Martin did not answer. He said that some network providers like Verizon agree that the FCC does have the authority, but Comcast has said the commission does not, and has filed a petition saying as much.

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April 22, 2008 7:51 AM

Commerce hearing: Kevin Martin

Posted by Ryan Blethen

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in his opening statement that the commission currently has the authority to keep the Internet open.

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April 22, 2008 7:34 AM

Commerce hearing: Corporate v. Government regulation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, is going on about how regulation would strangle the life out of the Internet. He rightly says that the future of the Internet is unpredictable. His logic stumbles when he views net neutrality as a barrier to innovation.

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April 22, 2008 7:16 AM

Blogging the Commerce Committee Internet hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I will be bogging off of the Senate Commerce Committee's Future of the Internet hearing that began a couple minutes ago.

The hearing is being Web cast, and can be found here. Chairman Sen. Daniel Inoye just finished his opening remarks. Sen. Ted Stevens was late and allowed Sen. Byron Dorgan to speak first. The first panelist is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin.

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April 21, 2008 4:04 PM

FCC Stanford hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

"I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea that my ability to speak my mind to whoever wants to hear is a matter of corporate grace rather than constitutional right, and I suspect other Americans will feel equally uncomfortable if the FCC abandons its responsibilities and fails to act."

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April 8, 2008 11:58 AM

Wetmachine on the 700 MHz auction

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Once again I link to Daily Democracy's friends at Wetmachine. Harold Feld has done a great job writing about the auction. His latest take can be found here.

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April 1, 2008 2:29 PM

The New York Times on broadband

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Broadband service is no longer a luxury. It has become a basic part of the infrastructure of education and democracy.

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March 28, 2008 10:54 AM

Keep up the pressure

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Comcast/BitTorrent agreement is a pleasant development that should not lull the Federal Communications Commission into complacency. The story can be found here. The net neutrality question has not been answered simply because Comcast said it will figure out a way not to block or degrade the file sharing technology of BitTorrent by year end.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 28, 2008 9:55 AM

700 MHz auction round-up

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I could go on about the 700 MHz auction, but I won't. A bit slammed here so I turn it over to Daily Democracy's friends at wetmachine. Harold Feld's take on the auction can be found here.

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March 5, 2008 11:53 AM

Read all about it!

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here are some links to pieces that spun from the Federal Communications Commission hearing at Harvard University last week. We at The Seattle Times editorialized today about the need for net neutrality. The edit can be found here. And here is a first person account of the hearing from our friends at Wetmachine.

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March 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Clinton's media policy

Posted by Ryan Blethen

What are the presidential candidates policies for the press, media, the Internet, broadband, cable and telecommunications? I touched on this question in my column yesterday, which can be found here.

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February 26, 2008 2:02 PM

Stifling more than the Internet

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Is it smart for a company going before a federal regulatory agency to answer questions about how it has blocked content on the Internet to try and block the public from the hearing?

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February 26, 2008 1:43 PM

Adelstein and Copps

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Below are two quotes from yesterday's FCC hearing at Harvard. The first is from FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, the second from commissioner Michael Copps.

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February 26, 2008 9:58 AM

The FCC & net neutrality

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The net neutrality movement might have gotten a boost yesterday from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. According to an Associated Press story Kevin Martin said during his opening statement at a commission hearing about network monitoring and blocking practices that:

"The commission is ready, willing and able to step in if necessary to correct any practices that are ongoing today."

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February 25, 2008 1:22 PM

FCC Internet hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Federal Communications Commission held a public hearing at Harvard University today. The commission heard from panelists about potential rules for Internet networks.

There was a live audio feed that for some reason I could not work until the end of the hearing. The FCC says the complete hearing will be posted within 24 to 48 hours. If anybody did tune in or was there, please send me something and I will post it on Daily Democracy.

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February 12, 2008 1:37 PM

700 MHz update

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here is a story from InformationWeek about the auction, which is generating some real cash. Unfortunately bidding on D Block, which would create a national public safety and commercial network, has been slow.

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February 1, 2008 12:06 PM

700 MHz auction update

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Washington Post has a good update on the 700 MHz auction. The story can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 24, 2008 12:39 PM

700MHz auction

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here is a link to an editorial in today's Seattle Times. The edit is about the 700MHz auction that begins today.

Continue reading this post ...


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December 12, 2007 3:19 PM

Nanny state

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Harold Feld at Wetmachine has a good post on the SAFE Act, which was passed last week by Congress. The bill would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep tabs on who is downloading child pornography, and report offenders to the authorities.

My knee-jerk reaction is that this is a bad piece of legislation. Child pornography is not going to be stopped, let alone curtailed, by ISPs working as the eyes of government. WiFi is a powerful tool to get communities not served by broadband on the Internet. This disincentives can be used as another excuse by media conglomerates to avoid areas that are not demographically on the high-end.

Feld's post was helpful because this is an issue I have not been following. I agree with Feld's assessment that the Democratic leadership looks bad by pushing this bill through with parliamentary tricks. Feld, who works for the Media Access Project, raises some important questions about the effect the bill will have on WiFi, and certain communities. Feld writes:

Adding another expensive infrastructure change would be a serious killer. If that's the case, then many valuable projects that service thousands of women and children living in impoverished communities will lose their access. Ms. Pelosi and the luddites supporting this bill may not understand why this is important, but I would invite them to go to the neighborhoods serviced by these projects and tell the people living there that the lifeline they have to educational opportunities, medical resources, and hope for economic advancement is getting snuffed out because middle class white folks think it's worth it on the off chance it will prevent some child pornography trafficking. I'm sure that will be a big winner next November.

His post is lengthy, but worth the read.

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Recent entries

Jul 14, 08 - 01:45 PM
FISA edit

Jun 26, 08 - 02:24 PM
Broadband's reach, or lack there of

Jun 21, 08 - 08:14 AM
Having it both ways

Jun 20, 08 - 11:41 AM
The House passes amnesty for telecoms

Jun 20, 08 - 07:50 AM
Shame on Congress

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