Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Newsgroups and N.Y. Attorney General

Before I begin this let me state unequivocally that I have no interest in child pornography, I don't search for it, I don't peruse it and I do not advocate it.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, I have to say that what New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo , is doing is evil. Fox News has an article on Cuomo and his decision against Comcast news in that:
New York's attorney general notified Comcast Corp. on Monday that the state will take legal action if the company — the nation's second-largest Internet service provider — doesn't agree to eliminate access to child pornography.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants major Internet access providers to agree on steps to remove certain newsgroups that contain child pornography and purge their servers of Web sites that contain child porn.
I'm a bit flabbergasted at the sheer idiocy of the New York Attorney General's office. How exactly does he plan on Comcast (or any other ISP) on eliminating access to child pornography.

After all, the only sure-fired way is to eliminate internet access except to very specific websites. Which as we all know, Comcast wants, and encourages, but as a Net Neutrality advocate I can't agree with.

What this does is merely creates a precedent where Comcast and others are able to filter access to the internet based on the possibility that child pornography exists on that particular service.

Don't like BitTorrent? Hey, there's Child Porn, so we've gotta block it.

Don't like AIM? Hey! There's Child Porn, so we've gotta block it.

Don't like GOPHER? Guess what's out there? Child Porn! Gotta block it.

Don't like all those pesky Blogs on LiveJournal or WordPress? Hey look! Child Porn! Time to block it.

Amazon.com is hurting your business? Hey look! It sells Lolita! That's Child Porn masquerading as classic literature! And *gasp* even worse, they sell Pretty Baby! That's a movie! It lacks even that pesky classic literature tag! Ban them from the 'NET!

If this type of activity continues, and the ISPs become controllers of what their end users see or don't see, then the concepts which the internet were built upon are in fundamental danger. The thought that all traffic is the same, that every packet that passes through an ISP's hands should be as anonymous and as important as any other packet is in danger.

The Internet was hailed as a great tool of democracy and free speech.

These types of rules endanger that concept. They in effect struggle to turn this tool of free speech into something twisted and dangerous. These rules try to actively stifle free speech.

These rules try to actively control what you see and do.

Frankly, that's not a power that I want in Comcast's or any other ISPs hands.

And it's definitely not a power that I want in the government's hands.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Power of our Government

The Federal Government of the United States is an odd beast. On one hand it actively protects consumers via programs such as the FDA which enforces standards on food and drugs, and then there are things such as the recent rulings against COMCAST for their deceptive practices in regards to internet traffic by the FCC.

Being the strict Constitutionalist that I am, I understand the Federal Government's mandate to regulate interstate commerce. Though I do believe that on occasion that particular mandate is stretched to nearly the breaking point in an effort to further socialist programs.

Then, there's the FTC. This particular alphabet department has the unenviable position of dealing with trade issues. Well, one would think that it's unenviable, except as in most government dealings, the FTC has found a way to extort moneys from the very constituents it is designed to protect (other examples of this are taxes and the spectacular failure called the "War on Drugs").

Anyways, S. M. Oliva has posted an article on the Mises Institute website detailing the latest in a long line of abuses by this particular alphabet. This article begins with this paragraph:
On April Fool's Day of this year, New Mexico resident Mark Hershiser received a letter from Erika Wodinsky, a San Francisco attorney, demanding Hershiser turn over all revenue from Native Essence Herb Company, a small business co-owned by Hershiser and his wife Marianne. The letter was not a joke or a mistake. It was a premeditated act of extortion by Ms. Wodinsky. She had never met or spoken with Hershiser; her staff discovered Native Essence through its modest website.
Which is as good a description of what the FTC does to small-businesses as anything else I've read.

I grew up in a small business, my parents owned one, and it would have devasted our entire existence. I can only imagine what it would do to the Hershiser's. Of course, they are doing something which most small business don't do when they receive these demands by the FTC to nationalize their business: they are fighting in the courts.

I am ecstatic to see a business standing up for itself like this. Despite my tendency to not do the whole herbal thing, I am tempted to purchase something from them just because the FTC thinks I shouldn't.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Like Collars?

I gave my older brother a dog collar and leash as a gag-gift on his wedding day. More accurately, I gave it to his new bride, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, it was an amusing gift, solely for the context.

I know a girl or two who wears collars or chokers on a common basis. There's even that girl that got denied access to the bus in England a year or so ago, because she was being lead around by a leash attached to her collar.

Sure, it's odd, but hey, some people just are.

Now, think of those two scenarios: a gag-gift giving to a pair of newlyweds and girls just doing it for shock value/fashion statements. I can see people wearing them.

Now imagine the government demanding that you wear a collar, which contains your personal information, and has the ability to give you a strong enough electrical zap to incapacitate your for several minutes.

Would that make you happy to be wearing a collar?

Well, that's exactly what the Department of Homeland Security wants to do to you if you decide to ride on an airplane. The Washington Times has an article up, describing a letter to a company which produces wristbands which can be used for tracking, data storage, and immobilization requesting a proposal so that the DHS can use the devices for security and interrogations. Said letter was written by one Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, of the Department of Homeland Security.

Frankly, I'm flabbergasted that an American citizen would willingly wish to impose such a device upon another one. Especially under the weight of law and without due process.

This is a gross violation of the intentions of our Bill of Rights. I never signed up for this, and I sure did not vote this Mr. Ruwaldt into an office. So not only is he trying to shackle us all with what amounts to electric dog collars, but he's not even an elected official whom we can recall for such vile behavior.

He's a beuarucrat.

So, basically, we, those law-abiding citizens he wishes to electrify into submission, are paying his salary through our taxes.

Great work Mr. Ruwaldt.

Frankly, I'm left reminded of the Pain Bands from that old Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain." You know the one where the pretty women stole Spock's brain, and were raiding the cavemen who lived on the surface for slaves. Then they controlled the slaves via these belts which both sent electric shocks through the slaves, incapacitating them for several minutes as well as containing information about which slave it was.

You know, I understand that we owe a whole lot of our technologies to Star Trek, but I don't think that Gene Rodennberry ever expected that particular one to actually make the jump from fantasy to reality.

So, again, I must say, "Great Work, Mr. Ruwaldt."

I'm left wondering when I'll get my pain band. After all, it's a very small step from forcing every person who gets onto a plan to have one to just forcing everyone to have one. And of course the Department of Homeland Security and Congress and other members of the ruling Police Elite won't need them.

They are Big Brother after all, and they care for your safety.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eight Reasons...

PC Magazine's website has an article up concerning eight reasons why we should have metered internet.

So, without further ado, here's my personal rebuttal on just why he's wrong on those reasons.

Elimination of bandwidth caps, restrictions, and throttling.
Ultimately, that's what metering is. It's bandwidth caps, restrictions and throttling, except that if you happen to go over, you get slapped with huge fines.

Promotion of higher speeds.
Only if the user is willing to pay for it. A weak argument if you ask me, especially in light of the fact that it fails as a possible model. If a user is being charged for length of time online, then why would the network providers be willing to increase the speed?

Moderate users would pay less than they pay now

Download junkies would pay for their habit
I actually pay for my habit now. I pay more for higher bandwidth speeds than those that don't want that. And the all-you-can-eat buffet fails here as well. The costs associated with a few people who consume extreme amounts, is more than offset by those who consume moderate (or less) amounts.

Spammers pay more for junking up the Web
No. Those people who are not knowledgable enough to not have their machines turned into zombie-bots (or any other type of bot) end up paying more for junking up the web. Additionally, this would curtail such efforts as SETI@Home or the Human Genotype project which used excess bandwidth and CPU cycles for processing large information sets.

Elimination of the net neutrality issues
The author of the article believes that all these issues will go away, and he's right, they will be because all the reasons for having net neutrality will have been implemented. Net Neutrality insists on all network traffic being the same. Once you have metered internet it is a simple jump to having different tiers of which types of bandwidth you can use. You can have 100 Megs of UDP traffic, and 1Gig of HTTP traffic, with it coming from ABC Domain at X speed, and everywhere else and Y speed.

Development of IPTV mechanisms
Yes, I only get 10Megs of Internet a month, so I want to spend it on internet television.

Energy savings (aka "green")
Now, this is just stretching for things. If I don't turn off my PC or Modem now, and I'm considered a moderate user, why would I change that behavior if moderate users would not be affected by going to metered access?

Additionally, one needs to define a moderate user? As an IT professional, my definition of moderate usage may be different than someone who works at a general store, and just uses the Internet to check their email. I need that bandwidth, especially if I work from the house, and have connected to either my office's network, or a client's network via VPN. And would a VPN connection get metered twice? Once on my end, and then again on the other?

No, unlimited connectivity is not an unsustainable concept, nor should it be looked to as an answer to any of the issues raised by the article in question. And in fact makes some of the worse (I'm looking at the SPAM and the Net Neutrality bits right there). Metered Internet is just another effort by the Cable Companies to change what has become the standard way of accessing the internet into something more like their current customer-hostile business model which provides packages of a hundred and fifty channels, of which the customer really only wants a dozen or two of.

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