November 14, 2008
Net Neutrality Back in the Spotlight
The latest question related to tech due to the Obama election is concerning net neutrality legislation. The telco and cable providers are wary because the Republican legislative ability to shield them is diminished. Obama and his team understand the Internet far more than anyone ever elected to the presidency. Earlier this year the FCC found Comcast to have discriminated against P2P content in contravention of agency
rules policy. Though Comcast "voluntarily" stopped the practice and promised to disclose network management practices to its customers, the company sued to overturn the order. Comcast claims the FCC has no authority to issue such orders on network management practices.
The rest of the ISP industry now believe that the suit challenging the FCC order is ill advised. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is preparing legislation that would codify network neutrality principles. Providers now believe a more flexible approach would come through the FCC regulation as that, at least, could be open to interpretation (and lobbying). A successful suit for Comcast will almost certainly see a net neutrality bill pass the 111th Congress and signed by (soon to be) President Obama. If the FCC wins, legislation may appear that clearly defines the ability of the agency to regulate in this area. Another question is who will Obama pick to run the FCC now that the agency is headed back to majority control by Democrats.
Jim Cicconi, AT&T executive vice president for regulatory affairs suggests that market forces are a better guide as customers would be reluctant to buy Internet services from AT&T if the company discriminated against content. Maybe, but if most providers had a green light to discriminate in the name of network management practices, their may not be much distinction between consumer choices. In any event, those in favor of net neutrality in one form or another should be heartened by the election. Let the fierce lobbying begin.
November 11, 2008
Google Adds Video to Chat
It's not necessarily revolutionary. Microsoft, Yahoo, and just about everyone else has some form of video for their IM clients. But for GoogleTalk users, it's welcome and it works. Details are in the Google Blog announcing the feature, which becomes available to the general public today. [MG]
AVG Thinks Windows is a Virus
Oops. AVG anti-virus software is telling users that user32.dll on Windows XP systems are infected and should be deleted. Problem is, the result is a false positive and deleting the file cripples an XP system. The problem is fixed with a patch to releases of AVG. The most current AVG software is available here. The Washington Post fills in the details. [MG]
Longhorn Loses Roster Spot Over Facebook Obama Comment
Here's another sad tale of Facebook coming back to bite someone in the backside. A sophomore offensive lineman at the University of Texas-Austin posted a derogatory message to his Facebook page concerning the election of Barack Obama, using racist terms to describe the President-elect. Although the player apologized to the team, he was removed from the roster. The details are in the Houston Chronicle. The moral? If you're not careful what you say, at least be careful where you say it. [MG]
November 10, 2008
Everyone Agrees Obama Knows How To Leverage Tech
Follow the Obama transition team via change.gov, the official site of the President-elect. Many commentators note that Obama's successful campaign and election was due in part to a proactive use of the Internet to reach out to the electorate. Aside from the unprecedented amount of money Obama raised via the Internet, his campaign used the communication channel to deftly stay in touch with voters. Republicans have not really embraced the Internet in the same way. Republican Senator Ted Stevens famously declared the Internet a series of tubes. Stevens was roundly ridiculed by pundits but it seems that the Intertube mentality remained with campaigns. The success of the Obama campaign may change that mentality, waking Republicans up to the idea that they too can organize grass roots via the web. It should be an interesting development to see tools such as Twitter, Digg, and even old fashioned text messaging running on both sides of the aisle.
One article in the Washington Post suggests the Obama administration may make further use of the Internet to promote policies by using display ads next to articles on those policies. If true, that would be a novel approach to reaching out to the electorate. Certainly such a plan would have to comply with federal ethics and lobbying laws. Again, the suggestion came from the Washington Post and not the Obama transition team. The point is, though, that unlike past campaigns and presidencies, Obama is positioned to take full advantage of the Internet. That awareness may also include a new push for net neutrality according to this article in CNN Money. Additional commentary is in the Houston Chronicle. [MG]