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No taxation without representation. It's the essence of modern liberty. It's the foundation of America's government. And it's about to be put to the test by the European Union, where a draft proposal would force robots to pay taxes.
Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons" and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.
Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.
Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.
The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider "that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations".
Isaac Asimov, please call your office.
If robots pay taxes, shouldn't they be allowed to vote? Hold office? Can an "electronic person" own property or exercise civil rights?
These aren't silly questions.
And no, I don't have the answers. I'm pretty sure the Euroweenies don't have the answers either. They're just trolling for revenue to prop up their bloated social welfare state and robots are this week's easy target.
But someone ought to put some thought into this Real Soon Now or the
EU just might find themselves on the receiving end of a robot revolution.
When you devote all your resources to persecuting enemies of the state you don't have anything left over to protect your subjects' personal information.
Lois Lerner's IRS compatriots are not only incompetent, like her, they're liars too.
Remember when they said "only" 100,000 tax returns were compromised?
Feh. Try 700,000, at least until they inevitably "revise" the totals upward again.
WHEN THE IRS first reported a hack that exposed taxpayer accounts. vulnerable information, it pegged the number of affected people at a little over 100,000. Today, in its second upward revision, the number of affected people now stands at over 700,000.
As WIRED originally reported last spring, the hack gave attackers access to entire tax returns, which means people's social security numbers, address, and incomes were all compromised. The hackers used personal information already in hand to get unauthorized access through an IRS application called "Get Transcript."
Don't worry though. If you're one of the 700,000, Obama's gonna send you a letter, some time after February 29th, which'll tell you you're screwed, but don't panic, because he'll front you Equifax identify theft protection for a whole year!
And, bad guys have never waited a year before exploiting personal information for profit, right?
Once your info is out there, it's out there forever. The Internet never forgets. And if you're one of the unlucky 700,000 everything about your financial life was laid bare by a bureaucracy that's more worried about its own survival than it is about your ability to sleep at night.
They. Don't. Care.
And you can't make them care.
I assure you, no one at the IRS will be fired over this. No one at the IRS will even be reprimanded over this. The culpabable parties have probably already been promoted. That's how it worked at the VA, and their malfeasance affected far more people.
It's the Chicago way.
Hey, do you know who's in charge of keeping all your health care records secure?
The IRS. The same guys who didn't secure 700,000 tax returns.
I betcha can't wait until they screw that up too!
You're already paying a surcharge on your phone bill so Obama can give out free cell phones to his most loyal supporters. Now the FCC is going to make you pay for their porn downloads too.
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to expand its Lifeline program to help subsidize Internet service for low-income Americans.
The plan floated Thursday by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler could face resistance from some Republicans who point to lingering waste and inefficiencies in the $1.7 billion program, which helps low-income individuals pay for phone service.
Wheeler and the two other Democrats on the commission have made the update a priority, saying the program, first started in the 1980s, needs to adapt to current technology. While nearly all high-income individuals have access to broadband, studies have shown less than half of households making $25,000 or less have access.
The commission is set to vote on the proposal next month. A final order would have to be crafted and approved before any changes take hold.
The plan seeks to establish minimum service requirements on companies to make sure speeds and Internet data keep up with modern demand.
Remember when we had to pay for wiring up all those schools and libraries so "low-income" people could have internet access? Because I'm pretty sure we did that.
Ah, but library internet access doesn't compel folks to vote for Hillary. Whereas free broadband from the government, paid for by "rich people" of course, reminds the recipients to thank their benefactors at the ballot box.
And if you were thinking that "free broadband" meant a router or a modem, guess again. The FCC is hoping to upgrade all those Obamaphones into ObamaSmartPhones.
It remains unclear if customers will use those subsidies more for mobile or fixed broadband. One senior FCC official noted, however, that studies have shown smartphone use is popular with low-income individuals.
Here's a pro-tip kids. If you're walking around with an iPhone, you're not poor.
When I was a kid, we were poor. And we, like many of our friends and relatives, had a party line, which we paid for ourselves. I did my school report research in the public library. Somehow we managed to get by.
But the prospect of putting more people onto the dole is too enticing for Democrats to resist. So the other side of the Net Neutrality debacle falls into place. The FCC will tax your internet access so they can give away broadband to Obama voters for free.
Entitlements for everybody! What's the next "right" the Free Stuff crowd
is gonna demand? Free cigars? Booze? Cars? Yeah, I know, don't give 'em
Regulations promulgated during the height of the Depression have no business being enforced in the 21st century. Landline phone service is an anachronism, expensive to maintain, and priced artificially low to satiate socialist regulators' need for control.
New Jersey is looking to change that. So naturally all the usual suspects have their shorts in a knot.
As early as next week, state regulators could approve an agreement that would allow Verizon New Jersey to be exempt of certain state regulations for basic landline telephone services.
Opponents of the deal believe it could greatly affect rural areas throughout the state like Cumberland and Salem counties by allowing Verizon to neglect certain service quality standards for landline-only telephone customers. They also claim it could allow Verizon to increase rates by 36 percent over a five-year period.
"The backbone of the phone system was built on the statuary obligation ... of (maintaining) the landline system," said Hopewell Township Councilman Greg Facemyer.
Facemyer added: "So what is the farmer, the person who lives in a rural area, what are Salem and Cumberland counties going to do, how can businesses, students compete today."
The agreement would remove pricing regulations for residential basic telephone service, single-line business telephone service, nonrecurring charges for residential service connection and installation, and residential directory assistance services.
But Verizon spokesman Lee Giercynski said the services are not being eliminated or deregulated, but rather "reclassified" as "competitive services."
"Which means we have more flexibility to make changes to pricing without BPU's approval," Giercynski said.
Hooray for Verizon and the NJ BPU.
Look, if you want to keep a landline, you can keep your landline. (OK, maybe that was a poor turn of phrase...) But really, nothing about your phone service has to change, except you'll have to pay what it actually costs to keep that phone on your kitchen wall. Why should the unregulated wireless and internet businesses keep subsidizing your landline?
Short answer, they shouldn't.
Verizon landlines aren't the only game in town, not any more. But they're the only company burdened by mountains of archaic regulations.
"Keep in mind, Verizon is the only provider that is subject to these rule and regulations," said Giercynski. "None of the competitors have to follow these rules. But this ... takes an incremental step in leveling the playing field."
Giercynski said the regulations are "old, outdated and obsolete" — claiming that they mostly having to do with "reporting metrics" like requiring Verizon to respond to a customer call in a certain amount of seconds.
Regulations add costs. Costs Verizon can't currently recoup due to, wait for it, regulations. That might have made sense when there was one Bell System. But not now. The cable companies provide phone service. They're not regulated. Cell phones are ubiquitous, and their technology is rapidly evolving, sans regulations.
Once upon a time everybody had a landline. That's no longer true, and will
never be true again. The dwindling user base cannot expect to continue with
business as usual. It's not realistic, or practical. Kudos to New Jersey's
BPU for recognizing that, and getting government out of the way. It's not
often that you see bureaucrats willingly relinquish one of their fiefdoms,
and I applaud their willingness to adapt to changing times.
"Fairness" my ass. The FCC's Net Neutrality power grab was about one thing, and one thing only — taxes.
Not long after FCC chairman Tom Wheeler swore that the FCC takeover of the Internet wouldn't result in new taxes or fees, it appears likely that new taxes will show up on Internet bills in the near future.
In mid-March, Wheeler told a House panel that he couldn't, in fact, rule out a new Internet fee to help pay for the government's "Universal Service Fund" (USF).
By shoving the Internet into the agency's Title II regulatory scheme — which was set up 80 years ago to regulate the telephone monopoly — Wheeler made it possible to do so.
He said a special board representing federal and state governments was weighing whether to impose that tax. Right now, the USF is paid for by a tax added to long-distance bills.
"How they resolve things in the future I do not know," he told the House committee.
These are Democrats. They never met a tax they didn't like. Or one they couldn't increase. You'd have to be an idiot, or an Obamabot, to pretend otherwise.
And The Los Angeles Times is calling the FCC out.
The Los Angeles Times doesn't seem to think so. An article published Thursday leads with: "Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive."
It quotes Hal Singer of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute, who figures the USF fee and various other charges that state and local government are likely to add to Internet bills will cost consumers around $11 billion a year.
Not exactly chump change, eh?
And remember, back in December Wheeler bumped the current USF tax by $1.5 billion so he could spend more on subsidies for broadband in schools and libraries.
Handing out free internet to his homies has always been one of Obama's policy goals. Now he's got 11 billion reasons to add an ObamaNet subscription to every ObamaPhone out there.
If you like your internet service, you can keep your internet service. You'll
just be paying a lot more for it. Which doesn't sound all that "neutral" to me.
Twitter is already inserting unsolicited, er "promoted" content into our timelines. Now they're gonna eat even more of our monthly mobile bandwidth with autoplay video ads.
Because what we all want is spurts of useless cruft annoying us at inopportune times, right?
It seems like everyone wants to shove autoplaying videos in your face and now Twitter wants to join the ranks of Facebook and Instagram in the fight for your eyeballs.
According to Advertising Age, Twitter is now testing video advertisements that automatically play in your feed. The test applies to promoted video ads and hopes to see if users are more likely to watch videos if they play without a tap.
Autoplay Video Must Die.
I don't understand the point of companies who set out to annoy their potential customers. And that's what autoplay is, annoying. It breaks my train of thought, sending me scrambling to find the mute or stop button, while cursing your company's miserable existance the entire time.
So listen up Madison Avenue. Write this down, because it's important.
An autoplay video ad for your product makes me hate you with the white-hot passion of 1,000 suns. And it makes me hate your product, too.
I guarantee I will be 100% dead-set against purchasing any product that annoys me with an autoplay video ad.
And I assure you, I'm not alone.
BTW, I also shun websites (Hi ABCnews, I'm looking at you) who autoplay content.
Because Autoplay Is Evil. Always. And forever.
Just Stop it. Now.
Sorry Net Neutrality knuckleheads, don't say we didn't warn you. But now it's too late to be complaining about how when the jackbooted thugs of the FCC take aim at the internet they're gonna squash your hopes and dreams too.
Exhibit A: Netflix! They got what they wanted, except they've decided they didn't really want what they got.
Netflix CFO David Wells, in comments at an industry conference, said the company's preference was that broadband Internet service should not be regulated by the U.S. government as a telecommunications utility — appearing to backtrack on Netflix's previous stance on the issue, although the company later said that its position remained unchanged.
Last year, Netflix urged the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecom service, under Title II of the Communications Act. In a July 2014 filing, Netflix said that "Title II provides [the FCC with] a solid basis to adopt prohibitions on blocking and unreasonable discrimination by ISPs. Opposition to Title II is largely political, not legal."
But Wells said that the FCC's adoption of Title II regulations covering broadband was not, in fact, Netflix's preferred outcome. On Wednesday, Wells — speaking at the 2015 Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco — said that, while the streaming-video company wanted to see "strong" net neutrality measures to ensure content providers would be protected against ISPs charging arbitrary interconnection fees, Netflix ultimately wanted the situation resolved without government intervention.
"Were we pleased it pushed to Title II? Probably not," Wells said at the conference. "We were hoping there might be a non-regulated solution."
Translation? We didn't expect the FCC to regulate us, just all those other guys.
Yeah, tough noogies numbnuts. The Title II ship has sailed, thanks in no small part to you and your company's mendacity. You asked for it, you got it. Now live with the consequences.
Speaking of "consequences," here's Exhibit B: 5G wireless services were specifically designed to prioritize different classes of data. Now, of course, such a rollout runs smack-dab into the Net Neutrality mavens' silly "no fast lanes" mantra.
Net neutrality and 5G may be on a collision course as the mobile industry tries to prepare for a wide range of mobile applications with differing needs.
The net neutrality rules passed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last week have raised some eyebrows at Mobile World Congress this week. The full text of the rules isn't public yet, but mobile movers and shakers are having their say. The latest questions involve 5G, the next-generation standard that everyone here is trying to plan for.
The most common thing they think 5G will have to do is to serve a lot of different purposes. Regulators' attempts to ban "fast lanes" and other special treatment might make that impossible, people who've been thinking about 5G said Wednesday.
Industrial sensors, self-driving cars and other emerging uses of the Internet have needs that can't be met by a general-purpose network, Ericsson Group CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said during a panel discussion. That's driving a global discussion on a so-called "industrial Internet" alongside the regular Internet that's grown up around the Web and other consumer activities, he said.
Regulatory efforts like the FCC's rules don't see a distinction, Ewaldsson said. He didn't slam the agency for this but said the mobile industry needs to do a better job of explaining what it's trying to do. Most importantly, it's not trying to block or throttle people's access to the Internet, he said.
Gee, a law written in 1934 isn't compatible with the technology of 2015. Who'da thunk it! And when it turns out that government is incapable of accommodating nuance, yeah that's not exactly a News Flash either. Except, maybe, to the starry-eyed utopians who put their faith in bureaucracy instead of the free market.
Now there is a federal agency involved, and it has a bunch of power that it didn't before. Good luck to Mr. Ewaldsson. Good luck to Netflix. Good luck to Google. Good luck to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Good luck to the Progressive Policy Institute. Good luck to the Internet Society. You made your bed. Now lie in it.
Here's where I remind you turkeys of Ronald Reagan's wisdom — "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
Welcome to the party boys.
Obama's FCC really did it. They really voted to regulate the internet. They dusted off a 1934 law used to rein in Ma Bell and said those rules need to apply to your home broadband connection in 2015.
Forward, into the past!
Forget visions of "half fast" internet. Those days are gone now.
Henceforth the internet will run at the speed of government.
And the government will decide who can connect.
The government will decide how you'll connect.
A bureaucrat will determine if your internet usage is in "the public interest." And fine you if it isn't.
How many of you are old enough to remember when the FCC regulated telephone service? I am.
We could have any kind of telephone we wanted, so long as we wanted a black rotary dial desk phone.
We could call anywhere in the world we wanted, so long as we scheduled all "long distance" calls in advance and paid upwards of $20 per minute.
And we could connect anything we wanted to our telephone line, so long as we submitted it to the FCC first so they could "certify" it, a process that typically took dozens of years.
In 1982 Judge Harold Greene nuked the FCC's control over the telephone system. He ordered the breakup of AT&T, and he initiated a technological open season which in a few short years brought us the iPhone, FiOS, Wi-Fi, Google, Amazon, and yes, the internet as we knew it.
Yes, knew, past tense.
Because today Barack Obama's lackeys on the FCC turned back the clock. The internet will henceforth be classified as a "telecommunications service" as defined in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
By invoking that archaic law, the FCC gave itself broad power to control every aspect of your internet experience. To pick the websites you're allowed to visit. To restrict which devices can be attached to your home network. To block "harmful" protocols like bittorrent. And of course to restrict anonymonity via internet drivers licenses.
My friends, this is tyranny, pure and simple. And it came at the direct orders of Barack Hussein Obama.
Oh, and one more thing today's action gives the FCC — the power to tax the internet. Ever notice the lines on your landline phone bill for "Universal Service Fund" and "FCC Subscriber Line Charge"? Go look for them. Look at how much of your bill they represent. Then get ready to see the same charges on your internet bill, because the main thrust of Title II isn't regulation. Oh sure, Title II gives the FCC the authority to regulate. But it also gives the FCC the ability to impose fees on regulated "telecommunications services."
Fees, just another name for "taxes."
Barack Obama loves taxes.
Once the government imposes a fee it takes an Act Of God to rescind it. Did you know that until 2006 you were paying a 3% surcharge on your phone bill? And you'd been paying that 3% surcharge since 1898 when it was imposed "temporarily" to help pay for the Spanish-American War? That was one of thse "tax the rich" chimeras by the way. Back in 1898 only "rich people" had telephones.
It took 108 years to get rid of that "temporary" tax.
Wanna bet FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has a similar plan to tax your broadband service so he can give internet access to everybody who signed up for an Obamaphone?
Welcome to ObamaNet.
Where your home page defaults to MSNBC, and no, you can't change it.
Today Barack Obama's hand-picked FCC chairman laid out his rational for taxing and regulating the internet. It's because AOL's Steve Case ate his lunch back in the 80's.
I personally learned the importance of open networks the hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup, NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers over cable television lines. Across town Steve Case was starting what became AOL. NABU was delivering service at the then-blazing speed of 1.5 megabits per second—hundreds of times faster than Case's company. "We used to worry about you a lot," Case told me years later.
But NABU went broke while AOL became very successful.
Steve Case built a better mousetrap. Tom Wheeler went into government.
Vengence is mine, sayeth the Obamabots.
Tom Wheeler failed at business. So he's going to punish everyone who has managed to succeed.
That's the whole story. Sour grapes. Because the thing is, the problem Tom Wheeler's 1980s company encountered won't be alleviated by his definition of Net Neutrality.
My proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.
Can you guess what NABU needed to make its cable internet venture successful?
Last mile unbundling.
Tom Wheeler needed the government to seize the private property of cable operators to make his dreams a reality. He needed free access to the wires coming into your house so he could put his magic gizmos on them. The very thing he's saying he won't demand.
But the fact remains, he didn't want to pay for those wires. He didn't want to rent those wires. He wanted them to be handed to him, on a silver platter, for free.
So why isn't he now requiring last mile unblundling as part of his Net Neutrality initiative?
Because regulating the internet is only the first step. Nationalizing the internet is his, and his president's goal. Total government control of what you download, what you see, and where your surf. For your own good, of course.
We used to call that censorship. Now it's called Obamunism.
Imagine if the internet was an actual highway. (Remember Al Gore and his "information superhighway?") Along the highway are billboards. Some of those billboards are bigger than others. Some are brighter. Some are closer to the road. Tom Wheeler's billboard is in the next county. Nobody sees it. So his "solution?" Force you to drive on a 2 lane dirt road just so you do see it.
That's Net Neutrality. Every billboard is equal.
Except, that's not how America works.
Net Neutrality means everybody's internet is equally slow.
You want to pay for faster internet? Sorry, you can't. Because some schlub in Cleveland might be sad if he finds out his internet is slower than yours.
Adding insult to injury — the 16.1% tax Tom Wheeler is going to impose on your monthly internet bill.
Think of of it as Obamacare for the internet. He'll tax you to subsidize broadband for "the underserved." I'll leave you to imagine how the population of the underserved intersects with the population of slacker Obama voters.
They want free internet. And Tom Wheeler and Barack Obama want you to pay for it.
There's the dirty secret behind Net Neutrality. You pay. Obamabots get free downloads.
And Tom Wheeler gets to use his government position to stick it to Steve Case's progenitors, so he can exact his pound of flesh and pretend he "won."
The thing is, Steve Case did more to build and perfect the internet than Tom Wheeler ever could. And in 1,000 years, when history looks back at this era, Steve Case will be lauded as a visionary, while Tom Wheeler and Barack Obama will be forgotten, if not vilified and ridiculed for their pettiness.
Small comfort, for sure, when you and I are writing the checks.
Sorry Marriott, you can't block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Because, freedom!
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission issued an "Enforcement Advisory" stating that blocking W-Fi in hotels is unequivocally "prohibited."
"Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action," the FCC bluntly stated, referencing a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain had blocked their personal hotspots to to force them to pay for Marriott's Wi-Fi services.
"The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises," the FCC wrote. "As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference."
Marriott's greed already cost them $600,000 in fines. Now they're officially prohibited from ever pulling the blocking stunt again. Their lame excuse — they block non-Marriott Wi-Fi to protect us from "hackers" — is patently absurd. What's more secure than my personal hotspot, linked only to me, and encrypted via a VPN tunnel?
Nah, their only motivation is money. Logging in to a hotel's Wi-Fi typically adds $15 to $20 per day onto your bill. And some convention venues charge two or 3 times that per attendee. Who wouldn't want to find a less expensive alternative?
Plus, I've rarely encounted a hotel network that wasn't slower than molasses; oversubscribed and underprovisioned is the usual configuration. (One notable exception? Disney World. They do Wi-Fi right!) So forcing me to pay for inferior connectivity isn't exactly a way to win repeat business.
Now let's see if we can guess what new way the hotels will find to nickel
and dime us. I can hardly wait.
Why are Barack Obama and his cronies on the FCC so eager to reclassify internet service providers as "common carriers" like the phone company?
Money. Lots and lots of money. In the form of FCC Universal Service Fund and Subscriber Line Charge taxes. "Common Carriers" pay these taxes, which they pass along to you as line items on your phone bill. Internet companies don't pay, yet, and as we all know, the Democrats never met a tax they couldn't raise.
So the guys deciding on Net Neutrality are in the enviable position of profiting from the implementation of Net Neutrality. And they've got Big Plans for spending all that newly found revenue.
The tax, which could total over $7 per month on the typical American's broadband bill, would be imposed as a consequence of regulating the internet via "net neutrality" rules that President Obama has urged the FCC to adopt.
Under Obama's plan, Internet access providers — such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast — would be declared to be common carriers providing "telecommunications services." This would place those companies under comprehensive regulation by the FCC.
The move would mean that the companies would have to pay a portion of their Internet revenue to the FCC's "Universal Service Fund (USF)," which provides subsidies for Internet service. This fee currently is set at 16.1 percent of revenue, or $7.25 per subscriber per month according to one estimate.
And don't look for the FCC to waive this new found windfall. [FCC Commissioner Mike] O'Reilly (who opposes the plan) reports the FCC already is planning a "spending spree" on USF subsidies.
There it is. "Net Neutrality" is just another way for the government to take money from you and give it to someone else. They're busy pretending Comcast wants to charge you more for internet "fast lanes" when in reality it's the FCC who'll be reaching into your pocket.
Here's Ted Cruz, sounding presidential, making the case against Net Neutrality, in words even a Democrat can understand.
ObamaNet. It's ObamaPhones for the internet. Because what we really need is yet another entitlement program, staffed by unionized bureaucrats beholden to their Democratic Party masters, apportioning technological spoils in exchange for votes.
Just say "no" to Net Neutrality; keep the internet tax free. You'll be glad
Despite the shellacking they took in last week's elections, the progressive power-grab continues unabated. Obama's FEC is already debating how to regulate what you say on the internet. Now he's demanding FCC regulation of what you can see on the internet too.
President Obama threw down the gauntlet Monday with cable companies and Internet providers by declaring they shouldn't be allowed to cut deals with online services like YouTube to move their content faster.
It was his most definitive statement to date on so-called "net neutrality," and escalates a battle that has been simmering for years between industry groups and Internet activists who warn against the creation of Internet "fast lanes." The president's statement swiftly drew an aggressive response from trade groups, which are fighting against additional regulation, as well as congressional Republicans.
"We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme" regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.
Obama, in his statement, called for an "explicit ban" on "paid prioritization," or better, faster service for companies that pay extra. The president said federal regulators should reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
Back in 1934 the internet was merely a gleam in Al Gore's father's eye. But the FCC was doing a bang-up job regulating its phone company predecessor — AT&T. You could have any phone you wanted, so long as it was a black rotary-dial desk phone. You could call anywhere you wanted, at $8 per minute for long distance. You could even get a mobile phone.
Like the telephone companies of old, broadband providers would be required to file a "tariff" at the commission, meaning they would submit mountains of paperwork and ask the government to approve the prices they intend to charge for services. The bureaucrats would then consider whether the prices are fair. FCC bureaucrats would also hold sway over plans to expand or build digital networks. Under such conditions, who would invest to build the next generation of broadband technologies?
Let's have a show of hands? Who wants to trade their iPhone 6 for a 1946 Western Electric model 41A?
Didn't think so.
It took deregulation of AT&T to give us the phone and internet choices we have today. So why would Obama want to put it all back under the government's bureaucratic thumb?
Control. The progessives want to control what you say, see, and do. The internet is already "neutral," anyone can log in, anyone can create content, and anyone can view anything.
Statists don't like that.
So they create straw men, obviously ridiculous arguments designed to sway an unwary public into accepting their supposedly benevolent hegemony.
Comcast might prevent you from accessing Google!
Time Warner could slow down Netflix!
Trust me, these doomsday scenarios are pure fantasy. Comcast and Time Warner do not want to face the wrath of their subscribers. Just look at the hullabaloo that already occurs when FCC-regulated TV channels demand higher subscription fees from cable operators, and the cable operators turn them off. Consumers complain, because FCC "must carry" regulations interfere with the free market and the end result is higher prices for cable TV.
The internet doesn't need the FCC telling them what to pipe into your home.
You should get to decide that, not lobbyists and bureaucrats.
And if you want to pay Netflix, and if Netflix wants to pay Time Warner to give them a faster path into your home, why is that anybody's business but yours?
The idea that the internet has always treated all content equally is a bald-faced lie. Internet operators discriminate every day. They have to. Some data is more important than others. The concept is known as QoS — Quality of Service. Without it, the internet would be unusable.
Asking Netflix to pay for a connection to the internet is no different from asking you to pay for a connection. But Net Neutrality mavens believe Netflix should get a free ride. Why? I dunno. Maybe Netflix has great lobbyists, or maybe Netflix hires cool kidz and lets them play XBox all day. Whatever the reason, the progressives are insistent that Netflix, and all the other content providers, should get a free path directly into your PC.
I happen to have some experience with running a network and delivering content. Many years ago, before home broadband, there was dialup. And my day job set up a dialup service for insurance agents to access policy and claims information electronically.
It took the agents about 15 minutes to discover they could also use the dialup service to download pornography. Lots and lots and lots of pornography. It got to the point where the pornography ate up all the available bandwidth (download speed) we had. And thus no insurance data was able to get through.
I blocked the pornagraphy sites. Yeah, that's right, I violated Net Neutrality. Because the people paying the bills wanted to get what they were paying for. And, I know you're going to find this hard to believe, the pornography sites weren't willing to pay me.
Now imagine Obama's FCC telling me I couldn't do that. Imagine me being forced to carry all the pornography the insurance agents wanted. Because right there is the essence of Net Neutrality. Everything is "equal." It's also the core maxim of communism by the way, except you quickly learn that under communism some people are more "equal" than others. So it will go with FCC regulation of the internet. The government will pick the winners (and the losers).
Here's a tip, when the government is involved, the winners never include
It's good news for sure, but with an asterisk.
Federal regulators have ended a longstanding rule that prevents certain sports games from being shown on TV.
In a bipartisan vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously agreed to do away with the sports blackout rule, a much-criticized 40-year-old ban on local broadcasts designed to force sports fans to their local stadiums rather than allowing them to watch poorly attended games from home.
Under the blackout rule, games that failed to sell out could not be shown on free, over-the-air television. For decades, it also meant that cable companies and satellite TV providers were effectively forbidden from showing those games in the same market, as well.
Now the FCC has signaled that it will no longer be backing the blackout rule, which the commission says mainly benefits team owners and sports leagues, such as the NFL, by driving ticket sales.
"For 40 years, these teams have hidden behind a rule of the FCC," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "No more. Everyone needs to be aware who allows blackouts to exist, and it is not the Federal Communications Commission."
And there's the asterisk, the leagues themselves can still impose blackout rules via their TV contracts. But they can't pretend it's the government that's forcing them to do it.
Personally, I don't think the NFL much cares what we think. They're gonna do things their way no matter what. And blackouts are dying off anyway due to better team marketing and seat license sales. Fewer than 1% of NFL games are now blacked out.
The rule that really gets my goat is the "local market" rule. With NFL Sunday Ticket I can stream any Sunday afternoon game except a game that's being broadcast by a local New York TV station. Those I have to watch on a physical TV. Why? So I won't miss the fabulous local commercials. You know, the ones for Route 22 Nissan and the New York Lottery, that I'd obviously never see if I wasn't watching the Jets.
Don't count on the FCC ditching that rule any time soon. The NFL is "powerful," but the broadcast networks are the 800 lb gorilla, and the FCC isn't about to take them on. Just look at what they did to Aereo and you'll immediately conclude that it was the networks driving the FCC to rescind the blackout rule; they want the ad revenue from every sporting event. Reruns of Gilligans Island don't get anywhere near the ratings of a football or baseball game. So a game that's not on TV is one that isn't making money for them.
Protectionism sucks. But it's here to stay.
The science is settled. You don't want to argue with science, do you?
To put it one way, small doses of hydrogen sulfide help keep cells healthy and thus help ward off maladies such as dementia, diabetes, and even cancer.
To put it another way, "smelling farts could be the best thing you do today," as per CNET. As the Independent explains, researchers at the University of Exeter discovered that while hydrogen sulfide — the stuff produced in the gut that causes gas — is toxic in large doses, it's actually quite beneficial in smaller ones.
Specifically, it preserves mitochondria, which are vital to cell life. "Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a health care hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases," say the Exeter scientists.
Hang out with me, you'll live forever!
Today's Star-Ledger business section reprinted this article from Sunday's Washington Post.
When Martin Hines takes his 8-year-old daughter for a weekday lunch at the Chili's Bar & Grill in Timonium, Md., this summer, he s looking for quick service so he can return to work.
Instead of waiting for an employee to bring his check, he prefers to swipe his credit card on an electronic tablet placed at each table, which also prints his receipt. During the meal, his daughter usually plays games on the tablet for a flat fee of 99 cents — a price Hines is willing to pay to keep her entertained.
During the past few months, Chili's has installed 45,000 tablets at more than 800 locations across the United States. Though customers are still visited by a human waiter, they can use these devices to order certain items — desserts and drinks, once the waiter has verified their age — as well as to pay checks or play games. The tablets are intended to alleviate the burden on wait-staff by automatically relaying orders to the kitchen, and expediting payment, according to Chili's.
As I kept reading it occurred to me that something must be driving this change.
Table-side tablets are proliferating in fast-casual restaurants. In December, Applebee's announced it would install 100,000 tablets at its restaurants in the United States by the end of 2014. Ziosk, the Dallas-based tech company that builds tablets for Chili's, is also working on similar devices for Uno's Pizzeria and Red Robin, among other chains.
"We recognize that although the industry aggregates a phenomenal number of people, [restaurants face] rising food costs, rising labor costs [and] rising health-care costs,:" said Ziosk chief executive Austen Mulinder.
Rising food costs. Directly attributable to Obamanomics.
Rising labor costs. Because all the right-thinking people believe in the mythical "living wage" chicanery.
Rising health-care costs. Holy Obamacare Batman!
Congratulations Progressives, you've succeeded in eliminating even more entry-level jobs. But the Important Thing is you feel good about yourselves, so there's that.
Don't forget to tip your robot.
Starting next year, the UN will control your domain names and ip addresses.
U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.
"We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan," Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.
Ah yes, "the global Internet community." Including, say, Russia, where cutting off pro-Ukraine websites is just another day at the office? Or China, where censoring the internet is mandatory, and ruthless? And don't forget Obama's Mohammedan brothers, they're just itching to decree defamation of Islam as a capital offense, and they'll deep-six your website faster than you can say "bacon."
Then, with the U.N. involved, can a global internet tax be far behind?
U.S. oversight of the internet may not be perfect. But it's a heckuva lot better than any of the alternatives. Or do you like the idea of North Korea having a say in what you can post?
This move cannot stand. Obama cannot be permitted to jettison the greatest tool for freedom and liberty since the printing press. Tyrants worldwide would jump at the chance to censor and control the web. Because free speech is antithetical to dictatorship, and the internet is the last bastion of free speech left. Maybe some of you are too young to remember when information was jealously guarded and rarely disseminated. I'm not.
Think too of the innovation that would be stifled by an EU-type bureaucracy, with their idiotic "right to be forgotten" and bizarre "tracking cookie" regulations. Nevermind the Brits and their obsession with white-listing web sites, all to protect "children" from viewing pornography of course.
It's just a short step from all that into a ban on "unsavory" or "extremist" web sites. I've been called "extreme." How long do you think this blog might last after the Euroweenies get their hands on the keys to the net?
The internet is a uniquely American invention, because no other nation's
culture embodies freedom and liberty the way ours does. Only Americans can
ensure that the internet remains free. Congress must act, now. Jimmy
Carter giving away the Panama Canal was a disaster, but that's nothing
compared to the catastrophe of Barack Obama giving away the internet.
Yesterday's conspiracy theory is today's Homeland Security reality.
The LED light bulbs in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport are spying on you. Yes, the light bulbs.
Whether or not you pay any attention to the lighting overhead, the lighting may be paying close attention to you.
There are cases when a LED light can spy by covertly listening and then send that audio over 300 meters away to the eavesdropper. But this time, it is the LED fixtures that are the "backbone" of a new surveillance system scrutinizing and recording us. The New York Times reported that 171 LED fixtures inside Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport are "watching" us.
Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff.
It's not the "green" side of saving energy by automatically turning the lights off and on that has the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey excited and "already talking about expanding it to other terminals and buildings." Instead, the excitement comes from the mountains of data captured by sensors and analyzed by software about "the habits of ordinary citizens."
As LED lighting becomes more ubiquitous, so does the government's capability for surveillance. And because they're programmable, the spy technology is built-in to every Philips Hue bulb ever manufactured.
This is why we can't have incandescent light bulbs. "Saving energy" is just a distraction. The capability to spy on us and mine all that data is the Real Prize.
Let's get real. The light fixtures and LEDs at Newark Airport are not about saving energy … it's about watching us, analyzing data about us and storing it for who knows how long. As Justin Brookman from the Center for Democracy and Technology told the Times, "There are some people in the commercial space who say, 'Oh, big data — well, let's collect everything, keep it around forever, we'll pay for somebody to think about security later.'"
The irony is they're doing this at an aiport named "Liberty."
The danger is that pretty soon they'll be doing it in your living room.
And before you call me crazy, it isn't paranoia when
the government really is out to get you.
In The Beginning God created Adam and Eve. Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg added 50 some-odd variants, because, diversity!
You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.
Really? Only three "preferred pronouns?" C'mon, you guys can do better than that!
Facebook said the changes, shared with The Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, initially cover the company's 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.
Curiously missing from the list is "confused."
Masen Davis, executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, said it may be hard for some people to understand the importance of having the ability to select from multiple genders online. But he said many transgender people will be thrilled with the change.
"We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online," he said.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Now, as a private company, Facebook is of course free to implement whatever features they like. And if letting someone pretend he/she/it is an "authentic" non-binary pangender transexual radfem activist, well it's obviously just another way to increase the value of Zuck's stock options.
My concern is that Facebook hasn't gone far enough. All 50+ of their gender-bender monikers still exist on a male — female continuum. There is a box for "bigender," but not one for tri, quad, or penta-gender. Labels exist for women becoming men, or men transforming into women. You can be a "transgender person," which is apparently disjoint from those of you who are "transexual persons." Not to worry though, FB has plenty of combinations in between.
Which is all well and good.
I mean, if you're going to entertain 50 fictions, why not throw in a few more?
Introducing the internet-connected toothbrush.
Brush smarter. That's the message from the makers of what is billed as the world's first Internet-connected toothbrush.
Unveiled Sunday at a preview event for the Consumer Electronics Show, the device from French-based startup Kolibree aims "to reinvent oral care," according to co-founder Loic Cessot.
"The technology in the industry has not evolved for years," Cessot told AFP.
"The idea is not to brush stronger, but smarter."
The Kolibree toothbrush includes a sensor which detects how much tartar is being removed in a brushing. It also records brushing activity so users can maintain a consistent cleaning each time.
The device conveys the information wirelessly to a smartphone app -- a particularly useful aid for parents who want to monitor the teeth cleaning efforts of small children, according to Cessot.
The app, which is open for developers to add on other programs, aims to increase motivation and make the experience more fun, said Cessot.
If you go to bed without brushing your teeth does it tell your phone to nag you mercilessly like your dentist would? Or does it just rat you out to your dentist via email? And do your Facebook friends really need to know how often you brush your teeth?
I suppose if you don't score at least a 90 your friends will mock you. At least my friends would.
Frankly, it seems a little bit silly to me. But what do you expect from something invented in France?
So listen. If we're gonna internet-enable various home-health and grooming appliances, let's go all the way. Embed a camera in a nose-hair trimmer. C'mon, you know it'd be a huge hit, especially if the video is live-streamed to YouTube.
Just please, no internet toilets.
But trust them, they're "loath" to do it, honest.
Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age.
The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google's Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment.
The bureau typically uses hacking in cases involving organized crime, child pornography or counterterrorism, a former U.S. official said. It is loath to use these tools when investigating hackers, out of fear the suspect will discover and publicize the technique, the person said.
Big Brother was a piker compared to Barack Obama.
There is no way these techniques aren't being widely deployed in pursuit of Dear
Leader's enemies. And in case you haven't been paying attention, his enemies