Monday, August 15, 2005

FCC considers inventory of internet access points

Okay, this is downright creepy. In the name of comprehensive 911 coverage for all VoIP customers, the FCC is seriously considering compiling a comprehensive catalogue of internet access points. On p. 33 of this document, FCC chair Kevin Martin writes:

A number of possible methods have been proposed to automatically identify the location of a VoIP user, including gathering location information through the use of: an access jack inventory; a wireless access point inventory; access point mapping and triangulation; HDTV signal triangulation; and various GPS-based solutions.

I'm no administrative law scholar, but I'm fairly certain that the FCC is suggesting moves that are way out of its jurisdiction. And they thought the DC Circuit was laughing over the attempted Broadcast Flag mandate? I dare the FCC to attempt to take an inventory of every live hotspot and RJ-45 jack in the country. Even John Ashcroft would be making public statements decrying such invasivions.

Care to tell the FCC what you think? (I did.) You can do so here; be sure to indicate that you're writing in regards to proceeding number 05-196. Comments were due today; reply comments can be filed through September 12.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Macworld to Publish Letter feat. EFF Plug

Blog-a-thon tag:

More good publication news today: Dan Miller has agreed to publish my letter to Macworld. It's about "Trusted Computing," which has not even been discussed in the pages of MacWorld.

I knew something about Digital Rights Management last summer when I went to Budapest for the 2-week seminar, Intellectual Property in Comparative Perspective. Then Cory Doctorow started talking.

In one 2-hour lecture, Cory taught us the fundamentals of encryption principles, explained how Digital Rights Management (DRM) could never serve as truly effective encryption, and illustrated how DRM erodes our electronic freedoms. He moved quickly to a lesson on Trusted Computing (TC). Cory insists that TC could be really good for everybody, so long as the user always maintains the final say.

Of course, the odds that Microsoft will voluntarily implement TC in a way that relinguishes that control are just a bit this side of me winning Miss America. I've been worried ever since that, even compared to the rest of the copyright debate, this is a really obscure topic with wideranging dystopian implications that will happen before anybody knows what hit them. But I keep talking to people. And rather than simply blogging about it (esp. since Nelson Pavlosky is perhaps my entire audience to date), I used the news that Apple would switch to Intel processors as a chance to try to land something in a major national mag.

It worked. Here is my letter to the editor, exactly as Miller intends to publish it:
Your Intel story missed one very scary issue: trusted computing. Just before Jobs made the big announcement, Intel (quietly) announced that it would begin producing chips that implement “trusted computing” (TC). If you don’t know about TC yet, you need to learn about it now. One good way to do so: go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Web site ( and do a search on “trusted computing.” If, as part of the switch to Intel, Apple implements TC in such a way that users lose control of their computers, our collective digital freedom will be in serious danger.
Here is the P.S. I tacked on, including several reference links:

P.S. Yes, I am an EFF member. But I am a student-level donor, not an operative. EFF per se had nothing to do with the shameless plug, and I’ll understand if you pull the URL. If, on the other hand, you’d like to refer your readers to other awesome resources, I’d suggest (non-exclusively):

The full EFF article that I cite above is available at:

P.P.S. Love your mag.
Learned of this just in time to contribute to EFF's Blog-A-Thon.

Book Review Published Online

The Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies has just published my review of Christine L. Borgman's book, From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World.

Thanks to David Silver for his excellent editorial work. I think his suggestions definitely strengthened the review, and the RCCS site is in great shape.