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FCC Considering Free Internet For USA

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  • Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by y86 (111726) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:47PM (#25946391)

    WOW! Something that my tax dollars pay for that MIGHT actually benefit me? Neat-o.

    I mean welfare and social security is great, but besides the roads and military it would be nice to get some value back.

    • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:56PM (#25946623) Homepage Journal

      You ever eat food that didn't kill you ? (FDA), or drink water? How about housing the hard core criminals in prison?

      Does it snow in your area? Plows are a nice thing to have.

      Sure there is a lot of waste in government, but you get a lot more benefit then you are giving them credit for.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        Does it snow in your area? Plows are a nice thing to have.

        OMG You've stumbled upon a government conspiracy to eliminate "snow days"!

      • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:28PM (#25947261) Journal

        How about housing the hard core criminals in prison?

        Yeah, I'm sure all 2 million of them are way too dangerous to be let out on the street. No, this money is wasted housing petty criminals and drug users, while Bush and his crew, and let's not forget the CEOs of every investment bank in the country are free.

        More people are arrested for marijuana possession in this country than EVERY OTHER VIOLENT CRIME COMBINED! Is that what you call a good use of tax payer resources?

        • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:18PM (#25948219) Journal

          Don't forget that in America, the minimum sentence someone can get for a SINGLE pot plant is 5 years federal time, which is much longer than the average crack dealer gets for his first offense.

          Nothing more dangerous than a pothead with a green thumb.

          • by loafula (1080631)
            You sure about that? A friend of mine got busted for running from the cops on his motorcycle- when they came to his apartment to arrest him, they found a plant. He did less than a year state time.
    • by viking099 (70446) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:02PM (#25946769)

      Obligatory Monty Python quote:
      Reg:
              All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by qoncept (599709)
      Yeah, yeah! I'm with you. And despite all of the tax money allocated for public education, you're still an idiot. When is the government going to help you? Greedy bastards.
    • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by omeomi (675045) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:12PM (#25946967) Homepage
      Yeah, and then once the FCC has effectively made internet within the US a public resource, they can start censoring it with the same crazy arbitrary rules they use for broadcast TV. No thanks, I think I'd like to stick to the private model.
      • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LandDolphin (1202876) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:21PM (#25947137)
        That is pretty much their goal. But, that's fine as long as you still have the option to purchase unfiltered internet from the current ISPs.

        Filtered Internet is better then no internet for a lot of people.
        • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gehrehmee (16338) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:21PM (#25948269) Homepage

          Who's going to pay a premium price for unfiltered network access when they get something they perceive to be virtually identical in value? (Not to mention the "oh, only the rich people get freedom of speech"-angle)

        • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Interesting)

          by RalphBNumbers (655475) on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:17PM (#25949367)

          No, it really isn't.

          Free filtered internet means that all the people paying for a broadband line to read email, and occasionally browse the web, can now do so for free. Without the ~95% of customers who underuse their connections subsiding the cost of the ~5% who actually need broadband, ISPs will have to increase prices dramatically.

          The end result is that only the financially well off will have access to anything the government feels like censoring on their network. And that's making the optimistic assumption that the censorship stops with government networks, and isn't extended, voluntarily or not, to the big ISPs.

          What will happen to political speech when that happens? Given what we've seen of these kinds of filters thus far, they tend to pick up on key words, block entire sites for single pages, and generate a lot of what a reasonable person viewing a site would consider false positives. Will any site the agitates for the rights of sex workers, or transsexuals, or gays risk being marked as sexual content, and blocked from the vast majority of american voters? Will any site that discusses a hate crime risk being labeled as hate-speech, and excluded as well? How much harder will it be to get a major party to take up such causes in that kind of environment?

          I think that free ubiquitous basic internet access is a great idea, that could do a lot of good for a lot of people and the economy overall.
          But I'd gladly forgo it, if the cost is freedom of speech on the internet.
          Any government supported network needs to be an unfiltered. Even forcing people to register with the government as adults to receive an unfiltered connection is far too burdensome, in that it destroys users' privacy and any potential anonymity for whistleblowers and the like. Any parents who want to restrict their kids' browsing have plenty of options to do so on their own devices, without unconstitutionally and unduly compromising adults' freedom of speech.

      • by eonlabs (921625)

        Seconded,

        Granted, if there was a federally operated internet, tampering with data online could be as much of a federal
        crime as tampering with the mail...

        Who thinks it would be a good idea to have a public wireless internet managed by a division of the US Postal
        service, rather than as a media model like the FCC manages television and radio?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Insightfill (554828)

          Granted, if there was a federally operated internet, tampering with data online could be as much of a federal crime as tampering with the mail...

          Yeah, or intercepting/tapping phone calls without a warrant, or...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by geobeck (924637)

          Who thinks it would be a good idea to have a public wireless internet managed by a division of the US Postal service...?

          Oh, great. That's just what we need. If the USPS takes over Internet access...

          • E-mail will take 7-10 days to reach you
          • You'll have to go to the nearest postal outlet to pick up any attachment larger than 64k
          • I'll have to spend hours convincing my (blonde) secretary not to stick stamps on her monitor--AGAIN!
      • And as long as a paid alternative exists (Like Cable TV) I don't care. I'd love to be able to get my parents on something faster than 14.4k.

        You can show a full length porn at high noon on cable and the FCC can't do a damn thing.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#25947007) Homepage

      People will absorb ANY amount of bandwidth if it's free. This thing will ALWAYS be overloaded and unusable. Period.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        People will absorb ANY amount of bandwidth if it's free. This thing will ALWAYS be overloaded and unusable. Period.

        A properly designed mesh will have more bandwidth the more users it has. Bittorrent is a virtual mesh network, and it works so well that the legacy network can't handle the simulation.
      • by umghhh (965931)

        There is no such thing as free and of course you are right to say that if it is free it will clog and be maintained badly. There is similar but not quite the same problem with any service where there is no relationship between actual usage and charge users must pay. It may work but will be slow, unreliable and expensive for tax payer (somebody will have to pay for it at the end). Better let private enterprise make things happen in a framework state or communities set. Something like for a basic fee (incorpo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Glenstorm (117502)

        Like most of the highways in major American cities, during rush hour. However people still use those.

    • by mi (197448)

      WOW! Something that my tax dollars pay for that MIGHT actually benefit me? Neat-o.

      You are, certainly, correct, that public roads are enough of a disaster, that you may not benefit from them. But what makes you think, the free WiFi will be any better?

      At least, with the roads, the excuse for government's involvement is that there can't really be competing private roads for the same destinations, and thus free market (which requires competition) can't be used to build and maintain them efficiently.

      There is

  • by Skinkie (815924) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:48PM (#25946409) Homepage
    So when site owners can make their own rules/laws on their website, you are unable to browse anonymously we are going to make internet free. What a great coincidence.
  • Free internet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:49PM (#25946451)

    Two entries down on the front page, there's an article speculating that the internet will meltdown due to some change an application is about to make, yet here's an article proposing FREE wireless internet to everyone?

    If the infrastructure can't handle what people are paying for, how on earth do they plan to give it away for free?
    Even with severe bandwidth restrictions, it's going to cause a hell of a lot more usage.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for this kind of thing and I'd love to see Free Wireless internet for everyone, I just wish people would make up their minds - is the internet ready to expand or collapse on top of itself?

  • by rotide (1015173) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:50PM (#25946475)
    Obviously you can't be looking for 10mbps connections to watch streaming video and download isos. But think about a simple internet connection that allows for basic web browsing, email use, IM texting, etc.

    Out on the road? Can't find an open WiFi hotspot to check google maps? Solved.

    Out on the road? Want to download the newest HD episode of your show? Ya, you're going to want to get a connection from a paid-for ISP.

    • by jorghis (1000092)

      Censored internet? So basically the FCC will have the same level of control over the "free" internet that it does over things like radio stations and television? It sounds likely that this will turn into a situation where the majority of content producers have to conform to what the FCC wants because there is a nontrivial customer base that is using the free version.

      Lets keep the current model, I would rather the government not take my tax dollars to pay for their version of what the internet should look

      • So let people keep the "Paid for" alternative. You have free over the air TV. You also have paid for cable. Over the air TV has certain FCC regulation. Cable TV doesn't. I'd love to be able to get my parents on even 0.5Mbit connection just to send photos back and forth. USPS is literally faster to where I grew up than trying to send a photo website.

      • by rotide (1015173)
        Obviously, if something is free, you can't complain about arbitrary restrictions. If you pay for it, then you can.

        Yes yes... You pay taxes which go into making this "free" service. I get it. We still technically pay. However, if you are only planning on using this to fill in the gaps between using paid-for services, being able to have access to federal sites, email, basic surfing, IM, etc is still worth it.

        If I'm out on the road, I can still get my email. I can still keep in contact with family.

        • by Korin43 (881732)
          On the other hand, it's not actually "free", and I'm not really interested in paying the FCC to censor a network I'm paying for..
  • "Free" is relative (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tripdizzle (1386273)

    The plan would involve some level of filtering...

    I predicted this before I read it. Anything a government is going to provide you will also be completely controlled by them.

    ...but might allow adults to opt out.

    That's the same thing they said about parents who want to home school their kids rather than sending them to public schools, but is not the case, they still have to pay for other peoples kids via taxes to get the worthless education currently being provided.

  • ...will ever happen, before anyone cries foul about the proposed "pornography filter", waxes philosophic about who decides what's blocked, melodramatically laments censorship in all its forms, and then makes tired, mind-numbing slippery slope arguments, from TFA (not to mention the summary itself):

    To address concerns about the filter, the FCC is proposing that adults could opt out and access all Internet sites.

    That, and under the proposal, access would be free, no one would have to use it, it is not desig

    • by brian0918 (638904)

      That, and under the proposal, access would be free, no one would have to use it

      A free tax increase with no incentive or requirement to use the service funded by the tax? Yay!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Adrian Lopez (2615)

      Once they start filtering content they believe children shouldn't see, why would they not also filter -- and perhaps monitor -- adult access to gambling websites, The Pirate Bay, Al-Qaeda websites, etc.?

      • Once they start filtering content they believe children shouldn't see, why would they not also filter -- and perhaps monitor -- adult access to gambling websites, The Pirate Bay, Al-Qaeda websites, etc.?

        Because:

        1. Anything other than pornography filtering is not part of any proposal.

        2. No one has seriously considered anything other than pornography filtering in the interests of "children".

        3. The opt out proposal specifically allows for unfiltered access.

        So, thank you for proving my point, and making a slipp

        • by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:24PM (#25948343)

          ...and how long do you think that the restrictions will be limited to just porn and you can opt out? We have things like the "fairness doctrine" being kicked around in Congress to censor political speech on radio and **AA legislation for physical media. Once you give the government control, the cat is out of the bag and not going back in. Why do you think this will be one iota different?

    • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:54PM (#25947747)

      The effectiveness or lack thereof, is not the problem. The bigger problem is as follows:

      First, They intend this thing to be available to the majority of the population, that means it will be a significant market force and not just some kind of low income, rural internet access for those who don't have one now. That means even if i choose not to use it, i will be affected by it in some way.

      Second, these people, M2Z (the company) and the ones pushing for this behind the scenes, jumped right to porn when the question of blocking came up. Why porn? That question must be asked. Why not violence? Why not hate speech? Why not unhealthy recipes for sweets? Are we protecting children, or imposing a social agenda on the population? If you are going to block something, other things should be higher on your priority list if your excuse is protecting the children. Something tells me protecting children isn't the goal, or rather the idiots involved think porn is the most harmful thing children (or anyone?) could see on the internet.

      Next, it isn't free either, it's ad-supported. No matter what, i am funding your censorship of me by using this network. They are either going to be altering traffic transparently, or forcing users to use a proxy, or run a desktop client (substantially limiting its usefulness) to show you those ads. And they are going to be selectively blocking one type of content unless you pay more as the summary states (maybe).

      Those 2 things, altering traffic to show ads, and selective content delivery or prioritization (network neutrality etc), are things the FCC has been railing against for a long time. It is a conflict of interest for the FCC to be encouraging these things in one situation while profiting from the thing, while blasting other ISPs for doing the same thing.

      I can only hope this entire thing fails at this point, it's a somewhat good idea, being hampered and fucked with through government interference and mandate (which might even be unconstitutional), and behind the scenes influence.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:55PM (#25946607) Homepage

    Seriously folks, can't the greatest power in the world today do some form of prioritisation? Free internet access, brilliant a free utility, a basic fundamental right of every american guaranteed by the constitution and our founding fathers.

    Free Healthcare of course is a communist plot to subvert the country and destroy everything America stands for.

    Free Healthcare should be a right, the internet should be a utility just like power and water... something that you pay for.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Since water and food are necessary for health, are you advocating that those two commodities are free to all?
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Zackbass (457384)

      What power does the FCC have over health care?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey (83763)

      It seems a whole lot easier to provide free wifi.
      Maybe some day medical stuff can carry connected PDAs for accessing patient info.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jaeph (710098)

      Government screws up everything it touches. Roads, military (talk to someone in the military and you'll get a million stories), mail, everything.

      I'm not advocating zero government here, but we need to be wary about giving the government more work to do on such basic services. The opportunities for corruption (intentional or due to negligence) are immense here. Right now I fail to see the pros outweighing the cons when it comes to both govt-controlled internet and health care.

      -Jeff

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:56PM (#25947805)

        Obviously you've never received care in a wealthy European nation. After spending some time overseas coming back to the US's healthcare system is like going back in time to the middle ages. "Oh, you wont cover that? You say its pre-existing? You wont pay for that test by doctor wants? Oh only $800 deductible? Oh, another bill from another readjustment? Oh, I lost my job and wont have insurance for two months and COBRA is 800 a month?"

        >Government screws up everything it touches.

        Bullshit. Certain people in power want you to believe competent government cant exist, but it does all over the world. Republicans love to sell you on this line because it helps their corporate masters make more money and provides an excuse for their corruption in office. Perhaps you should be voting in the guy who is willing to do things right as opposed to resigning yourself to shitty government run by shitty people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Planesdragon (210349)

          Certain people in power want you to believe competent government cant exist, but it does all over the world. Republicans love to sell you on this line because it helps their corporate masters make more money and provides an excuse for their corruption in office

          Oddly, they're right in everything but the pivotal subject.

          A bureaucracy invariably makes things more complex, and has an innate ability to screw things up. This is true if the bureau is public (see: DMV, INS, CIA, NASA) or private (see: Microsoft, GM, Ford, Citibank).

          The pivotal question is "is this something best done by a single actor" -- such as, oh, licensing drivers on the road or deciding who's a lawyer and who isn't. If so, then it should be government. If not, then it should be private -- becaus

      • by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 01, 2008 @04:13PM (#25950395) Journal

        Government screws up everything it touches. Roads, military (talk to someone in the military and you'll get a million stories), mail

        Right, because that privately funded interstate highway system has been so successful. Also, what's wrong with the USPS? AFAICT, it's cheap, convenient, fairly reliable, and definitely more secure than the private alternatives.

        Right now I fail to see the pros outweighing the cons when it comes to both govt-controlled internet and health care.

        You sound like someone without a pre-existing condition.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Most Americans support some form of free healthcare. A free limited health care system that provides a minimal level of public health would get strong support and some support from both parties. Lets not forget that McCain campaigned on $5000k / person health insurance. The real issue has always been how to provide supplemental coverage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by characterZer0 (138196)

      Most of us agree that the federal government, which generally overspends and either under-delivers or flat out fails on nearly every project it undertakes due to a variety of reasons including red tape, accountability, nepotism, corruption, power seekers, over-regulation, and plain old mismanagement, would do a lousy job providing internet access.

      And some of you want to this same bureaucracy to provide health care?!

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Wont anyone think of the layers and layers of middlemen between a dollar and actual healthcare service? Well, politicans do. The healthcare system is such a racket that fixing it will lead to a lot of redundant jobs. A lot.

      Lots of eggs need to be broken to make this omelette. Who is willing to step up and do this? No one.

  • ISP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drakin020 (980931) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:56PM (#25946621)
    Yes I'm sure the ISP's will let this one go through....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Health Care should be a right.
    Internet access should just be affordable with reasonable performance.

    Try getting old and/or sick sometime and you'll get the perspective.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:57PM (#25946665) Homepage Journal

    And a hell of a lot of monitoring...

  • by snarfies (115214) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:59PM (#25946709) Homepage

    I am a resident of the city of Philadelphia. Maybe you've heard of our cities wireless initiative over the years. It began, as the Slate article mentions with Earthlink putting up access points all over the city, and charging $20/month for access. The main problem was that the service rarely actually WORKED. I tried it for a week when I was unemployed and looking to save money. They gave me a box to connect to my computer with an antenna the length of my arm, and even so the signal would fluctuate wildly from minute to minute, from full strength to zero strength, no matter where I put the box or aimed the antenna.

    The network is still there after Earthlink abandoned it. It shows up on my celphone (sometimes) as something I can connect to. Only I don't think I've ever once successfully loaded a web page using in on my celphone, and not for lack of trying in all different parts of the city. In other words, now that its free its more useless than ever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      WiFi isn't a very good technology to use for a city wide mesh anyway. I'm sure it can be done, but number of failed citywide WiFi networks vs. the few that are said to be effective reinforces my opinion on this. It looks to me that by and large, the people that set them up didn't understand and compensate for the weaknesses of such a network.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      The city of Philadelphia wasn't willing to spend tens - hundreds of millions to make this really work. At $20/mo the cost is getting close to what a wired connection (cable / DSL...) costs in which case most people would rather go wired. This should have been free and well funded to be a real experiment.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:59PM (#25946719) Homepage

    I don't want the government to be my ISP, and I really don't like the implications of having a net connection that is so directly controlled by the government. The fact that filtering is even mentioned at all suggests what a potentially bad idea this really is. Filtering, surveillance and the displacement of unfiltered commercial alternatives? No thanks.

  • panopticon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobalNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:03PM (#25946799) Homepage Journal

    from TFA:

    a plan to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans

    To address concerns about the filter, the FCC is proposing that adults could opt out and access all Internet sites.

    Yeah, just type in your social security number and your password...

    Age verification = no privacy...on a government network at least...

    I really can't imagine a more effective way for the government to track and monitor the activities of its citizens. Which is bad. Normally I would love the idea, even if it had to be offered at slower speeds, but unless we make it open, with NO AGE VERIFICATION or anything of that sort we're just asking for 1984...

  • The better to monitor you with! Would this be government operated? Yikes!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The better to monitor you with! Would this be government operated? Yikes!

      The interstate highway system is partially funded by and partially monitored by the federal government as well as local law enforcement, blah blah blah. Still, a great deal of nefarious traffic is carried upon it. The same will be true of any government-provided internet.

      It wouldn't replace all other ISPs. The only reason I can see that it would be a bad idea is that it would basically be the end of the mom and pop ISP.

  • by yourpusher (161612) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:05PM (#25946843) Homepage Journal

    The free service could be slower and would be required to filter out pornography and other material not suitable for children.

    Right, the same FCC that is fining stations hundreds of thousands of dollars because they didn't bleep out Bono's "fucking brilliant" in time will determine what is and isn't suitable content accessible through this service.

    Fuck that.

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gIIIm ... inus threevowels> on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:20PM (#25947113) Journal

    There wouldn't be enough IPv4 to provide such a large scale service.
    Just make the all thing IPv6, possibly with proxies to access the IPv4; that would instantly provide a massive incentive for third parties to start supporting IPv6.

  • Not Free (Score:2, Informative)

    by TonyXL (33244)

    Whether you use it or not, you will pay for it via taxes, debt, or inflation.

  • by k1e0x (1040314) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:59PM (#25949049) Homepage

    Government doesn't have anything it didn't get from someone else. There is NOTHING they provide that is free.

    It is an absolutely horrible idea to have the government become your ISP. Think of the danger this presents to free speech when the method of communication you use is controlled by the government. Would you have free speech if government controlled all the TV Networks or Newspapers? What if they said they will preform "some filtering" on them?

    Now I know that they did not say they would be getting rid of traditional ISP's (who suck because they are usually government "provided" duopolies in most places) however if people feel they *already* pay through taxes for a service why pay extra again? Would that not make the government the dominant ISP?

    Government has TERRIBLE customer service, it can't fix the roads, it can't do anything on budget, it can't fix our schools, it can't take care of the veterans, it can't make the poor wealthy, it can't solve the economic cries, it can't make you safe, and it can't make you happy... yet you idiots continue to turn to it to solve your every problem.. Why? What is wrong with you people?

  • Free* (Score:4, Funny)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:28PM (#25949559)

    *For extremely high values of free.

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