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FCC Considering Free Internet For USA 502

jbolden writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is considering a plan to provide free wireless internet. The plan would involve some level of filtering, but might allow adults to opt out. CTIA has argued that this business model has traditionally failed (see Slate magazine's analysis as to why)."
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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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • "Free" is relative (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tripdizzle ( 1386273 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:52PM (#25946527)

    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.

  • 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....
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:57PM (#25946641)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:58PM (#25946669)
    Since water and food are necessary for health, are you advocating that those two commodities are free to all?
  • 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.

  • by hey ( 83763 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:59PM (#25946721) Journal

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

  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:03PM (#25946775) Journal
    Public education is far from worthless. In some places, it is indeed sub par, but in others it's very good. I wouldn't be surprised if the quality of schools fit a bell curve pretty well actually. As for improving the situation, my wife and mother are teachers. Trust me when I say that improving schools starts with parents actually taking an interesting in their child's education.
  • panopticon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:03PM (#25946799) 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...

  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:05PM (#25946829) Homepage

    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.?

  • 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.

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:10PM (#25946941) Homepage
    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.
  • 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:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) * <> on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#25947023)

    Not to mention that those hardcore cirminals are housed and fed for 7-10 years and sent back out on the street with a nearly 70% [] rearrest rate. Prisons are clearly an effective means of reforming the criminal population.

    (BTW I'm in the military and I can tell you it's pretty hard to imagine how much money SS must waste if they actually spend more than we do)

  • 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.
  • pornography-free? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:22PM (#25947151)

    What's left???

  • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#25947185)
    But that invovled people actually doing something. It is much easier for them to sit back and complain about other people/Government.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:25PM (#25947207)

    And shelter too! Much more important than healthcare, and more expensive as well. Whee! It's communitarianism!

  • 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:3, Insightful)

    by NuclearError ( 1256172 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:29PM (#25947293)
  • by Glenstorm ( 117502 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:31PM (#25947321)

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

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

    by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:36PM (#25947427)
    well have no fear, the same program guarantees that other people will help pay for your disability or retirement in the event you need it, instead of having you just starve to death. And if you don't need it? great, glad to hear it. be thankful that the program would have supported you if you did.
  • 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:57PM (#25947813)

    No person should be denied the basic necessities of life because he can't pay for it: food, shelter, electricity, water, basic communications, and basic medical care. YES, we should be providing these things for all citizens, and every citizen of this country should get BASIC service at no cost.

    Of course that only works as long as you can tax the rest of the country to pay for it.

    Once people start saying to themselves, "WTF am I working for? The government will pay for my food, shelter, etc. All I have to do is kickback and enjoy it. Working and paying taxes is for suckers.", things will deteriorate very quickly.

    Yes, I know, you're not worried about that.

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Insightfill ( 554828 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:05PM (#25947969) Homepage

    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:Free internet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bladesjester ( 774793 ) <slashdot@jamesh[ ... m ['oll' in gap]> on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:07PM (#25948019) Homepage Journal

    You can't use your home phone to talk 24/7

    You have clearly never seen a house full of teenage girls. lol

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:08PM (#25948025)
    As a town supervisor (basically a mayor for a smaller town) I must say that the bloat in the government is ENORMOUS! In the same bill that paid the plowing trucks was pork in the form of money that lined the pockets of the individuals who owned land next to state land, people who "adopted" roads (yeah, not exactly legal) and that's leaving alone the unnecessary bills that increased my towns spending by over 250% in the previous 16 years. Yes, this was due to a shitty administration (sound familiar?) but I've managed to cut taxes in 5 years by 40% and give MORE money to the local school district AND renovate 2 of our 3 biggest parks WITHOUT affecting the bills that were actually helping people.

    What we need are people who are RESPONSIBLE with money in government, not just people who like to spend because it's there. Not to toot my own horn but if the government ran more like I've shaped our town up to be, we'd be a much healthier country.

    -Upstate NY Town Supervisor
  • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:18PM (#25948211)
    Don't worry, the second assumption will become true again if our healthcare system isn't fixed.
  • 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)

  • by bhv ( 178640 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:23PM (#25948307)

    No such thing as free healthcare. Speaking as a Canadian who has spent 10 of his 50 years south of the 49th the US system wins for me. It has issues to be sure but the Canadian "free" system is far more expensive and the service is moving laughable at best.

    My brother in-law was had a small heart attack this last thanksgiving and had to wait until wait for an MRI because the operators were away for the long weekend, now that's quality right there. I can add many more stories....its just sad.

    I know a few canucks that have mortgaged their house to pay to get have surgery done in the US rather than wait the 6-18 months or longer in Canada.

    When was the last time you heard of an efficiently and effectively run government program. They are only good at getting in the way and paying 10x the market rate for snow.

    Heaven help us all if the US follows the same broken path. We'll have to fly overseas to find an available surgeon.

  • 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 Phizzle ( 1109923 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:26PM (#25948381) Homepage
    So this is going to be a service that I didn't ask for and will not use, paid for with my Tax Dollars, regulated by a government agency that I didn't vote for (FCC thugs are appointed not voted). They only let you to opt out of using it, not paying for it.
  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:41PM (#25948655)
    SSI - Stands for Social Security INSURANCE. We have no SSR or Social Security RETIREMENT fund. So, you are correct that SSI should not be used as a retirement plan. It wasn't designed to be one. It was designed to be an insurance plan to deal with the people that were to decrepit to work. When it was created, people generally died before they would collect, died soon after they would collect, or were decrepit enough that they only needed enough money to pay for heat and food.

    It was not created to fund cruises and trips to casinos. For it to work properly as a retirement plan, it would require far more funding than we currently pay into it.
  • 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?

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sakonofie ( 979872 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:06PM (#25949189)

    More people are arrested for marijuana possession in this country than EVERY OTHER VIOLENT CRIME COMBINED!

    Minor point, but possession of marijuana isn't a violent crime []. That said, I am still fairly confident that you are wrong.
    Some quotes from the FBI (

    Nationwide, an estimated 1,408,337 violent crimes occurred in 2007.

    Law enforcement made more arrests for drug abuse violations (an estimated 1.8 million arrests**, or 13.0 percent of the total number of arrests) than for any other offense in 2007.

    According to this []:
    #42.1% percent of drug related arrests are for marijuana possession and
    #5.3% marijauna sale/manufacture.
    Some simple math from these numbers (by me) puts the # of total marijuana related arrests at ~853,200. This is substantially less than the number of arrests for violent crimes.

    Those pesky facts out of the way, 800K marijuana related arrests is a ridiculous waste of resources.

    * All of these facts are about arrests, not convictions, not number of crimes, and not the number of people in prison for the offense.
    **This does not include alcohol related offenses. There were 1,427,494 drunk driving arrests alone.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:24PM (#25949475) Journal

    Yes, there's a Social Security Trust Fund that's invested in T-bills. That just means that they've taken any surplus they had in the past and lent it to the Government, which spent it, and which promises to tax people in the future to pay it back. So when all of us Boomers start retiring and not dying off quickly enough, not only will the Social Security Tax on working people not be enough to cover the costs, but the Feds will have to start running a budget surplus to pay off the debt, instead of continually borrowing more like they did while we were working. So it's going to suck to be young and working, or old and collecting taxable interest on our savings.

    Before Bush took power, we had a $5T national debt, because previous administrations didn't have the financial discipline to not run deficits even during boom years. Bush's Fiscally Responsible Small Government Republicans doubled that before the Crisis, and it looks like they're spending another $5T-10T on bailouts (though ostensibly they'll get some of that back.) The current total debt is about 1 US GDP, or about $50K/American.

    And to the extent that us older people saved money in forms other than houses (oops), we'll be getting lower interest rates on what we saved than what I'd been planning on, because more of us will be competing to invest it in whatever businesses the younger people who are working are running. So it's going to suck to be old and not working. And because it's also going to suck to be young and working, those people aren't going to be buying $5 coffees that much, and Walmart only needs so many greeters, so obvious old-people jobs are going to be scarce.

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

    by Fujisawa Sensei ( 207127 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:39PM (#25949773) Journal

    Try using a real source, like The Constitution, not some propaganda farm.


    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Article 1, Section 8:

    To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    Its supported just like the US Military is. Now please take your fascist BS to someplace more appropriate; if you don't like China, try Iran, or Saudi Arabia. They're all more to suited to you.

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @04:13PM (#25950407)

    But luckily the scheme is in place to prevent the "all my money for me" aspect. The point of SS is that the greater good is served by supporting those who can't afford to sufficiently save for retirement. hence the unambiguous name 'social' security. It's not about you achieving the best possible retirement. It's about trying to accept a minimally acceptable support for those who could significantly suffer after retirement otherwise.

    Yes, it goes against 'survival of the fittest'. It's about recognition that public support of certain things may reduce overall efficiency, but the benefits gained outweigh holding back some of the peak performers.

    Sure, we could go back to a situation with those who can afford to save enjoy a comfortable retirement while those who can't work until they die or end in the poorhouse even if they worked steadily for 50 years. But the people recognized that there are some places that social programs make sense. It's not the place of those that feel they don't need it to decide the one's who do can't have it.

  • by OakLEE ( 91103 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @06:58PM (#25952747)

    First, IAAL, take it for what it's worth. Second, by saying the following, I am in no way attempting to disparage the welfare state, or suggest that it is unconstitutional. In fact, there is plenty of case law suggesting it is. (Google "Lochner Era" and "economic substantive due process" if you want to find it.

    That said, your reading of the Constitution is wrong.

    The Preamble neither limits or grants any power to any branch of the Federal government. The Supreme Court has read it that way for the last hundred years. Source. []

    Article I Section 8 only gives the Federal government power to tax and spend for the general welfare:

    To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    The clause is not an independent grant of power, but a qualification of the taxing power. Any taxing and spending must be consistent with the rest of the Constitution. The clause does not give Congress any power to legislate any law it wants for the common welfare. Source. []

    Misinterpreting the efficacy of the preamble is understandable, even I had to look that up. But as for Art. I Sec. 8, if you are going to try to interpret the Constitution, at least read it! The limitations of the power are right in the text.

  • 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 -- because you can always compete with a private entity, but you can rarely compete with the government.

    ("Rarely"? Yep. See: USPS v. FedEx/UPS)

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.