cr> Post-“Reform” Perspectives


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996
Sender: John Whiting <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Paranoia

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From:   Larry or Lynn Tunstall, INTERNET:•••@••.•••
TO:     John Whiting, 100707,731
DATE:   10/02/96 19:25

RE:     Paranoia

Here's my paranoid fantasy of what's going on.

The Communications Decency Act was included in the TC bill for two

(1) to get the support of the rightwing extremists, diverting them from
any possible focus on exposing giveaways to "the liberal media";

(2) to cause "liberals" to create a big fuss about the censorship
aspect, thus diverting attention from the financial giveaways and the
sponsorship by the big communications companies.

As the White House and others have noted, many of the censorship
provisions will almost certainly be thrown out by the courts (after
the ACLU and others spend lots of progressive's money on lawyers).
If needed, Clinton and others can join in the effort to get rid of
the "obvious excesses" of the censorship measure.  If what is left
proves inconvenient to the big companies, it can always be repealed
down the line with some amendment in some other bill that will
attract little attention unless the right wing tries to oppose it,
in which case the companies get to pose as protectors of freedom.

I'd imagine that the right would be just as happy to keep some vague
censorship regulations in force.  In broadcasting, the FCC has only
once brought charges against a moderately major player (Infinity for
Howard Stern's programs), and then they were simply ignored until
Infinity decided to make a deal in order to get clearance for a
merger or sale or whatever they were up to.  The "indecency" fines
have not be brought against networks, or even against local TV
stations as far as I know, but rather against community and college
stations broadcasting a bit of counterculture.  The big companies
don't mind at all keeping a bit of intimidation and confusion on
those little operations, so long as they are free to sell whatever
sleaze they want.  Similarly, they don't mind if the "hard-core porn"
sellers get harrassed, so long as they can define "community standards"
by the fact that whatever they choose to transmit becomes acceptable.

If I'm right, the push for censorship will have already served its
purpose in getting the bill through Congress, and now we'll see the
various powers (except the fanatic right, of course) turning around
and competing to be seen as friends of civil liberties and champions
of free speech (among consenting adults).

Cheers, Larry


Moderator comment:

The fact that Leahy is perservering against CDA (with his repeal
initiative) is not strong evidence for the above theory.  But if all kinds
of support materializes, from people who voted for CDA before, then there's
some cause for serious consideration here, IMHO.


Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996
Sender: "David E. Anderson" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: ownership and origin of Internet has low explanatory power

I think Ira Brodsky is barking up the wrong tree with this line of inquiry.
What drives the politicians, as ever, is power and money.  The Net MATTERS
now, so the power and money interests want to control it.  The social control
fanatics centered around the Christian Right are tightly interwoven with
dominant elements of the US governments.  The ideology of these groups, such
as it exists separate from their desire for control, now and throughout two
thousand years of history, fosters social organization which is at odds with
the current freedom of the Net.  ( We're talking Inquisition here, not nailing
your declaration of principles to a door. )  It is irrelevant that some
portions of the Net are owned by governments.  What is relevant is to know who
is driving the battle against us.  I know of no movement in US history which
measures up to the contemporary Christian Right's combination of money,
organization, fervor, staffing, and understanding of how to wage political
war.  It is staging a pre-emptive strike against the Net because it knows how
to protect its interests and how to pick its battles.  It understands that it
has a strong chance of outmanuevering a bunch of cyberjockies who value
talking over organizing.


Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996
Sender: John Whiting <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Enclosing the Wide Open Spaces

Fellow Pioneers:

I suspect that we're all going to look back on the "Internet" as
a misleading concept, a linguistic trap. What it purports to
unify is a vast ad hoc anarchistic congeries of systems,
growing out of a momentarily non-authoritarian game plan devised
as an alternative means of military-industrial communication in
the event of an atomic attack on American soil. Since then, like
Topsy, it "just grew". The expenses of maintaining it have been
largely carried, without remuneration, by the major players because
it was cheaper to let us hitch a ride than to keep us out of the
empty boxcars. Millions of us have been cyber-hobos. Cyber-hustlers
as well: remember a couple of months ago when some of the servers
started charging to maintain addresses because so many speculators
were staking claims on alphabetical combinations they thought they
might be able to sell for fancy prices?

I suppose it was inevitable that, when the Soviet threat
fizzled out, the wide open cyber-spaces would begin to be broken
up, fenced off, and bargained for like any other real estate.
The Telecommunications Bill is the equivalent of the invention
in 1873 of barbed wire; it is likely to have a similar effect on
both the economy and the ecology of the landscape. Like barbed
wire, it appears to allow small stakeholders to protect their
property, but that is only a transitional stage on the way towards
massive takeovers and amalgamations: in today's geographical Wild
West the fences seem to be down again, but that's only because a
single conglomerate owns everything in sight.

In the meantime, watch in cyberspace for the old metaphors of the
western migration and the gold rush to start reappearing. Pretty
soon all of us little Web stake-holders who were given our
land-grants for peanuts will have heavies knocking on our doors
demanding first inflated rates for right-of-way, then vacant
possession of our forlorn bit of property. Only it won't take even
as long as the completion a  century ago of the Union Pacific track
which began in 1862 and was finished by 1869. Like the trans-
continental rail links, the new commercial Net backbones will depend
on the massive governmental giveaways which, with the Telecom Bill,
have well and truly begun.

John Whiting
Diatribal Press
London, England


 Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
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