Re: Cyber-Rights position on ISP charges


Response from Andy (speaking as an individual, not moderator):

I like Richard's comments a lot and think we should indeed be talking
about solutions like that.  One thing I'd agree with: in the long run
(by the time Internet real-time audio gets to be really common, enough
to affect the telephone industry seriously) I hope that the industry
restructures itself naturally so that there no company is mooching off
of anybody else.

But let me reiterate that I disagree with the ACTA petition and think
we should oppose it.  A dangerous form of regulating the Internet
could slip in along with any FCC ruling.  Two people are currently
researching the issue further with me.



Sender: •••@••.••• (Marty Tennant)

The ACTA petition, in my opinion, will hold merit with the Commission,
because it is the epitome of bypass.  Internet or not, bypass is frowned
upon big time.

I suggest the following, knowing full well that it is kludgy and probably
bound to set off some folks.  I do think it has a germ of reason in it that
would appeal to the Commission without putting them in the position of
banning the VON software altogether, or in the alternative, doing nothing
and allowing the bypass to continue.  They really are between a rock and a
hard place on this one.

The FCC should ban people like Jeff Pulver and IDT that are trying to hang
phone lines off voice-on-the-net PC servers for use by the general public
with a simple telephone call.  Whether it is for free (Pulver) or for profit
(IDT), it is still bypass, doesn't require a computer, and is not presently
compatible with the current, and probably future, universal service fund
concept.  If these setups paid access charges and contributed to the USF, it
would be different.

Voice-on-the-net software should generally be allowed, as long as it is used
computer to computer, between individuals or within the same company, or
among educational or government entities.  I know, this will be difficult to

The price of the software should include a universal service fund surcharge
that is used to reduce the amount long distance carriers are required to pay
into the fund.  If there were some way to obtain an ongoing USF
contribution, on a yearly basis, from users of the software (similar to the
UK and their TV and radio licensing) I'd be in favor of it.

If I had my druthers, I'd make sure the amount of USF money from VON
software sales was targeted to support reduced cost access by libraries,
schools, etc., the folks that are suppose to be getting a deal on access per
the new law.

The problem here is that there are already versions of VON software that are
freely available via the net for the price of a download.  How do you
control that?  You don't.  Shades of PGP.

I thought I'd just throw this out as a possibility and see if it got any
response, good or bad, from other observers.

Marty Tennant


Sender: •••@••.•••

  Saw this on the "Net-Happenings" mailing list...


  Date:    Thu, 7 Mar 1996 23:31:18 -0600
  From:    Gleason Sackman <•••@••.•••>
           - BY ACTA (130 USA Long Distance Telephone Carriers)

  Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 21:00:08 -0500 (EST)
  From: Jenny Jacobson <•••@••.•••>

  ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 15:03:07 -0500 (EST)
  From: Sandy Combs <•••@••.•••>
  To: •••@••.•••
  "MISUSE OF THE INTERNET" - BY ACTA (130 USA Long Distance Telephone


  It appears that our recent FREE WORLD DIALUP press release was the
  straw that broke the camel's back.

  The FCC was petitioned yesterday by ACTA "TO STOP MISUSE OF THE

  The sale and use of Voice-On-the-Net (VON) software is being
  challenged by 130 of the USA's largest long distance telephone
  carriers.  Among them, MCI, SPRINT, and LDDS.

  According to the ACTA press release:

  "A growing number of companies are selling software programs with
  ancillary hardware options that enable a computer to transmit voice
  conversations. This, in fact, creates the ability to "by-pass" local,
  long distance and international carriers and allows for calls to be
  made for virtually 'no cost.'" And also, "...the misuse of the
  Internet as a way to "by-pass" the traditional means of obtaining long
  distance service could result in a significant reduction of the
  Internet's ability to transport its ever enlarging amount of data


  A VON Coalition is currently being formed and members will testify at
  the spring meeting of the FCC when they discus telephony issues.

  If you don't want to loose your right to VON technology, NOW is the
  time to be counted.


  We need an immediate head count of those on these lists that CARE

  Subscribe RIGHT NOW to this SPECIAL VON Coalition list:

  To subscribe: VON Coalition List

  1)  send E-MAIL to: •••@••.•••
  2)  leave the SUBJECT blank
  3)  in the BODY write -  subscribe vonyes

  To subscribe: VON Coalition List Digest

  1)  send E-MAIL to: •••@••.•••
  2)  leave the SUBJECT blank
  3)  in the BODY write -  subscribe vonyes-digest

  Further discussions regarding the VON Coalition will be posted to the
  above only.

  If you DO NOT act TODAY, your rights and FREE TELEPHONE via the
  internet may well be lost!

  Jeff Pulver
  Sandy Combs
  [your name here]

  (Press Release distribution authorized by, Jennifer Durst-Jarrell,
  Executive Director, ACTA 3/5/96)


Sender: •••@••.••• (Marilyn Davis)

Richard Moore writes:

>         Why would this be a winning strategic policy for "us"?  Simply
> because text-based transmissions -- the lifeblood of this Internet Valhalla
> of democratic verbal discourse -- consume so few kilobytes, while
> to-be-deployed video services take orders of magnitude more bandwidth.
>         The best-possible world for us would be a flat, incremental charge
> for all communications transmissions, based on bandwidth-used, plus a
> surcharge for synchronous delivery.  And this best-world would also charge
> all users equally, without vertical-monopoly under-the-table discounts.
> Under such an ideal scheme (probably beyond achieving politically), and
> assuming video transmissions would be affordable to the masses, we'd be
> able to follow on the price-curve coattails and have _very_ affordable
> messaging connectivity (provided CDA allows us to say anything).
>         What we'd want to oppose would be minimum charges on message
> traffic.  Even if such were initially small, insider-lobbying could soon
> jack them up to prohibitive levels.
>         In other words: _We_ benefit from a level-playing field, commodity-
> communications transport infrastructure, with flat incremental usage
> charges, and no minimums for small transmissions.

In this scheme, is there no difference between personal use and
business use?

"Flat" means that if I use 1000 units I pay 10 times more than if I
use 100 units?  No break for big users?  I think this is the right
thing to do.  The central authority has no business either encouraging
use or discouraging use with weighted pricing schemes.

Also, please remind me, what does "synchronous delivery" mean?  When
we communicate by email, as we do, we don't get the surcharge, right?

> (2) simply says "it's too much trouble", and (3) is a plea to a
> not-to-be-found-in-Washington public conscience.

I agree that Washington has no conscience.  However, they pretend
they do and our job is to expose the pretense or take advantage of
it somehow.  I think the key is for us to play to the press, not to
the politicians.

Anyway, this proposal makes sense to me.  I wonder if, after some
discussion, we can come to consensus on a pricing scheme and then
present it to the press as a scheme agreed to by a large informed
online constituency.  Would that help with the politics?  Would that
force some reason into the public discussion?

Consensus-driven groups (Quakers, Cuna Indians, many peace groups, the
League of Women Voters and co-housing groups) achieve consensus with
the simple question, "Are there any objections?"  Consensus means that
no one objects, *not* that everyone votes "yes", so it's much easier
to achieve than unanimity.

We can achieve consensus on this list very simply, with the question,
"Are there any objections to this list taking an official stand on
this issue with this resolution?"  When we hammer out the right
resolution, there will be no objections.  We can send our press
release out by email.

Consensus is sort of magic.  Everyone has the power to veto; but you
must veto by giving a good reason or it doesn't count.  It's so much
more democratic than regular voting.  And the result is so much more
powerful than a simple majority.
Marilyn                               *
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 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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