Tales of the Sausage Factory

Scott Cleland Needs To Work Harder On Ad Hominems. Or, better yet, skip them entirely.

I happen to like Scott Cleland as a person, and I recognize he’s got job to do, but certain kinds of ad hominem attacks are just lazy — and stupid. I’m referring here to Cleland’s to attempts at “gotcha” posts in recent days. One directed against my employer Public Knowledge, the other directed against fellow traveler Free Press.

First, in the flap over Google Voice and blocking, Cleland accused PK of having a double standard — demanding AT&T not use “self-help” on blocking traffic stimulator sites while turning a blind eye to GV doing the same thing. I can understand Scott missing my quote the week earlier in Communications Daily condemning the practice (and suggesting that if they claim the right to block calls then networks can refuse to complete GV originating calls), Communications Daily is a paid subscription and not available online. But how did Cleland miss my initial post on the subject in which I said the FCC should investigate if Google really were blocking calls? (I’ll cut Cleland slack for not predicting my subsequent upping the urgency when Speakeasy’s decision to block these sites indicated that more VOIP providers are going to push this route.)

Now, Cleland has gone after Free Press by claiming that FP does not disclose its funders. As FP puts its annual reports and 990s online, this is a pretty stupid claim. Mind you, while I approve of disclosure, I’m always a big fan for answering substance. I get equally annoyed at my colleagues for acting as if the fact that someone once worked for a telco or takes money from some industry source automatically discredits them without looking at the merits of the argument. But claiming folks are hiding something when they put the information in a fairly accessible place on their webpage is just silly.

I anticipate that the response from Scott (and, inevitably, Brett — whose customers must be used to long ques for service given how much time he spends commenting on my blogs) will boil down to “well, under my definition of what I say your argument is, you are really hypocrite.” Happily, having now raised child up to age 11, and having grown up on Usenet in the 1980’s, I am familiar with this invitation to a meaningless debate whose purpose is to allow the other side to declare victory by continually redefining terms and reserving the right to be the ultimate judge of my conduct. I decline. Likewise, I decline the inevitable “Hah, your declining just proves I am right — you lying hypocrite loser” (I swear I can just write a Brett-bot. Heck, I would think he was a bot if I hadn’t met him). The beauty of the internet is that folks are free to draw their own conclusions.

Which is why skipping the silly ad hominems is probably the best route entirely. But if one does engage in such tactics (and folks on the pro-NN side are sadly just as guilty on occasion), at least try to avoid attacks so easily proven to be factually wrong.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Speakeasy now blocks calls — this is getting serious.

In the wake of reports that Google Voice is blocking calls to “traffic stimulator” sites (like free conference calling and free porn sites), Speakeasy has now changed its terms of service to explicitly block calls to these sites with its VOIP product. To its credit, Speakeasy directly informed its users (a friend forwarded me the email reproduced below). But this now elevates the question of VOIP providers and calls to a new level.

The FCC has danced around the regulatory status of “interconnected VOIP providers” (meaning VOIP providers that connect to the regular public switched voice network (or PSTN)). It has required regular phone companies to interconnect with VOIP providers in the famous Madison River case, and subjected VOIP providers to Enhanced 911 rules and CALEA, but has shied away from calling them telecommunications services. So the ability of VOIP providers to engage in the kind of “self-help” the FCC said was off-limits when the traditional Title II phone companies tried it. (Actual Order here for us legal buffs).

I’m not making a specific recommendation here because I’m still trying to gather info. As a general rule, I despise regulatory chameleons who shift regulatory treatment based on what their best interest. If you want to be a Title I information service and be able to refuse to connect calls, don’t complain when you get blocked because you are not eligible for mandatory interconnection under Title II. But I’m also well aware that reality matters and its intrinsic messiness means that these inclinations need to be guides rather than hard and fast rules. I am aware of my ignorance of the factual situation enough to know that I’d like to have a lot more information about the nature of the services and the regulatory environment (about which I know only enough to make my usual uninformed guesses).

But the one thing I can say definitively is that the longer this goes on without any FCC response, the more VOIP providers are going to look to save themselves money by blocking these “free conference call” sites.

Stay tuned . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

AT&T Falls Back on “It's All About Google” Strategy

For some years now, the opponents of Network Neutrality have had the same basic fallback strategy: When all else fails, make it about Google. So no surprise that AT&T, in a letter supposedly about the rather technical issue of “traffic pumping” opens with an attack on Google and Net Neutrality. Because if we have learned anything from our national healthcare debate, it is that it is more important to make this about how awful the other side is rather than debate the merits.

More below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Liveblogging the Fun fun Fun at FCC at 700 Mhz Mtg

So here I am, watching all the motion in the backfield as the Commissioners trickle in following this morning’s delay.

For those who missed it, the meeting was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Then got switched to 12:30 p.m. (Frankly, I didn’t mind, as I had not gotten a seat at 10 a.m. Real full house here today). When I got back at 12:30, I found Fred Campbell (chief of the wireless bureau) and some of the wireless staff already in the hearing room. A hopeful sign! Still, it has taken an additional hour to pull everyone together. Martin came in at about 1:10 or so, with the rest trickling in later. During the last half hour, I could see various high-ranking staff dealing with the last minute details from whatever change got made this morning.

We’ve now started with three witnesses to describe the need for various features of the Order. We have two public safety guys and Jason Devitt — CEO of Skydeck and supporter of both wholesale open access and device open access.

Having outside witnesses at an open Commission meeting called for the purposes of voting on an agenda item is highly unusual. Martin has done this on occassion before for very significant and potentially controversial items (the ones that come to mind are the meeting where they voted to require VOIP providers to provide 911 services, the Katrina follow up, and the 2006 cable competition inquiry (which took place in Keller, TX).

So what’s going on here? More below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Last week in CALEA

(And you thought I’d given up on anything but Net Neutrality, didn’t you?)

So last week proved a busy one for the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). CALEA requires that anyone building a “communications network” build it in such a way that law enforcement agencies (acting pursuant to a proper warrant, of course), can monitor individual sbscribers/users. Last fall, the FCC extended CALEA to include broadband access providers and voice over IP (VOIP) providers. For various reasons, this pissed me off. Meanwhile, a group of folks including the Center for Democracy and Technology and EFF Petitioned the DC Circuit to declare that the FCC had overstepped its statutory bounds in extending CALEA in this way.

Last Wednesday, the FCC issued its Second Order on CALEA, basically affirming the First Order and giving some new details (or at least it will when the text of the Second Order is released). Friday, the FCC defended its First Order in court. Reflections of yr hmbl obdnt below.

Read More »

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

A 2-1 FCC?

Unbelievably, the vote on confirmation for Deborah Tate (the new Republican replacement for Kathleen Abernathy) and Michael Copps (Dem) (to sit another 5 year term) is delayed. Why? Because Senators act like 6 year olds.

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Will CALEA kill CWNs? (Community Wireless Networks)

I hadn’t intended to do much in response to the FCC’s Order extending the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act to broadband providers and VOIP providers. I was just gonna kibbitz my buddies at EFF and CDT. But then I reread the Order, got mad, and filed this Petition for Reconsideration. As it was due November 21, I ended up pulling a late night right before Thanksgiving.

What pissed me off? See below.

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register