Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Authori-tay questioned

From EFF:

""""In a ruling that imposes important limits on the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned the FCC ruling against Comcast for interfering with the BitTorrent traffic of its subscribers. The court found that the Commission had overstepped the limits of its "ancillary authority" when it disciplined Comcast for its clandestine blocking behavior.

The ruling is not likely to make much difference to Comcast subscribers—Comcast had already agreed to cease its BitTorrent interdiction before the FCC's ruling was issued. Instead, the court's ruling is important because it represents a blow to FCC Chairman Genachowski's proposed net neutrality regulations, which are premised on the same theory of "ancillary jurisdiction" that the FCC used against Comcast and that the court rejected today.""""

The courtly authorities limited the FCC's authority, yet the Feds (both judiciary and legislature) may be, as the EFFsters suggest, preparing their own regulative measures to control Net content--that's not to say some Net content should not be regulated, but once one site's censored (say, some typical skanky valley or vegas porn, or the "torrent" sites favored by geek deviants), why not others, including political? Who establishes the moderation or censoring guidelines? Pelosicrats? Religious fundamentalists? Communists? Corporate executives?

The usual libertarian-leftist (including many EFF types) tends to react violently to regs of any sort, economic, communicative, or in regard to the sacred right to Entertainment. Yet communication controls of some sort should not be considered inherently rightist. One might say, allow the Tropic of Cancer on a blog, but oppose the ...SVP (skanky valley porn). Put Marx's writings online or on political blogs, and allow informed critique (not the Red Dawn-like reaction, or the comrade's dogmatic approach either). Other types of content may be more problematic--whether neo-nazis, extreme jihadists, or ...etsy goth gals who need to move some candle-products to pay the rent.

Communication issues should be at least negotiated, say via something like a Rawlsian contract--the right to free expression remains critical, however mundane it might sound to ideologues. That should hold at all levels of political discussion. Many blogs, whether big name such as KOS or the cowtown's reinforce "soft-censorship": a clique takes shape, and opinions, or what are taken to be opinions are shared. The site members establish a consensus of sorts, though the consensus views may have little to do with reason, facts, or science, or sound ideology for that matter. The religious blogs don't care for "secularists" interfering with their hustle, and vice versa. A similar situation holds for the political blogs--join the Teabagger pep rally, or leave (or the Death to Teabagger chant on the PC lib-sites). Without established terms of service, or communication guidelines, the blog becomes a sort of e-manifesto, or merely narcissistic indulgence--and most of blogosphere's headed in that direction.

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