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  • Google Demands Fairness, When Convenient

    July 30, 2007
    Google's Policy Blog today makes a succinct argument for why its purchase of DoubleClick should be approved. While I find their reasoning compelling and logical--in fact, I don't think any justification should be necessary--I find it hard to be sympathetic to a plea for fairness when Google is asking DC to stack the deck in its favor on other issues. Example: Google has issued an ultimatum to the FCC, asking it to offer up the 700 Mhz spectrum--the radio waves that will be free when TVs switch over to digital in 2009--with conditions attached.  These conditions make all potential bidders conform to Google's business model. What other example in history do we have of a company actually demanding strings be attached to an FCC auction such as this? If anyone can think of such an example I...
  • Is Traditional Landline Telephone Service Even Worth Saving?

    July 24, 2007
    The failure of SunRocket--which I write about here--has left a fair number of people without landline telephone service. Nothing bad seems to have happened as a result. In countries like Israel and Greece that had terrible government-run phone monopolies, few people under 40 even have landlines at home largely because the monopolies gave the service such a bad reputation. The current billing structure for mobile service make it unattractive for businesses to adopt mobile telephone service for many purposes. The relative lack of density of North American mobile phone networks, furthermore, means that dropped calls are a fact of life. But network quality already seems to be improving by leaps and bounds (it's already much better in the richer and denser parts of Asia and Europe) and there's probably some economic model...
  • Hands off VOIP

    July 23, 2007
    Today's New York Times carries a story about the sudden failure and shutdown of my former home telephone company, SunRocket. Although it obviously could have handled its own demise better, SunRocket did provide pretty good service: Unlike its competitor Vonage, SunRocket never went down and generally provided call quality as good as land line. The 11 months of service I got for $203.00 (including all taxes) cost about what I would have paid to Vonage and a lot less than I would have paid for traditional land-line service. Although he can't actually find a single expert who supports his point of view, the Times reporter nonetheless talks about the possibility of more regulation for VOIP companies and, implies that it would be a good idea. Here'...
  • Nevada Network Security: Good Enough for Government Work

    July 20, 2007
    Declan McCullagh has a hilarious story today about the crack team that Nevada's governor has providing his office with computer security:
    If you ever wanted to be Nevada's governor for a day, it doesn't seem to be that hard. In what could be a whopping security hole, Nevada has posted the password to the gubernatorial e-mail account on its official state Web site. It appears in a Microsoft Word file giving step-by-step instructions on how aides should send out the governor's weekly e-mail updates, which has, as a second file shows, 13,105 subscribers. The Outlook username is, by the way, "governor" and the password is "kennyc". We should note at this point that the former Nevada governor, a Republican, is Kenny C. Guinn, which hardly says much about password security.
    That's like President...
  • A Second Look at Second Life Analogies

    July 12, 2007
    My letter to the Washington Post regarding Michael Gerson's "Where the Avatars Roam," which appeared in the Post last week:
    Michael Gerson's July 6 piece "Where the Avatars Roam" shows that his understanding of libertarianism isn't nearly as deep as his understanding of online games.

    Mr. Gerson describes Second Life as "large-scale experiment in libertarianism," citing the game's lack of community structure and long-term consequences.  He describes this "libertarian" world as one in which there is not human nature, only human choices.

    This doesn't describe a libertarian world, but one of fantasy.  Libertarianism, as envisioned by the founding fathers or Friedrich Hayek, is predicated on an understanding of the world that's...
  • False Analogies from WIRED

    July 11, 2007
    Wired magazine's Scott Gilbertson summarized the FTC net neutrality report by quipping, "Wait and see if it all goes south and then maybe consider doing something to fix it." This is a false analogy. Certainly it's a good idea to fix something that's bound to break, but is net neutrality really like giving the car an oil change? It would be if we had reason to believe that we were racing toward the net equivalent of engine lock-up, but the evidence for such a scenario just doesn't add up. What evidence do we have? For more than a decade a net with many levels of access and many corresponding prices has meant more investment and a boon for all consumers. "If it ain't broke don't fix it," doesn't apply either. The internet not only isn't broken, it's growing at incredible speeds and bringing the rest of...
  • Satellite (Radio) of Love

    July 10, 2007
    The FCC is currently presiding over the proposed merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius. And, to no one's surprise, a host of groups are clamoring for the feds to stick their regulatory snout into the proceedings and stop the merger from going forward. The haters in the crowd would have you believe satellite radio is a unique market that needs to have multiple competing companies, even if both of them are suffering massive operating losses:
    ...simply put, the two companies have been competing so fiercely with one another that costs at both have skyrocketed to unsustainable levels. In 2006 alone, Sirius and XM had combined losses of just over $1.8 billion The huge losses can be traced to Sirius and XM spending billions to...
  • Tune into the Space Angels Network

    July 2, 2007
    Kerry Howley is covering the latest developments in private exploration in space exploration today over at Hit & Run. Also, the July/August '07 issue of The New Individualist also has a great cover feature titled "Space: Final Frontier, Final Battlefield." TNI Space cover Click here to subscribe to TNI.
  • Fred on Philanthropy in WSJ

    June 29, 2007
    Fred Smith, the president of CEI, was featured in today's Wall Street Journal in a letter to the editor responding to Robert Barro's commentary on Bill Gates ("Bill Gates's Charitable Vistas," editorial page, June 19). In the piece Fred argues that wealth creation is much more affective at reducing poverty than philanthropy, especially in the case of Mr. Gates:
    Traditional philanthropy is collective, tribal, even. The donor feels noble; paternalism reigns; poverty is perpetuated. Extending the institutions of economic liberty -- even to the limited degree that this has occurred in China and India -- has done more good than would have been achieved had Mr. Gates liquidated Microsoft and shipped all that money to Africa.
    Though some might disagree that Bill...
  • FTC Moves to Protect Bandwealth

    June 28, 2007
    In a new report, Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy, the FTC routed the empty arguments of the "net neutrality" crowd, marking a significant victory for those who believe in competition and freedom on the net. Robert Kahn, the inventor of the TCP/IP protocol has referred to "net neutrality" as nothing more than a regulatory slogan. In a piece in The Register Kahn is quoted as saying "I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net." What kind of interesting stuff "inside the net" is Kahn referring to? One example is managing traffic, called packet prioritizing, so that emails and websites are brought from servers to our displays quickly. This does mean that peer-to-peer...

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