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Communications Government United States Wireless Networking Censorship Hardware Politics

FCC Pitches Free, Bowdlerized Wireless Internet Access 298

Posted by timothy
from the so-really-we-don't-need-much-bandwidth dept.
Aidtopia writes "FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is proposing auctioning off an unused part of the 25 MHz spectrum on the condition that the winner provide free wireless Internet access. The proposal sets coverage targets that ramp up to 95% of the population within 10 years. The catch: the provider must filter out obscene content." I wonder what definition of "obscene" the FCC would like to use.
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FCC Pitches Free, Bowdlerized Wireless Internet Access

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  • by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @04:58PM (#23592805) Journal
    Add anything that is not "politically correct", and it'll be filtered.

    Thus, about 99% of all media.
    • by ePhil_One (634771) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:01PM (#23592849) Journal
      I'll provide free internet and filter out everything that's not clear text and matching a library of 10 "known not obscene" words.

      Only way to be sure

    • Admiral Jesus says "All aboard the Censor-Ship!"

      Aaaaaaaaaand, cue Peter Griffin's 'Freakin FCC' song!

      They will clean up all your talking in a menace such as this
      They will make you take a tinkle when you want to take a p*ss
      And they'll make you call fellatio a trouser-friendly kiss
      It's the plain situation!
      There's no negiotiation!
      With the fellows at the freakin FCC!

      They're as stuffy as the stuffiest of the special interest groups...
      Make a joke about your bowels and they order in the troops
      Any baby with a brain could tell them everybody poops!
      Take a tip, take a lesson!
      You'll never win by messin'
      With the fellas at the freakin' FCC

      And if you find yourself with some you sexy thing
      You're gonna have to do her with your ding-a-ling
      Cause you can't say penis!

      So they sent this little warning they're prepared to do the worst
      And they stuck it in your mailbox hoping you could be co-erced
      I can think of quite another place they should have stuck it first!

      They may just be neurotic
      Or possible psychotic
      They're the fellas at the freakin FCC!

      • FCC FU! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WK2 (1072560)
      • by Cairnarvon (901868) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @06:45PM (#23594051) Homepage
        I like how you self-censored "piss" in a song about how bad censoring obscenity is.
    • Most popular sites(news media, social networking) cater to idiots, and more idiots are better for government and botnets. Everyone wins!

      On a more serious note, it may be a slippery slope towards great-wall style filtering. But, of course, there'll always be ways around it. Filtering is a silly idea.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Censorship is obscene, are they going to filter that?
  • eww (Score:4, Informative)

    by norkakn (102380) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @04:59PM (#23592817)
    Fuck that.
  • Fixed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bovius (1243040) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @04:59PM (#23592819)
    s/obscene/dissenting/g
  • Misspelled (Score:2, Funny)

    by oahazmatt (868057)

    FCC Pitches Free, Bowlderized Wireless Internet Access... The catch: the provider must filter out obscene content.
    You misspelled bastardized.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Intron (870560)
      Actually, they misspelled bowdlerized.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FCC Pitches Free, Bowlderized Wireless Internet Access... The catch: the provider must filter out obscene content.

      You misspelled bastardized.

      No, he misspelled Bowdlerized [wikipedia.org].

      For example, your original potty-mouthed post might be offensive to sensitive ears, and I've therefore taken the liberty...

      You misspelled illegitimized

      ...of bowdlerizing it.

      Either that, or I missed the ironic possibility of your post; that you, like me, regard the act of bowdlerization as an even greater offense than the use o

    • If I still had mod points...

      Bowlderize: To censor or alter an earlier writer's work.

      Bastardize: Change something so that its value declines.

      [-1 Redundant] Would be a more accurate moderation, most people know what bastardize means, not as many know what bowlderize means. Although bastardize is more ambiguous.
    • Come on mods! That was funny.
  • Possible power grab? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seifried (12921) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:02PM (#23592861) Homepage
    I wonder if this is a less than subtle way of the FCC executing a power grab, first establish censoring on a free network, then start moving it to the current networks (although this would not be needed if the enough people use this as their "last mile", you just look at their traffic there).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It was probably done at the behest of Big Networking, so that whenever people get uppity about the fact that the companies are not exactly dumping a whole lot of capital into improving and/or extending their services, they can point to this and say "just use that!", safe in the knowledge that nobody will want to use a slow, ad-filled, censored internet connection.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QRDeNameland (873957)
      Doesn't the FCC have an equal time rule? They shouldn't be able to do this unless they they also open up a chunk of the spectrum only for porn.
    • first establish censoring on a free network,

      They already do this. You can't broadcast obscene material on ABC, either. They even take it *beyond* obscenity there. Drawing the line at obscenity is a *liberalization* of current practice.
  • Claude Shannon eyeing the, at most, 50 kHz suspiciously.
  • by Teun (17872) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:03PM (#23592871) Homepage

    I wonder what definition of "obscene" the FCC would like to use.
    Tell me who'll be in The White House and I'll give you an answer.
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:04PM (#23592883)
    Tipper Gore and Jack Thompson
  • to place restrictions on private industry
    • by value_added (719364) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @06:29PM (#23593917)
      to place restrictions on private industry

      I'd agree, but to be fair, the FCC is required to mandate "decency" standards on the public airwaves, so extending that mandate/philosophy to a proposed public wireless system sounds like a reasonable argument.

      The difficulty is that the internet, at least for the forseeable future, isn't at all similar to broadcast television or radio.
  • by EverStoned (620906) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:07PM (#23592917) Homepage
    Give me a tube, and I'll show you how to shove pornography and MP3s down it. Bring it on!
  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:09PM (#23592943)
    I wonder what definition of "obscene" the FCC would like to use.

    In the US, 'obscene' has a clear legal meaning: material that meets the three-pronged (I said 'prong,' huhuuhuh) test established in Miller v. California:

    1. 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
    2. the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law
    3. the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

    Such material isn't protected speech. I think it should be, but there you go: it's hardly surprising that the FCC doesn't want it on a freely-accessible broadcast network. It's an infinitely more reasonable position for them to take than if they were demanding that providers filter "indecent" material, which is a) protected speech and b) has no strict legal definition.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      "3. the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

      so no Bible then? tempting....
      • by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:26PM (#23593161) Journal
        I know you are trying to be funny or whatever but even if you don't think the Bible contains a single fact, the fact remains it is a book of stories. More then that they are some of the oldest stories we might consider part of modern Western Civilization. They more or less lay out what society is as we understand it today. Christian or otherwise to sugest the Bible does not represent artistic, political, and scientific value(even if only the social and political science aspects are verifable) makes you appear pretty stupid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bugnuts (94678)
      I can't give a definition, but I'll know it when I see it! [wikipedia.org]

      What's interesting is that, by obscenity laws, porn would be fine. It really would not be hard for a provider to say "When we're made aware of material that's clearly obscene or illegal, we'll take technological steps to filter it."

      But like pirate radio, they will never be able to stop it.

    • by jez9999 (618189)
      Heh. Funny where those priorities are. Sex is obscene, but by that definition, torture followed by bloody beheading would be just fine.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:11PM (#23592975) Journal
    The bloody song would take too long to type out, but I'll say them now, while we still have a chance:
    • piss
    • fellatio
    • penis
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Searching Google and cutting and pasting takes too long?

      BTW, If I ahdn't read it in an earlier post, I woudn't ahve known what the hell you were talking about.

      Now onto another subject...naw, that will take to long to type so:
      Bananas
      Hook
      Penis
  • At first, reading the title, there was amazement! An FCC chairman, pitching FREE internet?!?!

    Then there came reality: no 'obscene' content.

    What the fuck is this, 1953? Hey, while we're at it, why don't we go beat up some Commies and re-segregate the South, then fine anyone who says dirty words on these gosh darn 'radios'??

    Thats like giving someone a car with no wheels, engine, gas tank, doors, windows, seats or seat belts, and wondering why nobody wants your gift.

    Essentially this amounts to severe p

    • Thats like giving someone a car with no wheels, engine, gas tank, doors, windows, seats or seat belts, and wondering why nobody wants your gift.

      Bullshit. It's like giving someone a car with no knobs on the radio so they can't turn it on unless they use some pliers. Pretty much everyone on this forum could easily bypass the restrictions placed on this network, so what's the big deal? Let the restrictions comfort the old folks and help parents protect their children from content they don't want them to see. For those people who think that parents shouldn't shield their children, fine, but let the parents who want to shield their children do it as lo

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by TRAyres (1294206)

        Hah! I never thought I'd see a 'Protect the CHILDREN, think of the CHILDREN!' argument on Slashdot!

        Obscene material is a joke. The FCC tried to regulate 'bad language' as obscene on the radio. Then they tried to do it on TV. They fail, and fail, and fail, yet they try again.

        What you essentially posted is that the Government can't back free speech because free speech contains obscenity. The constitution has something to say about that.

        Why do you want the government raising your children? Why don't you w

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Obscene material is a joke. The FCC tried to regulate 'bad language' as obscene on the radio. Then they tried to do it on TV. They fail, and fail, and fail, yet they try again.

          Do we define failure the same way? One definition, perhaps the most broadly accepted one is "what happens when you do not succeed".

          I turn on broadcast TV and radio today, and I note that I still can't hear any "bad language". I even learn that the FCC is slapping massive fines on anybody who utters such "bad language".

          Failed? Really? Wouldn't that imply 'not successful'?

    • by Gat0r30y (957941)

      why don't we go beat up some Commies
      Thats just silly - everyone knows that there aren't any commies left (except the ones that are our very good friends in China).
      The foreigners we gotta beat up now are terrrists. Which are a lot like obscenity now that I think of it, cause ive no idea what the hell a terrrrist is, but I know one when I see one.
    • I agree with some of your points, but what is an "open source mesh broadcast tower"? Do you mean a tower that has a mesh node on it that is controlled by open source software? If that is all you are looking for, you could probably build it with existing wifi equipment and a tower like hams use for HF antennas, the trick is convincing all of your neighbors to get similar systems so that your node has other nodes to be a mesh with. Plus someone still has to have an internet connection with this setup, but
  • Defined. (Score:5, Funny)

    by jadin (65295) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:19PM (#23593049) Homepage
  • So far everyone has been focusing on the bad - but let me break it down -
    The Good: Free Internet access over an add supported public channel - at what should be fairly good speed - that alone is a significant move in the right direction toward improving access for rural areas, and reducing the broadband divide
    The Ugly: One Company - gets to try to make this work. I find this troubling only for one reason - it is clear now that ISP's have no problem filtering the internet not just for obscene content,
  • Waging imperialist war? Eh. Suspending basic human rights for people due to their political, religious, or ethnic affiliation? Meh. Selling weapons to sworn enemies during wartime? Let's hold a congressional thing and exculpate the president and anyone else involved, just because.

    TITTIES??!! We've got to do something! Call the press! Notify the local authorities! LOOK OUT! IT'S A VAGINA! NOOOOOoooooooooo.....
  • Bowdlerize seems pretty likely, but isn't it at least possible that the FCC is turning that part of the spectrum into a boulder?
  • Email the FCC! (Score:3, Informative)

    by TRAyres (1294206) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:25PM (#23593149) Homepage

    On the FCC front page, there is a link to all the members of the board, and their emails.

    I say we email them.

    Lets turn the ./ effect upon our government, and see if maybe, just maybe, we can convince them not to make the same dumb ass mistakes they make every 30 years trying to censor new formats.

  • Wrong Wrong Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by tweak13 (1171627) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:27PM (#23593181)
    This isn't the 25MHz spectrum, it's a 25MHz block of the 2.1GHz spectrum. Realizing that makes this story make a whole lot more sense. There's no possible way this would work in the HF range.
  • I can see the FCC wanting to censor material because some people are way too sensitive about their repressed desires but that only makes sense in a broadcast model where everyone receives the same material. Internet by its very nature is fractured and each individual makes their own choices in what content they would like to receive. I don't care if my neighbor is pulling down midget latex whipping gross porn next door - thats an adult in their private home and I shouldn't have a say in what happens behin
    • I don't care if my neighbor is pulling down midget latex whipping gross porn next door - thats an adult in their private home and I shouldn't have a say in what happens behind their closed door.

      'Some' people would have a problem with paying for their neighbor to do that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mr2001 (90979)

        'Some' people would have a problem with paying for their neighbor to do that.
        But that wouldn't happen in this case anyway, since the "free" access would be subsidized by whoever owns the spectrum (e.g. by selling ads), not by taxpayers.
  • People that don't know better will be like: "Hey filtered is better than nothing. Can't bitch about free."

    The christians will say: "Not only is this a great product, but free as well. Plus they will filter out all the smut... HOW WONDERFUL!"

    1% will say: "Fuck that. Don't tell me how to surf."

    And the rest don't give a shit. I give this a better than average chance of going through.
  • by giminy (94188) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:32PM (#23593251) Homepage Journal
    I think that there are two pretty major flaws with this idea:

    1) Bandwidth. 802.11b uses 22Mhz of bandwidth for each of its channels. There is not 22Mhz of unallocated bandwidth at 25Mhz. I'm sure that compression techniques are better now than when 802.11 stuff was defined. However, looking at the FCC allocation chart [doc.gov], there isn't much unassigned bandwidth near 25Mhz. A few Mhz here and there, unless they're considering usurping ham radio and maritime bands and otherwise kicking people off of frequencies. I'm not sure what they're considering "unused". Someone with more knowledge of on data compression via radio techniques might chime in :).

    2) Propagation. 25Mhz is right around 12 Meters, which the hams and DX CB radio folks will know can propagate hundreds and even thousands of miles, depending upon ionospheric conditions. Take the bandwidth problem above, and multiply it by the fact that the precious little slice of bandwidth you get might be stomped on by everyone in the US during peak sunspot activity. This is likely the reason that mobile carriers aren't interested in these frequencies.

    I'm pretty sure this is a loser idea. If someone knows more than me, I'd love to learn more about this stuff, though.

    Reid
  • by ccady (569355) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:34PM (#23593269) Journal
    Bowlderized? Is that rock-solid [thefreedictionary.com] censorship? [thefreedictionary.com]
  • I'll take "Another IT Clueless guy who wants to influence the IT cauldron" please Stan!
  • Obscene Defined (Score:2, Insightful)

    by murphyje (965004)
    Why is everybody confused? The FCC already has legally definitions for "obscene" and clearly, since they're the ones auctioning off the frequency block, they'd be the ones deciding the definition of obscene. If you're still confused, here's how it works: Watch TV. Whatever they can do there, they can do on an obscenity-filtered wireless service. http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/obscene.html [fcc.gov]
    • Re:Obscene Defined (Score:4, Informative)

      by supersat (639745) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @06:11PM (#23593723)
      TV and radio are actually held to a higher standard for most of the day: they can't broadcast "indecent" material from 6 AM to 10 PM. In practice, most broadcasters choose not to broadcast "indecent" material at all, possibly for fear of a public outcry or advertisers backing out. Obscenity was defined by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California [wikipedia.org], and is a very tough threshold to meet. Lots of laws prohibit obscene speech, and I'm fairly certain there's a law that prohibits obscene speech from being transmitted on a licensed channel. The FCC is merely upholding the law.
  • Did they say "25Mhz". If so then this is not a high speed system. We are talking kilo-bits per second at best not megabits. So this would not be a broadband service It would be like a slow dial up speed. Good for email and text based pages but not audio/video content.

  • by Moop11 (1141137) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:43PM (#23593385)
    Just route all content through china.
  • Why so negative? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frosty_tsm (933163) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @05:47PM (#23593463)
    I know the FCC does some strange things at times. And I know that the censorship isn't exactly what I'd pick for my regular internet connection.

    However, I know that when I'm working from my laptop while waiting at the mechanic, it'd be nice to have ANY cheap / free internet connection. $60/month for unlimited internet through the cellphone networks is too expensive for my needs...
  • Obscene (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by rthille (8526)

    Well, I'd start with the Torah, Bible & Koran, and then go from there.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @06:24PM (#23593867)
    Everyone is bitching about filtering...

    I'm still stuck at the technological hurdle of actually being able to _implement_ such filters in the first place, given that it's an NP-incomplete problem.

    It's all well and good to scream "protect the children!" at the top of your lungs, but what technology are you proposing to identify and interdict obscene content?

    -- Terry
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @07:11PM (#23594263) Journal
    "I wonder what definition of "obscene" the FCC would like to use."

    Probably the one they already use to charge violators such as Howard Stern, as well as the violators' station of origin, up to US$250K per incident. I'm not sure where it is in their regs (which I do know are online) but I recall quite clearly the sign in the studio booth at WUVT that reminded me constantly of the sword hanging over me.

    What's always bothered me about the regs is the relaxation of the rules after 10 PM. When I was broadcasting, I had simultaneous netcast. After 10 PM where the station is (Blacksburg VA, eastern time) is only after 7 PM on the Left Coast (ie. pacific time). After 10 PM where? Was I simultaneously legal in Virginia but breaking the law in California?

    Apply that now to on-demand, statically stored material which may or may not be infringing depending on the material and time of request. It's always before 10 PM someplace, so the owner may be liable according to the location of the requester. You can bet this is the way things would fall, because the alternative is to say 'it's AFTER 10 PM someplace', making the regs moot and removing a potential source of enforcement as well as income.

    Oh yeah, and the context of the offending material matters. You can play hip hop and rap on air after 10 PM local and get away with broadcasting 2 "motherfuckers" and 5 "niggers" per minute, but try to say one of either yourself and see what it costs you. In the case of the latter, that may include body parts depending on your own color. The context of your reception can also matter, hence a "researcher" is supposed to be able to access an "obscene" web site for academic purposes without fear of reprisal. Yeah, right.

    Personally I prefer Larry Flint's editorialized definition of "obscene" which puts murder and such well before sex in terms of badness. If that were used, you'd never be able to access most commercial news outlets, or much common TV or theatrical material. So sad that killing is not just accepted but expected, and fucking is outlawed.

    OOPS, I think I just made it impossible for you to access this in the archives should the regulation of the proposed bandwidth go through. We'll see.
  • This is obscene (Score:4, Interesting)

    by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 30, 2008 @12:13AM (#23596347)
    Here I believe obscene means having to pay for wireless spectrum that you're required to provide a free service on.

    Of course the FCC is still scratching its head over why they couldn't get anybody to bid on spectrum that was dedicated for public safety use.

    Anybody else think the FCC has lost the plot ?

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