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FCC may regulate web publications

Uncle Charley (the Federal Communications Commission) is now looking at regulating certain components of the web, a move that is lauded by many Americans who are tired of abuse and fraud by anonymous netizens.

Some opinion leaders like Tim O'Reilly are publishing "codes of conduct" for internet broadcasters (bloggers), but without Federal regulation they can never be enforced.  The web is extremely dangerous, and criminals use the web to threaten and kill victims with increasing regularity.  Only with Federal regulation will we put an end to the abuse by anonymous crooks.

The FCC is charged with regulating all broadcasting in the USA, including web broadcasts (podcasts, webcasts, webinars), and the fact that they use the Internet is incidental.  Since broadcasting falls within the purview of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), sometimes known as "Uncle Charley" by those in the broadcasting industry, it's only a matter of time before all people who publish to the USA audience will required full identification and an FCC license. 

See my notes here on web regulation of broadcasting.

This reminds me of the CB radio fad of the 1970's where the FCC attempted to regulate all broadcasting on CB radios, with limited success.  It's a funny issue, because getting an FCC license subjected people to heavy fines while not having a license was only a minor offense.  It's clear that if Uncle Charley wants to regulate internet broadcasting, they will need to put some "teeth" behind their licensing requirements.

This FCC roundtable notes that interest is gaining and this Computerworld publication titled "Why the FCC will regulate the Internet" notes:

"Government controls over the Internet are not only coming - they're already here. . . "The FCC has to understand that all of those modalities are equal and one should not be treated differently from another," he says."

"Assuming that the FCC buys arguments such as this, we could see a new regulatory focus on the Internet and a decline in the hands-off attitude shown in the past.

From the regulators' viewpoint, the Internet increasingly may be viewed as just another utility that requires oversight." 

Whether it's over the airwaves or an internet cable, IP broadcasting is broadcasting, and under the purview of Uncle Charley.

The DMCA and the FCC

Section 230 of the DMCA immunizes web providers (e.g. Yahoo) from prosecution for the publications of other on their blog, but government regulation is another story altogether.  Using VOIP with Skpye or Vonage is not different than landline communications, and it's just a matter of time before anyone who broadcasts a publication on the web will be required to publish their FCC license number.  This will end all of the problems with serial predators, stalkers and anonymous deviants.

In traditional broadcasting (over the airwaves), the radio stations can be heavily fined for allowing third parties to threaten, harass or defame innocents.

I have details in my book "Web Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet psychopaths" and the coming FCC regulation of the Internet will be a very good thing, except for weirdoes and crooks.



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