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May 25, 2006

HR5417 Voted Out of House Judiciary Commitee [6:29 pm]

House Judiciary passes Internet access measure [pdf]

The measure, approved by a vote of 20-13, would amend U.S. antitrust law. It would also counter a rival bill from another House committee that wants to encourage network providers to preserve consumers’ ability to freely surf the Internet instead of adopting stricter rules.

“The lack of competition in the broadband marketplace presents a clear incentive for providers to leverage dominant market power over the broadband bottleneck to pre-select, favor or prioritize Internet content over their networks,” said Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

[...] “We are optimistic that the majority in Congress will see this legislation as an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist,” said Tim McKone, AT&T executive vice president for federal relations.The Judiciary panel has been tangling with the House Energy and Commerce Committee over jurisdiction on the Internet issue, dubbed “Net neutrality.” Many lawmakers were on the fence but voted for the Judiciary bill to preserve their control over antitrust laws.

HR5417 status from Thomas; webcast from the Judiciary Committee WWW site

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Market Response! [5:23 pm]

Who’d have thought that there would be a market reponse? Database debate helping one local telecom provider [pdf]

While some telephone companies have taken it on the chin lately over allegations of sharing customer phone records with the government, one San Francisco telecommunications business is benefiting from the controversy.

Working Assets, a small long-distance and wireless provider known for its contributions to progressive causes, has enjoyed an increase in subscriptions and added attention lately because of its public promises of customer privacy and its vocal opposition to any sharing of phone records with the National Security Agency.

The company said it signed up more than 1,000 long-distance and wireless customers last week after the NSA phone database story broke, triple what it normally does in a week.

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Is The US Propaganda Machine Really This Organized? [5:13 pm]

I would tend to doubt it, but it’s clear that the Venezuelans are sure.  And what does that say about how we are perceived? US video game angers Chavez allies in Venezuela - [pdf]

Venezuelan lawmakers are complaining that a video game to be marketed by a U.S. company next year provides a blueprint for violently overthrowing President Hugo Chavez.

The game, “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames,” simulates a military invasion of the oil-rich South American nation and will be released by Pandemic Studios of Los Angeles.

“A power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela’s oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a war zone,” Pandemic says of the game on its Web site.

Venezuelan lawmakers who back Chavez called it the latest example of a U.S. government-inspired propaganda campaign against Chavez that could even help lay the psychological groundwork for an actual invasion.

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Massachusetts Mayors Enter the Wiretap Fray [7:49 am]

Mayors demand phone inquiry [pdf]

Four Massachusetts mayors are filing a complaint with the state department that oversees telecommunications companies, part of a national campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union to demand information on whether the nation’s largest security agency has gained access to private phone records.

[...] Massachusetts will play a prominent role in the campaign, because it is believed to be the only state where mayors can file complaints that require public hearings before the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy, said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

The mayors of Newton, Somerville, Northampton, and Chicopee are requesting a public hearing with the department to question whether the companies violated the law. The ACLU has asked that the Federal Communications Commission and 20 state public utilities commissions take action.

“We’ve gone from, `Can you hear me now?’ to `Who can hear me now?’” said Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette of Chicopee.

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