Powell Discovers That It's Tougher To Impact Tech Policy When Not In Power

from the shoulda-thought-of-that-before-you-quit dept

For whatever his faults, Michael Powell did seem to have a better grasp of technology than most every other politician out there — while also understanding many of the legal issues involved in reshaping telco policy around new technologies. The fear when he left was that his replacement didn’t have that understanding and that would lead to problems. It didn’t take long at all. After dismantling Powell’s principles on which he based his decisions, Kevin Martin has been pursuing a strategy that seems focused much less on innovation, and much more on (a) giving law enforcement whatever they want and (b) giving a few large incumbents whatever they want. While Powell is off getting rich in the private sector, it appears he’s discovering that his successor is quickly destroying all of the progress he made — and all he can do is make speeches about it. Without specifically saying that the FCC is screwing up, he outlines what the government needs to do to encourage innovation within the technology world, and it’s clearly not what’s actually being done. While Kevin Martin is using the “quacks like a duck” test on everything, Powell points out that politicians need to “stop trying to regulate policy around the nature of services when it is just bits.” He talks about freeing up VoIP, rather than shackling it down. He says the Telecom Act doesn’t need a rewrite, but a simple “IP statute that is 15-pages long, very clean and standards-based and that doesn’t attempt to make classification on services, just on bits.” He knows that the markets are changing and we’re being held back by legacy descriptions rather than real issues: “The law itself is crumbling in its inability to create meaningful titles … and so are the markets.” Finally, he recognizes that this rapid technological change is really about people being able to route around providers they don’t like — and the only way to deal with this change is not to block things or prevent people from doing stuff, but to embrace them and help them do what they want to do: “Many companies often don’t realize that the greatest competitive threat is often from their own consumer base, if they fail to serve.” Of course, it might matter a bit more if he was still in a position of power.

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Comments on “Powell Discovers That It's Tougher To Impact Tech Policy When Not In Power”

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Anonymous Coward says:


A “better grasp of technology”? Now I know you’ve gone off the deep end Mike.

Name one positive decision Powell made in his term at the FCC. And no, a positive decision does not include the passing of rules allowing for consolidation of corporate media, nor allowing a single company to buy up the radio airwaves to exploit it.

A positive decision also does not include attempts to introduce a broadcast flag into television programs, to keep you from taping a show you like (unless you pay for the privelege).

How quickly some of us seem to forget the past. If that’s what constitutes a “grasp”, then we’re all doomed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What?

…if you’re not a believer of taxation to keep our government supplied with necessary funds to provide critical services to the people, then yes I suppose that was a ‘good’ decision. Others might beg to differ on that assessment.

Regarding Martin, a disapproval of a former chairman is not an automatic approval of another. Again, if an understanding of technology is what is at debate, then I would argue that one who would pass draconian rules that serve as a detriment to the technological progress of a society, to serve the financial interests of a select powerful few, then no, that individual has no understanding of technology. At all.

I believe your comment, “While Powell is off getting rich in the private sector..” pretty much speaks for itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What?

Your post is clearly a troll, but I’ll bite just in case somebody takes Mike’s comment in the false light you have put it in.
Taxing VOIP specifically is a different thing from taxes in general. You’ve conflated the two in your argument.
Of course, that begs the question, why would Mike say that taxing VOIP is a bad idea? Taxes do serve society, and VOIP may well be an ideal service to tax.
Perhaps the simplest reason not to just try taxing ‘VOIP’ is that when you’re talking about a stream of bits, it’s very difficult to implement a tax on (effectively) certain combinations of bits. You might as well propose a tax applied to the english language which punishes those using a certain vocabularly.
The bottom line is that your argument didn’t address Mike’s point at all.
Your second paragraph is difficult to interpret. If you reply, I’d like to understand what you’re saying there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What?

What’s difficult to understand about it.

A tax on anything is possible. The tax on VoIP will eventually come, like it or not. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be taxed. Electricity is taxed. Water is taxed. Frequency is taxed. A business or industry shouldn’t be immune to tax law. Other industries must pay tax.. why should VoIP providers be exempt? Because you say so? Just because you can’t figure out how to tax it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. While the tax is typically passed on to the consumer anyway, allowing an industry carte-blanche exemption simply on the basis it’s ‘new’ gives it a leg up against competition.. and an unfair playing field.

You shouldn’t point the troll finger just because you disagree with an opinion. You’re entitled to yours, let others be entitled to theirs.

Since the majority of your response was a disagreement to the VoIP tax, for a moment there I thought you might be a VoIP provider.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What?

Wait, we should tax it because we can? That’s a fascinating argument and makes it quite hard to take you seriously.

But, taxing VoIP opens up a huge can of worms. VoIP is no different, really, than email. Or surfing the web. Or using instant messaging. All of these should be taxed too? It’s all just the transfer of bits over a network that’s already been built.

Taxing it will simply drive innovation away from the US — which is something that Powell did realize.

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