Tech at Night: Universal Service Fund, Dick Durbin's new tax, Ron Johnson's regulatory freeze

Tech at Night

I’ve been warning for ages that Universal Service Fund reform was coming, and that it would end up as an Internet tax. Well here we go: Plans are afoot. Oddly enough though, people seem fine with the America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan, which so far seems to be a plan to redirect funding toward greater Internet access. Free State Foundation is fine with the plans so far. IIA supports it. Greg Walden and Lee Terry are saying positive things.


I still worry that a new tax will spring up here somewhere, but if it doesn’t, then maybe we’ll dodge a bullet.

Speaking of bullets though, Dick Durbin’s trying to fire another one at our already shaky economy. Amazon supports it, but only because they want the states off their back. I oppose it. No new taxes. And sorry Charlie (Dickie?), but sales taxes on interstate commerce are most definitely a new tax.

Of course, Amazon’s fight in California still isn’t over. And small businesses are paying the price. So said Patrick May in the Mercury News yesterday:

But for the thousands of affiliates in the state now set adrift by Amazon and Overstock, another major out-of-state player, the law is an unfair and misguided attempt to raise revenues on the backs of struggling mom-and-pop businesses.

Rather than bring in tax dollars, they say, it will instead drive away scores of entrepreneurs California needs to innovate its way out of its economic malaise.

The Amazon Tax in California is worsening our economy. The referendum to repeal it must pass.

Some FCC? I mentioned this week that Senate Republicans were questioning Net Neutrality, and now House Republicans are back at it again, too. This illegal regulation must die.

Another questionable bill is this so-called anti-child pornography bill which mandates ISPs to keep detailed records of your Internet use. The possibilities of abuse for this are tremendous, all for one narrow niche of law enforcement. For once, I hope the Senate kills this bill.


Yet another reason to support the AT&T/T-Mobile deal being spared big government intervention: AT&T just had to sucker punch some unlimited contract holders because of spectrum limitations. Because of government stalling and meddling.

Meanwhile, Sprint continues to do the same as AT&T by using other people’s spectrum,apparently planning a move from Clearwire to LightSquared, because guess what? The spectrum shortage is real.

Remember when Eric Schmidt suggested it was wrong to enforce patents instead of innovating? What a hypocrite, as Google is now buying patents to play the game as well.

iPubSoft’s DRM removal software for electronic books just might test the limits of the DMCA’s exception for interoperability.

Closing note: I am all for Ron Johnson’s proposed regulatory freeze. With all the regulatory overreach going on, from FCC, to EPA, to FTC, and beyond, it’s time we put a stop to the runaway system of unelected, unaccountable power grabs.



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