You don’t give the prisoners keys to their cells, do you?
I was a bit disturbed when I read on Wired.com about California’s SB 1161, a piece of legislation that effectively lets the inmates run the asylum of telecommunications. This law, while allegedly just to deregulate Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP, things like Skype or Vonage),
The bill (which you can read the entirety of here) is worded incredibly vague:
“This bill would, until January 1, 2020, prohibit the commission from regulating Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol enabled service (IP enabled service), as defined, except as required or delegated by federal law or expressly provided otherwise in statute. The bill would prohibit any department, agency, commission, or political subdivision of the state from enacting, adopting, or enforcing any law, rule, regulation, ordinance, standard, order, or other provision having the force or effect of law, that regulates VoIP or other IP enabled service…”
It’s at this definition later where I get concerned:
Section 239 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:
(a) (1) “Voice over Internet Protocol” or “VoIP” means voice communications service that does all of the following:
(A) Uses Internet Protocol or a successor protocol to enable real-time, two-way voice communication that originates from, or terminates at, the user’s location in Internet Protocol or a successor protocol.
(B) Requires a broadband connection from the user’s location.
(C) Permits a user generally to receive a call that originates on the public switched telephone network and to terminate a call to the public switched telephone network.
(2) A service that uses ordinary customer premises equipment with no enhanced functionality that originates and terminates on the public switched telephone network, undergoes no net protocol conversion, and provides no enhanced functionality to end users due to the provider’s use of Internet Protocol technology is not a VoIP service.
(b) “Internet Protocol enabled service” or “IP enabled service” means any service, capability, functionality, or application using existing Internet Protocol, or any successor Internet Protocol, that enables an end user to send or receive a communication in existing Internet Protocol format, or any successor Internet Protocol format through a broadband connection, regardless of whether the communication is voice, data, or video.“
It’s section 239(b) that’s got me worried – this bill is the effective death of Net Neutrality in the Golden State, letting the ISPs, who have a virtual oligopoly, do as they please. The lack of competition already makes them swindle their customers left-and-right, and passing a law saying “ha-ha, do as you wish, we resolve to do nothing” makes it seem that the State government has the interests of ISP companies at heart, not the very citizens it exists to serve.
I’m urging Governor Brown to veto this bill, in the name of a healthy internet infrastructure in the very state that invented the internet (true story; TCP/IP experiments began in earnest at Stanford University and Xerox PARC) and is the home of the world-renowned silicon valley. It’d be a horrible irony to see the cradle of the digital revolution rocked by the hands of greedy ISPs.