News Release

Internet: Major Issues

Privatization, Open Access, Privacy, Copyright

RONDA HAUBEN
Co-author of Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet, Hauben said today: “While the Internet’s infrastructure grew up under public administration and funding, the U.S. government has set out to give away vital Internet functions to a private corporation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Congress requested that the General Accounting Office do an investigation of the creation and development of ICANN and its contracts with the Commerce Department. The GAO report (which was ‘corrected’ by the Commerce Department before being issued on July 7) acknowledges it would be illegal and unconstitutional to transfer public property to ICANN. However, it accepts the statement of the Commerce Department about whether this has actually happened rather than doing an independent assessment. There is no consideration of the public interest in the creation of ICANN or the GAO report.”
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ANDREA BUFFA
Executive director of Media Alliance, which is working to ensure open access in San Francisco, Buffa said today: “People like the Internet because it is open, but companies like AT&T and AOL/Time Warner are attempting to become the gatekeepers as broadband cable — which provides faster service — may become the way most people access the Internet. These companies are positioning themselves to use their status as the cable provider in cities across the country to favor the content that they have a financial interest in — and undermine the content that they don’t. If they are successful, they will in effect become private regulators of what was to be an open and diverse medium. What’s needed is open access so that all content providers have a level playing field.”
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FRANK BEACHAM
A writer specializing in technology criticism, Beacham said today: “A significant threat Internet users face is the assault on personal privacy by information-ravenous corporations and institutions that find it highly profitable to build and sell dossiers on the lives of unsuspecting users. The government, rather than take the lead in protecting personal privacy, is now a threat itself. The FBI’s recently-revealed Carnivore system has the unprecedented power to rapidly surf the Internet and analyze millions of communications by citizens.”
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DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “Copyrights are an anachronism restraining the development of technology in the Internet age. This form of protectionism is far more costly than the tariff and quota barriers that have become an obsession for proponents of ‘free trade.’ We should be developing creative alternative methods for funding the production of artistic work, as Stephen King is attempting to do with his latest novel. An even better method would be an individual tax credit system, where people would get a 100 percent credit for a small contribution for supporting artistic work. This work could then be freely reproduced, taking full advantage of the technological possibilities of the digital age.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167