V-Chip 2.0?

According to CNet:

The Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation Thursday asking the Federal Communications Commission to oversee the development of a super V-chip that could screen content on everything from cell phones to the Internet.

The article omits the fact that it’s 99.99997% sure to fail and the committee knows that. Taking a look at it from a tech and historical view of the Internet alone proves that. From a web developer perspective, this stuff is pretty interesting.

The V-Chip is really not a complicated device. Essentially it works on the following logic (written in js for psudocode fun):

if(content.rating > user_setting.max_rating){
    interface.block();
}

Pretty simple right? Well that’s all the true “technology” does. The science of meta data decides how rating is determined and organized (what’s “Violent”, and what’s “Gore”?). That’s the tech side of things in a nutshell.

Here’s where the problem lies. The rating must come from somewhere. In order for this system to have any sort of effectiveness, every site on the Internet needs to be accurately rated. That’s right, every site. Doesn’t matter if it’s in English, German, or Japanese. It doesn’t matter if it’s hosted in the US, or in Korea. It still needs to be rated. But who does this? You could pass a law requiring content to be labeled. But that would only apply to US based sites. Enforcement overseas is virtually impossible. Enforcement in the US is virtually impossible. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project in 2005 “more than 11 million American adults who say they have created blogs”. I’m sure that numbers higher now. That means there’s at least 11 million blogs that need to be patrolled by the FCC to ensure they are labeled, and labeled correctly. Forget about the rest of the blogs in the world and the millions of different owners.

Still think this plan has a shot at working? Well it’s been done and pretty much failed before. It was the ICRA Rating Sytem. At first it was thought every site would label themselves. A quick glance around the web shows most sites don’t bother. AOL and Yahoo both do (both were big backers years ago), Microsoft also was, and even equipped IE with “Content Adviser”, but they no longer have their homepage labeled. MySpace, Facebook? Despite all the criticism about safety they receive: not labeled. PBS Kids, Disney, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon? Nope, though Disney does use P3P, which also never took off. Now you’d expect the Senate, who deeply wants to keep the net safe for kids would set a good example. Think again. Same goes for the White House. We could go on for quite a while.

Think you can automate calculating ratings for sites that don’t provide (or lie)? Fat chance. Just ask the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation who is famous for being considered a porn site by filters. I can’t even imagine how filters would interpret something like YouTube, where the content in question is binary garbage like most other Flash heavy sites.

The tech side is pretty easy. It’s been around for about a decade now. The precedent for enforcing US laws upon content providers overseas? That’s a new one. Enforcing laws by checking millions of websites owned by millions of people around the world? Good luck.

I’m not going to even bother with Mobile phones, because since the iPhone, the precedent has been set that the phone is just a mobile browser and is subject to the same rules.

NSA… Can you hear me now?

Of course when the Federal Government uses the legal equivalent to the Atomic Bomb, you know (despite their insistence) that all of the alleged activity is true… otherwise they would defend it. They even went as far as stating:

The fact that the United States will assert the state secrets privilege should not be construed as a confirmation or denial of any of plaintiffs’ allegations, either about AT&T or the alleged surveillance activities.

Yea sure. You don’t invoke something like this when you have nothing to hide. It’s like how all those companies “settle” but don’t admit guilt or wrongdoing. You don’t pay for something you didn’t do.

By the way, if you traceroute to this website and see “att.com” anywhere in there, you can rest assured they know your reading this ;-).

Save the Internet

Save The Internet

I’ve spent quite a bit of time encouraging browser choice and platform choice by strongly advocating and encouraging compatibility.

It’s sad but it’s now time to do advocate the right to choose what websites and/or services you want to use. If you enjoy using:

Search engine of your choice
VoIP provider of your choice
Music/Video provider of your choice
News provider of your choice

Boy that’s a lot of links, yet just a handful of the many available… you get the idea. You care.

I don’t even want to think of the impact on open source and innovation if every website has to pay for decent performance (imagine degraded downloads of linux iso’s simply because the distro isn’t paying your specific ISP).

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in enjoying the freedom of choice the Internet provides.

The Politics of Tech

I’m not political, so here’s my political analysis geek style:

Republicans

Analysis

  • Prefer proprietary technology
  • Invalid HTML is universal across sites, minimal web standards)
  • Choice in media players (QuickTime, Windows Media, Real)

Cases
Republican National Committee
GOP
GeorgeWBush.com

Democrats

Analysis

  • Prefer Open Source (most of the time, especially DNC website)
  • Prefer Web Standards at times
  • Choice in media (Windows Media, Real, Quicktime)

Cases
Democratic National Committee
JohnKerry.com
Democratic National Convention 2004

Others

Analysis

  • Varied, platforms but better than Republicans
  • Web Standards seems more important
  • Choice in media players (QuickTime, Windows Media, Real)
  • Lower budget websites

Cases
Nader
Cobb (Green Party)

Seems Contributors tell quite a bit about what to expect in the parties tech, as well as their policies [Republican | Democrat | Nader]

Sidenote: Of these, only the Bush Campaign seems to be using lots of negative campaign tactics. Even on the website it’s very obvious. Third parties use virtually none. Kerry has one ‘politically correct’ worded message on ‘Why Bush is wrong for America’. Bush makes it the focal point of his website these days. There seems to be more on Kerry than George. An interesting observation on tactics.

This isn’t scientific, or an endorsement of any candidate, just a quick little analysis on how parties view the internet, and web standards as well as open source platforms and comments as I feel appropriate..

FundRace 2004

This is fun

Yea, it really is. It’s public info, completely legal, and great. Go ahead, search around, and enjoy your legally issued right to do so. As an American you should be informed about who is financing who. Says a lot. Look at maps too.

And pass that on. Sooner America stops being stupid the better. At least know what scum pays each scumbag.

It’s good to see a website processing all the data some Americans can have some real information.

Pass the link on.

Height matters

According to this Study, tall people make more money than short people.

“Each inch in height amounted to about $789 more a year in pay, the study found. So someone who is 7 inches taller – say 6 feet versus 5 feet 5 inches – would be expected to earn $5,525 more annually, he said.”

Great. Now we are going to see dozens of lawsuits defending short people (well, dumb people who blame it on being short). And the NAVCP (National Association for Vertically Challenged People).

Perhaps this is why Gary Coleman lost the California Election to Aaanold, the Kindergarden Cop? Perhaps it’s position, not just money.