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A Technology Morning

Net NeutralityPoliticsI spent the morning at a breakfast/conference for the cable association’s grasstops program. Ted Stevens was the keynote address and he had a lot of interesting things to say. One item, in particular, jumped out at me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing, but barely) that the FCC should protect the consumer and guarantee a level playing field, but he does not believe the government should get involved in fights between $100 billion companies.

That has some interesting implications given the different treatment of Net Neutrality in the House and Senate telecom bills. The Senate takes a reasoned and sensible approach. Rather than rushing into regulation absent an actual problem, they have ordered the FCC to investigate potential or actual abuses and report back to Congress to determine whether legislation is actually needed.

The House goes further, codifying the FCC’s net neutrality principles. However, there is an effort in the house to insert stronger language into the bill via the Markey amendment.

If you listen to Google, who is on the Hill this week pushing the NN bill, the danger is imminent. Of course, they were on the hill almost exactly four years ago saying the same thing, and the only thing that has changed in that time is the massive expansion of Google’s market cap.

Given Steven’s remarks, it will be interesting to see what happens if the Senate passes the NN language as is, and the house passes something tougher. The conference on that could forestall language for a while.

Congressional Databases

In other tech news, the good folks over at WaPo have thrown together a silly little article about the use of database technology by congressional offices and the effect that has on elections. All I can say on this one is “Duh!”. It’s like the Washington Post just realized the power of incumbency.

Franked mail, free databases to keep track of constituent concerns, and such are part of the built in advantage to being in Congress. That was true well before the GOP took control, the only change has been the access to a sophisticated suite of electronic tools. That said, there are plenty of firms that serve the political space by selling similar tools. The trouble isn’t with the tools, it’s with many candidates not understanding that they need them.

iTunes On the Network

Finally, I discovered an interesting little feature of iTunes this morning. At first I thought it was a security issue, but discovered that the iTunes library sharing is really kind of groovy. I opened iTunes only to see a coworkers files. I’ve seen that sort of thing happen with Proxy servers and web sites where one person on a network ends up with all of their information shared across the net.

The worst case I ever saw involved a guy in a DC office seeing the private details of the wife of his boss in Dallas. She had used her husband’s computer at the office one day and left a bunch of stuff about herself cached on the proxy.

In this case, though, it turns out it’s actually a feature, not a bug. If you have multiple people on a network running iTunes, and share your folders, you can open and play each other’s tunes. If you have someone on the network that is a prolific downloader, you can be exposed to some cool new tunes for no money.

Written by Michael Turk