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FCC's Martin Drops Porn Filtering Idea

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 30, 2008

Even though Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin is leaving in a matter of weeks, he still hopes to push through a major policy decision he’s been backing for months: One that would create a nationwide free wireless broadband network for use by all.

Until now, this ambitious proposal has met with resistance from everyone from incumbent wireless service providers such as T-Mobile USA, worried the new network would cause interference to its users to consumer advocacy groups, which have particularly objected to Martin’s idea of filtering adult content available on this public network. Well, in an interview published by Ars Technica on Dec. 29, Martin said that he has dropped his porn filtering idea in hopes of garnering more support for the open network proposal.

But while the FCC is set to hold its final meeting on Jan. 15, days before Barack Obama is sworn into office, I would be surprised to see the open networks proposal passing then. The idea is still out of favor with telcos. And outgoing commissioners may not want to risk those players’ ire just at the time when they are likely about to lose their jobs if Obama, as expected, appoints a new commission — and when they may need to go shopping for positions within the industry.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see President-elect Obama's FCC take up the idea of free wireless broadband access. Making broadband accessible to all is a major priority for the new administration. But they will no doubt implement the project on their own terms, and on their own time frame.

Reader Comments

Robert Marshall

December 30, 2008 11:34 PM

Free Broadband for all?
What a great idea

Reid Thomas

December 31, 2008 12:28 AM

This is good progress. Providing a baseline free service will set a minimal standard for competition between the service providers and generally increase the quality and quantity of broadband access in the United States.


December 31, 2008 9:37 AM

Why is america so afraid of sex? You would think it was still 1940 here. Get over it america. Almost everyone does it. And, for those that don't, they wish they did.

Dennis in NY

December 31, 2008 1:45 PM

@ kuei

America is not afraid of sex... it is afraid of groups that scream and yell and tell everyone what is best. TV Stations pull programming because of these groups. Show a little T&A and get it pulled. It is astonishing that others have my interest at mind... *sheesh*


December 31, 2008 1:47 PM

Go Mr. Martin this a good move for the whole nation. All the money that the government could save alone is worth it.
Then the US Military would have reliable
Internet and could create job opportunties people out work to support the broadband effort.


December 31, 2008 2:55 PM

I also want a free Turkey. All citizens should get a free tank of gas, too.

Charles-A Rovira

December 31, 2008 3:31 PM

Filtering for [put name here] is the fundamental problem.

In filtering [porn] you create techniques and technologies for filtering [anything].

How would you like to not be able to hear pieces of conversations because somebody doesn't want you to, for whatever reason.

(The telcos don't want to touch this because they'd lose their common carrier status.

[A kind of telco internet has been used to carry digitized, packet switched telephone calls since the 1980s. It was originally called x.25 {Google it}.])


December 31, 2008 3:56 PM

I think this is very smart move. Can you actually imagein how many thing would be capable of improving our lives just for having free broadband internet...


December 31, 2008 4:15 PM

Yeah, is it so important now to have free internet for all. After all it wouldn't cost a thing...... right
Only a liberal can have idea like this, and when they realize that the cost of maintenance will eat them alive, they will have another reason for raise the taxes. Eventually everything will be controlled by government, this is Socialism straight up.

John Winters

December 31, 2008 4:29 PM

The government should filter all information from all internet sites if that information is not already broadcast on CNN or FOX.


December 31, 2008 5:29 PM

The issue is not about sex, kuei, the issue is free internet access to everyone, regardless of age. I would not want a seven year old watching porn, nor should parents be worried about their children having unlimited access to it either.


December 31, 2008 5:48 PM

Censorship and dictatorial control are surefire ways to increase interest in just about anything.

Free internet MIGHT make prices go down. Let's ask the FCC why internet access in the US is so much more expensive than Europe and Japan.


December 31, 2008 5:59 PM

I think it's a good idea. What better way to grade service? Public Sector vs. Private Sector... and let the chips fall where they may.

Alex Mac Donald

December 31, 2008 6:27 PM

I'm glad he's dropped the porn thing. It's an insult to the public and inspires insults in return, does no one any good. I hope you are wrong the commissioners being willing to give away the rights of the public in order to land jobs with the Telcos. You're probably right, however: it's been standard practice among telco relgulators ever since the first phone companies started getting rights-of-way back in the late 19th century. Those companies are worse than Blagojevich when it comes to selling alderman, congressmen, Senators, presidents, and commissioners of every stripe. Worse, they're immortal.


December 31, 2008 6:57 PM

"One that would create a nationwide free wireless broadband network for use by all."

By 'all' they mean people in major metropolitan areas. Many of which already have plans for making such systems.

Those of us in Rural America (20% by 2000 census figures) are out of luck.


December 31, 2008 7:41 PM

Dear Kuei,

Almost everyone does not want their own young children to "do" sex, which includes all forms of pornography and sexual interaction. There are also those that "did" sex at an early age and wished they didn't.
The real issue is how to provide a level of control. Censorship and filtering can be done at the browser level or by the network. I can control what goes on within the house, but WIFI makes it available anywhere. Do you really need your porn outside the home?


December 31, 2008 9:20 PM

So they drop the porn filter to get support to pass this program. The FCC gets the funding and miraculously provides everyone in America with broadband internet at no cost to the individual. We all bask in the internet utopia that we all dreamed of. We can say goodbye to all the commercial providers which will declare bankruptcy when they can't compete with the FCC's prices. Never mind that the FCC is funded by TAX PAYER DOLLARS.

I wonder why no commercial company has managed this achievment yet? It must be evil corporate greed is getting in the way of progress or could it be that this undertaking is cost prohibitive and NOT PROFITABLE.

But when we have no alternative to FCC internet access I am sure we will all be very happy with the service and the availability. Who knows maybe the FCC will change it's mind and institute that porn filter or any other filters they deam important for public safety and security.

Hmm...this all sounds familiar.

Adam Bauer

December 31, 2008 10:02 PM

In the 1950's the federal government funded and built a massive infrastructure upgrade with the interstate highway system. My Mother remembers first hearing about it and thinking it was both impossible and pointless. But think of how it changed America.

Free and fast wireless in the 21st century is the next generation of infrastructure America needs to bring us into the future, just like free and fast roads where 50 years ago.


January 1, 2009 1:27 AM

Adult sex entertainment within privacy of a person's own confines, is a right under the 'Amendment', just like private groups have their right to go nude within their own confines. Sensitive people try nervously to dictate ideals,lifestyle, and what is good for every one else. Over egoistic, over hyper and over sensitive people need to do what is best for themselves and their family and that is OK. Dont care/ dont wanna know what happens in that so-called holy world, but interference in everbody(s) affairs shows narrow-mindedness and conceit. Get over it!! Think you can control the will power of everybody in America and the whole World? Think again.


January 1, 2009 1:41 AM

Go Martin. Start censoring internet and it turns into People's Republic of China. People should be free to watch whatever they want. As for kids having access to porn, it's parents responsibility to take care of that issue not service providers'
Instead of trying to "improve" the porn filter they should improve parenting skills.


January 1, 2009 8:44 AM

Free internet??
Free for who? Those who already suck our resources dry? The illegal immigrants? Those on welfare?
Give me a break.
Anything "free" from the government is going to be rife with problems and cost much more than anticipated.
It's just another way to introduce socialism into the country by disguising it as progress.
In reality it's just another way for the government to become more and more immersed and controling in our lives; Another way to reduce the responsibility of the individual to provide for themselves and their families.


January 1, 2009 2:06 PM

Very Primitive cultures want 'haves' and 'have nots' , 'poor' and 'rich', the 'righteous' and the 'evil'(Big Business such as the Defense depatment, Boeing, GE, and many more count on the manipulation of these basic primitve drives - as they cultivate chaos and division and thus increase war profits for them and end up costing hundreds of billions to the public in the long run).
Any race above 4th grade spiritually(and humans certainly I agree are not there yet), see that long term, the benefits to helping the less fortunate, save billions in revenue over time.
As information access is vital to helping empower the poor, it does serve advanced societies to assist whenever possible and yes thru increased taxes to those that 'have'.

When we help the 'least', we eventually save billions in long term costs to society economically and create a place for less chaos and more tolerance.

Any Advanced race of beings would welcome more opportunities for less fortunate. They would provide public police services, free schooling(even college), public/universal health care, and free or very low cost instant communication to all - yea its what advanced societys call equality. If you dont provide well for the 'least' it will be the downfall of your society over time. The neo cons robots like Bush, Chaney, Gonzolez, Rmsfield, and others will see the unfolding of their 'poor be damned' philosphy in 2009 and beyond. Even Obama may not be able to turn the tide of this dismal species around.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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