Earlier this week, Google, AOL, Microsoft, and other tech companies in the business of storing tremendous amounts of user data joined forces with civil-liberties outfits like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to push for an overdue upgrade to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Perhaps this is a small quibble. But there's something that rubs the wrong way about about how everyone's talking today about the erotica-themed West Hollywood bar where the Republican National Committee sees fit to spend their money as a "lesbian" establishment.
According to The Washington Post's Paul Kane, several new and newish senators are starting to look around at the institution they've stepped into, what with its filibuster, holds, and convoluted rules on whether you can hold meetings after lunch. And they've begun to wonder whether the United States Senate circa 2010 is engineered in the way most optimized for this time and this place. They've started to ask questions, for example, about how committee gavels are awarded and, of course, whether the filibuster makes sense.
The Hill reports that in response to a probing letter sent from the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, Cliff Stearns, the head of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, revealed that the flawed National Broadband Plan he recently delivered to Congress cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million to produce. That, frankly, is a considerable sum for a government report like this.
I'll admit to being surprised at the warm reception that greeted the National Broadband Plan's arrival. There are grumblings that the Federal Communications Commission kinda snookered the press reaction by releasing an executive summary that seemed ambitious and provocative, coloring initial reactions to the report itself. But once you dig into the policy details of the report, it becomes clear that what the authors delivered to Congress doesn't have the comprehensiveness or ambition to really give America the broadband boost it badly needs. Check out this chart, for example, showing how the U.S.' new target for universal availability of broadband by 2020 compares around the world: