Coders! Designers! Artists! Businessfolk!
User-Builders of the Net!
And All the Tribes!
Right now, the Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America is preparing to hand down a regulation, the so-called "Broadcast Flag Mandate", which would make it a felony to own, sell, or use important free software tools of communication, such as GNU Radio, which is Project GNU's software defined radio program. The issue here has nothing to do with copyright infringement, despite the claims of the RIAA, the MPAA, and the AAP. The Broadcast Flag Mandate would make purely private use of GNU Radio a felony. GNU Radio is a program which allows any computer equipped with an antenna and an analog-to-digital card to function as a radio and TV receiver. Both analog and digital broadcasts can be received and played once the antenna, the card, and the program are installed. GNU Radio is not yet complete; as of today GNU Radio cannot receive and play digital TV broadcasts, but within the year, G* willing, it will be completed.
Why is it important to stop the Broadcast Flag Mandate?
It is important to stop the Broadcast Flag Mandate because, if promulgated, it would set a precedent that the government of the United States may directly dictate exactly what you do with your computer, even in the privacy of your own house. It would set the precedent that the government of the United States may directly outlaw the production and sale and use of untrammeled computers like the one billion "personal computers" that have been freely produced and sold up until today. It would set the precedent that the government of the United States may directly enforce that all computers sold must contain both spy machinery and remote control machinery, machinery which would be controlled by Infotainment Central and The Secret Police. Under the Broadcast Flag Mandate, it would be a felony to disable the spy and remote control machinery.
What is to be done this week?
The FCC will accept emailed comments upon the Broadcast Flag Mandate until Midnight EST End of Friday 6 December 2002. To send comments go to
http://www.nyfairuse.org/action/fcc.flagand/or follow the official instructions.
The EFF has done the major work in exposing the plot to impose the Broadcast Flag Mandate:
In Section 4.12 of the Final Report of the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group, the Englobulators propose that the Broadcast Flag Mandate should create two classes of Americans:
1. a small class of licensed employees of certain cartels and monopolies, who would be allowed to use general purpose computers
2. the rest of us, who would not be allowed to own and privately use general purpose computers.
It is important to understand Section 4.12 because the Englobulators have claimed and will continue to claim that the Broadcast Flag Mandate would not affect private use of computers. But the Englobulators know this claim is false. They know that the Broadcast Flag Mandate would so cripple computers that they demand a special exemption for themselves so that they may still use untrammeled computers.
Brett Wynkoop alerts the Ancient Order of Hams:
The discussion is worth looking at, for several excellent posts from people who understand that the Broadcast Flag Mandate would mean the end of amateur work in digital radio and TV. There are also posts from people who simply cannot believe that the Broadcast Flag Mandate has actually been proposed.
Declan McCullough asks "Why have you not written to the FCC?" and Slashdot responds:
The Digital Speech Project presents some of the effects and also some of the history of the proposed Broadcast Flag Mandate:
GNU Radio, including Eric Blossom's clear statement of what the Broadcast Flag Mandate would mean for GNU Radio: