April 7, 2004

The Linux Show starts new aggressive advocacy

Jeff Gerhardt writes "The Linux Show starts new aggressive advocacy effort.

TLS to engage in FCC and Congressional door knocking campaign to bring the
message of Open Technologies and Preservation of the Internet to the Washington DC
behind the beltway big shots. TLS seeks community support for door knocking campaign.

April 7th 2004, Chicago Illinois; The Linux Show announces a more aggressive
advocacy effort to be launched at the Spring ISPCON Conference & Expo April 14th
through 16th.

From their Chicago broadcast facility, Jeff Gerhardt CEO of GeekCast Broadcasting and
co-host of the network flagship show The Linux Show!! today announced, "After much
soul searching we have decided that we have to take a more proactive role in fighting for
our industry and community causes, this includes the Internet industry that is in dramatic
peril.

Almost two years ago, feeling a sense of urgency to act, Eric Raymond and I tried to get a
political action committee (a PAC) started representing the issues relevant to the geek/hacker
culture and associated industries. Eric and I are fairly close to each other in political
perspective and in an effort for diversity, we invited a number of people who represented
the cross section of opinion and political affiliations of the IT industry. We had some
early success, for a period of six to eight months we were getting some of our messages
to the people in power. But, we eventually became mired down in partisan differences that
prevented any real and effective action from getting started.

It is not rocket science to understand why this happened. We are in a time in the political
history of the US, where the country seems evenly split and contentious, along Democrat and
Republican lines. A single seat in government may mean control of congress. It is not a great
atmosphere in which to build a bipartisan organization. It was an opportunity lost
that I will deeply regret for some time.

One of the battles we were hoping to engage in was to advocate for an opening of the broadband
infrastructure in the US, not to make it free, but to give equal access to the underlying
infrastructure to ISPs. The Geeks built the commercial part of the Net, and those ISP
entrepreneurs were owed a debt by our nation and indeed the world. It simply would not
be fair to slam the door in the face of the same people who invented the technology and
were doing the real innovating.

Not many people are aware that there were literally hundreds of ISPs
delivering DSL as early as 1995. Kevin Hill and I happen to have participated in an ISP
that was doing so that early. When the 1996 telecommunications deregulation act was
passed and became the law of the land; rather than fostering competition, the language was
used as a club by phone companies to prevent the installation of DSL services by ISPs. The
FCC has ignored the law and chose to allow the telephone companies, and more recently,
the cable TV companies to act in monopolistic ways. The net effect of this was to reduce
competition and slow down the expansion of broadband. Had the FCC followed the law and not
have been ruled by the lobbys, we would have broadband everywhere by now.

Somehow, the FCC today is living in a delusional cloud and is still convinced, by the aid of the
phone company lobby for sure, that the fault of this is caused by the ISPs being an
unsettling threat to the phone companies. Imagine that, and industry group where the average
company has a handful of employees and a few hundred dial up accounts are a threat to the
telephone industry? Why do monopolies require protection from this?

This attitude by the FCC is putting thousands of ISP and Internet related businesses at
the mercy of the phone and cable companies. If the outright win, and once the ISP industry
goes away, the Internet as we know know it will cease to exist. It will become the private
DRM network so desired by as the RIAA and the MPAA. This does not come from these people
at the FCC being evil, they really belive this because of all the information poured on them
by the lobbyists, they are just misguided, and wrong.

Fortunatly for all of the US there are individuals that will act even when the majority is
content to sit on the side lines. One such person is the CEO & president of Brand X Internet,
Jim Pickrell. Jim got a little fed up and so sued the FCC and his local cable company in the
9th circuit court of the US. To the shock of all, Jack Killed the Giant,and he won and
with a 3-0 vote of the judges. The FCC and furious Chairman Powell appealed the decision
and in a bizarre twist requested all 32 Federal Bench judges of he 9th district to rule on
the case. The FCC lost a second time, this time 32-0.

This case is a huge president setter and opens the opportunity to do some good works if
we HURRY. We have the opportunity to reverse 7 years of anti-competitive backroom deals
with the Regional Phone Companies and the Cable Systems.

Jim has announced a call to action for ISPs and their customers to form a
coalition that will advance this cause of an open, non-discriminatory access to broadband
networks of all kinds (wireless, cable & DSL). Many ISPs, WISPs and ISP industry association
executives have already expressed interest and their support in joining the alliance. Jim has
fought this battle on his own so far. With the very capable representation of his counsel
Harvey Reiter, they have successfully and single-handedly challenged the FCC. Now its time to
take this to the next level.

Jim has been waging a one man battle since Novebmer of 2003. It is time for you to help out.
You can join us in two ways. First get counted. Join the coalition at the
URL: http://www.brandx.net/coalition/signupform.html.

You can also help out by giving money. The following donation button is a way for people to
throw a couple bucks into a fund to help get this effort kicked off. There is need for some
funds NOW as it may take months for the various ISP associations to get organized, if ever. We
will give this money to individuals who are doing the door knocking to pay their expenses. NONE
of the money collected will go to campaign efforts of Republican or Democrat candidates in this
falls election. If 10,000 people each through in $3.00 that will provide plenty of cash to get
moving on the effort and pay a bunch of legal fees to boot.

Link: TheLinuxShow.com

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