Do you ever think back to your pre-Internet work-life? (If you had one,
and if you didn't, you also never saw a mimeograph machine.) How ever
did anyone get anything done? The stacks of "while you were out" papers
could kill an afternoon. Then one day, out of the blue, you start
getting them all on your wireless device. Let freedom ring! Next thing
you know, your identity's been thieved, you have a $3 million Visa bill
and two children you don't know about, and all you want is for someone
to do something about it. Hence calls for Internet regulation, and
there is a history there, as well, even though the Web is pretty open.
But it's not a complete Wild, Wild West, even if it's not a big subject
in the CFR either.
Key Events Regarding Regulation of Internet Services, an Admittedly Selective Timeline is a jaunt from September 1995 ("while you were out" days) through November 2008 ("how many people say they're me" days) by Jim Casserly and Ryan Wallach, both of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and Anna Sucin. As a history piece alone, this is worth printing out, and if you need some good reference citations on U.S. Internet policy, you'll get that, too, along with some chuckles about how the World has changed. Did you know that in 1995, only 17.5 million Americans had access to the Internet and were using 56k dial-up modems to do so? (Toolbox remembers downloading a song not too long after that—sorry—and it took like three days.) Here's a chuckle, which comes from an article cited by the authors, "The Looming Cable Modem Fiasco," by John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine, Sept. 12, 1995, at 89: "The noisiest buzz in the industry lately has been over the emerging use of cable TV systems to provide fast network data transmissions using a device called a cable modem. But the likelihood of this technology succeeding is zilch." Those were the days my friend, we thought the downloading would never end. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 declared that the policy of the U.S. is to leave the Internet "unfettered by federal or state regulation." And while the FCC currently states on its website that it does not regulate the Internet or Internet Service Providers, well, you be the judge.
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