Congress Shreds Constitutional Privacy, But It’s Not Over Yet

Today the U.S. Senate voted to approve legislation that essentially legalizes the warrantless surveillance of the communications of U.S. citizens. We know such behavior’s been going on for more than two years, when a whistleblower stepped forward to disclose that AT&T had been working closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) – so much so that the NSA now has its own special rooms in AT&T communications backbone facilities. In these rooms are giant, electronic taps that essentially monitor, record, and allow for the analysis of every phone call, facsimile transmission, and all other electronic communications passing through AT&T’s network.

As the largest telecommunications provider in the United States, it is virtually impossible for any communications network traffic to travel from point A to point B without transiting some node in AT&T’s vast infrastructure. Which in effect means that for as long as this program has been going on, we’ve all been under Big Brother’s scrutiny to some degree. Read More

Hiatus Ahoy: Notes While Away

My work online here will significantly slow down over the next couple of months, as I enter the most critical phase of my graduate studies to-date. Once I hopefully become ABD (“all but dissertation”) in early May, some of the pressure ease. But then I’m immediately leaving the country for an exploratory workshop hosted by the European Science Foundation on the impact of digitalization with regard to community media. As one a handful of non-EU “experts” invited to the event, I expect my role will primarily be to warn other countries in the midst of formulating, adopting, or modifying digital radio standards to stay as far away from iBiquity’s HD protocol as they possibly can.

Expect “regular” content-generation to resume sometime in late May or so. I made updates to the Schnazz, Truthful Translations, and Enforcement Action Database over the weekend, so those are up to date, at least in the near term.

In the meantime, keep an eye on these stories: Read More

New LPFM Expansion Effort Launched in Congress

A coordinated introduction of bills in the House and Senate by bipartisan duos suggests the chance to rescind the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act may be pretty good this year – but, as the Mediageek has already noted, prior Congressional history on this issue means there’s still a lot that must happen before any LPFM expansion becomes law.

There are several factors working both for and against the growth of LPFM. One is that telecommunications and media-regulation issues more generally are occupying a lot more of Congress’ time this session: several large debates related to broadband deployment and network operation, spectrum repurposement, possible corporate mergers (such as the proposed XM/Sirius marriage), and copyright/royalty regulation are already sucking a lot of political time and energy. Read More

New Licensing Loophole Involves Influential Senator

“Radio Goldfield,” a pirate station run by seasoned citizen Rod Moses out of his trailer in Goldfield, Nevada (population 440) has received special temporary authority from the FCC to operate a 100-watt FM outlet without an official license until such time as the FCC opens another LPFM filing window.

How did he do it? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s ringing endorsement, in correspondence to the agency, probably sealed the deal: Read More

Congressional LPFM Expansion Play Afoot

Ever since Congress bowed to pressure from commercial and public broadcasters six years ago and severely gutted the low-power FM radio service, its advocates have been working the Hill looking for a way to nullify the intervention. Several tries at passing bills to directly reverse the damage died quietly, which has directed attention toward using the amendment process as a vehicle for progress.

The “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” only became law because it was attached to a spending measure. This maneuver is one of the most sneakily abused ways of routing corrupt legislation through the system. LPFM advocates, led by the Prometheus Radio Project, are at least working with an existing bill that specifically involves important communications regulation. Read More