Uncle Sam wants to give you free Wi-Fi … with a catch

by James

My dad always taught me to beware of whatever Uncle Sam gives you. But it usually costs you something – whether in tax dollars or in freedom. So, when FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced a plan to offer free wireless Internet to the masses, I had to ask … what’s the catch? Well, the catch is that the Internet would be free, but also filtered, and that means no naughty bits … er … bytes.

The proposal would make the Internet porn free for all those going on the wireless government doll with Uncle Sam deciding what’s obscene and what isn’t. As part of the upcoming auction to sell off access rights to analog TV airwaves, the FCC would require the winning bid to include a plan to devote 25% of the airwaves for a free Internet service. The bidder would be free to devote 75% of the bandwidth to high speed, paid internet access with the proviso that the remaining bandwidth would go towards a slower, free service that would also filter out “pornography and other material not suitable for children.”

The proposal, which most experts believe isn’t policeable, is loosely based on similar proposals in Australia and have drawn criticism from all sides as wireless carriers object to a mandatory competitor with free access, while free speech advocates object to an overreaching government deciding what the citizenry can and cannot consider as offensive. Martin has stated that the option of adults choosing to opt-out of the filter and have full Internet access. But that really isn’t the issue. With the FCC deciding what is and isn’t offensive, they have to observe and analyze traffic. And that could amount to a massive invasion of privacy.

Then again, privacy can have its price and can simply opt to continue paying for their Internet access and avoid it altogether.

Hat Tip – Wall Street Journal

3 reviews or comments

Gallery of posts up to 12-02-2008 » Coolest Gadgets Says: December 2, 2008 at 2:12 am

[…] « Uncle Sam wants to give you free Wi-Fi … with a catch […]

Jason Says: December 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm


What are we, China? I will continue to pay for my internet, thank you very much.

Wolfhard Says: December 5, 2008 at 11:13 am

Yeah… so just use a VPN connection to a proxy and they can filter as much as they want!

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