Stop the Broadcast Flag Mandate
Coders! Designers! Artists! Businessfolk! Computer Owners! Users/Builders of the Net! Citizens! 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. This regulation would make it a felony to own, sell or use important free software tools of communication, such as GNU Radio, 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 that allows any computer equipped with an antenna and an analog-to-digital card to function as both 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.
It is important to stop the Broadcast Flag Mandate because, if promulgated, it would set a precedent allowing the government of the United States to 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, 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 that 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.
The FCC will accept comments regarding the Broadcast Flag Mandate until 5:00 pm EST, Friday, December 6, 2002. You can send comments from the NY Fair Use site and/or follow the official instructions below.
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:
a small class consisting of licensed employees of certain cartels and monopolies, who would be allowed to use general purpose computers; and
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 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 they may still use untrammeled computers.
Brett Wynkoop alerts the Ancient Order of Hams about the Mandate. This discussion is worth looking at for several excellent posts from people who understand 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 the Broadcast Flag Mandate actually has been proposed.
The Digital Speech Project presents some of the effects and some of the history of the proposed Broadcast Flag Mandate.
GNU Radio speaks out, including Eric Blossom's clear statement of what the Broadcast Flag Mandate would mean for GNU Radio.
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